How I Found Community After My Son’s Autism Diagnosis
When my youngest son was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2 and a half, it was not a surprise to me. There were enough red flags to alert me that something was atypical with my son’s development that I pressed for a second opinion — even after his pediatrician thought all of my son’s delays were “normal” for his age. Still, getting that diagnosis from the developmental pediatrician that I knew in my heart was coming did not make it any easier to be on the receiving end of the doctor’s words.
My son was already enrolled in speech, developmental, and occupational therapies due to his delays, but I immediately started educating myself more, so that I could also help him the best I could at home in between his therapy sessions. I went out and bought books about autism and “sensory-friendly” items that were recommended for children who were on the autism spectrum.
One other thing I knew I’d need during this time was support from other moms who understood what I was going through. I turned to the first place most do when they are searching for something — the internet — and I found an amazing online community. I connected with other moms whom I could go to with questions, for encouragement, and with whom I could share my joys. I found a group who made me feel like I wasn’t alone, and they didn’t judge me because they understood what I was going through.
Looking back, I can see that seeking out an online community was one of the best things I could have done for myself all those years ago. As time has gone on, and my son has gotten older, I started seeking out adults who had autism to listen to and learn from their unique first-hand perspectives. I’ll always be grateful, though, for that first community I discovered, full of moms who held my hand during some of my hardest parenting years and who helped me learn how to advocate for my son when he couldn’t do so for himself.