A diagnosis of autism in one of your children will significantly change the way your family lives -- but that doesn't mean your lives must completely change. It's important to keep your family life as consistent as it was before the diagnosis. You may experience grief and sadness; it's important to let those emotions happen, then pass so you can come to understand the diagnosis and help your child live with it. Here are some ways you can help everyone -- your child, your other family members and yourself.
This is one of the most important ways to deal with any life-changing condition, especially autism. By getting enough sleep, staying active and eating healthy, you help ensure you will be able to put in the effort and time it takes to help your child cope. In addition, living a healthy lifestyle will only encourage all of your children to follow suit.
This diagnosis is going to affect everyone, especially your immediate family members, so spend a good amount of time explaining autism to them, as well as ways they can interact with and help their loved one with autism. Giving your family members pamphlets on autism, inviting them to therapy sessions (after consulting with the therapist, of course) or group meetings and getting them involved in larger autism activities, like World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, will not only help them learn, but give them a chance to participate in your child's life.
This step can be hard to do, especially if you are used to handling many of the family's issues and problems on your own. However, autism is a complex disorder and it's important to reach out to therapists, groups, other moms of autistic children and even ask family members to step in when you are feeling overwhelmed.
The best way to understand autism is to get involved in the community resources that offer support for families affected by autism! There are family service chapters all across the country where you can meet other people coping with autism as well as specialists, therapists and doctors who can offer their expertise. Bring your family to a chapter meeting and meet new people who understand what you're experiencing.
Many children who are diagnosed with autism are also diagnosed with additional medical conditions such as sleep disturbance, seizures and gastrointestinal issues, so it's important to understand what your child can eat. Although there no solid studies yet on this issue, many parents have found that gluten-free diets have helped managed their child's autism. If not gluten-free, cook healthy meals that are free of preservatives and chemical ingredients that may react poorly with your child.
Growing up, it's never easy to be the "different" one who sticks out. Encouraging your child to join a student club with other autistic children will not only help them interact socially, but it will give them the chance to see their condition in other people as well and realize they are not alone. In addition, encourage your child to join groups at school that interest them so that they can further their communication and social skill-building with other kids. Also, it's important to talk to your child's school staff about autism so that you can ensure there is no bullying.
Living with autism isn't easy, but people are doing it successfully and raising happy children. These tips can help your family successfully manage, too.
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