With so many therapies, approaches and treatments out there to help deal with autism, it can be difficult to decide which will be the best fit for what you need and want to focus on for your own circumstances. Here are 5 important aspects to think about to make this difficult decision a no brainer!

1. What are the issues, struggles and difficulties you and/ or your child are having?
This part tends to be the easiest thing to think about because it involves the challenges you are dealing with every day. For some people it will be really easy to reel off a list of difficulties you are having and for others it may take more careful thought to identify exactly what the struggles are. In any case it is useful to look for a theme of why the difficulties, struggles and challenges are there, often it comes down to a common denominator or underlying issue typically related to the core deficits of autism. Being clear about what you need help, support and guidance with will help you identify the approach that will suit you best.
Action step: Make a list of your and your child’s issues/ struggles/ difficulties/ challenges.
Question to ask consultant: Does their approach work on these issues?

2. What is your family’s situation and values?
Do you have other children that also need support, time and want to be more involved in the family? I think that it is a priority to find an approach that is FAMILY –FRIENDLY and not all and completely focused on the child with autism; after all the family functions as a unit and when there is balance amongst family members and relationships, the everyday dynamics of relationships are strengthened. Make sure you choose an approach that values the whole family system and appreciates that every family is different but everyone in it is as important as each other.
Action step: Write down your priorities and values for your family.
Question to ask consultant: Do you involve the whole family in your approach?

3. What do you want for your child in the long term?
You may feel like you just need a quick fix for something that is occurring right now in your life and this is fine but I urge you to consider what you want for your child in the long term and if it is to improve quality of life by ensuring their happiness, relationships and friendships with others then this will help you to identify an approach that will contribute to this things - put these as a priority focus in the programme.
Action step: Write down a mission preview of how you imagine an interaction with your child to be in 10 years time. This will help you identify your real goals.
Question to ask consultant: What are the ultimate goals of your approach?

4. How do you learn best?
Some people do just fine from reading a book or doing a bit of self-learning to implement things at their own pace. Many people I know and have worked with need much more support and guidance than this. It can be a minefield out there when considering what to do next and how best to address a situation but when you have someone breaking it down just for you and guiding you every step of the way then it definitely helps to tailor the learning to how you learn best. When you are learning easily you are in a much better frame of mind to implement, take action and see results.
Action step: Write down how you learn best (discussion, experience, demonstration, modeling etc)?
Question to ask consultant: How do you teach the approach?

5. Time, energy and effort
There is absolutely no point in pursuing something that you do not have the time and energy for because you will not get the results you desire from it if you are not committed. So once you have identified your ideal approach, then decide how much of a priority it is and realistically decide how much time, energy and effort you can and will dedicate to it to reach the goals you want to achieve.
Action step: Is this a priority for you? Realistically work out how much time you have each week that you will dedicate to planning, doing and reviewing your parenting approach.
Question to ask consultant: How much time do I need to do this well?

I think it is important to give this some thought when making your decisions as it will help to save time in the long run and get you results that you want.

Your next steps:
1. Give it some thought
2. Research it enough (but don’t get overwhelmed by it)
3. Speak to professionals and other families
4. Make sure it ‘feels’ right for you and fits in with your goals and family situation
5. Take action, start implementing straight away (don’t waste time procrastinating!)

Author's Bio: 

Elisa Ferriggi is dedicated to empowering parents to feel competent in raising their child with autism and to improve quality of life. By addressing the core deficits of autism and unlocking potential children are able to develop milestones required to connect with others and establish true relationships. Elisa Ferriggi has been involved in the autism field since 2003 and is trained in the following approaches Relationship Development Intervention (RDI), Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Holistic Approach to Neuro-Developmental Learning Efficiency (HANDLE) Introductory Activities Coach, The Listening Program (TLP) Certified Provider.