Here are 6 questions (and answers!) a parent of a child with autism might find themselves asking
How can I make doctor/dentist appointments easier on my child, so there aren’t tantrums?
There are a number of things parents can do to make these necessary visits as easy as possible. Simply things such as buying play stethoscopes or creating picture books can go a long way. If you own an iPad or iPhone, you guessed it “There’s an app for that,” it is called iPrompts a visual program for people with autism.
Walk your child through what is going to happen at the visit, so they understand what to expect before getting there. The same is true for dental visits. It may take multiple visits before your child will actually sit in the dental chair, but you can help them get comfortable enough to tolerate most of these visits.
How can I tell when something is hurting my child, he/she is nonverbal?
According to Rebecca Landa, the director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at the Kennedy Krieger Institute located in Baltimore, “We know that autism is a multisystem disorder. When it’s not evident that there’s a certain body system not working as it should, we have to look to other indicators. Any time there’s an alteration in a child’s behavioral pattern; this could tell us something we need to be paying attention to medically.” This is why it is important that you know if your doctor works with other patients that have autism.
How do I know which support groups to join, there are so many out there?
Your doctor should at least know of a few support groups that are nearby to recommend. The key to joining a support group, of any type, is to make sure you are joining a group of people that have accepted the issue (in this case the diagnosis of autism) and are making an effort to move forward. The goal of a support group is to do just that, offer support, offer different perspectives on how to handle issues as they happen. You want to be able to get insight from parents that have been where you are so that they can offer tips on how to get through the phase you are in.
You also want to be careful of people who tell you that they have the “cure” for autism. At this moment in time, there isn’t a cure for autism. There are therapies available that if done properly can help minimize certain behaviors. There are people on the spectrum whose symptoms are so subtle that if you didn’t know they were diagnosed with autism, you wouldn’t know they had autism.
Autism is not a battle that one can do alone. Autism is pervasive within the child and it is pervasive within the family. Support groups and support networks are important. Your doctor should be able to offer you a list of local support groups.
How can I learn all I can about autism to help my child? There is so much information on the internet these days, what are some trusted sources?
While it is impossible for any individual to know about all the content on the internet or have a list of every reliable source out there, there are a few sources that are credible that your doctor should be able to direct you to. These reliable sources will undoubtedly lead you to other trusted sites.
If you were to sit down and type in “autism” into Google you are going to get more than 76 million results. Out of the first 100, a third of them are going to do one of two things: selling you something or offering you a cure.
The most reliable websites are those that are government sites or educational sites. For example, PubMed Health and Autism Society are credible sites that offer resources to parents and people with autism.
How can I keep everyone that is involved in my child’s care on the same page?
Communication is important, because it is very much a team effort when it comes to making sure that the therapists, doctors and educators are all working together. There are websites out there that allow parents to set up an account and have the doctors, therapists, teachers, caregivers all logon to talk about the child. You can also keep a journal. You can also ask one of the persons involved to be the “case manager” but make sure you chose someone that understands your child’s condition and treatment plan and is respected by the other people on the “team.”
How do I help my other children understand their sibling who has autism?
Your doctor should encourage you to have your child’s siblings be a part of the therapy sessions. Often times resentment or anger can build because your other child/children does/do not understand the behavior of their sibling who has autism. This is normal. The way that you can help all of your children is to seek out therapy that involves all of your kids. This will help your child with autism learn appropriate social cues through the example of their sibling(s) and it helps your other children feel as though they are a part of child’s care.