In the last five months, I've had three more friends learn that their child was on the spectrum. There are countless more new autism moms out there looking for answers as well. There is much to do in the early days of the diagnosis and these moms will be overloaded with learning about diet, supplementation, IEPs, and therapy options. They will all have to manage the overwhelming emotions that come with the diagnosis while learning to navigate this new path their lives have suddenly taken.
They have the additional task of simply getting through the day. Depending on their child's symptoms, this may be a very tall order. In our early days on the spectrum, I had two children who rarely slept and spent the better part of the day screaming for no apparent reason. I was alone with them most of the time and had zero guidance from medical professionals. They were dark, horrible days. When I look back on them now, I am truly amazed at how far we've all come. Yes, it took a lot of intervention and hard work, but our lives are completely different now. My kids are happy, healthy and they sleep all the way through the night. While there are still frequent challenges to overcome, our good days far outnumber our bad days.
I want the new moms to know that there is hope. It is a conscious decision to make. You can choose to despair over the diagnosis or you can choose to believe that you can help your child and make his or her life better. Hope is what will get you through the bad days. Hope will make the good days even better. Hope will allow you to celebrate every single accomplishment, no matter how small.
I recently had the opportunity to meet another Warrior Mom for coffee (yay, I got out of the house!). Her story is one of incredible success and she accomplished this in the days when there were almost no resources for children with autism. She didn't have the luxury of being able to connect with other moms online and there were few (if any) other autism families in her local area. I can only imagine how hard things were for her in the early days of her child's diagnosis, but she didn't let anything get in her way. Her son is now 18 years old. He attends college and drives himself to school.
Here is a bit of poetry from Emily Dickinson. It is the first stanza from her poem titled, "Life". I think it sums up this topic perfectly.
HOPE is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops - at all.