Supporting Your Child with Autism: A Guide to Acceptance
When my son was diagnosed with Autism, my initial response was one of unwavering optimism. Despite my limited understanding of Autism at the time, I found solace in silently reassuring my son, "We can do this, Champ!"
However, the journey was not without its challenges, primarily stemming from the various reactions of people around me, including my husband, which seemed burdensome at times.
Looking back, my optimism during those early days had a foundation. Having spent a lot of time with my son prior to his diagnosis, I had observed his unique potential, which far outweighed his challenges. I held onto the belief that, with the right guidance, he could achieve remarkable things.
Yet, the path to acceptance has proven to be an ongoing process, even though I embraced the diagnosis from day one. Occasionally, upon self-reflection, I unearth bits of doubts and uncertainties about how to handle certain situations.
The acceptance of a diagnosis like Autism for your child is a deeply personal journey. We all have our own pace on how to get from point A to point B. And that's okay.
However, I urge fellow parents not to let this process linger indefinitely, as our children depend on us and eagerly await our understanding and support.
To aid you on your path to acceptance, here are some invaluable resources and insights that have greatly assisted me:
DOES IT BOTHER YOU?
It was my son's very first trip to the Developmental Pediatrician, and it led me to ask a pretty unusual question, one perhaps rooted in my own naivety.
I asked, "My son has this inclination to spin wheels. How should we address it? Should we discourage him? Redirect his focus?"
To this, our doctor calmly responded, "Does it bother you?"
In that moment, it struck me as a profound realization, an epiphany condensed into a single question, forcing me to confront my role as a parent to a child with unique needs.
Should I consistently highlight what sets my child apart, or should I celebrate the qualities that render him distinctly himself?"
JOIN AUTISM COMMUNITY
You've got two effective ways to navigate this journey:
(1) Accompany your child in his/her therapy sessions, and
(2) Connect with supportive Facebook Groups tailored for families like ours.
My commitment to being present in my son's therapy sessions right from the start allowed us to experience the "community" up close and personal, on a micro level. I recall our Developmental Pediatrician suggesting seminars about autism, which, while valuable, felt a bit too formal for us at the time.
By immersing ourselves in these therapy sessions, we gained a unique vantage point to observe the diverse mix of individuals involved—kids on the spectrum, parents, caregivers, and therapists.
Somehow, amidst these interactions, we began to sense that we weren't alone. Over time, we struck up informal conversations with fellow parents, engaging in small talk that often yielded nuggets of wisdom, the kind only those who have walked this path could impart.
As for Facebook Groups, I stumbled upon them a bit later, around four years after my son's diagnosis. Even though I felt belated, I quickly realized the value of joining. These groups offered a window into the challenges faced by countless families. More importantly, they allowed me to tap into the collective wisdom of parents with older children and share my own insights. As the saying goes, "To teach is to learn twice."
Simple - be there for your child. But I understand that this may not be 100% applicable to all.
Our days are packed with responsibilities, whether it's the grind of work or the endless cycle of household chores and errands. Thus, accompanying your child to therapy sessions, continuing therapy at home, or just having some playtime with your child can feel like a daunting task in the midst of it all.
We've often consoled ourselves with the idea that "quality time" is the answer when we're short on time. It's an excuse many of us have mastered.
Now, don't get me wrong; I'm not here to judge. I'll not tell you now to leave your day job that requires you to be 12 hours away from your child. But my hope is for parents to take a moment for self-reflection on their priorities and maybe, just maybe, explore new ways to enhance their family time. How? By finding ways to have a new source of better income and hopefully, multiple sources of income for your family.
From my own experience, working from home and being actively involved allowed me to truly appreciate my son's capabilities, regardless of his diagnosis.
I never really thought of myself as "religious," and to be honest, the concept of "spirituality" was a bit foreign to me just a few years back.
But, serendipitously, I stumbled upon some ideas that ended up profoundly shaping my new belief system, especially as a parent of a child with autism.
Life itself can be quite a challenge, but when I discovered how to anchor myself and establish a connection with something greater, it was like a lifeline. It kept me from spiraling into emotional turmoil and provided clarity in moments of confusion.
Through this journey, I've delved into the art of forgiveness, embraced the practice of gratitude, and, overall, learned to be more mindful in my day-to-day life.
If I were to offer just one step to dive deeper into this journey of self-discovery and love, I'd wholeheartedly recommend checking out this free course on Mindvalley: Life Visioning. And hey, why not take a leap and explore this meditation course too: 6 Phase Meditation. It might just be the transformative experience you've been looking for.
After scrolling through posts from other au-some parents in Facebook Groups, something hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized that a big stumbling block for us parents when it comes to fully embracing our child's diagnosis is all these B@*S@* Rules - you know, those societal expectations and norms we've just mindlessly accepted.
Education equals traditional schooling (Did you know there are alternative ways to learn beyond four walls?)
Fitting in is a must (But why, really?)
Success equals a 9-to-5 job (What about letting your child chase their passions? Today's technology opens up endless possibilities for meaningful work.)
Children should reach certain milestones by a specific age (Perhaps these guidelines are more for guidance than rigid deadlines.)
Autism is synonymous with disability (Why not embrace the term "differently-abled" instead?)
A diagnosis is the result (In reality, it only attempts to explain what is, not what can be).
These are the kinds of beliefs that need a good shake-up and rethinkin' as we navigate this wild ride of parenting kids with autism.
Oscar Recovering from Autism through The Son-Rise Program
This YouTube video really opened my eyes to something important: how vital it is for parents to connect with their kids.
Usually, our first instinct is to figure out how to change their behavior or how to do therapy at home. I even went down the rabbit hole of researching the cause of autism.
But what often slips our minds is to know first how to connect with our child. And this YouTube video served as a reminder.
Just so you know, I haven't bought anything from the Son-Rise Program, but I wanted to share this video because it gave me some awesome tips on building that foundation to help my son and, you know, just be a better parent overall.
Autism Acceptance - In Closing
The journey of accepting a diagnosis like Autism of our child is a deeply personal and ongoing process. Even for myself, I'm still discovering little nuggets of wisdom along the way.
While there may be many approaches, it's the foundation of love and understanding that truly makes a difference. I hope these insights and resources help you on your journey towards embracing and supporting your child with Autism, just as they have helped me.
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