Thinking that your child may be different then the rest of the kids you know, and may have some special needs can be scary, stressful and difficult to handle. You’ve heard so much talk about Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but you’re just not sure if this is in fact what the issue is. How do you find out, who do you turn to, how do you get the answers and help that is needed?

Let’s see if we can help you navigate the process.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that scientists believe has a strong genetic component. Unlike other genetic conditions, there is no blood analysis, brain scan or other test that can diagnose autism.

It is recommended that all children be screened for autism at their 18 and 24-month well-child checkup, by your pediatrician. If you don’t know if that screening has taken place, ask to have it done.

Not just any doctor can make a diagnosis. If you believe that ASD is the issue, choose a professional that has experience diagnosing individuals with autism and working with the range of symptoms typical to the disorder. You will want to look for a developmental behavioral pediatrician.

These medical doctors possess the training and experience to diagnose autism and other developmental difficulties. They consider both the medical and psychosocial elements of children’s behavior problems and provide council and treatment accordingly. If you are in the Seattle, WA area, you can contact our office as well for diagnostic services.

For those of you who are outside our area, or don’t already have a trusted Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician, one can be found throughout different medical communities, such as hospitals, larger medical centers, clinics , schools, rehabilitation centers, private practice settings and community centers. To find a pediatrician or pediatric specialist in your area, click here. Under Medical Specialty/Special interest choose Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.

Getting a proper autism diagnosis is the most important first step to getting your child and your family the help that is needed. Once you have that taken care of, you will be able to navigate more clearly and with a direct course of action.

What does an Autism Diagnosis Mean For You & Your Child

The moment you get the diagnosis of autism for your child, you may feel overwhelmed, and you just don’t know where to turn and what to do first. What does this diagnosis mean? How is it going to change things in the short term and long term? 

First off, you should take note of the small things. For example, your child lines up their toys during playtime but seems overly agitated if their line up is changed or tampered with. When they are playing with other kids, they struggle with sharing. There are many deficits that can be noticed, including having poor eye contact, having delayed or no speech, and having difficulty recognizing nonverbal cues. There might also be some physical behaviors that can help determine if your child has ASD. Some behaviors include repetitive movements, lack of flexibility, and difficulty with coordination. 

After you recognize some of the signs, you can start gathering resources and information. When you are doing this, make sure that you fully understand and absorb the information. It can feel like a lot in the beginning, but it is all there to help you and your child. Secondly, be sure to communicate with your child. While there are some children on the spectrum that may be non-verbal, it does not mean that they have no recollection of their surroundings. It is also important to talk to any of their siblings. There might be rules that will change in the household, and the other people in the house should be aware. 

As a parent of an ASD child, you will need to advocate for them to get the help they need. Each child is different, yet most ASD children should have an Individualized Education Plan, or IEP, so they will be able to have a better path through school. Also, they might need speech therapy, mental health therapy and more. There will be nay-sayers at every turn, so you will need to help your child learn how to move through the world with you at their side. 

We, here at Magnolia Behavior Therapy, want to help and support you in the ways you need.

Please contact us for any questions and to let us help you get started on this journey.