New Autism Diagnosis? What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Autism
by Cari Ansbro
An autism diagnosis can come crashing into your life like a cosmic wrecking ball. And for a while, you’re too destroyed to do much besides wander in shock, staring at the carnage. Overwhelmed with grief. If you let it, it can lead to the utter destruction of everything you love. Please don’t let it. At least, don’t let that be the final word.
Don’t worry. This stage generally doesn’t last forever. It’s up to you how long you mourn. Your dreams have just been shattered. You feel as if no amount of care can reassemble them.
You spend ages trying to make sense of it. Tracking down possible causes, examining every potential cure. After all, if you put in enough energy maybe you’ll solve the puzzle and gain the upper hand.
Of course, there are lots of therapies out there aimed at improving the lives of those living with autism. Only your own experience will tell you what works for you. The thing is there’s always a new treatment, or cure, or diet being offered. Ultimately, you decide when (or if) you stop chasing them.
But you’re desperate to fix it. You refuse to allow autism to beat you. Good. Hold onto that. But, try to remember what you’re really fighting for. Who are you fighting for?
Are you wasting time and energy hating autism? Worse, are you associating the hated autism so closely with your loved one that you can’t bear to be with them because all you can see is how autism has devastated your lives? Well, ready or not, stop it. No one ever succeeded in hating autism away. All that approach ever does is ruin relationships.
Love and acceptance are two of the best, most effective tools for rebuilding your life after an autism diagnosis. Add hope and never let go of it. If you’re not applying love, hope, and acceptance constantly, it hardly matters what else you do.
Why would any of us live this life with no love, hope, or acceptance? So start there. It’s simple, but it isn’t easy.
Love. Well, this is the easiest one. I doubt you’d be reading this if you didn’t already have love. But it’s an action, not just a feeling. Love is the reason we do all that we do. It’s also how we do it.
Love is one of the universal motivators. With it we can achieve the unimaginable. Whatever your dreams are for your loved one, love is the fertilizer that helps them grow.
Hope. This one is harder to sustain. Everyone has bad days, discouraging periods, and naysayers. The first two are obvious. But the last one, naysayers, can take different forms.
Naysayers can be jerks who don’t understand and don’t want to. They can be people in authority who are jaded and have lost sight of why they chose this field in the first place. And they can be people who care about us and don’t want to see us get hurt.
The only one worth addressing is that last one. The ones who care about us, yet keep shooting us down are simply misguided. They think if we don’t get our hopes up, then we can’t be disappointed. They think they’re sparing us future pain.
But really, they’re just cheating us out of the joy that goes hand-in-hand with hope. They need to understand that a life without hope is, obviously, hopeless. Is that truly what they want for us? If so, then they really belong in that first category of naysayers.
So, find your hope. Grow it big. And hold it close.
Acceptance is usually the hardest. Acceptance is NOT the same as giving up. It’s about recognizing the current truths of your situation.
No denial. No resentment. Eyes wide open.
But life isn’t static. Acceptance is daily. Not forever. Your truth of today may be quite different six months from now. So, okay. Maybe you bombed at acceptance today. Start over.
I’m not offering you a quick fix, and you should be wary of anyone who is. If you’re in this, it’s a long term commitment. But your loved ones are worth it.
So when you're ready to move past your grief and start rebuilding your collective futures, give these three tools a try. Remember: love, hope, accept. Repeat.
The Autism Website Autism Information for Parents