Sunday 2 June 2019

Autism - Why Is An Early Diagnosis Important?

I've read a number of posts on various social media platforms recently in which families have voiced that they have no wish to pursue an Autistic diagnosis for their children because, and I quote, "We don't want to label our child."

I've heard this line of thought previously and it has always concerned me. Parents who do not want to get their child assessed until they are "at least ten years old" or "they'll be fine, they're just quirky."

The way that I see it is that my little superheroes neurology is never going to change, with or without a diagnosis. Their neurology is not going anywhere.

For some families, and individuals, an Autism diagnosis comes with relief as they always knew, like we did with L, that there was something different about their child or themselves. For other families, and individuals, an Autism diagnosis can come as a complete shock like a bolt out of the blue.

I know that over the last few years, I have read many negative stories about gaining an Autism diagnosis, so I want to share the positives that come with gaining an Autism diagnosis. 

I want to share the reasons why gaining an early Autism diagnosis is important. While I will be referring to children in this article, gaining an Autism diagnosis for an adult is equally as important.

Autism is not rare. In Australia, 1 in 100 people are diagnosed with Autism and research has shown that early intervention makes a HUGE difference to a child's development which then leads to improved outcomes for children who have been able to access the early intervention services. 

Gaining an early Autism diagnosis is important because it means that accessing early intervention occurs much earlier when a child's brain plasticity ** is much more pronounced. At a young age, children are able to learn new skills much more quickly then adults. Early intervention services are usually only available to children 7 years of age and under.

Gaining an early Autism diagnosis is important for a child's all round well being as it can lead to accessing much needed funding and assistance that will benefit the child. And while the funding and assistance is primarily for the child, at times, the family also benefits as they learn how to assist their child.

Gaining an early Autism diagnosis will often lead to greater understanding of the child- for themselves and their family and other loved ones. An Autism diagnosis can help to explain some of the reasoning behind why the child does what they do.

Gaining an early Autism diagnosis means that the world can begin to understand my two little superheroes.

Gaining an Autism diagnosis can be a very big, positive, turning point in a child's life. For us it was a massive turning point when we received L and then O's Autism diagnosis. For L it meant that we were able to access early intervention services and he was able to access the support that he required at school. L has made huge leaps and bounds since being given his ASD diagnosis.

But more importantly, gaining an early Autism diagnosis can lead to the child having a greater understanding of who they are as a person. Both O and L know that they are autistic, or as O prefers to say, that they have Autism. We wanted both O and L to know who they are and that their Autism is part of what makes them, well, them. We want them to be proud of themselves, Autism and all.

We want O and L to love every part of themselves. We want them to love their unique differences. We want both O and L to have a positive self image. We want O and L to know that some of the most successful people in our world are Autistic or would have been given an Autism diagnosis if they were alive today. And that they too are capable of achieving great things.

Gaining an early Autism diagnosis means that your child and your family have started a lifelong learning journey. Progress is going to occur and will happen over time just as it does for a typically developing child it's just that your child may make little detours along the way. And what is life without detours? Detours make life interesting.

Gaining an early Autism diagnosis does NOT mean that your child is any worse off than the way they were before the diagnosis. Other than being told that your child is on the spectrum, the diagnosis changes nothing about your child. They are still the same person as they were before.

Lastly gaining an early Autism diagnosis has meant that both of my children have a greater chance of succeeding in life. Their Autism diagnosis has opened doors to supports that they can access.

Please try to view your child's Autism diagnosis as a positive step forward for your child and your family.

Without an Autism diagnosis, so many areas of life can be difficult, distressing and bewildering for an individual who is undiagnosed. An individual can feel socially isolated from their peers.

It can be common to feel an overwhelming mix of emotions when given an Autism diagnosis for your child. If you do find yourself in this situation, please seek some good professional support for yourself. This support could be in the form of speaking to a medical professional or speaking to other families or Autistic adults. Gaining support from Autistic adults or from families who are also on their own Autism journey can be valuable as they can speak first hand of the achievements that they or their children have made. They can provide you with heartfelt and practical advice.

I personally cannot imagine my life, or my children, without Autism. 

Autism means that my little superheroes are Ausome!

** Brain plasticity, which is also known as neuroplasticity, is a common term used by neuroscientists. It refers to the brain's ability to change at any age - for better when learning new skills or for worse if a catastrophic brain injury occurs. This brain plasticity or brain flexibility plays an incredibly important role in our brain development as a child.

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I would love to hear your thoughts on my blog. I do read all the comments that are posted. Thanks so much for stopping by. Jen xx