Autism Dad and I are very comfortable talking about the Navigator’s Autism. We treat it in a matter-of-fact way because the emotions we associate with it are of acceptance and understanding.
For us it just is. If we can spread some awareness and understanding, all the better.
At this point one might ask how the Navigator feels about our talking about his Autism – he has reached an age where we will frequently ask him before we talk about it to people who don’t already know.
Sometimes he doesn’t want us to talk about it – most of the time he is ok with it. I think it is because he positively learns from what we say as well as from those we talk with.
Sometimes people ask me how we knew my son had Autism, what were the characteristics that led us to conclude he had Autism, and what did we do to get him diagnosed.
Sometimes they talk about a child they know having difficulties, or about their own child.
They want to know what to do, but they are uncertain and maybe a little bit afraid.
It can be very difficult for parents, suspecting there might be something different about their child that they need to do something about and at the same time wondering if they are over-reacting.
Well-meaning family and family reassure parents that their child is normal, that all kids behave like that, that the child is just developing more slowly.
They recount examples of other family members or friends’ children who didn’t speak or didn’t play with other children until they were older.
They tell them not to worry about it.
Uninformed doctors might not recognize the signs or know to ask the right questions.
They might be looking for extreme examples of Autistic behavior, not keeping the spectrum nature of Autism in mind.
Worse, some doctors might not kindly take a parent’s worries seriously and add to that feeling of over-reacting.
When parents talk to me about their own kids I don’t try to reassure them or downplay their concerns.
Instead I encourage them to get their child evaluated by a professional experienced in Autism and other developmental issues.
“Then you will have answers instead of questions,” I will tell them.
When the Navigator’s first grade teacher suggested he might have Asperger’s, we decided that in we wanted a private evaluation in addition to that being done by the school.
I asked a trusted psychologist for a recommendation and he gave me the name of a neuro-psychologist.
The evaluation was not covered by our insurance, and we paid for it ourselves because we thought it was important to have a global understanding, not just the education-based evaluation done by the school.
This global evaluation is what I encourage others to do as well.
I believe knowledge is power and I encourage parents not to be afraid of a diagnosis – if their child has Autism, knowing or not knowing doesn’t change that fact.
Knowing about it, however, allows them to start learning and helping their child as soon as possible which is good for the child – and the parents.
For an excellent post outlining detailed steps a parent can take in preparation for a diagnosis please check out “I think there’s something wrong with my child” ~ Steps to take toward a behavioral diagnosis by Beautiful in His Time.