Navigating Services

After the Diagnosis

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Once a person is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, the logical next step is to find out what kinds of services that are available. Services are provided through a number of local, state and federal programs, not to mention through 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 since a variety of agencies, including public schools, are responsible for supporting individuals with disabilities as they move through different parts of the lifespan. 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 your child has been diagnosed, you will likely wonder how to meet your child’s needs and who will be there to offer support after you’re gone. You may face feelings of guilt, isolation, confusion and anger. And 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 individuals recently diagnosed with autism. Like their families and loved ones, they too 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/her own degree of self-awareness, and, most importantly, whether the diagnosis was ever disclosed.

The strong emotions that can arise after diagnosis can become a motivator for families as well as 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.