“Where do I start?” That was the question I was thinking the day of my daughter’s diagnosis of Autism and a host of accompanying acronyms. It is often the question I hear the most when talking with families that have recently had a child diagnosed. My response is always “breathe” and “it is going to be ok”. We are 6 years in on this journey and are blessed to have experienced slow but tremendous gains from severe symptoms of Autism to nearing “Neurotypical”. That does not mean we are “in the clear” or that we are not in the midst of battles now. We still have some stubborn symptoms and we have a great deal of “catch up” to play both academically and socially. I assure you we are still arm in arm with you trying to stay current on new therapies, new treatments and constantly challenging ourselves not to be complacent.

After you “breathe”, you do have work to do. First is to get your diagnosis, depending on your child’s age this can be done by Early Steps or your doctor network. Do not fear a diagnosis, it will open doors for your child to get the help they need financially, physically and educationally. Ultimately, it is always better to know the battle you are fighting than to constantly be frustrated by “bad days”.

Beyond that, start asking other parents what they do, talk candidly with your ABA, Speech, Physical or other Therapists. While doctors are vital in most medical scenarios, you will be amazed at how knowledgeable a special needs parent is. They are in tune with the daily lifestyle and can give incredible tips and pointers. These other parents will also be part of a community of support you will want as time goes on. So, don’t be shy, or timid about talking to others it will most certainly be a lifeline.

Then you want to assess the options, if you have 25 ideas or concepts, start with your top 2, try them, then either replace them or add to the processes you are creating. It is overwhelming to do it all at once, moreover if you did try to do it all, you wouldn’t know what was working and what isn’t. Take things slow and steady. Try to be diligent in keeping notes on what improvements or setbacks you see, trust me it is tough to remember without notes.

Believe in yourself, in your child and focus on the small steps. When you look back you will realize none of the “small steps” were small and every gain should be celebrated. Most of all know that you are not alone. Visit abilitiesworkshop.com.

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