New to the spectrum? A parent's guide
Author Jade Page
Date 18th Jun 2019
If your child is on the autism spectrum, getting a better understanding of their needs through diagnosis can be a positive thing for the entire family. Children can be diagnosed as autistic when they’re quite young, in some cases from the age of two. However, many children with autism are put on waiting lists and miss out on early behavioural interventions and other benefits because health professionals are reluctant to diagnose autism early, or their parents don’t feel confident enough in pushing forward for a diagnosis.
I have two autistic children, both boys aged five & three My eldest received an early diagnosis at age two whilst my youngest received his last week aged three and a half. Both of my boys are so different from each other it really does highlight to me just how broad the autism spectrum is. For a while I wasn’t sure if my youngest was autistic as he didn’t ‘tick all the boxes’. However, he is clearly different to his peers and the more I’ve learnt and understood about autism, the more I’ve understood that most people don’t fit neatly into the criteria – we are all unique individuals.
As a parent, it would be very easy for me to have put off a diagnosis with my children. It is very easy to say let’s wait and see, that it could be a speech delay or that boys take longer to develop than girls.
As a parent, I knew that my kids were different. It did take time to fully recognise and identify the reasons for that difference, but getting an early diagnosis has been essential, not only in helping me access the right information for my children, but in providing me with the tools to fully understand and support them and their needs. Do not be afraid to speak to your GP (or health visitor in the case of young children).
Both of my boys have speech difficulties and having support at an early age has led us to fully understand the importance of visuals, routine, using picture exchange communication and other supports, all of which have made life better for us as a family.
The importance of relationship building
Everyone involved with a child, be that parents, teachers and other professionals, all have the same goal – what is the best outcome for the child. The best way to support any child or person is for everyone surrounding them to work together. Really listen to each other, without judgement, there is always a reason behind behaviour. It sounds so simple but, sadly, I hear regularly from parents who are struggling because no one will listen or support them.
Before the diagnosis for my two boys I was told by so many people that there was nothing different about my children. Now, I am a stubborn headstrong person, so hearing this didn’t really dissuade me from my knowledge that my two children needed further support. However, I can imagine that many parents might be put off asking for support for this very reason. So, when a parent says they see something in their child that is ‘different’, please listen and offer them your full support.
Reasons to be proud
Tuesday 18th June is Autistic Pride Day and whilst I am not autistic myself, for me autistic pride is really important. I am extremely proud of my kids and want to celebrate autistic pride. I need my kids to grow up in a world they can celebrate and be proud of themselves and their neurodiversity. I love my children and all I want for them in life is to be happy and comfortable with who they are and to feel accepted for who they are.
My boys are amazing, they are delighted by things I barely notice. They are connected to nature in a way that brings them pure joy at the beach on a sunny day, and a thunderous mood on a stormy day. They challenge me to change the way I think and view the world. They are extremely resilient and accepting of everyone regardless of how those people treat them. I am proud of them for making accommodations every day to try and fit into a society that is not built for them. I love both my children, and my message for other parents is this: There is no need to be sorry when you say they are autistic – be proud of who they are.
About the author
Jade Page is a mum of two and blogger of The Autism Page. After her eldest son was diagnosed with autism at the age of two, she began blogging to share information, experiences and resources to help support other parents.
For more information about early diagnosis visit autism.org.uk
If you are a parent looking for advice and information on autism try our free short course Autism for Parents
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