Some people will read this title and nod their heads. Others will look at it and shake their heads. Either way, the topic is a hot one and one worth re-visiting.
I often talk with families who tell me that they know their child is on the autism spectrum or suspect their child is; however, they do not want him/her “labeled”. I put that in quotes because it is clearly seen as a dirty word and to some degree, I do understand why. As parents, especially those of us in our 30’s and above, we have memories of the “special” kids who we occasionally saw in the hallway and nowhere else. We envision those children being our children and, in fact, labeled. We do not want our children “tracked” to go nowhere.
When I work with families as an Autism Advocate, both diagnosed and undiagnosed, they leave with a variety of options. Our goal is for them to leave knowing what path they want to follow and the ability to help their child irregardless of their choices for diagnosis. Having said that, I would like to argue that without proper diagnosis, we cannot get our children the help they really need. Our daughter, the first to be diagnosed with PDDnos and on the spectrum, received her formal diagnosis at 5 years old. Up to that point, she received various therapies through first steps and private insurance. However, at 5 years old, her needs were great and the 20 visits a year, for OT, that the insurance allowed was no longer going to be acceptable. As her parents, we could not meet her needs. As a school, though we had her in a private Montessori, they could not meet her needs. The public school system said she was too smart and they could not meet her sensory needs. And insurance, would not meet her needs. Diagnosis became crucial.
The Americans With Disabilities Acts, along with Special Education Law and perhaps various laws in your State, protect your child, with a diagnosis from being discriminated against. Your child is entitled to receive the best education and care. Autism is a nuerobiomedical condition that affects the brain as just one aspect. When we realize that autism is a medical diagnosis, not a psychological diagnosis, we then realize that our children can be helped. However, no doctor will treat a child for cancer without a diagnosis, or for strep throat without a diagnosis. Our children with Autism deserve the care that they need. If you are at the point where you have exhausted the care you can get for your child without diagnosis, or you feel they could get more with diagnosis, I encourage you to look at that road.
At ASDPerspectives, we go alongside families to help them on the journey to healing. Please contact us to learn more about our services. Autism is a Journey that No Family Should Have to Walk Alone.