Resources and Support for Families Dealing with Autism
If your child has been diagnosed with autism, you are probably wondering where to go for help beyond the doctor's office. It is a scary diagnosis, and you need emotional support, information, suggestions, anything that will help your child and your family. The doctor or group of professionals who made the diagnosis should have answered many of your questions and helped you get started in your community. But you will certainly want to learn more.
A good place to start is with the Autism Society, whose mission is stated as “Improving the Lives of All Affected by Autism.” The site is so comprehensive, and includes so many links to other sites, that if you take full advantage of it you may not need to look anywhere else.
You will find stories written by parents of autistic children, professionals who help patients with autism, and stories written by people with autism. You will be reminded that autism is a spectrum disorder.
Each individual will fall at a different place on the spectrum. Reading the success stories of people with autism who are high functioning can be inspirational and also give you a source of hope.
There is an entire section describing autism in all its facets, from diagnosis to frequently asked questions. You can register for a free 30-minute online class called “Autism 101” to get even more information.
The “Autism Community” link will help you find your local chapter.
If you click on “Life with Autism” you will see an “Education” link. This leads you to critical information you will need about education. Click on “IDEA | Section 504 | No Child Left Behind” where you can read about the federal government's mandates to make sure all children receive an education. This is one of the areas in which you need to know your child's rights and how to obtain them.
The Autism Society has been helping people find the services they need for 40 years. You can call for help – the number is 1(800)-3AUTISM. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can visit the website and gain access to their database called “Autism Source™.” You will find information there on providers, government services, support systems, research, and much more.
Another excellent website is called TACA, or Talk About Curing Autism. It is a “not-for-profit foundation of families helping families.” This site has a robust search engine to help you find answers to all sorts of questions. For example, typing in the phrase “help at home” provides a link to tips on how to help a child with autism communicate. Another link takes you to a page about Family Immersion experience, an intense, unique treatment. Yet another takes you to a site to look for a “Rescue Angel,” usually a parent of a child with autism who has made a significant recovery. This parent has volunteered to help others through the process.
The National Institute of Mental Health, or NIMH, commits significant resources to treating autism and doing research. By visiting their website, you can find more information about autism and other spectrum disorders, ways to get help, and access to research.
Each of these sites above has links to other sites where you will find more specific help. Whether you need a general overview and are just beginning to learn about autism, or you need help with a very specific problem, you can probably find it at one of these sites. In addition, you can join and link up with the many families dealing with an autistic family member. Being part of a larger community can help relieve some of the burden and feelings of isolation many parents experience.