Recently, I posted a blog on the Autism College website entitled : “My child has just been diagnosed with autism, how do I cope with this?” Parents new to the world of autism usually have a tough time after getting the diagnosis. Parents learning to cope may find the following tips helpful:
• First, acknowledge your feelings, and allow yourself to feel the emotions that are there. These emotions, may come back time and again, but you will learn to cope.
• Know that the emotions you feel as a parent of a child with autism, has been compared to the stages of grief that person goes through when mourning the death of a loved one.
• Recognize what you are feeling and try to use those emotions to your benefit. If you are angry, use that energy to find out all you can and advocate for your child (just be careful not to take out your anger on those that are there to help you). If you are feeling isolated, join a support group. If you are feeling powerless, go on the internet and do some research to learn about what options you have for your child, or which advocacy group exists in your state (every state has one) for the developmentally disabled community.
• Keep in mind you are not mourning the death of your child, you are mourning the loss of your expectations. The child you have may not be the child you were expecting, but he still needs you and loves you.
• Reach out and find an autism support group in your area that can help you feel less isolated and can help you with information.
• Find out all you can that can help your child so you can make the right choices. Empower yourself with the knowledge you need to help your child the best way that you can.
• Take care of your self. Just like in an airplane where the flight attendant instructs you in case of an accident, to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you help your child; you come first. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to help your child.
At Autism College, we can help you as we help other parents coping with autism. Our Parent Empowerment Course can assist with some information such as how to know what will help your child, and the affects of autism on siblings and grandparents. Our free Library will grow and we are adding information you can use. Two of my books might be really helpful to you at this time: Autism Spectrum Disorders (an ASA Book of the Year) and 41 Things to Know About Autism.