Our family has been through a total of 3 autism diagnosis, two of which were just 6 weeks a part! Through out our personal journey, and helping others, we have had one very common question. What do you do after an autism diagnosis?
You spend months preparing and waiting to receive an autism diagnosis. So it’s not hard to imagine that you wouldn’t be prepared for after part. Today, we are going to go over what to do after an autism diagnosis.
What to do after an Autism Diagnosis
There are so many emotions when it comes to an autism diagnosis. The very first thing you need to do after an autism diagnosis is to allow yourself to feel your feelings! There is a cycle of grief that we all go through in this process. Not that you are grieving your child, but the idea of who you thought your child would be in your mind.
Whether it is sadness, anger, shock, or any other emotion, allow yourself a chance to work through them. The important part is to not stay in the cycle of grief too long. As Dr. Rick Solomon of The Play Project tells parents:
“I warn parents that there is a worse feeling than grief and that is the guilt of looking back on what you should have done.”-Dr. Rick Solomon, The Play Project
Ending the cycle is when you begin learning to accept your child for who they are, not who you thought they would be.
From here, there are several key steps you need to take. This autism parenting advice is key to make your journey smoother.
Ask for help
For some parents and caregivers, this one is easy. For me though, it is so hard to ask for help! I want to do it all myself but have learned that’s just not possible. You are not any less of a parent because you asked for help.
If you need help, ask someone to babysit other children during appointments, help you during therapy and doctor appointment, or anything at all. Seriously, remember that it’s okay to ask for help!
Keep a detailed Calendar
Whether it is the google calendar in your phone or a full planner, keep it with you and use it often. You will wind up with a ton of appointments with different doctors and therapist. It is very easy to lose track of all these or double book.
Use a planner! I carry in the diaper bag that I use for everything. In the evening (once everyone is asleep and there is some quiet) I go in and add appointments into google calendar so I have an actual alarm go off. This has been a huge help! Let’s face it, no one wants a missed appointment fee!
Don’t be afraid of the diagnosis
This one is huge. Your child is the same sweet child you gave birth to. The same child that walked into that office without a diagnosis and came out with one. Your life will change some, but now in a positive direction. That diagnosis will help your child (and you) get the resources they need to thrive.
Connect with other parents
As parents with autistic children, it is very easy to become reclusive. Disconnecting with the world around you is quite the opposite of what you want to do though. If you can get into a local group, that is awesome.
Sometimes, getting somewhere can be difficult. For that reason, there are a ton of support groups online and through Facebook that you can join. You can ask questions, read other families stories, and make new friends from wherever you are.
You are your child’s best advocate. Learn everything you can about autism. Books, trusted websites, your local school district, and the doctor’s office are all great sources of information.
Take advice from the doctor, not your in-laws
Your family means well, but they are not experts. Down the road, suggestions are great. As of now, don’t be afraid to tell friends and family what you actually need. Let them know you need their support in following the doctor’s recommendations.
Christmas & Birthdays are hard!
I say this from experience, birthday’s and holidays are hard! The noise, the new sites, and wrapping paper everywhere will likely trigger a meltdown from your child.
Your family will buy gifts that your child has no interest in and your child may have no interest in opening presents. Make sure to have a calm place for your child to go and unwind when they get overwhelmed. (Send them to this link for gift items for autistic children)
Make time for you, your spouse, and other kids
An autism diagnosis (or three) comes with its fair share of stresses. Though you need to focus on helping your child with autism, you also need to keep your other focuses on track too.
Continue building your other relationships, showing your other children just as much compassion, and take care of you. If you do not take care of you, then you won’t be able to focus on anyone else.
After an Autism Diagnosis
Taking these steps will go a long way in your journey after an autism diagnosis. Though this is a journey, there is no finish line. Autism is life long, but with intervention and dedicated family, things will go much smoother for your child.
Are you in need of more personalized autism parenting advice? If so, take the opportunity to schedule a free autism parent coaching session. Get answers and strategies to help your child along with personalized coaching for you.
This really was a great read, and some awesome advice. I actually have a mama friend who is going through an evaluation with her kiddo right now, and is pretty sure she will be receiving an autism diagnosis. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to hear something like that as a parent. Thanks for sharing!