My child’s been diagnosed with autism. Now what?
I know this feeling. You are either heartbroken or relieved. The autism diagnosis can mean relief or heartbreak.
There is no accurate explanation in words of the feelings you have right now. This is a process and I’ve learned it’s similar to mourning the death of a loved one. I can attest that I am still going through this process.
I’ve wanted to write this for other parents now for over a year. I wanted to explain what I’ve learned and what I’d recommend where a father or parents should start when they get the diagnosis.
This will get get sorted out – promise.
Dad’s & Autism
Hey dad, father of a kid with autism, I get it. You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s not your fault. It’s not your wives fault. We’ll probably never know the real reason but this is the time you need to step-up, not step aside.
Dad, you need to be involved. I know your hurting deep down inside. I know you want to “just fix it” too. It’s an autism diagnosis and not a death sentence.
This is a process for your kid, and for you too. You child needs you, and yes, you’ll have a tremendous amount of pressure on your back.
When my son was diagnosed with moderate-severe autism I was:
- Enraged and full of anger. I was mad at the Dr. that explained the results of his autism diagnosis. I was mad at how the paper was presented, the information contained and the passiveness of what I was told to do. I was even pissed that the copies toner varied and some sections were hard to read. “How could they give me this diagnosis and put in such a shitty format!?”
- Guilt. “What did I do to cause this?!” Did my past, my parents, grandparents have something in their genes I should have been aware of? Is there something in my family tree? Did I ingest something, take something that caused this to happen!?
- Victim 100% “What the fuck did I do to deserve having a disabled child?!” Oh God, I don’t deserve this! Why?
- Scared. I had no confidence in the simple packet that was handed to me or the validity of the information it contained. What the hell was I going to do? I’m a control guy, I fix things but how do I do this?! Where do I start? What if I make a mistake, or make the wrong decision?
- Confused. Call this number, that number, send email and schedule service? Maybe consider speech, occupational therapy, giving him horse therapy- everything was thrown at me. Where the fuck do I start!?
- Sadness. The plans I had for my boy are ruined. He’ll never do all the things I though we would.
- Bitter. Someone needs to pay for this! What the hell are you looking at, are your kids so damn perfect!
- Envy. I immediately thought of others around me, friends, family and their families and children and was envious of the “normality” they have.
- Self Pity. I still go through bouts with this. “Why him? What did he do, what did I do to deserve this?” Poor me, why do I sacrifice so much and have to have this in my life, in his life?
Remember, there are major differences on deciding to take action or just thinking about it. Dad, let’s get on it.
The Autism Diagnosis – Getting Started
I am going to tell you what I did, should have done, and wish others had told me to do so when we had our autism diagnosis. I wish that we were armed with as much information as early as possible.