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Dear Parent of a Newly Diagnosed Child on the Autism Spectrum

Dear parent of the newly-diagnosed child with autism,

I can imagine how you feel because I have been where you are. I imagine you may feel devastated, scared, lost, confused, overwhelmed and anxious.

I won’t talk to you about a “cure.” I cannot tell you that it will be an easy road, because it is not. I can tell you, though, that your child’s symptoms can improve with a lot of hard work and patience. There will be ups and downs. There will be new concerns and challenges, but you will get the hang of dealing with them. You will become an expert in all things autism, but more than that, you will become an expert in your child. You will know how to help him and you will know how to teach him to help himself.

Life will not be how you had envisioned it to be but it will be a fulfilling life if you let it be.

There are four things that I will advice you to do to in order to live a happy life: accept, adapt, embrace, move on.

Stop comparing your child to other children and your life to others’ lives. The more time you spend doing this, the more time you lose in giving your child the support he needs.

Here are a few things you can do instead:

  • Read up as much as you can about autism so you can make informed decisions.
  • Trust your instincts as a parent. Don’t let fear get in the way of your judgment.
  • Don’t let the diagnosis take over your life. Allow yourself and your child time to relax and enjoy.
  • Autism is not a race, it is a marathon. Make sure you pace yourself and brace yourself for the long run.
  • Contrary to what you might believe, you have time. Don’t panic and try to do everything at once because you will end up burning yourself and your child out.
  • Remember that your child is still the same child he/she was before his/her autism diagnosis. Focus on your child instead of his/her diagnosis.
  • Remember your child is still a child with a child’s needs and wants. Having an autism diagnosis does not change that.
  • Don’t look at everything through the lens of the diagnosis. Your child is an individual, not a diagnosis.
  • Stop comparing your child with other children.
  • Stop comparing your life with other people’s lives.

Last but not the least, take care of yourself so you can take of your precious children.

Getty image by Rauluminate