I think at the outset I should mention that I’m not neutral on the subject of the diagnosis of autism i a young child. On 1st of September 2009 (yes I can remember without looking it up) my now six year old son was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder or ASD.
The process of getting our son diagnosed took around six (rather traumatic) months. The reason it was so fast was two-fold. One was that a diagnosis would provide our son with access to vitally needed interventions as early as possible. The second was that the London based service providing the diagnosis felt we would accept it.
As I run a Facebook Page called AutismTalk (https://www.facebook.com/AutismTalk) I realise that there is no one” best way” to get and accept an autism diagnosis. On the AutismTalk page there are a wide variety of different reactions to an autism diagnosis. It is this that I want to explore on today’s blog.
In March of 2009 we were informed by our son’s nursery that they though he had a sharp delay in speech development as well as raising concerns over his gross and fine motor skills. (No he had not been potty trained by that stage).
Once referred to an “Early Years Centre” in South London our case worker was blunt about telling us that speech delay was highly indicative of autism and that early intervention was vital. Brilliantly, for all of us, she suggested we move him from his old nursery to a band new specialist autism nursery based in a local primary school. He started there even before receiving his diagnosis. The team in this nursery (or Resource Base as it is sometimes referred to) included Occupation Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists as well as conventional teachers. Its objective was, and is, to enable autistic children to enter mainstream schooling. This our son achieved. Though the story of his misadventures in mainstream schooling is perhaps for another post!
I would like to pay tribute to the support of all those professionals who helped our son so much. By seeming him develop, though sometimes, ever so slowly was the way I came to terms with my sons diagnosis. While tough I realised there was future with a full life for him rather than the long night of pain I’d expected when I first heard the term autism in relation to our son.
So what is the point of this blog? Apart from, I suppose, the eternal struggle to get ones “thoughts in order”. Really I’d just like to ignite a conversation with fellow parents and carers of autistic people about both the process of diagnosis and how they came to terms with that diagnosis. I’d love it if you could use the comments box below to share your thoughts. You might like to think about some of the following questions?
a) What actually was your child’s diagnosis? At what age were they diagnosed?
b) What process did your child go through to get diagnosed and how long did it take?
c) How did you react to the diagnosis? How did your feelings change over time?
d) And finally what words of advice would you give to somebody who has just been warned that their child may have autism?
Thanks very much in advance.
PS I did cry on receiving the diagnosis by the way. Didn’t you?