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When Your Child Has Autism, You Can Swallow the 'Red Pill' or the 'Blue Pill'

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Receiving an autism diagnosis for your child can be a difficult time. You have so many fights ahead with services, schooling etc., but having a positive attitude can make such a difference.

Coping mechanism seem to vary quite a lot from what I have witnessed on social media. In my experience, parents often go down two different avenues. Do you take the red pill or the blue pill?

Blue pill

You will meet a lot of other parents of autistic kids. You will share tales of hardship. You will make lots of friends. You will learn a few things about how to help your kid, but mostly your bonds will grow with all the problems autism can bring. There will be glimpses of happiness when your child or your friend’s child reaches a developmental stage. You will learn that autistic adults sometimes get defensive if you vent about your child’s problems. In fact, you may even believe they shouldn’t really be in autism support groups, as they are nothing like your child. Meltdowns, sensory issues, problems your child may present may be hard to understand. You may compare your child to other children, which may always be  upsetting. You may spend a lot of time desperately wishing for a cure. The problem with taking the blue pill is you may mistakenly get drawn into a cycle of depression, and relating to other parents in the same predicament can make things even tougher. Often in these groups the more depressing your posts, the more likes and comments you will get.

Red pill

This is a harder pill to swallow; it may isolate you more from other autism parents. However, for the help and support you receive, it will be amazingly positive. You will develop valuable friendships with autistic adults and like-minded parents. They will teach you that those developmental charts don’t mean much, that you can see all the amazing differences your child brings without having to compare to other children. They will assist tremendously with meltdowns and sensory issues. Why? Because they have been there. Some autistic adults will be defensive if you’re negative about your child. You will learn that this is understandable. The negative focus on autism brings back difficult memories, and you will learn that they are only defensive because they worry for your child. You will learn that showing them respect back can produce great friendships, and the advice they can give you will be invaluable. Your child may still have a disability, but many traits, language differences and behaviors can be seen as a neurological difference, which needs to be respected rather than seen as a tragedy.

Do you take the red pill or the blue pill? To help you decide, I am going to put up two scenarios:

Drama at the play park:

Blue pill: My son cries and screams around other kids. He’s 6, and I still have to put him on the baby swing. He only tolerates for a few minutes and then screams wanting off. It’s so hard.

Red pill: We avoid play grounds at busy times. When we do go, he loves lying under the swing and seeing it swing from side to side. Yes, we get some funny looks, but he loves it. If other kids start coming along, he always decides to leave, and that’s understandable.

Blue pill: I’m so sad for my child. My other kids have been on play dates, even sleepovers. No one knocks at the door for him. After school he just goes in his room and plays with his toys; it breaks my heart. He’s not happy if I try and force him out. He must be miserable.

Red pill: Yes, sometimes it’s sad to see my son struggles with friendships. He needs his down time though after school and needs the space to just be by himself for a while. He feels safe and secure in his daily routine. Social interaction with him at school can be quite exhausting, so we’ve learned to give him the space he needs after.

Blue pill may equal grieving, comparing, fighting and possible depression.

Red pill may equal learning a new concept, opening your mind and discovering a new adventure.

Please, be brave. I’d suggest you make the decision to swallow the red pill.

The next time you’re on social media, connect with some autistic adults; you will get great help and develop brilliant friendships. Autism doesn’t need to be about grieving, sadness or depression.

No one ever says having an autistic child is an easy task, but with the right mindset, fighting for schooling, services and therapies can be easier with a positive attitude. The red pill, in my opinion, is the best way to achieve this.

This post originally appeared on helpfulhev.

Originally published: September 11, 2015
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