By Kamie Theobald, FNP, Columbus Pediatric Associates.
So, your child has been diagnosed with Autism, ASD, on the spectrum, neural diverse–so many ways to say the same thing….Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This is Ms. Kamie, and I’d like to share some of my family’s experiences and hopefully help you navigate this emotional time.
Getting this diagnosis is a situation my husband and I found ourselves in many years ago. Our child is now 28, and most of what we experienced was trial and error, but there are a few things we’ve learned along the way that we wish we knew during that time.
Don’t let the diagnosis change how your see your child:
The child you fell in love with at birth is still that child! Try not to get so caught up in the changes the diagnosis brings, or fear of the future that you forget what’s important. Children with autism do great things, and with the right nurturing can be successful members of society. Sometimes, as parents, we have to alter how we determine success and be our child’s biggest supporter.
Don’t let the diagnosis scare you:
A diagnosis like Autism can be scary, but as with anything new, give yourself time to accept and adjust to this news. Try not to be intimidated by the overwhelming nature a diagnosis like autism can bring. We as parents are our child’s biggest advocate and we will do our best to make sure they are successful, however that looks. You’ve got this!
Don’t let the diagnosis isolate you:
A mistake we made during the early years of our son’s autism diagnosis, was that we allowed ourselves to be isolated. We avoided situations that brought attention to our plight. We avoided friend and play groups, and after an initial failed attempt, avoided medical interventions for a time. Initially we received some bad guidance via counseling. Instead of encouraging us as parents, we were made to feel blame.
Don’t let the diagnosis tear down your relationships with your partner:
During this difficult time, be each other’s sounding boards, dry each other tears, give each other hugs and support. This is not the time to blame, or feel guilt. Your child needs both parents as their advocate, always!
Thankfully, things have come a long way and we understand the diagnosis so much more but it hasn’t always been that way. Seek advice and guidance from others that have gone through the experience of having a child on the autism spectrum. Not every situation will be the same, but you may get some much-needed support, a laugh or two and maybe a few interventions that are helpful. Try not to get caught up in the political non-sense such as the debate of “labels”, focus your time and attention on your child.
Look for the positives a diagnosis like this brings:
Autistic children see the world a little differently, and they have so much to teach us. Although every child and situation are different, many children with autism learn to read very early, have great memories, think and learn in a visual way, are very logical by nature, are very precise and detail oriented and honest to a fault. They are very dependable in regards to schedules and routines and have a great sense of direction. They think “outside the box” for sure!
Our son has the best dry, matter of fact, sense of humor, and keeps us laughing. He shows his love for us in so many ways, that others may not see or understand. He has taught us so much about unconditional love and being the biggest cheerleader for our child, never setting limits of what he could accomplish.
Seek guidance from your health care provider to guide the next steps.
There are many resources available to parents and children today. Utilize all the help you can get!
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