November 27, 2014

5 Things Every New Autism Mom Should Know

There are tons of blog posts out there for autism like…
"Things Not to Say to an Autism Parent," or "10 Things You Didn’t Know About Autism," or "10 Things You Should Know About Autism."  This post is about the brand new Autism Mom (or Dad!) who just got her world rocked.  There are a million things to know.  I have narrowed it down to 5 Things Every New Autism Mom Should Know.  Having a child diagnosed with autism is overwhelming to say the least.  Here are a few things to get the new Autism Mom started without putting her in a panic.


1.  Take time to grieve, but keep moving forward

Hearing your child has been diagnosed with autism is gut wrenching.  What exactly is autism anyway?  He doesn’t look like there is anything wrong with him.  Should we get a second opinion?  What if he’s just going through a phase?  I’m sure he’ll catch up to the other kids soon.  Some kids just talk late.  He’s just quirky.  
It’s okay to be sad.  I have grieved for the life I had pictured for with child.  With just about everything we do, we do it a little bit differently than I imagined.  I still grieve sometimes. I’m sure I will for a long time.  Maybe forever.  But there does come a point where you couldn’t imagine your child any differently that how he is.  Brandon has taught me so much.  The denial stage is hard to avoid, but the sooner you look into services the better.  Take some time, but then get going!  Remember that it is okay to continue to grieve, but you have to keep moving forward. 


2.  Know your rights

Do not take anyone’s word for anything.  If something doesn’t seem right to you, verify!  This isn’t a negative attitude or lack of trust.  I believe in maintaining a positive relationship with any and all people who work with my child.  I tell them all right away that I am one of “those moms” who likes a lot of updates and asks a lot of questions.  I go ahead and warn them of my potential annoyingness up front, and let them know that I am just a very involved mom who wants her son to succeed.  This has always been appreciated by Brandon’s teachers and therapists.  My advice is not to go in with guns blazing – with the notion that you are going to have to constantly battle the school.  Don’t start fighting battles unless you have one to fight.  If you do, then buy all means, fight for your kid!  But, don’t take someone else’s challenge with the school and automatically apply it to yourself.  You were not there, so you do not know the story, and it has nothing to do with your kid.  The law is complicated.  There is a lot of information out there and some of it is hard to understand.  It is scary.  Remember that it’s not just scary to you.  It’s scary to all of us!  Go to an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) workshop if you can find one near you.  The website, www.wrightslaw.com, is a place you can go to answers you’re your questions.  They also have a couple great books that you can use to help with IEP meetings.  Keep this in mind: Special Educaiton is a service, not a place.

3.  Learn the lingo

With all the acronyms and legal terms out there, being a new autism parent is overwhelming to say the least.  Here are some terms I have found to be helpful to know.

Autism Glossary – A Complicated Language Made a Little Bit Simpler

4.  You are not alone!

You may not feel like talking to a stranger about your life, struggles, or triumphs.  Let me tell you though, there is so much comfort in talking to someone who actually understands what you’re going through.  There is no pity, and there are no blank stares because no one knows what to say.  Friends and family do the best they can; but much like any other life struggles, unless you’ve been there, it’s hard to truly understand.  Browse Facebook to find a group you can connect with, or find a local support group.  There is an opportunity here to learn little tips from other moms and activities in your area that are autism friendly.

5.  ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis)

ABA is the most widely recommended treatment for autism.  If this is not the route you chose, that's okay!  I am a firm believe in ABA for autism treatment for MY child.  You are your child’s best advocate, and only you know what the right treatment is.  That said, learn what ABA is so you can make an informed decision about the best course of action for your child.  Click here for a link to some more information about ABA.

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