A Parent's Perspective Of Diagnosis

“My daughter, Lauren, who is now 18, is confident, intelligent, beautiful and hardworking. She has worked endlessly to achieve ten GCSE’s despite her ongoing challenges during school and her experiences have motivated her to continue trying her best. Lauren’s aspiration is to gain a degree in supporting and teaching people with special needs.

Lauren was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism in 2012, when she was 12. The signs of autism became apparent when she was at the age of eight. There were numerous meetings at her primary school, yet nothing was picked up and it was assumed that it her selective mutism was a ‘shy phase.’ We made constant trips to the children’s hospital where her behaviour was observed during sessions. We were in contact with paediatricians, social workers, an occupational therapist and an educational psychologist. During the process of being diagnosed, we were supported. It was an incredibly long-winded and daunting process; it took 18 months before she was finally diagnosed with autism. However, when the official diagnosis was given, there wasn’t enough help offered and weren’t any real follow ups. People almost shrugged it off by saying ‘don’t worry, she’ll grow out of it.’ Also, teachers still didn’t have enough understanding of the condition and there was nothing given to them or other support staff to help give them an insight into the perspective of an autistic individual.

Before Lauren was diagnosed, I didn’t know what was happening or why. I felt lost and helpless. Even though all I wanted to do was help my child, I didn’t know what to do. It was on a short break with friends that autism was mentioned. I’d never really heard of it, but as I started to research the condition, everything matched up. I went to the Doctor for a referral to CAMHS (Children & Adolescent Mental Health Service) straight away.

After Lauren’s diagnosis, I felt immediate relief as I now knew what I had to work with. However, I found mainstream school very hard as no-one understood or even wanted to understand, so it was a continual fight to get her the support she needed and deserved. Taking Lauren out of mainstream school was the best decision I ever made.

Any advice I would give to parents facing a diagnosis for their child is to get an official diagnosis early, so you can get the support that is needed. Knowing your child’s support requirements can help with choosing an appropriate educational provision and can give you more scope to ask the school staff to implement additional support in specific areas. There is help out there, but not without a diagnosis. It may be a long path, but it’s worth it in the end. Don’t give up.”

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