As we have moved forward in Little Guy's evaluation for autism I have begun to make peace with the likely diagnosis. I have begun to talk to more of the people in our lives about it, to "break the news" if you will. Most of the reactions have been full of love and support with people offering words meant to uplift. Despite these best intentions few people actually hit their mark, and it has occurred to me that in this somewhat difficult situation it is perhaps unusually difficult to know what to say. So I offer up here what worked and didn't work, in the faint hope that it might be helpful to someone else.
#1 - Denial. "I don't see it. I think he's just ____" In one way it is sweet of people to not want to see that there's a problem. But having to (repeatedly) deliver an argument with supporting evidence is annoying.
#2 - Only one thing was worse than those that denied - those who too readily accepted . "So that's what's going on with him". It's a fine line. Or I'm a prickly person. Or both.
#3 - "There is no better mother/family to deal with this". Thanks for the compliment, for the sweet sentiment. But the fact that I have a background dealing with special needs children or that my husband and I are good parents does not by any means provide good grounds for the fates to send our family this challenge.
#4 - "That's great! [that he's being diagnosed]. I prefer to focus less on the label and think of it more in terms of identifying areas that need to be addressed." Delivered by his speech therapist, this is the gold star winner for me by a land slide. Maybe it's odd that I feel that way, since it tries the least to be comforting. Perhaps that is part of its strength - it doesn't try too hard. It's simple, it's logical and it implies hope. It says "Forget the word autism. This is just about helping your child". Bravo.
#5 - "There are worse things for a child to have." Thumbs up for this one, too. One morning around Valentine's Day I sat in the car crying after witnessing part of Little Guys morning at preschool. Then I started listening to my radio station, which happened to be doing a fundraiser supporting children with cancer. I listened to horrible heart wrenching story after horrible heart wrenching story, and even though tears continued to stream down my face it was very, very, good for me.
My Little Guy is wonderful and means the world to me and I am lucky for every day that I get to spend with him. When you can remember that the rest loses significance.