So your child has just been diagnosed with Autism and you’re wondering what happens next?
Autism is a life long condition, which can affect different people in different ways.
If you’ve been going through the diagnostic process you might be at a very emotional time in your life. Everyone’s experiences will differ. But getting a diagnosis is very important for getting the help and support your child will need. Early intervention is really important.
Once your child is diagnosed with Autism you might be left wondering what to do next?
Receiving the Diagnosis
Receiving your child’s autism diagnosis can be a very emotional time for a parent. Some parents will mourn the child they thought they had. Others will be happy to finally have an answer. While some parents may be in complete denial. However, you take the news, remember that you are only human. You will need time to accept and understand the diagnosis. Both online and local support groups can be very helpful. There are so many others that have been in your position and talking them can really help.
1. Services & Support
The first thing to do is to start looking into what services and support are available in your area. A great place to start is The Autism Directory. You can pop your postcode into their website and find out what services you have locally to you. Facebook is also a great place to find help and support. We recommend our own Chewigem Sensory Support Group but there are many groups out there that can help.
2. Telling Your Child and Family
There is no set age that you should tell your child that they are autistic. Only you can decide this. There are lots of great resources available online and in books to explain what autism is. The National Autistic Society has a great online resource called What Is Autism.
It can sometimes be quite difficult telling your family about your child’s diagnosis. Although many more people are aware of autism, they may have an image in their heads of what autism is. This may not fit with what they were accepting. Again there are lots of online resources and books available and you can use the same resource above from The National Autistic Society to explain What Is Autism.
Set up a meeting with your child’s school including the class teacher and Senco. If the school hasn’t been involved they need to be aware of your child’s diagnosis to be able to put strategies in place to enable your child to get the best from their education. There are many levels of help a child with Autism may need in education, your school will work with you to ensure your child is getting the correct level of support.
The Education Rights Service provides impartial and confidential information and support to families on school education rights and entitlements.
4. Social Services
Once you have received your child’s diagnosis it is advisable to contact your local social services office and ask for an assessment of your child’s needs. They can also offer you an assessment of your needs as a carer.
If your child has extra care and or mobility needs you can put in an application for Disability Living Allowance. You can also apply for Carers Allowance if you are looking after someone for more than 35 hours a week. Carers UK has some really helpful information and advice sheets when applying for DLA & Carers Allowance. If your child receives a higher rate of Care from their DLA you should also inform your Child Tax Credits as they will also get an extra supplement from Tax Credits.
Over time your child’s needs may change and you will probably have lots of ups and downs. Remember you are not alone and there is lots of help and support out there. The Chewigem Sensory Support Group is a great place to share your experiences and chat with like-minded people. If you surround yourself with the like-minded people there is always someone around to help and maybe over time, you will be able to share your knowledge and help others.