How to Grieve Missed Milestones

by Autism Spectrum Directory, All Rights Reserved.

I came across a post by Emily Coleman where she described how grief not only came after a diagnosis of a disability for her child, but also came after each missed milestone. This grief is hard to share with friends and family who have a typical developing child because there is not the understanding that is needed that the missed milestones can bring not only sadness, but also fear and anxiety about a future for your child that in your mind, your hopes and dreams had planned out so well for them.

When you compare how person on the autism spectrum learns versus how a neurotypical person learns, the neurotypical person will learn by observation and imitation of the skill as a whole whereas a person with ASD learns a skill by breaking down the skill into many tasks, learning those tasks individually, then bringing those tasks back together in the order of how the process of the skill is to be done. Although this will not guarantee that the feelings and emotions of grief will not surface in your heart and mind every so often, working through the grief of these missed milestones can be achieved by changing your perspective and focusing on the successes of individual tasks within the skill learning that are accomplished instead of whether or not the whole skill is learned by a certain time frame.

”Most often we think of grieving as the actual death of someone, but we can actually grieve a great many things. Through brainstorming at school, different types of grief were mentioned including grieving a lost job, lost marriage, lost friendship, and even lost dreams.

As a parent of Eddie, that last one “lost dreams” is something that I have to realize and work through on occasion. When we were pregnant with Eddie we had a lot of hopes and dreams for our son and envisioned a future that we didn’t know would not come. At least, not exactly as we dreamed. This hasn’t been a grieving process that I went through once and now I’m healed. Many times I am thrown back into the realization that our life with Eddie is not “typical.” That doesn’t mean it is worse, but that it is much different.

Large milestones that are missed tend to bring about the hardest times for me. I grieved when he was 1 1/2 and still not walking, I grieved when he turned 3 and still didn’t talk, and most recently I grieved when school started this year and he didn’t go to kindergarten with all the other 5 year olds. Children who I watched stretch their Mom’s tummy’s while Eddie stretched mine walked into that school and I witnessed it because I was taking my 1st grader to school. This was extremely hard and still brings tears at the memory. A prime example of grieving the future that never came, even when I thought that was behind me.

As a note to parents like me, these days are few and far between. I don’t always miss those “lost dreams” but now have found new dreams for Eddie. So much focus is placed on bigger milestones for typically developing children, but the small steps are important, too. Many times celebrating the successes of small steps is what keeps us moving forward instead of “grieving” the larger ones.” Emily Coleman

Related Articles:

Complete List of All Articles on Autism Spectrum Directory

Steps in How to Learn a Skill with ASD

Reduce Stress by Changing Perspectives


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