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Parenting a Child with Autism After Diagnosis: A Step-by-Step Guide

As we’ve discussed previously, when a family learns that one of their children has been diagnosed with autism, there is often a necessary period for them to psychologically acclimate to their new reality before diving into researching what the best methods are for treating their child. With more and more diagnoses occurring earlier in a child’s development, today’s parents now often have a longer period to help their child develop the communicative, social, and behavioral skills.

First and foremost, parents should engage in extensive research to help formulate a highly structured and specialized treatment that children with autism respond best to. As each case of autism is distinct, use the internet, professional recommendations, and books on autism to help identify what kind of doctor would be the best fit for your child and see who in your area best fits this profile. Read all you can on autism so you understand the symptoms and behaviors and comprehend the differences in medications and alternative therapies.

Secondly, it is crucial to develop a strong social network in order to find strong support both for the parents and their children, which can be challenging depending on what services are available in your area, making the need for a reliable social support network all the more important. It’s essential to identify the family friends and allies that parents can reach out to for everything between emotional support and serious emergences.

Thirdly, once a parent or parents have obtained a significant understanding of autism, it’s now time for them to educate the rest of the family, especially siblings, about autism. Often spouses and siblings can feel stressed, overwhelmed, and even angry at times when so much attention is focused on a child with autism. While these feelings are perfectly natural, to ensure that your family is all on the same page and supportive of each other, it’s crucial to help family members learn how to cope by helping them fully understand a child’s specific needs.

Next, parents should begin reviewing the recommended autism treatment options as soon as they are able to as child development experts agree that a child with autism should receive treatment as soon as possible after a diagnosis is made. While there is no cure for autism, early intervention focused on skills training and behavior modification techniques can help produce positive results, including improving a child with autism’s chances of being able to go to school and participate in activities with fellow students.

As parents enter the treatment stage following an autism diagnosis, they now have a number of different treatment options that they should explore in earnest, including behavioral therapy program that seek to reinforce desirable behaviors while diminishing undesirable ones. Another option that can be utilized in tandem with therapy is medication. Although there is no medication designed specifically for autism itself, there are a number of medications on the market that will help to manage a child’s symptoms. However, while drugs have a limited role in improving overall symptoms, they can still play an essential role in reducing self-harm, anxiety, depression, or OCD behaviors.

While there are more intricate options for seeking out treatment for a child with autism, the above steps are generally agreed upon by experts as the best procedure for getting a head start on treating a child with autism and improving their chances of managing their symptoms. We will discuss these further treatments in a later post.