My dd1 was also diagnosed to be ASD when she was about 3yo. It turned dh and my world outside down. Life was never the same after that. I can still recall the anguish and turmoil that we went thru. And yet, the diagnosis helped to explain the many "mysteries" surrounding her behaviour.
The positive thing is that, in discovering early, you can start your child on early intervention. This is very important as it will help her and your family cope with AS much more effectively
Remember this: YOU are NOT to be blamed. No one is. It is NOT your fault. It is NOT what you ate during pregnancy. It is NOT what you did in the past. It is just how things are.
But, the need to pin point a reason to the cause of autism is always there. There are many "whys?" and we constantly look for the "because". Still, the last thing you should do is to blame yourself.
Both your and your dh are probably going thru the grieving process. There’s the shock of discovering the news, denial, the anger and evenutally acceptance. It’s getting to the "acceptance" part that may take a while. It took me a l-o-n-g while to get there too.
Sometimes, you may find that the husband has "clammed up". It may be his way of coping with the roller coaster of emotions that he is going thru as well. He’s probably just as confused, worried and at a loss as you are. Give him the space if need be, but at some point, both of you need to communicate and depend on each other for support.
Will it affect and change the marriage? Yes it will. When a family finds out that a child has ASD, it changes the dynamics of things. But both of u need to be strong for each other. There will be a lot of ups and downs but both must remember that the child is innocent and he/she needs the support of both parents to overcome the challenges.
It was very tough for both dh and myself in the early years (actually sometimes now also tough) but at the end of the day, we remain committed to help and love dd.
So, back to the question on did it affect and change my marriage? Yes it did. It helped to strengthen our marriage and our love for each other and our kids. The thing is that there must be open communication between both husband and wife. Neither you nor your dh should be shouldering the burden and frustrations alone.
How do I know it will get better? DD1 is 13yo now and is in mainstream school. She is a delightful girl. Very helpful, kind and friendly. She still has language and social skills issues but we are hopeful that with time, she will overcome those challenges. *Pray*
We have friends whose kids are AS too. In the early years, it was very tough for all of us. Now, they are all in mainstream schools.
On finding a support group for your child and yourself Where possible, it may be good to start a friendship class for your dd. This will help build her social skills and have a group of friends to grow up and play with. It’s good for the parents too as it becomes a support group for the adults. You don’t have to rush to organise a group now but it will be helpful for her as she grows older.
On developing your child’s potential The thing is to find the strengths of your AS child. Sometimes, it may be a talent, a gifted ability and/or a character strength. Expose your child as much as possible and when you notice her interest, develop her strengths. This will boost her self-esteem as well.
DD1 has an interest in art and photography, so dh and myself constantly encourage her to pursue her interests. Recently, she represented her school in photography and video competitions. She didn’t win but we are still very proud of her achievements and how far she has come along. While she may not express well in words, she expresses herself thru her visual arts.
On managing your resources It seems as if there’s much to be done – in terms of early intervention measures: speech/language therapy, OT, diet, behavioural etc
The thing is: there’s only so much one can do – in terms of our resources like time and $$. Just do what you can first, within your limits. One thing one step at a time. There’s a time and place for everything.
Know that in this journey of helping our children with AS, there will be the good and bad days. Each day, we work towards the light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes, it may seem as if the light is fading. But whatever you do, don’t give up and don’t lose heart. The light will grow brighter again. Continue to perserve and then one day, we pray, we will journey out of the darkness of autism into a bright new world.