Grieving a diagnosis of autism is a process that takes considerable time for many parents and caretakers. It is important to recognize the grief and work through it as you come to terms with the condition. Part of the process relies on dispelling some of the myths about autistic disorders as well as the fact that you have the right to mourn.
Stages of Grief
The significant challenge is that many parents may not recognize that they are in part grieving the loss of a child. It may become apparent when you look at the diagnostic form; it reads somewhat like a headstone, with the child's date of birth followed by the date of diagnosis. The very presentation is symbolic of loss, the second date marking an end of some sort.
The Lost Child
Dreams of the future are vivid for parents from the moment they find out that they are having a baby. Parenting an autistic child is not easy but it is important to keep in mind that parents of autistic children have many wonderful opportunities to see their children grow and their talents flourish.
The formal diagnosis is most likely received with shock and a profound sense of loss. The sense of loss is complicated because the child is still present. In fact, nothing has really changed other than the confirmation of a suspected condition. The grief is real and it is further complicated with mixed emotions.
Autism Speaks has a beautifully constructed set of suggestions that can help you face the grieving process, including what to expect, coping strategies, and ways to adjust.
Grieving a Diagnosis of Autism
Taking a proactive approach to grieving a diagnosis of autism can be difficult at first but one of the most important steps to take is to dispel the common myths of autistic disorders. This is a viable approach to putting many fears to rest. New Horizons offers a list of common misconceptions about autism as well as facts that dispel them.
Autism Society of America
Autism Society of America is one of the most helpful resources available to families dealing with an autism diagnosis. The organization's website features resources for families living with autism that can help. Joining a local chapter can be very beneficial because this resource offers support and guidance as well as helpful information.
Autismlink is a wonderful resource that offers a list of services organized by state, providing a great opportunity for parents to explore local options. Simply select your state and a list of topics appears, Support Organization is among the options. Other helpful services include Respite and Babysitting and Disability Advocacy.
Autism Support Network
The Autism Support Network offers a venue for parents and caretakers to connect with each other, providing support and direction. The organization offers helpful information about treatments as well as real challenges people face on a daily basis. The site provides additional guidance by offering connections that match your interests. For example, if you are most interested in current research and therapies, the Autism Support Network introduces people who share interest in those specific topics for consideration.
A New Perspective
Dealing with a diagnosis of autism develops a new perspective that allows you to look at the positive aspects of the condition. Adults diagnosed on the spectrum can offer excellent insight, as Kim Miller does when she points out the positive aspects of autism.
One autistic child touches the lives of many people, often bringing out the best in others. As you learn about autism and related pervasive developmental disorders, you begin to recognize that these are human conditions that have much to teach. Gradually, the date of diagnosis no longer represents an end. It is the beginning of a challenging but very rewarding journey.