Tips for Families of Children with Autismby Lisa Cooper, Director of Education
A diagnosis for your child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can seem daunting and present an unfamiliar path forward. Building a support system of friends, family, and professionals can seem like a lifeline and get families through difficult and sometimes frustrating days.
Here are some of my suggestions for families:
Seek the services of a parent mentor. Many school districts and local service agencies offer parent mentoring services for families of students who receive special education services. The mentor can help explain your school’s options, review your child’s individual education plan (IEP) and answer your questions about school-age services. A parent mentor can assist families in navigating through the terminology and legal aspects of school services.
Build a network. Raising a child with autism spectrum disorder can be amazing . . . it can also present unique challenges. Reach out to local community agencies, school district services and the Board of Developmental Disabilities. Building a network of support personnel and connections with other families raising children on the spectrum helps with problem-solving, provides the family with resources, and shares the responsibilities of caring for a child with specialized needs.
Celebrate successes and focus on strengths. Children with autism spectrum disorder often take longer to reach developmental milestones. Many meetings and appointments may review the things your child cannot do. Remind family members, service providers, and agency staff to focus on the strengths of your child in order to build skills in their need areas. Share the positive developments you have seen and ask service providers to incorporate your child’s preferences and interests into their service delivery.
At the Achievement Centers for Children, we advocate for all individuals with disabilities, including autism, and help families learn to advocate for their children. Families are a critical part of our students’ “team.” For more information about the Achievement Centers Autism School, visit our website or give me a call.