* If a parent has concerns or questions about their young developing child first consult your trusted pediatrician. If your pediatrician is very experienced, he or she will have a keen sense of atypical development and offer you a referral to a developmental pediatrician or child psychiatrist for a definitive diagnosis.
* If your child is under age 3 years contact your local Regional Center. They are likely in all states, to offer early diagnosis and intervention. They will evaluate your child and provide remedial services if needed all for free. No charge at all.
* If your child is over age 3 years reach out to your local public school. Even if your child is not enrolled and as long as your residential address falls within the geographical lines of that particular school they, too, must offer free evaluation and remedial services. The challenge is that most schools have suffered financial cuts. To offer free testing and services costs money. Often, they will only identify children who are functioning and performing at a specific number of months or years delayed. Also, there is a time factor. Go straight to the principal’s office and request an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) for your child. Fill out the request form and be sure to have it stamped officially by the school office.
* Talk with other parents. You will need information, support, and companionship. The hardest part of this process is feeling alone and isolated. You are absolutely not alone. Sadly, many families are affected by autism spectrum disorders.
* Be sure to carve out individual break time for yourself. This can be a relentless process of output for parents. Nourish yourself and refuel.
* Have regular dialogue talk with your spouse/partner. Raising a child with special needs puts added stress on the marital relationship.
* Remember to love and accept your child warts and all. We are all flawed human-beings. Having a diagnosis does not change who your child is. He and she are still as lovable as they always were.
* Always balance loving/nurturing with setting/holding boundaries. Each parent must be comfortable doing both at the same time.