Navigating Services

© Andrew Parker Images, all rights reserved. Please do not remoAfter a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, the logical next step is to find out what kinds of services are available. Services are provided through a number of local, state and federal programs, not to mention private professionals working in the medical, nutritional, educational and therapeutic fields. Additionally, the age of the person with autism will determine where to begin the process, as a variety of agencies, including public schools, are responsible for supporting people with disabilities as they grow. Also, families and loved ones of people with autism might also wish to seek out assistance, information or guidance through support groups, conferences or other helpful venues.

“After the Diagnosis” article

The best way to start this search is with the Autism Source database, which contains listings for thousands of service providers across the nation. You should also contact your local Autism Society affiliate and find out what activities the affiliate offers in your area. (Autism Source can help you with this as well.) Making local connections is extremely important, as the autism community members who live near you will be able to recommend more convenient services.

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Parents

After your child has been diagnosed, you likely will wonder how to meet your child’s needs and who will be there to offer support after you’re gone. You might face feelings of guilt, isolation, confusion and anger. These feelings do not make you a bad person or a bad parent; the key is to deal with them constructively by getting help if needed, addressing your concerns and learning more about autism and the challenges to come. On top of a myriad of doctors’ visits, technological jargon, labels and a mountain of information to process, you need to learn quickly to navigate a complicated system to figure out what services and treatments your child needs and how to get them.

The same can be said for people recently diagnosed with autism. Like their families and loved ones, they undergo a period of adjustment to the diagnosis. The adjustment might take place at any stage in the lifespan, depending on when the person was diagnosed, his or her own degree of self-awareness, and, most importantly, at what point he or she learns about the diagnosis.

The strong emotions that can arise after diagnosis can become a motivator for families and for people on the spectrum to find effective support. The most important point is that diagnosis can open the doors to many services. Autism is treatable, if you recognize it.