About a month after my daughter's diagnosis I had a major grieving moment. I screamed to the wind and I cried for what seemed like hours. I demanded to know why my child? What's her future going to be like now? When she starts school will she make friends? Are the other kids going to make fun of the way she chews her shirt and sucks her thumb to calm down? It wasn't my proudest moment, but it was one I needed to move forward. After that, the moments worth celebrating flooded in. The day she told me she loved me while looking into my eyes was one I will never forget, because I never thought it would happen. Shortly after that, she asked me to cuddle her for the first time. Those 4 minutes were the most amazing 4 minutes I will ever have.
Taking my daughter to playgrounds always used to make me nervous, because she wouldn't play with other children. She would stand in the far corner and watch them. Last month we took her to her favorite playground and the most magical moment happened. She ran over to a little girl she recognized from school and they played TOGETHER until the little girl had to go home. I sat on the near by bench and cried the biggest tears of joy watching my little girl laugh and jump with another child.
We still have plenty of meltdowns and "bad" moments, but they aren't as frequent as they used to be. She is learning to communicate and talk it out with us, and we are learning to be more patient while she does so. But the way I see it, in 10 years I won't remember the time she had a meltdown because I didn't cut her sandwich the right way, but I will remember that day at the playground and that time we cuddled.
Looking back, I think I needed that moment of grieving. It got my fears out in the open and made room for all the wonderful moments that were yet to come. So I encourage parents who have recently been given a diagnoses for their child, take your moment to grieve. It will be okay, and you are still the strong parent they need. Our children are smart, wonderful and perfect. Having Autism didn't change that, it enhanced it.
- Jordan Johnston