My Child Has Been Diagnosed with Autism, Now What?

MEDIA EXPERT ALERT: Dr. Catherine Lord Highlights the Latest ASD Research and Approaches to Treatment

Apr 5, 2012


To help recognize Autism Awareness Month, Dr. Catherine Lord, Director of the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell & Columbia and a leading authority on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), offers families guidance and tips following a child’s diagnosis within the ASD.

  • Have Hope. Things get better. There are changes every day in what we can do to help people with ASD.
  • Your Child is an Individual. Remember your child is first of all his or her own unique person, then a child, then a child with strengths and difficulties, and only then a child with ASD.
  • Have a Strong Support System. Find people whom you can trust to support you, and then to support you as a parent of a child with autism.
  • Find Credible Sources. Find sources of information that you can trust. You will hear many contradictory pieces of information. Figure out where you can check about new ideas.
  • Enjoy Each Other. Be sure to every day do things that you enjoy and that your child enjoys. While opportunities for learning are important, shared enjoyment is even more important in a family.
  • Set Goals. Think of a few reasonable goals you would like your child to accomplish - small things that you think he or she can almost do. Try to concentrate on figuring out how to accomplish these goals. These goals should not be long-term plans or big goals.
  • Make Time For Your Spouse. Make sure to have some time for you and your partner every day, even if it is just a few minutes, where you focus on each other, and not the child. Stick up for each other's needs and perspectives as you consider what you will do for your child.
  • Be Involved. Children with ASD who come from families who devote time to learning and playing with them show more improvements than families who are less involved.
  • Have reasonable expectations for your child's behavior. Do not let your child do things (like bite people or climb on counters) that you would not let another child of the same age do. Do not punish, but respond quickly and distract if things are not going well.
  • Find the resources in your community. Other parents are important sources of information. Use them, but every child with ASD is different so stick up for what you think are the needs of your child.

About Dr. Catherine Lord

Dr. Catherine Lord is the Director of the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell & Columbia. She is a clinical psychologist who co-developed some of the key diagnostic tools to help clinicians recognize autism in individuals of varying ages. Dr. Lord is renowned for her research in the field, especially longitudinal studies of children with autism that observe the progression of their social development and communication skills. The focus of her research is often to find more effective ways to treat patients.

Dr. Lord has been honored repeatedly for her work and has received the Patricia Buehler Legacy Award for Clinical Innovation from the American College of Occupational Therapy; the Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Clinical Psychology from the Society of Clinical Psychology; and the Asperger/ Kanner Medal from the Free University of Berlin. She chaired the Committee on Effectiveness of Early Intervention in Autism for the National Research Council and is currently on the DSM-V Neurodevelopmental Disorders Committee.

Center for Autism and the Developing Brain at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell & Columbia

The Center for Autism and the Developing Brain is a comprehensive, state-of-the-art institute dedicated to addressing the pressing clinical needs of individuals living with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disorders of the brain, across their lifespan. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, along with its affiliated medical schools Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Weill Cornell Medical College, has collaborated with the New York Center for Autism ( to establish the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain. Led by Dr. Catherine Lord and located on the Hospital's 214-acre campus in White Plains, the Center will be a resource for community-based providers and families and is expected to open in 2013. For more information, visit NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, based in New York City, is the nation’s largest not-for-profit, non-sectarian hospital, with 2,409 beds. The Hospital has nearly 2 million inpatient and outpatient visits in a year, including 12,797 deliveries and 195,294 visits to its emergency departments. NewYork-Presbyterian's 6,144 affiliated physicians and 19,376 staff provide state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine at five major centers: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division. One of the most comprehensive health care institutions in the world, the Hospital is committed to excellence in patient care, research, education and community service. NewYork-Presbyterian is the #1 hospital in the New York metropolitan area and is consistently ranked among the best academic medical institutions in the nation, according to U.S.News & World Report. The Hospital has academic affiliations with two of the nation's leading medical colleges: Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. For more information, visit

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