Whether you’re seeking confirmation about a diagnosis you already expect for your child, are just looking for answers in regards to your child’s behavior or are completely blinded by the fact that your minor worries aren’t so minor, receiving a behavioral or developmental diagnosis for your child can hit you like a ton of bricks.
Within minutes of learning the news, your entire world may be turned upside down. Your mind can race a million miles an hour, filled with sadness, confusion, anger and maybe even grief over the life you had pictured for them. On the other hand, you also may feel some sense of validation or relief over receiving an explanation as to why your child isn’t exactly fitting in with his or her peers.
The days, weeks and even months upon receiving a new diagnosis for your child may feel like a roller coaster, filled with good days, followed by days of complete and utter despair. It can often feel like the stages of grief, and in some ways, it is.
Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance all may play a part in how you deal with your child’s diagnosis. And they may not occur in that order. AND, once you think you’re through with one stage, it can come back and hit you like a ton of bricks.
We’re here to assure you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We are lucky to experience it with our patient families on a regular basis.
There will be the day that you accept your child’s diagnosis and even learn to embrace it. Every child, whether they’re neurotypical or not, is unique. You’ll learn to embrace your child’s “quirks” and learn to love those quirks even more. You’ll forget the life you imagined for them and begin to plan a new life - a Plan B that can be just as great.
And it may take a while, but hopefully you’ll also learn how to advocate for your child, utilizing their diagnosis, to set them up for success as best you can.
Start first with your health insurance to see what services are covered that will help your child. Every policy is different when it comes to speech, occupational, physical and especially ABA therapy.
Next, start researching. Connect with other parents whose children have similar diagnoses. There are so many Facebook groups out there that allow parents to find solace and understanding from other parents who understand their daily struggles. You’ll also find those special needs parents who may be a few years ahead of you on this journey and can become an incredible resource for you.
Advocate for your child when it comes to their academics. Fight for what you know is best for your child in those ARD meetings. Insist upon every possible accommodation for your child to be included in their 504. If public school isn’t a fit, research other options.
Just like being the parent of a neurotypical child, it’s your job to raise your child to be the best version of themselves, regardless of their challenges.
And luckily, you’re not alone. We’re here for you and happy to walk you through the process. The special needs world is small and we treat each of our patients like family and are happy to help refer you to other services that you may need as well.