A Few Things I’d Have Told Myself Before Our Autism Diagnosis

Here are a few things I would have liked to tell my then self, my pre-autism self:

FullSizeRender (2)
My daughter, Shea

1. It’s not the end of the world. It can be crazy hard at times but it will enrich your life in ways you never imagined. Our daughter was diagnosed at Children’s Hospital on Halloween at 18 months. The halls were filled with little kids trick-or-treating in their costumes. Distraught and devastated, I looked at my husband and said, “What are we going to do?” and he said, “We’re going to love her with all of our heart,” and we have from day one. Little did I know then, one of the happiest days was going to be trick-or-treating with my 16-year-old daughter (in her prison costume) seeing genuine, unbridled love and happiness in her eyes.

2. People can be mean and some will never understand. Forget it. Stick with the people who support you and love your child no matter how nuts it is at times.

3. Reach out. There’s an incredible community, and we all need each other. Take help from those who are farther along in their journey, and help those who are beginning theirs. We’re all in this together.

4. It’s OK to take a break. You will need it, and it will make you a better parent and a happier person.

5. Stick together as a family and don’t leave your typical kids behind. They need your love and support too. Be a family with equal and mutual support.

6. Be grateful — no matter how long some days are and how tired you sometimes get. This special, crazy, incredible child will make you a better person. The best version of yourself.

Me and Shea on Halloween

For all of January, The Mighty is asking its readers this question: If you could go back to the day you (or a loved one) got a diagnosis, what would you tell yourself? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please  include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.

Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook.

And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Autism Spectrum Disorder

I Wish I’d Known This About My Son With Down Syndrome From Day One

If I knew I was going to pump for a whole year, I would have bought a hands-free pumping bra. If I knew my son, Ben, was not going to need heart surgery before he turned one, I would have worried less. If I knew I would only hear congratulations and love for my sweet boy [...]

When I Questioned If My Son With Autism Could Show Kindness

I recently entered a short essay in The Mighty’s thankfulness challenge. It received a whole lot more attention than I ever dreamed it would when a representative of People magazine saw the story and called. My essay described some children who have been exceptionally kind to my son, Tate, and I thanked these kids in [...]

When I Heard the Word ‘Autism’ I Only Knew Stereotypes. Here’s What I Know Now.

“I’m 100 percent certain she’s on the autism spectrum.” As the doctor said the words, I felt her eyes on me, waiting for a reaction. Instead I found myself sitting perfectly still with a smile frozen on my lips as I watched her play with my 3-year-old daughter. We were there because Mae had been having [...]

The Mantra I Adopted When My Son Was Diagnosed With Autism

If I could go back to the day my son was diagnosed with autism, I would tell myself the following things: 1. There will be plenty of time for crying later. For every time he says a new word. For every time he points at something and looks at you for approval. For when he leaps into [...]