Autism Acceptance Month Day 4: What Should a Parent Do After an Autism Diagnosis?

What should a parent do after an autism diagnosis?

First, take a deep breath. You’re doing great so far! You got your child the diagnosis so they now can get the support they need.

In today’s post, I’m going to share some first steps toward getting that support.

If your child is under the age of three:

If your child is under the age of three, contact your state’s early intervention program. They will re-evaluate your child to see which specific services they need such as speech, occupational or behavioral therapy. Then your child will receive them free of charge regardless of income, insurance, or any other factors. It can take a while for services to begin, so reach out as quickly as possible since children do age out of early intervention at three.

If your child is between the ages of three and five:

If your child is between the ages of three and five, contact your county’s public school system. Your child should qualify for free ESE preK at a public school in your area. These programs have small class sizes and are staffed by teachers and paraprofessionals with training in the needs of exceptional students. Children will also receive additional services they need on-site.

If your child is over the age of five:

If your child is older than five, contact your child’s school and request an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting to see which services within the public school your child qualifies for. An IEP is a legal document outlining your child’s needs and goals and what services and accommodations the school will provide to help them achieve them. (There are other options besides the public school which will be discussed later in the month.)

Services outside the public school system:

Outside of what your state provides through early intervention and the public school, parents can also contact their insurance company and ask to speak with the autism division, most insurance companies have one, and ask which services they cover.

Additionally, parents who are able can private pay for therapies and services as well.

Tomorrow’s question: How does an autism diagnosis impact the family as a whole?

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Amy Nielsen

Amy Nielsen is a former children's librarian of nearly twenty years. She now spends most of her time obsessively pounding on a keyboard. She is the author of It Takes a Village: How to Build a Support System for Your Exceptional Needs Family, Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder. Her upcoming YA Worth it debuts in May of 2024. She is also a freelance writer for The Autism Helper. When she's not writing, she and her family are most likely crusing the waters of Tampa Bay.