I had a chat with a mama today who had recently received a diagnosis of autism for her child.
It got me to thinking way back to when Elisha was six years old. He was just finishing up his one and only year in public school. Shortly before he started kindergarten, he received a diagnosis of ADHD from the family doctor. That fit, but it didn’t seem like a perfect fit.
The school recommended autism testing and I agreed.
The testing is quite involved. I had to fill out a very long form and have a 4 hour interview. My son was observed several times through out the school year. He underwent educational testing as well as specific autism testing. I remember how hard it was to focus so much on the negative aspects of him.
After receiving the diagnosis you are kind of left hanging. My child has autism… now what?
I didn’t have too much trouble because I tend to be fairly resourceful, but I know that other mothers are in shock by the diagnosis and just have no idea where to start. I had a small collection of local resources, so I started there. I gathered local resources, I read books, I went to workshops and conferences, and I met other mama’s going through similar experiences. If you need help finding local resources, please feel free to contact me (no matter where you live).
I read and learned everything that I could. Then I go to the point where I just could not take in any more information. I had to take some time to let everything soak in. I put the books away and I just took a break. I had to. We still had autism in our family, but I was on information overload and I needed to think about something else.
That break took a couple of years. I visited the books occasionally. I went to a support group for moms of special needs kids (which is awesome!) when I could. I had twins. Life got busy and crazy. Elisha had some areas he was struggling in, but overall, he was doing really well.
I started researching again for an occupational therapist (OT) to help with some sensory issues and fine motor skills. We had an OT early on in our journey, but we just didn’t mesh with her as she never connected with Elisha. I emailed a few local OTs and we found one that we LOVE. I can’t speak highly enough of her. She is amazing. I think we will keep her forever.
Every journey with autism is different. Every child with autism is unique. What works for one family may not work for another family. We tried many things before we found what worked for our family. Once you find something that works for your family, don’t assume it will work forever, most likely it won’t. I always remember what the psychologist said to me at the meeting when he announced that our son had autism. He told me to remember that he will have good days and bad days. He will have times where he seems perfectly normal, then he will have times where he is fully showing autistic behaviors and he will swing between the two depending on a great many variables.
Autism is not the end of the world. Sometimes it feels like an overwhelming challenged, but that’s what God’s grace is for.
I want to leave you with some resources that may be helpful to you on this journey.
- The Sensory-Sensitive Child: Practical Solutions for Out-of-Bounds Behavior by Karen A. Smith and Karen R. Gouze
- The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder, Revised Edition by Carol Kranowitz and Lucy Jane Miller
- Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight: What to Do If You Are Sensory Defensive in an Overstimulating World by Sharon Heller
- Parenting a Child with Sensory Processing Disorder: A Family Guide to Understanding & Supporting Your Sensory-Sensitive Child by Christopher R. Auer and Susan L. Blumberg
- Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues by Lindsey Biel and Nancy Peske
- The Way They Learn by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias
What resources have you found helpful in your journey with a special needs child?
Feel free to ask me any questions. I would also be happy to help you find resources for your family.