Keep calm & Listen to Autistics
The moment you get your child’s autism diagnosis, the clock starts ticking. There’s no time to process.
Because there is a whole autism industry designed to create a sense of fear and urgency. You will be bombarded with the same message over and over:
Early intervention is key.
Your child can’t fall behind on their developmental milestones.
Your child needs therapy, yesterday.
The good news is: All this is mostly unfounded fearmongering. Take a deep breath. Listen to your child. Listen to Autistic adults. And don’t rush into expensive and harmful therapies. We love the idea of an “autism moon” described in “I will die on this Hill“, a wonderful book for parents of Autistic children. The idea is that you take a year, to process, to learn, to engage with the Autistic Community and reframe your thinking before investing in any therapies.
Developmental milestones are based on the myth of the ’average child’.
There is no such thing. Every child develops in their own time. Lots of Autistics learn some skills much earlier or much later in life.
And if it feels like your child is regressing, that’s because they are stressed out, anxious, and overwhelmed. So sometimes the Autistic child just needs a break instead of intensive therapies or strategies to help them to develop this skill and that skill. No one can develop and learn very well when they are stressed out so take signs of stress and regression seriously and just remove demands from your child and give them space to just be themselves.
Nobody needs therapy for just being Autistic.
Don’t let anyone tell (and sell) you otherwise.
Some Autistic people benefit from certain therapies to address specific issues: Occupational Therapy, Speech & Language Therapy, Art, Drama or Play Therapy. But: Take your time to find a professional who is neuro-affirming. The aim is NEVER to make your child ‘fit in’ but always to help them live authentically.
So if not therapy, then what?
Take your time to process the new information with your child. Make space for their feelings and do not portray being Autistic as a negative thing.
Start learning from Autistic advocates. There are plenty of free resources online to help you at this time after the autism diagnosis. If you like, we have a set of interactive books in our shop, affordable on-demand courses (from 20 Euro), and free resources on our blog/socials.
Absolutely stay away from ABA, PBS, PECS, Social Skills Training and similar.
But what if the child doesn’t speak?
If you have a nonspeaking or minimally speaking child, they need access to a robust communication system as soon as possible. Using AAC will not hinder their speech development. It will give them a tool to communicate. Communication is a human right. And surprisingly, it helps reduce conflict if the people in your life understand what you want for once 😉
What to do after a child’s autism diagnosis?
Breathe, take your time, there is absolutely no rush. Your child will develop, grow and learn along their own trajectory, not someone else’s. And better still they’ll be happy. Spend your valuable time on this planet doing what you do best- parenting and loving your child.