When our son was first diagnosed with Autism we had so many questions after he was diagnosed. We are aware that this can be a very difficult and confusing time for parents. Based on our experience we have prepared a list of tips below to help other parents during this time.
- Firstly take time and space to process the diagnosis, you will have many different emotions and feelings and that’s all ok. Take care of you! It’s a marathon, one that you are more then capable of completing. There’s endless research to be done and new therapies and products to try. You will become your child’s advocate. So please do take those breaks, watch those shows on the TV. Go to the gym, read, get a massage, do whatever you need to do to relax just don’t forget you matter too. Schedule time just for you, practice self care and find out what it is you need to help you relax and unwind. Be kind to yourself.
- Autism is expensive. As well as the therapies to pay for, toys to source, there may be income lost due to having to take time out to bring your child to appointments and therapies or you may decide you need to work less. Your priorities may change completely. Finding the right speech and language and occupational therapist helps and although there is some services available through the public system they are limited so you may also need to go privately as well. Get to know all your entitlements and benefits. Get to learn about the schooling system. Get to know the services available in your area. Apply for everything. We have a section on our website that lists the main entitlements we became aware. You will find the link to the entitlements here. https://www.autismconnects.ie/entitlements
- Get online and join a support group/forum. You will have questions so many questions, that will fill your head day or night. You will need time and space to process everything. A forum is a great place to get it all out and gain support and advice from others who may be going through something similar. You will go through so many emotions at times they will feel overwhelming….you may need to talk to a professional about it too and that’s ok. Autism can also at times be isolating, you may find friends/ family don’t understand what your going through and it can be hard to get out and network. A forum/support group is a great place to find others who may be going through similar things as you or who can guide you along the way. We have a section on our website that has a forum . You will find the link to the forum here. https://autismconnects.ie/autism-connects-forum/
- Get out as much as you can with your child. It maybe small steps at first but it doesn’t matter. What matters is you braved it. You did it together. Just get out, go to the shops, the library, the cafe down the road. Try to warn them what’s coming next if you can but go about your business. As much of this as possible is good for you and your child. You will figure it out in time. You got this. Don’t doubt yourself. There is many places that have free or discounted admission for a child with Autism and their Carer. We have a section on our website that gives this information. The link is here https://autismconnects.ie/category/discounts/
- Don’t forget to play. It really starts off as a rollercoaster ride. With highs and lows, twists and bends but also fun bits too. You may feel like you whole life has changed. You are entering a new world. Play, play, and more play, make time to just be a parent and enjoy your child. You are about to experience challenges and obstacles but also joy as you learn about this new world..while you are navigating don’t lose sight of how much love you have for your child, that love is just what need from you right now. They are still the same child you had before the diagnosis. They will teach you what it is you need to learn.