DEAR ELIZABETH

For the month of February The Mighty asked its contributors to write a letter to themselves on the day of diagnosis.

Dear Elizabeth,

Well, you were right — it was an Autism spectrum diagnosis.

You know what else you were right about? That everything is going to be ok; that this is the first step on a path that is going to good places for your son; and that the struggles he has experienced were neither your fault nor his.

The lightness you feel? That is the weight of guilt and worry off of your shoulders.

There is more, too. Once you and Autism Dad figure out what the Navigator needs, you are going to work as a better team than you ever have.

There will be curve balls. That job you love? You will quit it because you love your son more. Those plans you made? You will put them on hold, or even make new ones, some of them better and more fulfilling ones.

Yes, there will be a sense of loss, but really only that sense of loss that comes with the learning curve of taking on new challenges — losing the feeling that you knew what you were doing and the comfort of the rote.

Honestly, though, how was thinking that you knew what you were doing really working for you? Not so well. With this re-learning, things will work better.

But not perfectly — don’t expect a diagnosis to solve everything. It won’t. There will still be challenges, difficult ones that will last for years.

There will be things that you will have to let go of as you accept who he is.

There will be fights that you will fight for him — and you will find that you will be more able to fight for him than anything you’ve fought for.

You will gain important new perspectives and make friends you have never met. You will broaden your compassion and understanding.

Your life will become rich and full in a way that you never dreamed, much different than you ever imagined.

For now, take it one day at a time. Things will be a little chaotic until you settle into the new reality.

Be kind to Autism Dad, your son, and yourself. Be patient with family who may be confused or dismayed by the diagnosis — they will come around and be very supportive.

You will feel like you need to learn everything at once — do the best you can and follow the school’s lead. They have a lot of knowledge and will guide you as they work with your son.

Because you were right: everything is going to be ok.

Love,

Me

Originally published on Autism Mom February 2016.

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