Positive Parenting

Q: Should I Have My Child Evaluated for Autism Spectrum Disorder?

As a parent, it is tempting to ignore your child’s quirky behavior rather than confront the possibility of a developmental disorder. However, the benefits of an autism diagnosis far outweigh living without one.

Father and son playing

Q: “I think my son is autistic, but my husband is more hesitant and justifies our son’s behavior by saying ‘boys will be boys.’ How do I convince him we should get our son evaluated?”

A: I can understand why your husband would rather label your son’s behavior as typical for his age — it is daunting to have your child diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or any developmental disorder. I’d tell your husband that yes, there is a range of typical development for most social skills, play skills, and executive functions. Many children struggle at some point in childhood with developmental skills such as focus and organization. Those struggles only become irregular when they are ongoing and impair daily functioning. No child should be chronically behind his peers.

If your son is struggling, I’m sure your husband wants to take action to help. Initial interventions are always educational in some way or another. In other words, starting the assessment process will at least teach you something about your son and his behavior.

Many parents avoid pursuing a diagnosis for their child because they believe medication has to follow. What they don’t take into account is the huge benefit to understanding the source of their child’s struggling. Even if parents aren’t ready to tackle the decision to medicate, children can still benefit from educational and behavioral support.

Finding out that your child has ASD is overwhelming: it is a diagnosis that affects the life of every family member. I am a big believer in practicing mindfulness; meditation is an important coping strategy for parents. It is a long-standing practice that helps us combat inherent and negative mental biases. Practicing mindfulness allows you to focus on the positives in a particular situation or individual.

[Free Resource: Make Mindfulness Work for You]

This content came from the ADDitude webinar by Mark Bertin, M.D., titled “Is It ADHD, Autism, or Both? A Parent’s Guide to Social and Emotional Health.” That webinar is available for free replay here.

Mark Bertin, M.D., is a member of ADDitude’s ADHD Medical Review Panel.