Did you know that Autism is much more common than many people think? According to The National Autistic Society, there are around 700,000 people in the UK living with autism – that’s more than 1 in 100. If you include their families, autism touches the lives of 2.8 million people every day.
David had his ADOS assessment today. As a result David has been diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. The strange thing is that I feel positive about it.
As with Matthew, we have known that David is on the spectrum for a while. In some ways he shares the same traits as Matthew, in other ways he is completely different. That is a subject for another blog (note to self).
One thing that is different is that both Petra (my wife) and I now feel better equipped with knowledge and experience to deal with David’s condition. Over the last two years we have armed ourselves with so much knowledge about Autism through courses, reading, through using the services of wonderful charities like SNAAP and from our experiences as an “ASD” parent. You can never stop learning about Autism and knowledge really is power.
Now we have a “diagnosis” we can start putting things in place to help David both inside and outside of the classroom. We can move to put things place that will help David reach his potential from the first day he starts school. Matthew did not have that luxury and struggled as a result. Overall, David will be better off for this diagnosis.
I am aware that some of you lovely readers are either trying to get, or have recently received, a diagnosis for your child. I am guessing that some of you reading this blog are perhaps not yet ready to see a positive in such a diagnosis. Please rest assured that this is completely normal and I know how you feel.
When Matthew was diagnosed just over 2 years ago it was a different story. Petra had assumed that Matthew was autistic long before we received the formal diagnosis. To be honest I tried not to think about it and in typical bloke fashion I thought that he “would grow out of it”, whatever “It” was.
Although I was aware ASD existed; I really had no first hand experience of the condition. When we received Matthew’s diagnosis it felt like I had been pushed from being a “normal” parent into the world of being a parent to a child with Autism – a world of Myths and Medical Jargon.
Matthew was diagnosed with a condition I knew very little about, and when people hear the word “diagnosis” they tend to instantly think the worst. It instantly screams “illness” or “disease” and I’ll be honest with you, it scared the hell out of me.
I wrongly felt that for some reason that it was down to something I had done wrong as a parent. Please do not fall into that pit of despair. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder which is not caused by anything that you have or have not done as a parent. (Another subject for my blog….. noted)
The last two years has been a very steep learning curve in understanding both Matthew and his condition. One of the biggest lessons I learned is how to turn a negative into a positive, and this probably goes some way to explain how I feel so differently about David’s diagnosis as opposed to the despair I felt when Matthew was diagnosed.
One thing to remember is that your child is still the same person. A diagnosis will grant you access to tools to help them realise their potential, and that for me is the big positive.