When my son was diagnosed with autism, we'd barely had chance to enjoy his early years because we had so many things thrown at us. Joseph was only three when he was diagnosed, and I know some parents wait a long time to hear the news that they had fought for, but that wasn't the case with us. I struggled to come to terms with it.

I worried for a long time what a diagnosis of autism would mean. He wasn't talking, he wasn't toilet trained. I heard so many inspirational stories about autistic people going on to live very successful, independent futures but I couldn't see that for Joseph given how many challenges he faced daily.

I felt that everything I expected to come from being a parent had been snatched away from me, and I was frightened for the future. He’s an only child and I often panicked about what would happen when I am no longer here. I didn't want to talk to anyone about it, felt it was a reflection of something I had done wrong in my pregnancy and I felt guilty for everything that Joseph continued to struggle with. I wanted someone to be honest with me, yet also give me hope.

I quickly realised that Joseph would need me to be strong to be able to overcome his difficulties and encourage his independence skills. I dedicated a great amount of time, trying to understand as much as I could about anything and everything that would potentially help him.

I know some parents feel very differently to how I feel and what I want them to know is it's ok to admit that you're not feeling the same way as everyone else. Some parents are embracing of the diagnosis and some of us take a little longer to get their heads around the fact they're going on a different journey.

(Image courtesy of Jade Charlton)

During this time, I went through a divorce too and a year after, I hit rock bottom. I’ve always been that person who has had ups and downs in their life; don’t we all? But this time it was something so much more. I had tried to be my own version of a superhero. I wanted to work full time, be independent and cope with what autism was throwing at us but I eventually realised that wasn’t possible. I think society (and ourselves) put a great deal of pressure on you to succeed. I felt that by admitting I was struggling would be a sign of failure. I quote it quite often, but I now realise that admitting you need help is a sign of strength. Unfortunately, it took me a while to realise that.

I’m better now at speaking up and asking for help. I couldn’t even admit it to myself let alone publicly in my blogs like I do now, which is how I know how far down this journey I have come. I’m stronger because of what we have been through. I’ve learnt so much and I feel confident enough to challenge what is seen as the norm.

We're six years post diagnosis now and life is very different for us. Joseph does have language and his communication improves every single day. We challenge each other in ways that I never imagined. We have a great deal of love for one another but equally we drive each other up the wall; he is my child after all!

It's ok to be fearful of the future. It's ok to feel overwhelmed by what a diagnosis might mean.

I want to be that person who I so desperately needed after Joseph's diagnosis. The one who despite not being able to predict the future, could tell me it would be, simply ok.

Tina is mum to an eight year-old boy with autism and started blogging about their experiences a year ago as Joseph and his Amazing Spectrum Coat. She tries to be honest about her feelings and experiences, sharing the highs and lows of their journey and the emotional rollercoaster they are on.