Five Things That New Autism Parents Should Consider Part 1

The news that your child has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder can be challenging, if not shocking, to new autism parents. Certainly there are different degrees of how this can impact a new autism parent based on the individual but one thing is for sure, the actions that new autism parents take are critical to the future success of any intervention process and ultimately the success of their child with autism. There is no argument to be had on this for sure but the question remains, how does a parent know that they are taking the right actions to get themselves started and going in the right direction? To properly answer this question we have to think about what we control so that we can get to a solution to cover the bases in a very simple and foundational way that makes sense both logically and practically.  Learning about autism parents coaching with help with the autism intervention and the following considerations will help new autism parents get to the answers that are right for their family.

Let’s get started with what you can do to immediately start helping your child with autism. One thing that I think you have to be aware of is that most parents fall into the trap of wanting to do a whole list of disconnected actions in a “knee jerk” type manor for their child right off the bat thinking that this is the best way to make a difference. The problem with that is it can leave a new autism parent unfocused and without direction if they don’t know what matters most when it comes to the most effective actions they can take to help their child in the early intervention process. The very first thing a new autism parent should consider is their child’s safety. This is a foundational pillar that will be something that will be a life long factor in your child’s life. As a parent there’s nothing more important than keeping your child safe. For many children that have serious accidents or injuries during childhood, they actually have these happen to them at home. Your child with autism will be no different however what will be different are the risks they can be exposed to based on the behaviours that they express and act out on. And this is on top of what you should be doing for any child to keep them safe in your house. There are a lot of things you may or may not be able to do about how autism affects your child, but what you can do to keep your child safe is critical and is something that is in your control. There is also another benefit to this process. By taking action in this area most parents find themselves with a deep sense of satisfaction for at least doing something that they know is going to make a difference to the quality of life that they can provide their child. This isn’t a slam dunk, there is work that needs to be done to ensure that you have all of the bases covered. Here are some questions a new autism parent should take into consideration when it comes to keeping your child with autism safe.

What areas in my house does my child have access to?
What items/objects are my child attracted to that pose a risk to my child’s safety?
What circumstances make these items/objects dangerous?
What behaviours are my child expressing or acting out on that put their safety at risk?
What actions do I need to take to protect my child from these behaviours?
How do I handle new environments outside of the house to keep my child safe?
How do I keep my child safe from mental and physical abuse?
How do I keep my child safe from child predators?

The answers to these questions are very specific to your child and your environment. The only right answers come from your engagement and understanding of the risks presented by your child’s conditions and circumstances. These answers are very unique to your situation.

The next area that a new autism parent should consider so that they can help their child with autism is how they can begin to keep track of their child’s life through the use of a diary. This may seem to be pretty simple in terms of concept however in practice this can be challenging as it is something that you will need to do every single day while keeping within the confines and parameters that you have set out for the diary. So what kind of things should be included in the diary process? It is suggested that the day to day view of high level events in your child’s life should be kept track of in this method. This would include appointments to go see doctors, specialists, psychologists and therapists as well as any major milestones that your child may achieve as they’re going through their day. For example if you’re to go to your family doctor to see how your child is progressing in comparison to the standard milestones that neuro-typical children are compared to you’d want to make sure you had this recorded so that you have information that can be easily passed on to others. So if your child made has certain gains, you’d want to make sure that you record these and you would also want to be able to record any areas where your child might be behind where they should be. Another example of this could be meeting with your child’s teacher at school to see how they were adapting to the classroom environment. Again, in this example, you would want to identify where your child is meeting or exceeding certain criteria as well as situations where your child has an opportunity to better handle certain conditions and environments as well as any suggestions that the teacher may have to make. If your were take a snapshot of any one given day you will see there are certain times and periods that act as checkpoints that you can record. Something you’d want to take into account as you’re going through and writing your diary entries is to ensure that you align them with any written reports that you receive from any of the people you’re working with and the filing system that you have for those reports. This way when you go back to look to find certain pieces of information you will find your diary will be able to directly connect those situations to where you filed them as well as whether you were working with your doctor, psychologist’ specialist or therapist. If you were to try to keep all of this information together you would find out very quickly that it would become very cluttered and hard to follow. By using a diary or journal type of process you have a quick reference of what has happened and when and if there is a need to go deeper into the detail you’ll very easily be able to go into your report filing system and pull those reports out and utilize them to whatever benefit you need to use them for. This diary or journal can come in a variety of different forms of mediums to make these notes. You may want to use some form of online journal or diary whether you are on your home computer laptop or cell phone. Just as a reminder if you choose to use an electronic method to make these records it is strongly suggested that you have a backup process in place such as the cloud or an external drive that you have access to. You can also use this diary as a personal checkpoint for yourself from a day-to-day perspective as you are going through the intervention process. It is likely that you will see progress as you go through this process from when you first found out your child’s autism diagnosis versus to how you progressed through the days, weeks and months as you build your skills, tools, understanding and knowledge of the intervention process. Here are some questions that new autism parents should review when considering this.

