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Caring for AutismPractical Advice from a Parent and Physician$
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Michael Ellis

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190259358

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190259358.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 07 May 2021

A Father’s Perspective on Autism

A Father’s Perspective on Autism

1 A Father’s Perspective on Autism
Caring for Autism

Michael Ellis

Oxford University Press

A father has a unique perspective on autism and its impact on his family. I write about my experience as a father of a child with autism as it is fairly typical in terms of the timing of concerns and the dilemmas faced during the process of a child’s diagnosis with autism (autism spectrum disorder). It is important that fathers know what is “normal” to feel and think about ASD and about their child, in general. Knowing that you are not the only one with your experience and feelings helps you not to feel alone. This by itself can be therapeutic. The diagnosis of ASD is arguably the worst diagnosis that a child psychiatrist can give a young child. It is also the most devastating diagnosis that one can give to the family. Before the official diagnosis of my daughter, at about 2½ years of age, my wife had expressed concern a couple of times regarding my daughter’s limited speech. I thought my wife was overreacting and being a “worrywart.” Although I acknowledged that my daughter’s speech was a little behind, I simply thought that she was going to catch up. “Children develop at their own pace,” I thought. However, when she had only a few words at 24 months, I knew this was not “normal.” In fact, our pediatrician, who we saw only at our daughter’s monthly checkups, had never noticed any abnormalities in our child until we finally expressed concern regarding her speech delay. She referred us to a speech therapist at our strong request. On some level, we probably knew something was wrong. My wife had actually mentioned the word autism once, but I do not think we actually thought that this was going to be her diagnosis. My wife and I knew very little about ASD, but we knew enough to be concerned that she seemed to enjoy being by herself too much, had a speech delay, and had limited eye contact.

Keywords:   Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), geneticist, lessons learned, ASD diagnosis, neurologist, occupational therapist, occupational therapy, pediatrician, physical therapist, psychologist, speech therapy

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