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3 Emotional States that Autism Parents Go Through

[fa icon="calendar"] Jan 25, 2019 8:49:01 PM / by Jasmine Goh

Our emotional state is often a huge influence on our actions.

Receiving a diagnosis is not easy. If your child has just been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you may probably be feeling overwhelmed. Even if you have had your suspicions for a while and are relieved that you finally have a name and reason for your child’s behavior, it is still an emotional situation that can cause different people to respond in extremely different ways.

Our emotional state is often a huge influence on our actions. It is important to identify and acknowledge these feelings so that you can work through them. With that, you can make the best decisions on your journey to raise your child.

1. Denial

Many parents struggle with acceptance from the start. Some go into a form of denial where they reject the diagnosis and refuse intervention. Another form of denial is to believe that autism is an ailment that can be cured with the right treatment.

Some people take years to overcome it. You may initially find yourself in a state of denial, as it can be very difficult to come to terms with the fact that your child is not developing at the expected pace of a typical child.

To help yourself through the stage of denial, you can schedule a meeting with the healthcare professionals or attend a workshop on the subject of autism. Learning more about autism will help you to understand the need for an intervention program.

2. Shame

For some parents, feelings of shame and embarrassment are also experienced. In certain cultures, Asian in particular, a disability in the family is perceived to bring shame to the family and is often hushed up.

A similar but more subtle experience is feeling embarrassed. For example, some parents are embarrassed by the stares of passers-by when the behavior of their child attracts unwanted attention in public. In other cases, parents who hold powerful positions or have authority in the workplace experience feelings of incompetency when it comes to their child.

To help yourself through the stage of denial, you can schedule a meeting with the healthcare professionals or attend a workshop on the subject of autism. Learning more about autism will help you to understand the need for an intervention program.

Grief sometimes goes undetected because it does not present itself openly.

3. Grief

Perhaps most prevalent of all the emotions that you may go through, grief sometimes goes undetected because it does not present itself openly.

You may have had high hopes for your child and those dreams are now shattered. Not only that, you have to make adjustments to your lifestyle and cope with challenges. In the book Rainbow Dreams, social worker Veronica Lim-Lowe from Rainbow Centre describes this grief like “the sudden loss of a loved one”.

Loss is very personal. Your partner’s grief may be very different from your own. Grief doesn’t mean you don’t or won’t love your child.

The time taken to come to terms with the fact that your child has autism differs from person to person. While parents eventually move into acceptance of their child’s autism diagnosis, the journey continues to be full of ups and downs. It is natural to experience occasional bouts of disappointment, embarrassment, and resentment. You may even feel a deep sense of grief at various stages of your parenting journey, especially at development milestones and periods of your child’s transition from childhood, adolescence, and to adulthood.


This article was adapted from the book My Unique Child: A Practical Guide to Raising A Child with Autism by Jasmine Goh. The book is available for purchase on www.ouruniquestories.com and authorised retailers.

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Topics: Caring For Your Children

Jasmine Goh

Written by Jasmine Goh

Jasmine Goh is a writer and educator. She is also the author of the book My Unique Child: A Practical Guide to Raising A Child with Autism, released in August 2018. In the past decade, Jasmine has written for education publications, magazines, and various digital media outlets. She has taught in both mainstream and special education settings, in various capacities of teacher, trainer, and volunteer, and sees integrated classrooms as the future of education.