Congratulations! You noticed!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Some people -even doctors- still use outdated functioning labels like “high functioning” or “low functioning” or “severe”.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.