RECEIVING AN AUTISM DIAGNOSIS

Your child may have received a new diagnosis. Well, here are a few things you may like to know to prep yourself.

Receiving a diagnosis of Autism can be an overwhelming moment. Your life could seem entirely out of control or different from what you expected it to be. You worry about your child’s experiences and development from this point forward or even how, as a family you may be able to cope with this. Obtaining emotional support and factual information is crucial in helping you cope and create a positive future for your child and family.

Common reactions to the diagnosis

Each family’s reaction is different depending on various factors. Your initial feelings are a range of uneasy emotions. A shock, if you may. This can be followed by periods of denial that this is happening to your child and family. It is paramount you realise you are experiencing a denial phase as this helps with the coping process and not hinder making appropriate decisions for your child. Anger and sadness is also natural part of the coping process, helps the information received to sink in. You could feel isolated with the situation in hand, which makes it important to seek professional help to help maneuver these initial stages in the right way. Ignoring or denying your-self to grow through these emotions can re-surface in unpleasant ways. Eventually, you reach a likely phase of acceptance. Your dreams and plans for your child maybe different now but the goal remains the same. To provide your child with a happy and fulfilling life.

Common areas of concern

  • Burden of everyday responsibilities of caring for a child with Autism.
  • Pressure to become an expert on Autism overnight.
  • Worries about child’s and family’s future
  • Having a hard time striking a balance between household chores, other children, daily activities, etc.
  • Lack of interest in sharing feelings
  • Stress regarding finances and the unknown.
  •  May develop stress and anxiety which affects work life.

When to approach a professional

  • Having trouble sleeping and feeling un-rested when you do sleep.
  • Lack of control on negative thoughts despite trying hard.
  • Loss of appetite or finding it hard to stop eating.
  • Others point out; you seem irritable, short-tempered or aggressive than normal.
  • Consuming more alcohol or increased reckless behaviour.
  • Thoughts around life not being worth living.

Your role a parent

  • Begin taking responsibility – if possible a leader
  • Learn – initiative to be an expert
  • Think critically – begin being discerning
  • Speak with authority for your child – be proactive
  • Educate – be a voice for your child

Supporting the siblings

As the parents take toll after receiving an Autism diagnosis, your other children feel the stress. They can be or feel left out as much attention and effort is given to the child with Autism. Brothers and sisters of children diagnosed with Autism face their own challenges, emotions and insecurity due to the changes being taken.

  • Young children may not understand what is wrong with their brother or sister.
  • Feelings of jealousy and resentment may crop up.
  • Anger over being unequally treated.
  • Feelings of embarrassment
  • They are often frustrated
  • Secretly or quietly worry.
  • Many children are unable to express their feelings.

Strategies for supporting your other children

  • Helping them understand Autism
  • Helping them learn and form relationships with their siblings
  • Find sibling support groups.

10 things for parents with children with Autism

  • No matter how exhausted, provide socialising opportunities. Get them out in the community
  • Join a parent group
  • Understand and layout your child’s school program
  • Take a break every once in a while away from your own child after babysitting them.
  • Once you have the program set, tackle the main goals – maybe toilet training, sleeping, eating, etc.
  • Educate friends and household on the workings and raising a child with Autism
  • The doctor appointments for yourself that’s been delayed.
  • Join Autism walks or awareness programs
  • Most importantly- take care of yourself, not just your child. Autism is a marathon, not a sprint.