Learning that your child has autism is difficult for many reasons. First and foremost, you have to come to grips with the fact that your child may develop emotionally and socially at a different rate than their peers. Still, it is important to remember that an autism diagnosis does not mean that things in your family have to change dramatically. By educating yourself on what autism is and what it means for your child, you can determine how best to handle issues as they arise. Try these tips for raising an autistic child:
Speak to the Doctor
Once you receive the diagnosis, spend some time speaking with your child’s primary care physician. Chances are, you may not know a lot about autism. The doctor should have valuable information that you can use to determine your next steps. In addition, remember that your child will probably have a number of check-ups with this individual over the course of their life. It is important that you (and your child!) develop a strong relationship with him or her so that you feel comfortable asking questions and following their advice. Finally, your primary care physician is a great resource for help with behavioral problems and treatment options.
Educate Yourself About Autism
While medical professionals are a great resource, it is important that you take it upon yourself to do your own research. Look for autism articles online and purchase books on the subject. Make sure the information you gather is written by professionals in the field, like scientists and doctors. Follow blogs and join forums with other concerned parents. The more “in the know” you are, the easier it will be for you to speak intelligently about what you want for your child and what type of treatments you are interested in.
Connect with Other Parents
Keep an eye out to see if any autism conferences are being held in your area. If not, consider traveling to one. These events are often very helpful for parents; they talk a lot about what autism is and what autistic children experience on a daily basis. In addition, they may be able to equip you with the tools your child needs to function better in daily life.
Seek Out an Autism Specialist
While your child’s regular doctor is a great resource, it is important to make an appointment with a specialist as well. Autism specialists have dedicated themselves to studying autism and working with children who have similar concerns as your little one. They can give you strategies to make life at home and at school just a little easier on everyone. For example, the specialist may talk about the importance of having a predictable routine and will explain why this is so important for autistic children.
Know Your Child’s Triggers
Watch your child carefully, especially in the weeks following the autism diagnosis. Are there certain things that set your little one off? For example, do they have trouble when there is a lot of noise or when their routine is interrupted? If you know what your child’s triggers are, you can create a plan to help them avoid stressful situations. While you may not be able to avoid all triggers entirely, you can prepare both yourself and your child mentally for what is going to happen.
Although every child is different, you may benefit from speaking with other parents of autistic children. Not only can they be a great emotional support, but they may have tips or suggestions based on what has worked with their own children.
An autism diagnosis can be difficult to digest. However, by using the tips included here, you and your child will find that you can still live a very happy life together as a family.