Next Steps Following an Autism Diagnosis

Autism Diagnosis

What happens next when my child is diagnosed with autism?

For parents, receiving an autism diagnosis can mark the beginning of a journey full of challenges and opportunities for growth. That is why understanding and processing the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the first step toward empowerment and seeking best practices and information that can ensure the well-being of your children on the spectrum without neglecting your health.

While servicing Arlington and Washington D.C., we receive the most common question from parents and caregivers: What happens next when my child is diagnosed with autism? The first thing we always make sure you know is to be calm, as you will likely experience a range of emotions, from confusion about what the future holds to relief in finally having an explanation for certain behaviors, but know that you are not alone.

We know this kind of news can be life-changing and seem like a shock; however, with the right help and information, you can develop the proper knowledge to navigate neurodiversity successfully; let’s read in this blog by ABA Centers of Virginia what steps to take after an autism diagnosis.

Understanding the Autism Diagnosis

Suppose you looked for an autism test for your child. In that case, it’s because you have noticed a set of signs and behaviors that have caught your attention, such as language delay, non-verbal communication, repetitive behaviors, or difficulty in interaction that seems unusual. However, these behaviors on their own do not necessarily indicate that your child has autism. Instead, they act as signals to identify and seek professional help for an official diagnosis.

Now, how does an autism diagnosis work? Typically, it involves a multidisciplinary assessment conducted by a team of healthcare professionals. This process usually begins with a detailed interview by healthcare professionals with parents or caregivers to gather information about their child’s development and behavior. Professionals use official diagnostic tools such as the ADOS-2 and directly observe your child in a variety of settings to assess their social, communication, and behavioral skills.

The diagnostic manuals, such as the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition), establish the criteria for the final diagnosis. These criteria require the presence of specific symptoms and the exclusion of other medical or psychiatric conditions that may explain your child’s symptoms.

Educate Yourself About Autism

One of the first things you should add to your to-do list when you receive the official diagnosis of your child is to educate yourself about this condition. What can you do? Here are some ways parents can educate themselves about autism:

1. Seek Information – Read reliable sources about autism to understand the theories of its causes, how research has advanced, and everything you can explore to understand this condition better. Trusted sources may include The National Institute of Mental Health, The American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Autism Research Institute, to name a few.

2. Observe and Learn from Your Kid – Observing and understanding your child’s unique behaviors, skills, and challenges can provide deep insight into their needs and preferences, which can guide parenting and treatment decisions.

3. Connect with Other Parents – Joining local or online support groups for parents of children with autism in Virginia can provide an invaluable sense of community and allow for sharing experiences, advice, and resources.

4. Consult with Healthcare Professionals – Seeking guidance from healthcare professionals such as pediatricians, psychologists, speech therapists, and occupational therapists can provide specific information about your child’s needs and challenges.

5. Prioritize Self-Care – You know your child requires support and has unique needs, but don’t neglect your health in the process. Take the necessary time to rest, recharge, and attend to your own physical and emotional needs.

Exploring Treatment Options

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating autism, so when seeking treatment, you should keep in mind that the goal is to improve skills and overcome some behaviors that may be harmful but not to eliminate or cure the condition.

It’s essential to explore different interventions and therapies to find what works best for you or your loved one. Behavioral therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and social skills training are examples of interventions that may be beneficial.

One recommended and widely recognized therapy for its effectiveness is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy. ABA therapy utilizes principles of behavior analysis to improve communication, social skills, and daily living skills in individuals with autism. Through structured and individualized interventions, ABA therapy can teach daily living skills, reduce challenging behaviors, and promote independence, according to Psychiatry Investigation.

How Can ABA Therapy Help Parents?

ABA therapists work closely with parents and help them in several ways:

Education and Guidance – ABA therapists educate parents about the autism spectrum and guide how to navigate challenges associated with their child’s diagnosis. They explain the principles of ABA and how they can be applied to improve their child’s behavior and learning.

Empowering Parents – By teaching effective strategies and techniques, therapists enable parents to support their child’s development and manage challenging behaviors confidently.

Collaborative Goal Setting – Working together, therapists and parents set intervention goals that align with the child’s needs and family dynamics.

Encouraging Consistency – Emphasizing the importance of consistency in implementing interventions, therapists work with parents to develop strategies for maintaining routines and reinforcement procedures.

Supporting Emotional Well-being – Therapists provide emotional support, acknowledging the unique challenges parents face in raising a child with autism. They offer empathy, understanding, and encouragement to help parents navigate their journey with resilience.

Through offering education, guidance, and emotional support, ABA therapists empower parents to engage actively in their child’s therapy. This collaboration cultivates a warm and supportive atmosphere that nurtures the growth and development of their kids.

ABA Centers of Virginia Supports Neurodiverse Families

Navigating life after an autism diagnosis is a journey that requires patience, understanding, and resilience. Parents and caregivers, over time, learn to overcome challenges, build a support network, and advocate for the acceptance of autism in society.

At ABA Centers of Virginia, we work endlessly to empower individuals with autism to reach their full potential. Contact us today at (855) 957-1892, or visit our website to learn more about how we can support your kid or teen toward growth and independence. 

Scroll to Top