When parents suspect their child may have autism there is an array of resources to help them. Many of these resources and services can be found in five major categories.
Parents will probably be looking into diagnostic services to verify if the child has autism or possible developmental delays. Diagnostic resources can take many directions. This might include a psychological assessment from a private practice psychologist or neuropsychologist as well as a medical diagnosis of autism from a physician. School districts also provide multi-team assessments of young children for delays and possible autism. A comprehensive assessment can provide the parents with lots of feedback and information about the child’s development.
Parenting resources and services for autism are plentiful for parents in lots of communities. Many autism organizations provide parents with general information about autism as well as how a child with autism can live an enriching life through school and community experiences. Parents can receive information on support groups and people in the community to provide networks of help and encouragement. A good parent resource for many families is called respite care which gives parents a short break to balance family responsibilities and lessen stress on family members.
Advocacy resources for autism are utilized by some parents and not others. A parent may use a special education advocate to consult with during an eligibility or individualized education program (IEP) meeting. An advocate may help answer legal questions or be familiar with state codes or guidelines that could impact a child’s educational program. However, advocacy may include broader elements of autism. Young students with autism may be taught self-advocacy skills to speak out for themselves and their needs. Advocacy can also include fundraising, speaking at political rallies or advocating for political or educational changes to inform the community about the needs of individuals with autism.
There are many therapeutic types of resources for families dealing with autism. Some of these therapeutic approaches are covered by insurance and government programs, while other therapeutic resources are not covered and families must pay their own expenses. There are a broad range of therapeutic resources such as behavior therapy, social skills training, psychiatric medications, individualized intervention programs, private speech, occupational and physical therapy, individual and group therapy sessions, self esteem programs, movement, massage, aquatic and hippo therapy and diet and nutrition based therapies, as well as a number of other programs. The important thing to note is that some therapeutic resources are more established with research to support the approaches and other therapies have limited research and evidence to know the effectiveness of the therapy.
Education resources for families start young and can follow the child through adulthood. Early intervention services in many communities start at birth and go to around three years old. A young child then can make a transition to the public schools for preschool programs that begin several years before Kindergarten.
Individualized education programs can be developed through high school and the early adult years. Some parents choose to home school or go to a specialized private school with individualized types of curriculum.
Parents can also use educational resources from summer camps, after school programs, adaptive sports, tutoring services, vocational training and transition types of programs. Educational resources can be tailored to the unique needs of the individual with autism.
Autism resources can really help direct parents to programs that provide specific services for the particular needs of their children.