I recently read a post on differing approaches to working with autism that is not exposed to parents and caretakers. As I commented on the post, it got me thinking about the fact that autism, like anything else in a family, affects the whole family. Autism by its nature not only isolates the child, but also many times the family. Although the last statistic I read stated one in every 68 children would be diagnosed with autism, I am not seeing the social acceptance and understanding that you would think a ratio like that would bring. The absolute worst issue I see with this is that families are not supported and rarely consulted. Although the greatest need I hear from parents is about their child’s communication needs, I find there is no one who knows the child and can interpret better than the parents. The great issue then becomes if a child has difficulty communicating, and professionals concentrate on making sure the parents understand all the things their child is not doing, will not do, and stop listening to what the parents knows, parents question what they know about their child. Parents question themselves and what they intuitively know. That is not a word we like to hear in a “research based ” society. By the way, how did we come up with the ideas we are researching anyway? Why are we researching these ideas? Research is a very good thing, but isn’t what we do to validate what we think?
All parents need support. Many of today’s successful cooks, musicians, and even entrepreneurs began their venture as inspired children, spending time with a family member and doing things they enjoyed. Parents, listen to yourselves. What you know about your child may not come from any scientific journal, but it is your best guide in finding what your child will need and who will help. Watch and listen to your child and take into consideration the opinions of others and contemplate hem. But in the end, listen to yourself and your child. Those of us privileged enough to be working with these kids and their families know what we know, have done our homework, and can help parents and kids connect the dots, but we need to listen and support not only the child, but their most basic and necessary connection, the parents or caretakers. Lets decrease the stress and increase the joy.
Antoinette Morrison MT-BC