“Your child has autism.”
There it was. The developmental pediatrician, the psychologist, someone finally, actually said it, and it wasn’t Dr. Google or your neighbor or a teacher or the checkout lady at Target. It was someone whose job it is to say this word. Autism. The word that has kept you up for endless nights obsessing, “What if?”
And just when the air finally escapes your lungs, the air you didn’t even know you were holding in, another word you didn’t even see coming feels like an uppercut to the chin, Alone. And that’s when the tears begin.
I get it. I feel you. I have been there, too.
It can be hard to hear the word autism. It can be scary if it’s unknown and new to you. But you have to be present and feel all the emotions the world autism brings, so you and your child can move forward. That’s why you are there, remember? You came to get answers to help your child. And now you have the answer. It might not have been what you wanted to hear, but the word is out and now it’s time to move on to other words that begin with “A.” And when you do, you might feel less alone.
Answer. Now that you have the answer to what, you can ask the question how.
Acceptance. Acceptance will come in time. While you wait for it, remember, your child is waiting for you.
Awareness. Acceptance can’t come without awareness. Your child will guide you, but reach out to other parents, support groups and specialists who will help you and other people in your child’s life become more aware.
Access. Without autism, access to support, resources and help can’t come. The label is the doorway to your child’s future.
Awe. What you can feel day in and day out as you begin to understand your child.
April. A month when autism awareness is spread and acceptance is encouraged.
Achieve. Your child will achieve, in their time, in their way, so try not to compare them to your friends’ kids.
Admiration. With each and every progress, no matter how big or small, the admiration you feel for your child can be unlike any other feeling you have ever experienced.
Aggravation. Yes, there will be moments of aggravation, as there are for any parent. Do not beat yourself up for it; reach out to someone who gets it so you remember you are not alone.
Amaze. The way your child sees and interprets the world can amaze you, as long as you let them show you.
Always. You will always love them. Autism doesn’t change that.
Anguish. There may be moments of anguish. It’s called parenting.
Appreciate. You will learn to appreciate the differences your child may have, some days more so than others.
Advocate. Both a verb and a noun. What you will do and the the title you now hold. Wear the title proudly because no one will advocate more for your child than you.
There are so many more words that begin with A, and every other letter of the alphabet, to describe this autism journey.
Become aware, accept that they are “different, not less” and appreciate any progress, big or small.
Now that you have heard the word autism, it’s time to get up and go. Stand up, shake the doctor’s hand, scoop your child up into your arms and go. You are not alone. You have the answer and in time you will accept it, but, even in the most apprehensive moments that fill you with anguish, you must affirm your love for your child because you are now both their parent and their advocate, and they will look to you first for approval to be exactly who they are meant to be.
Go give it to them now.
Follow this journey on The AWEnesty of Autism.
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