Saturday, July 9, 2016

5 Things That Parents Need When Their Child Receives an Autism Diagnosis

Even if parents have long been suspecting that their child might have autism, the moment that they receive an official diagnosis from the doctor is still traumatic. I can remember clearly the developmental pediatrician walking into the room with a box of tissues.

How can you support a family as they receive a diagnosis? Here are five things that parents need.

  1. No advice. Some well meaning friends want to offer advice about what autism is and how to raise their child. Do not do this. Keep your mouth shut.
  2. No explanation. Other well meaning friends want to explain why God allowed this to happen. This is even worse than the first one. Honestly, we don't know why God allows autism and any attempted explanation will always ring hollow.
  3. Expressions of love. This can be as simple as a hand on the shoulder or an offer to listen when they are ready. There is a need for balance of not being too pushy but also not isolating the family out of fear of offending them.
  4. Help with the other children. It is difficult to work through the grief of lost dreams and the other children can get lost in the process. Offer to take out the siblings to some fun event to give the family some time and emotional energy. See my post on siblings.
  5. Prayer. I do not mean a public laying on of hands. Simply keep the family in your prayers. You can tell them or keep it anonymous. It doesn't matter. See my post on how to pray for families with autism.

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