This guest post is from Autism Speaks Staffer Ali Dyer.
Marci Ingram is one of those ‘warrior moms’ that advocates day in and out for not only her son Chris, but all people affected by autism. She lives with a ‘pay it forward’ outlook on life, and a big part of that philosophy is talking with families to let them know they are not alone, but to also help steer them down a path that will give their child a full and productive life.
When Chris was first diagnosed, they were advised not to share because people may have different expectations for him. Sure he has autism, but he will be ‘OK.’ That attitude got her to thinking about the moms that have such a bleak outlook on the future, believing their children won’t have the chance to live the same life their peers will.
Here are Marci’s tips for families with an autism diagnosis:
1. Don’t talk to people who have already given up. It is not helpful to hear and it will drain you of energy.
2. You are your child’s best advocate. You know your child better than their teacher, physician, or even well-meaning family and friends. Join the warrior moms!
3. Make sure that you are working with professionals that you can trust have your child’s best interest as their top priority. School systems and insurance carriers may want your child to fit into their set of rules. Do what is best for your child!
4. NEVER underestimate your child! They have the ability to supersede everyone’s expectations.
5. Find a parent mentor within your school district who has a child that is older than yours. Learn from their experience, both wins and losses, and ask for teacher recommendations.
6. Join an Autism Speaks Chapter or local group of parents that will become your support system. In my case they became friends that almost seem like family!
7. It isn’t always easy, but accept others help and advice. As your child gets older, reach back to people that are just starting their journey. I like to say, ‘Don’t pay back, pay it forward.’