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What's it like to have a child diagnosed with autism

Every family deals with their diagnosis of autism differently. For some, it’s a relief, for others a time of great loss, and for others an opportunity for a new start.

Every family deals with their diagnosis of autism differently. For some, it’s a relief, for others a time of great loss, and for others an opportunity for a new start.

We asked families with children attending SDN Beranga, our custom-built preschool for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), to tell us how they felt and what they did when their child was diagnosed with ASD.

Jane, mother to Jacob, aged 4*

How did you feel when your child was diagnosed?

I felt a big sense of relief when Jacob was diagnosed, even though it was still a shock to hear the words. It felt that someone was finally listening to me and that there was direction for us.

What would you like to have known when your child was diagnosed?

I think I would have liked better direction when it came to therapy services.

What is it like raising a child with autism?

I feel the most challenging part of raising Jacob is preparing him for changes, whether they are small or large. We always need to be innovative and find different ways to help him cope. The biggest rewards we find are when he achieves a goal. It’s the greatest feeling to celebrate.

Sarah, mother to Olivia, aged 3

How did you feel when your child was diagnosed?

I felt relieved that I finally had confirmation that my child had autism and that I wasn’t imagining it! It was good to have someone telling me that I wasn’t just a bad parent that couldn’t control their child.

What would you like to have known when your child was diagnosed?

More practical information would have helped, like the services and funding available, such as NDIS and Centrelink support. I missed out on a place in a government preschool because I didn’t know about it so it would have been great to know about school options too.

What is it like raising a child with autism?

We face a lot of everyday challenges, like not being able to go out and visit people or go on outings like other families. However, the bond I have with Olivia is so strong because I have to fight for her and advocate for her. I have to do things I wouldn’t have to do for a neuro-typical child. I have to be her voice, her friend, her everything.

Glen and Sophia, parents of Lucas aged 4

How did you feel when your child was diagnosed?

Glen: Sad. I felt really sad.

Sophia: I remember feeling shocked, even though, deep down, I already knew it.

What would you like to have known when your child was diagnosed?

Glen: The government support that was available

Sophia: I would like to have known more about what may have caused his autism.

What is it like raising a child with autism?

Glen: My child makes me happy but there are a lot of things in the regular routine like showering, sleeping and toileting that are challenging

Sophia: He is just such a happy boy and he never answers back, but it gets stressful when he cries for no reason.

If your child has recently been diagnosed with ASD you may also like to watch a video about parent reactions to an ASD diagnosis on the Raising Children Website

You can find out more about SDN’s support for children with autism here

SDN Beranga is a preschool located at Rooty Hill for children with autism.

* We’ve changed names to protect the privacy of our families

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