Yesterday, after months of testing, a child psychologist told me that the son has, in addition to but not related to his autism, a mild to moderate intellectual disability.
My son has a new label.
My son is intellectually disabled.
The psychologist then went on to say that the average child with this diagnosis caps out at about a 6th grade level, intellectually and developmentally. She mentioned assisted living homes for when he is an adult and I had a moment.
I started to cry. I felt like I couldn’t breathe.
Suddenly, my ‘story’ had a plot twist I wasn’t prepared for and I felt myself spiraling…
Negative feelings can come on hard and strong! I pushed them deep down and continued the meeting. I remembered that nothing about my son has changed, only our understanding of him.
But when I got home later, I continued the ‘movie’ in my head; drama, sadness, anxiety, pressure. I fell into an old habit of justifying my own unhappiness in any way that my ego could:
“ANOTHER thing I can’t control in my life! HOW UNFAIR!”
“This child only has ME to rely on-I feel so much pressure! Anyone else I know would crack-I should be allowed to too!”
I was standing in the kitchen, going through all of this in my head, feeling like every other single thing in my life was suddenly a lot scarier or harder to face when it had previously all been covered in glitter and unicorn farts. It was a level 1 panic attack. And suddenly I remembered that I have the ability to change my emotional response.
I’ve been training for this for years.
I took a few deep breaths, wiped my face and started listing the positives.
My son is undeniably fantastic. He is charismatic and charming despite his lack of language, starting ‘conversations’ with anyone who will give him the time of day. He is beautiful and he radiates happiness. Not a week goes by where someone doesn’t approach us to mention how happy we are or how loving. People are unbelievably kind and loving towards us both…
How do you measure awesomeness? Because I’m pretty sure that the ability to find the silver lining in any situation will serve him better then anything I learned in school.
Yesterday, it was “devastating news”. Now it’s the reason the kid will have a tailored school experience to suit him specifically. It means he’ll most likely have a 1-1 support worker to help follow and feed his interests. What kid wouldn’t benefit from that?
I feel incredibly lucky to be Canadian. Our social support systems, though flawed, are amazing. I imagine living somewhere where there is no extra help and I’m instantly filed with gratitude.
This experience has helped me to confirm that practicing an attitude of gratitude will make me happier than justifying my unhappiness.
I am a very happy girl raising a very happy little boy. I endeavour to teach by example; to love himself, to learn what ignites his spirit, to be accepting of others and to unapologetically follow his passions.
No judgements, just love.