Friday, December 9, 2011

The Dreaded 'A' Word

At his one year check-up the nurse practitioner listened to our concerns regarding G's lack of speech and many-many quirks. Her immediate response: "Well, let's have him screened for Autism." I was stopped short. In my years of teaching preschool, as well as the internships and student teaching I'd done in many types of classrooms and environments during college I had worked with MANY truly autistic children. My son was not autistic. Her reasoning for wanting the screening done: his lack of speech. Really? Just straight to Autism- no speech evaluation with Early Intervention or anything of the sort? Research told me this was the fast emerging trend of pediatrics.
While I truly believe there are those with true Autism, in my honest opinion it is a fad diagnosis. Just as Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder were when I was growing up, it seems every child that is not society's idea of "normal" is being slapped into the Autism Spectrum. Not only is this a mockery of those who truly deal with Autism, but it is a disservice to our children and their futures. We're telling our kids, "You're not perfectly normal, so here- you have this disorder." Disorder. Just the word is enough to make a little kid feel further alienated from his or her peers.
The nurse practitioner seemed totally baffled when both my husband and I immediately declined the Autism screening. We knew our son and we knew something was wrong in his tiny mind, but it wasn't Autism.


  1. Hi mama - I found your blog from your signature on DiaperSwappers (thanks for the response btw).

    Thankfully, our pediatrician didn't jump on the "autism" bandwagon when it became very clear he had a speech delay (at 18 months old his only word was mama). She could determine by watching him and through asking a variety of questions - he was not autistic - only delayed with speech.

    We were referred to speech pathology where my son was assessed and confirmed to have speech delay. Unfortunately our insurance (Kaiser) didn't work with infant - only with the parents (teaching skills to help encourage speech - all of which I already knew).

    When my son turned 3 a couple months ago - I contacted the local school district to enroll him in the speech program (speech therapy through schools is available after age 3). The SLP (speech language pathologist) was very friendly but she was quick to judge him after a very short amount of time (a time at which was way past his regular nap time). She advised me she would definitely recommend occupational therapy and a psychological evaluation!

    I contacted our pediatrician right away - she sent a referral for occupational therapy but felt the psychological eval was completely unnecessary. We went to the occupational therapist and what do you know - my son was absolutely fine and within the "normal" range for his age.

    We know our children the best - if there was a problem, we would definitely notice - and we would, without hesitation, seek the appropriate help! There are just too many people out there who want to slap labels and dole out medicine, or therapies unnecessarily.

  2. Serena- Exactly! I'm glad your son was able to get help. We were able to enroll our son in therapies free of charge through Early Intervention when he was 2 years old. I am so thankful. It made all the difference in the world. I'm not against a completely warranted and tested diagnosis that helps get treatment for ANY kind of malady, but like I said above- the ASD label is being thrown around SO casually these days.

    Thanks for reading! *hugs*

  3. Mama~
    I too found you blog via DS. Prayers and Hugs to you!
    I have had children who have read fluently and spoke very well by 3 and those who spoke not a word until then and never read until they were 8. I've had some PL by 15 mo and a Pee Pants queen until she was 14, and everything in between. I'm convinced some would have been diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum as well as a couple ADHD and maybe more, but thankfully all is well. Sometimes we have to go with our heart. I'm a firm believer is diagnostic when it is needed but I fear out motherly intuition often give over to others who think they might know better. Time is a gift. 3 is so small, so much learning to unfold in their little hearts and minds. Just my 2-cents.


Thanks so much for your input!