What to Do When Your Child is Diagnosed with Autism
Raising a child with autism is not an easy thing to do. It takes a lot of courage, patience and love. When a parent first finds out that their son or daughter has autism, there is a feeling of loss and a mourning period. We all want our child to be the best they can be, but when you hear those words, even the most optimistic people have to face an uphill battle. Having an autistic child means that there is going to be a lot of unknown. Parents have no idea how their child will turn out. This can be a scary thing and drives many parents into denial and does not allow them to do the things they need to do in order to achieve success.
When a child is diagnosed parents need to jump in with both feet and find out the best way to help their child as much of their focus as possible needs to be on where to begin and how to effectively and affordably do it. Unlike in the past, there are a number of resources that help a parent get started. These include Autism Speaks, TACA and the Autism Society of America. One of the first keys in getting your child help is to act fast, and do not wait for others to tell you what to do.
Make sure you and your partner are on the same page. There is nothing worse than having a house divided. Both parents need to be focused on the common goal and form a united front to do everything possible to help their child. It is easy to point fingers and blame the other person when you are in crisis, but you have to move past that and get things done.
Beginning the search for therapy providers and doctors who can help can be a daunting task, but it has to be done and done quickly. Many children with autism have other issues outside of autism, and it is imperative to have a pediatrician who is on your side and will listen to you. A large number of families take their children to DAN (Defeat Autism Now) doctors to test for allergies, deficiencies as well as a host of other things. Locating a therapist is easy for parents who live in cities and suburbs. For those who live in rural areas, locating a therapist for every issue can be a challenge, especially qualified ABA therapists. Families may have to drive a distance in order to find a therapist. Once those have been located, it is recommended that the parent interviews each therapist to make sure both parties are working toward a common goal.
Once a therapist is located it is now time to figure out how to pay for the therapy. As parents of children with autism, we face the fact that in the majority of states in the US, there is no insurance coverage for children with autism. This reality smacks a parent in the face soon after they begin the process of looking for therapists. Most insurance companies will cover 10-30 visits for OT, PT or SLP. There is virtually no help in covering Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), TEACH or Floor Time services. Families must focus then on paying out of pocket or finding alternative methods of providing therapy.
After a therapist is located and schedules are set up, parents must now figure out how to make the most out of each session. It is imperative that a family member or friend sit in on each therapy session. This does two things. First, it allows a parent to learn everything that the therapist is doing. When the therapist leaves after an hour or two, parents can take over and continue to work with their child on the skills learned that day. Having a parent or family friend constantly work with their child will provide the child with a better chance of reaching their Maximum Potential.
Having a child with autism is not an easy thing. It can be both extremely frustrating and rewarding at the same time. Parents who are proactive in doing their research and finding the help that their child needs typically see better results. Sitting back and waiting for someone else to do it will only result in frustration. Parents need to think outside the box and develop a plan on how to best help their child with the resources they have. Learning skills in ABA or other therapies can only make a parent's life easier and give a child the best opportunity for success.
Garrett Butch is the father of a 6 year old with autism and the founder of (www.maximumpotentialkids.com)Maximum Potential Group. Maximum Potential has developed courses that train parents and school systems how to work with children with autism.