Thursday, February 9, 2012

Receiving the Diagnosis of Autism, What Now?

I have just been told
my child has autism.
Is there any hope?


          While reading results of our son's reevaluation yesterday, it brought back memories of the emotions each time our four boys were diagnosed. Like most parents I didn't want to believe that there was anything to be concerned about, I wanted my son to be "normal", but I couldn't deny that there were challenges that were getting worse and couldn't be ignored. I thought others were crazy to suggest that autism could be a possibility. I would fight against my gut instincts. 

My husband and I had so many questions and concerns. . .

 What would a diagnosis of autism mean for our son?
How would it effect him now and later in life?
Would he always have autism?
Could it be something else?
What support and resources are out there?
What would others think?
How would others act towards our son or our family?

          A diagnosis of autism felt like I was a failure as a mother. I knew very little about autism, Asperger syndrome, sensory processing, and everything else connected to the spectrum. I know now just how great of a mother I am, and how much I have grown and learned about parenting a child with special needs. I now stand in awe and respect when I meet a parent of a child with special needs. I know their experiences are unique, but still challenging like ours, and they rise every morning to meet those challenges.

            “It is hard to process all the thoughts and emotions you feel after your child is diagnosed. It’s overwhelming. The acceptance process after a diagnosis is much like going through the stages of grief: denial, guilt, anger, blaming, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. You have suffered a loss. You have lost the dream of who you thought your child would be." (Autism Understanding the Puzzle)
Remember your child is
still the same amazing and lovable self
as (s)he was before (s)he was diagnosed.
 Autism is not who (s)he is;
it is merely a descriptive word 
that explains (her)his unique qualities.

"Don’t see autism as a label that defines your child; instead, view it as an explanation of his challenges and strengths. If you had a child with a major health or medical issue, such as cancer, you would not hesitate to get him help. Take the opportunity to educate yourself and get a correct diagnosis." 

Accepting what autism meant for our boys took a lot of time. Even now, whenever new challenges arise, I cycle through the grieving process and its emotions again and again. I find comfort in writing down our journey in my journal. Writing helps me see where my boys began and the progress they are making now. Once I had accepted my boys’ diagnoses and gotten all the self blame out of the way, I was able to search for help and find services and therapy that would benefit them and improve their development.” (Autism Understanding the Puzzle)


Patti B said...

Sharla, I cannot agree that autism is a descriptive word and does not define our child. My daughter was diagnosed with autism at the age of 3 and at first I thought it was the end of the world. We face a great many challenges and to this day, we are still trying to show her the importance of talking. I have found sites like to be a wealth of information on ways I can help my daughter. I definitely suggest taking a look and hope it helps yo too!

Sharla Jordan said...

Patti, maybe you misread what I wrote. I agree with you, Autism does NOT define the individual. My husband and I always strive to encourage our boys to develop and improve upon both their challenges and strengths. I hope for the best with you and your daughter.

Sharla Jordan said...

Cliff Jordan commented on the facebook link to this post and I wanted to share it with you.

"When we were told our son was Autistic, it was hard for both of us to accept that our son might have a disadvantage in life in comparison to others. But after many tears, we both realized we were more intent on our son fulfilling our expectations than his. Our sorrow vanished and was replaced by our focused resolve when we realized that our mission is simply to prepare our son in every way possible to be what HE wants to be. And therein is the secret with Autism. Autistic kids generally are never "well rounded", but rather they are very "specialized". And in many cases, that "specialization" is not known until they are adults. So as parents we try our absolute best to prepare our son with the best educational foundation that he can receive, so when HE decides what his "specialty" in life will be, he will be much better prepared to engage it and EXCEL at it."