I think my kid has autism, what should I do?

Congratulations! You noticed! 

  1. Your child isn’t broken so you don’t need to fix anything. Avoid therapies and remedies that claim they can reduce the autism in your child. I’d rather you burn your money than spend it on that garbage. 
  2. You probably simply need to accommodate their unique sensory needs and support them as they grow (like any other human being needs). This might mean noise canceling headphones or earbuds (for noise issues), sunglasses (if their light sensitive), clothing that feels good (not too itchy/rough/loose/tight- just depends on their need), maybe go slower than you thought, maybe a visual schedule to help them understand, maybe an AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) device. Don’t worry, you’re not cheating or making excuses. You want your child to be able to engage and learn in the world and there’s only one way to do it; support them. 

Your loved one’s supports might change over time and perhaps some will eventually be removed. Support helps someone thrive. It’s likely different from what you expected, but it’s not bad to need support. You might need support too because you’re in uncharted territory.  

  1. Pursue an official diagnosis because it guarantees supports and accommodations in school. Start with a pediatrician. If your pediatrician dismisses your desire to determine if your child is autistic (and this is especially prevalent for autistic females or children who do not seem “severe” enough) please get another doctor.  

Many parents fear an autism diagnosis because their child “doesn’t seem autistic” enough or whatever the way they understood autism before their own child was diagnosed. Some people -even doctors- still use outdated functioning labels like “high functioning” or “low functioning” or “severe”. Please don’t use those terms. Would you like it if I referred to you as a low functioning neurotypical person? Or how about a high functioning allisitc? 

I won’t belabor this post defining these terms you could easily google. A better way to refer to your child is one with high or low support needs. If your child has “high support” needs, a professional will likely encourage you to pursue a diagnosis. 

If your child has “low support needs” you will likely encounter more roadblocks to a diagnosis. Here’s why:

  • The age of your child: has he/she learned to mask their self in order to receive praise/blend in? This is a common autistic experience
  • The gender/ethnicity of your child: girls tend to get missed for a variety of reasons. So do non-white children. Keep a journal/stick to the facts.
  • Is your child thriving right now? If so, some people will dismiss an autism diagnosis because “they’re doing so well’. Awesome. Also a diagnosis helps you understand a person and their unique needs and processing. If you feel uncomfortable with a diagnosis, that might be a “you” problem. 
  • Do you have disposable income?
  • Where have you learned about autism? Start by following autistic people. Google an autistic person’s blog or follow #actuallyautistic or Autism Inclusivity on social media. Listen. Do not type the first question that pops in your mind. Observe. Unlearn. Be open. You will or have already made mistakes. Who cares? We all have. Move on and do better when you know better. 

Could My Child Be Autistic?

If you’re on this page, you’re either wondering if your child is autistic or has just been diagnosed. This page is here because when my child was first diagnosed and I was so fearful of what the “A” word meant for him and my family and our futures, I scoured the internet and library looking for answers. I put them all here for you. 

This blog is to help you understand autistic people better so you can help them thrive in a world that wasn’t designed for them. It’s to help you possibly prevent mistakes I made early on so that you don’t unintentionally harm your child. And mainly, this blog is to help anyone who knows an autistic person and genuinely wants to include them and make the world safer. 

First, breathe. Relax. You know that baby you wanted and hoped for and loved? They’re still there. You just paid such close attention you realized they process information differently than neurotypical people. Your child isn’t broken! You noticed their needs and processing differences. You’re a great parent for doing that! Even if you didn’t do it right away, that is ok. 

You probably noticed because their sensory processing is markedly different from your life experience and you began to wonder why. 

Perhaps the sensory world your child is exposed to is stressful, or exciting, or overwhelming, or something else. Again: you noticed! You didn’t just say “Oh stop being so dramatic!”

Or maybe you did, but you realized some things, no matter what, cause issues for your child and are impacting his/her daily life. Whether they’re autistic or not, you’re probably here because you know there is something different. 

These processing differences may be signs of autism, but if so, your child isn’t broken. This page is to explain what and how accommodations help a neurodivergent person thrive. We use appropriate terminology, unlearn harmful stereotypes and outdated terminology and practices, and evolve so that our loved one can be a happy, fulfilled person. Heck, you may even learn a bit about your own processing system or others. 

I am so glad you are here!

What are the Signs of Autism?

Are loud noises, bright lights, extreme hot or cold, strong smells, textures an extreme sensory experience for your child? Does he or she deeply enjoy or fear or melt down in these sensory experiences and it’s not like a neurotypical child? 

Does he or she love to get pressure (like a big squeeze or being in a tight space) or perhaps loathe hugs? 

Does he or she have unusual facial expressions for the situation (maybe doesn’t look excited when there’s a big surprise or perhaps appears overly emotional for a basic situation)?

Does he or she have language delays or quite exceptional at language for their age?

Does he or she have the ability to focus on one thing for an exceptional amount of time without getting bored or perhaps watch and rewatch certain scenes or shows for an amount longer than what you’ve done?

Does the person display struggles with knowing appropriate body distance between others in a social situation?

These are all indicators that your child might be autistic and if at all possible, a formal diagnosis is important and very helpful. Notice how these indicators were not referred to as a “red flag” or “a warning”. A diagnosis is helpful, but do not confuse autism with a life threatening illness. 

Autism is a processing difference, much like the difference between two computer types like a Mac and an IBM. Even though these computers can both do things, certain programs that work on one won’t work on another. Their interface is different. Perhaps you have a preference for one type or another. Obviously this is not a personal computer and I sincerely hope you won’t take your child back to the hospital because you wanted a Dell and not a Mac. Because the truth is, if your loved one is autistic, they were born that way. And you don’t need to mourn. It’s just different than what you thought. 

Think of all the things you loved about your baby. Think of all the ways in which they demonstrate their love for life. 

Imagine if the person or people who raised you thought, “if only they weren’t this way. I wish they were how I imagined they would be instead.”  Ouch. That would hurt. Maybe some of us reading have had that experience.

Hoping a child would “overcome” the way they were born is a terrible way to live and treat another. This page is to find ways to celebrate who your child is and help them thrive.