Better diagnostic techniques have let physicians see problems like never before. Currently autism spectrum disorders affect one in every 68 children. Boys are affected more than girls. One in every 42 boys is affected and one in every 189 girls has some level of autism. In the United States alone, more than 3.5 million people are living with autism. Between 2002 and 2010, incidents of autism went up by between six and 15%. Early diagnosis and treatment can have amazing results. The cost of care that will be needed over a lifetime can be reduced by at least 67% if the diagnosis happens early enough.
If your child has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, you may not know what to do or where to turn. Here are some tips to help you:
- Give yourself some time to process. Caring for a child with an autism spectrum disorder is more like a marathon than a sprint. If you do not take some time for yourself from time to time, you will burn yourself out. There is a lot to do but you should still set aside some time for yourself. Take a bubble bath. Watch some mindless television. Catch up on a book. You need to take care of your child but you need to take care of yourself as well.
- Do not believe everything you read online. There is a lot of information on the internet that is scary, crazy and just plain wrong. You can make yourself crazy by reading everything on the internet. You are not going to fiund a cure for autism with Google.
- Make use of social media sites to find support. There are a lot of support networks online for parents of children with autism. It is in these social groups that you may get real, practical information, help and emotional support. Other parents may know about autism treatment centers that you have not heard of. They can tell you what their personal experiences have been and what they thought of the care their child received. No matter what time of the day or night it is, you can probably find another parent of an autistic child online who can offer support.
- Be prepared to try thinks that just do not work. Every child is different and every experience with autism is unique. What works for one child may not work for another. If you try a treatment and do not see any change or if it does nothing to help your child, do not get discouraged. You just need to keep looking for what does work for your child.
- You will get a lot of unsolicited advice. It seems almost everyone has an opinion when it comes to autism. Maybe their sister’s child has it or they saw something on the news. Once people hear that your child has been diagnosed with autism, they think they should let you know what they have heard. Some of the advice will come from people who have been dealing with autism personally as their children may have been diagnosed years earlier. Listen to their advice but do not take too much from it. Again, what works and does not work for their child may not be what works and does not work for yours. Listen to the people and take or leave their advice. It is not worth it to try and argue.
- Have an open mind with treatment options. Some of the treatment options people are going to suggest may just sound ridiculous. Sometimes the ridiculous works. There are a lot of medical treatments for a host of problems that started out as crazy ideas.
- When you go out, take your child. This may fall into the “That is crazy!” category but when you take your child out with you, you can start to teach them the coping skills that they will need to live their lives. When you go to the grocery store, bank, whatever errands you have to do, take them along.
Caring for a child with autism can be very challenging but there is support and help out there. Take advantage of support groups and other resources to make it easier.