Autism is not an uncommon diagnosis. In fact, according to the CDC, as of 2020, one in every 54 children in the US have been diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). Autism can affect things like speech, behavior, and social skills. Because of this, it can be very difficult to communicate with your child and understand their needs and wants.
After your child has been diagnosed with ASD, you might not be sure what you can do to better meet their needs. Some people ignore their child’s diagnosis or put off making changes. However, that doesn’t help you or your child. Instead, here are some of the first steps that you can take when your child gets an autism diagnosis.
Modify Your Home
Children with autism often have needs that are different from other children. Because they process their emotions and sensory input differently from other children, your home may need some modifications for them to feel safe and comfortable.
To start with, your child may not understand the dangers of certain areas in the house. You may need to install locks on cupboards with chemicals or other dangerous contents. Bathrooms and kitchens should have scald-prevention devices on the plumbing to protect your child from burns, especially if they enjoy playing in water. Appliances can be covered or locked to prevent curious hands. In some cases, you may put up child gates for certain rooms.
Additionally, issues throughout the house can lead to your child feeling stressed or upset, which can lead to them acting out. Start by reducing clutter. Get rid of knick-knacks and furniture that you no longer need. You can also create an organization system that keeps items out of the way when they’re not in use.
Many children with ASD are bothered by certain noises. While loud noises can be a trigger, they may also be bothered by quieter noises, some of which might be so quiet you don’t notice them. Carpeting can help reduce noise throughout the house. You can also add soundproofing or insulation to reduce noises from both inside and outside your home.
Remember that all children have different sensory triggers. Don’t be surprised if you have to modify your home several different times before you figure out what works best for your child.
Talk to Their School
It’s imperative that you let your child’s school know about your child’s ASD diagnosis. They can make accommodations for your child, and this will help your child be successful in school moving forward. Your child’s teacher may want to sit down with you to discuss some of their concerns and how they’d like to address them.
By creating an IEP (individualized education program) for your child, staff throughout the school will be better able to help your child get the most out of their education. While the IEP needs to be tailored for your child’s specific needs, it will generally cover academic, social, behavioral, and motor issues. It will also detail what accommodations your child needs and should receive and what staff should do in certain situations.
The IEP will also outline goals for your child’s progress so that their development can be assessed over time. When you meet with school staff again for future follow ups, you can reassess goals and look at whether the current methods are working for your child. If not, your child’s counselor or teacher will propose alternative strategies to help your child meet their goals.
Research Different Therapies
A lot of kids with autism benefit from different therapies. This is why you need to research some of the kinds of therapies that are available. Many parents do see a lot of positive results when it comes to their child’s behavior after they undergo autism behavioral health therapy.
In order for therapy to be beneficial for your child, you do need to make sure that you take them to their appointments on a consistent basis and that you try some of the techniques at home that the therapist suggests.
In some cases, you may need to look into inpatient therapies, either for short-term or long-term care. This can be especially helpful if your child experiences a lot of behavioral struggles. Staff and therapists can then help you come up with better and more specific strategies for your home. You can talk with autism health professionals, like those at Springbrook Behavioral Health, about what types of therapies your child will need going forward.
Get Support From Other Parents
This can be a very trying time for a lot of parents. Many parents feel powerless or isolated as they try to adjust their lives and their homes to accommodate their child’s needs. However, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Plenty of other parents have been through the same challenges you’re now dealing with. You can get support from other parents that have children that have been diagnosed with autism. They can offer advice, and they may even be able to give you referrals to therapists or health-care providers that they have used and that they trust. As you learn more, you can give your own knowledge, tips, and support to other parents as well.
While an autism diagnosis for your child can be overwhelming, there are plenty of things that you can do to help your child, yourself, and your whole family cope. By doing the things mentioned above, you will help ensure that your child gets the help that they need to have a healthy and successful life moving forward.