When we got concern at the 18 month wellness check for speech delay, it was a shock. Jackson had always been a chill kid with no signs of any negatives so to be told that he was ‘severely behind’ at a standard wellness check shook me to my core. When we received his Autism diagnosis 4 months later, it was incredibly overwhelming but also very calming. My husband & I had discussed this possibility to the ends of the Earth so to receive the diagnosis answered more questions than bringing more on.
However, this isn’t the case with many parents. If this is a diagnosis you weren’t expecting, it can suddenly feel like your child & your entire world is different. All the acronyms start coming out like ABA, IEPs, getting an OT & Speech therapist, all the while your head is spinning like “please repeat that all again & slower”.
I get it.
& the paperwork with insurance & organizing the companies with schedules. What services? What terminology? What form? Which Doctor? It’s a lot.
Being the parent of a newly diagnosed kid is a different kind of parenting no one can explain to you until you’ve gone through it yourself. The technical side varies based on your kid & their needs but I’m here to offer you a point of view as a parent. Here are a few things to keep in mind after you receive your child’s diagnosis.
IT’S OK TO FEEL HOWEVER YOU FEEL
Girl - it’s perfectly ok to feel everything. & it’s ok for those feelings to change daily, if not hourly. 1 minute, you could feel extremely relieved that you found some kind of explanation to your special needs babe. The next, completely overwhelmed that even though you have some explanation, there are SO many challenges & responsibilities that are on the road ahead. Whatever you feel is ok.
Be prepared for those kinds of days that flip on a switch - one you’ll feel ready to check everything off your list & take on the day. The next, just getting out of bed is a struggle. & THAT’S OK. These waves are expected & more than welcomed. Being the parent of a kid with special needs bring a lot of worry but equal, if not more amounts of joy. The polar opposite of emotions are part of the process & I promise, the bad days get fewer & further between as you go.
BENEFITS TO AUTISM
I know it can seem like it’s hard to see the positives of Autism at first but trust me, they’re there. Our babes simply see the world in a different, beautiful way! They learn with unique strategies to the point where people think they’re bad just because they’re so different. The signs of speech delay and lack of eye contact may show some negatives however, people stop there and don’t discuss how academically advanced they also are. For example, your kid may not look a cashier in the eye, but they could probably ring up the total faster than them (Not all kids with ASD have this gift. Just an example). Also, many geniuses throughout history have either shown signs of or been diagnosed with Autism.
DO YOUR BEST NOT TO FOCUS ON THE NEGATIVES
The positives will become more evident the more you continue to love and be with your babe. Their gifts and talents will continue to flourish and you, as the parent, will see them thrive into the person they are meant to become.
THINK ABOUT HOW YOU ACT AROUND YOUR CHILD
Learning your kid’s diagnosis is huge. Like massive. It’s overwhelming. It’s draining. It is A LOT. This information hits a lot of parents like a bus and that’s ok. Feel whatever you feel. However, be mindful of how you act around your babe. They are still little sponges that absorb everything. There are plenty of therapies for you as parents to begin and groups to join. But keep in mind that your kid received the diagnosis, not you. Starting the journey as a parent is a lot to take on (all the different therapies, school, social interactions, etc) but your babe is 100% still your babe. Try not to treat them so fragile and become that helicopter mom. Some cases are more severe than others but if your goal is to have your babe succeed in life on their own, don’t hinder them by constantly coddling them. They will still make messes, have tantrums, and be a kid. Allow them that childlike wildfire.
Becoming involved in communities will provide you assistance in answering personal questions
too. Certain organizations like are great places to start but don’t get caught up in certain ones. Autism doesn’t define your child or you as a parent, so try not to get caught up in it. Don’t allow a diagnosis to take away their joy of being a kid. Don’t let this make you think there’s something wrong with your babe, because there isn’t.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is not a death sentence. Let me assure you that you did NOTHING wrong as a parent. The Mom-guilt of you not doing enough early on will be there, but it doesn’t
have to rule you. Early intervention is the key to your kid’s growth later on so rest assured that you are doing right by your kid. Whatever therapy route your family decides to go, know the special needs community is always open for support. I’m here to tell you it does get better and you are never alone on the journey.