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Monday, December 27, 2010

People part Two.

Carrying on from the last People post where I lamented well intentioned yet often insensitive comments by friends and family. I have been struck by a recurring theme when talking with other parents of ASD kids. And had my own taste on Christmas day. It is the sudden morphing of family members into Autism experts. Apparently it is not unusual for family members to deny an ASD diagnosis. Suddenly parents, siblings, uncles, in laws and so forth, none of whom have even read a pamphlet on Autism are, overnight, qualified to offer their opinion on whether or not we, as the parents, should accept our child is actually on the spectrum. This is despite the fact that the diagnosis is not easy to obtain. And those qualified to formally determine whether or not a child fits ASD criteria are usually specialists in the field Autism.

I am bamboozled by how consistent this experience is and can only assume it is a defensive reflex and not a well thought out response. Perhaps it is intended to offer comfort in a clumsy sort of way? What denying the reality of Autism in the child actually does is add to an already difficult situation. Because not only do they reject the diagnosis, but in the process reject the harrowing experience of the parents. They disallow the parents capacity to openly grieve and share their struggles. To be acknowledged for the hard road they are on. To garner support from those they should be able to lean on.

It is a level of arrogance I find hard to fathom. Essentially saying, I have never studied Autism, read anything about ASD, or even talked to an Autist, aside from this child, yet I feel I am well qualified to dispute the diagnosis you were given. I have several family members who are unwilling to accept Harri's ASD status. These are good people, who really should know better. But it appears to be a common burden. Including the day to day grind of managing your Autistic child, and the emotional toll that comes with that, we must also attend to the task of educating, and arguing, with those who are closest to us. What a drag. People!

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