Questions from parents of children with ASD are a part of a speech pathologist's professional life. The top two questions that parents have always asked me are: "When will my child speak," and "When will he/she be potty trained?" Those are big questions and tough ones because no one can answer either of them.
It is not always necessary to have the answers to questions such as those two big ones. What is important is that we, as SLPs, listen to concerns of parents about their daily lives and living with their child with ASD. I always respond to the "mouth and toilet" questions by saying, "I wish I knew."
There are BIG questions, however, that SLPs do need to answer about ASD. How would you explain these if a parent asked you?
- What is autism?
- What causes autism?
- Johnny doesn't like me to touch him. Should I?
- How do I get David to look at me?
- Susie won't play with other kids. What can I do?
- What can I do when Sean has a tantrum in public?
- Should I read a book to Joe even if he's sitting under the table?
- What kind of a doctor do I go to for a diagnosis?
- Do you think Tom might be deaf?
- Can my Chloe have Down syndrome and autism?
- How do I stop Tim from biting himself?
- What can I do at home to encourage more words from Mickey?
- Joey smears his *** on the wall. What am I going to do?
I didn't make up these questions. They are real. They are about life with a child on the autism spectrum and they are played out somewhere, many times over, everyday. Can you answer ALL of them? Can you answer ANY of them? The SLP - in the school, clinic, hospital, private practice, or on horseback - will be asked these types of questions. When you get this style of question from parents who need YOU, like these parents do, have one item at your side: a box of tissues.
Share with me this week. Who has an answer to one, or three, or all of these big questions? I'm sure many of you do and would like to tell us your experience. Tweak a question from above and make it one that a parent has asked YOU. There are many questions and they are all BIG when you live in the world of autism.
"Speech pathologists make good things happen."