A Pick-Me-Up for the Parent of a Newly Diagnosed Child

We’re pretty new to this whole scene. We had our “Autism Ah-ha moment” about 6 months ago. 

My son has no creative speech, eats his five favorite foods, and sleeps sporadically.

He won’t look you in the eye and he’s uncomfortable in a crowd. 

I used to feel stymied. I was consistent with nap and bedtimes, why was he still sleep deprived?

I took the pediatrician’s advice and offered him a variety of foods multiple times, why wouldn’t he eat? 

Before I understood how my son experiences the world, I took it personally. I must have been doing something wrong.

He needed better than me. 

It brings me such joy to belt WRONG! Wrong, wrong, WRONG! 

Dear parent, that thinking is wrong. 

Your child doesn’t need better than you. They need you. In all your imperfect glory.

Never forget that. 

I was surprised at how liberating it felt to have a diagnosis. To finally understand.

All of those stressful benchmarks I had been trying to force on my son melted away.

I realized that my goals for him were a little different than other parent’s goals for their kids. 

For example, I took my kids to church today and it was more crowded than normal.

James generally struggles in a crowd, but I wanted to try and see how far we could go before he got uncomfortable. 

Where other parents are shushing their children and pleading with them to sit still, I was perfectly happy to watch my silent, observant, super toddler stand on his knees on the pew and stare at everyone behind us.

He was perfectly calm.

He drew some looks and had a few rough moments (like trying to steal hotwheels from a boy in front of us or trying to shimmy his way underneath the pews) but he made it through the full hour without feeling overwhelmed! *Small victory dance* 

Usually, I can feel my face get red and hot with embarrassment when he acts out in public. But now that I understand where he is coming from, I have adjusted my expectations.

I don’t expect him to act like the other kids around us.

I expect what I know from our experience together and what I’m learning about his autism. And it’s liberating! For me and for James.

I no longer focus on having the best behaved child in the room.

My top priority is to help him interact with the world around him because he needs a little more help figuring that out. I am his conduit and mediator in a highly stimulating surrounding. 

I am his safe place. 

I definitely grieved after everything clicked into place. I grieved the life I imagined for him. I knew it would be different. I cried on and off.

Don’t sell yourself short on the grieving process! It’s necessary and natural. It’s not something to apologize for. Let it be. 

And once you’ve mourned the loss of the life you thought your child would have, put the same amount of energy into discovering the new and unfamiliar. Embrace it! 

This relief is the biggest positive I can emphasize at the beginning of this whole journey. 

We’ve made no real progress on helping James deal with haircuts, sleep, nutrition, etc.

We’re still trying new things daily. It’s a mess!

Trial and error can be tiring. Deciphering the difference between grunts and murmurs as a means of communication is confusing. I get it! 

So, allow yourself to bathe in the liberation from the norm.

Focus for a moment on how wonderful it is to see your tiny human more clearly than you ever have.

Look in the mirror and tell yourself how awesome you are for being your child’s champion! 

And know that you’re so far from being alone. We are here finding Cooper’s voice and our strength alongside it. 

Written by, Kim Jacobson

Finding Cooper’s Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you’re never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village….all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to our journey. You can also follow us on Facebook, subscribe for exclusive videos, and subscribe to our newsletter.

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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