This article is geared toward parents of newly diagnosed autistic children and parents of young autistic children who are not acquainted with many of the basic issues of autism. Our discussion is based on a large body of scientific research. Because of limited time and space, detailed explanations and references are not included.
Receiving a diagnosis of autism can be devastating to some parents, but for others it can be a relief to have a label for their child’s symptoms. Some parents can be overwhelmed by fear and grief for the loss of the future they had hoped for for their child, and joining parent support groups and talking to other parents may help. However, these strong emotions also motivate parents to find effective help for their children seek evidence-based treatments in the critical early intervention phase. The diagnosis is important because it can open the doors to many services, and help parents learn about treatments that have benefited similar children.
The most important point we want to make is that autistic individuals have the potential to grow and improve. Contrary to what you may hear from out-of-touch professionals or read in old books, autism is treatable. It is important to find effective services, treatments, and education for autistic children as soon as possible. The earlier these children receive appropriate treatment, the better their prognosis (though it’s never too late to improve overall quality of life). Their progress through life may be slower than others, but they can still live happy and productive lives with appropriate support.
James B. Adams, Ph.D., Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona
Stephen M. Edelson, Ph.D., Autism Research Institute, San Diego, California
Temple Grandin, Ph.D., Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
Bernard Rimland, Ph.D., Autism Research Institute, San Diego, California
Jane Johnson, Autism Research Institute, San Diego, California