My Child is Autistic | Our Journey into Neurodivergent | Installment One

I’m sorry.
Are you sure?
Did you get a second opinion?
Isn’t he too young for that diagnosis?
What if it’s just Sensory Processing Disorder?
What if it’s just anxiety?
What if it’s just ADHD?
Well, who diagnosed him?
Why do you think he’s Autistic?
But like, what behaviors does he display?
My child does that and isn’t Autistic.
But four year olds act like that all the time.
Have you tried disciplining him differently?
Have you tried spanking him more?
I just wouldn’t let my kid act like that.
He doesn’t act Autistic to me.
Do you think he behaves that way because you just have a lot of kids?
Do you think he acts like that because you had postpartum depression?
Do you think he acts like that because you had marriage problems?
I just don’t understand how labeling him is supposed to help him.
But he communicates fine. But he makes eye contact. But he is smart.

I wish just one person had said… Oh wow! It’s so good you have answers and know how to help your child. You must have been struggling to reach the point you needed to go through a screening. I’m sure this journey hasn’t been easy on your family. How can I support you? Do you need anything? What’s your plan now that you have a diagnosis? Listen, I don’t have to prove to anyone that my child is Autistic. Just like I don’t have to prove to anyone that I had postpartum depression. I don’t have to harbor guilt that I caused this in some way. I don’t have to be sad that my child is the exact same person he was ten minutes before a woman handed me a piece of paper that said, “Autism Spectrum Disorder, Without Accompanying Intellectual Disability, Level 2: Requiring Substantial Support.”

Today I felt HOPE that I have the opportunity to gain new skills as a parent. I felt relief at the validation that my high needs and hard to parent kiddo… really is high needs and hard to parent. It’s not that I am weak, it’s actually that I am quite strong. Today I was excited at the possibility that my son can have an aide to help navigate hard transitions, that I have a list of 11 something books to read to help teach him coping skills and learn to regulate his emotions. Today I felt thankful to be blessed with a bright, beautiful child who has given me the opportunity to grow, be stronger, be better.

Most importantly, I have learned today, this week, this month… this journey is just beginning. It is HARD. It is insensitive. Autism doesn’t care that there’s a stigma looming over it’s name. Autism doesn’t care that it looks different in every child. Autism doesn’t care that you don’t believe it exists. But my child does. My child cares… that he feels loved, understood, whole. That he understands he is more than an amalgamation of silly sounding words on a piece of paper. My child doesn’t question that he is Autistic, and neither should anyone else. My Autistic child is just a child who needs a little extra help in everyday things that come naturally to you and your child.

Today I am celebrating that we have answers. Today I am celebrating we have a plan.