You need to attend to 3 things.
Education – You do not need a formal medical diagnosis to receive special education services; however, if you do have a report from a medical professional, bring it to school and use it to begin the process of obtaining services.
In order for your child to receive support in school, he or she will need an education evaluation (in addition to any medical or psychological evaluations he or she has already received). Contact your child’s teacher, special education coordinator, counselor, and/or principal to begin this process. After your child is evaluated, he or she may be eligible for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a 504 Plan. An IEP sets out the services and supports deemed necessary for a student with a disability to learn. Both an IEP and a 504 Plan can provide accommodations to help your child succeed in school. If your child is eligible for an IEP, he or she may choose to remain in high school until the end of the school year in which he or she turns 21 years old.
Read more about education during the high school years in the CAR Autism Roadmap™. Visit the Education page and use the filters on the left side of the screen to choose “Age – High School.” In particular, you may want to begin with the following articles:
- School-Age special education basics
- School-Age Special Education Eligibility Criteria
- School-Age Special Education Evaluations
- 504 basics
- IEP Requirements Related to Transition to Adulthood
In addition to the information contained within the CAR Autism Roadmap™, visit the following websites for information about special education regulations and services in your state:
- Pennsylvania: Education Law Center
- New Jersey: Education Law Center
- Delaware: Parent Information Center of Delaware
Behavioral Health – Consider your child and if a behavior program can support his or her learning. If a child has interfering behaviors, he or she is likely not able to take advantage of the education program, therapy instruction, etc.
Behavioral health programming varies from state to state.
Pennsylvania offers specific health insurance to cover behavioral health services at no charge for those children who qualify. For some families, employer-provided family health insurance may cover these services. Read the following article to learn more:
New Jersey shares the responsibility for this support between the schools and the Office of Developmental Disabilities. Contact your local school district or seek more information from:
Delaware supports children with behavioral needs through the state education system and with support from Autism Delaware. Contact your local school or seek more information from:
Read more about behavioral health in the CAR Autism Roadmap™. Visit the Healthcare & Treatment page and use the filters on the left hand side of the screen to choose “Specific Therapies – Behavior.”
Medical Health – Most children are followed medically by a primary care physician, usually a pediatrician or a family practice physician. Your child’s primary care physician can help you decide if an appointment with a medical specialist is indicated. Medical specialists can treat symptoms that may contribute to some of the difficulties your child may be having.
The following articles within the CAR Autism Roadmap™ may be helpful to you:
- Who are All These Professionals?
- Clinical Genetics Evaluations
- Co-Occurring Conditions or Co-morbidities
- Speech, Language, and Communication
- Occupational Therapy for Children with ASD
- The Role of the Pediatric Physical Therapist for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
The rest is optional!
Take a breath and think about yourself and your family. How are you doing?
There is no right way or wrong way to feel. Sometimes this diagnosis feels overwhelming, sometimes very doable. However, don’t forget to take time out to have fun. Check out the CAR Autism Roadmap™ for suggestions about celebrating holidays, going on vacation, and nurturing your relationships!
If you are interested in attending a seminar to learn more about ASD, the Center for Autism Research (CAR) and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have several options for families living in the Greater Philadelphia area.
In the meantime, you may find the following articles helpful: