Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) comes with specific unique challenges for children and their parents. When your child first receives an autism diagnosis, you might feel worried about what comes next and how to best support them through it. There is a lot of misinformation about autism out there, which may make parents especially fearful for their child’s future.
While autism is a lifelong condition, there are many treatments and tools that make it very possible for individuals with autism to overcome developmental challenges. With a loving and supportive home and the right treatment plan, there is nothing stopping your child with autism from having a rich, meaningful life.
Learn Everything You Can
Knowledge is power. There are many different treatment methods available for ASD, and the best way to determine the right strategy for your child is to be as informed as possible. Begin by learning everything you can about ASD so you can be an active participant in all treatment decisions.
Accept Your Child Unconditionally
All children need unconditional love, and children with autism are no exception. When your child is first diagnosed, it’s easy to see all the things your child isn’t able to do. Instead, focus on what they can do. People with ASD have a unique perspective on the world, and by accepting them exactly as they are and celebrating their differences, you may find that they shift the way you see the world too. Embracing their quirks will support your child more than any other intervention could.
Children with ASD thrive with structure and routine. They need strong consistency in order to feel safe and secure. Keep the schedule as regular as possible and keep potential disruptions to their routine to a minimum. If there needs to be a change in the schedule for any reason, make sure to give your child plenty of notice to prepare themselves.
Children with ASD may be completely nonverbal, or they may struggle with verbal communication. However, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t communicating with you. It’s just a matter of learning their language. Look for nonverbal cues, such as their facial expressions, gestures, and sounds they make when they’re feeling hungry or tired. In addition, make sure you are engaging with your child in play. Think about what makes your child smile and laugh. Make time to engage in these activities without the need to make it about education or therapy. All children need to play.
Create a Treatment Plan
There are so many different treatments for autism out there that you’re likely going to get a ton of different recommendations. This can make it difficult to determine the best course of action. Keep in mind there is no one “right” way to treat autism — what works best for your child will be unique to their needs. Consider what your child’s strengths are, which behaviors are in most need of intervention, how they learn best, and what they enjoy. These facts will help the health care team determine the best treatment plan for them.
With all of the information out there to learn, it can be overwhelming to navigate ASD. Fortunately, the autism community has many resources. Connecting with other families living with ASD is a great way to find the support you need. At New Transitions Counseling Center, we offer autism therapy and autism support groups. Contact us to learn more about our support groups, as well as our child counseling services in Palatine.