Whether a diagnosis of autism was the confirmation of long-held suspicions or a surprise, life after the diagnosis is likely to be different. You might need to keep track of a roster of therapists, doctors and medications, and the symptoms of autism and the frequent visits for treatment and therapy can be stressful. With support from loved ones, other families with autistic children and experts, you can learn to manage stress while balancing the needs of your autistic child with your other responsibilities.
Get educational and therapeutic support for your child. For children younger than 5 years of age, contact your child's pediatrician for a referral for early intervention. Early intervention allows services to be identified for children with developmental delays or disabilities, including special early education and therapy. If your child is older than 5 years, contact your child's teacher or the local school district and ask for your child to be evaluated to determine the need for support services.
Discuss medical interventions with your child's doctors. Specialists might recommend medications to help your child focus, reduce aggressive behavior and go to sleep.
Develop methods of responding to your child's symptoms and behavior with the help of your child's therapists, doctors, and teacher. Some aspects of your child's behavior can be modified with therapy, medication or your support. Some aspects might change with time while others are permanent.
Establish a routine. According to the National Autistic Society, "Making your child's environment and surroundings (including social situations where possible) more structured can help them to feel more in control and may reduce anxiety."
Develop a system for organizing information. Your child might be seeing several specialists, taking new medications, or need your participation in activities to reinforce skills learned in therapy.
Find recreational activities and support groups for families with autistic children. Autism Speaks offers a resource guide for recreational activities, support groups, and more for families with autistic children. The National Autism Association offers support group listings for families with autistic children, including online groups.
Doctors and therapists who work for your school district might reach different conclusions from those made by those who initially diagnosed your child. They might recommend different therapies or classroom settings, or dispute the diagnosis. You have the right to dispute the evaluation results or the recommendations for treatment. Many early intervention services receive government funding, but services provided by doctors and therapists will require either insurance coverage or out of pocket payment. Because autism exists on a spectrum, no two children with autism have the same experience. You will have to develop methods of responding to your child's behavior that suit your child's needs.