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How Can I Help my Child with Autism?

By Dr. Kate Crandley, Tidewater Children's Associates

As a parent of a child recently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), your life may feel like it has been turned upside down, and you may be struggling to find ways to navigate the challenges ahead. Here are a few steps to help you get started.

Learn about the diagnosis: Autism spectrum disorder is a neurologically-based disability that affects approximately 1 in 68 children. It primarily impacts a child’s social skills, communication and behavior. Symptoms of ASD and their severity can vary greatly from child to child. Work with your pediatrician to understand your child’s specific needs and how you can best address them.

Implement an intervention program: Studies show that early intervention can improve outcomes for children with ASD. Early intervention programs for children ages 0-3, can improve behavioral symptoms, address overall development and teach new skills. For parents, these programs can offer resources to help you better understand your child’s behaviors and provide tools for you to interact more effectively.

Identify local resources: Learn about the resources available to you through your child’s school and community. You may consider joining a support group. Often these groups not only offer encouragement and support, but can also provide valuable information about the resources available in your area.

Safety planning: Some of your child’s behaviors may present safety concerns in your home. Try rearranging furniture, using cabinet locks, covering outlets, using door and window locks and alarms where appropriate and securing appliances out of reach to keep your child safe.

You may have many questions as a parent of a child with ASD, be sure to talk to your child’s pediatrician about your concerns. Also remember to ask for help when you need it. Although it may be difficult to ask, there may be many people in your life who are looking for ways to lend their support.

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About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.