Why Get a Diagnosis?Posted by in Uncategorized
Why get a diagnosis? What does a label do? There are 2 reasons. The first, and most important, is to understand where the child is coming from. People with an autism spectrum disorder have a different point of view from “neurotypical” people. It is like they are from another culture and they don’t know or understand our culture. Imagination being dropped into the middle of China, you are a little nearsighted, a little hard of hearing, and you don’t understand what people are saying, and you have to get to the American Embassy in 2 days. You don’t know if an innocent gesture or facial expression will make a friend or severely offend someone. You would be anxious, afraid to engage anyone, and yet you had to function. The situation is overwhelming, and you’d possibly shut down from it all. If caregivers can’t get into their heads, they cannot help them. It is crucial to understand the difference between someone with and ASD and someone with another point of view, such as language delay, global delay, mental health disorders (such as Bipolar DIsorder) and neurological disorders (such as Tourette Syndrome or a seizure disorder). If you can’t get into their heads, you can’t help them. The most important things to realize is how visual they are. Usually their “first language” is pictures, not words. What we think of as their “native language” is really a foreign language. This is why visual supports are so important. You also have to give them time to translate. The other big thing to understand is how their sensory processing problems can lead to great anxiety and disability.
The other reason to get a diagnosis is to get services. 20 years ago, a diagnosis of autism meant there was nothing you could do. It was “hopeless”. It was better to get another diagnosis, with the hope of improvement. Now, it is easier got get services with a diagnosis of ASD. It does not mean anyone should get a diagnosis they don’t own, but only that an accurate diagnosis is crucial to getting appropriate services.
Do not be afraid to get an evaluation, and don’t let the word “autism” be too frightening. When you know what you are dealing with, you know more about what to do.
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