If you are a parent who has recently learned that your child has or may have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), you most likely have questions and concerns about what happens next. Regardless if you have other children, no parent can prepare themselves for the news of an ASD diagnosis, especially if you don’t quite understand what the diagnosis means.
What does this mean for your child’s future? What does this mean for your future? These are common questions for new parents of children with autism, and although the answers will be different for every parent, it’s critical to know that you are not alone in your journey. Raising a child with ASD is very joyful and rewarding, but it can also come with some unexpected obstacles that can cause families to feel overwhelmed. Luckily, there are plenty of resources and support systems available to help you and your family through this new phase of your lives. If you are not quite sure where to start, we have compiled some of the best autism tips for new parents.
When it comes to autism, there is a lot of misinformation out there and that is why it’s critical to educate yourself on what your child’s diagnosis means. There is a lot about ASD that we know, but it’s also important to remember that there is also a lot that we are still learning about the neurodevelopmental disorder.
The exact cause of autism is unknown but we do it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It does not have a physical effect on diagnosed individuals. Although there is a set of hallmark signs that are needed for a diagnosis, you should know that not every individual will experience the same symptoms.
Top Autism Tips
Now that we have discussed what an ASD diagnosis means, we are going to share the tips that we find the most helpful for new parents.
Avoid Information Overload
While it is important to research and understand ASD, if you spend too much time online, the immense amount of information may be overwhelming for new parents. The best source of information–especially after the initial diagnosis– is through your physician.
Utilize Online Resources & Programs
There are many government and non-profit organizations that offer information and details on support groups in your state. Many of these organizations have tons of information on their websites that can be a great and reliable resource for parents of newly diagnosed children. Additionally, many nonprofits are partnering with ASD advocacy groups to provide weekend and week long camps for the entire family.
Talk To Other Parents
One of the most helpful tips for new parents is to simply talk with other parents who can offer insight, tips, stories, and more. Raising a child with autism can cause parents to feel isolated, but the truth is there are millions of people who are going through the same experience. There are plenty of Facebook groups, mom blogs, online forums, and so much more.
Provide Structure & Routines
As you become more educated on ASD, you will realize that routines, structure, and consistency will go a long way toward helping both you and your child. Children with ASD tend to respond well to a highly-structured schedule or set routine. Set up a schedule for your child, with regular times for meals, therapy, school, and bedtime with minimal distractions. Structure and routine will help your child to feel safe.
Pay Attention To Sensory Sensitivities
Autistic children may experience sensory processing issues, and paying attention to them can help to minimize stress for your child. Some children with ASD are hypersensitive to light, sound, touch, taste, and smell. Other children with autism are hyposensitive or under-sensitive to sensory stimuli, which may cause sensory-seeking behaviors. Once you figure out what sounds, smells, movements, or tactile sensations trigger your child, you can avoid certain situations in the future to minimize additional stress for your child.
Celebrate Your Child
Every child is unique and has their own set of strengths but there are some particular traits or quirks that come along with an ASD diagnosis that you may start to notice as your child continues to grow and develop. These traits or strengths will vary from child to child but generally revolve around particular topics of interest, memory skills, reading skills, and artistic skills, just to name a few.
Prioritize Self Care
It can be easy to forget your own needs when you spend so much time caring for your children, but taking care of yourself - physically and emotionally - is vital to your overall well being. Self-care looks different for everyone, but it can be as simple as going for a walk, listening to your favorite podcast, visiting with friends, etc. Remember that taking some time to yourself can allow you to recharge and focus on other things in your life.
There are so many other tips available online, but we thought that these few tips would be beneficial to you and your family. If you would like additional information on support groups or resource materials, we encourage you to read a previous article that we did on finding ASD support groups in your area.