As soon as possible after your child is diagnosed with autism, you need to develop a plan for addressing your child’s needs and coping with the impact autism will have on your family. Autism can present both difficulties and challenges, but it does not have to prevent your child from growing up to lead a productive, meaningful and fulfilling life…and it does not have to prevent you and your family from enjoying a wonderful life together. The key to conquering autism is to understand autism, to understand how autism affects your particular child and impacts your particular family life, and to create and implement an effective autism intervention action plan to help your child reach his or her full potential and to help your family successfully cope with autism.
Follow these steps to create and implement an effective autism intervention action plan for your family:
1. Learn as much as you can about autism and treatments for autism. Conduct research using books, magazines, journals, the Internet…any sources you can find that will help you learn about and understand autism. Don’t be shy about asking the health care and therapy providers, social workers and case managers who are part of your child’s treatment team questions about autism. Write your questions down so they are easy to find when you are ready to ask them. Ask for clarification of anything you don’t understand or need to have further explained.
2. Learn as much as you can about how autism affects your child who has been diagnosed with autism and your other family members. Observe and take note of how autism presents in your particular child. Be aware of your child’s strengths, deficits, behaviors, capabilities and needs. Be mindful of how your child’s autism affects the rest of your family. Knowing as much as you can about how autism affects your child and family will be immensely helpful when it’s time for you to determine how your family will respond to the effects of autism.
3. Make a two-column list. Write your child’s strengths, deficits, behaviors, capabilities and needs in the left hand column. Write possible interventions to address them in the right hand column.
4. Investigate the costs of the interventions you believe might benefit your child. Compile a list of resources you have for paying for the therapies, treatments and other interventions you believe will help your child.
5. Seek the support of other people and families who are affected by autism. Contact parent groups in your area. Join groups and forums online. Participate in meetups and social activities. Autism affects your entire family so everyone could use some support. Encourage family members to join support groups for people who have autism and their parents, siblings and extended families.
6. Seek professional help when you need it. Autism can take a toll on a family. If your family needs the intervention of an experienced professional to help it make it through tough times dealing with autism, enlist the assistance of a counselor, social worker, psychologist or member of the clergy.
7. Reflect on your plan. Revisit, revise and refine it as often as is necessary.
8. Use your Autism Intervention Action Plan as a blueprint for developing an Autism Treatment Plan.
An autism intervention action plan can benefit all families affected by autism, whether your child is newly diagnosed or was diagnosed with autism years ago. Understanding autism and consciously preparing to cope with it will benefit all members of your family immensely.
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