- Allow yourself to grieve
A diagnosis of Autism can be extremely hard on you emotionally. Don’t allow yourself (or others) to tell you to “stay positive.” or be hopeful. Those feelings will eventually come, but for now it’s important to be honest about where you’re at mentally. It’s ok to be upset. It’s ok to be angry. It’s ok to be scared. Feel your feelings and talk about them with people that you feel emotionally safe with.
- Google about Autism as much as you want to
Most people say to stay off Google because there’s so much information that can overwhelm or confuse you. This is true, but it’s perfectly normal to want to do your own research. In fact, it can be therapeutic. Just understand that not everything you find on Google is factual information. Always make sure that you check out the website/resource that you’re getting information from. Anyone can pretty much write anything and post it on the internet.
- Talk to Family & Friends about Autism
You don’t have to be an expert on Autism to talk to family & friends about your child’s diagnosis. It’s important to let those closest to you know what’s going on with your child if they’re going to be around him/her. If you’re worried about unwanted advice or suggestions, come up with a plan before it happens. Remember to always to be polite & communicate how family & friends are making you feel. More than likely they just want to comfort/support you and they don’t know how.
- Get a second opinion if needed.
You may feel like something else may be going on with your child other than Autism. This is ok and very common. There’s nothing wrong with getting a second opinion from a qualified professional. Be sure to ask your insurance company (if you have one) about covering the cost as most will not cover a second evaluation.
- Reach out to the person who diagnosed your child with new questions.
“Do you have any questions?” is probably the last thing you heard after being told about your child’s diagnosis. This is by far, THE WORST time for doctors to ask this question. Once the initial shock has worn off and you’re home, keep track of questions that pop up in your head. Schedule a follow appointment with the doctor that diagnosed your child if you need to.
- Get a sturdy folder and keep all documents in this folder. You’re going to have a ton of important papers that you’re going to need to keep organized and available to you throughout the years. This includes your child’s official evaluation with notes, physicals, therapy recommendations, any medical & mental diagnoses etc.…
- Consider Early Childhood.
Depending on your child’s age, they may be ready for Early Childhood. Early Childhood is one of the best things you can do for your child. It provides great social interaction & promotes independence (and a break for you!)Contact your local public school department for information on how to start your child as soon as they turn 3 years of age.
- Look into getting evaluated for an IEP.
If you decide to sign your child up for Early Childhood, you need to look into getting an IEP (individual education plan) so your child can be able to learn in the best academic setting possible. ***Understand that having a medical diagnosis of Autism doesn’t necessarily qualify you for an IEP. Every state is different but there has to be an academic need for it)
- Make time for yourself.
It is imperative that we make some time for ourselves. We do no good for our kids if we are running on an empty tank. Your needs are just as important as your child’s needs. This is parenting gig is a journey, not a race & you need to be physically & emotionally healthy as possible.