How did you overcome/deal with your surprise?
For me, the biggest surprise was the lack of a protocol for treatment. When I was dx'd with gastric ulcers, the doctor had a specific protocol to treat them. Ditto with my gall bladder. But for autism, a brain disorder, there was no protocol. I now completely understand why there isn't a protocol in place. Every child with autism is so different that no one therapy or protocol will help all children. Also, some things that we do now as "therapy" for Jack are really normal kid things, like gymnastics and school. I felt like we should be doing something more... I don't know... unusual!
It was left entirely up to me and George to decide what to do, and much of what I read left me more confused than before. The developmental pediatrician and child psychologist gave good guidance, but in those early days, I was really too ignorant to understand much of what they said or why they said it. The big picture did come together as we started doing "stuff," but I felt really lost and directionless at first--a very unhappy feeling.
Appendix C of The Autism Sourcebook helped a bit because it lists all treatments alphabetically and says what aspect of autism each treatment addresses. (The rest of that book totally freaked me out, though!) In retrospect, I really wish I'd read Overcoming Autism then. That book would have been a huge help, and it's my number one recommendation for anyone who's just starting this journey or feeling lost on it. Huge thanks to Karen D. for sharing that one with me!