My son, almost ten years old, was diagnosed when he was seven. When people ask me - what happened till then? Why did you diagnose him so late? I tell them that we were busy "putting out fires". Every time something else was wrong and we took him to doctors and activities and asked for assistance- but we always thought it was something temporary and a mixture of luck and character.
When he started school, I finally noticed something was off. My kid wasn’t "regular". He wasn’t "normal". He wasn’t like all the other kids his age. After watching him for several days I finally told his father I wanted to diagnose him. If the doctor says that everything is fine - I will let it go. When we went to our doctor, he didn’t look surprised with my request (that should have been the first clue…) and sent us to a psychiatrist.
We didn’t go to one. We went to four different ones. They all spent half an hour with our son, didn’t read what others wrote - and said the same. The same diagnosis
Even as his mum, who knew something wasn’t right - it was a really hard blow to receive the diagnosis. Even today, three years after, whenever we go for a checkup, I look at the list and think - maybe this time I will receive a blank page and they will tell me they were wrong. But no. three years, same list. Same diagnosis.
Every parent that receives his child's diagnosis for the first time, and it really does not matter what he "has"- goes through the same stages:
The shock and denial go together.
My son? No way. It's not happening to me. The doctor is wrong. My kid is perfect! It's something minor, it will pass. There's nothing wrong with him the doctor doesn't even understand. Run the test again. Not my kid. You are all wrong. There's nothing wrong with my kid.
When you finally understand that the tests are correct and so are the doctors (it will never go away though, every checkup you will wish they were wrong) you enter the grief stage.
No mum or dad dream of a special child. A "different" child. We all dream and hope for a healthy baby. Five fingers on each hand five fingers on each foot… he is my first born. My son. Everything I dreamt of… all I wanted for him… nothing will be the same. Nothing will be like other kids. Will I have other kids? Will I love them more? Why did it happen to him? To me? To us? All I wanted for him… things will never be normal.
Regular. All my dreams were crushed….
Then comes the shame. Even if you love (and you definitely do) your child. Even if you dedicate your life to taking care of him. Even when you feel really bad about it - you feel shame. When people look at him, or whisper around you. When people start feeling sorry for you. You feel shame that this is your kid - this is YOUR kid.
But you shouldn't! because it doesn’t mean he isn't perfect- he is perfect the way he is. And yes, he's different – but he is what he is. And he is still your child. It's not easy but you must shut those thoughts and feelings out - there is NO place for shame.
The last step, or stage, is where it all makes a difference. Acceptance.
When your kid is diagnosed, after going through all the stages you start accepting the situation and your new life. But acceptance, if done correctly - can make your life better.
Most parents accept - that's it. "my kid is XXX" and they put him in a special school with special assistance and live their life with the fact that that they have a special child hanging above them…. Some parents can't cope with doing any thing more and some also don't have the possibility to grow their child at home.
But acceptance is so much more. It comes along with personal progress. Because every child - and the diagnosis does not matter - can develop more and can do more. Even if it's a small step. Even if it's a small progress - it's a progress! A step forward.
When my son was diagnosed, we were told he wasn't age adjusted. He was seven years old but actually four. So, we started working harder and harder with him - acting with him as a regular seven-year-old but adjusting life and the environment to him.
Speech therapy, eye physical therapy, sports therapy, personal sport work outs. Reading more, building things. Teaching him to do things alone by himself. Psychologist, psychiatrist ….
Every treatment possible and recommended - we were there!
Three years have passed since my son was first diagnosed. I still go back to several stages and even made up a new one - anger. Crying and even yellin g- why me??? Why him?? But I always come back to the acceptance - reminding my self this is my son, this is the situation - this is what we have to do. MUST do. So, we accept, and we grow and we learn and we develop.
Anger in between
They all are normal.
Acceptance. It's what makes the difference.
You can read Chen's blogs and contact her at https://habayit1.wixsite.com/iamaspecialmum
Written by: Chen