Let’s face it – there isn’t a parent in the world who wants their child to suffer. In a perfect world, kids would grow into adulthood without a hiccup. Sadly, the world is by no means perfect, and children have to deal with grown up issues such as autism. Of course, their reaction is the most important because they have to deal with it the rest of their life. However, an autism diagnosis also affects parents, too. From keeping them safe to taking care of their physical needs, you will be the one who will shoulder the responsibility.
It is essential, then, that you know how to handle the process as soon as the doctor utters the fateful words. One mistake can be the difference between a smooth and rough transition. With that in mind, it is essential to learn more about the dos and don’ts for parents.
Here is a selection of the ones which will help guide you through the darkness and into the light. These are the dos and don’ts of dealing with an autism diagnosis.
Don’t Show Emotion
Don’t worry; this post isn’t going to ask you to repress your feelings. Part of the procedure is talking about how you feel to relieve emotional stress. But, when you are sat in a doctor’s office or the car on the way home, breaking down in tears isn’t going to help. If anything, it will only scare your child even more. The key is to be strong and act as if you are unfazed by the news. Then, your son or daughter will follow suit, as will the rest of the family. Showing emotions is a sure-fire way of letting the cat out of the bag. Sure, they know something isn’t right, but they might not understand the extent. Or, they might assume life won’t change. In the long run, there will need to be a long, detailed conversation for their sake and your own. For now, let them process it and be there to answer any questions. Try and make it about them and not you.
Do Remember The Past
Once you hear the doctor’s diagnosis, it is easy to forget the past. For obvious reasons, everyone concentrates on the present and the future. Although, it is healthy and constructive, not remembering the past can be a mistake. Okay, there is a good chance that your son or daughter may change in a physical sense. They may even change in a mental sense in some regards. However, that doesn’t mean they are not the same person you have looked after all of their life. Adaptations happen, and you will need to get ready for the modifications. Still, don’t let them take away the memories which are special. Their appearance might alter, yet their characteristics and personality will stay the stay throughout. So, you are by no means losing a child.
Don’t Feel Paranoid
Parents look back and think “what could I have done differently” when something goes wrong. Whether it is a diagnosis or a slip and fall, it’s an occupational hazard of the job. The problem with thinking is this way is the inevitable guilt which follows. Allowing yourself to feel self-pity only makes the situation worse. Unfortunately, life is a random sequence of events and some people are unlucky. This is the case for your family; not your lack of parenting skills. Usually, there is nothing a parent can do differently. Even if a child showcases the symptoms, there is no way to cure the illness. Don’t let guilt consume you forever.
Do Find A Release
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but things will get worse. Everyone, the entire family, has to get used to the transition first. Until that point, things will be awkward, and they will be strange, and it might feel as if you have hit rock bottom. If you get to this point, it’s essential to push the relief valve. Quite simply, you need an activity which helps you cope when you are at your lowest. Religious people use a memorial prayer or the Lord’s prayer to get closer to God. Sporty people use exercise as a way to blow off steam. Couples find a babysitter to take a break from the household once or twice a month. Whatever it is, you need a means to lift the pressure off your shoulders. Otherwise, the weight of it can be crushing.
Don’t Worry About The Stares
Autistic children are different. Sometimes, they do engage in stereotypical behavior such as not responding to words. Or, there might be a breakdown in the middle of a busy shopping mall. People will stare, and others will judge. “Discipline your child,” they will think, or “don’t be too soft” you will see them say with their eyes. Of course, you know that strictness is not the answer for an autistic child. So, the key is not to let people’s’ stares or silent judgments affect you in any way. All you can do is respond as normal and remember that these people don’t know you from Adam. If they did, they wouldn’t be glancing down their nose at your parenting skills.
Do Reach Out
The CDC estimates that 1 in 68 children are on the autism spectrum. As a rough guide, this means 5 million people in the US deal with some form of the illness. However, the figure is only 2% of the overall population. As you can see, autism is not a prevalent disease which affects every family on the block. Therefore, it can be hard to deal with the diagnosis if there is no one to guide you through the process. Figuring it out for yourself is commendable, but there is only so much the human brain can take. Reaching out to those in your situation is a better path to walk. That way, you can be part of a solid support group that listens to your stories and answers your questions.
Hopefully, this post will help you through one of the toughest times in your life. But, remember that the good times are around the corner.