This Child I Know… Delaying Only Denies Help

It is often difficult for parents to see what’s really happening with their child.

In our office, nine out of ten people calling about “A child they know” are the relatives.

Hinting to parents in a round-about way by talking of “This child I know…” may be the best approach so parents don’t get put off and defensive.

I’ve talked to some families that couldn’t admit their child’s disability at all.

When they finally did see it, it was too late for the best possible outcome for the child.  They asked for support and were refused.  After all, they hadn’t needed it for so many years, why did they need it now?

You don’t have to let your family fall into that trap.

As a parent, I am continuously learning to cope, accommodate and adapt to situations in order to improve the quality of our kids lives.  This is especially important to remember when dealing with all other special needs families.

People might assume our family has dealt well with autism so well that we can be used as examples of success.

Nothing is as it seems.

It took my own husband years to realize the undeniable truth of our son’s autism and to this day when Jonny goes places he will say “Did Jonny fit in?” meaning, are you sure he still has autism.

He does acknowledge Jonny’s differences during special needs team meetings, since he knows it wouldn’t look good if he didn’t.   He also tends to favor and protect him over the rest of the kids, which makes the rest of the kids feel bad.

A few of years ago, Jonny was right next to Jim and I.  I turned to Jim, right in front of Jonny, and said “Jonathan thinks he doesn’t have to do as much work as the rest of the family because he has autism”.  I was hoping Jim would pick up the cue and say “of course he does”.

Instead, he looked at Jonathan and said “Honey, you’re no different than anyone else in this family, you don’t have autism!”, and shushed me with his finger so I wouldn’t contradict him.  I couldn’t believe my ears!

For all Jonny’s life I’d been telling Jonny and everyone else about his differences to hopefully improve his life.  Jonny knows he has autism and is somewhat proud of his accomplishments despite the teasing and ridicule from others at times.  Along with his good times, Jonny has been hurt by the down side of his disability. A loved one afflicted by a disability can be like having a death in the family. No one ever really gets over it.

I’ve heard divorcees say the same thing.  A long term marriage that has been split apart is like a death too, especially if kids are involved. In that case, you have years of family events and holidays where the ex-spouse is likely to show up.  Naturally, this can agitate old emotional wounds.

No matter what initiates the grieving process, denial is a funny thing.

The denial process begins with guilt and ends with acceptance.

It never ends though. Instead it repeats itself over and over with each new experience.

Denial is very strong for most parents because having a child with a disability is felt like a loss.

One can choose to look at the good side of any situation, but no one can deny that there is a certain level of disappointment in learning that the child you thought you’d get was not the one you actually got.

Ego is also involved to some degree.

Even though admitting a disability is hard on the parent’s ego, the damage done to the child is irreversible if it isn’t admitted.

Acceptance and admission of the truth is the first step to set the family in motion for the best possible outcome.

How long did it take you to accept a “lifelong” disability of your loved one?

Do you have a disability that others refused to acknowledge?

What did you do to break the chains of denial and move forward with an accepting attitude?

From denial to acceptance, I want to you to share your story.

Share your unique story now by commenting below.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

Karen Simmons
Mother, Wife, Author, Founder & CEO of


P.S. Here are recommend tips, strategies, and tools to help you understand and cope with emotional dynamics surrounding disabilities

To download a video presentation that will help you cope with disabilities click this link:


1 Comment
  • Ruth says:

    It took two years for me to acknowledge that something was going on with my son. My mom gently encouraged me to have him tested for Aspergers on many occassions and I would get somewhat defensive and say he was just a difficult 3 year old.
    By the time he was in K4 I was having him tested for every allergy known to man to look for some explanation to his difficult and quirkly behavior. He did not test positive for one single allergen and I pushed the allergist to have him tested and then tested again.
    At the end of his K4 year I couldn’t ignore it anymore. This time it was not just my mom gently telling me to get him tested but teachers and other grandparents. Once I came to terms with the possibility that it could be Aspergers it was full steam ahead, all throttles going at once with research, talking to others, and getting him to various places to get tested and get second opinions.
    I am so thankful that he is only 5 so we can get early intervention. He is now at a school full time specifically for children on the autism spectrum with the hopes of having him mainstreamed in a couple of years. He has only been there a few months and we are already seeing subtle positive changes here and there in his behavior. He is a sweet, sweet boy full of joy and personality. His old school loves him dearly too, and they are very open about looking forward to the day when they can have him back. They tried (really tried) but were not able to have the environment for him to get to the place he needs to be.

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