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  • Libby Galin

    Your child received a diagnosis. Now what?

    What to do next after your child is diagnosed with a developmental difference such as autism, sensory processing disorder or other special needs.


    As your child grows and develops, you might find yourself worrying and wondering if their development is on track. And when it comes to development, there’s a lot to keep track of—feeding, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, speech, language, social-emotional development and play (to name a few!). 

    What happens if you feel your child is behind in one of these areas? To start, know that you are not alone. Every child develops uniquely and at their own pace. Talk to your pediatrician about your concerns. Your pediatrician will guide you to the right professional. 

    A diagnosis will help pinpoint what specific areas of your child’s development need to be addressed. A diagnosis also means you’re one step closer to receiving valuable treatment from which your child will greatly benefit. The doctor or therapist who gave your child a diagnosis will guide you toward the next steps. These steps typically include the following:

    • Determine the best course of action. This is also known as a treatment plan, and may include the type of intervention your child needs, the frequency, the duration and guidance for you as a parent. 
    • Learn about your insurance benefits. This will ease unneeded stress by ensuring you know what will be covered ahead of time. 
    • Find a therapist to implement the treatment plan. Your pediatrician is an excellent resource for referrals to health care providers that can best help your child. If your child needs multiple therapies (which many do), you may prefer a setting that offers multiple therapeutic disciplines at the same site.
    • Write your questions down. Your therapist’s job is not only to help your child; it’s also to help you. This includes answering your questions, teaching you about your child’s strengths and weaknesses, and educating you how to best help your child. Don’t let your questions linger; seek the answers you need for peace of mind.
    • Write your concerns down. Be specific, and provide examples. Your child’s therapist will likely meet your child for 1-2 hours during the first appointment, which will provide only one snapshot of your child. To help your child’s therapist better understand your child in other contexts (e.g., home, school, with peers, etc.), be ready to share information about your concerns. 
    • Connect with other parents. It can feel overwhelming and even scary to learn your child may be behind in their development. To ease your mind, seek support from other parents who have been there, too. NPN offers a monthly Developmental Differences Parent Support Group. Check the NPN calendar to find the next meeting and sign up.

    Finally, continue to remember that every child is unique, including their pace of development, special areas where they excel, and certain areas that seem harder for them. By seeking help for your child, you are helping them grow and develop to their full potential and ultimately helping them succeed in life.   

    Libby Galin

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