At first glance, some people with autism may appear to have an intellectual disability, sensory processing issues, or problems with hearing or vision.
To complicate matters further, these conditions can co-occur with autism. However, it is important to distinguish autism from other conditions, as an accurate and early autism diagnosis can provide the basis for an appropriate educational and treatment program.
Some Things To Do
- Make certain that the determination that your child is autistic was made or verified by a professional who has experience with autistics.
- Talk to other parents of autistic children (see paragraph below on organizations).
Michael Powers’s Children With Autism: A Parent’s Guide has a good reputation, but there are some newer books aimed at parents. Another book with a good reputation is Elizabeth K. Gerlach’s Autism Treatment Guide from Four Leaf Press. There are a number of books describing parents’ experiences with autism and though some may be slanted a particular kind of treatment, probably all have value in allowing you to share the experience of other parents. Catherine Maurice’s Let Me Hear Your Voice is one example.
Treatment & programs
Every treatment for autism has its detractors and none has proven to benefit every case. Thus, the task of judging the effectiveness of potential treatments will ultimately fall on you–to a larger extent than you will feel qualified to make. If the professional to whom you take your child strongly recommends some program or treatment, know that there are others who will recommend some other just as strongly. Note that many programs are made up from parts of several methods.
In the USA, the national society is the Autism Society of America (ASA). It has local and state chapters, so it may help you to find a local support group. Another organization of value is the Autism Research Institute (ARI), which includes publications.
Things to watch out for
- Miracle cures and people who tell you that their way is your child’s only hope.
- People who think your child’s autism is an emotional disturbance or is your fault.