Dealing With the Misconstrued Stigma of Autism - Patricia Osobase
Research into autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has been on the increase since the 1940s. While studying special and inclusive education with my dissertation in autism, I discovered through personal research work that, many theorists have tried and are still trying to explain and provide answers to enable us understand the condition called autism. From personal research, I would define autism as the lack of ones’ ability to apply imagination, to communicate and socialize as society would expect.
Various interventions have been suggested for the varying diagnosis of autism. Presently, every challenging learning condition is now being grouped under the umbrella of autism. Thus the autistic spectrum is now broader and has raised the quest for continuous diagnosis and possible treatment for this condition. I believe that though there seems to be no immediate lasting solution to curing autism, we can deal with the misconstrued and misdirected stigma, and focus on supporting children being diagnosed with autism, to be the best that they can be in life.
Given the above insight, I would like to highlight some facts that can help us deal with the misconstrued stigma of autism, and help us focus on supporting children being diagnosed with the condition.
- Parents/Carers MUST accept that their child is different and needs support. These children see the world differently and we should try to make an effort to step into their world to support them. Early intervention from the age of two years could yield good results now and in the future. Let us not remain in self-denial. Be truthful to yourself and stop placing yourself before the child. This is not about you BUT the child. Let the well-being of the child come first.
- Do not see autism as a stigma. We need to accept the fact that these children could belong to anyone. They did not ask to be born and are not the cause of the condition they have. They have the potential to learn and become independent if we can support them early enough, especially the high functioning autistic children.
- Once diagnosed, parents/carers please attend seminars/trainings and seek educational counselling on how best to support the child/children. You could also carry out some personal research to enable you understand what autism is all about. You will be amazed at some testimonies of children who have excelled with this condition.
- Do not hide that child. God has given you a child that you are capable of caring for. Let your child enjoy what other children enjoy. Take them out to places other children go i.e. the park, funfair places, holiday resorts, family get-together etc.
- Let your child look good. Dress them up with the very best clothing and show the world that your child is special. Make that difference!
- Always put up a positive approach and encourage your child to do same irrespective of the condition.
- Avoid self-pity for yourself and your child.
- Let that child take responsibility of his/her day to day actions. They have a brain and can use it. Just support them. Don’t baby them!
- Work closely with the professionals i.e. teachers, educational psychologists, occupational theorists, speech and language therapists etc. to get the best tools to support your child.
- Let your child’s achievements speak to every other parent/carer of children not diagnosed or diagnosed with autism.
Finally, I would recommend that you read the book by Durig, A. (2005); How to Understand Autism: The Easy Way. This book is a testimony of an autistic child and his parents. You could also go on the google website to research more about autism.
About the Author:
Patricia Osobase (B.ED, MILR, MA.) is a highly proficient and supportive educationist. Her main goal is to ensure that every child and individual she comes in contact with is able to achieve their maximum potential. Patricia has a first degree in English Education from the University of Benin, Nigeria and Masters in Special and Inclusive Education from Roehampton University, London. In addition, Patricia also has Masters in Industrial and Labour Relations from Delta State University, Nigeria. She holds an International Diploma in Early Childhood Studies from the Montessori Centre International, London and a Diploma in Psychology from DCA London. Patricia was a directress at Rainbow Montessori School, London for over six years where she rose to become the deputy manager of the Sherriff road nursery and Special and Education Needs Co-ordinator for the school. Presently, she is one of the pioneer parent trainers for the new government programme called CAN Parenting. Patricia has recently set up an educational organisation called Happy Achievers which engages in training and working with children. Before joining the educational profession, Patricia worked in the banking industry in Nigeria in various managerial capacities. Patricia is blessed with a lovely daughter.