I know you don't want to hear it. I know you are scared. I know you are hoping that all your suspicions, all your late night Google searches were wrong. But you are his parent and in your heart you have known for sometime you would hear this word.
Maybe it's been weeks, months or years, but, you knew deep in your heart this moment would come, so now it's time to for your brain to hear what your heart has known. Take a deep breath, picture your beautiful child, the child you would move mountains for, and listen.
The time is now.
"Your child has Autism."
There it was. That kick to the gut you have been waiting for. The developmental pediatrician, the psychologist, someone finally, actually said it, and it wasn’t Dr. Google or your neighbor or a teacher or the check out lady at Target, it was someone whose job it is to say this word. Autism. "The A Word". The A Word that has kept you up for endless nights obsessing, "What if?".
And just when the air finally escapes your lungs, the air you didn’t even know you were holding in, another word you didn’t even see coming feels like an uppercut to the chin, Alone. And that’s when the tears begin.
I get it. I feel you. I have covered my ears too.
It's hard to hear "The A Word". It's scary. It's unknown. It's new. But you have to listen. I know you want to slip off into La La Land with Ryan Reynolds, but you can't. You have to be present and feel all the emotions "The A Word" brings, so you and your child can move forward. That’s why you are there, remember? You came to get answers to help your child. And now you have the answer. It might not have been what you wanted to hear, but, the word is out and now it’s time to move on to other words that begin with "A". And when you do Autism won’t make you feel so Alone.
Answer. Now that you have the Answer to what, you can ask the question how.
Acceptance. Acceptance will come in time. While you wait for it, remember, your child is waiting for you.
Awareness. Acceptance can’t come without Awareness. Your child will guide you, but, reach out to other parents, support groups and specialists who will help you and other people in your child's life become more Aware.
Access. Without "The A Word", Access to support, resources and help can’t come. The label may be scary, but, it is the doorway to your child's future.
AWE. What you will feel day in and day out as you begin to understand your child.
April. The one month of the year, where Autistic Individuals are celebrated, Awareness is spread and Acceptance is encouraged.
Able. A time will come when you will stop seeing all the things your child can’t do and see all that he is Able to do. Start looking now.
Above. Your child will go Above and beyond what you are fearing right now in that doctor's office chair.
Achieve. Your child will Achieve, in his time, in his way so try not to compare him to your friends' kids.
Admiration. With each and every progress, no matter how big or small, the Admiration you feel for your child will be unlike any other feeling you have ever experienced.
Aggravation. Yes, there will be moments of Aggravation, as there are for any parent. Do not beat yourself up for it, reach out to someone who gets it so you remember you are not Alone.
Amaze. The way your child sees and interprets the world will Amaze you, as long as you let them show you.
Always. You will Always love them. Autism doesn’t change that.
Anguish. There will be moments of Anguish. It’s called parenting.
Appreciate. You will learn to Appreciate the differences your child may have, some days more so than others.
Advocate. Both a verb and a noun. What you will DO and the the TITLE you now hold. Wear the title proudly because no one will Advocate more for your child than you.
There are so many more words that begin with A, and every other letter of the alphabet, to describe this Autism journey, but, you won't ever know them until you uncover your ears and listen.
So, take your hands off your ears, become Aware, Accept that he is “different, not less” and Appreciate any progress, big or small.
Now that you have uncovered your ears, now that you have heard "The A Word", it’s time to get up and go. Stand up, shake the doctor’s hand, scoop your child up into your arms and go. You are not Alone. You have the Answer and in time you will Accept it, but, even in the most Apprehensive moments that fill you with Anguish, you must Affirm your love for your child because you are now both his parent and his Advocate and he will Always look to you first for Approval to be exactly who he is meant to be.
Go give it to him now.