Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Impact of an Autism Diagnosis

Some families are impacted dramatically by an Autism diagnosis. Other families just seem to take Autism as an aspect of one child's personality. It depends on many factors. First you have to look at a typical family, if there is any such thing.

In the beginning you have a couple. Two people who probably do not have any disabilities. They could but probably not. Even further let's pretend they do not have anyone in their family of origin who had Autism.

The couple we are talking about decides to start a family, a large family by today's standards. They have a few children, boys and girls, in no particular order. At some point one of the children receives the diagnosis of Autism. The dynamics of this family have changed forever.

The immediate family members must adapt to this situation. The changes start here. They become stronger because they learn to adapt early. The parents have to become creative. They have to be primary caregivers to all of the children taking into account this new aspect.

Most of the parent's children interact on some level in what we call normal. The parents recognize this as this is how their families of origin interact. At first with the child with Autism there does not seem to be any response or communication.

This can be hurtful to the parent who does not understand. In an effort to understand parents reach out. For some people this is uncomfortable, but learning to access resources is strength.

As time goes on the parent and the child learn. This is another important change. The parents learn their own ways of loving and caring for their child. They become involved with other parents and professionals and learn even more. By now parents have become so much more knowledgeable and flexible.

People in general think a parent becomes overwhelmed with the fact their child is different. What they forget is that all of our children are different. Some are more dependent on their mom. Some are more dependent on their dad. Some children do not want any help what-so-ever.

A child with Autism is the same. Some depend on mom. Some depend on dad. Some do not want our help and some depend on everybody! Sometimes they live at home and sometimes they do not.

We also should not forget the siblings. Siblings become do not understand like the parents do because of course they are not adults. If a sibling is older they may help more. What we forget is that this happens with the older siblings anyway. It has been like that in the distant past as well.

Younger children may notice that a sibling with a disability needs more care. This is an opportunity for them to learn tolerance very early. All in all, as any family does, they all find their place and role in the family. They all care for each other in their own ways and they all live, age, love and simply "are' accordingly.

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Mylinda Elliott is the parent of five children. The third of the five has Autism which was diagnosed early on. The fourth of the five children has Aspergers. She is a self taught expert on Autism Spectrum Disorders. Mylinda Elliott has also worked professionally in the disability world for the past fifteen years. She is considered the "Go To" woman for advice or resources on disabilities.

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