In this evening’s
#Autism101 lecture, we will examine why some children go undiagnosed throughout their childhood. (TW: Abuse.)
There could be a dozen reasons why autism goes undiagnosed in so many kids. Sure, we can say it has to do with race or gender or social order, but what specifically are we talking about when we toss it into one of those categories? It’s a lot easier to explain away such a complicated condition by attributing it to demographics that are already prone to prejudice.
But sometimes there’s a great deal more to it than that.
Sometimes there are excessively long wait lists for confirmation; I’ve heard from some autists in the UK that they’ve been on wait lists for upwards of three years. And needless to say, stateside, where health care is just another for-profit big business that caters to economic elites, families simply can’t afford a referral or an evaluation on their own.
Sometimes autism simply gets misdiagnosed as ADHD or ASPD or some other disorder that happens to exhibit similar signs. Sometimes it doesn’t get diagnosed at all. I would be very interested in asking other autistic people why they think
#ActuallyAutistic children aren’t identified until well into adulthood, but in the meantime, I can tell you one thing for certain.
Sometimes their parents simply don’t bother. I think I could have been officially identified as early as age 12 or 13, but the hoary, outdated old “children should be seen and not heard” parenting style prevailed on both sides of the family. I would act (or act out) like the autistic little kid that I was and all my parents could see was an obnoxious, recalcitrant little brat who needed to be spanked into submission.
(Aside: It’s chiefly due to this parenting style that I have made a conscious choice never to have kittens.)
We can only imagine now how my life would have changed if my parents could have been bothered to have me screened for ANY kind of neurodivergence.
When I finally grew up and read that article about Asperger’s that made me go “OH”, I approached the ‘rents about it. My mom was like “well, we still didn’t understand it when you were little, and we didn’t want you to feel like you were broken. Oh, and you were grown up by the time it was recognized.” Later on I came to realize that that was mom-speak for “we treated you horribly and we don’t want to admit it so we’ll make a bunch of excuses instead.” I thought more and more about this after learning from my best friend that she was looking to get her 4-year-old screened for neurodivergences, due to his increasing outbursts of violence. (As it turned out, external factors were causing them; once she enrolled him in a different school for kindergarten, he suddenly became much, much more harmonious.)
A child who is not behaving the way you want them to is not necessarily a born psychopath, and there are better ways to find out than by testing their limits. Watch their behavior closely — but if it’s adverse, for the love of God do not try to beat it out of them!!! No matter what the condition is, physical discipline against a child only makes matters worse. They don’t learn anything from it except hate.
(And if they’re not behaving exactly the way you want them to, but are still behaving acceptably… well, maybe they’re not the problem.)
Screenings are important; paying attention to kids’ needs is important; not forcing them to fit a mold they weren’t made for is REALLY important. For your Autism 101 homework assignment, find out what their story is so you can get a better idea of what they need.
And. Don’t. Hit. Them.