How to Get a Parent Out of Autism Denial

Author: Mary Barbera - Turn Autism Around

Hi I'm Dr. Mary Barbera, autism mom, board certified behavior analyst and best-selling author. I'm often asked how do you get parent out of denial so they make an appointment to determine if their child falls on the autism spectrum. In the first page of my book, The Verbal Behavior Approach, I say that my husband first mentioned the possibility that Lucas might have autism when he was just 21 months old and on that day I was horrified I told him I never ever wanted to hear the word autism again which is so ironic because I say speak type write the word autism so many times a day I want to count them. But I was in denial for about a year and when I think back, when I look at the little children that I now work with, I think that was a very crucial year for me to be in denial. But back in the late 1990s when Lucas was diagnosed I didn't know what ABA was and I certainly didn't know these techniques either so it's very exciting when I get to work with very young children because that's when you're going to see the most progress.

However you may be watching and you may have an older child or older clients and I want to tell you now that it is never too late. I'm seeing lots of progress with older kids as well and so it's never too late to start these critical interventions. I think now there are fewer parents in denial then they were back then because the prevalence of autism is so much higher and it seems like everyone knows someone with autism. There's also more evidence to show that really intervening early and aggressively can turn things around so people are less likely to be in denial now. But there still is probably going to be some denial in some people and it sometimes happens where the mom's in denial and dad is pushing things more and saying "there's something wrong" and lots of times it's the mom saying "there something going on I want to get evaluated and pursue a diagnosis" and dad might be in denial. So you just have to realize that everyone has their own history and they're going to come to terms with the diagnosis more quickly or more slowly.

They also have cultural issues and the dynamics between a two-parent family is quite complex. Grandparents can also 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 no matter what their role is?" So my advice for getting people out of denial is to offer hope and even tell them that if they intervene very early and aggressively kids sometimes recover from autism. They become indistinguishable from their peers and don't need any treatment. Also tell parents in denial that even if it's not autism, it's always better to kind of look under the hood see what's wrong and get some assessments just to make sure if it's not autism or if it is autism. Regardless these ABA and verbal behavior techniques can be very important for even a child with a mild speech delay or even a typically developing child that you want to engage more so these are really easy techniques for parents to learn. The third thing to tell that a parent in denial is that there are wait lists for diagnosis. And treatment also have wait lists and many developmental pediatrician expedite assessments for children under two.

Time is of the essence at for infants and toddlers and the quicker you can get a child evaluated, the better their chances of having a really good outcome. 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 children with all kinds of delays. These are the things that got me out of denial so I just want to review them. Get a thorough check to rule out autism if you don't think it had he has autism. Get on a waiting list now. You can always cancel of things turn around. If ABA can help kids with severe autism it could help my son Lucas who I believed was just speech delayed.

How to Get a Parent Out of Autism Denial

And give them hope because there is hope no matter what the age. If you're watching this video blog anywhere other than my blog page at, I hope you will hop on over to my website leave me a comment there or share this video blog on your favorite social media channel. Thanks for watching and I'll see you next week.

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How to Get a Parent Out of Autism Denial

Hi I'm Dr. Mary Barbera, autism mom, board certified behavior analyst and best-selling author. I'm often asked how do you get parent out of denial so they make an appointment…

By: Mary Barbera - Turn Autism Around