The latest statistics from the US Centers for Disease Control show that 1 in 68 school aged children have been diagnosed with Autism. Recently, it was estimated that 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls have been diagnosed with Autism. That means that most of us know someone who is raising a child on the spectrum. Like raising any child, it’s not easy, but it’s also not devastating.
When a child is newly diagnosed, parents might feel a range of emotions: confusion, fear of the future, anger, denial, relief at confirmation of suspicion. We asked parents on our Facebook page who have been there, whose kids had been diagnosed with Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and here are some great tips they had to offer to “new” parents.
- Understand that there is a grieving process. -Tanya
It’s not grieving for your child, who can still have a wonderful, long, happy life; it’s about grieving the dreams you may have had, not being able to participate in the same activities as your friends, and the hardest part: seeing your child struggle. Be open and willing to seek counseling and help for yourself. Take care of you, so that you may be able to take care of your child.
- It’s ok to feel negative emotions but immediately look for resources to help – family, friends, therapy, groups. The longer you wallow, the longer it takes for your child to start to grow. -Mandy
There are different approaches to the management of ASD. What works well for some families may not be the best fit for others. Do research to determine what you think will work for you. Try something and if it doesn’t feel right, try something else! There’s no one size fits all approach.
- Find out the services you are owed through your state, your schools. We have an unbelievable team of BCBAs, OT, PT, and behavior techs. Make sure you love your pediatrician. Don’t go into the rabbit hole of google. Avoid any outlandish unproven “fix” and get your child proper services. -Melissa
Be careful about how much you search the internet. Beware that not everything you read online is reliable. Autism has often been referred to as a life-long condition. Though there are many therapies that can lead to management of impairments and improvement of symptoms, be careful if you see anything advertised as a “cure”.
- Don’t go it alone! Reach out to other parents who have been there. Let them share their experience and hope with you. Laugh and cry together! Visit the Birdhouse for Autism Facebook page and connect with other parents in the trenches.
- You will learn that the little achievements are big achievements for a child with autism, learn to be proud of all they can do, not what they can’t do. -Andrea
- Communicate with everyone. Get everyone on board with the plan and make sure they know the importance of routines. -Mike
- Keep track of what’s working and what isn’t. Using the Birdhouse app on your phone or laptop not only stores a list of your child’s medications, supplements, and diet, you can track sleep, poop, moods and meltdowns. Over time, patterns will develop and you’ll gain insight into what’s helping your child feel the best he or she can feel.
- It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Have a big long hard cry, then get into action. -Melissa