Navigating Your Child's Disability Diagnosis
Having a child diagnosed with a disability can be overwhelming. The range of emotions that accompany a diagnosis can range from deep depression to intense anger, with variations of other feelings in between. The next several blog posts will be devoted to discussing various stages of a disability diagnosis.
The transition phase is the period when parents begin to come to terms with their child's diagnosis. You, as a parent, may still experience feelings of depression, anger or resentment as in the initial phase, but now may be the time in which you are pushed into action. Many parents take on the role of advocate or they may become immensely protective of their child. You will likely want to gather and absorb as much information about your child's disability as possible to the point that you become overwhelmed with information overload. It may be a good idea to join a support group or meet with an advocate who can give you some guidance. Stress can come in some many shapes and forms and you certainly don't want to find yourself dealing with anything that is going to hamper your ability to work towards the best interest of your child.
During the transition period, as parents you may begin to develop separate ideas about the direction that you should take in regards to meeting your child's needs. One of you may be lingering in the initial phase while the other has began easing into transition. It is critical that each of you acknowledges the other's present state and not allow your differences in opinion drive a wedge between you. The divorce rate among parents of children with disabilities has been suggested by some research to be above 50%, which makes it even more necessary for you, as a couple, to maintain some level of stability even in your state of disagreement. It may be a good idea to seek counseling to resolve some of your issues and have a neutral party help you work through those key areas in which you differ. The bottom line is that you want what's best for your child and that should be the commonality that creates a bond between the two of you.
Like other phases before and after a child's diagnosis, transition can last for an indefinite period depending on your ability to cope and stabilize your emotions. Some people experience multiple phases at once...for instance, a parent may be in the transition phase and take on an advocate role but still be in the initial phase, where they are in denial about the true nature or severity of their child's disability. It cannot be emphasized enough the importance of a support system. If you do not have friends or relatives who can give you the level of encouragement that you need, contact a local agency like Easter Seals or the Autism Society to get information about parent support groups in your area.