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
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.
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.
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
- 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
- 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
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.
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
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