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When my son first received his ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) diagnosis, my first thoughts swirled in my head: How can I help him? What do we do next? There are many avenues to find help and therapy for your child as well as support for you. And while it may feel that your world has been turned upside down, in some ways, nothing has changed.
If your child has been diagnosed with ASD, you’re probably wondering, like I did, what to do next.
Don’t panic or blame yourself
If your child has been diagnosed with ASD, there are some important things you need to remember as a parent. The first two are not to panic and not to blame yourself. Despite the numerous debates surrounding the cause of ASD, the medical and mental health communities have not arrived at a definitive answer.
The third is that although your child has been diagnosed with a disorder that will present him or her with lifelong challenges, that disorder can be reduced to a little more than a physical nuisance.
This can be accomplished in two main ways: by seeking out intervention services as early as possible and by just believing that your child does not have a “glass ceiling” over his/her head. The latter may involve you, at times, turning a deaf ear to what the medical and mental health communities speculate as to what your child can or cannot be or accomplish now or in the future.
Knowledge is power
Stop panicking! Easy to say, but remember it is just three words and one acronym. Your child is still the child you brought into this world and love very much. You now just have validations for your concerns.
Once you are in a space where you have accepted the diagnosis, take time to understand YOUR child’s diagnosis, because ASD is a spectrum disorder and it presents differently for every individual.
Remember knowledge is power, and it is crucial that you have as much evidence based knowledge as you can gather so you can be the very best advocate for your child.
Early intervention and support is key
If you suspect your child is experiencing any developmental delays, it is important to take action. Early intervention is the key to attaining the most positive outcomes possible. Receiving a diagnosis can be upsetting and overwhelming, and so it is important to reach out for support.
Educate yourself about the diagnosis and do not be afraid to ask questions of your healthcare professionals. If possible, find an organization or support group in your area where you will find invaluable advice and understanding.
This is a lifelong diagnosis
If your child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, take a deep breath! This disorder is a lifelong marathon, not a short term sprint. Start working with your pediatrician to find resources such as developmental experts, child psychiatrists, speech, physical, and occupational therapists, and emotional support groups.
Your pediatrician can run interference for you with specialists and therapists, as well as help you understand the specifics of your child’s diagnosis.
Seek out online resources, grants, and support for both you and your child. Remember that you will need to take care of yourself well in order to be a great advocate for your child.