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When Your Child Is Diagnosed With Autism

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — April 23, 2021 — 3 min read
Your child has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Maybe they’re still a toddler—perhaps they’re a little older or a teen. Either way, this diagnosis can feel life changing. The future you’ve imagined for your child may seem different now.

You may be feeling lots of emotions. You may be asking lots of questions—specifically: What do we do now?

To help parents get through this initial change, Patricia Babin, Ph.D., PharmD, shared some tips. Dr. Babin is our IDD* Clinical Director and Lead Psychologist.

*IDD stands for intellectual and developmental disabilities, which includes autism.

Take Time to Process the Autism Diagnosis

“When you get an autism diagnosis, sit with it,” Dr. Babin said. It’s okay and normal for you to experience: Jessica Aguilar, mother to twins with autism, said, “If you need to cry—cry. If you need to scream—scream. It’s a process.”

Lisa Barneycastle, whose daughter has autism, added, “It’s okay to say: ‘Why? Why my kid?’” While your love for your child doesn’t change, it’s common to have mixed feelings about the diagnosis.

Use Your Feelings to Drive You

Dr. Babin encouraged parents to use their emotions to drive them forward. She suggested tapping in to your feelings “to make plans, to manage—to get your child the best life possible.” It helps to take action.
Services & resources

The NC Innovations Waiver is a health plan for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (IDD) in North Carolina.

Prepare Yourself After an Autism Diagnosis

“Parents have to be prepared in two ways,” Dr. Babin said. First: emotionally. Parents need to prepare themselves for the road ahead. Second: logistically. “There’s just going to be a lot to do,” she explained.

There is only one autism diagnosis: ASD. However, there are different levels within the diagnosis. Some children with autism may need lots of help, while others need only a little.

Your child may need:
  • Speech therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy
Professional services make a huge difference in outcomes for those with autism.

School and Autism

“Be prepared to be an advocate for your child for school,” said Dr. Babin. You can also hire an advocate for your child if you feel you need one.

It’s also likely that your child will need an Individualized Education Program (IEP). IEPs offer extra support and guidance to kids with disabilities. Within IEPs, teachers, parents, and health care providers work together to support a child’s learning in a way that works for the child.

Take Care of Yourself

Finally, don’t forget your own mental and emotional health. Dr. Babin urged parents to seek out support for themselves:

Remember: It’s No One’s Fault

“Understand that you’ve done nothing wrong. Your child has done nothing wrong. You’ve been handed a hard deal,” Dr. Babin said. “But you can play the cards.”

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