My message to Laura Clery . . .
Your son has just been diagnosed with autism. Maybe it came as a shock. Maybe not.
Maybe, like me, you already had an idea that something was going on. But you still felt the sting when the words were said out loud.
There are so many things I want to tell you. So many important things I feel you should know.
But right now, if you were anything like I was seven years ago, your head is spinning.
You are motivated and paralyzed at the same time. You want to do everything you can as fast as you can to help your son. But you are also hitting a lot of dead ends. It feels like hurry up and wait.
At least it did for me.
You feel a bit like you failed your son. You feel scared and worried and angry and sad. You feel it all.
I won’t throw a bunch of stuff at you. Because either you won’t remember it or it will overwhelm you.
I’ll just tell you the really important things.
First, your son is exactly who he is supposed to be. He’s not different because he has a diagnosis. It wasn’t given to him by a doctor. He is the same amazing kid as he was before the label was given. Remember that.
Second, let your son show you the way. He will lead you off the path of typical and into his magical world. Go with him. Sit. Listen. Learn. Just be there with him as he studies the sky and dances to music you cannot hear.
Be his shield too. The world doesn’t understand autism yet. And while you may not yet either, you are now at the forefront of his journey. You will encounter unkindness and fear toward his differences. The first time it happens, it will take your breath away. And know there is no way to ready yourself for it. But once it happens you will truly understand what advocacy means. And it will give you a strength like you’ve never encountered before. It is a gift to protect these tiny humans.
Third, believe in your son. Believe in him so much that people think you are crazy. And then believe in him more.
You will be told all the things he will never do. The story of his future will be written for him and you. Rip it up, mama. Rip it up and write a new story. Yes, the chapters may be different than every other child you know. His story will be unlike the others. And that’s OK. It will be just as beautiful and just as profound. No one else can write his future. Remember that. Believe in him.
And lastly, give yourself grace. A diagnosis of autism can feel scary and different. And it’s OK to say that. But different isn’t necessarily bad. It’s just . . . different. Go slowly and take it all in.
And love that little boy.
Welcome to the club. Look for the helpers, mama. We are out here. Whether it’s other mothers like me or autistic adults who can teach us both.
Lean on those who get it. Ask questions and let us help when we can. You are not alone. Not ever.
A mama who has been there before.
This article was originally published on Finding Cooper’s Voice