It usually starts like this…
“I was given your name and your phone number by my doctor/family member/friend to ask for advice or recommendations for my child on the autism spectrum.” I listen to their journey and wait for their questions. Sometimes, a parent doesn’t even know where to start. My strategy is to try to explain my understanding of this unique spectrum disorder. I call it my Three Legged Stool.
The first leg of the stool is to try to understand what does being on the autism spectrum mean? (Please do not google and read any articles that are from 5 years ago or longer! So much fantastic information has been researched and implemented over the last 5 years that reading about “refrigerator moms” does not do anyone any good.) I tell them, “if you’ve met one child on the autism spectrum you’ve met one child”…because every child’s needs are very unique. Your pediatric neurologist should be able to guide you to your local resources and create a plan specific to your child’s needs. Also know that this is why Additional Needs Inc. was founded…for YOU!
The second leg of the stool, I explain how important it is to have the emotional support for all of your family members. Mom, dad, siblings, and grandparents all have different emotional needs when the diagnosis is made and the parents are starting the educational and intervention therapy plans. Be each other’s rock! You can’t be the strong one all of the time or the only one making these decisions. An informed doctor, or a counselor specialized is special education can help you make some of these decisions.
Finally, the third leg of the stool…the financial part of this. Yes, insurance does cover some behavioral, speech & language, occupational, and physical therapies but not all costs are covered. If you can, call your insurance carrier to see if you could work with one specific person as you go through your insurance coverage.
Maybe most importantly, I remind parents that it’s like learning a new language. It takes time and know that your unique journey will take you to wonderful places you never thought you’d go and you will meet some of the most fantastic people in your community and beyond!