In a world where something like autism is seen as a scourge, an epidemic wreaking havoc on the normalcy of family structure, , seeking or receiving a diagnosis may feel like the last thing that you would want to associate with your child.
However, before you read further, I highly recommend that you read Jim Sinclair’s “Don’t Mourn for Us” before continuing, both in your reading on this website, but also in your life whether before or after you or your child have received a diagnosis.
Given these thoughts, there are of course pros and cons to seeking and receiving a diagnosis of autism, but what is and always will be ultimately important is the welfare and happiness of your child.
Our argument in support of receiving a diagnosis, which refutes the ‘con’ argument of the negative stigmas that others will have in regards to autism would be that that the ill-informed (majority) part of the population do not understand autism or its implications, which puts the child at a great risk for discrimination. While it can’t be argued that there won’t be any discrimination, it is a parent’s job to educate the others around them as to their child’s needs. By teaching and changing others’ incorrect beliefs regarding autism, a parent can be the child’s biggest advocate.
One might believe in a self-fulfilling prophecy that could be present if the child feels that they ‘should not be able to’ accomplish certain things due to their diagnosis. This point also correlates with the incorrect beliefs that many people have about autism and its implications and effects. So, again, it is extremely important to not only educate others in your child’s life, but to also educate your child and fuel their potential by presenting them with many ways to learn and thrive in their own way.
A large advantage of receiving a diagnosis is providing connections, support, and a ‘guide’ as to how to help your child live up to their greatest potential. While diagnoses is a complex and not 100% accurate process, it is possible that an incorrect diagnosis may be reached. These are extremely unfortunate situations that emphasize the importance of repeated testing by highly trained professionals.
By providing a source of help for the parents via insurance and access to certain therapies or educational support for their children, a diagnosis itself can serve as support. Not only does it help to support the family’s financial aid to the child, but it acts as a sort of mental support or explanation for the family as well. Autism is an explanation for their experience of the world, it helps parents understand, and can perhaps remove blame from either the parents or child for why they are ‘different’.
It is the parent’s duty to be their child’s advocate, helping to educate others and support their child in any and every way that they can. By being critical thinkers in interpreting all of the information that is circulating and open-minded to the new experiences that our autistic (or any) child will bring, parents can help eliminate the (external) negative consequences of a diagnosis.