Receiving a diagnosis of autism for your child may feel overwhelming, but luckily there is plenty of support and information available to help you and your child navigate this path.
What is autism?
Autism is a lifelong condition that affects how a person thinks, feels, interacts with others, and experiences their environment. Autism affects everyone differently, this is why autism is described as a ‘spectrum’. Aspect describes autism as a different brilliant®
There are lots of myths and misunderstandings about autism but while many Autistic people experience difficulties, with the right support Autistic people can, and do, achieve a great quality of life (We belong & We belong too research studies).
There is also a misconception that the autism spectrum is linear. In fact, Autistic people can display a wide range of characteristics in their strengths, communications, social interactions, leisure and play – which can appear more like a constellation.
Autism can also be linked with physical, developmental or mental health conditions such as intellectual disability, epilepsy, gastro-intestinal issues, ADHD, dyspraxia, anxiety or depression. However, many of the challenges associated with autism come about when individuals don’t have the respect, understanding and supports that allow them to be comfortable in society as it currently exists.
What does it mean for me as a parent/carer?
It is important to remember that your child is still the same person, regardless of a diagnosis. An autism diagnosis may mean your child just requires additional support or a different approach in some areas of their life in order to reach their goals.
It is also helpful to know that no two Autistic people are the same, with each individual having their own personality, unique strengths and way of thinking, many of which are being increasingly recognised as important to our society.
Finding the right support
The type of support that someone needs depends on their age, their goals, and what they want to achieve. There are many different options out there, but it is important to make sure that the support your child receives has an evidence base and matches their individual needs. The type of support that is right and helpful for one child, may not be right or helpful for another.
Supports are there to help your child meet their specific needs or goals and should be individualised based on what skills your child may need additional support with. For example, your child may need help with communicating or sensory processing. You can discuss these needs with your pediatrician, speech pathologist, occupational therapist or other health professional.
Parents and carers may also benefit from supports that upskill them in autism-specific approaches that allow them to best support and understand their child.
Aspect holds regular webinars to provide information and support for parents.
The National Autism Information Line - Autism Connect is also a good source of information for people looking to understand what type of support they may need.
Accessing the NDIS
Once your child has received a diagnosis of autism, you may be eligible to access the NDIS. The NDIS can help you to cover costs of the supports.
Information about how to apply for the NDIS is also available on the NDIS website.
Before attending your first NDIS meeting you should make a checklist of things to take with you, including:
- Information about your child’s individual needs
- Information about your child’s current living arrangements
- Diagnosis reports and assessments
- Any questions you may want to ask about the NDIS
Disclosing a diagnosis
Disclosuring that your child have been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum to other people is up to you and your child. However, it can be helpful to disclose to your child’s school or workplace, where additional supports may be required.
Amaze has an information sheet that describes ways you can share a diagnosis of autism with people.