How to Get a Parent Out of Autism Denial

I’m often asked “How do you get a parent out of denial so they make an appointment to determine if their child falls on the autism spectrum?” In today’s video blog, I’m giving you three tips to help an autism parent in denial.

In the first page of my book in the Verbal Behavior Approach, I say that my husband first mentioned the possibility of autism when Lucas was only 21 months old, and I was horrified and I told him that I never ever wanted to hear the word autism again. And it͛s kind of ironic because I say, speak, type, write autism so many times a day.

But I was in denial for about a year and when I think back, I think that was a crucial year for me to be in denial. But back in the late 1990s, I didn’t know what ABA was and I certainly didn’t know these techniques either, so its very exciting when I get to work with very, very young children because that͛s when you’re going see the most progress.

However, you may have older clients and older children, and I want to tell you it͛s never too late. I’m making lots of progress with older kids as well and so it͛s never too late to start these interventions.

I think now there are fewer parents in denial than there were back then because the prevalence of autism is so much higher now and it seems like everyone knows someone with a child with autism. There’s also more evidence to show that really intervening early can turn things around, so people are less likely to be in denial now.

But there’s still is gonna be some people in denial, and sometimes it happens where the mom is in denial and the dad is more pushing things and saying there’s something wrong. And a lot of times it’s the mom saying there is something wrong and pursuing a diagnosis and the dad is in denial.

Grandparents can come into the mix a lot with denial and either grandparents are totally on board or totally not on board, and then you have to deal with those dynamics as well. In most cases I have found someone is in denial or in more denial than other family members and so the question is how do you get a person out of denial?

My advice for getting people out of denial is to offer hope, and to even tell them that if they intervene very early and aggressively, kids can sometimes recover or become indistinguishable from their peers.

Also tell parents in denial that even if it’s not autism, it’s always better to look under the hood and see what’s wrong and get some assessments. Some of these techniques, ABA techniques and Verbal Behavior techniques, can be very important for even a child with a mild speech delay or a typically developing child. Plus, these techniques are really easy for parents to learn.

The third thing to tell a parent in denial is that there are wait lists for diagnosis and for treatment and many developmental pediatricians expedite assessments for children under two. Time is of the essence for infants and toddlers and the quicker you can get a child evaluated, the better. In the meantime, encourage parents of young children with signs of autism to check out my website and learn all they can about ABA because if ABA works to sometimes help kids with severe autism become indistinguishable, these same techniques can help all children with any kids of delays.

These are the things that got me out of denial:

  1. Hope for recovery
  2. Get a thorough check to rule autism in or out
  3. Get on the waiting list now (I could always cancel if things turned around)
  4. Offer hope – if ABA can help kids with severe autism, it could help my son (who I believed was just speech delayed).

Please leave me a comment below and share this video blog on your favorite social media channel.

Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next week.