We received the diagnosis of Autism and SPD for my 4 year old son a few weeks ago. I am still going through all the different stages that, apparently, one feels after receiving such news. Denial, anger, questions, self-pity, information-hoarding. I’m also coming to a lot of new realizations about who my son is and what our life will be. Though it’s sometimes hard to grasp that nothing has at all changed since getting the diagnosis – he is still the same boy – what’s changing is how I view him and his behavior.
Up until now, I’ve looked at everything as just a “stage” or “phase” that he will grow out of. Maybe I’ve used this as a crutch.
It started from the day he was born. Oh, he’s just a colicky baby. It will pass. He will grow out of it. Suddenly I found myself with an 18 month old who was STILL “colicky”!
Next came the “terrible twos”. I told myself that everything he was doing was normal for toddlers and it would pass! He would learn more words and be able to communicate with us better so his frustration and anger would go away. Plus, all toddlers go through the hitting phase!
“Terrible twos” morphed into the “terrible threes”. Lots of people joked that the threes were worse than the twos. So again, I clutched on to the idea that this was all just a phase he would soon grow out of. At some point during this third year we had a doctor’s appointment where I brought up my concerns. I asked the doctor if it was maybe allergies. ADD? Something?! Nope. I was told he just needed more consistent discipline and lots of structure. And that, guess what, after the “terrible threes” come the “f*$%@ing fours”!!!
As we entered the “f-ing fours” and slowly began down the path of a diagnosis of Autism, I thought to myself “Great. Once we have a diagnosis everything will be better. He will be able to get the help he needs. Everyone will see that he is not just a bad kid and I am not just failing at parenting. There is a reason behind all of this.” And while I have felt that way now that we do have a diagnosis, I have also come to the harsh realization that – nope, none of this is a phase. He is not going to just grow out of these quirks and behaviors. This is just a part of him and who he is.
When I was young my dad once told me “This too shall pass.” This is something I’ve never forgotten and tell myself whenever something difficult comes up. I’ve promised myself that every bad or challenging situation will pass. Eventually I will look back on it and it will no longer be so bad or so significant. But this time, that outlook doesn’t apply. This isn’t going to pass. This is our life now. Not a phase.
So, I’m choosing to look at things on a smaller scale. Maybe he will always have difficulty going to the store. Maybe that won’t pass. But this specific meltdown will. Come tomorrow morning he won’t still be on the store’s floor, kicking and screaming.