Has your child had an autism diagnosis? Are you going through the diagnosis process?
If you are a parent or carer of a young child who has just been diagnosed with autism (or is going through the diagnosis process) then you are in the right place. I went through a range of emotions when my son was diagnosed autistic- it can be a huge adjustment.
I asked a number of parents who have been in your shoes, autistic adults and teachers to give their top advice to parents of recently diagnosed children. I recommend you read their advice before you do anything else.
Sharing our experiences is so important, you may also be interested in reading my post on Autistic Insights with my favourite autistic bloggers highlighting what they want you to know about autism. If you are an adult that is newly diagnosed or seeking diagnosis you may find Autism 101 or the National Autistic Society helpful.
Finding the right Information sources
At first I was desperate to get as much information about autism as possible. The problem is when you don’t know much about a subject it can be very difficult to decipher what is accurate and helpful and what isn’t. I spent hours on google looking up autism and it came up with all sorts, but only some was true and helpful.
The National Autistic Society (NAS) is a great source of information and a good place to sense check information. I would also really recommend getting in touch with any local autism support groups. Your local council or GP should be able to advise on what is available locally. I have also found local parent support groups on Facebook a great source of support. Other parents can offer great advice as they have been through it themselves. Please be careful to check information especially before you pay for any services.
After a diagnosis you should be provided with information on what is available and this is likely to include the opportunity to attend a course to learn about autism. This doesn’t always happen so if you have not been given information call the Local Authority SEN team and ask about support post diagnosis. The course is often known as the Earlybird programme. This was a fantastic course and well worth attending, the only downside being you often have to wait for the next course when if you’re like me you want the answers now!
Take your time reading information as there is so much it is easy to get overwhelmed. Think about what you need to focus on first and take it one step at a time. I started blogging to share the information I was desperate for before I got it. I wanted practical advice on what I could try at home and more importantly how to do it. Below is a selection of posts that I hope you find useful.
Helpful information to get you started at home
The first question I needed to answer was what is autism? I had lots of preconceptions about autism but no actual knowledge. Here is a quick summary or the an depth answer.
The next issue for me was trying to get my head around all the new terminology and acronyms. If you are struggling with this here is an autism glossary.
I really wanted to know what I could be doing at home to support my son as the standard parenting techniques were not working for us. You may want to try introducing some autism therapies:
Here are some tips on why things might be happening with behaviour.
While on lockdown due to Covid-19 I set up a home learning timetable which might be helpful too.
What are you struggling with?
You may find some of these posts helpful:
- Sleeping & bedtime routine
- Managing challenging behaviour
- Getting a haircut
- Toilet training
- Going shopping
- The sensory side to autism
Speech and Language
Speech and language can be a key area for many young autistic children. Hopefully you have had some access to speech and language therapy although this is often limited. Speak to your health visitor, GP school /nursery or local authority if your child needs to see a speech and language therapist
- Top speech and language tips
- Finding motivating items / toys
- Getting your child’s attention – Attention Autism
- Find out about picture exchange communication system / PECS
Great ways to interact together
Finding what works for each child will be different but here are some ideas to try:
Probably the worst bit is the paperwork but you will already be an expert if you have just gone through a diagnosis. You may want some help to apply for:
You may also want to look at what support is available in Early Years.
If after all that you have time for more reading here are my favourite books about autism or TV shows that are about or have autistic characters.
I hope this is helpful to get you started.
Here is a flyer you can print out and share on the top 11 ways to support autistic children at home:
If you are UK based join us over on Facebook at The Autism Page Network.