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When Your Child Receives A Diagnosis

I thought I was ready.

I’d read every book, blog and website I could get my hands on. I’d talked with two child psychiatrists, a nutritionist, an occupational therapist, the occupational therapist’s boss, a total quack doctor who asked for my credit card in her phone consultation, and a family counselor. All said it would likely be the same thing.

I still wasn’t ready.

After three full days of various tests and evaluations, I was sitting on the very sweet and professional developmental pediatrician’s couch, knowing that this was it – we would finally have a definitive answer.

When she said high functioning autism, I wasn’t surprised at all.

But I still wasn’t ready for it. The label. The finality of it.

It felt a little like the room was spinning for a moment. I could feel my heart beating. I kept thinking, Get it together. She is going to start telling you about what you need to do, where you need to go, who you need to contact for help.

The actual couch at our doctor's office. Bland but comfy.
The actual couch at our doctor’s office. Bland but comfy.

Fast forward six months and I am sitting on another couch.

This time, he says learning disability and processing disorder, in the most careful and kind manner.

I thought it would be easier somehow, the second time around. I was so wrong. Apparently you don’t suddenly become the mom that can get the diagnosis, toss your hair over your shoulder, and calmly move on.

No, the second time around was worse. It was awful. It felt like nothing was safe, right, good, or even hopeful. The second time, it wasn’t just about what the neuro-psychologist was saying. It was about the crushing responsibility that both my babies!!! both my boys!!! would need me to figure all of this out. And I knew sitting there on that couch that I wasn’t even remotely equipped.

Looking back, I wasn’t wrong. It is a crushing responsibility sometimes, and I know for sure that I am not remotely equipped for any of this.

I am not, but God has shown me over and over and over again that He is. He is more capable, more qualified, and more of an expert on these boys than I, or anyone else can hope to be.

He has also lovingly reminded me that these labels don’t mean anything more than all the other ones that had been pinned to my children prior to this.








Spoiled (I said it twice… it came up a lot)

The beauty is that finally knowing has been helpful.

It has been encouraging, instructive and explanatory. Both of my boys are relieved to know what’s really going on in their brains instead of always blaming themselves. I am relieved to know what’s really going on in their brains instead of always blaming myself. God graced us with exceptional doctors who gave us labels that allowed understanding and action.

It still amazes me. We serve a God who can take something like these labels, labels that I feared and avoided for way too long, labels that are still hard for certain people in our lives to accept, labels that cause political and educational battles, labels that can divide communities – we serve a God that can take these labels, and make them a gift.

It is the very definition of redemption.

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You see, no matter what, my boys are so much more than their diagnoses. My motherhood is so much more than caring for their unique needs.

We are more than autism, dyslexia, chronic illness and special education.

We are us. Fearfully and wonderfully made. Working out this life one day at a time.


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  1. Shawna,
    As I read your words this morning, I thank God that He convicted you to write about this journey that so many of us are traveling on. You express so gracefully many of my own feelings. I am indebted to you for giving support to so many moms (and dads). I pray that God will continue to bless you with the ability to find the words to express what so many of us feel in our day to day lives.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Donna. It is such an honor to be used by God in this way. I appreciate your sharing!

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