So Your Child Has Been Diagnosed with Autism, What Next?

By Claudia Hailwood

As a parent, you are probably freaking out right now… and you’re not alone! Here are some tips to reduce your freak-out:

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1.  Find a Support Group ASAP!!!!

Get out there and join other parents who have already freaked out and survived, or are surviving! As a brand new mom, I didn’t venture out of our condo with our newborn baby until he was 3 months old. I found mama groups on It is a great place to start for you. Aaaaand, it’s completely FREE to join! All you have to do is enter what you are looking for, for example: “Parents of Children with Autism” or “Autism Parent Support Groups” and Meetup will actually email you when a new group pops up in your area. The Autism Society of San Diego has many wonderful support groups as well.

2.  Know Your Rights As A Parent

 I can’t even begin to tell you how many parents come into an IEP meeting like “a deer in headlights” and get completely bowled over and intimidated by bullying School Districts who can almost “smell the fear” on a parent new to Special Education. The number one best thing you should do as a parent is to educate yourself and learn your rights! Nobody, and I mean NOBODY knows your child better than you do, the PARENT! PERIOD. Don’t let the “professionals” tell you otherwise. You are entitled to ASK for what you want and if they don’t deliver, DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING!!! Stall, and get legal advice.

Having said this, read on to Step 3…

 3.  Get a Free Consultation

There are plenty of Advocates out there who will provide you with a free consultation. Here, you are SAFE, and can ask them any questions you may have about Special Education Services or anything else for that matter. Advocates are what the name sounds like. They are there to  A-D-V-O-C-A-T-E for your child’s wellbeing and have your benefit at heart. School Districts are TERRIFIED of these individuals, and for good reason.  Look for Advocates who will counsel you at a reduced price, say $125/hour or less. Ask if they work on a sliding scale.

4.  Re-Think Your Child’s Diet

I know, I know, this is super annoying, and at the risk of sounding like a very famous blonde movie star we all may or may not know…DIET really does make a huge difference. In your child’s BEHAVIOR, FOCUS, and MOOD. The best place for you to start might be by getting a referral from your child’s paediatrician to a dietician. Try checking these guys out, they can be very useful and have a free newsletter:

5.  Last but not least, Stay Positive and Strong!

You are not alone.  Enjoy the journey. Your child’s Autism comes with many gifts!! It’s very likely that he/she will teach you many new fun facts about the world, and will enable you to look at the world in a whole new light.