You know when you shouldn’t diagnose children?
You should never diagnose them ONLINE.
Everywhere I look, parents are reaching out online, asking for advice or wondering what other people’s thoughts might be on a particular situation. I’ve done it plenty of times. Being a first-time parent, I’ve asked for help, I’ve googled the “When will my baby know how to…” I don’t get hung up on it, but of course I’m curious. I want to see where he is at, in the scheme of things. I want to feel excited when he is on target, and I want to know how I can support him if things ‘don’t seem right’.
There’s some big name Facebook pages that let people post their questions (or frustrations) anonymously. The experts write back if they have the time, and they also encourage people to offer advice or talk about their own experiences, in order to help this anonymous person out.
I came across one a few weeks back, and it has been playing on my mind ever since. Here’s a snippet…
The reason I wrote what I did, is because I had seen 2 people say that it “sounds like Autism” and I was horrified. I don’t think the people who wrote that felt that they were doing anything wrong. They had simply experienced children with Autism and thought that this little boy’s characteristics resembled that of a child with Autism.
I put myself in that parent’s shoes. I’m scrolling, hopeful at the sight of so many comments and words of advice. The word Autism flashes on my page – more than once. And it flashes on their page in direct relation to my son. Maybe it has already crossed my mind…or maybe it hasn’t in the slightest. Maybe it’s been suggested by others, or maybe I’m hearing this for the very first time. Either way, does anyone really have the right to diagnose children online? However ‘casual’ it may be? If you saw someone down the street who was looking for the same advice, would you have the gall to say “Maybe your child has Autism?”
I would hope not. Those words that we throw around all the time – Asperger’s, Autism and ADD are pretty popular ones. We throw them around without thinking what this might do to parents and to children. We say them without consequence online, because it’s just so easy.
I don’t know that boy. I don’t know his history or his temperament. I can’t see him, or talk to him. I don’t know if he makes eye contact or what he is like in social situations. I don’t know what his academic track record is like or his sleeping patterns. Furthermore, I don’t have the right to make THAT call. I don’t have the right to say “It sounds like Autism to me” from a mere few paragraphs…
Or do I? What do you think?