Accepting the Diagnosis of Autism
When we first heard the word Autism, we had no idea what it was. Our knowledge of the disorder was limited to a long ago memory of the Movie Rain Man and Dustin Hoffman’s character repeating numbers and other things over and over. That didn’t seem quite like our daughter. The diagnosis was easier for my ex-husband to accept than that of my older daughter’s ADHD. Mostly because he didn’t know anything about Autism and he had some negative experiences with ADD from his youth.
While we didn’t experience denial, it’s pretty common for parent after getting a new diagnosis. I can imagine that just pretending nothing is wrong might feel easier than learning about something as big as Autism – something as confusing as Autism.
So they pretend like there is nothing wrong. The doctor was wrong, their child is perfectly normal. Something else I’ve seen, especially from older people is that it is purely a behavioral issue, and the parents are not disciplining enough. I ran into this with my ex some. He always said things weren’t as bad at his house, as if I were doing something wrong or being too lenient.
But, he was a weekend dad. He didn’t have to get her up, to school on time, get her groomed and deal with the same rules that she had to follow at my house all week long. Being in denial about the diagnosis will not help anything.
The sooner that you accept that your child is Autistic the better both of you will be. The condition will not go away if you ignore it. Accepting the diagnosis and moving on will be a huge step for you as a parent to take. Acceptance of the diagnosis makes it easier to figure out how to help everyone involved.
Anger is another very common emotion that parents have when they find out their kid has Autism.You might be angry with yourself, or angry with God. You might be angry at the doctors or the community or your partner. You might be angry with other parents that have healthy children.
This is a normal feeling to experience. Remember while you are feeling angry to think of all the great things about your child. Share your feelings with others. Keeping anger bottled up can be a bad thing. A support group is one of the best things a parent can use.
I remember our family therapist asking me if I had mourned the loss of my daughter. He explained that I (as most parents do) probably had some thoughts of my child doing typical things – going to school, getting good grades or playing sports, going to prom, attending college, and becoming a successful adult. But, when a child is diagnosed with Autism, parents need to address the reality that those things might not happen for their child. They might happen, but in a different way. And so, we parent need to mourn the idea of that child.
They might be sad over the way the world will treat their child, and the hardships they will face. Grief is a normal emotion to go through. The key is to get through the grief, and on to the acceptance. Try not to look at the things that are wrong. There will have to be some adjustments made to your plans for your child’s future. That is what life is all about , change. If you find yourself unable to move past the grieving stage you might need to talk to someone. It might help having a few therapy sessions to deal with the feelings you are experiencing. But, again, a support group can help you with these feelings of loss as well.
Finally coming to terms with the diagnosis of Autism can take awhile. Some people are just glad to have an answer to what is wrong with their child – that was me. I knew she was different and knew something wasn’t right, but I didn’t know what. When you don’t know what’s different, it’s hard to work with the situation.
Others have a hard time accepting their child is different from other kids. I understand peer pressure. Sadly, it’s just as big a problem for adults as for kids and teens. The pressure to have your child “fit it” can be overwhelming. Ever seen the parents on the sidelines at youth sports games that yell and scream at the officials? That’s some kind of pressure in the parent, that they can’t accept.
It might take a while to accept that your child is different, and that is okay. Once you have accepted the diagnosis of Autism you can start to help your child.
Think about how hard it is for your child. They need you to be behind them in their treatments one hundred percent. The first step to doing this is acceptance and love.
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