After hearing that your child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, it is normal to feel a wave of emotions such as shock, sadness, guilt or anger. To help get through this initial stage, autism organizations and other parents say it is helpful to gain as much knowledge as you possibly can about how to help your child. The following is a brief overview of steps that you, a parent, can take.
Step 1- Take a Deep Breath and Dive In
In order to take care of your child, you first need to take care of yourself. Reach out to family and friends who can support you, or find a support group online. Chances are that in addition to national autism groups, such as Autism Speaks or The Autism Society of America, there are also local autism chapters within your city/region. It can be comforting to know that other caregivers may be experiencing, or have experienced, the same situation you are. Take this opportunity to connect with other caregivers to build your autism family network.
The next step is to begin your research so that you can empower yourself to make sound decisions regarding autism treatment. Ensure that the information you obtain is from a reputable source and if it’s a new treatment for autism, you will want to learn more about the data to support the treatment claims.
Step 2- Sharing Your Child’s Diagnosis
Some parents hesitate to tell others about their child’s autism out of fear that their child will be treated “differently.” However, there are some key people in your child’s life that can benefit from knowing this information.
If your child has young siblings, try to explain things in simple terms. Statements like, “Talking is hard for Billy and we are trying our best to help him,” can help explain the behaviors they notice. There are a variety of children’s picture books that can help foster a more in-depth conversation when you feel they are ready.
Outside of the family members that live with your child, teachers are usually the next most important person to inform about your child’s autism. By informing your child’s teachers and other caregivers, they are able to make accommodations to better fit your child’s learning style. Arrange a meeting with your child’s teacher to explain your child’s needs. You may want to involve the professionals that are assisting your child (behavioral therapist, speech therapist, occupational therapist) so they can provide additional input on ways to help your child thrive. Bring any assessment reports with you, especially if they contain recommendations for educational instruction.
Step 3- Find a Therapist /Start ABA Therapy
ABA therapy is the most effective treatment for autism and is endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General and the American Academy of Pediatrics as the gold standard for autism treatment. Research over the past 50 years shows that ABA therapy is beneficial at both a young age (between the ages of 0-5) and even older (between ages 5-21). However, access to ABA therapy from qualified therapists can be challenging for many families. Either there are not enough providers in your area, which can result in long waiting lists, or getting time off of work to participate in your child’s therapy can prove challenging, if not entirely impossible.
It’s with these challenges in mind that CSERV was created. By offering ABA through videoconferencing we enhance accessibility to ABA therapy by eliminating geographical boundaries and increase our ability to serve by being available to families when they need us- including after 5 p.m. and weekends.
What’s important is that you grow and learn together with your child. As the parent, you are the most important person in your child’s life. The strategies used in ABA therapy work best when parents and caregivers incorporate the learned skills into their home routine. You know your child best, and as such, you are your child’s best teacher. We are here to support and collaborate with you on ABA strategies that will help your child continue to grow and learn.