On the day you learn that your child is Autistic it won’t matter to you just then how long you have suspected, how long there had been a question mark to whether they were Autistic or not or even how you are actually told. Once those words are revealed to you, your world will change forever, for the better. For your child, it means everyone now is finally on the same page.
Child Autism Diagnosis
For you it can feel overwhelming, in particular if this is the first time you are hearing or learning that your child is Autistic. You may not have a knowledge base on Autism and you may not know where to start.
Allow me to help you understand that this is the beginning of the most incredible journey. You already knew from the moment your child was born that they were the most perfect and most beautiful human being you had ever seen.
Now you know not only this incredible human being is your incredible Neurodivergent child, but now too you know they are Autistic, and this will help you to understand, support and connect with your gorgeous child on a much deeper even more meaningful level.
Autistic Love Languages
You will connect with your child on a new level and you will perhaps for the first time learn about Autistic love languages. You will see that how they connect with you is so authentic and meaningful, you will embrace it with your whole heart.
Understanding Autistic Culture
The part that isn’t helpful when your child is identified as Autistic is the medicalised manner within which you receive that information. I can tell you over a decade after my gorgeous Conor was identified as Autistic, that the medicalised version of Autism you may find yourself overwhelmed by is not helpful to you as a parent or to your child as an Autistic individual. Yes it is helpful that your child has been identified as Autistic through the Autism assessment process but it is not helpful the manner in which this information is often delivered to parents.
What is helpful is for parents like you and I to understand Autistic culture. Autistic culture is a new way for you to understand your child and how they exist and live in the world. Below you will find some illustrations I have drawn regarding my own experience of Autistic culture, you can find lots more over on my Instagram.
Medical Model of Disability
My reality as a parent is that those first few years after Conor was identified as Autistic meant, for me at least, it felt like scaremongering. Everything I could find was medicalised and truly didn’t describe my son. I remember picking up books and one title read “When Your Child Has The Autism”. I was terrified, back in those days the online social world was not what it is now. It was dial up internet and a hope and a prayer that Google would provide answers as I knew no one else at that time who had an Autistic child.
Unfortunately what I found online at that time was unhelpful scaremongering, pathologized information on Autism. It hindered me as a parent as I tried my best to help my son.
Social Model of Disability
My reality now, three Autistic sons later, is that every time I was told one of my children were Autistic, I realised I already knew. When Conor was small I didn’t have a word for what I could see, that my child was different. With Jack and Max, I was life educated and I could see very early on my gorgeous puddins were different, that they were neurodivergent like their big brother.
From 3 months old I was telling anyone who would listen that Max was Autistic. My husband used to say, you have Autism on the brain, he was right, in fact years later I would find myself sitting in front of an incredible Psychologist as he uttered the words, you are Autistic during my adult autism assessment.
Adult Autism Assessment
I could see so much of myself in my boys and found my way to my own realisation. And then I looked back.
I realised all the negative talk about “Autism” about “Behaviours” and the “othering” of Autistic children and adults was so wrong and from a parents perspective, so unhelpful. When Conor was small it led me to taking unhelpful advice on who to go to and how to support Conor. I often wish now I could turn back time and change my parenting choices from over a decade ago. The reality is, I cannot do that but I can make better choices now I know better.
How to help my Autistic child
I will assume if you have found your way here, you are looking for advice and support on what to do next.
I advise educating yourself now on what Autism actually is, look to Autistic professionals and Autistic allies who are neuroaffirmative. Who actually understand Autistic identity and culture.
Embrace your incredible child, and shield them fiercely from those negative connotations of Autism, where they are seen inexplicably as “disordered and less”.
Your child has their own personality, own opinions, own rights, own voice, own communicative strengths, own sense of humor, sense of style, sense of being. Help them to embrace who they are.
Your child will make you appreciate life more than you could have ever imagined. I know that since Conor was born I view the world completely. I appreciate everything on a completely different level then ever before. I really see the world now. I appreciate all forms of diversity and embrace each of my beautiful children with my whole heart.
Your child will teach you real love, real compassion and real empathy. I have learned so much from Conor and my heart swells with all he has taught me. He speaks volumes to me without ever uttering one single word.
There will be more good days then there will be bad. The bad days will not be because your child is Autistic, but because the world outside the safe haven of home, hasn’t fully caught up yet. They will get there, in the mean time protect your incredible child and help them to embrace their Autistic identity.
Your child will love you no matter what so stop putting pressure on yourself to be a “super” mom or dad. Do what you can do right now, learn about Autistic identity and culture.
You are not alone now or on the road ahead, you will always have a friend to guide you on your way, you just have to look. Listen to Autistic voices.