After the Diagnosis: A Family’s Step-by-Step Guide

If you have a child who has been newly diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), you may be feeling overwhelmed by the news. You may also be wondering what you need to do next. Fortunately, there are many helpful resources available that will help you better understand your child’s diagnosis and develop a plan for moving forward. Here are the most important steps you should take after an ASD diagnosis:

Learn everything you can about ASD.

This will be an ongoing process, of course, but you should try to learn as much as possible about ASD and what a diagnosis means for your family. Look for quality information from respected researchers and established institutions such as universities and reputable non-profits (e.g. Autism Speaks, National Autism Center). Educating yourself about ASD will also prepare you to answer questions from friends, family members, and acquaintances about your child’s diagnosis.

Find the best resources for your family.

After an ASD diagnosis, your first priority should be finding the best services available in your area. This includes evidence-based interventions, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), and may also include parent education, family therapy or support services, and school-based services. A great reference for evidence-based and effective therapies for ASD can be found on the National Autism Center’s website and is called the National Standards Project. ASD is something that affects your entire family, so it’s important to look for resources that will help you in multiple ways across family members (e.g. family or individual counseling, parent support groups, sibling support groups, etc.).

Reach out for support from others.

It is common to feel isolated, highly stressed, or to feel grief after receiving an ASD diagnosis. Some parents may even feel a level of relief in finding an explanation for some of their child’s presenting needs. Joining a support group will give you a chance to talk to other people who are dealing with many of the same challenges that you’re now confronting for the first time. Learning that you’re not alone and that there are other families out there who are working through the same issues, can be heartening and reassuring.

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