To parents, receiving the label of “Autism” for your child can be devastating. As a professional working with children and families who have received the diagnosis, I see this often in my work. I wish this wasn’t the case for families. For many people, there is still the underlying assumption that those with Autism can not grow and develop, and that where they are at the point of diagnosis is all they will ever have to work with. All parents will worry about their children sometimes, but this seems to be intensified in the experience of parents of children with Autism. I really want to tell you that your child with Autism can achieve mental growth, and they can develop real and authentic skills that will lead to a happy life. It is possible! There is hope for people for Autism!
The comments I am making in this article are not intended to be a judgement; rather, they are an exploration of my thoughts over years of practice, and an attempt for me to try to get closer to answering the question of why families experience such a devastating loss of hope when their child has Autism.
Is there something about the Autism diagnosis that provokes fear that a child is not capable of growth? I think for a lot of people, there is still a lot of fear about how Autism will impact on their child’s life and future prospects. It must never be easy to hear of any condition that could affect your child’s life. But with most health conditions, there is an expectation that your child will undergo a course of treatment, and you as parents can still hang on to your hope that your child will have a full and rich life, and that their future can be bright. I have noticed that when I meet families of children with Autism, the questions presented to me are often “Will my child get better?”, or “Will my child ever be normal?” I think that for some parents, these questions stem from a loss of hope that their child is capable of growth, that their child will not develop their sense of self, and that their child might not develop relationships, and this can be really scary. We now know so much more about the condition we label as Autism, and with the new generation of Autism treatments, such as Relationship Development Intervention®, it is possible to develop all of these things! In typical development, we take for granted that mental growth is possible. Your child with Autism can also achieve mental growth! It’s not easy, and there’s no quick fix, but it is possible.