Are you sure?Nicole Fornabaio/Rd.com, enterlinedesign/shutterstock
The diagnostic criteria for evaluating individuals for autism, according to the DSM-5 (which is like a handbook for doctors), is extremely comprehensive. It involves paperwork from parents, teachers, and specialists, thorough observations of the individual, play-based assessments, and more. Still, autism comes under fire often as a disorder that is too easily diagnosed, leaving some to question the accuracy of the diagnostic process, sometimes even accusing parents of pushing for a diagnosis. Amy Hess, program director at the Center for Autism Transition and Services (CAST) at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and an autism parent, admits that the evaluation process for her son was extremely difficult for her. “To see our son fail aspects of the ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) as well as other tests was heartbreaking. We challenged the results, reviewed the data and had difficulty accepting the diagnosis, mainly because we did not want the diagnosis,” she says. In other words, it’s not something most parents take lightly, and it’s certainly not something they wish for their children.
Here’s what to say instead: Can you explain more about the diagnostic process? I’m interested in knowing more.
You should teach him some mannersNicole Fornabaio/Rd.com, enterlinedesign/shutterstock
It can be incredible difficult to “teach” a child on the spectrum manners, such as saying “please,” “thank you,” or even keeping his elbows off the dinner table. As Jones explains in his book, Look Into My Eyes, “Social skills are something that most people learn unconsciously as they grow up, through copying parents and older siblings.” Children on the spectrum don’t typically have the same ability to mimic social skills as others do. Rather, they have “very limited awareness that there are different ways to treat people, or that different behavior has different meaning.” Although consistent therapies can help some children on the spectrum develop manners, there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
Here’s what to say instead: What should I do to help him develop manners? What are you doing at home that works?
He won’t be so picky if you make him eat what you eatNicole Fornabaio/Rd.com, enterlinedesign/shutterstock
Autism and picky eating usually go hand-in-hand, but it’s caused by much more than a parent simply not making a child eat certain foods. A clinical study focused on sensory processing and eating problems in children on the spectrum estimates that about 80 percent of children with developmental difficulties, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD), struggle with selective eating. Developmental delays can impact the ways in which children on the spectrum view, and enjoy, food. For some, extremely limited interests can make every single meal a battle. Sensory processing difficulties can make a child on the spectrum feel as though a well-balanced meal is a punishment, rather than a pleasurable, nutritious experience.
Here’s what to say instead: What foods are her favorite? Maybe I can give you some new ideas of ways to prepare them that she might like.