The leaders of Autism Today (www.AutismToday.com) offer up the following advice for people who are dealing with autism for the first time.
Get over it fast. Do not stay into a state of denial. It will only hurt your child. Start addressing the problem and help your child.
1. Start Local. Find the strongest local support and system you possibly can. Start local, and learn what is available in your areas and nearby. Reach out to nearby cities as needed.
2. Qualify Your Doctor. Locate a medical doctor who specializes in autism and has experience treating autism. A referral from another parents or a reputable autism organization works best.
3. Reach Out for Help. Discover and make use of specific government agencies and public services that support the cause, especially in the early intervention arena.
4. Look Into Special Services. Check into related health services such as speech and language, recreational therapy, occupational therapy, physical and behavioral therapy and so forth.
5. Use the Internet. Go to reliable website sources to educate yourselves on programs, services, interventions, therapies and supports.
6. Take Frequent Breaks. Find and use qualified respite for yourselves as caregivers and use it. You will need it.
7. Educate Your Family. Educate relatives, friends, neighbors and your child’s siblings and peers about what autism is and what you and your family are going through. They will be able to accept him or her and understand the challenges more easily which leads to acceptance.
8. Get Involved. Attend conferences for educational information and also the fellowship aspects by meeting with other family members, individuals with autism and other professionals in the field. You may find lifelong alliances there!
9. Get Up to Speed. Stay current with the latest medical, biomedical, behavioral and education services so you can pick and choose what is right for your child and your family.
10. Plan for the Future. Currently autism is a lifelong disorder and until something radically changes, the autism is not going to go away. With proper interventions it improves over time and with the best mindset from the parents, caregivers and people that support the child they can be guided towards a great outcome leading happy, fulfilling lives.
Autism Today offers extensive information to parents and the autism community.
For more information visit www.autismtoday.com
More background material
It is beyond imperative that parents keep their minds open and do proper screening of their suspected child. Get past their own tendencies of denial because so far, the best hope for the best outcome is to catch it early on and what I heard on the CDC call today is that it is often diagnosed past the time of best intervention.
We should have kids screened and parents and significant others be seriously open minded to early identification (know the signs) and intervention, and knowledgeable on the subject by researching the topic of autism and understanding it as well. They must be super diligent in tracking down the best information and resources on the topic from reputable sources. We are hosting the National Leadership Autism Conference–Autism Through the Lifespan for families, educators and professionals in Washington DC this May for this very reason. There are also many books to read and conferences to attend. Our conference will cover ……..(see flyer) also starter book, autism 101 manual
Focus on Solutions
Though we still don’t know the cause, there are suspected causes but what we endeavor to focus on are solutions for everyday life, living with autism. Again, learning as much as possible about the disorder empowers us all to treat the child through some tested biomedical and behavioral interventions like speech and language, occupational therapy, physical therapy and many evidence based behavioral therapies.
Get to the Root of the Problem
Educate and influence the educators, policy makers, medical and other professionals. Even to this day I hear many stories of how a mom took their child to the doctor only to be told that their child might have autism and that he should be put in an institution. This is ludicrous and very old thinking. We must teach them all the importance on their own world in the long-run as they all have a vested interested in how things will unfold.
Invest in our children
Properly track and monitor their progress in intervention therapies. There are technologies in existence right now that monitor, track and give real time results of behavioral measures and outcomes. By using these types of tools we can collect the data and more deeply understand what is the most effective intervention and support and see right away where we should focus our energies.
Focus on the Future
Be proactive rather than reactive. The future is coming, where will he live, will she get married, what kind of a job can they hold, etc. Start thinking about what will happen in the future instead of letting it all unfold and implode. Planning is profound and makes a huge difference.
About the contributors
Karen Simmons: As a mother of six children, two with special needs, Karen CEO & Founder of Autism Today struggled with the need for an exceptional resource to assist families struggling to find easy answers which were not readily available. She founded Autism Today, and turned it into a global resource and information center offering conferences, resources, and expertise for parents, educators, professionals and individuals in the autism spectrum community.
She is the author of several widely acclaimed titles including “Little Rainman”, “The Autism Experience”, “Artism”, “Surrounded By Miracles”, “The Official Autism 101 Manual” and co-author of “Chicken Soup for the Soul, Children with Special Needs” with Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and Heather McNamara.
Her newest title, Autism Tomorrow, is about strategies for people on the autism spectrum after they turn 18.
She lives in Sherwood Park, Alberta Canada with her husband and their six children.
Lee Grossman: Lee Grossman, now with Autism Today has served as the President and CEO of the Autism Society of America (ASA), Chair of its Board of Directors, the President of the Autism Society of America Foundation, publisher of the Autism Advocate journal and has been a member for the past 10 years of the United States Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), which coordinates federal efforts in Autism research and services amongst all US Federal agencies. He is the Co-Chair of the IACC’s Services Sub-Committee. Lee oversaw the nation’s largest grassroots autism organization, with over 200,000 members and supporters and 150 chapters across the United States.
Lee was a Board member of the National Health Council and was on the Executive Committee of the External Partners Group that works with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD). Mr. Grossman currently also sits on two National Institutes of Health working groups on Autism that focus on the psychosocial and behavioral interventions and genetics and environmental toxicity and is on the Data and Safety Monitoring Board overseeing the National Institutes of Health grant programs. In addition, he serves on numerous working groups focused on developing standards for autism specific services and full participation for health disabilities.
He is a recognized presenter on disability rights, systems change and Autism. Lee has presented around the world on global human rights and Autism including four speaking engagements at the United Nations in New York City.
Lee and his wife Nina have three sons, one of whom has Autism. They live in Washington DC.