This is a post from a mother who has two children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) anyone who tries to decide how one should feel about having a child on the spectrum and to those who are on the path to having their child diagnosed.
I want to completely assure you that a diagnosis is not a stigma to worry about. Instead you should see it as a complete blessing. You don’t need to respond with worry, surprise or shock that a child, friend or relative is given a diagnosis. That diagnosis is the pathway to a better life for that child.
This is probably one of the most sensitive posts I’ve written. So be kind as this mama is already vulnerable. I promised that if I continually get asked the same questions, I would write a blog post on it. That is in hope that it may help even just one of those lives.
This is for those parents who have sat and deliberated with me. For those who have asked these questions. For the parents who have sat on this fence for far too long. I promised it to you. I told you I would share my experience and our journey in hope to help you see a different path. Hopefully it will remove some of the hurdles you feel you have to jump. The hurdles that seemed too high or you couldn’t see a path around. I dearly hope it helps you even just a little.
When I received my children’s diagnosis, I was questioned about how I should feel. I was told it was okay to feel sad and upset. I would get the worried and confused response from friends of what does that even mean? The most confusing response of all was the simple “ohhhh”. It's as though they thought they knew my child and what challenges they were going to be up against.
If you have ever responded in any negative way to a friend, co-worker or anyone who has told you that their child is on the spectrum, let me assure you that you are completely mistaken. There may have been a time where being on the spectrum would exclude a child from many things in life. However, I truely believe that in this day and age that if your child is truly on the spectrum and is living without the diagnosis, then they are sadly the ones who will have the continued struggle through their life.
Why getting a diagnosis can change that child's life
I have watched many people who see the signs and struggles of their child. Yet, they still struggle with the confirmation by sitting on the fence of getting a diagnosis. Often for far too long. Let me explain why getting a diagnosis can change that child's life and in turn the families. For us, the diagnosis has changed the quality of life for my children. It has helped ensure that we are teaching them in a way that they can actually learn.
For example, some children with extreme sensory issues may struggle to learn and absorb anything in large group settings. When we know they have these sensory issues we can approach their learning differently. Instead we can take an approach where the child gets one on one support time instead. Little changes like this will make a lifetime impact to that child actually being able to learn and grow.
Having my child diagnosed has also helped me understand the signs of a melt down. Much of that guidance has been provided by our amazing occupational therapists. Now I am able to know how to adjust the environment to help reduce and even sometimes completely prevent them.
Without the support, knowledge and right therapist my child would have many more daily struggles. I also would still be stuck in a place of confusion. Mostly of why they did certain behaviours that they were doing. This diagnosis will really open up your world to understanding many of their challenging behaviours and habits.
When you know your child is on the spectrum
Knowing a child is on the spectrum is a complete blessing. It helps you access a range of support systems that teach you how to address their struggles and extreme strengths. It ‘s an opportunity to excel a child in a place where they once would have been outcasted. Or often mislabeled as disobedient. By adjusting a child's environment, you can give them an opportunity to thrive. This is what gives them space to grow in their unique way.
A diagnosis empowers you to create opportunities to allow the child to excel in their strengths and unique abilities. It gives you the ability to provide support that they would have no access to without it, especially in school. It allows the teachers to understand the reason to their quirky behaviours. Which they can then approach in a beneficial way for that individual child. Those simple changes make a world of difference from my experience.
This post is not to downplay the difficulties that come with these children. Instead, it should remind us how amazing they truely are. Even with all the therapy and daily needs they have, each is unique and have talents that some can only dream of. I've watched a 4 year old sit until an entire advance lego set is completely built. One trait is often low muscle tone but some use this to their advantage as flexibility of a future gymnast.
Observe the strengths they do have as it excels beyond those of a neural typical child. They are SO much more. These children have the ability to go to those higher levels. They just need the right nurturing and environment. Thankfully, we have the ability to access and push for that because of their needs. Be grateful everyday for that!
I am grateful to understand their world better
Be patient my friends, I know you have days that are hard. Remember that they are going to amazing places with that support. Along with the care you get to give and put in place for them. We are blessed with many ways to support and understand our child on the spectrum.
I am so grateful for my children’s diagnosis. It has really allowed me to understand them better. I'm now able to address their needs better. I am also lucky enough to be taught by some amazing therapists. They help guide us and adjust little things like our schedule to really impact the outcome of my children’s life.
Please do NOT ever feel like your child’s, friends or relatives diagnosis is something to be sad about. Think of it as a little gift that god has given us to understand their little world better. It allows us to adjust our ways to work with theirs. Those little quirks and traits that might define the type of diagnosis they have, actually makes them who they are. I wouldn’t change it for the world!! It’s what makes me love my children even more and what makes me feel extremely blessed to have them.
I feel so much joy, love and excitement for who they are as I know they are an individual. With a diagnosis, I have the amazing ability to ensure that they excel. I continue to move them forward through those hurdles and challenges with the right people, support and networks around us. We have got this, even if there are set backs along the way. We are blessed with a diagnosis to help us do this.