Your decisions about services and programs will depend on many things including cost, options available in your area and your child’s particular needs. You can find out more about choosing a disability service provider
Finding autism spectrum disorder services
At first, you might feel overwhelmed by autism spectrum disorder (ASD) information and options. Parents often say that it seems like a maze, or a complicated road map.
You might need to take particular steps to use the services you’ve chosen. For example, for some services you need a referral and/or diagnosis. For others, you don’t. Some services attract funding or rebates. Others don’t.
If your child wasn’t diagnosed until later childhood or adolescence, you might feel that you’ve missed out on crucial years of getting help for your child. But it’s never too late to start getting services, and there are options for older children and teenagers and their families.
It can help to ask key professionals in your child’s life about different services and how they might help your child. The team who diagnosed your child can usually suggest useful services. Your GP or paediatrician, or your child’s teacher, might also have ideas.
State autism associations
In Australia, each state and territory has an autism association.
These associations have lots of information for people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families. They’ll also be able to connect you with a range of parent support groups. Several autism associations are also service providers.
Under the Australian Government’s Helping Children with Autism (HCWA)
the state associations are the home of the HCWA autism advisors. If
your child is under seven years and diagnosed with ASD, these advisors can
help you find early intervention services and government
School support for children with autism spectrum disorder
Your child might be able to get funding support for school, or the school might be able to find speech therapists, psychologists or other professionals to work with your child at school.
Your child might go to a specialist school for children with a range of disabilities, a school for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or a mainstream school. Some schools have special units or programs for children with disability or special learning needs.
Lots of families find that sharing the diagnosis with the school is a good starting point for getting extra support. Your child’s school might be asked to build specific therapy approaches into their program for your child. You might need to spend time working with your child’s school to get the best educational outcomes for your child.
Getting answers, getting organised
Parents have found that two important skills they need are asking the right questions and organising all their information.
When you start exploring autism spectrum disorder (ASD) services for your child, it helps to ask as many questions as you can think of.
Information overload can easily happen, so it’s important to start organising your information as soon as possible. You’ll have information about your child, and you’ll probably collect a lot of information about ASD and service providers.
Here are some ideas for keeping it organised:
- There’ll be important information that you need to keep handy for future reference – assessment reports, school or program reports, application forms and details of appointments. A folder of some type is the most useful way to keep this information organised.
- You might also want to keep lists of useful terms, words and acronyms, websites and books. You can store this type of information in a notebook or computer file.
- You can store printed information in many ways – computer files, written journals or diaries, desktop-type files, shoe boxes, bottom drawers. It doesn’t really matter, but deciding early on an approach will save you time and confusion later.
- When it comes to deciding what information to keep, be ruthless – you don’t want to build a whole library. Try to keep only what’s relevant to you and your situation.
What other parents say about autism spectrum disorder services
Parents who have been on the journey through autism spectrum disorder (ASD) services say there are some things that really help:
- Spend time to find what’s right for your child and family, because there’s no one way to help children with ASD.
- Be prepared to change things along the way, as your child grows and develops and your preferences and service options change.
- Be resilient and persevere. Keep trying and don’t let any setbacks get you down. Talking with family and friends is a great way to stay strong.
- Take things a year at a time. This can help you stay grounded and relaxed when making decisions about the next stage in your child’s treatment.
- Be aware that some decisions will be just right, and others might need to be changed. This is OK. While you’re discovering more about ASD, your child is changing and learning new skills too.
- Try ASD family support groups. They give you the chance to meet and form friendships with other people in the same situation as you.
- Try online support forums. They’re a great way to connect and share stories, advice and support.