All parents want to have children that are healthy, happy, and will eventually grow up to lead fulfilling lives. Some kids develop their motor and social skills quicker than others, but what if your child’s slow development could be something else?
In a previous article, we talked about the best practices for raising a child on the autism spectrum. But, what exactly is the autism spectrum, how can you get your child diagnosed, and what should you do after a diagnosis confirms what you may have already suspected?
Some children that acquire social and communication skills much slower than their peers may exhibit the tell-tale signs they may have ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). This blog post is a rough guide on the topic, along with things you as a parent can do.
1What Is ASD?
ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) affects communication and behavior. An ASD diagnosis can happen at any stage of a person’s life, but the symptoms usually become prevalent in the first two years of a child’s life.
Children with ASD typically find it challenging to communicate and interact with other kids and adults. They might also have limited interests and exhibit repetitive behavior. Their symptoms will also likely affect how they function at school and in other areas of their lives.
ASD is a ‘spectrum’ disorder because there’s a broad range of variations and levels of severity. It can affect children from any ethnic or socio-economic background; in short, it does not discriminate.
The medical community still doesn’t fully understand why some children develop ASD, but what they do know is that genetics can play a pivotal role. For example, risk factors can include having siblings or even parents with ASD and certain genetic conditions.
2How to Diagnose ASD
If you suspect your child might have ASD, it makes sense to have them professionally evaluated. There are generally two stages to the evaluation process because it’s important to rule out other potential causes for developmental problems.
During both stages, the medical teams working with you and your child will consider your answers to their questions about your child’s behavior, along with ASD screening tools, before making a diagnosis.
3What if My Child Has ASD?
ASD is a disorder that cannot get ‘cured’; however, it’s possible to manage it with the right treatments and therapies. For example, your child’s doctor may prescribe medication to treat symptoms such as aggression, hyperactivity, and attention problems.
Your child will also benefit from behavioral, psychological, and educational therapies. For instance, ABA therapy (Applied Behavioral Analysis) can help identify which of your child’s behaviors need changing and help you develop individual, tailored goals to succeed.
Other therapies will help your child learn the life skills necessary to lead an independent life and develop their social, communication, and language skills.
4Parenting a Child With ASD
Lastly, you as a parent should seek the right support to help you cope with parenting a child with ASD. As mentioned earlier, some ASD diagnoses might have mild symptoms, whereas it could be more severe in other cases.
In any event, it’s essential to keep in mind you aren’t alone. Your family and friends can form part of your support network, along with professionals like medical teams and therapists.