- Posted on 1st April 2014
- in Autism, Early Childhood Intervention, Early Identification
- by Michelle McFarlin
Imagine that you are on a cross-country road trip. You have planned your route exquisitely—first, via the side roads, then the highways, and you even contingency planned a few cut-throughs in case of traffic. You have mapped the rest stops and the overnight stays. You have invited the perfect travel companions with which to caravan, carefully chosen after years of friendship. Like any good traveler, of course, you expect some potholes, some bumpy patches, and maybe even a little traffic, but surely, you think, you and your travel companions will eventually arrive at your destination as planned. After all, you’ve planned it so well and love traveling so much!
To me, parenthood is like a road trip. The timeline of raising our child is the journey, and the destination is the adult we envision our child will one day become. We benchmark our progress on the journey with playgroups, preschools, elementary schools, and on through college. We even envision clubs, soccer and t-ball, ballet and cheer, even sororities and fraternities, and naturally the ultimate careers and spouses for our kids. We have envisioned our journey and our destination from the moment we find out we are expecting… and maybe even before.
A New Direction
Imagine your perfectly planned journey comes to a screeching halt. “Oh no,” you think. “This is more than just traffic.” Just as the rest of your caravan companions breezed through, construction has shut down the highway, the highway you had planned to take for so long! And in front of you, the world has left you as many detours as your eyes can take in. And then, the fog rolls in. And now, you can see nothing. The path ahead is now unclear. You are at the beginning of a different journey than you had planned for. Fear, confusion, panic, loss…you feel alone. You need a new map, a new plan…and how will you know which path to take?
For many families, the moment in which you hear the word “autism” applied to your child, the journey seems to come to a screeching halt. Still reeling from shock, sadness, and confusion, you are expected to make decisions about the new direction in which your family will turn. This is a defining moment. Which path will you take?
I am a speech-language pathologist, I am an autism expert, but most importantly, I am a mother of young children. After years of clinical practice, and now years of motherhood, I have watched this moment happen again and again.
A Guide on Your New Journey
I created White Rock Autism so that I can use my years of experience to help families take their first steps on their autism journey. I want to help you chart your new course, arm you with information about what might await you down different paths. I want you to understand where you are now, and where you can be going. I want to introduce to you my friends, clients, and colleagues who may help you along on your way. Through this blog, I hope to bring you some “travel tips,” both literally and figuratively, things that will make your journey a little easier. And above all else, I want you to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that though your journey may take a different path, it will be every bit as beautiful, every bit as remarkable, and end at just as miraculous a destination… and you won’t do it alone.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
– Robert Frost