Last week, our son was diagnosed with a form of autism. He’s 8 years old, which means that I am struggling with the knowledge that for the entirety of his short life, all I’ve done is nag and berate him for things that he truly did not know how to control.
“Parent Coaching” is a nice way of saying “You need to re-learn how to parent your unusual child.” Yesterday I attended our first coaching session alone, because Robbie was stuck at work and unable to go.
I learned so much in those 45 minutes. Parenting Maverick has been a huge mystery, a constant uphill battle, and now suddenly all the information is unlocked! It’s flying at me at warp speed — all I have to do is to hang on and keep up.
I learned that when he’s beginning to get upset, we have been approaching him in a way that upsets him even more.
I learned that once the rage cycle starts, he won’t hear or be aware of anything else. That’s why sometimes he denies having said or done certain things after the fact and refuses to apologize. He honestly doesn’t know he did them. OH MY GOD, THAT IS SUCH A RELIEF. I literally thought I was raising a sociopath.
The therapist also made a huge deal over how impossibly, impossibly hard it is for any human being to handle a child on the spectrum without losing her shit. Because it’s not just difficult, and it’s not just challenging. It requires superhuman mindfulness and patience that I have not yet achieved, but hopefully, through the miracle of modern medicine and practice of breathing techniques, I will one day master it.
I learned that my expectations need to be run over, smashed into smithereens, and destroyed. I’m going to have to eradicate every idea I’ve ever had about my child and what he is capable of. I’m going to gather all of the knowledge I’ve gleaned from parenting books and articles and burn it, because none of that applies anymore. I now know that my child thinks differently and copes differently, and it is our job to be flexible.
Even though I have so much to learn, we are definitely on the right path. As the therapist talked to me, my eyes were opened to what I’ve really been dealing with all this time. We’ve already put some strategies into place, and guess what? Things in our house are already so. much. better.
I feel more hopeful than I have in a very long time, and I am grateful to be on this journey with my fascinating kid. I promise to do better now, Maverick. I promise to do better.
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“The therapist also made a huge deal over how impossibly, impossibly hard it is for any human being to handle a child on the spectrum without losing her shit.” <–this. I need this reminder.
Also, in the early days of our ASD diagnosis, I read a ton of books by Temple Grandin. Her books were very educational and also comforting.
Thinking in Pictures and other reports from my life with Autism by Temple Grandin
Different…Not Less: Inspiring Stories of Achievement and Successful Employment from Adults with Autism, Asperger’s and ADHD Temple Grandin
The Way I see it: A Personal Look at Autism and Asperger’s by Temple Grandin
There is also a movie made about her life that is really good. (Called "Temple Grandin")
Keep on keeping on, mama.
Knowing the problem allows you to work toward the proper solution. Or in this case, use the right strategies.While autism isn’t easy to handle and you feel the guilt of how you parented prediagnosis, the relief and hope of being better able to help him outweighs all of that.
I’m lucky to an extent that I have my own diagnoses that help me to understand how some things could be very difficult for my autistic child, and some of my other children who don’t have any diagnosis yet (because they definitely have traits of mental disorders), but in that sense, I’m also unlucky because I’m struggling with coping with my own struggles as I’m trying to guide them through theirs.
Good luck to you.
Hi Harmony! I’m so glad you’re finally getting some answers! Do you mind sharing some more about Maverick’s diagnosis? I’ve always thought my son Asher (!) sounded similar to your description of Maverick. Asher has been diagnosed with ADHD, but now his doctor is suspicious he may have something else, too.
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