A year ago, we received the official report; our quirky, funny, razor-sharp daughter was autistic (with a side-helping of ADHD just to keep us on our toes). So, what did that piece of paper change?
Put simply, everything and nothing.
It did not change the unconditional love we have for our daughter, it did not change our hopes & dreams & aspirations for her (and those she has for herself). She is as beautiful and talented as she was ‘before’, her eyes are just as sparkling blue and her laugh just as contagious. The moods are just as tricky to handle, the need for routine remains, she continues to battle through each day and we remain the proudest parents on the planet. It was not a magic wand, it does not guarantee lifelong support and it did not suddenly make the world a more autism friendly place but…
The changes it did bring were momentous because it clarified, it redefined, it empowered. For her, she realised that she is not alone, she is not odd, weird, from outer space (all the things she has said), she is one of many fabulous girls who just happen to be autistic. She now knows that there are other people who feel the same way she does, who feel very, very different from their peers, those for whom the world can be a bewildering place but do you know what, that’s ok. Girls who don’t fit the norm, who sometimes struggle, but whose talents are just as important and their future just as bright (as long as the correct support is in place). By being empowered, she knows that asking for help is not a weakness, being creative in her approach to homework is allowable, asking to get in to a theatre early to avoid the crowds is possible and feeling nervous about the tiniest little thing is natural. Her feeling are valuable and valid, her routines serve a purpose and that having a 120 bounces on the trampoline before bed because you feel a bit wobbly is absolutely fine.
For us, as her parents, that report changed everything with regards to our determination, understanding of autism and our daughter’s happy future. As our daughter is only 9, we are her champions and that report acted as a set of wings, we now knew what was happening for our daughter and that meant we could help, we were no longer powerless but powerful, we were standing on the end of a cliff but now the view is no longer scary. The view is stunning, lush and green and full of potential. Those wings will help us fly.
Her “diagnosis” emboldened us, strengthened our reserve and let the inner bolshiness come out. My focus has narrowed, my intent more specific, the things that matter actually really matter. I’m no longer sweating the small stuff, there are no Jones’ to keep up with, I am doing what I need to do for my little superhero and that is just fine by me.
So, are we happy with pressed ahead with a ‘diagnosis’? Put simply, yes.