How did you cope with the diagnosis in the early days? Was it easy for you to accept or did you enter a state of denial? What did you do (if anything) to take care of yourself during that time?
For those of you who don't have a diagnosis yet but pretty much know your child is on the spectrum, how do you cope with being in limbo? What positive things help you? What definitely does not help?
I was surprised how readily I accepted the diagnosis--once I knew what PDD-NOS was. We knew something was different about Jack anyway, but all I knew about autism came from the movie Rain Man and a few news shows on savants. It took some research and reading to get to a general level of understanding, and that process didn't take very long at all. I did very little crying, I think because I'm generally an optimist and felt like it would all turn out well in the end.
What took longer was orienting myself to all the details...figuring out how I felt about various therapies, figuring out what therapies we were and were not willing to try, and trying to get a feel for Jack's particular progress. All that took time, attention, and the helpful advice of a good developmental pediatrician. I also had some wonderful friends who listened and supported me. One, a special education coordinator in a neighboring school district, was particularly helpful when it came to navigating the school's red tape and understanding the educational implications of autism for Jack's future.
As for taking care of myself, I made sure I did my hobby (papercrafting) at least several times a week. We had a good babysitter, and I made use of her during the day when my husband was at work or out of town on business. Those breaks kept me sane and prevented me from losing myself completely in this new world of the autism community. Whenever I felt myself getting obsessed with autism, I would go on a news black-out...quit reading all the books, quit surfing websites, quit talking so much about it. After a while, I'd jump back in feeling eager to start reading again.