Diagnosis brings about a complex mix of feelings, worries and emotions, some will be shared, others unique to you. Remember it’s ok to give yourself the time and space to feel however you need to feel.
I remember only too well, the cacophony of emotions which overwhelmed me eight years ago. For me it was a mixture of relief that at last I understood, terror that my daughter would never have a friend and guilt that I was letting her down because I didn’t know how to help her.
But however you feel, remember that that is ok. Breathe and remember that you are human.
Take time amidst the panic to enjoy your child exactly as they are. Remember that they are the same person today as they were yesterday, no more, no less. Spend some time just playing or talking with them about the things they love. Remind yourself that together you are a formidable force.
Find A Tribe
If there is one regret I have from our early days after diagnosis, it’s that I isolated us both. I found it hard to be around families who had neurotypical children and yet when we went to local support groups, it was rare to find others of a similar age and profile. It took us a long time to find our Tribe: both the friends with neurotypical children who didn’t take no for an answer, and those we have found online.
It makes a difference. A huge one.
However hard it is to put yourself out there and find that Tribe, I promise it is worth it. Not only for you, but for your child.
Listen To (And Ask For) Advice
Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and listen to what is given. Whether you have professionals involved or speak to other parents who have travelled the path before, listening to others is a great way to find strategies that work. And believe sometimes it’s the crazy ideas that work the best…. I have been known to spend significant amounts of time pretending to be a blue cat in order to engage with a student… if it feels right it’s probably worth a try.
Do Your Research (Or find someone who has)
Read, read and read some more. Whether it’s via books, blog posts or our #UniqueAndSuccessful Membership scheme empower yourself. Learn everything you can. Doing so will not only put you in the best possible position to understand your child but it will also empower you. It will mean you feel more confident in your parenting decisions and are better placed to fight for what your child needs.
But Follow Your Gut..
There is a plethora of advice out there. Some good and some not so good. If it doesn’t sound right, feels too good to be true, or offers a miracle cure it’s probably best avoided. Remember always that your child is your child, unique and individual. You know them best. You have the final call. Follow your instincts and you will not go far wrong.
Ditch The Guilt
Yes I know, I hear you. It’s hard. Guilt comes with the territory of being a parent. But listen to me now and listen carefully. You are a human being doing their very best. No one can ask more of you than that. I know right now it feels like you are in this way out of your depth, but I promise you it will get easier.
Find Out About Local Services
Investigate what is available to you locally, whether that’s local autism support groups or access to speech therapy, occupational therapy or educational support. Depending on where you’re based your entitlement to local services will vary, but in many areas it pays to do your research. All too often services exist that families are never told about.
Get Ready To Stand Your Ground
The hardest part of this journey is going to be that right support often doesn’t happen easily. To secure the best future for your child, you are going to have to get pushy. You’re going to have to fight. Prepare yourself for this right from the beginning. Don’t assume because one person tells you something it is right, check and double check. Then fight some more. As hard as it is to say this, sadly the children who get access to services are those whose parents fight for those services.
Remember Things Will Get Easier
Right now things feel completely overwhelming, you are not sure where to turn for help and your roadmap feels as though it has disappeared. It won’t always be this way. Over time you will grow more confident, you will begin to devise a new roadmap, and a new kind of normal will develop. You, your child and your family will be happy. You can do this, and if you need our help we are here to help you to do so.
Do You Need More Help?
Why not join our lovely, friendly Facebook Group full of parents and teachers working together to share strategies to help our children.
If you do want to learn more you might find our journal useful place to start. It’s full of different posts containing strategies to try out.
Our support packages are also a great place to access more intensive support.