My oldest son (now 7), was diagnosed in 2011 and I have to say, it was a blessing.
You might wonder, ‘why a blessing? Wouldn’t a diagnosis be upsetting to most families?’
I don’t think this is true for the autism diagnosis. For autism, it is not like receiving the diagnosis of cancer. We knew that our son had challenges (my son was adopted and he was also 16 weeks premature and exposed to drugs and alcohol during gestation). For us, and many other families I believe, it is almost a sigh of relief. This diagnosis does not change who he is, he has always been that way, it will only change how we can help him. Now we have the ‘label’, which to me, comes with some helpful things.
1. Trained professionals who are capable of working and helping children with autism. We have a great team of behaviour interventionists, a behavioural consultant, OT (occupational therapist), a clinical counselor, and a special educational assistant.
2. Funding. Here in BC, children diagnosed with autism receive up to $22,000 a year to use towards therapy and equipment for children UNDER THE AGE OF 6, For children OVER 6, we receive up to $6,000. This decrease is due to the belief that the schools will be able to provide the remaining support and with the children being in school (most full time), the children will not need as much therapy at home.
3. Understanding. Some moms of children with autism may disagree with me. But as a mom of a child exposed prenatally to drugs and alcohol, as well as premature, trying to explain why my child was acting different is now a lot easier. ‘He has autism’ may not be entirely understood by all people, but believe me, it is easier than describing everything and having the looks that I have to follow with ‘he’s adopted’ (which I am happy to talk about, but I don’t think is EVERYONE’S business). Most people, especially child care workers, sports instructors, sunday school teachers and lifeguards will understand the basics of autism.
4. Community. For the first time, I feel like my son had a group he ‘belonged’ to. I also had a community to reach out and contribute to. Locally I have a new Facebook group for parents of children with ASD or SPD. (Feel free to comment below if you want to get the links). We also have great organizations, like Autism Speaks and Canucks Autism Network, who are an amazing source of information and activities, specifically for autism.
Everyday is a challenge and changes quickly, but we are a family and get through it together. Our son was meant to be ours forever. Autism is part of us, but not all of us.
Do you have an autism post? Link up below.
Do you have a comment or story? I would love to read your comments on my post.
How can you help? Support our family as we walk for Autism.