There’s no denying that the moment you receive an autism diagnosis is a moment of shock. No matter how proud an autistic I am I can’t deny that that is a reality. Whether it be a diagnosis for self or a diagnosis for a partner, a child, a sibling, it’s a moment that’s big. A moment that causes one to take a bloody big deep breath. To sigh, to hold that breath in a moment. To wonder. To have a moment of panic, a moment of horror.
All of those moments are to be expected and in reality they are healthy moments. They really are. The question is what happens after those moments because generally the information you walk out of that Dr’s office with is mostly not very helpful. You might walk out with the name of a few websites, perhaps a pamphlet or too but not much in the way of any real strategies or support.
If you jump online and start googling autism you will be bombarded with information. Some of it great some of it horrible. Most likely you will have to filter out the rubbish, the conspiracy theory and the downright abusive. You might find some groups on social media. Again these groups will have their fair share of mixed bags of people.
Undoubtedly you will at some point come across a phenomenon known as the “warrior mum” or mom dependent on your country. Unfortunately these moms, and there are “warrior dads” too, seem to have an attitude that autism is something to fight. Something they have to battle. There is a mix of course. Some will claim they are battling the system, some will say they are battling the autism and some will say they are battling to find their child inside. Thankfully this is not all autism moms it is not all autism dads.
Here’s a thing, when you walk out of that diagnosis appointment, you can take another tack. You can take another option. You can choose not to fight, not to fight the autism, not to fight the system, not to fight to find the child behind the autism. You can choose something that’s all together different. It’s a process of acceptance and embracing. A process that says something along the lines of, hey, so autistic, well that’s different isn’t it. Actually, yes, that’s it, it’s different but it isn’t less.
I can imagine there will be readers saying well you don’t know what it’s like for me, it’s not so easy when you or your child, or your sibling or partner has complex needs. And that’s fair enough too. Yes I get it. I really do get it.
I have a really wonderful 21 year old Âûtistic daughter and a really wonderful 9 year old daughter. My 21 year old has complex issues. She has significant parts of her brain that didn’t develop or developed differently. She will most likely never be able to live independently. As for my nine year old, only time will tell.
Yes being an autism parent is not a walk in the park. Yes being an autistic parent isn’t a walk in the park either.
I wonder if it’s easy to make this choice not to have a war or fight for an autistic parent than a neurotypical parent of autistic kids. I don’t really know the answer, but I do wonder.
The thing is though, and this is the wonderful thing about it. It’s not about how hard it is, it’s not about how you have to deal with the child that doesn’t communicate with their mouth parts, the child that isn’t toilet trained yet, the child that stims like crazy and yells and screams in the shopping centre. No it’s not about that at all. That’s hard and I get it but it actually isn’t the point.
So what is the point?
The point is this, I believe, it’s about the mindset. It’s about the choice. It’s about saying, and really meaning it inside soul, your ground of being, that this is my child/partner/sibling/self they are autistic and that’s just the way it is, it’s just who they are, it’s what it is and I love them, I accept them and that will never change.
It’s such a novel idea in a way that it seems almost silly. I can tell you though, when I made that shift myself, for myself, everything changed. Yes everything about my self acceptance, my self-worth, my ability to actually say I am autistic and I am ok. Yes everything changed. It really was that simple.
It doesn’t have to be a fight. It can be an embrace. Embrace your child, embrace yourself, embrace your partner, embrace your sibling. Embrace them for who they are and love them for everything they are now, and everything you will stand by their side and help them achieve.
No it doesn’t need to be a fight.