Supporting Moms of Autistic Kids
By Guest Blogger Hoonoosh Farzaneh Virgo (CLICK HERE FOR HER BIO (she knows her stuff!))
Your friend, sister, coworker, tribe member, or (insert) any woman in your life just got the diagnosis that their child has received the A (and I mean with a CAPITAL “A”) diagnosis. Yes y’all we are talking about this little kiddo you have been watching (most likely through IG stories) being diagnosed with Autism. So now you are sitting there thinking to yourself “poor mama, my heart is broken for her” yet you don’t want to say that and you’re stuck wondering what to even say to her. How are you going to show up for this woman in an age where we are doing everything to lift each other up, be mindful and total tribaholics (if that isn’t a word it is now)? I’m here to maybe shed some light on this subject to help it not be so tabooed. After all in an age where the CDC estimates 1:59 children are on the spectrum it needs to be discussed.
Depending on your level of closeness to this family, the first thing that you need to understand is that they are going to have a period of complete emotional breakdown. It is a time where everything inside them knew, and yet the diagnosis takes over like a shock, a trauma, and almost a mourning of what they anticipated for their child. That being said, no one and I mean NO one in this situation wants your pity. This brings me to the first big NO NO. DO NOT say “I’m sorry” as if you feel that their child just got a death sentence. What this friend, this brave and lost mama needs is support. Ask her how she is, and I don’t mean “how ya holdin up”, I mean a genuine “How are you feeling”. Tell her you are there for her, you love her and you love the child.
You see, despite groups, IG pages, blogs, and even celebrity endorsements, they are lonely. They feel lost and alone and these are some rough waters they are learning to navigate. This then brings me to my second suggestion which is to offer your support. Don’t assume they don’t want to talk about it, don’t assume they have people that are there for them. BE THE ONE who is there for them. Ask them if they want a cup of coffee, a phone call or an ear to listen to them just vent. Even if they don’t take you up on it right away, there will come a time when they will need to. Which one of us hasn’t needed a person to vent to, with no judgement, no strings, and sometimes not even with advice?
Here is the realness of this; they don’t know what they are looking at. They don’t know how their life is going to change every single day. They don’t yet realize that there will be days where they feel they have nothing left to give, and the following day they will feel their heart so overwhelmed by the love for their child they almost want to explode with pride. What you cannot see from the outside is that this is a warrior you are looking at. This is a woman who is going to move heaven and earth to get any and I mean ANY therapy, book, treatment, vitamin, research, teacher and gadget that might help the progress of their child. Bringing us to the next tip, offer them help NOT ADVICE. They don’t need you to tell them how you had seen a show with a child who “recovered” from their autism by eating a certain way. What they need is for you to offer to watch their kid (if you feel it is with in your ability); invite them to playdates, to the park, to a BBQ. Let them feel that they are not sent into this abyss. Your kids need to learn about different abilities, about children who don’t sound or look or maybe even play like them. What better way to teach your children love and acceptance of all then to have playdates with them?
Educate yourself about Autism. Be proactive with your understanding of the atypical learning that they have. Learn about the different types of Autism, the spectrum it shows up in, and what things you can do to connect with the child. Read books about Autism to your children. Chances are there are students in their class that you may not even know are on the spectrum due to the parent’s keeping it from the population for fear of being ostracized. The book “Andy and His Yellow Frisbee” by Mary Thompson is a great book to read to the kids. But most of all, above all us, is kind and understanding. Autism mamas are some of the strongest women you will ever meet!
Email Noosh at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or find her on Instagram – @autismlotus
Thank you Noosh for this amazing post! If any of you are interested in being a guest blogger like Noosh on hmmhotmessmama.com we would love to hear from you! Send Susan an email at email@example.com. I know you have awesome stuff to share that we can all laugh about and learn from!