You just got the official diagnosis…PDD NOS. What next?
You begin to process the emotions as you look up letters that meant nothing to you a few days ago. Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified…what the hell does that mean…today…tomorrow and beyond?
Today, it means your heart is broken. That little child that has won your heart and soul, is suddenly disabled. You start looking up everything about autism trying to find a slight glimmer of hope that with medication, education and prayer, he will suddenly wake up one day (soon) and be perfectly normal and everything will be hunky dory.
The more you read, the more depressed you get. You go through a mourning that you never imagined.
The doctors flip flop between experts on autism, and the run of the mill doctors that say things like “I will need to call his psychologist, to see if he is breathing through his mouth because of the autism.” and “You know more about autism, than I do.” When you don’t need to be an autism parent, to figure out that your child is breathing through his mouth because he has a stuffy nose…DUH!
As the years go by, you come to terms with the beast called autism. You have all of the therapists, IEP meetings and doctor’s appointments on the calendar. You have it all under control, or so you thought. Then you see other children his age, doing age appropriate things…sports, bikes, making the principal’s list, dating, driving preparing for college. All of these milestones of your child’s peers become nails through your heart. At first, these days come rapidly. But as the years accumulate, the days come less often, and you may even realize that you haven’t crashed into a pile of pillows in months or even years.
Then once your child becomes an adult, you have a whole new set of concerns…what now? He’s out of school, he is unable to work, he cannot be left unattended, he may even be incontinent. Do you keep him home with you? Do you try to find him a nice, safe, group home? Is he happy? Does he feel loved?
Even though our journeys are parallel, they are not the same. No one can walk your mile in your shoes. But we can hold hands, and offer shoulders to those walking beside us.
I would like to offer these words, don’t measure your child by anyone else. Don’t ever let your child know that you are disappointed. Always encourage your child to do his very best and you are proud of his accomplishments, even if he is 17 and just mastered making his bed (incidentally, this task is usually not mastered by the typical 17 year old)
Always, tell him that he is loved, assure him that you know he understands, and he is trying. And above all, make sure that he knows that you are his biggest advocate and fan.
Eventually, you will be okay. And when you are not okay, reach out to someone else on the path and let them know. You are not alone, just look around, and you will see others reaching out to you too.