1. Apply for an ACCESS card at your County Department of Medical Assistance Office.  You will need proof of your child’s diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder..  Your child is eligible for a medial card regardless of your income due to his or her disability as “loophole” children. Click here for more information.
  2. Understand your insurance plan.  Find out what your plan does and doesn’t cover.  Many plans specifically do not cover treatments for autism.  Many plans will however cover speech therapy, occupational therapy etc.
  3. Get organized.  Begin to organize your child’s medical records.  Keep a running record of all medications and treatments that your child has received.  Keep a filing system for school records, evaluations, articles, pamphlets, treatment plans, etc. that you may need to have on hand to refer to in the future.
  4. Keep informed.  Read books, surf the web for on-line resources, and attend seminars. Limited books available for loan at the ASA-NWPA office. Remember that anyone can put anything on the web, so make sure your source of information is reputable.  Search for local, state and national resources.  Learn as much as possible to stay up to date with the new research and treatments.  Stay in touch with knowledgeable people in the field of autism.
  5. You are not alone.  Network with other families who are living with the same challenges that you are facing.  Participate in ASA-NWPA family sensory and social opportunities.    Join the ASA-NWPA closed facebook support group.  To join email:  autismsociety@nwpaasa.org.  Support is very helpful.  Families are able to share with one another the behavioral techniques, therapies, medications and treatments that were successful or unsuccessful for a variety of issues.  Families are also in the best position to point you in the direction of the best local resources for “autism friendly” barbers, hair stylists, day care centers, dentists, doctors, etc.  Support groups also give opportunities for family gatherings in a relaxed environment where everyone is “in the same shoes”.
  6. Learn your child’s rights.  Take steps to secure your child’s rights.  Find out about Early Intervention Programs, Special Education Programs, the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Americans Disabilities Act (ADA) and other laws that can protect your child.  Find out all of the services your child is eligible to received and start the application process.
  7. Become Your Child’s Advocate.
  8. Take care of yourself.  Maintain your health and well-being by exercising, eating right, taking care of your personal medical needs, and finding time to relax.  Make sure you have adequate emotional support.