Ask Amy: Doctor suspects child has autism
Dear Amy: I am a physician and live far away from my family.
My niece has a 3-year-old daughter.
Between distance and COVID, I have seen my grandniece only rarely.
About six months ago, while I was visiting, my family united at my sister’s house. Our cousin is a speech pathologist and is familiar with signs of autism.
She recognized specific signs in my grandniece, but she refused to share that with my niece because of a lack of intimacy between them.
My family debated whether we should bring this up with my niece, and ultimately her mother (my sister, “Annie”), told her about our concerns.
It did not go well: it was viewed as an invasion of privacy and as ill-intentioned negativity.
Since then, we understand the child is in speech therapy (with a very young therapist who we fear may not have enough experience to recognize the broader issues).
Otherwise, we are not aware that there is any effort being made to address the issue, and both parents contribute to the denial and wall of privacy.
In family gatherings, when my grandniece doesn’t engage, it is brushed off as “She likes to be in her own world” or “she wasn’t interested in what you were doing.”