Deciding to embark on an autism (ASD) assessment is not an easy process for any family. For some, it can be a suspicion they have been harbouring for some time. For others, a professional may mention it, seemingly out of the blue. The process can be intimidating in terms of waitlists, lots of appointments, the cost and of course then having that feedback session. So how do you decide if you should go down that road?
I should caveat this list that I am certainly not an unbiased source on this topic! I strongly believe that an assessment (if warranted) can ultimately lead to better understanding and support for an individual. At the same time, I appreciate that there can be ambivalence for many people in this space. Below is a summary of discussion points I have had with numerous families over the years:
- A sense of relief that you can now put a ‘name’ on what has been happening for your child.
- Being able to tailor your parenting approach by tapping into the existing body of evidence and collective wisdom in this space.
- For teachers and therapists to better understand what strategies, techniques etc. might be helpful for your child.
- Possible access to ongoing funding for therapy (e.g., through NDIS).
- An understanding of your child’s unique strengths and needs.
- Alleviating some guilt that your child’s difficulties are in some way your or their ‘fault’.
- Avoiding others putting judgemental and unfair labels on your child, e.g., that they are ‘lazy’ or ‘oppositional’.
- Fostering your child’s sense of identity and of belonging to a broader community of others like them.
- Your child might think there is ‘something wrong’ with them.
- Your family may not be in a good emotional space at this time to go through this process.
- There have been disruptions in your child’s life and development (e.g., trauma, significant illness etc.) and it is difficult to identify the impact of these.
- People might treat your child differently, with a ‘one size fits all’ approach to ASD.
- Others may be dismissive of a potential diagnosis.
- It can raise questions about other members of the family (although this can be a good thing!)
At the end of the day, it is a decision that only you as a parent can make. As psychologists however, we can assist with discussing our observations of your child, and whether we feel an assessment is warranted and would be helpful.