To the Parent New to Autism
Hello person. Welcome to this beautiful world of autism. Yes, beautiful.. It’s the same beautiful world you’ve already lived in. That child that you love? They’re the same child. That diagnosis is not really new to you. You’ve been watching and interacting with that child since they were born. It’s okay.
You just learned some new news. Do you know what I tell all parents who just learned their child are autistic? Take the next couple of weeks to process. Don’t do anything. Don’t make any decisions. Don’t start new therapies. Don’t start looking for that future. Process what this means. You’ll continue to process after those couple of weeks, but you won’t be as overwhelmed.
While you process, process what you love about your child. Every little thing. Because you have so much love for your child, yes? These reminders are so important to show you that your child is the same.
Process what you want for your child’s future. Not what job they’re going to have (how many kids live up to those expectations really?). But what kind of happiness do you want? What is really important to you? You should find that your child’s newly discovered, but always present, disability isn’t what you’ll focus on. You will want them to be happy. You will want them to be able to make their own choices. You will want them to achieve whatever their heart desires.
Now that you’ve processed that, process what you think creates those things. Communication, yes? Does that mean speaking? I don’t know that it means speaking. Sometimes it means sign language or a device that speaks for them. Sometimes it’s pictures or writing or typing. These are all good ways of communicating if it gets your point across, yes?
Now, think of all the people you have around you. Call on them for support. Learn which ones will support you in the way you need. Pay attention so you can know you get through this. You know how it takes a village to raise a child? It still takes the same village to raise an autistic child. And that’s ok! Because we ALL need support, whether we have typical children or neurodivergent children.
And finally, when you start hearing about what you should do to your child, ask yourself, would I want this done to me? If the answer is no, then tell those people no. There are ways to help your child that don’t require you to force your child. There are ways to help your child that don’t require humiliation. There are ways to help your child that don’t border on animal training.
After you’ve processed all of this, go and find the ways to help your child that don’t compromise your morals, your feelings and worst of all, the love your child has for you.