The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that 1 in 88 children have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The new numbers (compared with the previous statistics of 1 in 110) are enough to send every parent into hovering mode, scrutinizing every move their child makes. While it's important to know the signs and symptoms of ASD, it's vital that each parent knows what to do in those first days and weeks that follow the diagnosis of their child.

1. Love Your Child

Remember that your child is still the same child you love, and you are her parent, the person who is most important in her life. You may be dealing with an array of emotions from sadness and anger to guilt and frustration. But you are her advocate, the person who will ensure she receives the best start in life and the best chance at a successful future. Focus on her, love her, and you will see improvements in her skills. They may be small to some, but for her and you, they are grand achievements.

2. Find Support

Raising a child with any special need is an emotional roller coaster. You will be facing many challenges and obstacles as the advocate for your child. But you aren't alone. Support groups are available both locally and online to connect families of children with autism. Being able to talk openly and honestly with other parents whom understand you, your child, and your struggles can be a great help in the battle against the depression and anxiety that can come along with parenting a child with autism.

3. Learn What Your Insurance Will Cover

Each family's health insurance coverage is different. Before you jump into any therapeutic programs for your child, make sure you talk with your health insurance provider about what services are covered. In addition to your major medical plan, states offer varying levels of coverage that could turn out to be beneficial for you and your family. Be aware that you may have a battle ahead of you when it comes to getting your child the care she needs and deserves.

4. Find an Early Intervention Program

Early intervention in autism usually begins before age three. But no matter what age your child is at the time of her diagnosis, it is important to begin therapies as soon as possible. Depending on your state, there are a variety of resources available to you to ensure your child receives the best education and care possible.

5. Learn as Much as You Can

Education really is power. Autism Speaks offers a wealth of up-to-date information on autism and how to best advocate for your child. When you know what challenges you and your child are facing, you are better able to deal with and overcome those obstacles. Make sure anyone who is a caregiver to your child learns about ASD and any changes to your child's daily life that are taking place.

It is terrifying for a parent to learn of the diagnosis of their child. Even if you have sensed that something is off with your child, the reality of a diagnosis will still hit hard. Be prepared to care for yourself and your child. It can make a world of difference in both of your lives.