accepting autism a parent’s journey from suspicion to advocacy and acceptance


In this day and age with the rise in disorders that were not quite as common twenty years ago, such as Alzheimer’s and Autism - both neurological disorders - it is easy to worry and fret. The fear that either of these will arrive at your doorstep can fill anyone with concerns and anxiety if they let it.
Confronting the fact that your loved one may have a neurological disturbance that challenges their ability to communicate, interact and socialize with you is difficult to face. The possibility that your precious child may receive a diagnosis of autism is news that can drastically alter the course of the life you envisioned for you and your family.
As devastating as this can be it unfortunately is a fact of life for too many parents in this day and age! With the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reporting a prevalence of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as 1 in 110 children this is a situation that can potentially present itself to a large percentage of families across the world.
Deciding whether or not to get a diagnosis for any life altering condition can be wrought with confusion, anxiety and doubt and feel like a double-edged sword. On the one hand, knowing exactly what you are dealing with might provide you with some relief by giving you clear direction for the detour your life is about to take. On the other hand, fear of the unknown can easily instill fear and helplessness, thereby halting you in your tracks. Either side of this coin is a very uncomfortable and daunting place to be.
Taking a step towards a diagnosis not only involves a conscious effort to put one foot in front of the other but the courage to see what may lie around the corner. Staying where you are may feel safe for the moment but as frightening as it may be, the sooner you know, the sooner you will be able to move toward your preferred future and have your child reach his or her full potential.
Whether someone has mentioned a concern about your child’s rate of development or your gut has been sending you suspicious messages about your child’s progress, being in this space can fill you with angst. As unique as we are as individuals, we all move at our own pace and in our own time but sometimes we all need a little push. This impetus may come in the form of new information, the support of others, or the simple matter of listening to and trusting that nagging voice inside our head.
Wherever you currently might be on this anxiety-provoking path, here are some thoughts to contemplate. Parents who are facing a possible diagnosis of autism for their child usually fall into three different categories:
1) The Land of Denial
All parents of special needs children go through this phase. No parent wants to believe that their child will face challenges in any area. Every parent want their children to be as close to perfect as possible, or without significant challenges for sure.
If you are a first time parent you may not have an accurate frame of reference to refer to. If this is not your first child but you notice the difference in your child’s development it is easy to explain it away with the notion that ALL children are unique and grow and develop at their own pace which is absolutely true.