When The Diagnosis Is Autism

Posted on April 19, 2012 
Filed Under Focus on the Family, Parenting, Physical Health

When we heard the news from a child neurologist, my wife and I were shell shocked. While relived that we had a name for the behavioral challenges we had experienced with him, we were also confused and distressed. We didn’t know what it meant when the physician said that Zane is clearly on the autistic spectrum. Unfortunately, the doctor didn’t offer much help. So we spent the first few months wondering what to do next.

We soon found ourselves immersed, however, in learning as much as possible about Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). We read a number of books. We found a lot of information online – but how could we know what to believe and trust?

I’ve had countless conversations during the past few years with people who are dealing with a recent diagnosis of ASD for their child or grandchild. In the interest of helping other families I’ve compiled a list of resources. Here are just a few which I have found very helpful.

There is a great book that’ll give you an idea of the types of twists and turns you’ll encounter in the journey ahead. Written with compassion and some rich humor along the way. Get a copy of DANCING WITH MAX: A MOTHER AND SON WHO BROKE FREE by Emily Colson Boehme with her father, Chuck Colson. Emily’s (now) adult autistic son, Max, has been an unexpected a pathway to joy for their family, and this is an inspiring account of their experiences.

I’d also recommend THINKING IN PICTURES (and other titles) by Temple Grandin. She is a professor at Colorado State University, bestselling author, and consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior. As a person with high-functioning autism, Grandin is noted for her work in autism advocacy.

There’s a wonderfully touching film about Temple Grandin’s life that we loan out to folks – and the overwhelming response is quite positive. This is perhaps one of the best depictions of how individuals with ASD think and relate to the world around them.

Focus on the Family has some helps. Here’s a brief video series (part one and part two) addressing how one family coped with a diagnosis of autism for their young son. Each segment is only a few minutes in length, and you’ll hear some encouraging perspectives.

More resources in the next post. For now, if you are new to the diagnosis of autism, I’ll offer a word of encouragement. Your child is special and deserving of all your love and energy. The road ahead is likely full of disappointments and difficulties. If you’ll hold onto God and His sovereignty, trusting Him each day for the strength and wisdom you’ll need, the steps on the journey will be a little bit easier, and richer.