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My Child was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, now what?
Once your child has been diagnosed with any type of condition, the most common question parent’s ask is “Now what?” It’s no different when your child is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Parenting doesn’t come with a guide on how to raise your children and when your child has autism learning how to parent them can be even more difficult.
This page may contain affiliate links, however, I will never recommend anything that I do not believe in and use myself. You can read more about my disclosure policy here. I am not a medical professional of a doctor of any kind so always check with your child’s pediatrician before using these tips.
When is a Child Diagnosed with Autism?
Most children start to show signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder between the ages of 12 to 18 months old, however, most experts will not evaluate children for autism until they are at least 24 months old (2 years old).
And most pediatricians are very observant and know the signs and symptoms to look for in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. However, getting a diagnosis can vary from child to child. It really all depends on if your child is showing specific signs.
For example, we started seeing signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder in our daughter from the time she was 3 years old but were not able to get a diagnosis until she was 7 years old. The biggest reason for this is that girls are harder to diagnose with high functioning autism than boys.
And like my daughter, I went over 26 years without knowing that I too have Autism and have just recently been diagnosed.
On the other hand, my son who started showing signs of Autism between ages 1-2 years old was diagnosed at 3 years old.
You see getting a diagnosis can be different for everyone, but the sooner you get a proper diagnosis the sooner you can help your child.
What Happens After A Diagnosis of Autism?
Once your child is given a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, the doctor that diagnosed your child will likely recommend some therapies depending on your child’s individual needs such as occupational therapy, speech therapy, or even physical therapy.
And other than that, you kind of have to find your way of dealing with the diagnosis and learning how to continue on with raising your child.
However, any parent knows when you receive news that your child isn’t “typical” it can leave you very confused about the future and how you should parent your child.
Believe me, I was right there. I learned in the course of 6 months that both of my children and I had Autism Spectrum Disorder and we needed to learn how to live life as we were without feeling sorry for ourselves.
So here are 9 things you simply must do as a parent of a child that’s been recently diagnosed with Autism.
Of course, your child isn’t gone, but in many cases some of the hopes and dreams of how you would raise your child is.
In our family, for example, I hate not being able to treat my daughter like a “typical” 7-year old by giving her more freedom, but the truth is that she’s not like all of the other kids in her class even though most people don’t know that just by looking at her.
And although grieving may sound really silly, it truly helps you to realize that you have to mold your life around your child’s specific needs and limits and you cannot expect them to be like everyone else’s kids.
Accepting the autism diagnosis is the first step to a successful autism family.
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2. Learn About Autism
“Knowledge is power!”
By learning more about your child’s condition you are ten times more likely to understand more of what they are going through and how to interact with them. And this also helps for when you have to explain their autism to people that you meet.
For our family, learning why certain things may or may not cause an autism meltdown and how to handle it has been crucial to keeping our cool and keeping our kids from meltdown city.
So when you have a definitive diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, learn all that you can. For example, find out where your child is on the autism spectrum. Are they high functioning autism, low functioning autism, or somewhere in between?
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3. Ask for Help
Parenting is hard but when you add autism to the mix parenting can be a lot trickier. And just like they say it takes a village to raise a child, it really does take that to raise a child on the autism spectrum.
So whether you think you need it or not ask for help. Getting burnt out while balancing this alone is not good for you or your child.
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4. Safety Measures
Sometimes I feel like our house is still being baby proofed even though our kids are no longer babies. And truthfully, taking safety measures is really important when you have a child with autism.
Even though your child may be older, there are certain safety measures that you will just have to take since your child simply does not understand the dangers.
For example, making sure to keep front doors locked is one safety measure that we have to double check all of the time because of our 3-year-old who likes to run out of the house without telling anyone.
Trust me having things set up safely in your home will not only keep your child safe but also give you peace of mind.
5. Talk With Family About Your Child’s Diagnosis
One of the hardest parts of our children being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder has been trying to explain it to our families.
Even though we were experiencing all of our children’s symptoms and signs, our families sometimes denied the diagnosis or didn’t take the same safety and parenting measures that we set up in our home.
This is another reason that educating yourself and learning all that you can about your child’s diagnosis is key to explaining it to your family.
6. Check for Assistance
One question that parents often have is, “My child has autism what benefits can I get?”
And this is completely dependent on every individual child. Some children have more extreme challenges than others so in that case, may qualify for benefits that other children do not.
The best thing to do is check with your local autism support group or your child’s doctor to see what you may qualify for.
For example, since our 3-year-old son runs away a lot in parking lots and often has to be carried to and from the car during meltdowns, we qualified for a disability parking placard to help us park closer to entrances.
7. Connect With Other Autism Parents
No one will understand you more than another autism parent.
One thing we found very difficult early on with our children was connecting to other parents with children that were not autistic. They didn’t understand a lot of our children’s routines, habits, and meltdowns. But once I began to meet other moms who had children like mine, I felt more connected to them and way more understood.
Check out your local Autism Support Group on Facebook to try and connect with other moms and to make some friends as well.
8. Have Some ME Time
Being a parent can wear you down. And being an autism parent can do it even faster.
One important thing that I try to do every evening after the kids are in bed is to wind down and have some me time. Whether it’s by taking a relaxing bath, binge-watching my favorite tv show, or by writing here on my blog, I always make a little time for myself to unload from the day.
9. Take Care of Your Marriage
Marriage is a work in progress no matter what the circumstances, but when you have a child with autism, it can be even harder to stick together.
Keeping your marriage alive and learning to accept things as they are, helps your marriage to go along way. And just like with making time for yourself, you have to make time for your marriage if you ever hope to come out the other side together.
Just by having date nights, holding hands, and still acting like you did when you were dating and everything was fresh, you can strengthen your marriage and let your partner know that you are in this together.
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