Your initial reactions to your child’s diagnosis with an autism spectrum disorder can be emotionally overwhelming. At first there may be a feeling of relief since you now realize why your child has been developing so differently. Also, there is relief from understanding that your child’s behavior is neurologically programmed and not the result of bad parenting, as you may have been told by professionals, friends and family members. Emotionally, though, the feelings are similar to grief, and parents may experience the stages related to grieving including denial, anger, depression and, eventually, acceptance.
Seeking support and researching treatment options will give you a renewed sense of control, which will help you help your child. The sooner you begin to understand your child’s diagnosis, the sooner you will be able to help him or her.
Where do I start?
- Research your child’s diagnosis so that you understand it.
- Find a support group that will help you understand and cope with your child’s diagnosis and prognosis.
- Learn what is typical behavior for your child so that you can discipline him or her appropriately.
- Learn about the laws that protect people with disabilities.
- Determine which treatment will best meet the needs of your child and your family.
- Structure your home and your child’s school routines to contribute to your child’s treatment: TEACCH, Autism Society of North Carolina (ASNC), self-educating or private counseling are good starting places.
- Contact the special education department of Wake County Public Schools (WCPSS) to learn about the different placements for children with autism spectrum disorders.
- Learn to advocate in a persistent, positive manner.
- Join or contact ASNC for further assistance and attend their workshops for parents with newly diagnosed children.
- Volunteer. Volunteering promotes healing and provides self-educating opportunities.