When your child is given a diagnosis on the autism spectrum it can feel like the world has come to a screeching halt. It’s hard to know where to start. As overwhelming as it may feel now, there are steps to take and strategies to use to aid in this new journey.
- Don’t Panic. Give yourself time to process your feelings and absorb new information. Taking care of yourself is paramount to helping your child and your family. Don’t blame yourself for your child’s diagnosis. According to Autism Speaks, there isn’t a single factor that causes a child to be on the spectrum. While certain genetics circumstances might increase risk, they aren’t a cause and there is no one to blame.
- Don’t be Afraid to Verify the Diagnosis. According to Dr. Pamela J. Compart, the autism spectrum is so diverse that getting one definitive diagnosis isn’t possible. It’s vital your child be seen by a qualified professional- ideally a doctor who specializes in working with children with autism. A number of different issues can present as autism, so thorough testing key. Once you do see a professional, you’ll be receiving a lot of information that may or may not stick in your mind. If you have questions about your child’s diagnosis or treatment options, you can always contact the doctor.
- Contact a Specialist as Soon as Possible. Many specialists have a long waiting list, which means it can take awhile to get in the office. Don’t wait to put your child on the list. Once through testing, you and the doctor can begin to build a treatment strategy. Now is the time to research and learn as much as you can about the Autism Spectrum, so you’ll be prepared to help your child tackle whatever the future holds.
- Explore a Support Group. A good support group can help you navigate these new waters. You can connect with other parents who can offer guidance and comfort, and meet people in different stages of life facing Autism. The Autism Support Network is a great online resource to help you get started and find the support that works best for you and your family.
- Support Your Child. Remember this might be a scary time for your child too. Make sure they feel loved, supported, and understand there is nothing “wrong” with them. A diagnosis hasn’t changed anything; they’re still the same sweet child you’ve always loved. Remember to celebrate the little victories in life and revel in their uniqueness.
- . Remember Your Entire Family. Your child might have special requirements and need your attention, but don’t forget about the rest of your family. Help your other children understand what is happening with their sibling and spend time together so no one feels neglected. Don’t let a diagnosis derail your family life. Even if you can only manage a small amount of time, it’s important to regularly bond as a family.