Sunday, September 5, 2010

Autism: The Importance of Diagnosis

Many times parents of a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder are overwhelmed with the diagnosis. Coming from the parent of a child with Autism, this is the most critical period to explore and start to deal with the diagnosis.

Gaining information about the diagnosis and the options open to our children is the first and the quickest way to get help for our children. Even though every child with Autism is different knowing the choices is comforting and gives us focus.

Parents of children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder are sometimes confused and scared by the various descriptions they read about children with ASD. It is very important to remember that even though some descriptions will be exactly on target that does not mean every description will come true.

Part of the journey is to also learn what, if any, co-occurring diagnoses our children have. These diagnoses will have characteristics which may complicate the Autism diagnosis. Parents want to be able to figure out what is considered normal for a child their child’s age.

This gives up the experience of the typical joys and frustrations of typical parents. By the same token knowing the other characteristics will help parents find the help they need. Although in the beginning it seems so confusing that we will never figure it out, this is not true.

As time goes on and as parents learn that there is no one right answer, we find what helps our children. Knowing the choices is the first step. Autism Spectrum Disorders not only affect how a child experiences their life, it also affects how they learn from their life.

Our child with Autism does not seem crave our contact and attention the way another child does. This does not mean they do not need us and want us. Our jobs almost become detectives in learning as much as we can handle as fast as we can handle it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Autism Inclusion: What Can It Look Like

Many people with disabilities are leading our society to see Inclusion as the correct direction ethically, in the law, and as a way for society to responsibly use scarce resources. This is no different for children with Autism.

This is not to say that the system to assist children with Autism will disappear. There still needs to be well considered planning and support given to children with and without disabilities. We have become better at it. We will become better still at it.

To make real Inclusion happen parents will be critical to the process. Parents have the insight to be able to consider who their partners will be. There will be partners in day cares, schools, and the community. Children with Autism can and will become functioning members of society.

This will happen when people put their creative talents to work figure out the issues and solutions. The responsibility initially will fall on a parent to look for and build upon common beliefs and values. This is not unusual as parents are their child’s first teachers and their last teachers.

Sometimes parents feel unequal to the task. They must remember that whether or not their child has a disability, they were teaching them before anyone else had even met them. They taught them to suck to eat, to cry to get attention, and many other things.

Parents are the last teachers. When school is over, parents are still there. When supports do not work, parents are still there. Till the day parents pass on they are talking and teaching. This has gone on for centuries. We as parents have forgotten and need to remember our strength and wisdom.

Parents of children with Autism are also helping the people in their community see their own talents. Sometimes talents people do not know they have. The process of exploring boundaries and policies makes people smarter and flexible. This not only helps the child with Autism but helps the community as a whole.