Child with autism, parent with autism

A New York Times article about a child’s autism diagnosis described how the parents were left “thinking carefully about their own behaviors and histories.”

I know first hand how the delivery of an autism diagnosis can lead to questions from parents about their own lives. One of the most poignant experiences I had as an educator came when a father chose not to participate in the information-gathering process for his son’s diagnosis.

The educational team returned to tell the parents their child met the criteria. Their son would be given a diagnosis of autism. The mother simply said, “I knew it.”

The father remained silent.

He left the room without speaking a word.

The father returned to school the next day, diagnostic information in-hand, and the list of criteria full of checkmarks. “These checkmarks are about me,” he said. 

The father’s primary concern was not about himself. He was worried his self-diagnosed autism might have an ill-effect on his son. He wanted to know what he could do to be a better father.

The National Autistic Society describes how an adult might pursue a diagnosis and provides insight about why some adults choose to pursue a diagnosis.

The growing media focus on autism does leave many adults taking note and engaging in self-reflection about their own behavior. Sometimes a label explaining some of life’s challenges can bring a sense of relief.


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