My good friend Lauren connected me with her dad about four or so months ago. Lauren’s dad is well associated with KSL, our Utah news station. Through a series of phone conversations, her dad was able to connect me to the producer of Studio 5. Jane, the producer, asked if I would be interested in being a part of their Tuesday, May 28th segment. I was thrilled!! Our five-ten minute segment would be covering the topic, How To Take Action When You Find Out Your Child Has Autism.
I have zero certification when it comes to the topic of autism, but what I do have to offer is a mom’s perspective. Jane asked me to give some advice from the heart, advice that may help other mom’s starting out in their journey with autism. I have no idea what others will take from my perspective, but I can only hope my motherly insight might provide at least some comfort and help to those listening.
Jane also asked if I could send her some talking points regarding this topic via email. As I sat at my computer typing away my ideas, I was surprised. Surprised because when I was thinking back to those starting out days, I thought about how hard and overwhelming they seemed. Although the beginning seemed daunting and there was hardly a light at the end of the tunnel, we still managed to push through. The talking points I was typing out for Jane were the very things to push us through and propel us to where we are today.
So, what action did we take when we found out Cali had autism?
1. We took relentless action. So many times it is easier to give up than to keep trying, but trying is the only way we can find the help our children need. Relentless action will eventually direct you into the path that is best suited for your child. If your action is only sub-par than your resources will be limited. I can remember the morning after Sydney, my younger sister, gave me the call to tell me she thought Cali had autism. I woke up and went straight to the computer to eat my cereal and check my emails. Among a handfull of messages, there was Sydney’s. After our phone conversation, she has spent hours researching out the best places for treatment in Utah. This is how we came to find Autism Journeys. With the help of her research and more done on my own, we felt fully confident with the direction we were choosing for Cali.
2. If you are going to surf the internet, stick to searching for treatment centers and government aid. Do not spend hours looking up facts and information on autism. I found there was such a vast amount of information, I became easily overwhelmed and didn’t know where to turn. Not to mention all the negative information or misinformation that is all too easily available. How many times have we ourselves caught a bug and gone straight to the internet for all the answers? WebMD ring a bell?? This sight is a fantastic source for many reasons I’m sure, but if your looking for ways to help your autistic child improve, spend your time researching local treatment centers or government funded programs. The most important step to take when first finding out is taking a step in the direction of treatment. Spend time looking up facts and details of autism after your child is in treatment. Without the treatment, your child’s progress will be as fast as a snail. Treatment can be provided through a private organization, a single therapist, or through the state. Each family will have a way of treatment that works best for them. The crucial part is getting the treatment. First search for treatment. This is the most important part!
3. We asked questions. Don’t assume the doctors, therapists, and psychologist will ask all the questions. I can remember asking about certain behaviors Cali was exhibiting, and being so glad I did. Cali’s evaluations were lengthy, but they weren’t spending days and days, all hours of the day with her. They need to know EVERYTHING! If you don’t bring up certain questions or concerns, they may be unanswered or overlooked. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions for fear you will look incompetent or uneducated. I am the first to admit how uninformed I was at the start of our autism adventure. I hate feeling incompetent, but even being completely unfamiliar with autism, I MADE myself ask questions. You, like I was, may be thinking…am I going to sound incompetent? What if they think I’m over reacting? Worst case they do. Then what? Keep asking the questions anyway. If the question is important to you, than it is important.
4. We allowed our heart and minds to work together when making decision and taking actions. Pediatricians are knowledgeable and have many answers. The therapist and psychologists have many many answers and years of experience to back their knowledge. But you are your child’s biggest advocate, and you know your child better than any doctor or therapist. Do your “due diligence” and then follow your heart. Work it out in your mind and then see what your heart has to say. We did and it didn’t lead us astray.
5. I talked with other moms who had walked the path before me. I can remember talking to a mom who was about five years ahead of me and it gave me more confidence than talking to any family member, best friend, and even husband. Ask treatment centers for contacts if they are willing to share. Ask your neighbor, teachers, or church associates if they know of any parent who has worn your shoes and is willing to chat. Their perspective might give nothing more than comfort and reassurance. I’ll take comfort and reassurance any day!
6. Look only forward. You find out your child has autism and you want to ask, what did I do wrong? Should I have spent more quality time with him or her? Did our diets affect this? Was this caused by a sudden sickness? Was this caused by an environmental element? Rather than searching for a reason why, seek to understand the present. Your child has autism, so what’s the next move. Move forward in a direction that helps you know how to help your child. Thats all that matters.
Six talking points. Six actions Casey and myself took when we found out Cali had autism. I believe there could be six more completely different talking points coming from another autism mom. Points in which directed them into a successful and progressive path for their child, but the advice listed above are the steps that worked for us. We wouldn’t change a thing.
If you live in Utah, turn on and watch Tuesday’s Studio 5 segment! Should be fun!!