ASD Diagnosis- What's Next?
So, your child was recently diagnosed with Autism.
The hardest news someone can receive is that their seemingly normal child is in fact not. You may wonder, how did this happen? And I think the most common question is, what does this mean for my child? Take a deep breath and prepare to leave no stone un turned. There's a few things you need to know just in case no one has told you.
Firstly, this is NOT your fault. Get that out of your head. And focus on “the now”. You can dwell on the what if's and how did we get here another time. Right now, what's important is coming to terms with the fact your child is still the same child you had prior to finding out their diagnosis. The only thing that’s changed is you now have a chance to better understand your child. Secondly, do not look for your child's autism in others. I can't tell you how many hours I've wasted away comparing my child to other children.
I guess was hoping to find a glimpse of what the future holds.
Every person's needs and level of support are different. Just because a person's child started talking at this age doesn't mean yours will or won't. And your child's lack of speech is absolutely not a reflection of their intellegence. Being non verbal has no correlation of the intelligence someone posesses.
People tend to put a time frame on potty training because someone else's child has already mastered it, this isn't going to help you or your child. Don't compare your child to anyone, you and your family are on your own journey. Always remember that.
Autism is extremely complex, but in time and with patience you will find what works for you and your family. After your child has been diagnosed it's very important to make sure they receive the proper services. Early intervention is really important if you receive an early diagnosis.
You have to think of it as, you're trying to best prepare your child for the future.
Crazy thoughts to have about a young child, I know, but it's so important. The best part of early intervention is being able to be present for the therapy and gain so much knowledge on both your child and autism. Take advantage of this time.
Olive is in kindergarten and receives her services through the school now. So, my updates are just by paperwork every quarter of the school year, or the dreaded IEP meetings. There will be a lot of paper work, save everything. The longer someone goes without help or support the harder they may be to reach. At first you're obviously going to be overwhelmed and thinking the worst. The word autism alone probably instills fear and uncertainty. And that is because overall no one wants their child to struggle or be made to feel less. But also know a lot of the fear of autism is because the lack of information and misconceptions that follow it. I promise you, the more you learn about autism, and immerse yourself in your child, the less scary autism will be. Everything will be okay. After all no one is better equipped to handle your child, more than you.
Through out your journey the concern for your child will never fade. That just comes with being a parent. The concern I'm speaking of stems from pure fear. Fear of her growing up in an unaccepting world. Fear of the future. Fear of her... not loving herself. The way you treat and tend to your child are the stepping stones of your child's self esteem. Your perspective of them is so important. Just because your child isn't talking or responding the way you expect them to, doesn’t mean they don’t understand. Like all children, they are very aware and observant. You can't just carry on feeling discouraged, because that's how they'll feel about themselves.
If you’re tired of endless Google searches on autism that just keep repeating the same 5 facts. I highly recommend one of my favorite books, Uniquely Human A Different Way Of Seeing Autism. I came across the book and instantly loved it with in the first few pages. It’s so uplifting and refreshing. The authors give Autism a more personal and intimate perspective. Dr. Barry M. Prizant shares his personal experience of working with people on the spectrum. He shares stories of great accomplishments, and offers a new perspective of understanding autism, and reminds us of the importance of compassion. I saw parts of myself I needed to change immediately after reading this. In the beginning I was going about this journey all wrong. Out of all the books I've read, this one helped me the most. If you're wanting a more in-depth and understanding to autism on a more personal level, this book is for you.
Sometimes it takes someone else's perspective to change your own.
And lastly, crying is inevitable. For the record, crying does not mean you are weak. I cry when I'm sad, happy, mad, scared, excited, and nervous. Crying is a display of emotion, not a measure of a person's strength. Being a special needs parent or guardian is not for the faint-hearted. There's so many up's and down's, and when you finally think you got a grip a meltdown gets hurled at you. You're going to get mad, you're going to have hard days, and yes you're going to cry. Crying is natural do not let yourself feel guilt for doing this. You are still as resilient as ever- survival rate 100%.
What you deal with on a daily basis can't compare to the 'norm'. Autism is our normal, but that doesn't make it easy. The good news is you will also cry tears of happiness. Every day you will be inspired by your child's strength. When your child begins to take strides in the right direction, it will move you. Your child's accomplishments will leave you in a tearful bliss. Like I said, crying is inevitable.