Steps to Take After an Autism Diagnosis
The day you receive an autism diagnosis can feel completely overwhelming, but it gets better from here. Here are some things to consider as you support your child and family after diagnosis:
- Remember that your child is not any different than they were before the diagnosis. You can continue treating them in exactly the same way.
- Read up on the latest science and information to understand what autism is and how to best approach treatment for your child.
- Find other families in your community who also have members with an ASD. They can be an invaluable source for advice and support. Remember that all services are delivered locally and that it’s never too soon to get in touch with your local Special Education PTA (often called a SEPTA) to find support and resources in your community. Here you will find fellow parents who know the ropes. Your pediatrician can also help guide you to other local specialists or to support groups in your community.
- Remember that as a “spectrum disorder” ASD affects each person differently, and to a different degree.
- There are many forms of intervention and services. Researching all forms of therapy will allow parents to make choices that best suit their child’s specific needs and challenges.
- Medically necessary autism services are covered by insurance in all fifty states. Contact your insurance company to learn about your coverage options.
Have Realistic Expectations
As soon as autism is diagnosed, early intervention should begin. But it’s important to understand that a child with ASD may not experience major improvements in a short period of time. A good rule of thumb is that if a therapy is not leading to any improvement of the debilitating symptoms of ASD within 6 weeks, you should reassess and possibly modify interventions. Treating ASD symptoms is a lifelong process, with improvements occurring with a lot of hard work and investment. Although periods of frustration are understandable, it is critical to continue treatments in order to ensure the best outcome for your child.
Don’t let a bad day or bad week send you running for a new treatment option. Give each treatment a chance to work—typically developing kids experience good and bad days too. But also trust your gut. As a parent, you know your child best. If you feel you have given a treatment modality time to work with no improvement, talk to your doctor about trying something new.