To most people a diagnosis of autism for their child is the first step to dealing with a lot of the problems that they have been facing. But for others the idea of a diagnosis is akin to giving their child a label for life; one that they think is unfair to inflict on their child. I would presume that most people reading this will have a diagnosis, or know someone who has a diagnosis. My own personal view is that you should get yourself, or your child diagnosed, if you think they do have autism. I talked to people on Twitter and they made some points about not wanting to get very young children diagnosed, or believing that they could handle their own children’s problems better than professionals could. I understand both these points, and even though I don’t think a diagnosis would hurt just to make sure they knew what they were dealing with, and to make sure the child didn’t have something else going on that they weren’t aware of, they aren’t the particular type of parents I am talking about. I am talking about certain people – some of whom I have encountered in real life, and others on-line – who treated being diagnosed as autistic as though it was some kind of stigma. They looked down their nose at parents who got their children diagnosed, and acted as if they were better parents for making those decisions. Those are the kind of people I am talking about in this blog. I don’t think it matter what age you get diagnosed at as long as it works for both you and your family, so none of this is aimed at people who choose not to get very young children diagnosed. But in this blog I will weigh up the pros and cons to try to understand other people’s point of view.
- A lot of people say that if you get your child diagnosed and therefore, label them, you are marking them out for life; people will treat them differently or maybe patronise or bully them.
- They also believe that their children will feel that they have something wrong with them and that they aren’t normal. They worry that this will affect their self-esteem.
- Some people say that they don’t want social services interfering in their family life, as they might if the child was diagnosed.
- A lot of parents will argue that they don’t want a medical diagnosis for what they perceive to be just their child`s personality.
When it comes to giving children a label – yes, fundamentally that`s what any diagnosis is – one thing is for sure; if your child does have autism and it goes undiagnosed, they will pick up their fair share of labels going through life. Depending on how it expresses itself; they could be labelled as shy, rude, ignorant, unsociable, and in some cases even violent. This is due to the fact that issues they could be helped with – if people knew what was going on for them – go untreated because they don’t have that one label of autistic. Also, I don’t know about anybody else reading this, but I find it pretty offensive that a parent wouldn’t want their son or daughter to be labelled with something that I have.
The likelihood is that if your child has undiagnosed autism then they will feel that there is something wrong with them. They will feel that they don’t exactly fit in, but they won’t know why. They may become alienated and lonely, but if they know that they have autism then they would know that there is a perfectly good reason why they don’t feel the same as everyone else, they would know that there are plenty of other people out there just like them and that they are not abnormal.
It is perfectly understandable that people don’t want Social Services to interfere in their lives – but why would they? Unless you contact them, they won’t even know your child has been diagnosed. And anyway, even though they may not be able to get it right every time, they are a perfectly good resource if you find you do need them somewhere down the line.
The point about a medical diagnosis/child`s personality is a fair one; but just because your child gets a diagnosis doesn’t mean they have to change – they will still be the same child with the same personality. Anyway, autism doesn’t make your personality, it is just a part of how your brain works. Even though I am fairly positive about autism I have had a lot of struggles with it over the years. I have managed to change certain aspects of it, and I don’t believe that has affected my personality whatsoever.
- Getting a diagnosis allows you to finally put a name to any issues you may have been having. What I mean by this is, especially as you get older, you may start wondering why you find it hard to be in busy places, why you get anxious and panicky, or any number of other things. The stress of having to deal with these things is bad enough, but if you add that to not knowing why you have them in the first place, it becomes a pointlessly stressful situation.
- It gives you access to a whole host of services. There are a lot of services set up to help people with autism, and your child will be autistic whether you get them diagnosed or not. They will have all the same issues other autistic people have, but all those other autistic people will have access to the services – your child wont.
- Also, people who get diagnosed will be able to look at other people who have been diagnosed with autism, talk to them and find out what they did to make life easier for themselves, and find out what they can do to help themselves. If you are undiagnosed, not only do you miss out on services, but you miss out on other people’s experiences.
- It will actually give your child a lot more self-confidence. This is true whatever age you are diagnosed at, but especially so for children, who struggle to understand why they are behaving in the way they are. If they can understand what it is that makes them behave in this way they actually gain a lot more confidence and self-belief, and it is easier to then tackle the bad parts of autism.
I still believe that being diagnosed is the best thing for somebody with autism. If it was anything else you wouldn’t even think twice. I think you can still take matters in to your own hands and do what you think is best for you and your family – a diagnosis confirms that you are doing the right thing – there is no need to let professionals take over. And your child doesn’t have to tell anyone they don’t want to tell, that they have autism. The label won’t follow them around if they choose not to tell people, but if they behave in certain ways without diagnosis, people will remember, and that will follow them around. In my personal opinion I think it is best to get your child diagnosed as early as possible, just so it is clear what is going on. I wouldn’t have a go at anyone who didn’t get their child diagnosed until that child was old enough to make that decision themselves. But I just feel that in my own life, being diagnosed was a huge turning point in allowing me to get control of some of my behaviours and to become more confident.
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