“Your child is autistic.” Sometimes, parents aren’t surprised to hear these words because autism runs in the family. Other times, the diagnosis completely blindsides the parents. In either case, early intervention can help their children develop communication and social skills.

Early Intervention: Establish Daily Routines and Firm Structures

We’re creatures of habit. We like to leave the house at about the same time and get home at about the same time. However, a brief break from the routine, like a weekend getaway, is a welcome change.

Autistic children are also creatures of habit, but everything is magnified. They like to drive in the same lane on the way to work. Furthermore, breaks in the routine are unwelcome interruptions that are difficult to deal with.

So, parents should work hard to create daily routines. Day-to-day structure should be set in stone. Therefore, parents should also remember that they can take a child out of the routine, but they can’t take the routine out of the child.

All daily routines involve transitions. Most people move easily from the breakfast table to the next activity, but this change isn’t easy for autistic kids.

Interactive visual schedules help. After children complete one activity, they check it off, and they know exactly what’s coming next.

Routines change, especially as children get older. Parents can make these changes harder or easier.

Don’t be impatient or expect an autistic kid to act in a non-autistic way. Instead, set clear and reasonable expectations. Additionally, give these children gentle reminders that help them build life skills and become more independent.

Support Communication and Social Skills Development

Verbal communication skills come naturally to most children. Autistic children are different. They often repeat phrases, say inappropriate things, or have other issues with verbal communication.

To compensate, encourage non-verbal communication, such as gestures and facial expressions. Autistic children, whose brains work differently, often excel in these areas.

Demonstrate these techniques. At first, go a little overboard. When you frown, really frown.

Supplement these demonstrations with roleplaying activities, like social stories. Examples include “Let’s pretend I’m the doctor and you’re the patient” or “What would you do if someone bullied you at lunch?”

Access Support and Resources

If you have a disabled child, don’t refuse help. Say yes if a neighbor offers to watch your napping child while you go to the store.

Well-meaning neighbors can’t help an autistic child develop life skills. But these resources are available. Generally, they’re only a phone call or mouse click away.

Many public and private entities, like schools and churches, offer free or reduced-price early intervention services. Frequently, these programs include professional autism evaluations along with therapy sessions and other important resources.

Under federal law, schools must hold annual ARM/IEP meetings. During the annual review meeting, a/k/a the individualized education plan meeting, school officials must offer appropriate resources and support, such as extra test time or a scheduling assistant. Perhaps more importantly, parents can ask questions and get answers at these meetings.

Autistic children aren’t the only family members that need additional support. The parents need this support as well. If they don’t get the support they need, their children suffer. So, join a local support group that encourages parents to share similar experiences, emotionally support one another, and give each other practical advice.

By implementing practical strategies and accessing resources, parents can help their autistic children thrive and succeed. Remember, you are not alone in this journey. Numerous supports, including legal representation when necessary, are available to help you and your family.

The lifetime costs of autism could be upwards of $2.4 million. This figure mainly includes medical expenses and lost wages.

Early intervention efforts reduce, but don’t eliminate, these costs. Families need help paying these costs, especially if they weren’t prepared for the autism diagnosis.

At Action Matters, we connect families with attorneys who work hard to obtain this compensation in court in some situations. For example, if you took Tylenol and gave birth to an autistic child, significant financial help might be available. Contact us today!