15 Jun 2010
To parents of kids on the autism spectrum (AS)
Please don’t live in denial! It’s a waste of time. You are not doing your child any favor. Accept the fact and move on towards the process of helping your child to have a better life.
Let me tell you about what happens if you do live in denial. I was assigned to a child, little Johnny, who was diagnosed with severe autism. My job was to work with Johnny on a one-on-one basis in a classroom. The level of this classroom was way above his. Given the fact that his condition wouldn’t let him join the class and the teacher to learn in a formal way, he missed out on all learning opportunities from his instructors, and was not able to participate in the simplest group activities.
The reason why he was in this classroom in the first place was his parents’ choice. They believed that exposing Johnny to a higher level classroom environment would fix his problems. At the end of the year, they were disappointed because their assumption turned out to be completely wrong. Wrong placement ended up isolating Johnny from a healthy learning environment and his classmates.
Had his parents fully accepted his condition and the professionals’ suggestions (psychologists, program specialists, teachers, educators, speech pathologists, etc.) he would have been in an environment tailored to his condition with other children like him, which would have allowed him to communicate and interact more effectively and frequently.
In the end, the parents’ denial defeated the purpose of their intention: putting Johnny in a class of a higher level separated him from the class activities and classmates.
So what is the lesson here? When you get a diagnostic from professionals regarding your child’s condition, don’t take it personally. This is not an insult meant to hurt you. At the end of the day, everyone on the spectrum is like any one of us, but with a different brain wiring. Be factual and take it for what it is. Listen to the professionals’ advice. They don’t judge you or your child. They are trying to find the best solution for you as a family.
We understand the parents’ feeling when they are first hit with the diagnosis and we know that it takes time to grieve that their child is not “normal” and we know that it takes a while to accept. But it shouldn’t override your ability to act upon the problem promptly and positively with a lot of hope. Be patient, it’s a long journey, take it one day at a time. And don’t forget: don’t be in denial.