10 Action Steps for Autism
Karen Simmons, founder of the advocacy group AutismToday.com has one thing to say to parents who suspect their child could have developmental problems, including autism: “Get over it fast. Do not stay in a state of denial. It will only hurt your child. Start addressing the problem and help your child,” says this mother of 6 kids, including 2 with special needs.
Through her experience and her group’s advocacy, she’s outlined the 10 must-dos.
- Start Local. Build a support system; learn what resources you have nearby and what you’ll need to travel for.
- Qualify Your Healthcare Provider. Work with a provider who has experience with and who specializes in autism. Get referrals from parents or a reputable autism organization.
- Tell Everyone. Educate relatives, friends, neighbors and your child’s siblings and peers about what autism is and what your family is going through. This leads to greater acceptance and support.
- Ask for Help. Discover and use the government agencies and services that support the cause, especially early intervention.
- Find Special Services. The earlier the intervention, the greater the hope for a good outcome. Your child may need speech and language services, recreational therapy, occupational therapy, physical and behavioral therapy and so forth.
- Go Online. Reliable websites will point you to programs, services, interventions, therapies and support.
- Take a Break. You can’t do this 24/7. Find and use qualified caregivers to regularly give yourselves a break; you’ll need it.
- Get Educated. Stay current with the latest medical, biomedical, behavioral and education services so you can choose what your child and family needs.
- Get Involved. Go to local support groups, attend conferences and follow the experts in the field—you’ll likely build lifelong alliances.
- Plan for the Future. Currently, autism is a lifelong disorder. With the right interventions, it can improve over time, especially with the right mindset from the parents, family, caregivers and support persons around your child.