Becoming a parent means that you have a lot of extra things to worry about. All kids are unique and need help in their own areas, but what happens when you find out that your child needs more help than most? What goes through your mind as a doctor tells you that your child has a developmental delay of any kind? What will having Autism Spectrum Disorder mean for your son/daughter? Why do you grieve at first like you lost a child that is sitting right in front of you?
Fear and worry can often be more limiting to you than something that seems limiting to your child. If you are the parent of a child with ASD, it can be incredibly overwhelming in the beginning. There are lots of decisions to be made right away. After all, time is of the essence and you may feel like you already lost some before your child had the diagnosis.
The problem is that as a parent on a mission you have no choice but to start reading and researching what comes next. While many sites and chat groups can be very informative, they can also be terrifying. Then on top of the Internet and your friend who “knows a friend who had a child on the spectrum”, there is your own mind full of thoughts and concerns about the past, present, and future.
What if you I realized it sooner? What if my child doesn’t do X, Y, or Z? How will they struggle? What if I cannot help them? What kind of life will they lead?
While all the research, stories, and thoughts can be natural and necessary, they can also be downright paralyzing!
It is one thing to have a limitation in life and it is another thing to be in your own way limiting yourself. No matter what lies ahead always try to slow down, breathe, and take things step by step. Paralysis by analysis is far too easy when your mind is swarming with thoughts and new information. This is true regardless of whether your child just received a diagnosis or has had one for 10 years.
The Internet stays awake all night and there are so many books to read. How will you ever rest knowing the concerns that lie ahead? Here is my best advice: GO TO SLEEP! GET SOME REST! Life is going to happen whether you worry about it or not.
I am not suggesting that you don’t take the time to make a plan for your child and their current needs, or that you never shed a tear or have any fears. Those things are necessary and are part of the ongoing process. I am simply saying that you make sure to stay out of your own way and monitor how much is too much. Learn to know that it’s okay if you don’t have all the right answers today or ever.
I met a lady recently while I was out at the store and we ended up getting into the most random and amazing conversations about her child, the services he got as a young toddler, and the things he was doing now in middle school. She told me that if someone had told her that her son would have been doing as great as he was, she maybe wouldn’t have thought it possible a long time ago. She told me they always have and always will celebrate the victories they have, no matter how big, small, or silly they would seem to someone else. She embraces her life with all that it has in it and while there has, and always will be struggles, they are doing well.
Doing well can not only be enough, it can be extraordinary. So tell that brain of yours to quiet down, give yourself a pat on the back for being the caring and magnificent parent that you are, and know for today, that just has to be enough.
By Jessica Nieminski
Jessica joins aspergers101 team of writers as a single mother of two extraordinary children who believes that all children deserve the love and acceptance that they give out. Follow Jessica in the Family section of aspergers101 and share in her personal stories as she will cry and laugh her way through life. Jessica blogs regularly on her site, My Extraordinary Child, a place where parenting is discussed, tears and sarcasm come to meet, and differences are celebrated. “Unless the world stops limiting opportunities for people of all abilities, I never will. Join me on a journey of tears, laughter, and courage”. -Jessica Nieminski