Hearing your child has a medical condition is never easy—no matter the diagnosis. An autism diagnosis can be shocking and frightening to parents as it can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. However, you can help your child thrive and provide them with the love and support they need to grow and flourish. These tips may help.
Avoid becoming an internet doctor
Whether your child is newly diagnosed or if you’ve known the diagnosis for a while, don’t look to the internet for answer related to symptoms, treatments, causes, etc. It can cause you unnecessary stress and aggravation. Go to your child’s treatment team for answers. If you really want more information, use reputable sources such as Autism Society, Autism Speaks, Centers for Disease Control, or National Institute of Mental Health.
Connect with other parents and guardians of children with autism
No one knows what you are and your child are going through but you; however, it can be helpful to have the support of people in similar situations. They can provide guidance, serve as a sounding board and share coping techniques. Their children may also be possible playmates for your child.
Don’t compare yourself, your child or your family to others
Everyone is different. What works for another child or family may not work for your situation. Even without an autism diagnosis, children grow at different rates, meet milestones at various speeds and develop at their own unique pace.
There are various forms of treatment, different types of therapy and approaches to enhance life skills, as well as many medications used to treat autism and its symptoms. It may take some time to find the right combination of services that work for your child. Be willing to listen to your child’s doctor’s advice and try their recommendations.
Costs associated with autism can add up quick and be very expensive. While many services and treatments are covered by insurance and government programs, you still may have some uncovered expenses. Set money aside for unexpected expenses and budget appropriately to ensure that you are able to provide your child with what they need.
Take your child out into the world
While this may seem tough and could potentially be a hassle, it will help you determine what your child can and cannot handle, help identify possible coping skills she/he needs to develop and provide your child with real world experiences. If you’re apprehensive, try small trips at first.
Set up a loving and nurturing environment
This should include:
- Consistency and structure – All kids benefit from structures and routine. Kids with autism can greatly benefit from a fixed routine.
- Positive reinforcement – Similarly, all children benefit from positive reinforcement. It can help shape their self-worth and self-efficacy.
- Make time for play – Often times, autistic children are shuffled around from appointment to appointment, therapy session after therapy session. It is important they still have an opportunity to be kids and play just to simply have fun.
For Health Advocate members
If you’re a Health Advocate Member with our Advocacy services, contact us to speak with a Personal Health Advocate for assistance locating physicians, resolving insurance issues and helpful tips to navigate the autism spectrum.