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4 reasons parents go into denial of Autism

Rupa Sharat

All About Child
“Parents in denial of Autism in children is a gross injustice to the child”

It is shocking to find parents in constant denial of the autistic behaviors of their children. Most parents generally have a sense that there is something not right in the child’s development/ behavior. During infancy, parents justify this disorder as delayed speech and later when the child grows up, parents label this behavior as “slow learner”, “pampered”, “naughty”, “lazy”, etc. The denial is justifiable with parents who are uneducated and have no awareness or access/ afford diagnosis but is not acceptable from educated parents. In India, it is not uncommon for parents visiting temples to get the child cured from this disorder. There are even touts around in some temples who claim to cure disorders. This is nothing but an organized crime.

Denial is one of the parents’ biggest enemies. No one really wants to think or admit their precious child might have a “problem”.

Let us explore the main 4 reasons why parents deny autism in their children:

1. Social Stigma:

In the early days, the parents strongly believe that over a period of time the child will overcome, and this problem will fade away. Parents simply just don’t want the social stigma of having a child with special needs. What will the neighbours and friends think about the child and the family? This social stigma could be real or perceived but is a real issue. Many a time the parents hide these children from friends and family for the fear of not being accepted in the social context.

2.Lack of awareness of Autism Disorder:

For some parents the denial of Autism disorder is not because of the stigma or the shame but simply because they are uninformed about the huge spectrum of this disorder. This is especially true when the parents can see that their 8-year-old child is reading storybooks but is extremely uncomfortable with routine change and can throw a huge tantrum which is unjustifiable. Parents should learn that Autism is not just “nonverbal with severe learning difficulties” but comes in an array of difficulties and a large spectrum.

3. Hope:

It is not bad for parents to hope for the best because, hope outweighs denial, hope is real, and hope heals. It is not uncommon for parents to take multiple opinions from medical practitioners and hanging on to that one advise that suits them the most. Parents are constantly waiting for a miracle to trickle down from above and the child is cured. Parents dismiss the disorder hoping that it’s just a phase in the child’s life and the child will grow out of it.

4. It is common for parents to hang on to these statements and hope for a miracle to happen in their child:
  • I want to believe that my child is different, others can’t understand the child;
  • I don’t want to believe it;
  • Our doctor advised us to “wait and see”;
  • It is our child and this can’t be true;
  • We are busy, we don’t have time for this;
  • He’s not that bad, the child is having a bad time;
  • We didn’t plan this into our life;
  • We don’t have autism in our family.

Parents should know that treating Autism over a time has evolved (1) There is information (2) There is Support (3) There is a treatment (4) There is recovery (5) There are a lot of kids who have overcome this disorder. Lastly, there is hope.

The key for all the parents is to get in touch with a Developmental Psychologist or a Developmental Pediatrician and get a thorough assessment done. Find a Special Educator and share the assessment report with the Special Educator who will work with and design appropriate interventions and tools for the child to overcome this disorder. If in doubt there is no harm in getting an assessment done. At the least, parents can rule out doubts and if Autism is confirmed parents can get help at the earliest.

Early intervention, Early intervention, Early intervention is the only solution. Don’t wait. As a first step, make some time and go through articles and videos on Autism on our website: https://www.allaboutchild.org

More relevant videos on this topic:

  1. Autism in Toddlers: https://allaboutchild.org/autism-in-toddlers/
  2. Early Autism Diagnosis: https://allaboutchild.org/diagnosing-autis…arly-is-critical/

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