By Maureen Dillon, clinical social worker at The Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders
When parents come to The Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders, they often feel overwhelmed when we tell them their child has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In the days and weeks following a diagnosis, families experience a wide range of emotions, including fear, frustration, loneliness and confusion, to name a few.These feelings can be intensified by the long list of things we recommend they do. As a clinical social worker, I talk with many families that are just starting to learn about autism and all the programs and services in the community that families need to access to get their child the help they need.
Here are some suggestions for parents that have a child recently diagnosed with autism:
- It’s common to feel a wide range of feelings, and it’s important to get support from caring family members and friends.
- Sometimes couples find their partner seems to have a very different response, and this can be frustrating. People cope, grieve and adapt in different ways, so remember to be sensitive to each other’s differences and work together on some common goals for your child.
- Start to read and learn more about autism. Autism Speaks has some great resources.
- Write down your questions, and bring them to your child’s doctor, therapist, teacher or other helping professional.
- Connect with other parents through classes and support groups, or at your child’s school.
At The Center, we offer many classes about autism, as well as a support group for families where we provide information and guidance. For example, we offer the Autism Education Series, a six-week class designed for families who have a child recently diagnosed with autism. The class is open to the whole community and is held three times a year. We have grandparents, aunts, uncles, significant others and friends attending along with parents so that the whole family can learn and support the child and parents.
Our support group meets monthly, and provides an opportunity for parents to connect with each other and talk about successes and challenges. It’s a chance to get advice from each other and teach each other. Learn more about these services.
It’s important that parents of children newly diagnosed with autism know they are not alone. You canconnect to a community of other parents who are also trying to make sense of all that is happening with their child and navigate what can be a complex world of programs and therapies. The Center welcomes you to come and join us so we can learn together and support each other.
More articles about autism:
- While behavior challenges might be common in children with autism, the cause might not be what it seems. Get insights into behaviors of children with autism from a pediatric expert.
- If you have a child or loved one with ASD, here are some strategies that you can use to ensure your child eats a healthy diet.
- How a pediatric psychologist, Dr. Jina Jang spends her work days supporting children who are receiving care at the Thompson Autism Center at CHOC.