My Child Has Autism, Now What?

Empower

My Child Has Autism, Now What to Do?

Your child has just been diagnosed with Autism. You probably feel a range of emotions – from shock and confusion to fear and anxiety. You may wonder what this diagnosis means for your child and your family.   The term “Autism” describes a spectrum characterized by challenges with social skills, highly restricting and repetitive behaviors, speech and communication, and nonverbal or social-communication. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the name for the diagnosis and include previously given diagnoses including Asperger’s Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS).    ASD affects people in different ways and to varying degrees. Some people with ASD lead independent lives, while others may require lifelong supervision and support.    When learning of their child’s diagnosis, parents should educate themselves on intervention and various support methods that exist. Managing the supports available and necessary for an autistic child may feel overwhelming at first.   

Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis in Children

Autistic children face several challenges impacting their development, socialization, and behavior. Per the diagnosis, these challenges fall under three main categories:
  1. Social and Communication Difficulties
  2. Sensory Processing Issues
  3. Restricted and Repetitive Behaviors
In an effort to support your autistic child in developing skills in these areas, you may consider the following. Social and Communication Difficulties: If your child has social and communication difficulties, it can be hard to know how to help. There are a few things you can do to support your child and make things a little easier. First, try to encourage your child to join social activities and clubs. It can help them meet other children with similar interests and make friends. Second, help your child practice their social skills. You can role-play different scenarios with them, or have them practice conversations with friends or family. Third, talk to your child’s teacher or school counselor. They can provide additional support and resources to help your child succeed. Taking these steps can help your child overcome social and communication difficulties and enjoy a more successful and happy life. Sensory Processing Issues: Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often have difficulty processing sensory information. It can mean they are oversensitive to certain sounds, textures, tastes, smells, or lights. They may also be under sensitive to stimuli, and not respond to things most people would find unpleasant or painful. ASD can make everyday activities and situations very difficult for children. For example, a child who is oversensitive to noise may have difficulty in a school cafeteria or on a bus. A child who is under-sensitive to touch may not realize when they are injuring themselves. If your child has difficulty processing sensory information, there are some things you can do to help. You can provide your child with a quiet, safe place to go when they are feeling overwhelmed. You can also provide them coping strategies to endure environments where sensory overload may occur, such as wearing headphones in a crowded store or at a preferred theme park.

Restricted and Repetitive Behaviors:

Counting or repeating words or phrases

Wanting everything to stay the same or strictly following set routines

Intense reactions to changes in plans

Fixated interests in certain topics

Repeating behaviors or actions

Flapping their hands, spinning, or rocking their body

Inflexible thinking

When your child displays these types of behaviors and if they cause distress in day-to-day life, therapy focusing on increasing their coping skills and flexibility may be helpful in supporting them to move through life where changes occur on the daily. You and your child may practice accepting changes or preparing to expect changes. If your child displays any of the above behaviors, they may be on the Autism Spectrum. Please speak to your pediatrician if you’re concerned about your child’s development. Each Child with ASD is unique and may face various challenges. However, all children with ASD can benefit from early intervention and specialized therapies. If you are a parent or caregiver of a child with ASD, it is important to be aware of these challenges, and seek the resources and support your child needs to thrive.

My Child is diagnosed with Autism. How to Navigate life?

Finding out your child has Autism can be emotionally trying and overwhelming. After diagnosis, parents are likely uncertain and may wonder what to do next. The tips below are a starting point to help guide you in the right direction as your family navigates life with Autism.

1) Find a High-Quality Therapist  

Therapy is the best way to help your child grow developmentally. It teaches skills that lead to ongoing improvements and strengthens the family bond. Therapists often start with the skill most impacting the child’s life and those with the highest likelihood of success. Learn more about the types of therapy that your child needs.

2) Focus on the Positive  

While the support for someone with a diagnosis may be physically, emotionally, and psychologically exhausting to navigate, remember it is also possible to view it as an opportunity. An Autism diagnosis allows the family to examine the child’s life for areas that need improvement, identify resources available that may be covered by medical insurance, and to develop specific plans to improve their quality of life. Every small accomplishment your child achieves makes a big difference.

3) Form Social Groups  

Communication and social skills develop by practicing with similar-aged friends. There are often groups in your area focused on this. It provides crucial opportunities for your child to practice in a safe and healthy environment with peers. The opportunity to interact with others helps to stimulate your child’s brain by increasing their opportunities to learn new skills.

