When people talk about autism, it is often with a feeling of negativity. We see portrayals of autistic children as difficult, antisocial, strong-willed, and we always see them struggling. While there are some autistic children out there with extreme problems like those we see in the media, there are many more who are not like that.
Autism doesn’t have a single, immediately identifiable look. Rather, like many other disorders and illnesses, it looks different on each person. I never saw myself as someone with the patience to deal with an autistic person. When my son was diagnosed with autism, I had to make the decision: will I raise him the best I can or will I find someone else to do it.
Discovering a different child
Tyron is the youngest child and my only boy. After raising two girls for four years, I was really surprised to finally have a boy. I knew raising a boy would be different, but I didn’t realize it would be such a grand level of difference. My girls developed well, reaching every developmental milestone on time and with ease. My boy, however, seemed to have trouble.
Initially, I was not concerned. Some children don’t enjoy walking on sand, grass, and pebbles. Other children don’t enjoy talking, and even more children prefer not meeting new people.
One day while at the pediatrician, another mother pointed at my son and told me she thinks there’s something wrong with him. I was offended, but asked my pediatrician, and after a few months of testing, we finally discovered that my baby boy was autistic.
Adapting to an autistic child
Learning your child has autism can be a hard pill to swallow. There is no defined cause and no defined medication to fix it. It was a difficult time for me to decide what to do. Raising a child with any autism would be difficult and expensive, but at the end of the day, he is my son and I have to give him the best.
My son tested as high functioning autistic. While his speech was delayed, and he had adverse reactions to strangers and sensory exposure, his mental development was on track and he would not develop any learning difficulties.
All that had to happen now was for our family to adapt. We had to realize that Tyron was not like the rest of us, but that he was still going to be a wonderful human in his own right. After months of group sessions where one mother suggested me to visit The Mom Kind for more resources on Autism Parenting, I felt confident and I knew how to deal with our special boy and what to do moving forward.
When your child is diagnosed with anything, it is a great idea to find other parents in similar situations. Support groups give you a space to vent, ask questions, and learn from others how best to cope with the new situation. Even better than that, support groups tend to be non-judgmental since the other parents understand what you are going through and tend to be more empathetic.
In addition to support groups, I attended autism parent coaching, which taught me how to deal with some of my son’s autism ‘tics’ in an effective way. As frustrating as my son’s diagnosis was for me and my family, I had to remember how much more difficult it would be for him.
The world is not kind to people with disabilities of any kind, and he would have to learn to overcome many obstacles before being recognized as a unique person in his own right. I learned that his disorder does not define him. Rather, it is just one aspect of who he is and who he will become.
My son is excelling now. He has found friends with similar passions and interests and is a huge fan of building masterpieces out of Lego.
This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.