When a parent receives the official, in-black-and-white, no-turning-back, diagnosis of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) a journey of self-discovery begins. You climb onto that emotional see-saw and thousands of different thoughts race through one’s mind.
It is then that you realise that you are actually in the process of wading through the five stages of grief.
Photo by : Stephen Criscolo
He doesn’t seem that autistic? Doctors make mistakes all the time. Why do they feel the need to label everything? He’ll probably outgrow it.
As time passes, reality is sinking in. Why him? It’s not fair!
We will do whatever needs to be done if he can just be ‘healed’. We will sacrifice whatever we need to if he could just start to talk.
As time progresses further, depression starts to set in, and guilt. A whole lot of guilt. What did I do wrong? Was it the time I fell in the shower during the 1st trimester? Or the time he rolled off of the bed when I turned my back for 2 seconds? Will we ever hear him speak? Hear those 3 wonderful words, “I love you”? Will we ever see him play with a friend? Or hold their hand? Will he be able to be independent, able to take care of himself? What if we die before he grows up? The lack of not knowing what will happen in the future can be daunting and overpowering. Some parents stay in this stage for many years. And some bypass it completely.
And finally, you get to a point where you have to make a choice.
You can either choose to continue to wallow in that dark abyss, or you can take a leap of faith and say, ‘screw it’! You accept your child is different.
Different – not less.
And that’s ok. There will be days that you will miss the sense of ‘normalcy’, but also days where you have a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a completely different outlook on life, through the eyes of your child. An opportunity to be courageous and join a completely different world.
And that is the choice we have made.
We accept Gabriel for the unique, wonderful and different – not less – angel that he is.
The world should too.