...if their child has just been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
With it being World Autism Awareness Month, it's important to raise acceptance and understanding for autism. At CVS, we don't just do this in April but we do this everyday. Everyday we help individuals who are on the autism spectrum as well as their families. We found this article by the CBC an interesting one for parents who are new to the world of autism.
Here are 8 things parents should know if their child has just been diagnosed with ASD:
- Take time to process - When your child receives a diagnosis, you'll experience a wide range of emotions. That's normal and perfectly OK. While you might have been expecting this diagnosis for a long time, you still need to give yourself some time to process what that diagnosis means. Especially if it is a diagnosis or label that you weren't expecting or aren't familiar with.
- Do your research - Knowledge is power! You need to learn everything you can about your child's diagnosis and what therapy options are available, if therapy is indeed something you want to explore. You need to read the pros and cons about the different therapies so you can make the best informed decision for your child.
- The diagnosis does not have to be a negative thing - Unfortunately, some diagnostic labels come with a lot of negative baggage. Who knows why, but here's the thing: a label is what you make it out to be. It does not have to be negative at all. As the article states, a diagnosis can open up the door to funding, support and a variety of other things your child and family may need.
- You're likely to come across a lot of bad advice - If someone tells you about the latest and greatest therapy or whatever, then do the research yourself. Use that research to determine what is and what is not worth pursuing. Trust me, there is a lot of bad advice and misinformation out there.
- Find a support group - Raising a child, regardless of whether or not they have a diagnosis, is not always easy. There will be hard days and it's important to have someone you can talk to on those days, someone who can listen to you or offer support based on their experiences. Your support group doesn't have to consist of someone else raising a child with the same diagnosis. Nor does it have to be a local, in-person type of support group. An online support group or friend can be extremely valuable to you as well. However, someone who has experience dealing with similar diagnoses may be helpful to you on those particularly challenging days.
- Connect with others who have the same diagnosis - It is important to have friends who do have the same diagnosis as my child. Or at the bare minimum, at least read writings from people with the same diagnosis. They can provide an incredible amount of information and insight that no other professional, parent or expert can.
- Be prepared to advocate - When your child gets diagnosed, things don't automatically get easier. You are likely going to have to advocate hard for your child everywhere you go. That's why it is important to connect with others who have the same diagnosis and research everything. The more educated you are about the diagnosis, the better it will be for advocating for your child's needs.
- Accept your child for who they are - The diagnosis does not change them. The therapy options you use should not seek to change them either. Simply embrace your child for who they are, because they are pretty amazing.
We hope this helps you as you and your child navigate these early stages of their life. Children are our future and best of all, none of us are the same. The uniqueness of us all is what really makes this world an interesting place to live.