Advice for Parents New to Autism

Getting a diagnosis of autism for your child is often a confusing, upsetting, and even daunting process. As difficult as that part is, it’s just the beginning of the journey. With pediatricians no longer taking a “wait and see” approach to identification of autism, more children are being diagnosed earlier (as early as 12 months in some cases). A growth in options for parents has come with these increasing numbers of newly diagnosed children. In fact, there are so many options that it may feel overwhelming. So, what is a parent new to the world of autism to do? Here are three quick (but important!) tips:

  1. Take a moment: This is tough, and you may feel a variety of emotions after getting the diagnosis. Give yourself, your spouse, and your whole family the opportunity to grieve if you need to and to take time to get your feet under you again. Set aside “me” and “us” time regularly so that you don’t lose touch with yourself.
  2. Beware of “quick fixes”: There are hundreds of thousands of autism treatment related websites out there, and anyone can put up a site claiming to treat, help, or even cure autism. You need to be a cautious and informed consumer. Anecdotal claims of effectiveness are compelling, heart warming, and often sell ad space. But this type of “evidence” shouldn’t to be mistaken for good, sound science. The Autism Science Foundation has provided a list of many of the most popular treatments for autism with recommendations for parents on when or if to consider them ( This site is run by scientists and is good for parents and teachers alike.
  3. Find a support network: There may be some in the area, your child’s school/clinic may have them, or you may find them online. Its important to have people you can talk to for advice, shared understanding, or to vent when things are tough.

Finally, recognize that this is a long journey, but it can also be beautiful. Hang in there!

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