How to Handle Your Child's Autism Diagnosis

Take Time to Grieve and Absorb the News

Receiving news about any difficult diagnosis is difficult. A thousand questions race through the mind: What does it mean to have a child with autism? What will the future hold? Can the child make strides and live a normal life? What should a parent do to help their child? First, parents must deal with feelings of grief about the diagnosis. "Your life has changed in that moment and nothing [bad] will happen to your child if you wait a week or however long it takes to get your bearings," says Dr. Compart.

"Some parents do better by diving into research and looking for ways to help their child, but I've found that most need to grieve for what they thought was their child's future. It's not that they can't help their child have that future, but the journey will be different." Dr. Compart suggests that parents talk to each other and figure out what they will tell the family, but be prepared for unexpected reactions. "You can't shift from grief to hope immediately. You have to go to the worst-case scenario and come back up." Although autism awareness has risen extensively in the past several years, there is still uncertainty surrounding it.

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