What’s Out There?
For parents with a newly diagnosed child or family member on the autism spectrum, getting access to the right information on the subject can be a challenging task. For many individuals, this will be the first time caring for someone with autism; and because of this, guidance could be needed. As the prevalence of individuals diagnosed continues to rise, as does the number of people directly and indirectly affected by this disability. Luckily, there are many people, programs, and organizations in place to help families in these circumstances.
Some of the first people you can talk to are your child’s pediatrician or diagnosing psychologist. They are a good resource to point you in the right direction of other professionals and programs providing assistance. After the evaluation process, most developmental pediatricians and psychologists will recommend information to look into aiding in the treatment of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). Typically, services such as ABA therapy, speech, and even occupational therapy are recommended for treatment, however, doctors may not always have a long list of therapy providers for you to call. Of course parents can head online and start searching away, clicking on different websites, and calling numbers; however, there are many autism-specific websites created to help your child thrive and reach their full potential.
Many different organizations provide support for families in need. Some of the supports provided can include updated information on autism spectrum disorder, ideas for different therapy options, specialty provider directories, educational resources, and networking opportunities. For families who may not be familiar with autism, such organizations can be life-changing to educate and assist in knowing how to provide a good quality of life for loved ones. Most of these organizations are nationwide, however, some are local as well. Make sure to check online for the most up-to-date information.
There are a few national resources that we recommend checking out, the first one is Autism Speaks, an organization dedicated to creating an inclusive world for all individuals with autism through advocacy, services, support, and research. Another trusted organization supporting the autism community is Autism Society, which strives to empower individuals and families to make informed decisions, get access to support, and programming, all while creating meaningful connections.
A simple online search could do if you’d prefer to spend hours of your time searching the web. However, it is great to start with national organizations such as the ones mentioned above to help narrow the search and provide informative resources. Depending on where you live, there could be state or county resources available to you as well. The benefits of checking out local resources can include finding autism-friendly events in the area, parent support meetups, or even updated news on regulations and laws surrounding special education and individuals with disabilities.
Here at Ally Behavior Centers, our facilities are conveniently located to serve families in the Washington D.C. metro area. The families who come to our centers mostly reside in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. This area is packed with a wealth of resources available to support you and your child’s growth. The Arc is the largest national community-based organization advocating for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They have hundreds of chapters all throughout the United States and their headquarters is right here in Washington D.C. The Arc provides services, support, and advocacy for individuals and their families of all ages. Feel free to check online to see if there is a chapter close to you!
In Maryland, Pathfinders For Autism is the state’s largest autism organization, which provides training, resources, and activities, many of which are free of charge. Their statewide provider database is an amazing tool for residents searching for ABA services and more. For Northern Virginia residents, the Autism Society of Northern Virginia (ASNV) works to improve lives and build community for over 5,000 individuals and families affected by autism. ASNV is also a chapter of the larger Autism Society, and with more than 90 locations nationwide; they have become one of the most trusted sources for reliable information about autism since 1965. For Washington D.C. residents, DC Autism Parents can be a helpful guide to finding services, in addition to, https://dctransition.org/documents/DCAP_Autism_Resource_Guide.pdf an autism resources guide with providers servicing families who live in Washington D.C.
When accessing and using this information to make informed decisions, it’s best to discuss plans with any adults involved; this could include all parents, the individual themselves, other family members, educational consultants, or maybe even your child’s pediatrician if appropriate. There are so many resources out there, many more than we are able to cover in this article. Please feel free to check out all of the resources listed on the “Resources & Research” page of our website (https://allybehavior.com/resources-research/).
Lastly, if you are a service provider or organization supporting those with autism in any way, contact us at email@example.com so we can review your offering and add you to our growing list of resources! With access to robust resources, the goal is for families to feel equipped and empowered to support their loved ones.