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The Problem With Stigma Surrounding an Autism Spectrum Diagnosis

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We need to move forward from preconceived, negative ideas surrounding an autism diagnosis.

Views that suggest that parents are using the diagnosis as a “Badge of honor” or to “excuse poor behavior” do not consider or are not aware of how this could affect young people who may desperately need an autism diagnosis or on going support. Recent sentiments show that there is still a huge need to spread awareness and tackle stigma. Stigma that constantly confuses autism and behavior. It continuously treats parents as if they’re not informed or over reactive, and it is letting children on the spectrum down.

Parents are not wearing autism as a “badge of honor” like some craze or fashion statement, they are simply comfortable with the term and keen to promote awareness or acceptance and have every right to be proud of their child’s diversity — especially given that lots of families have experienced years of misunderstanding.

We need to encourage a culture that works towards recognizing how valuable an early identification of autism is and how this plays a part in reducing emotional health issues in youngsters and leads the way for open dialogue around “needs.” This needs to be promoted amongst all who work with or come in contact with young people as well as making this process accessible and supportive for parents.

Changes in perception need to be promoting acceptance to all types of people instead of marginalizing one group over another. Neurodiversity is not the lesser version of “normal.” Think of the creative and ground breaking contributions that neurodiverse people have made to our lives.

Society exists in a way of binary opposites — right or wrong, the norm versus difference, majority thinking versus the minority. The shift in mindsets needs to be moving away from this type of restrictive thinking and look at ways to enable people.

Barriers around inclusion and awareness are still the areas we need to be prioritizing and not getting side tracked with the negative stigma and misconceptions of “labelling.” If a more diverse playing field in society existed, then labels of difference could be viewed in the positive light they deserve.

Labelling would begin to lose its negative connotations and simply start to be seen as a way of encouraging and celebrating all ways of being. This would be invaluable at reducing the effects of isolation experienced by many youngsters before their autism diagnosis.

Follow this journey at Another Way.

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Getty image by Giselleflissak

Originally published: February 21, 2018
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