Autism: For a parent
As I am sure I have mentioned before, I work with four autistic boys and one girl and my sibling is one of them. If I ended up having a child who was diagnosed with autism I would first start by applying for medical assistance (there is a four year wait-list typically) then I would look to early intervention. Children with a developmental disability can be provided for by elementary schools who are legally obligated to begin teaching and aiding these children once diagnosed until at the proper age for regular school. Early intervention is critical to the child’s development of necessary skills. Aside from the possibility of being developmentally delayed, he or she should progress seemingly like a normal child. However, lack of verbal ability might be highly prevalent and a lack of social ability and affection is extremely likely.
I would provide my child with qualified therapists and providers to help him or her to develop life, social, safety, and flexibility skills at home after school. Flexibility is key to avoid problematic behaviors later in their life considering that persons with autism are intensely reliant on consistency and no change. After that I would most likely have my child go to public school unless he or she needed greater care then the school can provide (which is often the case); in which case I would find a highly qualified private school for special needs education and have my child attend that school (most allow the child to attend from an early age to age 21 and are occasionally year round as well).
Once my child is at a high school age I will be sure that in addition to the skills we had been working on we will work towards independence as well, and make social skills a necessity in my child’s curriculum. Also just like any family I would be sure to fill my child’s free time with entertainment such as movies, hiking, camping, swimming, etc. With trying to still live a fulfilled happy life, these activities can be extremely difficult; however, it’s important to not give into verbal spats or aggressive behaviors. For your child’s benefit it is necessary to push through these behaviors and have the task completed. A temporary break is fine, but as long as the task is finished eventually is what needs to be done.
Finally, I would apply my child to SLS services to receive funding still to help with the lack of income my child will likely not be receiving. Also, after the age of 18 I would also have to apply for guardianship of my child. Then I would provide my child with a home of his or her own with a 24/7 care provider. Depending on my child’s ability to be independent it is possible to be autistic and live on your own; however, I have not met any individuals with autism who have that ability. So being prepared this is the route I would take. Behaviors might still occur, verbal communication might still be absent, and affection is still likely to be inexistent; but my child deserves to feel like an adult independent of his or her own parents.
After my death, my child will still be receiving what he or she needs because I would have set aside money for my child to be financially secure for the entirety of his or her life. Also, in my will there would be a suitable guardian to step in line to care for my adult special needs child in my absence.