What every mother REALLY needs to know about Autism

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My son, Ethan, is something else. He is loving, affectionate, energetic, determined, comical, fearless, enthusiastic, witty, and sensitive. He can also be characterized as abrasive, defiant, selfish, angry, combative, malicious, and stubborn. Irregardless of the adjectives, he is my son and I love him with every fiber of my being.

The last five years have been truly and utterly unpredictable and exhausting. In the beginning, I didn’t think anything was wrong with my son. I just thought he was different. To be honest, he wasn’t diagnosed with Autism. I wasn’t concerned about labeling his issues. I wasn’t concerned because I didn’t feel that the presence or absence of an Autism diagnosis would change the way I loved and parented my son. I also was in denial.

I didn’t seek a diagnosis until he was five years old and he was headed to kindergarten. By this time, I had worked so diligently with my son, that he hardly had any traits of Autism to be diagnosed. I finally decided to take him to a professional because of my concern with the school system. I was concerned that they would not be willing to help my son unless he had a confirmed diagnosis.

I can only imagine the picture I was painting in the therapist’s mind as I was recounting the events of my son’s last five years. I could hardly believe the story I was telling myself. It didn’t sound like my son but it was my son. The situation became very real to me, as I listened to my own words.

I sat in the waiting room, stomach tied in knots, while the therapist had a little talk with my son. Sitting there, I started to question every decision I had made about parenting. Should I have sought help sooner? Should I have taken the advice given to me by family and friends? Had my choices been detrimental to my son’s well being?

Finally, the therapist asked me to return to his office. I was not prepared for what I was about to hear next. “You have done an amazing job with your son.” What! What did he say? He went on to explain that my son did show autistic tendencies and traits, but that whatever I was doing at home was definitely working. He told me that it would not be beneficial to my son to diagnose him with Autism. My son was obviously no longer the child I had described earlier.

What a relief! I was able to hear the words all mothers long to hear. I no longer had to second guess myself.

What every mother really needs to know about Autism or any other condition, is this … well meaning family and friends and well educated doctors can never replace a mother’s instinct. Every child, every situation is different. Advice comes from a person’s own frame of reference, whether it be personal experience or education. Regardless of the diagnosis, love and parent your child according to their particular needs. You are the only expert on your child.

Author: Gabriella Parker

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