As we wrap up April’s Autism Acceptance Month, it’s been so heartening this year to see businesses and our government show solidarity and launch numerous initiatives that support neurodiverse kids.
Movie theaters now have “sensory friendly showings.” The Utah Jazz took efforts to make their arena certified by KultureCity, making the stadium more accommodating for fans with sensory needs. President Biden signed a proclamation calling April 2, 2021 as World Autism Acceptance Day.
These are all worthy efforts and initiatives. But I’m also aware that for many parents, this April could be the first time they are recognizing Autism Acceptance Month, or the first time it’s been on their radar. Maybe they just received a diagnosis and are feeling overwhelmed. As great as these initiatives are, the parents of neurodiverse kids may need something simpler: connection, guidance, and empathy from other parents who know their situation.
Six years ago, my oldest son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). A few years later, my younger son was diagnosed with ADHD. My husband and I have learned a lot about neurodiversity in a few short years. We’ve grown together and with our two sons. We can honestly say that we wouldn’t change a thing about our family. But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy, either.
That’s why we wanted to celebrate this month by sharing a few things with others in similar circumstances. We wanted to share some guidance we wish we knew when we started our journey as neurodiverse parents.
A learning difference diagnosis is NOT the end of the world.
My husband and I were worried upon learning about our oldest son’s ASD diagnosis. These worries were compounded by the long waitlists for remediation resources. We were both unfamiliar with the diagnosis and were anxious that we were not doing enough. We didn’t know if we were making the right moves. It felt extremely isolating to not know what to do or who to turn to. We did as much research as we could, but we also took tangible action, getting our son into therapy.