My Child in Elementary School Was Just Diagnosed with ASD — Now What?!


You need to attend to 3 things.

Education – You do not need a formal medical diagnosis to receive special education services; however, if you do have a report from a medical professional, bring it to school and use it to begin the process of obtaining services.

In order for your child to receive support in school, he or she will need an education evaluation (in addition to any medical or psychological evaluations he or she has already received). Contact your child’s teacher, special education coordinator, counselor, and/or principal to begin this process. After your child is evaluated, he or she may be eligible for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a 504 Plan. An IEP sets out the services and supports deemed necessary for a student with a disability to learn. Both an IEP and a 504 Plan can provide accommodations to help your child succeed in school.

Read more about education during elementary school in the CAR Autism Roadmap™. Visit the Education page and use the filters on the left side of the screen to choose “Age – Elementary School.” In particular, you may want to begin with the following articles:

In addition to the information contained within the CAR Autism Roadmap™, visit the following websites for information about special education regulations and services in your state:

Behavioral HealthConsider your child and if a behavior program can support his or her learning. If a child has interfering behaviors, he or she is likely not able to take advantage of the education program, therapy instruction, etc.

Behavioral health programming varies from state to state.

Pennsylvania offers specific health insurance to cover behavioral health services at no charge for those children who qualify. For some families, employer-provided family health insurance may cover these services. Read the following article to learn more:

New Jersey shares the responsibility for this support between the schools and the Office of Developmental Disabilities. Contact your local school district or seek more information from:

Delaware supports children with behavioral needs through the state education system and with support from Autism Delaware. Contact your local school or seek more information from:

Read more about behavioral health on the CAR Autism Roadmap™. Visit the Healthcare & Treatment page and use the filters on the left hand side of the screen to choose “Specific Therapies – Behavior.”

Medical Health – Most children are followed medically by a primary care physician, usually a pediatrician or a family practice physician. Your child’s primary care physician can help you determine if an appointment with a medical specialist may be indicated. Medical specialists can treat symptoms that may contribute to some of the difficulties your child may be having.

The following articles within the CAR Autism Roadmap™ may be helpful to you:

The rest is optional!

Take a breath and think about yourself and your family. How are you doing?                                                                                                                      

There is no right way or wrong way to feel. Sometimes this diagnosis feels overwhelming, sometimes very doable. However, don’t forget to take time out to have fun. Check out the CAR Autism Roadmap™ for suggestions about celebrating holidays, going on vacation, and nurturing your relationships!

The Center for Autism Research (CAR) offers Next Steps workshops for anyone interested in learning more about Autism Spectrum Disorder. The schedule can be found on the Events Page of the CAR Website. We welcome you to attend. In the meantime, you may find the following articles helpful:

Last Updated: June 16, 2020

The Center for Autism Research and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia do not endorse or recommend any specific person or organization or form of treatment. The information included within the CAR Autism Roadmap™ and CAR Resource Directory™ should not be considered medical advice and should serve only as a guide to resources publicly and privately available. Choosing a treatment, course of action, and/or a resource is a personal decision, which should take into account each individual's and family's particular circumstances.

CAR Resource Directory™