I was recently asked what advice would I tell a parent of child recently diagnosed with Autism, while each person is unique and each set of circumstances are different this is what I would have liked to have known when my eldest was first diagnosed:
Dear Parent of an Autistic Child,
You have just been told that your child is autistic, and I’m sure you have a great deal of questions swirling around in your mind. Some might be questions such as: What exactly does this mean for your child? How will you tell others? Will your child be accepted by their peers? How can you best help your child to thrive and grow? What types of treatments should you utilize for your child? And so on, and so on…
I don’t have all of the answers, in fact no one does, not even the specialists and doctors have them. The only person with the best chance of having most of the answers is you. I know you probably don’t feel that way right now, but it’s the truth. No one will know your child better than you, no one will love your child the way that you do, and no one will be as devoted to their wellbeing and happiness as you are.
Research all you can about Autism, learn everything you can about what it really is. The more you understand about Autism the more you can make informed decisions about what is truly best for your child. If a type of treatment or medication or anything gives you a bad feeling, respect your intuition as your child’s parent! Just because _____ worked for so and so doesn’t mean it’s right for your child, and that’s okay. Remember that each person is unique, there is no one single way to parent!
There will be days that are beyond hard, they will stretch you to your mental and emotional limits and beyond until you feel like just breathing is a struggle. The catch to that is that it isn’t because your child has Autism that times will be difficult, it’s because you’re a parent in general now. Each parent will face challenges they aren’t sure how to overcome, each parent will struggle to know and do what is best for their child, that’s just a part of parenting. There will also be moments of such great joy that you will wonder if your heart is going to burst from them.
Above all remember that your child is just that; your child. They are still the same child that you held and cuddled and loved before their diagnosis. They are still capable of a full life filled with happiness if they are just given the right tools and opportunities. At it’s core, that is what parenting is about; loving your child unconditionally and giving your child the specific tools and opportunities they specifically need to create the life they find personally fulfilling.
A Mother of 2 Autistic Sons