Almost every time a child is eventually diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder the parent knows something is not right with their child long before the official diagnosis is given. An uneasy feeling, sits in the pit of your stomach and grows bigger and bigger until you know you need to see the doctor and tell him about your gut feelings. You are really wanting to hear that your child is going through a phase and not to worry. The doctor’s visit drags on and on and you never get the reassurance that all is well. The doctor may suggest referrals to specialist, order tests and might ask you complete a stack of paperwork about your child. He wants you to make notes about behaviors that concern you; when they occur, what was going on before the behavior, your reaction, and how the behavior ended and how the child reacted after the behavior.
He tells you to come back in a couple of weeks with the paperwork. You nod your head, try to smile, gather up your child and try to walk out of the office and get to your car before you break down. By the time you get home the questions start forming, but answers are not forthcoming. Welcome to the bewildering world of having a child with a health problem. It is a maze with many twists and turns, and you often draw the card that sends you back to start. For some us it takes a long time to get a diagnosis and for others it is almost immediate. Either way the diagnosis, as difficult as it seems, is just the beginning. When I was going through this I didn’t know anyone else who had a child diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I learned coping skills, and connected with other experiencing the same trauma.
- Breathe-that’s right breathe in and breathe out, in and out.
- Get Educated, be informed, find out as much information as you can about her diagnosis.
- Connectt with others-family, friends,and other parents; use the internet to make connections as well as personal contacts.
- Deal with the feelings you are experiencing such as fear, anger, bewilderment and many others. Don’t bury your feelings, deal with them now.
- Take Care of yourself If you neglect the self-care of your needs, and your fears you will be unable to help your child. Make the time for self-care so that you will be there, fully there for your child.
- Remember you are not alone. It is true that your path is lonely, but there are many others walking the same path.
- Form a good relationship with every member of your child’s treatment team; the doctors, nurses, technicians, therapists,and nutritionists. You need everyone who deals with your child as your ally.
- Don’t give up on your child or yourself.
- Do NOT accept any blame for you child’s condition.
- It is not your fault.
My next article will deal with my journey and experiences on the road to my Angel’s diagnosis along with more tips for coping.