AN AUTISM DIAGNOSIS… WHAT’S NEXT
By: Dr. Gia Koehne, PsyD, BCBA, LBA
October 19th, 2020
A diagnosis is hard. A diagnosis of a child is even harder. As a psychologist and as a mom, I’ve been on both sides of the table.
Since you found this page, I can only assume that you are either a parent who has just been given the news of their child’s autism diagnosis or you are someone supporting that parent. Maybe you are concerned about autism symptoms or waiting on the results of an autism diagnosis. Whatever your situation may be, I hope some of my family recommendations help provide comfort, reassurance, and hope for the future.
- First thing. Feel everything. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, distraught, confused or pretty much any feeling. It’s also okay if you feel one way now and later on feel differently. Take a moment to process these emotions in whatever way you need to.
- Know that your child can succeed! The challenges your child currently displays due to an autism diagnosis can be improved through treatment. People with autism can have conversations, go to a regular classroom, have friends, go to college, get married and live happy lives!
- Learn about therapy. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is evidenced-based in the treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The first 5 years are critical for success since children’s brains are sponges.
- Find therapy. A quality ABA Provider is crucial: Some characteristics of a high quality and effective ABA provider are:
- Appropriately credentialed and knowledgeable in ABA (BCBA/BCaBA/RBT)
- One-on-one treatment – your child has their own therapist
- High parental involvement
- Evidence-based curriculum that is specific to autism and milestones are organized by age
- Master-level staff (BCBAs) have small client loads for appropriate attention to your child (no more than 8-10 children to supervise)
- There are quality measures in place to ensure the effectiveness of treatment
- Get the support you need. Some people find support with friends and family. Others join support groups. Counseling helps others. Ask for help. Find out what works for you to help keep your glass full!
- Trust yourself! This may feel new and you may feel lost but be confident in the fact that you know your child better than anyone. Our emotions tend to drive us to worry and think about what will happen in a few years or dwell on the past. Try your best to stay in the “now” and know that you were chosen because you are the best parent for your child. You are strong and resilient!