“It’s easy to get an autism diagnosis for your child”

Autism. 

Everyone is getting their kid diagnosed these days. 

It’s easier to get help if you’re poor and / or single. 

I hear this a lot! I actually started reading a book this weekend and a few pages in one of the characters implied that it’s easier to get support if you’re a poor single parent. I won’t name the book here because I haven’t read enough of it to give an entirely fair criticism as I stopped reading. 

But statements like this are not only untrue they are damaging for parents. 

I’ve been through the process of diagnosis twice, as a poor single parent, and I can say with absolute certainty that it’s anything but easy. 

With my older son, now 21, I started ringing alarm bells when he was 9. I was initially sent to parenting classes because of course his behaviour was down to my lack of parenting skills. Well, I am here to tell you that my parenting skills are definitely not lacking. 

I went through years of being judged, because my son was the product of a broken home, while I beat down doors asking for someone to believe me. To help. All the while his siblings were thriving at school, there were absolutely no issues with their behaviour, but still my sons issues were seen as a reflection on me. 

He wasn’t formally diagnosed until he was 16. By which time my son had been massively failed by the system. He dropped out of school in year nine because he simply couldn’t cope. I was held up as a bad parent by education welfare, while trying to get someone to take me seriously, my son now has no qualifications and a huge great hole in his education. 

With my younger son, now 12, it was easier because I knew more about autism and how to navigate the system but I still came up against judgement. He was 7 when I first asked for a CAMHS referral. It took two years to get a formal diagnosis. During which time he was failed by the education system and has a three year wide gap in his education. I still have to fight tooth and nail for every bit of support. 

If anything, being a poor single parent hindered the process. 

As far the suggestion that it’s easy to get a diagnosis, this is not the case. For anyone. 

It’s difficult just to get a foot on the ladder. And when you finally reach the stage of referral it’s simply the first step of many in a process which is  draining and exhausting. At times I felt like throwing in the towel because it was like wading through treacle. 

Every aspect of your child’s life and your parenting is pulled apart, held under a microscope while they try to rule out a diagnosis. Which I guess I can see the necessity for, but nothing about it is easy. 

I felt as though people thought I was making excuses for my child’s behaviour or my poor parenting, I felt completely demeaned by the process. 

I cannot believe that anyone would put themselves and their child through this process without very good reason. 

The sweeping statements need to stop, the whole thing is plenty difficult enough without the endless judgment of people who just don’t know. 

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