AUTISM. Few words can create fear and panic in the parents of young children like this one can.
Prior to receiving a diagnosis of autism for their own kids, most parent's knowledge of autism comes from Dustin Hoffmann's portrayal of an autistic man in Rain Man, or from the many recent stories about the ongoing "Autism Epidemic." Not surprisingly, the initial reaction of these parents on receiving this diagnosis many times is one of shock, terror, distress, and despair. "What did I do to cause this?" many wonder.
Over the past few years, the World Wide Web has dramatically increased the amount of information available on autism and its many considerations. These considerations include those that most parents will immediately think of – such as "what caused this?" and "how do I fix this?" – and those that they will eventually have to face – "what kind of services will my local schools provide" and "what about adulthood for my child?". There is also a wealth of information from various organizations, advocacy groups, other parents of autistic children, and individuals with autism.
Unfortunately, with all of this information comes the challenge of information overload. There is so much out there today, that it can be hard to figure out where to even start. Even worse for parents of newly diagnosed children, the world of autism is fraught with controversy and differing – sometimes cruelly so – opinions. I truly believe that most (sadly, not all) parents want only to do what is best for their child, whether autistic or not. But how do you do that when you don't know what is best for them?
My purpose in creating this site is to hopefully help parents navigate the challenges of raising an autistic child. Parenthood is challenging enough when you think you know what to expect from your kids, but when you really don't have a clue it can feel like you're breaking new ground that no one has been on before. I'm here to tell you that there are many others who have trod this ground. My hope is that those experiences of other parents (myself included) will help finding your way a bit easier.