By Guest Blogger Chelle Stoneburg, M.Ed, BCBA, Child & Family Development
A diagnosis of Autism for your child may stir up a variety of emotions- stress? relief? anxiety? sadness? grief? You may have all of these feelings, and the crazy thing is, you may feel them all at the same time! Navigating the introductory period of your child’s diagnosis is a significant life event. But rest assured, not one that you walk alone. Your child’s unique gifts and personality are not defined by this news. You are learning (daily!) things about your child and this information can change their life. Now you have additional insight into how to support them, what therapies they need, what educational accommodations may be necessary, and how to better connect with their unique profile.
In the days and weeks following a diagnosis, first and foremost, take a moment to yourself to reflect on what a brave and impactful thing you have done. Check in with your own self-care and see what you may need. Communicate with your spouse, partner, and other family members. Each person may experience this news differently. It is not uncommon for parents and caregivers to experience grief. Even in this unchartered season, here are a few practical tips to take to promote the well-being of your family:
– Join local support groups for families with children with Autism, either on social media or find local meet-ups.
– Attend a seminar hosted by the Autism Society of North Carolina
– Pursue individual counseling to learn more about the acceptance process and to stay in touch with your own emotions and coping
– Request or download the Autism Speaks 100 Day Toolkit, for free!
– Read “An Early Start to Your Child with Autism”
So now that you’ve taken care of the captain of your ship, what’s next? Early, intensive, family-centered intervention! The sooner a child begins therapy, the greater chance they have to achieve maximum potential. In early childhood, the brain quite “plastic,” making all kinds of connections and absorbing new information by the minute. So, your child benefits by starting interventions as soon as possible. Child and Family Development recommends a multi-disciplinary approach to therapy. If you have insurance coverage, your policy may cover some or all of these therapies. Depending on the provider, you may have to wait for services to begin. Even if you are not ready to begin service, call your preferred provider to determine eligibility and availability.
– Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)therapy focuses on the core concerns of Autism: communication, social interaction, restricted or challenging behavior, and self-care skills. These therapies are delivered in an intensive format, usually 10-30 hours per week depending on your child’s need. This therapy often includes a caregiver component, in which you learn how to help your child make strides at home.
– Speech-Language Therapy (ST)therapy focuses on increasing your child’s communication. Communication for a child with ASD may involve talking, sign language, picture exchange systems, or a speech-generating device. This therapy can also assist with articulation, fluency, oral motor planning, and feeding concerns.
– Occupational Therapy (OT)therapy focuses on sensory challenges, fine motor skills, and adaptive skills. This intervention may help your child’s emotional regulation, independence, and focus.
– Physical Therapy (PT)therapy focuses on gross motor skills. While children with Autism typically meet their motor milestones within normal limits, they may need intervention to address some delays in more complex skills.
Following a diagnosis of Autism, reach out to Child & Family Development. We are a pediatric therapy provider with 40 years of experience in the Charlotte area and provide a comprehensive approach to Autism intervention. We offer Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Speech-Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Physical Therapy. In addition, we have psychologists on staff who can assist families, parents, and siblings of those impacted, through counseling services. Chelle Stoneburg is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst at Child & Family Development.
Child & Family Development
4012 Park Road, Suite 200
Charlotte, NC 28209
11940 Carolina Place Parkway, Suite 200
Charlotte, NC 28134