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For the Parent with a New Diagnosis - You're Not Alone

March 03, 2020
By Kelly Simmons

As a teacher here at Westview and a mom of a 14-year-old child with autism, I have a hard time remembering when autism wasn’t part of my life. But I DEFINITELY remember the day Pierce was diagnosed. I thought my world was over.  My husband reminded me that he was still the same little boy we loved more than anything in the world. He was right.

Having a child with autism can be so many things; it can be incredibly rewarding to see them work so hard to accomplish what might be easy for a neurotypical child.  It can be lonely and scary, especially right after a new diagnosis. You might feel jealous at times when you see other neurotypical peers your child’s age doing things you so wish your child could do.

Your circle of friends might change, and a lot of mine have. What I’ve also found is what I call “my people.” If you’re a parent of a child at The Westview School, you have likely seen the Westview shirts that say, “These are my people.” I LOVE that shirt because it is just so accurate! No one will understand what you are truly going through with the ups and downs of autism more than another parent who has a child on the spectrum.

For anyone with a newly-diagnosed child, please learn from my mistakes. First, it’s NOT your fault. Say that again to yourself, because it’s important. Next, I researched like I was a CIA agent (ha!) on every treatment out there, but nothing helped me with answers and acceptance more than my support groups.  I was lucky to have an online support group (we are all over the country, and several of us have met up in person).  I also had a “real life” support group who have become some of my best friends. 

At Westview, our People of Westview (POW) organization has an amazing group of parents who support each other.  Please take advantage of the knowledge, acceptance and love that they provide. Also, The Stewart Center and our administrators can be such a wealth of comfort and knowledge.

Lastly, it’s important to know that there is really no way to predict where your child will be in the future. Take it from me, worrying will not change that! What they can do now is rarely an indicator of what they will be able to do in the future. They continually change, and each child is unique.

Since you know your child best, I would always go with your gut. Find an amazing support system, enroll in therapies (if needed), and find a school that will support your child’s social-emotional learning as well as academics.

All of us on are on a similar journey, though challenges and accomplishments will all look different. As my friend, Sarah, said in her latest blog post, “What we all need is GRACE.” I wish everyone on this journey love, light and peace. 

Penny Khuri says:
March 03, 2020 12:22 PM CST
Kelly, thank for such beautiful words of wisdom. It's so important for all of us to know we are not alone. I especially love what you said about what your child will be able to do in the future vs. now - it's so true that it's constantly changing. Thanks! Penny