Accepting disability

Acceptance Through Adaptation

When you find out your child has been diagnosed with an ID or ASD, your world can turn upside down. You may not know what to say or have feelings of guilt. You may have a million questions and start to fear for the future. You may even have very strong reactions of sadness, anger, or anxiety. All parents go through their own unique experience that depends on a variety of things like your environment, culture, personal history and personality.  When faced with this reality, most parents go through an adaptation process. Even if it seems that life will never be the same again, adapting will help you get through your difficult feelings and regain balance.

According to psychologist Maurice Bhérer,* the adaptation process has five major stages:

  1. Shock
    Shock often happens as soon as you get the diagnosis. Shock can feel like violent emotions, bottled-up feelings, confusion, panic, anxiety and anger.
  2. Denial
    Denial can make some people look for a new or more favourable medical opinion. You may refuse to believe what the doctor says.
  3. Despair
    Despair can occur as depression or distress accompanied by feelings of guilt or sorrow. People who feel despair may become withdrawn, which is why it is important to have a good support network.
  4. Detachment
    During this stage, you gain a better ability to see reality as a whole. You may feel emotions less intensely and then develop a new feeling of attachment.
  5. Adapting through acceptance
    The last stage involves recognizing your child’s potential and limitations. You may feel better able to work with professionals.

To get through this process of adapting and accepting, you need to give yourself time to cope in your own way. Professionals, counsellors and other resources are here to help you get through this difficult period. By accepting your child’s difference, you can find strategies that will let you have a better and more constructive relationship with your child.

*Bhérer, Maurice (1993). La collaboration parents-intervenants: guide d’intervention en réadaptation, Boucherville, Gaëtan Morin, 159 p.

Learning To Live With My Child's Differences

The J'apprends à vivre avec mon enfant différent (Learning to live with my child’s differences) group helps mothers of children aged 0 to 12 with a physical, intellectual or sensory impairment or autism spectrum disorder.  This group format consists of ten weekly meetings to help mothers adapt to their children and better understand the impact of the situation on themselves and their entire families. 

For information: Family-Child-Youth Office, 450-622-5110, extension 63530

Consult the brochure: Démarre le chargement du fichier J'apprends à vivre avec mon enfant différent (Learning to live with my child's differences) (In French only).