Last week, I posted a review of (dis)Abilities and the Gospel, a fantastic resource book for parents and teachers of children with a variety of cognitive disabilities, authored by Danyelle Ferguson and Lynn Parsons. You can read my review of that book here. Today I'd like to share with you an interview I conducted with Danyelle.
Tristi: What are the current autism statistics?
Danyelle: I found this quote on AutismSpeaks.org: “Today, it is estimated that one in every 110 children is diagnosed with autism, making it more common than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined. An estimated 1.5 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide are affected by autism. Government statistics suggest the prevalence rate of autism is increasing 10-17 percent annually. Studies suggest boys are more likely than girls to develop autism and receive the diagnosis three to four times more frequently. Current estimates are that in the United States alone, one out of 70 boys is diagnosed with autism.” 1 out of 70 boys has autism. Astounding, isn’t it?
Tristi: That really is. I'm quite frankly mind-boggled.
If any of my readers suspect their child has autism, what should they know that they might not hear from a website or a doctor?
Danyelle: There are a couple of things, actually. First of all, having your child evaluated is free. If he’s between the ages of 0-3 years old, contact your local early intervention center. If he’s between 3-18 years old, contact your school district. They may not provide testing for autism specifically (because that requires a doctor), but they can test your child to see if he’s delayed in any areas and how significant those delays are. This is a good place to start. You can call and request an evaluation at any time – and, by Federal Law, they have to perform the testing within a reasonable time period. Not six months later. But within six to eight weeks.
Second, if you have concerns, don’t let a school evaluator or doctor tell you to “wait six months and see what happens.” I know many people who were told this not just once, but two, three, or four times before finally putting their foot down and asking for tests to be done. The earlier you receive a diagnosis, the better it is for therapy and learning programs to help your child.
Tristi: Tell me how your book, (dis)Abilities and the Gospel, can help parents with this difficult turn of events in their lives.
Danyelle: When you first receive the diagnosis, everything is so overwhelming—your emotions, the volume and variety of information available (not to mention trying to decipher what’s valid and what’s hokey), your whole world is suddenly upside down and you’re scrambling to pull it all back together again. With (dis)Abilities and the Gospel, you can read a little at a time and set it aside when you need time to absorb or just get a breather. But whatever chapter you read, you will find a similar theme – hope. Knowing that there’s a plan for your child, that his Heavenly Father loves him and has a plan for him, and that yes, your child will have friends, will grow and develop, will have an influence and purpose here on Earth – that’s invaluable. That is what will carry you through the some difficult years.
Thank you so much for this, Danyelle! I'm sure a lot of parents will gain hope by reading your thoughts, and my heartfelt congratulations to you and to your co-author, Lynn Parsons, for all the good you're doing and for the publication of this book.
FTC: I was not compensated in any way for this interview.