Responding to a Child’s Autism Diagnosis

Listen to adults with autism. It may be hard to imagine your child with autism as an adult who could offer advice about autism to others, and many parents dismiss adults with autism for that reason. But adults with autism were once children and they went through many of the same things that your child will go through. Reading their writing or meeting them in person will be enormously calming, because it will allow you to imagine a future for your child with autism. Dr Stephen Shore was diagnosed with autism when he was two and a half and now regularly gives workshops at Shema Kolainu – Hear Our Voices for parents and professionals drawing on his experiences growing up with autism.

Get support from other parents who understand the challenges of autism but also believe in acceptance. There are numerous facebook groups and online communities for parents and professionals to share information and stories.  Join a support group or befriend other moms you meet in the waiting rooms of your children’s therapists. You will need people you can talk to and it may be hard for you to relate to your friends and family.

When you do deal with your friends and family, make sure you memorize a couple of general-interest talking points, so you can occasionally discuss something other than your child’s autism. You really need your friends and family now more than ever and they do care about your child, but you have to remember, they still have lives that do not revolve around autism.

Remember that you have time. While early intervention is crucial to your child’s development, let go of the idea that your child’s future will be determined by the time he’s five years old. Vast improvements are made at different stages of development.

If you have other children, find some way to give them your undivided attention, even if you have to hire a babysitter for your autistic child or let him zone out with a video.

Practice deep breathing and meditation. Although this may sound like a waste of time, it will come in handy when you need to keep your stress levels down to avoid some of the negative health consequences that can affect parents of children with autism.

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Sources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/todd-drezner/autism_b_1430101.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hannah-brown/autism-diagnosis_b_1390100.html