Oh, the irony of feeling guilty for a late diagnosis, as if navigating the quagmire of our gloriously inept system wasn’t an absolute nightmare right? Let’s get something straight: if you ever left the toilet seat up, abandoned a puppy you no longer wanted or ate your wife’s last Oreo, sure, indulge in a bit of guilt. All three of those things are really high on my cancel culture list. But for your child’s late diagnosis? Please, give yourself a break.

It’s a sad truth that we’re marooned in a society that doesn’t exactly roll out the red carpet for neurodivergent kids. Finding accessible, free information and support for children on the autism spectrum is like searching for a needle in a haystack. And let’s not even get started on (SOME) pediatricians and educators who still seem to be thumbing through outdated manuals on understanding neurodivergent minds.

Our societal blueprint is crafted around this narrow idea of intellect, conveniently ignoring the rich tapestry of diverse brains. So, let’s cut to the chase: it’s not your fault. You didn’t design this labyrinthine system, but you sure are navigating it. Also, we’re steeped in a neurotypical society, brimming with stereotypes and misconceptions about neurodivergent individuals.

As an educator, I’ve seen the guilt trip parents/caregivers take time and again – whether it’s about a late diagnosis or just coming to terms with their child being on the autism spectrum. We’re in this individualistic society that loves to place the weight of the world on parents’ shoulders. But here’s a newsflash: parents often do everything right. They listen to their instincts, make those doctor’s appointments, talk to teachers – and still end up being misled. Pediatricians might brush off concerns with a “that’s normal,” and teachers might misinterpret a child’s needs, chalking it up to ‘undesired behavior’ rather than viewing said undesired behavior as a symptom of something more deeply rooted, also often flatting conversation related to accommodations. 

If your child received a late diagnosis, let’s be clear: you’re more of a casualty of a system that struggles to acknowledge neurodivergence, than a perpetrator of neglect. This system often blindsides parents’ intuition and does a pretty bang up job of educating society about neurodivergence in a way that’s actually humane.

So, drop the guilt. If you really need to replace it with something, try this on for size: You’re doing your best in a system that’s often doing its worst. Your awareness and advocacy for your child in the face of such a system? That’s nothing short of heroic.

Please allow me to leave you with this poem..

After you heard the news, in that moment so profound,

Following the meeting, the call, or the appointment’s sound,

Did you seek out a mirror, a reflection of your soul?

Did you look at yourself, now playing a different role?

When you learned your child was brilliant, in their own special way,

Did you draw a deep, long breath and to yourself say,

“I am grateful for my child, with a child so rare, so precious and so fine,

This remarkable, special child, forever and always mine.”

And looking deep into your eyes, with resolve so bright,

Did you vow with all your heart, with all your strength and might,

“To stand by you, my dearest child, through every high and low,

Together, we’ll face the world, and together we will grow.

Love always,

Sensational Inclusion