When your child has autism it can be a very difficult situation to deal with. Oftentimes, parents may suspect there is something developmentally wrong with their child, but consciously coming to grips with the situation can be extremely hard to accept. There are many cases where an autistic child is treated as if he or she is a completely normal child, out of a sort of blind, but wishful thinking, and these situations can be particularly troubling, for parents and child.
If you know someone close to you and you believe their child has autism, it is best that you voice your concerns even if you risk upsetting the parents. The reason being is the quicker a diagnoses is confirmed, the faster interventions and treatment can be started. Simply ignoring the problem will never make it go away. In fact, pretending that a child does not have autism can actually exacerbate symptoms and problematic behaviors instead of redefining and helping to structure them. Raising an autistic child, depending on the severity of the disorder, can be an extraordinarily difficult task that can take both an emotional and physical toll on parents and family members.
However, there are forms of treatment and interventions that can truly help, so the sooner a child is diagnosed the easier it can be.
Basic psychology suggests that when you approach someone about a potentially troubling situation it is better for all concerned if the situation is handled in a gentle manner. Obviously, if you are going to tell someone close to you that you believe their child is autistic, it pays to be sensitive. If you are straightforward and discuss the matter in a calm, sensitive way, you can avert any possible hostility in return. Many parents may react angrily and deny the suggestion their child is autistic, so it is probably a good idea to have some literature with you to back up why you feel their child may be autistic. It is also important to explain the different levels of autism and their effects.
If you are prepared to provide some meaningful information on autism you should first learn as much about the disorder as you can. If you are going to approach parents and suggest a diagnosis of autism, you should know what you're talking about. Furthermore, it is a good idea to be supportive and honest when you tell someone you believe their child is autistic. Remember many people do not fully understand what autism really is, so it will be up to you to be able to explain the disorder and answer any of their initial questions.
In addition, autistic children, like other children with developmental disabilities, have special needs. If you really want to help, you should be ready to provide information on how to access services that address the special needs of the child in question. When a parent faces the fact that her child may be autistic, it can be an overwhelming sensation due to the fact that the resulting changes will be life-altering for the people directly involved.
When you raise your concerns with someone in your family or really close to you, you should always try to do so sensitively - pick your moment and don't just blurt it out at a family gathering or in public. Remember, the news you are going to deliver can be initially devastating. Make sure you know enough so you can answer the majority of questions that will be thrown at you. Most importantly, be yourself and make sure the person knows that you care and are concerned for them and their child.
Try to offer information about methods of treatment that will shed some positive slant on autism. Inform your friend or family member that there are thousands of scientists and researchers working on ways to better treat autism. You should also have a list of resources available. This list can include websites, local clinics, cutting-edge research and anything else you feel can give a realistic, but positive approach to autism. Have a look through the previous posts on the blog for links to sites that could provide a great starting point for a parent learning about autism for the first time.
Rachel Evans writes a Free Autism Newsletter, designed to help families understand and manage autism effectively. To find out how an sign up, click here: Free Autism Newsletter or for more information on signs of autism in a child visit our blog.
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