This article is republished with permission from Mums and Tea.
For far too long autism has been something that is feared or misunderstood, especially in our community.
I’ve spoken to parents who do not want to get a diagnosis for their child who they know might be autistic because they don’t want them to be ‘labelled.’
Some parents don’t even have any idea of the signs of autism, so don’t actually know what they are looking for.
Some parents might also fear a diagnosis because of cultural issues such as the stigma and shame wrongly associated with autism, what other people might think of their parenting skills, and because they have been told they need to pray harder and that they shouldn’t claim such things on their child’s life or ‘speak it into existence’ because the tongue is such a powerful weapon.
I don’t know who needs to hear this today, but getting a diagnosis for your child is actually not a bad thing. A diagnosis can unlock more services and additional help for your child, which is essential because early intervention is key. Research shows that early diagnosis and interventions for autism are more likely to have major long-term positive effects on symptoms and later skills.
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As much as you might not want to hear this, the truth is that if you ignore the signs and don’t get help and support, that ‘label’ of autism you are so keen to not claim for your child will turn into something else more sinister when they get to school and beyond. Children might be ‘labelled’ as lazy, disruptive or worse when they actually just need extra support to fulfill their potential. Ultimately, you are doing your child a disservice.
A lack of understanding about autism plays a huge part in the fear a lot of parents experience coupled with the extremely unhelpful myths that are damaging as well as deeply untrue.
Autism is a spectrum on which there are many different ways it can present in different people, but ultimately it is NOT the end of the world. It is just a difference, that is all.
Once we start having more conversations and start breaking down those barriers and taboos associated with autism in our community, we will be able to move to a place where more autistic children and adults can fulfill their potential.
I’m not for one second saying that the journey is easy. I know firsthand how overwhelming it can be, but ultimately, as parents, it’s your duty to ensure that you have the right knowledge and can put things in place to be able to support your child. We can only start to do that once we accept that autism is a difference and not something to be feared.
If you suspect that your child is showing any signs of autism, please speak to a health professional and arm yourself with knowledge from trusted sources about autism.
How familiar are you with the autism spectrum? What are some preconceptions you’ve had about autism that may not be true? Share with us in the comments!
About Tinuke Awe
Tinuke is a mother of two children aged 4 and 2. She is the founder of Learning with Ez -(specialising in diverse educational resources for children) as well as Mums & Tea (a social platform aimed at connecting Black mums together). She is also the co-founder of Five X More CIC – an organisation campaigning for Black maternal health outcomes in the UK.
Tinuke was named as a ‘Force for Change’ by British Vogue in 2021, and a ‘Woman Changing the World’ by the Evening Standard for International Women’s Days in 2022.
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