What can parents/carers do to help?
Once a diagnosis of an Autistic Spectrum Disorder is made, it is easier to cope with and make allowance for the child’s behaviour because the underlying difficulty is known. It is important to understand the things they find difficult and to provide a secure and safe environment for the child, and then do your best to prepare them in advance for any change in routine.
Some children know they are different, but are desperate to fit in with their friends, and are frustrated in understanding the skills needed to do so. This can lead to problems with self-esteem, so they will need a great deal of support from their family and friends to maintain their confidence.
Whilst it is important to support a child in developing as many skills as possible to help them cope independently, it is also important to understand that the way a child with ASD sees and responds to the world is different, but not necessarily worse. As with any child, their personality and their strengths should be encouraged.
Who else can help?
A paediatrician or psychologist may make a diagnosis of ASD but it is becoming increasingly common for ASD to be diagnosed by a team of professionals who each look at a child’s behaviour from a slightly different angle. Such teams usually include a paediatrician, an educational or clinical psychologist, and a speech and language therapist. These professionals should provide parents with information and advice, and on the next steps to be taken to make sure the child receives the right education and support.
Social Services departments may be able to provide support, and in some instances they may be able to offer respite care.