AUTISTICS ANONYMOUS


Saturday I had dinner with my friend who disclosed his recent "diagnosis of Asperger’s" where he detailed how this unfolded.

He asked questions, seeking understanding about the Autism Spectrum Disorder, and where exactly Asperger’s fit in the spectrum. I gave him my analogy about a spectrum of colors and shades.


I then asked him how people, including himself, felt about this news. He said something that, unfortunately, didn’t surprise me. He said he felt some people were embarrassed because of it...
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Adjusting to having a child, or even yourself, with a disability (disorder, delay, or any form of 'ism) is a process, not an event. People aren’t perfect, and yes, it will take time, some times a long time, to adjust initial feelings, which might even include embarrassment. Other emotions that you might face are,
Shock
You may find it very difficult at first to grasp that your child has a disability. Preconceived stereotypes of people with intellectual impairment or mental illness may not match what we see.

Denial
This is a psychological defense mechanism that rears its ugly head when we feel overwhelmed and unable to handle difficult situations. Denial often comes from fear.
Anxiety

Acknowledging the reality of the disability may lead to feeling anxious. Anxiety is the body’s way of responding to fear and mobilizing resources.

Guilt

Belief in a perfect world sometimes produces unwarranted guilt. The downside of this belief is that when something does hurt us, we tend to feel we are somehow to blame.

Sadness and Grief

You may feel grief over the loss of what you may have envisioned as an ideal family. Indeed, you may have to re-frame your definition of an ideal family.

Anger

Raising a child with a disability can give you a close view of the cruel side of life.
As you face the whirlpool of emotions that may surround the diagnosis of a loved one, you will want need to find your own spiritual meaning and not allow others to impose their answers of why these things happened. It may take years to fully understand what is happening to your family, and sometimes the answer doesn’t come in this life, but assuredly it will come.

One of the first things you can do, however, is to accept it. Certainly I do not mean to suggest that you should take the first conclusion. Second, third and occasionally fourth opinions are essential. But, there comes the time when the result is the result and no matter how many times you look from a different angle it is what it is.

I have observed those who live in a state of denial, those who frantically search for some other test result to wipe out all the previous negative ones, and those who simply stomp their feet and blame God for this punishment. Don't spend the rest of your life wishing things were different, or yearning for something that won't be. Live fully in the present. You are still you and life is still worth living.
This doesn't mean don't seek out treatments or therapies, I'm only speaking of acceptance here. Moderation, however, is still required as those too are sought out. Avoid extremism and seek balance.
This may not mean much, but please know, I do understand. From somebody who has been down this road, you eventually need to look for the ramp marked "acceptance," and the sooner the better.

For me, acceptance is the lens that gives perspective and enriches my life. It provides me with peace. Acceptance, however, does not always mean things are perfect. It does provide the ability to find the mind cleansing, rehabilitating humor, and inspiration in it all--no it doesn't have to take twelve steps to get to that point in your life, but there are some characteristics that are just too good to ignore, like personalized self-admission:
Hi, my name is Jeff, and my son has autism.
There, now you try . . .

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