The estimation of Autism Spectrum Disorder prevailing worldwide is about 1%. In the United States, 1 in 44 children is diagnosed with Autism. In Singapore, 1 in 150 Children is Autistic. The rates in Hong Kong now sit at 1 in 27 people who are autistic. Added to those facts, the statistics of Autism occurring in a sibling is up to 20%. All these numbers signify that Autism is not something you will have to deal with alone.
Things to Know After Your Child Receives an Autism Diagnosis
You’ve just left the doctor’s office with an autism diagnosis, but you now have more questions than answers. What do you do next? As a mom who has gone through four different autism diagnoses, I can tell you there are a few things you do need to know that the doctors don’t seem to mention.
First things first, though. You need to know that an Autism diagnosis is not an end. It is just the start of you and your child’s journey to a more successful life. It opens the doors to suitable therapies and resources to help your child thrive.
These seven things to know after your child receives an Autism diagnosis will help you start your journey off right!
1. Brace Yourself and Learn Everything There Is To Know:
The first step in an Autism journey is the diagnosis. Before the diagnosis, you suspected the symptoms and behaviors your child exhibits might be Autism.
However, suspected and confirming are two very different places. It’s time to brace yourself for the journey ahead and get ready to learn everything about Autism firsthand.
After receiving an autism diagnosis, you will go through the cycles of grief. You may be overwhelmed with sorrow and anxiety and become confused and hit by uncertainty about what the future may hold for your child. Or, you could be hit with anger, anger at the doctor, life situations, or the diagnosis itself. Other parents go through the stages of denial, looking for second opinions and other possibilities.
You need to know that it is ok to take a moment to let all the emotions you are feeling sink in. Those emotions are natural and ones that need to be worked through. However, do not stay at this stage for long. It would help if you moved through to the final stage in the cycle of grief, which is acceptance.
Once you have accepted the diagnosis, start gathering every bit of info that may help your child. Learn about the levels of Autism and what resources are best for your child’s level.
While searching Google, remember there are occasional inconsistencies and biased reports or beliefs. Make sure to find sources that you can trust, ones backed by research and experience. Also, make sure to learn about your own child’s behavioral patterns.
Another great thing you can do is search out (and join) groups conducting activities for helping autistic children in your area. Joining online support groups for parents of autistic children is also a great option. In short, never stop learning.
2. Start Early – You don’t have time to Waste:
Please note that it is not possible to get cured of Autism completely. Early intervention is key to your child’s success. So, after an autism diagnosis, you should actively seek out therapies.
Therapies are crucial for developing foundational skills to help your child into adulthood. According to your child’s needs, several different therapies can help autistic children thrive, such as:
- Behavioral Therapy
- Physical Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
- Speech Therapy
- ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis)
These therapies are designed so that autistic children develop skills in ways they can understand. Having the right therapy and therapist can mean the difference between success and your child shutting down entirely.
3. When Communication is Lacking:
Impossible as it may seem, you need to learn the art of listening by seeing with your eyes. Many Autistic children have delays in developing the ability to communicate by speaking. A lack of verbal communication does not mean that your child is not trying to communicate with you.
The sooner you get the communication method used by your child, the better. The ability to communicate will reduce their frustrations and anxiety immensely. These can be PECs boards, tablets, or other forms of communication.
Figuring out how your child communicates best does not mean you have to give up on speech. Opting for speech therapy for your child can have profound effects. Since you know how your child conveys something, you can help him by selecting the best method of speech therapy for him:
- How we create sounds through our mouths – Articulation
- Nonverbal – Symbols, Sign language or Voice-Output devices
- How we use language with other people – Social Interactions
Visual supports are non-verbal ways for autistic children to communicate their needs and make sense of the world around them. Learn more about visual supports here.
4. Be Familiar with ‘Motor – Skills’
For simplicity’s sake, let’s say that we can divide ‘motor-skills’ required for most of our physical activities into two types – gross and fine.
Significant body movements like walking, jumping, etc., requiring the coordination of many muscle groups, require ‘gross’ motor skills. On the other hand, subtle movement patterns where finesse is essential need ‘fine’ motor skills.
Very often, an autistic child may not know how to move a muscle cohesively to do something like zipping. That is why your child might require the guidance of an occupational therapist.
Here you can put valuable input if you follow your child’s movement patterns. If you know how he tends to do something, in which motor skills they are proficient at – you can share this with the therapist and help him direct their attention towards where it is essential most.
5. Be Aware of What Stir Their Senses:
Children with ASD are susceptible to outside influencers like light, sound, touch, smell, etc. These are called sensory stimuli. Some Autistic children are sensory avoiding, while others are sensory seeking. As parents, it is our responsibility to figure out what ‘triggers’ our child.
What makes your child restless? What makes them calm? The more you know, the better you will be at dealing with difficulties caused by them. Working alongside an occupational therapist, you can develop a sensory diet for your child. Other tools such as noise-canceling headphones, fidget toys, swings, and trampolines can help them get the input they need.
6. Learn to Be Consistent All the Time:
The best environment for your child to learn is one that does not change. So, creating consistency is a must on your part. You will need to know how the therapist works with your child and apply those same methods at home.
Likewise, you may consider having your child’s therapy provided in more than one location. Doing this will teach them to carry over the learning from one session to another.
Consistency does not just apply to the therapy sessions. It is also essential to remember how you interact with them daily. Creating a daily routine will help keep their day consistent.
While reducing surprises is ideal, it is not always doable. There will be times when there will be a change in schedule, food, or even the environment. However, you will provide the same responses in behaving and be better prepared to handle more challenging situations.
7. Reward Whenever You Get the Chance
Children with ASD react very positively when they are rewarded. That is why you need to be rewarding – even if for the silliest of reasons. It is well documented in different studies that positive reinforcements enable children with ASD to participate in activities programmed to make them learn new skills.
Ensure praise when they act correctly or perform something they just have learned.
After Your Child Receives an Autism Diagnosis
Parenting can be challenging even without a diagnosis, but it can also be gratifying.
Remember that your child is the same child who walked into the doctor’s office without an autism diagnosis, that walked out with one. Knowing your child’s diagnosis will now help you be able to provide the resource they need to thrive.Alicia Trautwein, The Mom Kind
These seven things to know after your child receives an autism diagnosis will get you started in the right direction. Check out our extensive list of autism parenting articles for the more great information.