Do you have a child who has recently been diagnosed or thought to have Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), As a parent, this news sends you reeling! You are probably wondering what will happen next? You may not know how to help your child or are confused about conflicting treatments? Or you have been told that ASD is an incurable lifelong condition, and nothing you will do matters. ASD is not something a person “grows out of,” but there are many treatments that can make a difference for your child. Here are five parenting tips that will help make life easier.
Tip 1: Don’t Wait for a Diagnosis
As a parent of an ASD child or other related developmental delays, the best thing you can do is start treatment immediately. Seek help as soon as you suspect there is something wrong. Don’t wait to see if your child will catch up or outgrow the problem. The earlier children on the autism spectrum get help, the greater the chance of successful treatment. Early intervention is important, and it may reduce symptoms.
Becoming the Advocate:
Tip 2: Helping Your Child Thrive
Tip 3: Nonverbal Communication
Connecting with your ASD child can be a challenge. Non-verbal communication includes the way you look at your child, by the tone of your voice, your body language, etc. Remember, non-verbal ASD children are communicating with you all the time – you just need to learn their language.
Tip 4: Create a Personalized Autism Treatment Plan
When putting together a treatment plan, know that there is no single best treatment plan. Each child with autism has their own unique strengths and weaknesses. However, is good plan will have the following:
Source: National Institute of Mental Health
Tip 5: Find Help and Support
Don’t try to do everything yourself. Parenting isn’t easy and raising a special needs child is very demanding. Remember, if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else.
ASD – find a ASD support group in our area. Parents can ask questions, give advice, and lean on each other for support.
Respite Care – When you need to take a break or go to an important meeting, you can hire a temporary caregiver who will step in.
Individual, marital, or family counselling – if stress, anxiety or depression become a problem, seek professional help.
Free U.S. Government Services – Under the U.S. federal law known as the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), children with disabilities – including those with ASD – are eligible for a range of free and low-cost services. Check it out and be proactive.
Living with an autistic child is a challenge and it can be very overwhelming. I personally know the ups and downs of this challenge. I have cried many tears, became frustrated, and know the pain of dealing with an autistic child. But I also know the smiles, laughter, successes, and joy that go along with this journey. I know that my family member is very much worth the effort. In my case, my life is very much richer because of him – I am grateful.
Written by PJ Larsen, Ed. D., Veteran classroom teacher, college professor, and adventure traveler.
The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.
Dr. James Stanfield, Ed.D.