“My doctor just told us it’s confirmed: my child has Asperger’s Syndrome – an Autism Spectrum Disorder. I’m in shock. I don’t know what to do, what to think, or where to go for help.”
Many parents of children with Asperger’s are in this predicament: after years of wondering if, and what might be different about their child, they finally get an answer…but it’s just the beginning. After all the testing is done, doctors pull together a diagnosis: a medical term that best explains the symptoms, traits and behaviors you have been wondering about in your child. For most parents, it’s a relief.
The diagnosis means your child has one type of the newly classified Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) – on the continuum with other forms of autism. The syndrome best describes people who have social impairment, communication difficulties, and restrictive, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior. These challenges have likely impaired your child to some degree in the playground, at daycare, or in the classroom if he or she has started school.
Now, armed with a formal diagnosis, you are in the position to be able to locate and access services.
During this first conversation with your medical practitioner, you might have been given a few places to start – depending on your child’s immediate needs. It makes sense that you begin to seek treatment for areas where the need is greatest – at this point in time. Down the road, your child’s needs will change, and you will be looking for different resources or help from your community.
Here are a few areas to explore:
- Medical: ask the clinic where your child was diagnosed what follow up care they suggest and provide. They may have parent support groups, individual or family counselling, referral to a dietician, information on speech and language pathologists etc.
- Community agency: seek out the community agency in your area that serves children with ASD. For example, in Toronto, call the Geneva Centre, or the Toronto Chapter of the Asperger’s Society of Ontario.
- Childcare: if you are in a large municipal or agency run childcare, ask the manager for the special ed supports they have available to your child. The City of Toronto run daycares have a resource person who can provide extra consultation to your child if you are enrolled in their child care centres.
- Social: find other parents who have children with ASD – join your local Asperger’s organization. Contact me if you are interested in a parent support group that meets monthly in Yorkville.
If this is new to you, go slow, breathe and try not to get overwhelmed. Take one day at a time!