How will I record these important events?
What events should I be recording right now?
What kind of events should I be watching for?
Who will I share these entries with?
What kind of system will I create to connect all of my records?
What is the most important area I should be watchful of based on my child’s situation?
How will I use this material?

Making observations should be the next thing that parents should focus on when it comes to their child with autism. The reason this is important is so that you can share your observations with the different professionals such as doctors, psychologists, therapists and specialists. Even if you had a half an hour appointment with the most highly regarded medical professional every single day there would still be 23 1/2 hours of time per day that the professional would not be able to see and observe your child. In order for them to be able to make the best decisions possible when it comes to different therapies that will work to help your child this person would need a lot more information than the 30 minutes each day would provide. It will be up to you as an engaged parent to be able to fill-in the blanks and gaps that professionals do not have the ability the fill-in for themselves. No one will have more access to your child than you which is why it will be so important for you to be able to record these observations in a very detailed manner and share them when appropriate. For you to be able to do this you will need to create a standardized system of observation sheets that focus on the criteria that is specific to your child’s condition and that is pertinent to the early intervention process. These observations should also be connected to your diary which will automatically connect them to the different records that you’ll be keeping about your child. Another thing you want to consider in this area is how you’ll get others to record their observations of your child when you are not there. This is important because children tend to act differently when their parents are around as opposed to when their parents are not around. This will help you with a more objective view of the different behaviours your child is expressing and acting out on. It will also give you a greater set of reference points as to what maybe causing these different behaviours. Key points you want to take in consideration are:

What was happening five minutes prior to the behaviour starting?
What was happening very specifically during the behaviour?
What caused the behaviour to change into something else?
What was going on in the environment?
Who else was around when the behaviour was taking place?

Finally, new autism parents should also consider the kind of environment that they are creating for their family and child with autism. We have already addressed the physical environment that your child will be exposed to most of the time early on by identifying and correcting any health and safety risks that may be present in the home. This also addressed how to adapt and prepare for environments that are outside of the home such as the playground or local mall. The part of the environment that was not addressed in this process is the mental and emotional environment including the well being of everyone in the family. There are many parts to this that come into play. The most significant part that you should consider it the foundation of love. To give you perspective on how important this is, let’s flip this around and think about what a negative, hateful environment is like to be in and the effects on the people in that environment. You have likely been in this situation once or twice in your life, at the very least, where you have entered a caustic environment whether it be at work or some other social event. If you are like me, it was all you could do to get out of it. If you were to step back and look at the situation from a third person point of view you would see that anyone in the environment is unhealthy. This will start out as stress which will cause people to disengage if they can. If they cannot this will lead to feelings very similar to the existing or prevalent emotions that reverberate in the environment. If this goes unchecked this will lead people to more extreme emotions such as anger, resentment, contempt, sadness and eventually what we call depression. Knowing that you will do whatever it takes to help your child you would never allow them to exist in that environment. In your gut you know that it is unhealthy and will not help or contribute to your child developing to the level that they are capable of. Knowing that this is true, the other option that you have would be to create an environment that is the exact opposite of this. Of course the polar opposite of a negative environment is one that is positive. These types of environments are full of optimism, happiness and love. In fact, there are studies that show even plants grow better in this type of environment. You know in your heart that your child, as well as your entire family, will be in a better spot to thrive in these conditions. One challenge that most new autism parents have with their current environment is that they may be too used to it, which causes a person to become numb to the situation. The other challenge may be with the sudden change in your life caused by the diagnosis of autism or ASD, is that the change is so great that it is hard to control or influence this environment in a quick and positive manner. Don’t worry, this happens to all of us once in a while. The trick here is to understand how to deal with the changes as well as how to lead and direct the people in the environment to get to the optimal situation for your child. Here are some questions for consideration.

How is your family adapting the diagnosis and the changes this brings?
What is the demeanour of each individual in this family?
How are you currently handling the situation?
What actions can you take to make the situation more positive?
How do you express “love” in the family environment?
How is your child with autism responding to the environment?

When you put this into perspective you will see that there is plenty to do here to get you started in the intervention process. Many new autism parents do not take the time to evaluate these areas of the intervention process. I am confident that as you have gone through these points that you see the need to address these areas so that you have a strong foundation built for your child. These considerations will have a huge influence on your environment and the direction that you are setting for the intervention process. Notice how we haven’t even discussed different therapies or strategies for your child? When you have the right environment you will easily be able to implement the ideas and actions that the professionals will suggest to you. In the wrong environment you won’t have a chance of making these actions as powerful as they could be, if they even work at all. If we were to compare this to a professional sports team, you will have undoubtedly seen situations where teams have had all of the talent in the world yet they cannot win the championship. It is clear that this has nothing to do with the talent, only the mindset and environment in which the team exists.
If you find yourself in the early stages of your intervention or you have just found out that your child has been diagnosed with ASD or autism and are struggling with how you can get the process started and going in the right direction then click the link to this special report, 5 Steps To Starting The Intervention Process Even If You Don’t Have Access To Professional Services. It will help you get the process started and give the early support you need to start progressing in your life with autism.
Until next time, take care, keep your head up and be a pillar of strength for your child and family!

Bryan

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