How to Handle Your Child's Autism Diagnosis

Make Sure It's the Right Diagnosis

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When parents hear a doctor's diagnosis of autism, it can be the worst news to receive. Pamela J. Compart, M.D., a developmental pediatrician with HeartLight Healing Arts in Columbia, MD, stresses getting a diagnosis from the right people: "There's no slam dunk to diagnosis. Some kids are diagnosed through the school system and not through a professional, but your child should see a developmental pediatrician or a neurologist with an interest in autism." Dr. Compart advises that children gets a hearing test because neurological hearing loss can seem like autism.

Autism has no known cure -- no surgery, medicine, or therapy. There is no typical path of treatment that works for all children with autism, but there is treatment, says Dr. Compart. Before any treatment can be discussed, parents have to get past absorbing the news. "Even if you thought your child has autism, it's different when you hear the word. In the doctor's office, you'll hear lots of things, but you may forget them. You have permission to call your doctor back."

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