P2P Coordinator Cathy Murahashi Interviewed on msn.com
Published Aug. 24, 2012
An Emotional Response
The period immediately following a child's diagnosis is an emotional one for parents. Many wonder if they will ever live a "normal" life again, or - in extreme cases - even be happy again.
"When a person gets a new diagnosis or suspected diagnosis, it's pretty overwhelming," says Cathy Murahashi, Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator for the Parent to Parent Program at The Arc of King County. "(Parents) go through those various stages of what we call grief. You still have a child there, but it's not what you expected. You're going from being angry to being sad to some levels of denial in some cases - a plethora of feelings."
The emotional impact can be compounded by feelings of guilt for having those feelings, Murahashi says. "We try to tell parents, 'Whatever you're feeling, don't be surprised. It's okay to have those feelings.'"
Parents should begin to build a support system as soon as possible to maintain their own mental, emotional and physical health. Family and friends will form a natural foundation for many people. Murahashi recommends seeking out other parents of special needs children as well.
"Get to know other parents with kids who have a similar diagnosis," she says. "They are going to be the people who really know what's going on. There's nothing better than talking to someone and they say, 'Oh, I get it,' or 'I've been through that before.'"
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