First Steps with a New Diagnosis
Therapies and Resources for Children with Autism & Families
There is no doubt that receiving a special needs diagnosis from your physican can be devastating. While the hopes and dreams you may have had for your child will be changed by the news, there are things that you can do to make sure that you and your family are able to move forward.
The first step is to acknowledge your feelings. You may be angry, sad, depressed or feel that life is simply not fair. All of these feelings – and any that haven’t been listed – are certainly legitimate. Take the the time to write in a journal, talk to a trusted friend, or even meet with a counselor or minister to help you sort out your feelings.
Taking care of yourself is the next step. Maintaining self-care routines will help you to feel your best and think clearly, which will, in turn, help you to make good decisions about care for your child. Whether you love to work out, take a yoga class, walk your dogs or go out to dinner with friends, taking the time to care for your own needs will give you the strength to meet the needs of your child.
Investing in relationships is also critical with a new diagnosis. While it may be tempting to hibernate from everyone that you know – including your spouse – the time of a new diagnosis is exactly the time to invest in those relationships. Let people know what you are going through, talk about how you feel and share that with your spouse. Reaching out to others and hearing about their lives will allow you to feel a bit closer to normal as well.
Finally, do your research and make a plan. Any special needs diagnosis can set you off on a long journey of gathering information. Look for reputable sites on the internet that explain a bit more about your dianosis and make a list of questions for your health care provider. Once your questions have been answered, then make a plan of how to help your child and start keeping written records. A simple spiral notebook can be one of the easiest ways to keep all of your questions and notes in the same place.
While a new diagnosis can be overwhelming, it can be managed. By taking the time for self-care, reaching out to others and doing research, you will get through the initial stage, allowing you to move forward.