One in 68 children is identified as having an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). If you are a parent to an autistic child, you know how frustrating it can be to not only find resources to help your child but to get him diagnosed in the first place. Autism is a complex brain development disorder characterized by difficulties with social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors, says Autism Speaks. Getting the proper support to live with this disorder is not only crucial for parents but for the family unit as a whole.

Become an Active Participant
Family training is essential in the proper care and attention given to autistic children, through consultations, take-home resources and online information that further explains the science and methodology behind autism, according to Dr. Noah’s Arc Autism Recovery Center. Parental support is critical, of course, designed to help you deal with autism in your child, find resources to help him and aid in his developmental process. However, the whole family needs to be in on the act as well, especially when you have other children involved who do not suffer from autism. Everyone in the family suffers with this disease in their own way. Siblings may withdraw for fear of causing more trouble, while others may act out in response to limited attention from parents. It’s because of these effects that extensive family training is necessary to engage all members through regular consults and visits, rich online resources and other educational materials, support groups and more.

Understanding the Signs
Many parents are devastated to learn their child has autism. Others may feel a bit of relief at finally being able to put a label on their child’s suffering. Either way, it can be a long, hard road to that diagnosis. Early symptoms may be observed by parents, teachers, doctors and through tests that screen for autism spectrum disorders such as the M-CHAT, according to the Autism Research Institute. That being said, a formal diagnosis is dependent on a comprehensive evaluation by a psychiatrist, psychologist, neurologist or pediatrician who specializes in developmental disorders. Autism is thought to be caused by a blend of both genetic and environmental factors, resulting in symptoms such as difficulty with social interactions, difficulty with verbal and non-verbal communication, and limited interest in activities or play, says WebMD.

Consultations
As a parent, you need to stay abreast of your child’s progression in life with autism. This includes regular check-ups with doctors and therapists, to be sure, it also involves consultations with your child’s doctor in regards to her testing plans and treatment protocols. Staying in the loop with your child’s treatment ensures you have a hand in helping him navigate the scary waters of this disease. Being proactive means not hiding in the shadows out of fear but instead being an advocate for your child through involvement. Speak up and tell the doctor when you’re not satisfied with an answer, an approach, a treatment. You are the one who has to speak for your child since he cannot.

Support Groups
Finding solace in the company of others warms the soul. By finding and attending local support groups with parents going through exactly what you are going through can make you feel a little less alone in your journey. Your child’s doctor can provide a list of support groups in your community, with online resources also pointing you in the right direction.

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