Respecting My Son's Individuality After His Autism Diagnosis

It took me a while to realize my son was not his diagnosis. Like many parents of newly-diagnosed kids with autism, I worked relentlessly with my son after finding out about his autism, thinking it was only a matter of how much time and effort was put in for my son to be able to overcome his challenges.

Before I knew what was happening, I had turned my son into a project to be worked on instead of a child to be loved. It was only when the both of us ended up burnt out and miserable that I realized this was not working. My sweet, cheerful, lively, bubbly, happy-go-lucky boy was no longer any of those things. He was sad, tired, frustrated, defeated and withdrawn. I was so mad at myself for having done this to him. I hated myself for losing sight of who my son was in the process of trying to get him to “fit” in society.

It is so important to remember our kids are individuals with their own identity, interests, characteristics and personality, just like neurotypical kids. Working with them indiscriminately, without taking these things into consideration can set them up for failure, resulting in lack of self-confidence, low self-esteem and depression. It is important to work with their likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, styles of learning, means of motivation, to help them blossom and grow into the people they are meant to be.

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