Unlike a lot of parents (or so I've read), I greeted Lily's autism diagnosis with a celebration of sorts. Prior to her diagnosis we were flat clueless about what was troubling our little spud. She was a fussy eater. She wasn't walking. She only babbled, didn't actually speak. She had no interest in conventional toys. . . blocks, balls, nuthin'. She would sit on the carpet and endlessly rub her feet against it until the sides of them were blistered. We (my wife and I) had adopted a no stone unturned attitude, visiting geneticists, neurologists, and finally psychologists because our pediatrician was telling us. . . "some kids just develop slower than others" and we just didn't think that was good enough. When she was diagnosed, there was some uncertainty put to rest (oh sure, and some more uncertainty added), some closure to the issue of "what is up with Lily"?
That seems glib and not completely accurate. I've read a lot about the 'grieving' or the might have beens that parents go through when they get the diagnosis. I'm not saying we didn't go through any of that. We soooooo totally did. We just sort of did it before we had an actual diagnosis to point to. To read the above and say "WOOHOO, Autism!!" doesn't accurately summarize it. Perhaps, "Boohoo, something is up with Lily and we can't figure out what it is!!! WOOHOO it's not ten things that we considered that are sooo much worse than Autism!!!!" might MORE accurately summarize it.
Also unlike a lot of parents (or so I've read), the moment we received Lily's diagnosis, help immediately kicked in, in the form of a case worker, early intervention, IEP meetings, etc. Pennsylvania, from what I can gather, is a fantastic State to have an autistic child in. I mean, I'm not saying plan for it, or anything. I'm just saying, the sheer amount of "free" help Lily receives is unreal, and sometimes I wait for the other shoe to drop. . . Medical assistance means free medication, insurance means free TSS and BSC support, IEP process means Lily gets what she needs in mainstream schools here regardless of what they currently have in place. If I didn't already live here, I might consider it in my best interest to move just to get her all the help she can get.
In short, knowing that Lily is on the spectrum means she gets the help she needs, and allows us to tailor our approach with her. And it's been a remarkable bonus that we happen to live in a State as supportive as this one.
Obviously Lily's autism comes with all the heartbreaking issues that you might expect, not feeling welcome in places where Lily is "too loud" for others, not feeling comfortable in others' homes because their belongings aren't Lily proof, worries about bullying, worries about the future.
But Lily is happy, and Lily is loved, and our goal as Lily's parents, just like every parent's goal for his child, is to help her be the best she can be. . . whatever form that might take.