“Your Child Has Autism, a Developmental Disability,” What to Do When You Receive a Diagnosis
It is important to be aware that negative feelings will arise. Try not to get attached to those feelings, don’t numb them out, and don’t bury them. They will shift over time. Remember, it is a process. We are all different, but I have found that surrendering to “what is” helps one to move through the acceptance stage more quickly, as resistance to “what is” will only prolong it. When you are able to face the diagnosis head-on the negative feelings will begin to fade away, and acceptance is right around the corner.
1. Gather as much information as possible.
2. Join support groups.
3. Talk about your child’s disability.
4. Keep a journal, and write down anything and everything.
5. Find one person you can share your innermost feelings with.
6. When you are ready talk to other parents. They can be a great source of information and support.
7. Try to live in the present moment whenever you can.
8. Be courageous, and believe in yourself.
9. Trust your feelings. 10. Be kind to yourself.
Do not keep secrets, especially about a health condition. It causes more harm than good.
My son, Brandon was diagnosed with epilepsy and learning disorders at age nine. The pediatric neurologist told us to tell no one, including Brandon that he had epilepsy, due to the stigma attached. For several years, I did what she said. That was one of the worst things I could have done.
I know from personal experience, that when our children are helped at an early age, they have a much better chance of changing negative behaviors, improving performance, increasing self-acceptance, and self-esteem. However, if you missed that opportunity as I did with Brandon, do not give up. We did not find out Brandon had autism until he was thirty-two years old.
Early intervention is key, but I know firsthand it’s never too late to get help. The professional who worked with Brandon deemed it impossible for him to live on his own. They were wrong. Brandon has been living in his own apartment for the past thirteen years. Life is far from perfect and he has many hurdles to get over each and every day, but he does get over them and that is all that matters. The longer he lives out in the “real world” the more he learns. Allow your child to do things for himself. Experience is the best teacher. The only way to learn life is by living it.
A) What I wish I knew early on about having a child with special needs:
1. Do not take it personally. 2. It is not your fault. 3. The sooner you give up resistance, the sooner you can help your child. 4. Trust yourself. 5. When traditional treatments are not working, look into alternatives. 6. Doctors are not always right. 7. Find a physician you and your child like, and who understands your situation. 8. Acceptance comes only when you are ready. 9. Take care of yourself first so you can live on this planet as long as you can to advocate for your child. 10. Get as much help, assistance and support from people who care, as often as possible. 11. Hold onto HOPE, and never let it go.
As parents, we must remember raising a child with special needs is a process. There will be days when we do not know how we can hang on, but somehow we make it through. The tools I found to be the most helpful were living in the moment, and having hope.
When we live in the moment, not out into the future, it helps to eliminate fear and anxiety. I also found that holding onto hope was not a luxury, it was a necessity.
This is a guest post by Amalia Starr
Bio: Amalia Starr is a mother, author, autism motivational speaker, and founder of the Autism Independence Project.
For more information on how to help your child with special needs reach his or her full potential please visit: http://www.AmaliaStarrSpeakerAutism.com, and www.AutismIndependenceProject.org. Follow Amalia on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/autismmomexpert
For more on my story read this.