In the last few decades, more and more advocates have been shedding light on the importance of taking care of your mental health and dealing with different diagnosis. Several of them have taken to social media and different digital platforms to spread their word, bring awareness, and share their knowledge. Alicia Trautwein started The Mom Kind blog to share the ups and downs of raising three autistic children while being on the Autism spectrum herself. Her mission is to spread awareness and acceptance around Autism. She is a writer and motivational speaker specializing in discussions around parenting autistic children.
With the rates of Autism increasing and diagnoses becoming more prevalent, readers will be looking for experts to guide them through the many challenges that come with parenting autistic children. Trautwein says, “by getting in front of parents of children with Autism, we can create acceptance early on and put the children in a much better position to thrive.” With that in mind, she shares with us 7 things you need to know after your child receives an Autism diagnosis.
1. Brace Yourself and Learn Everything There is to Know
Once you have received the Autism diagnosis, Trautwein says it is time to brace yourself for the journey and learn everything about it firsthand. From her experience, she explains you will go through the cycles of grief: “You may be overwhelmed with sorrow and anxiety and become confused and hit by uncertainty about what the future may hold for your child. Or, you could be hit with anger. Anger at the doctor, life situations, or the diagnosis itself. Other parents go through the stages of denial. Looking for second opinions and other possibilities.”
As with everything else in life, taking the time to experience these emotions and let them sink in is okay. But The Mom Kind blogger suggest you do not stay at this stage too long and rapidly move on to acceptance. It is then you will be ready to learn everything you can in order to help your child. She recommends learning about the levels of Autism and what resources are best for your child. But reminds us to remember there might be inconsistencies in the reports you read, so it is important to rely on sources that have done their research.
For Trautwein, joining groups conducting activities for helping autistic children in your area is a very helpful resource. As well as joining online support groups that will be there for you and help as another guide in your child’s journey.
2. Do not Waste Time
“Please note that it is not possible to get cured of Autism completely. Early intervention is key to your child’s success. So, after an Autism diagnosis, you should actively seek out therapies,” says the mother of four. This is because therapy helps develop skills that will help your child through adulthood. There will be a specific therapy depending on your child’s Autism level to help them thrive. Some examples are behavioral therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.
3. What to do if Communication is Lacking
One of the things Alicia Trautwein shares is the importance of learning to listen by watching your child. She explains many autistic children have delays in developing communication by speaking but “a lack of verbal communication does not mean that your child is not trying to communicate with you.” This is why you need to figure out the way in which your child is trying to communicate with you and help reduce frustrations and anxiety.
It is important to remember learning how they communicate does not imply forgetting about helping them improve their speech. According to this experienced mom, “opting for speech therapy for your child can have profound effects.”
4. Be Familiar with Motor Skills
When talking about motor skills and her experience with Autism, Trautwein divided them into gross and fine skills. She refers to gross skills as those that require the coordination of many muscle groups and fine skills as those subtle movements where finesse is essential. It is often that autistic children do not know instinctively how to move a muscle cohesively so they might require an occupational therapist to guide them.
Trautwein reminds parents they can share their input with the therapist. “If you know how [your child] tends to do something, in which motor skills they are proficient at–you can share this with the therapist and help direct their attention towards where it is essential.”
5. Be Aware of What Stir Their Senses
In our day to day life, we have plenty of sensory stimuli such as light, sound, touch, and smell. Some autistic children try to avoid this while others seek it. As every child is different, as a parent you will have to figure out what triggers your child.
From her personal experience, Alicia Trautwein says, “the more you know, the better you will be at dealing with difficulties caused by them. Working alongside an occupational therapist, you can develop a sensory diet for your child. Other tools such as noise-canceling headphones, fidget toys, swings, and trampolines can help them get the input they need.”
6. Be Consistent
Consistency is key to help children learn. This is why it is extremely important for you to know how exactly the therapist works with your child and apply those methods at home. This mom reminds us “consistency does not just apply to the therapy sessions. It is also essential for you to remember how you interact with them daily. Creating a daily routine will help keep their day consistent.”
As we all know, sometimes the schedule, food, or environment might change. But after creating consistency, you will learn how your child responds to changes and how to be better prepared to handle challenging situations.
7. Reward Your Child
Alicia Trautwein explained to us children with autism have a positive reaction to being rewarded and it would be a good idea to reward them every time you get a chance. “It is well documented in different studies that positive reinforcements enable children with ASD to participate in activities programmed to make them learn new skills.” She suggests you praise them when they act correctly or perform something new.
These 7 things you need to know after your child receives an Autism diagnosis are based on Alicia Trautwein’s own Autism diagnosis and her children’s diagnosis. From her day to day experience she has been able to provide advice to parents who are now learning about their children’s diagnosis. On her blog, she makes sure to share different tips, advice, ideas, and resources to navigate life with an autistic child. If you are looking for more information, do not hesitate to give The Mom Kind a read.
Laila Azzahra is a professional writer and blogger that loves to write about technology, business, entertainment, science, and health.