You know what the experts don’t tell you when they diagnose your child with Autism???
They don’t tell you that you may find yourself in a room with your child when she has a meltdown, trying to protect yourself as she hits and kicks you, while you simultaneously try to comfort her as she frantically screams, “I don’t want to be alone!!!”
No one tells you that! No one tells you just how helpless it’ll make you feel. No one warns you that it’ll RIP. YOU. APART.
No one warns you that you’ll come to the end of yourself and then you’ll just have to keep going.
No one tells you how insanely confusing it will all be; how desperate you’ll be to make your child feel better, to make your whole family feel better…and how, sometimes, that will simply be impossible.
No one warns you how isolated you’ll feel. How weak. How alone.
They skip the part about how, at times, absolutely nothing in your life will feel “normal”. Not one thing. How, sometimes, you’ll find yourself actually dreaming of doing things other families will complain about.
The specialists won’t tell you that your hopes and dreams for your child may have to be either altered significantly or replaced completely.
They don’t tell you that this hurts. It really…really…really hurts. It breaks your heart over and over again.
They don’t tell you…and then you’ll find it hard to tell anyone else around you because, most likely, they’ll never understand.
On the flip side, many people will tell you that, no matter what, it’ll all work out. They’ll reassure you that everything will be okay. People will offer plenty of solutions to “fix” your child. (Just a heads up: your child doesn’t need fixing. They need love and strategic supports.) Most everyone will give you long, awkward silences. None of these will help. Sometimes, they’ll make it feel worse.
Here’s what I, another parent who’s been there, can tell you:
You can do this. You will almost daily feel like you can’t…but you can.
The best possible parent your child could have is you. You were chosen for this role. You are your child’s best advocate, champion, and source of love. Believe it and own it.
You are not alone. Autism is extremely common. Therefore, so are parents of those with Autism. Reach out. Get connected.
I won’t lie – The future can be uncertain, scary and overwhelming. Don’t go there. Not right now, not today. Not unless absolutely necessary. Make the plans you need to make and then leave the rest to God. It’s too big of a weight to carry so, don’t try. This is a one-step-at-a-time journey.
You will cry buckets, both sad and happy tears. You’ll have all of the emotions a million times over on a daily basis.
This is messy. Life is messy for everyone though, whether they are willing to admit it or not. So, work to find the beauty in your mess. It does exist.
You and your child will need to discover your own love language. One unique to just the two of you; a way to connect in the midst of a complicated diagnosis. It may already exist or it may take a while to figure out…but it will come. When it does, it’ll make every struggle more than worth it.
Ask. For. Help. This part is never going to be easy to do. Do it anyway. Swallow your pride and ask for help before you’re feeling buried, not after. Take care of yourself so that you can take care of your child.
Your child is a gift. That hasn’t changed. That will never change. That is one constant you can rely on…That is one thing I don’t have to tell you.