What to Do After an Autism Diagnosis
by Jaime Friedman
August 19, 2023
What to do After an Autism Diagnosis
After learning their child has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it is natural for parents to worry or feel overwhelmed, but it is important to remember that anyone embarking on this journey will not have to do it alone. An autism diagnosis will always be followed with the implementation of an individualized treatment plan and assigned to a team of professionals specifically qualified to conduct the treatment plan. At Aspire Child and Family Services, we understand the importance of providing families with the guidance and tools they need to navigate life after an autism diagnosis. With the right support and resources, your child can lead a fulfilling and enriched life.
What are the First Steps After Receiving an Autism Diagnosis?
The first steps after an autism diagnosis can set the foundation for your child's development and well-being. Here are some essential actions you can take:
Seek Professional Guidance: Reach out to professionals specializing in autism services to fully understand the diagnosis. Aspire offers a team of experienced clinicians who can provide valuable insights and recommendations tailored to your situation. Since ASD can affect each individual differently, sometimes it is best to get advice from a trusted source who also understands your child personally.
Connect with Support Groups: Find a support group locally or online. Joining a support group for parents of children diagnosed with autism helps settle into the autism community. Parents have the chance to interact with others who have had similar experiences. Members of these support groups have access to a network of allies sharing emotional support and advice with each other.
Educate Yourself: Perhaps you like to take a hands-on approach to parenting, or you may learn best by figuring something out yourself; there are countless resources for you to educate yourself about autism. Understanding the condition and its unique challenges will help you better support your child's development.
Much like with autism treatment, there are several routes that can lead to success. It may be wise to try each strategy to see how you are most comfortable learning. These strategies can be combined too. Parents can seek professional guidance on which resources they can use to educate themselves, or they can ask local support groups about where to seek certain professionals.
Understanding Your Child’s Autism Diagnosis
Autism can present different challenges to different people, so after a diagnosis, it is crucial to understand your child’s specific strengths and needs. This begins during the autism screening process and remains useful after a diagnosis is made and throughout treatment. Work closely with your provider, so you can learn which of the following are determining factors in your child’s diagnosis:
Assessing Strengths and Weaknesses: Understanding your child's strengths and weaknesses will help you identify areas where they may need additional support. When strengths develop, the provider can reduce the level of support from that aspect of development.
Identifying Triggers and Sensory Preferences: Recognizing triggers and sensory preferences can aid in creating a more supportive environment for your child. You can plan to avoid certain triggers along your child’s daily routine or structure practice time in sensory-sensitive situations.
Presences of Comorbid Conditions: Some individuals diagnosed with autism also have comorbid conditions, such as anxiety or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Children with an additional diagnosis may be referred to another specialist who can be added to the support team.
Assembling Your Child's Support Team
A strong support team can be such a useful tool for someone who has been diagnosed with ASD and their families. Aspire Child and Family Services can help you create a comprehensive support network that helps ensure overall growth and development. Potential members of your child’s support team may include:
Therapists and Specialists: Collaborate with speech therapists, occupational therapists, and behavior analysts to develop a personalized intervention plan for your child.
Educators and School Staff: Engage with your child’s teachers and school staff to keep them well-informed about your child’s needs. As a result, they will be able to provide necessary accommodations for your child to succeed in an educational setting.
Extended Family and Friends: Share your child’s diagnosis with close friends and family members. Loved ones who can offer their understanding and support are invaluable to a child after an autism diagnosis.
Exploring Therapeutic Options for Autism
There is a wide selection of therapeutic options for individuals to try after receiving an autism diagnosis. Finding the best option that fits your child’s needs will lead to more successful outcomes later on. Some common interventions that could be implemented for a child with autism include Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and social skills groups.
Aspire Child and Family Services specializes in ABA therapy, as it is a scientifically proven approach to addressing behavioral challenges and teaching essential life skills. ABA therapy is research driven and focuses on problem areas specific to each client. We believe that ABA provides an excellent starting point for someone after receiving an autism diagnosis.
In addition to ABA services, your child may qualify for speech therapy to address any challenges with language and communication skills. Children needing to enhance their fine motor skills, sensory processing ability and other traits necessary for daily living can be referred to an occupational therapist. Another therapeutic option, joining a social skills group, can help a child become more comfortable in conversation and social situations. Social skills groups allow children to practice social skills in a controlled environment. If your child has been diagnosed with autism a mental or behavioral health professional can help you find the best course of action for treatment.
Educational Planning for Children with Autism
An appropriate educational plan for a child diagnosed with autism is typically the product of a strong collaborative effort between the child’s caregivers and the rest of the support team. By working with the experts who diagnose ASD, you can learn about some of the strategies specifically designed for supporting autism treatment.
Discussions with your child’s provider could lead to finding alternative education options for your child, like placement in a school that focuses on autism education. Some of these schools even offer live-in services. In any school setting, your child will be eligible for an individualized education plan (IEP). Parental input is a key component in creating an IEP, so please do not be afraid to ask your child’s teachers and providers questions.
Advocacy on behalf of your child is welcomed throughout the diagnostic process as well. Children dealing with autism may not be able to express their needs in certain situations. It becomes the parent’s responsibility to learn what is needed and to take any action necessary to secure appropriate support for their child. Aspire understands that this can be burdensome for parents, and we hope to help everyone’s needs be heard.
Taking Care of Yourself as a Parent of a Child on the Autism Spectrum
The physical and emotional demands parents experience while caring for a child with ASD can be draining. Since we recognize this journey is not an easy one, Aspire Child and Family Services encourages parents to:
Seek Emotional Support: Emotional support can be informal from a friend or formal from a trained professional. Find someone you trust and share your feelings and experiences with them. If you feel relief by talking through problems, try to dedicate time in your day to chat with someone about them.
Take Breaks: Schedule some time for yourself whenever possible. After your child has an autism diagnosis and treatment plan, make sure you are still doing the activities you enjoy, and take the time to recharge after you use your energy caring for your child.
Stay Informed: Stay updated on the latest autism research and watch for debuts of new resources to make decision-making about your child's care easier.
Receiving an autism diagnosis for your child can be a challenging journey, but with the right support and resources, it can also be an incredibly rewarding one. At Aspire Child and Family Services, we are committed to providing families with the tools and guidance they need to navigate life after an autism diagnosis successfully.
You can contact us or learn more about autism services by visiting our website.