What a diagnosis of autism means for your child
Each child has unique symptoms that may range from mild to severe. Currently, professionals are not able to predict exactly how a specific child will respond to treatment. Your child’s doctor, psychologist, or other specialist in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) can discuss your child’s particular strengths and concerns and how this might affect his or her development. Researchers are just beginning to understand how children with autism develop over time, based on the different subtypes of the disorder.
Simple first steps
If you suspect that your child has an autistic disorder, make an appointment for an evaluation. You can begin this process by contacting your child’s primary care doctor, by seeking a specialist in diagnosing autism such as those at the Thompson Center, or by contacting the Missouri Department of Mental Health Regional Centers.
You can obtain more information about normal growth and development from the public library or from the Parents as Teachers program.
Visit the American Academy on Pediatrics web site where you'll find information on autism spectrum disorders and find the AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS OFFERS SOUND ADVICE ON AUTISM
Audio interviews with developmental pediatricians, autism researchers and other advocates answer common questions about autism spectrum disorders
The decision to “tell” is up to you as parents. Parents who share the concern or diagnosis with family friends and teachers create a “community of support” which offers support not only to the child but the entire family. With today’s national focus on autism, the tide is changing to one of support in many areas.
Laws that provide special protection and resources
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensures services to children with disabilities across the nation. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education and related services to eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities.
Infants and toddlers with disabilities (birth to age 2) and their families receive early intervention services under IDEA Part C. In Missouri, this is called the First Steps program. Children and youth (ages 3-21) receive special education and related services under IDEA Part B through their local school district.
Acronyms you might encounter
Autism professionals sometimes rely on what looks like an “alphabet soup” of letters which they use to communicate in shorthand. These acronyms come from the fields of healthcare and education. Some of the acronyms may be found at: Glossary of terms and acronyms.