The price of empathy

When your child receives an ASD diagnosis after they have started school the choice of school placement isn’t necessarily clear cut.

LA’s often have policies about just how far your child needs to be behind their peers to even warrant a conversation. Never mind your childs tangible stress or anxiety levels. The LA decides.

Making the decision to move your child out of mainstream (like so many parenting decisions) is really hard. Building a case that supports that decision and gives you a basis to make your case takes planning, time and (if you can afford it) investment.

So last year I chose to spend the last of my savings on doing just that. Building a case.

I expected to receive in return a thorougher evaluation of my sons strengths and weaknesses, and an assessment of his current school and an idea of the best type of placement to nurture his future self. I needed to know that it was the right decision for him. I really needed an experts advice.

Months later the expert arrived. She connected with my son. Understood him. She drew honest appraisals from the team that support and teach him.

But when it came to speaking with me her judgment went spectacularly off. When you are speaking with a professional do you expect her to say that she’d worked with lots of kids with a variety of physical, developmental and neuro-developmental disabilities and that her single hope in having her own children was that they wouldn’t be Autistic.

As the loving parent of a most wonderful Autistic, ADD boy her honesty shocked me.

Not just because she was paid by me for her professional opinion. But because her words weren’t just unpleasant and unwelcome. They were plain wrong.

Autism is not the worst possible thing my child could have. He could be prejudiced, small minded, petty, lacking in empathy. He could be cruel.

But he isn’t.

He is funny, kind,  good-natured, curious, positive. He is full of plans for life – marriage, parent-hood, pet ownership. One week he’ll be a policeman, he next a teacher, and this week he’ll run his own Londis. He has a huge capacity for love. A bigger capacity for mischief.

He – like every Autistic child – deserves our belief. He deserves professionals around him who have faith. He deserves a community that does not fear him and his diagnosis.

Plenty of things in life are far worse than autism.








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