Written by Cindy Fu, mommy behind @littlemissplayschool
“No, this can’t be!”
“What did I do wrong?”
“It must be something I had did during the pregnancy.”
“This is not the child I know.”
“My child is autistic. AUTISTIC!”
These thoughts ran through my mind when we were told our little girl has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It may sound like an exaggeration and overreaction, but my world fell through and suddenly my child felt different to me. I could not see her the same way anymore. For weeks I went through denial and blaming myself that it must be something I had done wrong. No matter how many times I was told that there was yet a known cause of ASD, I still spent time trying to remember the things I did and did not do during the pregnancy and her newborn stage.
When you become a parent, you start having many dreams of doing things with your child. Dreams like going to a children’s concert, doing your nails together, dropping them off for dance classes, playdates, etc. Never once do you let any bad thoughts run through your mind. The truth is, “ASD”, “Autism”, “Autistic” – these words bear such heavy meaning, a terrifying meaning to associate especially with your own children. ASD has robbed us so many of our parental dreams. Instead, we start having smaller dreams. Dreams that may be normal to other parents. As parents of ASD children, we dream of the day they start calling us “Mommy” and “Daddy”; we dream of the day their frustration of not being able to tell us what they want fades away; we dream of the day they eat all kinds of food; we dream of the day when little things would not bother them as much, and many more. For me, it took my little girl 990 days since the day she was born for her to call me “Mommy” and actually mean it, instead of just saying the word meaninglessly. I know 990 days seem shorter compared to other children in the spectrum who take their sweet time to start being verbal, but it has become the day I will never forget for the rest of my life. She has improved significantly since then and I can not be more proud of her for fighting through her fear and being able to express herself verbally.
During my denial and self-blaming stage, I refused to buy any self-help books or do any research on how to cope with the news. I was too scared to acknowledge the fact that pouring myself into the world of ASD parents would make the diagnose official. Though I tried picking myself up to start dealing with the fact a couple of months later, I still regret that I didn’t do it much sooner. The fact is, it is okay to feel however you want to feel. How can you not? It is a devastating and life changing diagnose to receive. However, try to remind yourself this – your children may be anxious and frustrated by so many things, they rely on us parents to assist them. Knowing ASD is the reason why your children are behaving the way they do means you get to know how to help them better. There are so many professionals and resources out there to better equip you with strategies and tips to make both you and your children’s life slightly easier living with ASD. Yes, it is parenting on a much more difficult level, but you will surprise yourself how strong your children will make you. They may not know how to express it just yet, but it is a mutual relationship of unconditional love.
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