You've Just Discovered Your Child has an Autism Spectrum Disorder – Now What?!

There is really no other way to begin this journey other than immersing yourself in your youngster's treatment. While it may be painful to say goodbye to the youngster you thought you had (i.e., a “typical” child with “quirks” rather than some “disorder”), you can say hello now to the youngster who needs you just as much - if not more - as you get to know his unique personality and development, and you can fall in love with your newly-diagnosed youngster with high-functioning autism (HFA) or Asperger's (AS) all over again in ways you could have never imagined.

In the beginning, be sure to look at your grief. It doesn't help to pretend to be positive when underneath you may be lonely, afraid or sad. The longing for the typical youngster or a typical existence may endure. You have to learn to live with that yearning.

Take some breaks for yourself. Your child’s treatment is important – but it isn't everything! As you get involved in the autism community, your isolation will lessen. Granted, it is not what you were expecting, but just like your youngster, it can be very rewarding and meaningful.

The initial period of learning about the disorder and all of the necessary therapies and treatments can be isolating. We, as parents, are also often sad at first, or angry that our life with a youngster who has an autism spectrum disorder is different than the one we dreamed of and different than the lives of most of those we see around us. Our ideal world is often very different from the world we actually live in. Still, there are many ways to work towards making your life more of how you want it to be.

Depending upon the functioning level of your youngster, there are many parent groups to join, special sports teams to coach, and class activities that you can be a part of. Sometime the issue reflects difficulty in accepting who your youngster is with his specific challenges and abilities. It may not feel normal or coincide with the dream you had for how your life would turn out.

As you begin to get more involved in the autism community, there will be more activity and company of others. This involvement often helps to make moms and dads feel more normal as it ironically provides more chances for typical activity and interaction with others. Over time, life and ideals change, and you will begin to dream new dreams for your real world.

It seems we always want the ones we love the most to understand us …our feelings, our life choices, our kids. Sometimes this is way more difficult than we would wish. Keep in mind that you are the expert on your youngster, and you know the best ways to deal with him. The truth is, if you are doing the best you can, you really don't have to prove anything to other family members or to anybody else.

In time, other family members will develop their own relationship with your "special needs" child and will hopefully follow your lead on some of the important learning and relationship issues. If you find that other family members and friends are negative around your child, or act in ways that negate his growth or self-esteem, then you may want to limit their interaction while you gently model more helpful ways to deal with your child and continue to share new or interesting articles/information on HFA or AS. This heartfelt process often takes longer than we think it should – steady persistence is paramount.

Note: Acceptance-levels vary among parents. When their child is recently diagnosed, some parents come to acceptance almost immediately -- and even feel a sense of relief that there is a name for what has been going on. Other parents need more time to arrive at acceptance, and that's O.K. Then there are a few parents who seem to never accept the fact that their child has special needs and struggle with the diagnosis for a life-time.

More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book

==> Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism


•    Anonymous said... Well said. We were in the first group. Our first son is "neurotypical" and second has Asperger's. It's been a challenge @ times, but often times, they bring out the best in all of us. I wouldn't change it for the world!
•    Anonymous said... my son is 6yr and he has aspergers and adhd. his two brother (one older and one younger) dont understand really. but its fine. i wouldnt want it any other way. seeing what he has been thru gives me strength for my goals to go back to school.
•    Anonymous said... I actually felt relief when I recently got my 14 yr old daughters diagnosis .... It was my moment of of saying I was right all along
•    Anonymous said...I also had a "whew!" moment because I was convinced her issues stemmed from lack of parenting ability. I tried so many different things and she just didn't respond normally at all. when we got the diagnosis it all made sense, even if it didn't change her behavior, it changed the way we interpreted it and that has made so much difference.
•    Anonymous said... No grief here,well,not much that is.Always knew she was very special even before birth.It is however a very big job.Holidays are not much fun as she is very anxious.
•    Anonymous said... It has been just over a year since diagnosis. It took awhile to accept and I am not sure that I have truly accepted it. There are days that are difficult but there are also days where I things run smoothly. D is such an amazing boy with talents and skills that mesmerize me all the time. He sees things differently and he challenges me all the time. But , he is a gift my gift
•    Anonymous said... My 19 year old daughter went undiagnosed her whole life, until a doctor mentioned that there was a high possibility that she had Asperger's. I was really confused and denied that she was handicapped. But surprisingly, my daughter went and researched everything about the disorder, and she seemed to finally be at peace with her past troubles and trauma in public school (she was bullied). She found some clarity as to why she was so different back then and now. So if she accepts it, I'm learning to accept it too. I love my children no matter what happens and will always support them 100%, even if one of them needs a little more assistance in life.
•    Anonymous said... I have just had the diagnosis this week so a bit unsure what happens now. Would appreciate any guidance and also my child is 7 do things get more challenging or stay the same.
•    Karla Velazquez said... I have half a year with the knowledge that the school psephologist diagnosed my son with the aspergers syndrome, but now what he is in special needs class but that does not really help at home I dont know how to work with him properly and I am dont have any resources here. What do I do next to get help? I have 6 months now with the diagnoses that my 6 year old has aspergers according to the school physiologist but I dont know what the next step is. He is in a special needs class but that does not change the behavior at home I dont know what the next step is if any one can help

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