We waited a long time to label Mason with an official diagnosis. He never fit into one box of criteria and was eligible for services without a label so I didn’t see the benefit. On day four of third grade we started getting phone calls about Mason’s behavior. I pushed for changes to his behavior intervention plan, I went in for countless meetings, I researched supports that may help and I tried so hard to understand what was going on at school that was causing him to have these explosive meltdowns. He has always struggled to control his emotions’, this wasn’t new, but they became so frequent and suddenly he was defiant and borderline aggressive. It felt like the right time for diagnosis. Maybe if there was a label, we could support him better. Maybe if this “thing” had a name, we could fix it. Isn’t that just how all moms think? I mean it’s in the job description, mom’s fix things. With nine years of dealing with the symptoms, giving it a name wont make it go away. I had to step back and realize that the diagnosis will drive the supports, but I can’t fix it. And that’s OK.
After dealing with the anxiety, the sensory sensitivity, the lack of understanding in social situations, the meltdowns for so long… giving it a name was strange. I always had an idea of what it would be called, but he was just Mason. The label didn’t change that. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to a name. I was looking forward to being able to explain to friends and family (and nosey strangers) that he wasn’t behaving badly he was having a hard time. What I didn’t consider was how to tell your child ‘hey by the way you have Autism?’ I talked to a lot of parents asking that question, how do I tell him? Most of them had received a diagnosis when the child was young so there was no need for a conversation about it. I talked to adults with Autism and ADHD who didn’t know as kids and they begged me to tell him. Its not a secret and he shouldn’t be ashamed. Most importantly though, he shouldn’t feel alone. There is nothing wrong with him. So I went to google. I typed in “books on how to discuss diagnosis with your child,” and nothing popped up. OK, maybe another special needs mama penned a blog about how to tell him. I googled again. Frankly, I googled a lot. I wanted a step by step guide. I have no idea what I’m doing! This isn’t in the parenting manual. There just wasn’t anything out there like what I needed. So I made an appointment at his psychiatrist. Surely, he will be able to help me on this. Um no. Mason is always on edge there, so the appointment consisted of Mason hanging off the edge of the couch upside down with his hands in his ears, refusing to listen. The doctor was nice enough about it, but didn’t really share my sentiment on explaining to Mason why he behaves the way he does or why things are harder for him than his peers. He felt like it wasn’t important. I felt like he was wrong. We decided to leave. I was so disappointed. It feels like I’m keeping a secret and I don’t want him to overhear conversation from someone else. I had so much hope built up for this appointment and now I didn’t know how to proceed.
Mason and I have spent countless nights with him crying, me holding back tears, as he begs me to make him normal. He knows he’s different. He doesn’t understand why he doesn’t get invited. He hates the way his body reacts and explodes. He tells me he doesn’t know why he’s the only one with anger problems. My heart breaks every time I have to assure him there is nothing wrong with him but his brain works differently than some other people. I tell him he isn’t alone, but he feels alone.
So on the way home it occurred to me, I can do this. I know silly right? But I just felt so lost and overwhelmed and unsure of how to explain this. The truth is I am his mother and I know him better than any other person possibly ever could. We had the talk one on one while we were putting away dishes. No pressure, no doctors office. We ended the conversation by him saying “can I go play fortnite now?” Just like that, it wasn’t a big deal. it was just a normal conversation. I made it a huge deal in my head and I know other moms do too.
I came up with a list of how-to’s so that if anyone else feels lost like me, they can google and find a mom blog with step by step advice to empower their children and help them know, they aren’t alone and neither are their kids.
- Breathe, mama. If you’re like me, you don’t think you’ll find the words and you’ll expect the worst. Remember, you know him best, just talk to him. Roll on your stress away and take a deep breath. YOU’VE GOT THIS.
- Play up his strengths. Autism, ADHD, Anxiety. It isn’t all bad. What is he good at? How does that relate to the diagnosis? Mason is a whiz with numbers and he’s an awesome soccer player. Mason did you know that ADHD gives you extra energy? Maybe that’s why you’re so good at soccer.
- Try and Relate. I struggle with anxiety too so it was easy for me to explain to him things that are hard for me, similar to things that are hard for him. Maybe you have a friend or family member or know of a celebrity with the same diagnosis. The point is, find a real life example for him to relate to.
- Do not be ashamed. There is nothing wrong with you, your brain just works different. You are great at math and mommy isn’t. That doesn’t make me stupid or mean there is something wrong with me, we are just both good at different things.
- Ask what they know about the labels. Chances are your kiddo has heard about Autism. If you’re struggling to find the words, ask for their help. Ask them what they know and build off of it. (I use this tactic when they ask me where babies come from too, because goodness knows we are NEVER prepared for that conversation!) Have you ever heard of Autism? What do you think it means? This will help you put things into kid friendly terms because you know what their understanding of the diagnosis is.
- Explain what the plan is to help him. Lots of people lead normal lives with these diagnosis’ but sometimes it takes work. Mason I talked about the trial and error with oils, we discussed the importance of medications and counseling. We have a plan, it may not always be easy but we will get through it together. I also asked him input. Would you rather see a male or female counselor? Do you feel like you want to try valor oil? What coping skills help when you are feeling overwhelmed? Is there something that really frustrates you when this happens?Give him the power! Ask for their help! It doesn’t seem like such a chore when he gets to help choose and it gives them control over how they handle the diagnosis or symptoms.
- Do you have questions? If your kiddo is like mine, he needs a minute to process. Answer questions that he has and reiterate that any time he wants to talk about it you’ll be there. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. You’re just talking.
Want to learn more about how we use essential oils and natural remedies to support the symptoms of Autism, ADHD and Anxiety? Follow me on Instagram and Facebook or shoot me a message to get started learning more. You can get started here at www.myyl.com/justadropwilldo with your premium starter kit. It comes with 12 oils, a diffuser, tons of freebies, access to our learning lounge and ME! I’m here to help you learn to live chemical free. Your family is worth the investment.