The category of autism spectrum disorders includes autism, Asperger's syndrome, Rett syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder, and childhood disintegrative disorder. Autism, however, is quite different from the other conditions as it comprises all the symptoms that others only partly display.
For the parent who has noticed that his or her child is different from other children of the same age, whether at a cognitive, emotional or behavioral level, the first step is learning as much as possible about autism and how it manifests, and the second is getting an official diagnosis. Also, autism is a lifelong condition that requires special therapy and treatment, so the sooner this issue is tackled, decisions are made and the training program starts, the better are the chances for an autistic child to acquire the abilities and knowledge needed for a normal social functioning.
Once the parents know what they are up against, whether autism or another autism spectrum disorder, there are several things of vital concern that need to be understood. One of these is for them to accept that the child's condition is not their fault, that there is nothing they could have done to prevent it and that the only way to approach such a situation is with clarity, determination and full dedication. Another important thing parents with autistic children should know is that they can be actively involved in therapy sessions by watching, learning and applying cognitive behavioral methods on a daily basis, thus reinforcing positive behavior. They can also opt for school-based programs especially designed for children with such a condition.
Under no circumstances should parents give up the behavioral therapy sessions, especially if the child has made noticeable progress. Their attitude towards dealing with this condition needs to be consistent and their daily routines carefully planned so as to include time to play, to find effective ways of communication and to prevent repetitive, unwanted behavior. Parents need to invest time and energy into helping their child as best they can.
For those parents who have reached a point where they feel like their child has not made any progress, who feel helpless, depressed or desperate, there are support groups and family therapy to help them cope with the situation. Having a child with autism poses challenges that parents are not always prepared to handle, but with the right treatment, plan, unconditional love and support progress can be a reality. It is hardship but as parents, never give up in anyway.