Thursday, 9 February 2017

Sooner or Later?

Timing tradeoffs play a big role in just about any decision for a family with autism.  When you first suspect something is wrong, do you go with whoever is first available for an assessment?  Do you wait for a preferred psychologist with acknowledged expertise?  Or do you wait for the publicly-funded assessment services?

There are trade offs with each decision.  The first psychologist available may not be as familiar with children with autism and thus may not be able to do an accurate diagnosis and recommendations.  Waiting for a preferred expert could delay things months and be more expensive.  Waiting for the publicly-funded option could take years.

Parents hear a lot about how waiting is bad and you need to rush, rush, rush to get on the different waitlists.  Any day you delay could critically impact your child's development. 

But going to the wrong person can waste time, money and further delay parents' efforts.

We've been deciding the timing of a school meeting.  Our behaviour consultant can't attend for the next two weeks.  But Alex has been having difficulty for a long time now.  Part of me is reluctant to wait but I also have to remember that the meeting will be more productive if our consultant can be present.

After nearly six months in the classroom, another two weeks is not a critical gap.  But it is true that each day adds its own inertia to the problem, adding recovery time once the right program is in place.  This is the part each parent has to decide for themselves: where is the line?  When does the accumulation of days become critical?

I've described it as the metaphor of a handful of sand on the floor.  Each day without identification and treatment is the equivalent of a handful of sand dumped on the floor.  Depending on the size of the floor, it might not be immediately noticeable, but it will accumulate.  Give it enough time, and those handfuls will create a sand dune which will defy any attempts at sweeping or vacuuming.  But each day is still only one handful.

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