by Leslie Speer, Ph.D. NCSP, BCBA
Program Director, Autism Spectrum Evaluation Team (A.S.E.T)
Cleveland Clinic, Center for Autism
1) I know this is a scary process.
I know you are scared. I know how worried you are about your child. I know someone said they think your child might have autism and you have thought of little else since then. I know you are now watching everything your child does, analyzing every sound and movement. I know you have dreams for your child. I know you love your child and want nothing more than to get answers and to understand how best to help your child.
2) I see your child.
When you are in my office, I see your child. I see their smile, the way they communicate with you, their favorite toy. I see how they delight in how the light comes through my window and how they are fascinated by the movement of the wheels on the toy cars. I see their strengths. I also their areas of need. I see how remarkable and unique they are.
3) I see you.
When you are in my office, I see you. I see the scared parent sitting in front of me. I know how important it is to you that I see how extraordinary your child is, that I see all the wonderful things they can do, not just the things they cannot do. I know how important it is to you that I hear your concerns and that I understand your child. I see you, your child’s greatest advocate, their voice.
4) You are not alone.
I am so glad you came to see me. Because you are not alone. We are a team. We are going to work together to understand your child’s strengths and needs. We are going to develop a plan together. You have been feeling so worried and stuck. No more. You are embarking on a journey where you will meet so many incredible providers who will touch your life in ways you cannot imagine. They will celebrate every small step and triumph, as well as listen and cry with you during the hard times. You are not alone.
5) You are going to be OK.
I know it does not seem like it right now, but you are going to be OK. You are stronger than you know and you have the greatest motivator in the world, a child. A child who needs you. You are your child’s biggest fan, cheerleader, and advocate. You will find more strength and determination than you ever thought you had. You will find a new normal. A new way of life. One that is full of challenges and uncertainty, but also full of great joy. Joy found in your child’s progress as they begin down their own path, finding their own way in this world with you as their guide.