5 Tips for Parents of Newly Diagnosed
Children with Autism

An autism diagnosis is a life-changing event for your child, you, and your family. You may feel relief at finally knowing how to best care for your child, but it’s also normal to feel fear or frustration about your child’s future and how you’ll figure out which therapies and other support they need.

But where do you start, now that you know? What questions should you ask after an autism diagnosis? We’re here to help with five tips for parents still making sense of this major news.

Happy kid The Cardinal Center for Behavior Analysis

First, Accept That Not Everything Will Work

Whether it’s the lure of a new therapy or study being conducted by the local university, or something that others in the autism community vouch for, one thing you should understand about your child with autism is that not everything will work. Some therapies and supports will be incredibly beneficial for your child, while others might not — even if they work for others.

The good news is that you don’t have to figure this out all on your own. A team of people including yourself, therapists, caregivers, and teachers play a part in developing individualized plans for your child. For example, your “team” may help you understand the value of individual ABA therapy, a much-trusted way to build skills and eliminate challenging behaviors.

Daughter and mother bonding The Cardinal Center for Behavior Analysis

Gather Resources and Information

With technology at our fingertips, it’s easier than ever to start scouring the internet on your lunch break, or at 3am. You can find a lot of great information and support online. However, trusting just any old advice could be downright detrimental to your child’s progress, and your own mental health.

Don’t be afraid to seek help, but start with experts: doctors, therapists, and teachers are a great first line of resources. Seek out support groups near you or other well-known national groups. And listen to other parents with more experience raising a child with autism: even if you should take their advice with a grain of salt, they can offer valuable information and support.

Outdoor family bonding The Cardinal Center for Behavior Analysis

Have an Open Mind When It Comes to Your Child’s Interests

Children have strange and niche interests, and children with ASD can take this to the extreme! Kids with autism tend to hyper-fixate on topics or objects, and often, you can’t wrap your head around the appeal. Be willing to participate in their interests, even if you don’t understand them, to show them that the things they care about — and they themselves — have value.

Similarly, there may be times where your child isn’t as receptive to a gift or activity because they’re captivated by something else. Help relatives and other well-intentioned people understand that their gift is appreciated, but that your child’s focus lies elsewhere.

Mother and daughter playing The Cardinal Center for Behavior Analysis

Advocating for Your Child

If your child is enrolled at a standard school, you’ll need to make an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Similar to what we at Cardinal do with ABA therapy, this plan is built from the input of your child’s teachers and therapists to help your child to thrive during school, build social skills, and transition into different phases of their lives, such as job training.

However, if there’s something you feel could be beneficial to your child that isn’t in the IEP, address it. You are your child’s biggest advocate, and spend the most time with them. For example, art therapy may be soothing to your child, but not necessarily integrated into an IEP — see if this is an option through the school, and if not, you can look for it elsewhere.

Autism Treatments

Advocating for Your Child

​If your child is enrolled at a standard school, you’ll need to make an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Similar to what we at Cardinal do with ABA therapy, this plan is built from the input of your child’s teachers and therapists to help your child to thrive during school, build social skills, and transition into different phases of their lives, such as job training.

However, if there’s something you feel could be beneficial to your child that isn’t in the IEP, address it. You are your child’s biggest advocate, and spend the most time with them. For example, art therapy may be soothing to your child, but not necessarily integrated into an IEP — see if this is an option through the school, and if not, you can look for it elsewhere.

Father and son the cardinal center for behavior analysis

Be Patient…With Your Child, and Yourself

We understand that it can be very easy to lose your patience with your situation, your child, or yourself at times, especially with a new autism diagnosis. You feel overwhelmed by the news, new information, new routines and patterns — it’s a lot.

Give yourself as much grace as you give your child, and remember that you’re part of a team: you can always turn to your loved ones, autism experts, and us. At Cardinal, we offer parent support groups and parents’ nights out, because we believe your self-care is vital to ensuring your child’s needs are met. Contact us to learn more about how to build a foundation for your child, and yourself: we’ve helped countless parents before, and we can help you do it, too.

Father and son the cardinal center for behavior analysis

Questions?

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