Autism diagnosis: She is not only that
A mother shares honestly about what the process of her daughter's autism diagnosis was like, and how her beautiful, kind, smart daughter is still so much more than the label.
By Shae Reynolds |freerangeinsuburbia.com
We are going down the diagnostics route again. Different kid, same predicted outcome. Same feelings of exhaustion and like I’m somehow breaching my child’s trust by bringing in a bunch of people who don’t really know her at all. But they do know a lot about autism, specifically in girls.
They ask questions and look for red flags. They want me to go over her anxiety, talk about how extremely cautious she was as a toddler and how she screamed and screamed if anyone different picked her up. We discuss her inability to organise herself and follow simple instructions, how she won’t wear certain clothes because of how they feel or because she is genuinely upset by looking “ordinary”.
We speak about how she absolutely adores her friends and wants to fit in, despite it causing her so much stress and confusion, and how someone simply moving houses in Minecraft can trigger weeks of weeping and insomnia. I fill out forms, answer questions, tick boxes, fork out money.
I feel guilt.
Immense guilt I rationally know I should not burden myself with. How did I think that her behaviour was neurotypical for so long? I feel as ignorant as every other person who has said: “but she has lots of friends!”. I know that realistically my idea of what is neurotypical is very skewed, as two out of my three kids are not. That, and letting kids be who they are by not forcing extroversion or expecting them to be like me, has meant I have just assumed that most kids are like mine, and accepted their differences.
The process is exhausting.
The talking, almost exclusively, about her difficulties and differences is exhausting. Diagnostics puts its finger right on the sore spot. And then presses harder. I come out of each appointment feeling tired and weepy. It is so hard.
She is so much more...
One of the reasons this part hurts so much is because she is not only that. My awesome kiddo is more than her difficulties and quirks and sensory profile. She is more than her IQ and any check box rated from almost always to never.
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We often go out for a cupcake and chai after these appointments. She will ramble on about Katniss Everdeen, what cat videos are making her laugh on YouTube, and what is happening in her Minecraft realm. I love to be around her, so do her friends and the adults in her life. I know I’m not the only person who would describe her as one of the kindest people I know. She is passionate and creative and… I could go on and on.
She will almost certainly walk away from this month with an ASD label, but she is not only that.
She is so much more.
This post was originally featured on freerangeinsuburbia.com and has been republished here with permission.
Do you have a child with an ASD label? How did you process their diagnosis? Feel free to share in the comments below.
Shae is an awesome Mum to three neurodiverse, always home educated girls. When she’s not brewing kombucha or weeding her veggie patch, she’s driving the kids to dance class or listening to true crime podcasts. You can read more of her blog here.