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Autism

AUTISM - after the diagnosis

All parents need time to adjust, following the diagnosis of autism. They go through a period of mourning.

Shock - is usually the first reaction. Following this, the parent may feel powerless or helpless. The parents usually knows absolutely nothing about autism or what to expect for their child. In desperation, they turn to your doctor for guidance, but each new fact only increases the feelings of helplessness. Eventually the sheer enormity of your child's disability feels overwhelming. You may feel defeated and immobilized, even before you've begun.

Guilt - another emotion parents of Autistic children frequently must grapple with. Each spouse may secretly worry that he or she is somehow responsible for this child's disability. Was it the aspirin I took when I was pregnant? Was I doing too much exercise? Is it my genes?

Anger - Anger is a natural outgrowth of guilt. You need to blame somebody. If it's not your fault, than perhaps it is the fault of the hospital or the doctor. What about God? You feel that no one else understands or really cares.

Grief - You are in such pain. You have to let go of the dream of having the ideal, perfect child. You have to change the hopes you had for his future. You may ask yourself, why us? Why our son? Everyone grieves in their own way. Some through crying, yelling, moaning, groaning, and complaining. Others in a more controlled, quieter way. But, everyone does grieve. Sometimes, you may even feel that it would have been better if your child had never been born. These are all NORMAL feelings and there is no need to judge yourself for thinking these things. They are just a way we have of trying to avoid the reality of the child's autism. With time, your grief, too will become more bearable.

Resentment - You may harbour terrific resentment. Why did this happen to you? What great sin did you do to justify this burden? Often parents of children with autism, find themselves resenting other parents who take their "normal" children for granted.

Some parents also resent their children for having been born with autism. Even though they know it is out of their control, sometimes they can't help thinking that if only he would try a little harder to be normal, everything would be okay. It is only through education and experience that you learn that your child does not perceive things the way most people do. His view of the world is mixed-up and fragmented. He gets a very different message than everyone else. With time, you need to be able to let your resentment go and use your emotional energy to fight for your child to get the help he needs to develop to his fullest potential.

How to Adjust

Once you have accepted the diagnosis, then it is time to do something about it. You start this process by educating yourself about Autism, how it manifests itself, the signs, the symptoms, but also there is a pressure to get programs started as soon as possible.

Problem:

You find out that while services need to start immediately, to give your son the best possible chance, all the services have very long waiting lists.

Solution:

This is where I can help you. I can

  • direct you to the services that you are entitled to
  • equip you with the information needed to get higher up on the waiting list
  • advise you who to speak to when refused services, or when the delays are too long
  • inform you as to financial and home care services you are entitled to
  • refer you to private services, so stimulation can begin immediately and then once the public services begin, the private services can end or continue to supplement other services.

Because I have worked in the public sector for over 15 years, and for the past 5 years, specifically helping parents of "special needs" children. Therefore, I know the ins and outs of accessing services - both public and private. I have the experience of knowing whom to call, when to complain, what committees to address, that parents don't even hear about. I can help make sure that you and your child don't "fall through the cracks" of the bureaucracy. I can inform you of your rights, and advise you how to get these rights met. I can use my skills and experiences to help you help your autistic child begin the climb towards reaching his fullest potential much more quickly, and more effectively, than if you are waiting for the hospital or clinics to call you back.

Maintaining harmony in the home.

The family dynamics tend to change once the diagnosis is heard and understood. Very often the drain and the stress of finding the resources needed to help your autistic child, can be overwhelming and exhausting to the most resourceful and healthiest of couples. Often there can be alienation and resentment between couples, due to the strain and frustration felt on both sides. Also the "healthy" siblings may feel resentful and jealous of the extra attention that their autistic brother or sister receives. They may express this frustration by acting out, doing poorly in school, fighting amongst themselves as well as other behaviours. I can help them to express and communicate their needs in constructive ways and offer tools and suggestions to bring the family back together, stronger than ever before, and restore the harmony.

Accessing services

I can direct you to the resources that will give you free services. I can tell you what to say to get services you are entitled to. Many "lay people" don't even know what their rights are and who to address. I can give you tips, suggestions, and strategies for
Getting the services you need for your child. These services, coupled with private therapists, when needed, will make a big difference towards starting your child on his road to development. You will then be able to move from feeling powerless and overwhelmed, to feeling in control and seeing the progress your child is able to make that can lead him towards a healthy and functional future.

Isn't that what all parents want?

As devastating as the diagnosis of Autism can be,, there is a tremendous amount of growth and development that can be accomplished when the right stimulation programs are set into place, as soon as possible.

Let me be your coach, your liaison and support to helping you bridge the systems, and give your child the best chance possible for a stimulating and rewarding life.

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