Autism Awareness

 

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

I’m by no means an expert on Autism. But unlike the experts, I spend 24 hours a day with my daughter and I know her needs better than anyone.  I am sharing this with you because, if you are reading this, you are probably overwhelmed like I was 3 years ago.

The day I found out my daughter had Autism, was arguably the hardest day of my life. Every possible negative scenario ran through my head at once. Will she ever be able to live independently? How are we going to take care of her when we are older?  Will she ever be married or have children?  After days of constant sobbing, I realized I was being an idiot and “woe is me” was written all over my face. This was about my daughter, not me!  So, I picked up the pieces and started fighting for her.

There is no manual for what to do when you find out your child has Autism. Trust me, I looked!  So I started where any mother with concern would…Google.  Sure, I was provided an overwhelming amount of information from all parties involved in her testing; but, for me it wasn’t enough. I found some amazing websites that pointed me in the right direction. The best website, in my opinion, is Autism Speaks.  It provides all the information a parent or loved one needs to find help.   I found the most important section of the website to be Early Intervention (EI).

The latest findings stress the need for diagnosis and treatment before age 6 when treatment is known to be the most effective. The newest research suggests it’s even possible to reverse autism symptoms in some infants and toddlers or decrease the severity of the symptoms. Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) provides states with federal grants to institute EI programs. Any child younger than age 3 who has a developmental delay is eligible to receive EI services through these programs. EI services vary widely from state to state. We were blessed with an amazing Early Interventionist who made the mountains of paperwork and the overwhelming amount of stress disappear!  Everything started falling in to place and my daughter was finally getting the help she needed.  The following are links from the Autism Speaks website to information about EI and a resource guide for each state to help find EI programs.

Autism Early Intervention

Resource Guide for EI

While there is no known cure for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), there is treatment and education approaches that can address some of the challenges associated with ASD. Intervention can help to lessen disruptive behaviors, and education can teach self-help skills for greater independence. ASD treatment includes, but not limited to, speech therapy, occupational therapy and applied behavior analysis.  The following links will help you understand these therapies and how beneficial they are to a child with ASD.

Speech Therapy

Occupational Therapy

Applied Behavior Analysis

These therapies are extremely expensive and may cause families extreme financial stress. Many states offer The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA) of 1982. TEFRA is a federal law that allows states to make medical assistance available to certain children with disabilities without counting their parent’s income.  Click the link below from the Catalyst Center to see which states offer TEFRA.

TEFRA State Plan Options

My hope is, by sharing this small amount of information,  you will be able to use the information to get help for your loved one.
XO,

Stacey