January 19, 2010

What Should I Do If I Think My Child Has Autism?

Your mommy instincts may be telling you that something seems "off" with your child or, possibly, someone outside the family has raised concerns to you about your child. You may be panicking and not sure what to do. Here are some suggestions:

  • First of all, familiarize yourself with the signs of autism. 
  • Second, talk to people who are around your child on a routine basis, such as a preschool teacher, family member, or close friend. Ask them (and give them permission to be honest) if they have any concerns about your child's development and specifics of what they are.
  • After this, if there continue to be red flags, take your child to a trusted pediatrician or developmental pediatrician. For me, I was in contact with several doctors before I found some that I felt understood my concerns and cared about my child. Don't give up finding the right doctors who can give you answers for what you're seeing in your child. If the doctor shares your concerns,  they will help you along the process to finding a diagnosis.
  • An additional route to explore is your state's Early Childhood Intervention (that's what it's called in TX). This is a federally funded program that provides resources and assistance for parents of 0-3 year olds related to development. We spoke with them about our speech concerns.
  • By age 3, the school district is required by law to provide services for your child. Depending on the quality of your school district, they can assist you in a diagnosis, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and other educational needs. Our school district (College Station ISD in TX) was AWESOME!! 
  • After receiving a diagnosis, if you don't want to go the school district route, find a speech, occupational, or other trained therapist in your area. My area did not have centers specifically for autism, but yours may.
  • I would also suggest getting a few good books and staying away from random searches on the internet related to autism. In a future post, I will share good book and website options. 
  • Above all, don't give up searching for a diagnosis or treatment options that fit your child and your family. The information out there is overwhelming and the grief is paralyzing so sometimes it's hard to keep on keepin' on, but don't give up!