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5 Steps to Take After an Autism Diagnosis

Cara Barthelette, MS, CCC/SLP, Pediatric Speech Therapist
January 3, 2019 . 3 min read

1. Your child has autism: now what?

If you have just heard that your child has autism, you are probably overwhelmed. However, the process of treating and caring for your child’s autism doesn’t need to be overwhelming or isolating. By taking the following steps, you can ensure that your family is moving in the right direction.

2. Early intervention is key

Early intervention has been proven to provide benefits for children with autism. This intervention will likely consist of structured, rigorous therapies (speech, occupational, and physical) for approximately 25 hours each week, based on your child’s individual needs.

Some programs will focus primarily on developmental areas, such as natural play and social skills through Floortime or Relationship Development Intervention, while others will focus on behavior through treatments such as Behavioral Analysis (ABA or Lovaas), Discrete Trial Training, or Pivotal Response Training.

Unfortunately, there is no “quick fix” for autism, so be weary of any programs that claim such results.

3. Eliminate distractions

A sick child with stomach issues, allergies, sleep disturbances, seizures, or ADHD will likely find it much more difficult to focus and perform well in the therapies necessary to support autism. Take your child to the doctor to try to resolve these problems as much as possible so that your child is free to focus on progression through therapy.

4. Find funds

The number of treatments, early intervention strategies, and types of therapies your child now needs may sound overwhelming; you may even be thinking that your family won’t be able to afford the care your child really needs. However, there are numerous resources to help you fund your child’s care, including state funding that your child automatically qualifies for if he or she is less than 3 years old. There may also be other grant opportunities, scholarship funds, Medicaid waivers, Social Security Disability Insurance, and Supplemental Security income available to help your family through this process.

5. Reach out

If you don’t know many people facing autism, you may feel isolated, which can increase the stress of navigating this new challenge. But you are not alone! There are numerous ways to connect with other parents who have stood where you are standing now through online resources or even through support groups at your local autism association. These relationships will provide emotional support, as well as access to the wealth of information other parents have gained through experience.

6. It\’s OK to grieve

You have just received life-altering news. This is news that will affect the lives of everyone in your family, so don’t be surprised or ashamed if you are feeling sadness, anger, fear, or other emotions. Allow yourself to experience those emotions as you process this news, so that eventually you can find your way to acceptance. If you do not take care of your emotional well being, you may not be able to give your child the best support you are capable of when they need it most. So let yourself grieve and prepare for the road ahead.

Sources:

  • Autism Help
  • My Child’s Been Diagnosed as Having Autism
  • What Do I Do Now?
    Autism Speaks
  • 100 Day Kit.
    American Academy of Pediatrics
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders.
    National Institutes of Health
  • Evidence-Based Comprehensive Treatments for Early Autism.
    Rosenblatt, A., & Carbone, P
  • (Eds.)
  • (2012)
  • Autism spectrum disorders: What every parent needs to know
  • Chicago, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

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