What to Do When You Think Your Child May Have an Autism Spectrum Disorder

"What are the first steps parents should begin to take when they believe their child may have autism?"

For many moms and dads, finding out that your youngster has ASD level 1, or High-Functioning Autism (HFA), can be a mixed blessing. On one hand, a positive diagnosis gives rise to the prospect of management and greater certainty as to the factors at play in your youngster's life. On the other, most moms and dads are unprepared for the changes having a son or daughter with the disorder invariably brings.

We've compiled a list of the top 10 steps to take if you think your youngster may have an autism spectrum disorder, or if you've had your youngster diagnosed already:

1. Be honest with yourself. At times, rearing a son or daughter with HFA can cause you anger, sadness, anxiety, frustration and depression. Be open to understanding that you will, at times, feel all these feelings, and allow that authenticity to give rise to the possibility that you will take care of your own needs. In doing so, you can more effectively tend to the needs of others. Don't feel the need to explain or justify your actions to others. However you cope with the situation is exactly the way you are supposed to.

2. Contact community services and inquire as to whether you are eligible for some type of family benefit as a parent of a youngster on the autism spectrum. Your doctor should be able to advise you on this.

3. Contact your local Autism Association and ascertain what services are provided through the service. Make use of private and government resourced services.

4. Permit yourself to take stock of your situation from a place of positivity. With diagnosis comes some certainty, as you and your youngster are now dealing with a known quantity. There's nothing wrong with taking each day at a time, and understanding that you can now make a difference to your youngster's life, which you could not in the absence of a diagnosis. You're youngster has always had the disorder. The day your son or daughter receives a diagnosis is the first step in the right direction.

5. If your son or daughter is in school, contact the Principal and advise him or her of the diagnosis. Many schools are aware of – and, in fact, provide information on – autism. School counseling is designed to assist with the condition. In addition, ask your youngster's school whether they are aware of any parent workshops for autistic children.

If your child is older, home study and tutoring may be an option. It is important to be assertive in ensuring that your school can properly advocate for your youngster's needs, and ideally this can be achieved by working within the school protocols. There is no need for you to underestimate your youngster's potential, and certainly this attitude should be reflected in the educational institution. Involve yourself where possible in your youngster's educational and learning environments.

6. Invest in your own education. There is a vast quantity of information on autism spectrum disorders available, both online and in the form of medical literature. Sign up for information seminars, online e-courses, and if you are looking for immediately available information, give consideration to investing in an ebook written by an expert on autism spectrum disorders. Knowledge is power.

7. Involve your family in the process, and do your best to maintain objectivity. Kids on the spectrum have certain special needs; however, they are (for the most part) high-functioning children who can thrive with appropriate and measured care. Try and maintain a balance between focusing on providing that care, and being a spouse and parent to the rest of your family.

8. Make inquiries with your doctor for a referral to someone who has experience with autism spectrum disorders. Having professional assistance can make an enormous difference to how effectively you can help your youngster cope with the disorder. Permit those professionals you consult to guide you through the process and make the most of their advice.

9. Make inquiries within your local community as to the support groups available for those with HFA and for moms and dads of these children. Sharing your situation with others who are in a position to fully appreciate it can make an enormous difference.

10. Remember to smile. You have a special child. One day, he or she just might be the one looking after you.

Resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:

==> Videos for Parents of Children and Teens with ASD

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