having had a baby with complex medical needs and then a diagnosis of an Autistic spectrum disorder, I definately understand how you are feeling now. I am sorry for the shock, but in a strange way not sorry for your situation. Let me explain. I worried so much about my child, had no idea what the future would or could hold and was often exhausted at typical autistic trait outbursts, frustration and literal understanding that usually led to heated issues. I tired of everyone staring in town when there were problems and people tut tutting at various behaviours that we could do nothing about at the time. I would have given anything to change life and to change the frustration and suffering I knew my child felt and the boundaries it put round my other children.
But now? All our goals and hopes to date and beyond have been fulfilled and exceeded, beyond all our dreams. Beyond beyond beyond. My other children have grown into more sensitive and understanding human beings as a result of some of the rocky roads we travelled en route and it helped me to head towards the success I now have in helping people living with dementia..which is now my passion. My 'child' is now a wonderful adult. Vibrant, loving, successful and everyone's friend and confident.
I was told by a country expert in autism, after a very thorough in depth team assesment at age 7, ...'accept, this is as good as it gets, there will be no improvement from here'. I remember hearing those words ringing in my head time and time again. Like an old bell tolling and echoing. After a while, suddenly I thought 'No, it isn't, never, not as long as I have a breath in my body'...and it wasn't, she was so very wrong, she didn't know she was speaking to a very stubborn Mum who is like a dog with a bone. I never pushed, but I helped, I guided, I explained and offered alternatives and choices to every frustration, misunderstanding and upsetting situation. We created strategies for everything, the key word was 'we', I never did it alone, it was shared care and that is now something I promote and train people in with regard to dementia. We have always been able to discuss openly any tricky situations and how to deal with them and the only times I have intervened quietly without discussing it first was if there was a schooling issue..of which there were many due to misinformed, ignorant or negligent teachers. There were also many fabulous teachers..but never let them be the reason why you don't pull up the ones that aren't if you find you have issues too.
So now?! If you were to sit in a room and all my family walked in and introduced themselves, you would have a problem working out who is autistic. We recently celebrated a great achievement and one that was only possible due to the hard work and determination they have always put into all they do.
I am a very proud Mummy but I will never forget all the roads that led me to being where I am now and the pain involved to me and so many I love. I am sorry Autism had to be part of my child's make up, only because its so hard watching your own child struggle but not sorry it was a part of our lives as our lives have been enriched by its presence and my child is everyone's sunshine as a result. And now...only those that we have known since childhood know about the diagnosis, no one knew all the way through college, including tutors and no-one knows now. We aren't ashamed, there's just no need for anyone to know now and whilst we don't accept limitations, unfortunately many would be imposed by others due to stigma and preconceived ideas of what autistic traits can involve.
My advice would be to never 'accept' the supposed limitations, always involve your son in discussions and strategies and celebrate all that he can achieve and ignore all that he can't. By building on his strengths you will increase self confidence and esteem which in turn helps to strengthen any weaknesses he may have too. He will bring untold joy into your life by all his achievements and pride will burst from your seams. He is so special and so are you. Always remember..those that matter don't mind..and those that mind don't matter. It's helped me so much in the early days and proved to be so true.
Sorry for the length of this but your post brought back so many memories and I hope it's been helpful to share them and help give some insight. Hugs to you both, you will be fine. Really, you will.
Look at the child, not the diagnosis. Hes unique and the same son he was the second before the word 'autistic' passed the lips of the person who gave you the diagnosis. He's beautiful inside and out and will always always amaze and surprise you.