Building a Network of Providers
Receiving a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD or autism) can be very daunting. Parents may be overwhelmed with feelings as they adjust to the news and as questions about what they can do and what help there is available for their child arise. It is important for parents to build a network of providers to assist with the many aspects of daily living, whether for the child or for the parents, such as respite care to provide them with much-needed breaks. As each child with autism has different levels and severity of symptoms, any help or assistance needs to take into account the individual needs of the child, as well as the family needs as a whole.
A good family doctor is usually the first to access services such as speech therapy or occupational therapy. Access to these services can depend on what is affordable and/or what the family’s health insurance covers, as many services are very costly such as the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Currently, many states have already enacted autism insurance legislation to ensure that health care providers include insurance coverage for autism. Moreover, due to the changes in recent laws, government-funded health programs, such as Medicaid, have increased insurance coverage for autism.
Autism Speaks is the largest autism science and advocacy organization in the United States. It provides not only help but also useful information through its Family Services Research Guide. By clicking on any state on the map, it will automatically show a list of services that can be found in a particular state. Entering the zip code and radius of a specific area can narrow down the services provided, and this will also include services provided in surrounding areas and states. This tool is indeed a valuable resource for parents and caregivers.
The following are a few of the categories of service providers listed:
- Health services
- Early intervention
Support groups are another useful source of other available service providers in the area. Parents, as a support group, can share information and experiences with other parents. They can also serve as a no-cost or cheap daycare that can provide the break they need and deserve.
Building a good network of providers is vital for families with children diagnosed with autism, as they face many obstacles and challenges in day-to-day life. What each family requires varies according to their differing needs. Obtaining what is needed can depend on what is affordable, what the health insurance covers, and what other resources are available.
Autism Speaks, Autismspeaks.org: Family Services Resource Guide, Retrieved March 30, 2011, from http://www.autismspeaks.org/community/fsdb/search.php?chgst=true
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