By Shirley Blaier-Stein | November 22, 2011 at 12:13 PM EST | 2 comments
One mom contacted me recently and told me that her child was recently diagnosed and how in addition to being completely devastated, the hardest piece for her is her family's reaction.
We've all been there, right? We are in this horrible period of evaluations and an even worse time of waiting to get the results. We are so scared because we do not really know exactly what autism is and we are so scared of it. It already feels like life will never be the same again.
And then come those people - our parents, uncles, grandparents, even siblings - who have their own take on things.
In my family there was my parents who tried to convince me that the doctors are simply wrong. My family lives very far from us and they used to see us only once in a few months. And so they would offer their opinion based in looking at Dan's baby pictures. 'He is looking straight into the camera, his eye contact is perfect!' was something they repeatedly said. Other members of my family agreed: I was making a big deal out of nothing.
A few years later, denial continued. When we tried to take a family photo Dan was squirming in my arms trying to get away. At some point I managed to hold him in my arms long enough to hear from my uncle, who was taking the picture, that 'Dan is not looking into the camera on purpose!'
Yes, I was still making all this up and Dan was not talking nor playing and behaving appropriately on purpose!
Now things are different of course. Everyone in my family knows how big autism is. How hard it is to tackle the issues related to it. And how hard life is with it.
But wouldn't it have been nice if everyone would just give us a break?
I have this dream that family members of autism mothers would call them to offer support on a regular basis. Without asking how many words the child is already saying, without asking how school is going. Just call and say 'we love you, we know this is hard. how can we help?" And try harder to understand.
Love you, my autism mother friends, who always understand me.