Asking for Help
For Yourself: You are not alone in dealing with ASDs. You will find many people who are willing and able to help make things easier for you as you move forward from your child’s diagnosis. Old and new friendships will provide a significant support; additionally, ASD support groups offer both an emotional outlet for your feelings and practical support in the form of advice based on their own experience. Many organizations also provide vital Respite Services, so you can leave your loved one in the hands of a skilled caregiver and go out. You also may find that talking with a professional therapist may help alleviate some stress.
The National Health Association has 340 affiliated chapters, many of which offer support groups and related programs for parents, caregivers and anyone interested in Autism Spectrum Disorders.
For Your Child: Your role as a parent of a child with ASD has expanded to include helping your child get services and advocating for your child. By law, your child is entitled to services in all 50 states. Each state receives federal funding for special education programs because they are in compliance with the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA mandates that your child must be provided with a free and appropriate education and sets up a role for parents to plan and monitor their child’s individual education program (IEP).
If your child is younger than three years old, you will contact your state’s early intervention office to secure early intervention services. Click here for the N.Y.S. Early Intervention Program. You may contact your local school district or autism organizations, or your state’s Department of Human Services, Department of Health, Department of Education to find the early intervention office in your state. New York State has several offices that provide intervention services.
If your child is older than three years old, you will contact your local school district to obtain special education services. Depending on whether your child is pre-school or school-age, you will either begin with the Committee for Preschool Special Education (CPSE) or the Committee for Special Education (CSE) in your school district.
To begin the process of securing early intervention services, you will be required to provide a referral for services, consent to an evaluation, participate in a meeting to develop an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) and participate in subsequent meetings to evaluate and revise the IFSP.
Similar requirements are necessary to begin services for your child older than three years old; however, you may refer your own child directly to the CSE to request an evaluation.
You will be required to consent to an evaluation and participate in an Individual Education Program (IEP) meeting; once you are satisfied with and have signed the IEP document, services can begin.