There’s Really Nothing

7 Mar

I get asked this question a lot on facebook, twitter and in person is this: How do I tell someone I think their child might be autistic or showing signs of autism?

It’s almost always asked by someone who has the child’s best interests at heart and is genuinely concerned. They want to know if there is anything they can do.

My answer is typically this, “nothing.” Yep, that’s it. If you suspect a child of being autistic, there is really nothing you can do to help. You can maybe suggest they have him or her tested, but don’t expect a glowing  response. And don’t be offended if the parent in question ceases all contact with you.

People are complicated and they need to come to the realization that something else is going on, if indeed it is. I met a mom not long ago who was sure her son had autism at age 2 but he didn’t. Her basis, he lined up his food on his plate every once in a while and family pointed it out. Extensive testing and therapy later, he just had a weird habit. It was a short phase.

Parents are the best judges of things being “off” or not of their kids because they see their kids at their best and their worst. Most other adults who don’t see a child on a regular basis, so while your instincts may be right on, there is always the possibility they are off too. And they are ultimately responsible for the child in question and if there is something going on and they are in denial, it is sometimes easier to hear it from someone who does not have an emotional attachment, like a teacher or doctor.

I know how difficult it can be to feel like you’re “doing nothing” but aside from sharing your concerns, is there more you really can do?

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