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When Someone Suggests Your Child Has Autism

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It’s been suggested to you — maybe by a well-meaning neighbor, teacher or family friend — that your child may have autism.

You don’t know anything about autism. You can remember seeing “Rain Man” once. You can remember seeing a documentary with a person with autism. Your child is not like that.

No, your friend or neighbor or teacher is definitely mistaken, you decide, shaking your head.

Curiosity gets the better of you, and you hit up Google. What you see simultaneously devastates and elates you. This is your child they’re taking about! Everything fits. The lining up thing he does?


The way he likes to go up to every single front door and touch it twice on the way to school? The difficulty expressing himself and the desperate need for routine? Knowing every single car sign there is? Autism.

You’re referred to the educational psychologist. You go to your doctor and ask for a referral to your local child developmental center and sit in the waiting room while your son lines up cars on the floor. You go in with a long list of traits and anxiously watch as the pediatrician attempts to get your child to stack little colored wooden blocks in a certain pattern. Your child does the first two, then gets frustrated and sends them scattering onto the floor. He screams in anger.

The doctor recommends a hearing a test, and you go, knowing full well the results will be negative. They are.

That child can hear a cookie packet being opened two rooms away; you knew there was nothing wrong there.

You go online and buy every book there is. You look into every therapy and wonder if you’re doing enough. Too much? You discover sensory play and have a great time playing with pasta, rice and corn flour for tactile feedback and visual stimulation –terms you hadn’t really heard before now enrich your child’s days.

The day you’ve been waited over a year for has come. You knew they would say your son has autism, that he has autism spectrum disorder, to be precise. 

You walk out feeling relief yet numbness, a sense of triumph towards anyone who said you were wrong and were worrying about nothing.

The next morning you wake up with a sense of wonderment inside, you look at your child and the sentence, “He’s autistic, my son has autism,” runs repeatedly through your head, perforating every thought.

The next few days it’s easier.

You realize you’re still adjusting, and your child hasn’t changed. He’s still the same adorable little boy, grinning with his walking shoes in hand, waiting to take you on a journey of acceptance and enlightenment.


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Originally published: March 17, 2015
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