A diagnosis can be a very difficult thing for parents to accept, particularly if their understanding of a disorder is influenced by media. The media has certainly picked up on Autism Spectrum Disorder in the last decade or so, and there are almost limitless books and films depicting people with autism. ASD has also received a much higher profile in the community, as well as attracting specific funding.

Please do not be daunted by the portrayals in the media. Often, all the known traits that can be seen in people on the ASD spectrum are put together into one character. This can be overwhelming.

Children are all individuals with their own personalities and skills, and their own strengths and weaknesses.

If a child has autism, it is probably better to know than not to know, for a number of reasons. Other people are likely to be more understanding of the difficulties you are facing and treatment can be planned and managed. Therapy, such as Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy can be tailor made to work on areas that are difficult for your child. Schools can flag that there could be potential issues for your child and help them to navigate through these.

A big plus is that often funding is available to help you access the therapy you need for your child to reach her or his potential, access all the interests available to other children, and to enjoy their life and relationships to the maximum.

On the other hand, parents may not want to “label” their child. I suggest to parents that a diagnosis can be on a “need to know” basis. If a child is older, or a young adult, then they can have a say in who they think needs to know.

Having worked with many children who have received a diagnosis, overwhelmingly most children express an element of relief or acceptance, that they have a reason to explain to themselves why their thinking processes seem different to other children.

If you have concerns, find a Speech Pathologist who works with children with autism, to support you and guide you through the issues, and set your child off on a lifetime of communicating.