4) Talk to a Therapist  

You need to work directly with a therapist experienced in Autism Spectrum Disorders. There are several surefire signs of a good therapist. These surefire signs include empathy, a high understanding of psychology, and the ability to connect with a child. Each child experiences Autism in ways that are different from others, and it is crucial to find a therapist who can relate to your child’s experience. Early Intervention programs help the children with Autism to join school with other children and lead an independent life.

5) Communicate  

Open-dialogue between parents and an expert is paramount. Discuss concerns and desires early on, and find a therapist willing to work with you on your behalf. Seeing your therapist and feeling like you are a team working towards your end goal should feel good. Your therapist should listen to all your suggestions, take all your experiences and your child’s experiences, and make recommendations based on your goals and objectives.

What are the Services Parents Can Seek for Their Child after Autism Diagnosis?

After receiving an ASD DIAGNOSIS, it’s common for parents to feel overwhelmed and uncertain about the next steps. Many resources and services are available, and it can be hard to know which ones are right for your child.

The most important thing is to remember that every child is different, and what works for one child may not work for another. With that in mind, here are a few different types of services that parents of Autistic children should seek out:

-Behavioral Therapy: Behavioral Therapy is one of the most common and proven effective therapies for autistic individuals. It can help children with social skills, communication, and repetitive behaviors.

-Speech Therapy: Many children with ASD also have difficulty with communication. Speech Therapy can help with this by teaching them how to communicate better with others.

-Occupational Therapy: Occupational Therapy can help with fine motor skills, sensory processing, and daily living activities.

-Psychological Services: Children with ASD are at a higher risk for anxiety and depression. Psychological Services can help children deal with these issues healthily.

If you are concerned that your child may have ASD, talk to your doctor. They may refer you to a specialist for further evaluation.

How to Create a Structured Environment for ASD Children?

Creating a structured environment is key for a child with ASD. A set routine and consistent expectations can help your child feel secure and supported. Here are a few tips on how to create a structured environment for children with ASD:  

  1. Use a calendar or visual schedule to help your child know what to expect each day.
  2. Break down activities into small and manageable steps.
  3. Use visual cueing to help your child understand the environment and society.
  4. Be clear and consistent with your expectations and routine.
  5. Make sure your child has a quiet, safe place to go if they need a break from the stimulation of the world around them. 

These tips can help children with ASD feel comfortable and confident in their environment.  

Reasons to work with Empower Therapy

Empower Therapy aims to deliver trauma-informed, individualized, ‘best fit’ care based on each child and family’s needs.

From our center-based ABA therapy programs to our Parent Consulting Program, we offer a range of services to support and guide you on your child’s developmental journey, wherever you are.
Here are just a few reasons why families love working with Empower Therapy:

Parents As Reporters/Responders

It is crucial to give your child’s therapist specific information about time spent outside of the ABA therapy sessions. As the parent you can observe and note accomplishments, difficulties, and necessary adjustments. By sharing your knowledge of what has worked well and what has been challenging for your child, you and your ABA team can work together to make necessary adjustments to the therapy plans. 

We're with You Every Step of the Way

No two children or families are alike. That’s why, in addition to our regular center-based ABA Therapy Services, Empower Therapy offers an array of other services and support, including:   

  1. Parent Consulting
  2. School Shadowing
  3. Summer Camp
  4. Social Skills Groups  

No matter where the child, parents, and caregivers are on their journey, we’re here to guide you every step of the way.  

We're Trauma-informed

Many of our team members have dedicated time to learning and gaining experience in the area of trauma-informed care. This depth of knowledge and understanding is the underpinning of our compassionate care approach and in-depth care plans.  

We're a Team 

As an Empower Therapy client, you’ll receive not just one expert’s opinion and guidance, but the collective perspectives and rich knowledge of our entire clinical team. Our team approach ensures continuity of care. It also ensures that you and your family always have access to the support you need.  
We're Evidence-based
ABA is the most effective intervention for Autism and other developmental disabilities. Empower Therapy only employs evidence-based practices, and our programs are based on the science of ABA.
We're Passionate   
Working with Empower is unlike any other experience. We are passionate about our work, which shows in everything we do. Our commitment to you is to provide the absolute best care and support for you and your family. We’re committed to helping you overcome your challenges and attain lasting success.  
Final Thoughts

After a child is diagnosed with Autism, each family will respond differently to the diagnosis. Families can take some steps to begin supporting their autistic child. These steps include seeking out support and information from professionals and other parents, developing a positive attitude towards Autism and creating a safe and supportive home environment.   

Children all have a special skill that parents must find, encourage, and develop. By encouraging your child’s special skills, parents can support their growth, a way to manage their stress, and even potentially lead them to a future career opportunity all with the goal of their child leading a happy and fulfilling life.