For some, it’s a welcome relief that they can now move on with getting funding to get the help their child needs. For others, it’s much more complicated. This week I received a comment from one of my readers, Tiffany, after reading my blog Autism, What You Actually Need To Know. She wrote:
“As a newly diagnosed parent of high functioning 6yo girl with ASD your take on this I can totally relate to! I am fumbling around like drunk woman in a blind fold, no idea which way to turn so I just flop down and ask for Gods sake why!!!”
If you’re still reading Tiffany, it will all be okay. I know it’s hard. Hang in there.
I remember that moment when my first son was officially given an autism diagnosis. I remember driving home from the psychologist appointment and sitting at the traffic lights staring at my son through the rear vision mirror. I felt numb. I felt like all of my hopes and dreams for my son had been stolen from me. Stupid dreams like becoming an astronaut or playing for the Australian Cricket team. It was like my dreams had been blacked out on the pages of his future and replaced with three words, Autism Spectrum Disorder.
At that moment in time, I saw my son differently. I too was lost. I too was a drunken woman in a blindfold.
Here’s what I wished someone would have said to me at that point in my life. Tiffany, here’s what you need to know about how to deal with a diagnosis.
You know that piece of paper that you worked so hard to get, the one that labels your child? Congratulations on taking the first step to helping your daughter to continue to become the amazing person you know she is.
Now, take that piece of paper and file it somewhere, because you’re going to need it to get speech therapy, occupational therapy and other services, however you don’t need it to define your daughter.
Your daughter, your wonderful, unique, awesome daughter is still the same child she was before she had a label. A label doesn’t put her into a box or define what she will achieve in life, that’s up to her. And you.
All of your hopes and dreams for your daughter are still real, and even though some of those dreams may seem impossible right now, there will be new dreams and hopes that will be so much bigger and brighter.
I can’t answer “why” your daughter has a diagnosis. After being on this journey for over 6 years I am still asking the same question. But I can tell you this, I am tremendously proud of the person I have now become “because” of my boys’ diagnosis.
Over time autism teaches you to have huge amounts of patience and understanding. You will see the world in a different way as you journey through it by your daughter’s side. This unique perspective on life will help you appreciate and value the small things in life. Like a person who has recovered from a life threatening illness and has been given a second chance, life will have a new meaning.
Congratulations and welcome to the ASD club. We’re a growing community and are here to support each other. Welcome to your new path in life, I hope the first stepping-stone is already laid out for you, if not, the best thing you can do is read, as much as you can!
Above all, don’t forget to take care of you too. Your own hopes and dreams need to be kept, and not forgotten, because the stronger you are, the stronger your daughter will be too.
Autism does not define my children and never will. A diagnosis is nothing more than a bunch of symbolic words that say, this child needs help. But to be honest, all kids will need help at some stage. From my experience, it’s a whole lot easier to get help when you have a diagnosis.
How do you deal with your child getting a diagnosis? It’s like opening a door that then unlocks lots of other doors that will help your child. And in years to come as your child learns to cope and flourish, nothing is stopping you from closing that door. Tearing up that piece of paper and writing new hopes and dreams that could only be possible because you stepped up and got a diagnosis.