What does a parent experience when they receive the diagnosis of autism for their child? A form of expression is needed for the intense feelings that well up inside. The familiarity of loss, like a small death, shows itself. It is not unusual for a parent and family to go through the grieving process.
When a diagnosis is made, the instantaneous response may be one of denial. You may be filled with shock. How could this be? The doctor must be talking to the wrong family. My son just has difficult having friends or keeping focused. All that is within you screams, “Not me.”
When you can’t deny the reality of the diagnosis it is common that anger becomes the major emotion. Blaming yourself or your partner to defuse the anger is not uncommon. It has to be someone’s fault. I could never have deserved this. You and family may not able to recognize that there was no control over the diagnosis, that it actually had little to do with you.
Moving past the anger brings you to bargaining. You may address your higher power and asks, “If I just do this, will you change what is happening”. You may ask that if in fact the child has autism that it be only Asperger’s and not a different condition on the spectrum.
Having all your resources depleted and coming to a place where you feel you have no recourse, depression often shows its ugly head. The weight of the situation becomes real. The thoughts of your ability to provide what you child will need lays heavy on your mind.
As sense of acceptance of having a child with autism begins to come. Also though comes the thoughts of schooling, what supports will be needed, will there be the resources and time to implement the different autism therapies, if needed, will autism treatment be available.
Having gone through the stages, those involved with the child may revisit or bounce between the steps of grieving. It is only best to know that where ever you are at any given moment is where you need to be. There is no easy answer or simple steps to follow.