“How do I support a friend who’s just learned their child is special needs?”
Hi Is this normal,
My loved one just learned of a diagnosis for their child – how can I support and what is the right/wrong thing to do here?
Don’t say “I’m so sorry.” Don’t say, “My friend’s kid had it and he did a special diet and is cured!” And don’t grill your friend with 1000 questions right away. Everyone is different when it comes to sharing their child’s diagnosis. Some feel immediately confident and open about all of the details, others need time to process. But I think it’s safe to say if a friend comes to you to share that their child has received an autism diagnosis, they still have a ton of questions and unknowns in their own mind. They want to feel supported and heard. I would stick with something along the lines of, “This must be difficult for you. Is there anything I can do?” There is no one size fits all because everyone’s needs are different. Some things you can offer that might be universally helpful-offer to bring your child over to play. It can be so isolating to have a child with autism and parents often worry other kids won’t want to play because their child has delays or plays differently. Offer to babysit/occupy other children if they need to go to a therapist/specialist appointment. Just say, “I am here for you and want to hear as much or as little as you want to tell me. I will laugh with you or cry with you and be whatever you need me to be.