Wouldn't it be nice if all the local services for children living with autism were available in a neat and tidy bundle you could download online with appropriate names and contact information? In a perfect world this would be the case, but as most parents in this situation will tell you, finding services for their child is like digging through that proverbial haystack in hopes of finding a helpful needle or two. To compound the problem many programs are in the pilot or testing stage with limited spaces and by the time you find out about them, you are seventeenth on the waiting list. There are, however, some insider tips to locating services in your area. You have to be diligent and occasionally stealthy but persistence can pay off and you just may find yourself with the help you need:
If your child has autism there is a good chance you have been to one or two classes to learn valuable coping skills. What you might not know is that the class instructors are often a wealth of information. It is well worth your while to stay after class to bend their ear and listen to what they may have to say. Many of them have been instructing for a long time and they have learned of programs and workshops for your child that you were not even aware existed. They may also have an inside scoop on new or limited programs coming available.
Again, many families have engaged in family counseling to aid them in integrating strategies at home to deal with an autism diagnosis. If you already have a relationship, it cannot hurt to talk to your counselor about resources available outside the home. You need to be direct when you ask, as endorsing one program over another may not be something your counselor is comfortable doing. However, once you give the green light, you may be surprised at the extensive knowledge they have.
A seemingly unlikely source for getting help with autism services but these tax professionals are a must-have for families dealing with autism. They can help find additional tax credits, let you know what services you can write off as deductions, and if necessary arrange for a disability benefit. This is more than just extra money; this allows parents to enroll their child into more expensive private autism programs that could be out of reach financially without the tax breaks. Doing your taxes yourself is seldom a good option for families living with autism.
Most parents realize that autism support groups are great at offering kind words and encouragement but are not always the best place to get good information. Simply because in most municipalities, the services available are nowhere near close to meeting demand. Therefore many parents feel forced to keep their hard-earned information to themselves. It just doesn't make sense to share information and invite competition for their child for limited classes and programs. However, if you align yourself with a parent who has a child older than yours by three or four years, they likely won't be competing for the same services and would be more likely to share no longer needed information.
It is truly a shame that autism programs are not more readily available, especially with the number of children diagnosed on the rise. It is essential though, for your child's well being to ensure he or she gets the right services. Parents must be teachers, counselors, coaches and mostly advocates. It is hard work but when you see your child begin to flourish due to your persistence and diligence, it will all be worth it.