It's been a tough few months in my house while we come to terms with our eldest daughter's ASD diagnosis. Although the diagnosis itself did not come as a shock, the way it has affected me very much has been. At the core of all this is the other A word people like to use a lot: acceptance.
Speaking purely from my own experiences, I feel there are seven Stages of Processing an Autism Diagnosis
1. I've spoken before about my kooky gut feelings, and how I've known that something wasn't quite right from when my daughter was a small baby. I feel that it's absolutely imperative for us parents to tune into these instincts and use them to our advantage.
2. Once hubby and I decided to pursue a diagnosis, our first port of call was going to the GP for a referral. Getting that first appointment with an ASD specialist can entail a lot of waiting, so be prepared. If you have private health insurance speak to them and see if you are covered. Fortunately for us we were, but they only gave us two appointments so it was vital we got in front of the right person.
3. After being assessed during our first appointment Dr. K indicated that she felt P had high functioning ASD, but before she could diagnose we had to go through the formalities. This involved completing many questionnaires, also our GP and P's school doing so. Again this can end up being an arduous process, so be prepared to play the waiting game.
4. During our second appointment we went through all the answers on the questionnaires, and Dr. K informed us that P met the criteria for high functioning ASD. I left her office feeling shell shocked, which was unexpected.
5. The quote above sums up this stage for me. I know in my heart of hearts that I've been having a pity party. I've been grieving for the family I thought I would have, and slowly coming to terms with the idea of the one I've got. It's a similar feeling to the one I had directly after cutting ties with my mother.
6. I'm somewhere between stages five and six at the moment. There have been many hours of research carried out between hubby and I over the last few months. Looking for classes, support groups, trying to obtain referrals to Child OT and Psychology (cue more waiting). It can feel at times like we are getting no-where fast, but I know that we are making slow progress. We've also been reading up on autism, and trying to understand as much as we can about our girl's world.
7. I am so looking forward to getting to the stage where we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know it's a way off, but with enough hard work anything is achievable, that much I know for certain. We've been following a tried and tested ASD rewards method, focusing on specific behaviours that we want to reinforce and we have seen improvements. Long may they continue!