October 19, 2016

For some parents, receiving a diagnosis of Autism is a relief. They feel validated, and no longer feel the need to blame themselves for being ‘bad’ parents. For other parents, receiving a diagnosis of Autism can be painful, intimidating, distressing, and even infuriating. After receiving a diagnosis of Autism, it is important to remember that your child is still your child. Your child is still the same person, with the same laugh, and the same person you tucked in to bed the night before. A diagnosis of Autism is simply a way of communicating a constellation of symptoms that benefit from specific therapies, depending on the ‘type’ of Autism. After you receive the diagnosis, know that you are not alone, and there is reason to hope! There is help, there are supports. For your reference, please see: 100 Day Kit for Newly Diagnosed Families of Young Children from Autism Speaks, and The Do’s and Don’ts After an Autism Diagnosis.

100 Day Kit for Newly Diagnosed Families of Young Children from Autism Speaks

The Do's and Don'ts After an Autism Diagnosis

A Brief Explanation of Autism

Autism is a spectrum, meaning there are wide range of symptoms, skills, and strengths and challenges that characterize Autism. Children with Autism do not follow the typical pattern of development in regards to social and communication skills, and display some repetitive or stereotyped behaviors. In regard to social skills, parents often note that when their child was an infant or toddler, the child made little eye contact, looked at people’s faces less, and rarely initiated play. There is a decreased reciprocity in the attachment between the child and parent, and/or between the child and peers.

In regard to communication skills, parents often report that their child failed or was slow to respond to their name. Other reports stated that children failed or were slow to develop gestures such as pointing or showing things to others, spoke only in single words or repeated phrases they heard. Some children may develop language very early, while others may experience delays in acquiring language. Some parents may notice a regression in language skills after the second year. However, this is not always the case as some children are very verbal and possess an impressive vocabulary. For some children with Autism, language skills are a strength.

Children with Autism tend to display repetitive or unusual behaviors, and can be either discrete or very noticeable. For example, some children may repeatedly flap their arms or walk in specific patterns, while others may subtly move their fingers by their eyes. These repetitive actions and gestures are sometimes called "stereotyped behaviors."

Children with Autism tend to have very focused interests and may become fascinated with moving objects or parts of objects, such as the wheels on a moving car. They may spend a long time organizing items in a certain way, only to become very upset if any of the items are moved. Children with Autism are often intelligent and develop strong interests in one particular area, such as the alphabet, numbers, symbols, trains, or science topics. Children with ASD may also possess very strong memory for events and facts.

Some children categorically have Autism, while others may only have a dimensional diagnosis of Autism. A dimensional diagnosis of Autism means that the child is exhibiting symptoms of Autism, but does not categorically have Autism. Some children are referred for an Autism evaluation by their school, but based on the results of the evaluation, the child may have ADHD and a language disorder, or sensory processing problems, and as a result show symptoms of Autism. In these cases, if the core issues are addressed appropriately, the child may not meet criteria for an Autism diagnosis at a later evaluation.

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