My child has autism, now what do I do? The phrase has been asked countless times after diagnosis and quite regularly is a shock.
Autism is a frightening diagnosis that leaves many parents in a state of devastation. It’s a complex disorder that has no known cause and presents itself in each child differently. It’s a word that sends worried new parents researching everything from the safety of vaccinations to optimal gut health.
With the rates of diagnosis increasing exponentially over the last several years, it makes sense that autism would become a huge topic of conversation both in the medical world and in the conversations between new parents.
So what do you do if one of your tightly held fears of receiving a diagnosis for your child comes to pass? How do you keep it together when all you want to do is fall apart? This article offers a realistic outlook on what to do after receiving an autism diagnosis.
My child has autism, now what? Do I Grieve?
Yes. Many parents with children on the spectrum describe a period of mourning after receiving a diagnosis. It might be coupled with feelings of guilt for feeling the grief, but it is completely normal to have a plethora of emotions upon such news.
The best thing to do is acknowledge your feelings and allow yourself to feel them. You will go through a lot of emotions as you navigate this new world, and none of them mean you love your child on the spectrum any less.
My child has autism, now what? Is it my fault?
Don’t blame yourself. This one is a tall order and truthfully, you may, in fact, spend some time trying to figure out what you, “did”.
It’s only natural to want to hunt down whatever it was that “hurt” your child and either make them pay or make sure it doesn’t happen to others.
What’s worse, so much information talks about environmental triggers that many parents are sent into a guilt-ridden tailspin trying to track down the culprit.
The simple truth is that no one knows for sure what causes autism. No one. Not genius scientists. Not the paediatrician. Not your Aunt Edna. No one knows.
My child has autism, now what? Who do I ask?
Look to resources you trust. There is no shortage of information on the internet about what to do and how to address autism and the challenges that come with it. It can be overwhelming but the information is there.
Find a reputable source, one that is not looking to capitalise on you purchasing a “cure” or product, and begin to educate yourself.
Maybe there is an amazing therapist or developmental paediatrician who could be a consultant as you begin to navigate schools and therapies.
Reach out to support groups or your local school system to see who they recommend. Find support you trust and build your plan from there.
My child has autism, now what? What do I do?
Trust your instincts. Your instincts are good.
Chances are your child got diagnosed with autism and you knew very little about the disorder, and further, the idea of parenting a child on the spectrum is probably something for which you feel very unprepared.
While you have a learning curve with autism, you know your child better than anyone. They need you to follow your gut and take different approaches, while monitoring progress to see if it’s right for them.
A therapist can suggest a regimen or therapy or classroom, but you can tell if it’s working or when your child needs a break. Your knowledge base about autism will increase over time, but you are already your child’s best advocate right now. Don’t second guess yourself.
My child has autism, so what!
The future is bright. You will eventually be okay with this and you will likely come to adore all the unique and quirky things about your child. With a label or without a label, this is still your child. Nothing changes who they are, and while certain milestones may take a little more time and effort, you will discover amazing details about your child that are unique to them.
An autism diagnosis can be a life-disrupting event that leaves you feeling helpless and inadequate. Give yourself time to process the journey your family has gone through by remembering these five things. Don’t forget to give yourself lots of grace and forgiveness and space to have emotions, make mistakes and take on this special and rewarding parenting challenge.
This article has been posted by TutorCare, an online and on-site learning provider that offers courses in Autism Awareness and training in Child Care. The course although recommended for health and social care workers is available to anyone that wishes to understand more about autism, the challenges individuals face and the support needed to work with autistic children and adults. For £39 plus VAT, delegates get 12 months to complete the course and upon completion receive a digital printable copy of a certificate.