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Coming to terms with a diagnosis

For some, diagnosis is a relief.  For others, it’s a complete shock, a bolt from the blue.

But whatever the case, a diagnosis can actually be a positive turning point in a child’s life.

A diagnosis is important, as it leads to funding and to interventions that, hopefully, help both the child and their family.  It can lead to specialist care and meaningful accommodations. And most significantly, it can often lead to greater understanding and inclusion.

As your child grows up, learning about their own diagnosis can also lead to having a better understanding of who they are.  It can open the door to a community of other people on the autism spectrum.

But there are also things that having a diagnosis does NOT mean.

It doesn’t mean that your child is any better or worse than they were the day before. It doesn’t mean that their future is any different from the way it was the day before.

Try to see diagnosis as a positive step forward and a way for you and your child to receive greater understanding and support.

It is very common to feel an overwhelming mix of emotions when there is a major event in your family’s life, like a new diagnosis.  If you are struggling to move beyond this stage over time, it’s important that you seek good professional support for yourself. Please see our Medicare pages for more information.

Beyond professional guidance, there is also valuable support that can come from other parents and insights and reassurances from autistic adults.

There are many letters written to the families of newly diagnosed children, with both heartfelt and practical advice. We have included links to some of these in the helpful resources section below.

Some wise words from families who have been there before you:

“An autism diagnosis is just a label; nothing about your child has changed. The upside of the diagnosis, on the other hand, is that it allows your child to get critical services and support.”

“Try not to panic, or feel like you have to fix things right away. This is a lifelong journey, and progress will happen over time just as it does for any child.”

“Parenting will not be what you imagined; it will be harder than you’d hoped. Try to let go of your expectations and live in the present. In time you may come to find great purpose in this experience. I personally cannot imagine my life, or my son, without autism.”

Helpful resources

Welcome To The Club – Evolved: by Jess Wilson, Diary of a Mom

Advice To Parents After An Autism Diagnosis by ASD Dad:

A Letter To Parents Of Children With Autism From An Autistic Adult:

What Now? Ten Tips for Families with a New Autism Diagnosis Squillo for Thinking Person’s Guide To Autism