Autism
 

How Can I Cope With My Child Being Diagnosed With Autism?

When your child is first diagnosed with autism, there are many things you are going to feel.

Most likely, you’ll feel guilty, sad, angry, depressed, desperate, hopeless, resentful, lonely, in shock, in denial, or have other emotions similar to these. The important thing for you to know is that all of these feelings are NORMAL.

Everyone has to cope with a diagnosis like this in their own way, and there’s no right or wrong way to do it. Some parents may take a long time to accept the diagnosis while others may accept things rather quickly.

Just remember that learning to cope with the diagnosis needs to be done at your own pace.

Another thing you need to remember as you’re learning to cope with your child being diagnosed with autism is to never allow anyone to make you feel guilty for feeling the way you do.

Everyone who goes through this kind of thing will feel some sort of loss and again, the emotions and feelings you have are normal to have.

This feeling of loss that you may be experiencing is somewhat like that of losing a person’s life. You may be in mourning for the life that your child once had and has now lost, or for the loss of the bright future they may have had.

Many parents go through the stages of grief as they are learning to cope with the diagnosis. First, they may be in denial and say things like “This can’t be true, this isn’t happening to me…”.

Then, they may feel angry and wonder why this is happening to them. The next stage of grief they will go through is that of bargaining, where they promise to be a better person if the autism will just go away.

Then, depression will set in and they may feel like their lives have no meaning. Finally, the last stage of grief is acceptance. This is when parents are finally able to say “It’s okay. I’m ready for whatever lies ahead.”

If you find yourself going through these grieving stages listed above, you aren’t alone. Most parents go through some kind of grieving process and may get stuck on one of the stages longer than others. It’s okay if you get stuck. You may just need extra time to deal with your feelings before you move on to the next stage.

Below is a list of some of the more common feelings that you may have as you are learning to cope with the diagnosis of your child with autism, and some tips that may help you deal with each one:

Guilt

This is a very natural reaction for you to have when something has gone wrong with your child. Mothers will usually feel more guilt than fathers and may wonder if they did something wrong during pregnancy and if they could have prevented it.

First, you need to know that autism is not your fault. You did not cause it. It is important to have your feelings, but just don’t let them consume you. If you spend all your time blaming yourself, you won’t have the time to spend helping your child.

Denial

Denying that your child has autism is a way that you, and/or your spouse can protect yourselves from feelings that may be too hard to deal with. Although it is a normal reaction and most people eventually learn to accept the situation, some people need counseling to do so.

If your spouse is in denial, the first thing you should try to do is respect them and accept them where they are. Some people take longer to accept things and so listening to them and supporting them can really help.

Also, part of denial can come from having misconceptions and not fully understanding autism. This problem can be easily solved by reading books, and getting informed.
 
Anger

There may be many reasons for you feeling angry about your child’s diagnosis. You may be angry because you’ve been told that this disorder is going to be with your child for his or her lifetime, because there is no cure, or because some people have said that there may be a cause for this disorder but those responsible will not own up to it…And the list goes on.

It is very natural for you to feel angry about things you can’t control, and having this feeling is a normal part of the grieving process.

To help yourself (or your spouse) get through this, you may want to talk to a therapist, or other parents that are going through the same things as you. Joining a support group can help turn your anger into being more constructive with your time.

Hopelessness

Have you ever felt that sometimes you feel you can handle almost anything regarding the diagnosis of your child with autism, but other times you feel totally helpless?  It’s normal to feel both of these feelings, and one of the best ways to help you through that feeling of helplessness is to take one day at a time.

Yes, that may sound cliché, but not every day will be hard. Though you may not always be able to solve your child’s problems, some days you will. You need to remind yourself that tomorrow is a new day.

Desperation

This is one of the most common reactions that parents have when their child is diagnosed with autism. You may find yourself searching for answers and treatments, spending hours and hours on the Internet or in libraries, hoping to find anything that may "fix" your child.

Although it’s important to be informed, it’s also important for you to be cautious when looking at products that promise to "cure" your child.

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