Friday, 13 April 2012

My Kid's been "Red Flagged"

It's common for parents to reach out to consultants when a professional mentions that certain "red flags" are occurring that may or may not be indicative of an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Professionals like early childhood educators, teachers or speech therapists may be the first to recognize these red flags. My kid has been red flagged; does that mean my child has Autism? No. Not necessarily.

The only person qualified to diagnose and assess are psychologists and doctors with specific training in diagnostic criteria. Not all doctors or psychologists have the same specialization; just because the credentials are there, doesn't mean the practical knowledge is.

What it DOES mean is that your child appears, based on the topography* of his behaviour, to share learning similarities with some kids on the spectrum; your child may or may not have Autism.
*topography is the way the behaviour appears; what it looks like to you as an observer,

Professionals like me, are not able to diagnose or assess accordance with DSM criteria; we work hands on with learners with with exceptionalities all day every day, and have a different kind of understand of ability and progress. I understand the term "red flag" to come from recognizing several key identifiers of ASD and it is often used interchangeably with word characteristics, and traits. Many individuals share traits and characteristics with individuals on the Autism Spectrum, and yet these individuals are neurotypical by all accounts. All humans demonstrate behaviours, so it's no wonder that at some point our behaviours share similar topographies, typical or exceptional.

If your child has been red-flagged, don't panic; proceed with caution until you find an educated professional, willing to work with your family to help you understand your child's individual needs, irrelevant of eventual diagnosis (which I do recommend if a psycho-educational assessment is feasible).

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