When we notice that our little one shows behaviours that are different from those we can observe in a cousin or a daycare friend of the same age, it sets off an internal alarm. What if our precious bundle was not normal? What if it was something that will follow him through his whole life. Our parent’s heart skips a beat. We refer to specialists. We are looking for answers.
Sometimes it can take a very long time to get answers. We meet several specialists, they ask numerous questions, examine our child in all aspects. It is a difficult experience for parents. We repeat the same events, stories; the first steps, the first words, at what age the first behaviours that were different were noticed. We feel drawn into a downward spiral. We ask ourselves if we could have done something different, if we did something inadequate. Where have we gone wrong? Did we overprotect our child, or not stimulate or challenge him enough?
We are invited to a meeting where we will finally get answers to our questions. Facing us, on the other side of the table, are all the people who observed our child. They have the answer. They speak and tell us what we already knew deep down, we would have been surprised to hear the opposite, but hearing it propels us in an unknown territory, as if everything around us came to a stop. Part of us is torn, as if our broken heart was severing the connection to our brain. We absorb the blow and leave the meeting feeling something like a zombie. We are on automatic pilot. The first contact we will have with our child will be truly special.
Once back home, after the bedtime routine is over, we feel like the child we just put to sleep is not the same one we woke up with hugs and kisses in the morning. The love we feel is not any different, but we feel this child has a new identity. A tsunami is sweeping our life. We lose our benchmarks. We wonder how we will announce this to our child, the grandparents, daycare…
We need to understand the diagnosis, we make the mistake to go on internet to fill the big hole left in us after the news. We want to understand how to answer the needs of our child, how to help him grow and thrive, how to feel well. We are looking for help from the public services. We feel abandoned. Who to turn to? Under all the suffering a parent lives when a child receives a diagnosis, what means the most is offering the best to our child.
We must keep in mind that when our child is born, the umbilical cord is cut and parents antennas grow on the mother and the father’s head. We should listen to the signals emitted by these antennas, as it is always what’s best for our child.
As parents, we must weather the tsunami, and following that, rebuild with a large dose of love. It is quite important to take care of ourselves as parents and as a couple in order to provide help and support to our child. We should not stay alone to face the various challenges. We must value our child’s strengths, be really carefull about not making the specialists diagnosis the child’s primary identity, because our child will always be much more than a diagnosis.