Do you think your child might be autistic? Should you have them assessed? Here I’ll talk about whether or not you should take your child for an assessment.
First off, I would just like to say: thank you for being concerned about your child and trying to help them. I know this can be daunting and confusing, but I’ll try to make it as clear as possible.
This article is for parents who are wondering if they should have their child assessed for autism. If you think you may be the one with autism, read this article.
Why early diagnosis is important
I wish so much that I had been able to have an earlier autism diagnosis. It can make life easier in so many ways. Here are just a few of the ways it can help:
1. They will grow up understanding themselves and showing more self-compassion
Whether you believe it or not, your autistic child will be aware that they are different. They will pick up on it from the way that they’re treated, or just from seeing how they are different from kids on tv or kids at school.
This is a very painful thing. When you feel like an outcast but have no idea why you’re not accepted, it’s confusing and very difficult.
I knew from a very young age that I was different and I didn’t feel like I fit in with others my own age.
People, both adults, and children, project their feelings. Autistic people can pick up on these feelings and it can be very distressing if you feel that people think you’re weird but you don’t know why.
2. They won’t mask as much.
Masking is the way that we change to fit into society, to be accepted. But it is exhausting and has a bad effect on mental health.
Autistic children can start to mask from a very young age and you as the parent may not notice it.
My parents had no idea that I was masking until I opened up to them when I was 18. You can read more about my diagnosis story here.
Because I masked for so long, I lost sense of who I was and I really struggled to accept myself.
I felt broken, like there was something wrong with me or that I just wasn’t good enough.
It’s important to know that you as a parent are not to blame if your child feels this way. As long as you are treating them with love and you’re not mocking them, you’re not to blame.
I have amazing parents that are very loving and understanding, they always have been. But I still felt the way I mentioned above.
3. They will have fewer mental health problems.
If autism goes undiagnosed, we can struggle with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and suicidal tendencies, to list a few.
Some or all of these and more are present with many autistic people but the burden can be severely lessened if they know why they are the way they are.
I was sliding towards some pretty bad places when I started seeking my diagnosis. I wasn’t where I wanted to be in life and I couldn’t figure out why. I wasn’t able to do the same things as my friends who were around my age and I didn’t understand why.
I have big dreams and big things that I want to do in life. I haven’t given up on them, but I’m not able to do them as soon as I wanted to. But I’m at peace with that now because I understand why.
The benefits of a diagnosis
If you’re at all able to get a diagnosis, there are many benefits that come with this; even aside from the ones we’ve talked about so far. Here are a few:
4. Accommodations at school
If your autistic child goes to school, this can be so overwhelming for them. But, if they have the diagnosis of autism, the school may be able to provide them with accommodations.
Many children diagnosed with autism are allowed to take exams in a room away from the other students, where it is quiet and they are able to focus.
They may also be allowed to wear sunglasses and earplugs in class.
The accommodations are different everywhere, so there may even be more available to your child.
5. Government assistance and such
Depending on where you live and a few different factors, you could be eligible for financial support if your child is officially diagnosed.
You may also be eligible for assistance with any medication your child might need as well as a tax credit.
You could also take advantage of local provisions for children with special needs.
All of this varies greatly from place to place, but make sure to look into what you may be eligible for!
6. It’s easier to explain
While maybe it shouldn’t matter, having an official diagnosis makes it much easier to explain your child’s behavior to family and friends.
I’ve found that once people know the reason behind a behavior they may view as strange, they are much more understanding and loving.
You as a parent may also be judged less for not being as strict or not punishing your child for things out of your control.
There is a lot of pressure put on parents to have a “perfect” looking child. And your autistic child is perfect, it might just take a little extra for other people to see that like you do.
Reasons you may not look for a diagnosis
There are a few reasons parents may not get a diagnosis for their children. I’d like to look at a few of them here and give you my opinions. Let me know in the comments if you have anything to add to this.
7. My child is dealing okay right now. They don’t need a diagnosis
While it may appear to you that they are dealing well with life, this can be deceiving. If you actually believe your child may be autistic, a diagnosis is very important.
While we may look like we are coping, we hold a lot inside. We feel things very strongly and very deeply, we may just have difficulty showing it.
I have been very hard on myself and very anxious for as long as I can remember. But no one really knew it.
My parents were very involved in my life and they care about me very much but they had no idea how much I was struggling.
I looked like I was coping perfectly well to my parents, and everyone that knew me, up until about age 16 (so well that no one but me suspected my neurology was different). Then I started to unravel.
I started to underperform at things at which I used to excel. I started to spend less time with my family and friends. I started to have bad anxiety, and I started sliding towards depression and some suicidal ideation. I felt horrible, and I felt horrible about myself.
8. What if I look bad because my child is autistic?
I get it. There’s a lot of stigma around autism and you’re worried about your reputation.
But here’s the thing: autism is not caused by bad parenting! It’s a neurological difference. You’re not to blame in any way if you’re child is autistic. Nothing you could have done or can do now can change that fact. Anyone who says otherwise is ignorant.
So don’t worry about people thinking badly of you because your child is autistic.
9. I’m afraid people will treat my child differently
Mental health is a freaky thing to people that aren’t educated about it. So, some people may treat your child differently if they know they are autistic. But they will treat them differently anyway!
The thing is, if your child is autistic, they’re autistic. With or without that label, that is who they are. It affects the way they act and the way they are perceived. So they will be treated differently even if they aren’t diagnosed.
The only difference being: they won’t understand why they’re being treated differently. They won’t have an explanation.
They may just grow up thinking they are broken, bad, lazy, or useless. That’s how I started feeling when I saw I was different.
For me, having an explanation for why life is harder for me than some and why I’m treated differently makes a huge difference. I can’t even tell you how much it is helping me.
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10. I can’t afford a diagnosis
If this is the case for you, I hope you’re not panicking by this point. If you can’t afford a diagnosis for your child, that is okay. Your child will be okay.
If you can’t afford it right now, then research, research, research! Learn as much as you can about autism and how it affects children at the different stages in their lives.
Knowledge is power. If you feel sure that your child is autistic, then help them to understand what that means. Learn how to talk to them in a way that they can understand. Learn what they need.
Some things they may need include:
- recharge time from social interactions
- noise-canceling headphones for when they are in public
- sunglasses for bright lights indoors
- there may be certain foods they can’t eat because of sensory issues
These are just a few things. I’m going to do a few more articles on how to help your autistic children, but there is tons of good info on the web.
The bottom line
I cannot stress this enough: if at all possible, get your child a diagnosis.
Here in Canada (and some other places in the world), it is free to get your child assessed. In my province, it is free up until the age of 19 (I slipped in right at the last minute).
So if you think your child is autistic, and you can afford a diagnosis (or it’s free), why wouldn’t you get your child assessed? There are so many benefits, to you and your child.
I wish I could have had a diagnosis when I was younger.
Whether you can get your child diagnosed or not, the most important thing is that you learn about autism and that you help them. A diagnosis is always the best-case scenario, but sometimes that’s not possible.
So watch videos, read books, talk to other parents and people who are actually autistic. Learn as much as you can so you can help your child.
I hope this has helped. I hope that it all works out for you. Remember not to worry what other people think, or if people that don’t know what they’re talking about judge you.
This is about what’s best for your child.
If you have any questions, please leave them below and I’ll do my best to answer them. And if there are any autistic people reading this, leave our parents some kind suggestions!
Love from the autsiverse!