According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), autism affects 1 in 88 children, and hundreds of families are receiving news of an autism diagnosis every day. Autism is a developmental disability that significantly affects three areas: communication (verbal and nonverbal), social interaction, and behavior. It is a spectrum disorder, meaning it affects "each person in different ways and can range from very mild to severe," the CDC notes.
Many autism and medical groups advocate for early intervention and intensive therapy to help achieve maximum progress and recovery for a child with autism. They also advise gathering a team of doctors to assess the best treatment. But when you're sitting in an office hearing the word "autism," the immediate days that follow can be overwhelming, and it can be difficult to figure out what comes next. What should parents do in those first few days and weeks after receiving the diagnosis? What treatment should they seek? How do they find good doctors? How should they cope and move forward? Here are practical and helpful ways parents can come to terms with the diagnosis and devise a plan of action.