• Keegan A.M. Lewis

Can you fully accept your autistic child?

Updated: Nov 15, 2018

You recently learned that your child is on the autism spectrum. Have you wholeheartedly, unconditionally accepted your child after an autism diagnosis?

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok from Pexels

You've learned your child is autistic. Now, get ready for one of the difficult questions. Have you wholeheartedly, unconditionally accepted your child after an autism diagnosis? Can you?

For some like-situated parents, finding acceptance has been hard; excruciatingly hard. Your intent is not ill, but when there are so many variables that operate beyond your understanding human nature can reveal that you conduct behaviors and hold thoughts about your child that are off-base and cruel.

As the type of parent who attempts to live well, you strive to mind your thoughts, tongue, and temper; your behaviors, emotions, and ego. However, raising a child who lives along the autism spectrum means there are tough notions with which you grapple that even those closest to you may never grasp.

You aspire to love your kid as deeply and unconditionally as God allows, so confronting how inadequately you've come to accept that child's prognosis (and the unique abilities to be found therein) cuts as does the switchblade. Some parents admit struggling to find reasons to celebrate their children. Others express growing impatience with their child and their particular modes of behavior. One father, who in an effort to be honest with himself, acknowledged a nagging inner incantation that sang of his child's quality of thinking and competence as anomalies ineligible of his appreciation. Like this father, you try, but fully accepting your child and an autism diagnosis isn't coming easily. Maybe, it's not coming at all.

Diagnosis will not be your nightmare.

When parents become aware that their precious daughters and sons live with autism spectrum disorder, they might discover in themselves confusion, frustration, and doubt about their child's prospects in socialization, communication, and learning. Mommies and daddies are concerned and fearful about their children's differences -- that's if they even acknowledge the differences at all.

You don't have to convince me. I know that within, you desire and believe that your daughter, your son, your child on the autism spectrum "can," as Dr. CP Roddey says, "and will develop fully all of their potential given learning opportunities and creative experiences." But then, you look up, the better part of a decade has passed, and still, Miles Xavier sprawls about a grocer's floor. Your daughter, Parker, strikes you with unrestrained might. Twins, Margot and Miranda return home sad since it's tough to make friends at school.

Sheesh, parents. These experiences, few of which you even understand, are taxing. Though sincere, your devoted parenting aimed at providing for your child a lifestyle that yields health, enjoyment, and an abundance of successful experiences on which to stand, as you see it, has been devastatingly ineffective.

You look up, the better part of a decade has passed, and your sincere, devoted parenting has been, as you see it, devastatingly ineffective.

Move together to acceptance.

Looking beyond wants and wishes, the truth is this. Autistic children can enjoy a rich academic life. Your daughter can be physically strong and exposed to a variety of recreational fun. Your son can learn to navigate day-to-day life within a community of informed, authentic parents, peers, and teachers.

Parents can gain a fuller understand of what occurs in their interactions with their children, and thus feel more assured in their parenting. However, before any of this comes to pass, acceptance should find its place amid parents and their child's condition.

Hiking the process of accepting a child's autism diagnosis is a transformation. You are a travelling vessel and your endurance through the making of such a transformation berths, within you, a testimony -- a recounting of your experiences to be shared publicly.

One temperate father, Alleyne, joined his wife on the task of accepting their son and the autism spectrum diagnosis they received. In giving his testimony, the father shares that his wife and he were led to learn as much about their son's autism condition as they could. The couple committed to feed themselves with positive stories of people with autism enjoying success. He cites Dr. Temple Grandin among these success stories.

In sharing his experience, Alleyne tells that the couple's self-starting approach to education revealed a key piece of learning; "we were not alone." They learned that. With this, he says, our sons autism "became easier to accept."

Furthermore, they learned that acceptance is affected by the company parents keep. They found it important to surround themselves with supporters and nix naysayers standing against their family's greatest aspirations. "Surround yourself with supporters," he cautions. "Don't allow any room for naysayers, even if they are family.

"After recognizing that we were not alone, it became easier to accept."

Alleyne's three keys

Here is a breakdown of the steps Alleyne and his wife used to move to a more fruitful acceptance of their child's autism.

  • Learn as much as you can about your children's autism condition.

  • Feed yourself with positive stories of success.

  • Surround yourself with supporters.

How do you engage in any of the aforementioned steps? How do you learn more about your children's condition? What success stories have you come across that gave you a burst of inspiration or thoughts of hope? Where have you found supporters with whom to be surrounded?

Photo by Neosha Gardner from CreateHER Stock

It goes back to the idea of having a testimony. Taking time and careful thought to respond to questions like these allows you to recount and share the experiences that have helped you accept your child's autism diagnosis. I dare you to get to work responding to these questions for yourself. I double dare you to share a testimony that includes your answers in the comments of this post. If you can do this, there is a good chance that you are well-positioned to find full acceptance for your child and to advocate for other children and parents. If an ability to answer these questions eludes you, consider it an opportunity to do more in your journey toward understanding.

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