Monday 24 June 2019

Dear David Coleman: My son's teacher thinks my son is on the autism spectrum and wants him to be seen for an assessment'

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Photo posed

Question: My youngest child is five years old. His teacher wants him to be seen for an assessment, because of his toddler-like meltdowns in situations. The teacher said he's emotionally immature and she thinks he's on the autism spectrum. My husband and I are arguing as my husband says what's the harm in an assessment, but I don't want my child labelled. What should we do?

David replies: There are many times that children's behaviour can be different in different environments. So, irrespective of your son's behaviour in your own home, with your family, it is quite possible that his behaviour in school is quite different and that the teacher's observations of him are also correct.

While his actual behaviour may be as observed, the reason or reasons why he may be acting that way are open to opinion, and, at the moment, speculation.

A formal psychological assessment may be very helpful in coming to understand better why he has "toddler-like meltdowns" in the classroom.

It may be because he has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or it may not. An assessment will help to clarify the situation.

Any assessment is only valuable when it is focused on understanding the needs of a child, with a clear view to what support or intervention may then be required.

An assessment that just labels, or categorises a child, is not helpful. However, if a shared goal for you and his teacher is to help him avoid the classroom meltdowns, then an assessment may point to the best way to do so.

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