Family Denial of Autism
When a family receives the news of a disability in the family, especially when it comes to the condition of a child, there can be varied reactions ranging from sadness and anger to despair. When the news of an autism diagnosis is made, families can often slip into an unhealthy pattern of denial, which is cases, with tragic results.
Denial can be expressed in several different ways. Some parents fear that autism is no more than just a ‘ label,’ one that describes parents feeling of failure when it comes to their children. Parents often hold many expectations when it comes to their children, and a diagnosis of something as mysterious as autism can bring forth a flood of emotions. Some will reject the doctor or psychologist’s findings, and assume that the child will likely ‘ grow out of it’. This is uneducated and wishful thinking.
Some parents may neglect to even want to spend time with the child, fearing that they might not know how to handle them. Misunderstandings can lead to denial, and parents need to educate themselves to get a full understanding of autism. Many parents will sink into every book, website, or any of the new literature on this disorder while letting the ‘ experts’ handle the specifics.
Denial of this sort is catastrophic to a child with autism. More than half of children diagnosed with autism in America are males, which leads many adults to think that the deficiencies are just a ‘boy thing.’ Once again, this is a form of denial that can play havoc in families dealing with this type of diagnosis.
For the parents in denial, exposure to various support groups and parents with autistic children can help them ease their fears and thus, alleviate any denial that may be in place. Parents who think that all they have to do is attempt to “cure” the child are also in denial. Though autistic symptoms can be alleviated using diet and supplementation, there is no known cure.
Explaining to other relatives and family members the condition of autism can help ease any denial that one may have. Family members can often be of tremendous support to parents. Being able to talk about the condition openly can open one up to the realities of autism, the positives, and the negatives.
AutismKey, Consequences of Autism Denial, retrieved 3/26/11, autismkey.com/autism-denial-can-be-far-reaching
Autism Support Network, autismsupportnetwork.com/news/mothers-denial-grief-and-joy-vip-world-autism-33384734
About.com, Coping with the diagnosis of Autism, retrieved 3/26/11 autismpediatrics.about.com/od/weeklyquestion/a/04_autismdenial.htm
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