Learning that your child has an autism spectrum disorder might unveil a lot of emotions, as well as a long list of questions. You may feel relieved that there is finally a diagnosed reason as to why your child interacts differently or why he or she seems to enjoy the repetitive nature of certain things. At the same time, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed or scared, not knowing what to do next. As a parent, your life’s goal is to provide as best as you can for your children, but it can be difficult to know what to do in new experiences, particularly surrounding their mental and physical health.
While autism is not uncommon, affecting 1 in 68 children, autism is as unique as your child. Although there may be similarities between other children who have autism, each diagnosis is different, requiring different levels of treatment for children and support for caregivers and parents.
Choose Treatment for Your Child
As soon as your child is diagnosed, it’s crucial to select the best treatment program for your child. Keep in mind that although treatment may be a lifelong commitment, as autism doesn’t simply go away, early detection and treatment can help your child live with autism much easier than children who don’t seek treatment. Receiving proper care, tailored to his or her needs, can increase your child’s ability to adapt to and learn new skills as well as minimize autism spectrum disorder symptoms.
Since a treatment program is the best option for your child, it is also important that you educate yourself on autism, in general, or your child’s specific disorder. Additionally, seeking out a support group for parents and caregivers of children with autism may be helpful, particularly through the most difficult times when things are hard to understand or handle. Other parents and caregivers can also offer advice and feedback on effective treatment programs for children with autism.
Once your child has been assessed, you will need to choose an autism treatment program best suited for your child’s age and where he or she is on the autism spectrum. While there are several programs for children with autism available, keep in mind that not every program may be suitable for your child, as there is no general program that suits all children with autism. Do research, talk with experts, doctors, or other parents before selecting a program:
- Young Children: Research has shown that young children, who are diagnosed with autism at an early age (rather than later), have greater success with social skills and other skills. Programs, such as the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM), is a popular program for toddler and preschool aged children. The program also focuses heavily on parental involvement.
- School Aged Children: By the time your child reaches school age, assuming he or she has already been diagnosed with autism, you may have several program options from specialized education within public schools or a school exclusively for children with autism. While there are numerous autism schools throughout the country, there may be none in your area or you may be faced with a financial challenge. Consider applying for an autism scholarship to relieve some of the financial stress.
Choosing a program for your child can be overwhelming, but by staying connected within the autism community and educating yourself, you can learn about the most suitable programs for your child.