“Imagine the heartache a parent goes through when they discover their beloved child will never be the same as all the other children at school.
That they will have more difficulties and that they will be judged unfairly and harshly for behaviours out of their control. But above all, that because of this, their most beautiful and delightful attributes may potentially be overshadowed and overlooked. For 1 in 110 parents, this is what they face when they hear the diagnosis of ‘Autism’ for their child. Today is World Autism Awareness Day – you don’t have to know or have a child with Autism to repost, just be mindful of the unknown when you see other children. These special, delightful and beautiful children don’t deserve judgement, but instead need kindness, understanding, support and love.”
This is what I wrote on my Facebook page last year on World Autism Awareness Day. At the time we had been going through the scary and overwhelming process of a possible Autism diagnosis with our eldest daughter, and while we got the ‘good news’ that our princess didn’t have Autism, I was acutely aware that many other families were not receiving the same good news that we were. The post on my page was my way of honouring them, and helping others think about Autism and the gorgeous kids affected by it.
You see we were lucky. While our daughter struggled in some areas such as speech and social interactions, after many investigations and countless appointments and questionnaires, it was determined that she just had unique ‘quirks’. We were lucky.
Until we weren’t.
At a follow-up appointment with our paediatrician to go through the results from the many assessments from kinder, psychologists, field officers, speech, audiology (probably others I’ve since forgotten), we then got the news. We too got that diagnosis I wrote about in my post. We heard the confirmation of the dreaded word. Autism.
Heartache doesn’t begin to adequately describe how you feel when the diagnosis is made. The label is given. Your fears for your child are realised. The tears are then shed.
I initially coped, and was strong and very organised and matter-of-fact about it all. We needed to make calls, arrange appointments and get the interventions started. We knew what we faced, and we were going to be proactive and get things sorted. My divine little girl would be ok.
Then in a moment of down time that same evening, I flicked through my Facebook and saw a video a friend had posted that day of her daughter and 2 of her friends singing a song together after school. They were singing and laughing and having a great time. They were my daughters friends, singing a song my daughter loved to sing. The difference was they were singing it together and my daughter wasn’t there.
She wasn’t there because she had been with us at the paediatrician’s office. She missed out on the impromptu concert after school because she was finding out why she was different.