By: Ashley Hart
If you are a parent of a child with Autism, you probably have a vivid memory of the day your child was diagnosed. Your stories are all different and unique in some way, as are your children. You possibly felt emotions that you still cannot quite explain. You probably had a ton of questions and weren’t sure who or what to ask. Many parents often ask questions that I, as a clinician, cannot give them a direct answer to, nor am I able to. But – what I can do, and want to do – is provide them with resources to get their questions heard and answered.
1. Where can I find support?
Some of the parents that I have encountered, unfortunately do not have a strong support system near them. This could be due to being a military family traveling a lot, background/cultural views, or simple unfamiliarity with what it means to have a child with autism. However, there are plenty of resources out there and we want to make you aware of them!
• Parent Coaching for Autism: Parents of both newly diagnosed children and those who were diagnosed years ago can benefit from this site, sharing ideas, e-courses, and newsletters.
• Autism Blogs Directory: Blogs that are written by families with autism.
• Autism in Action: A how-to guide to aid with teaching your child to do things like basic self-care to better communication.
• Autism Calendar: Upcoming events in your local community related to autism awareness.
• AutismNOW: The latest news, research and information.
• MyAutismTeam: A social network for parents and kids with autism.
• Care.com: A great place to find a caregiver for your child (Tricare will pay for respite care).
• Dads 4 Special Kids: Dads unite and share stories and support.
• Autism…Learn: This site allows people, including children with autism to complete online activities geared toward helping them develop vital skills.
• Autism on the Seas: This site is dedicated to helping parents of children with autism map out their getaways, whether they are a cruise or camping trip.
• Atypical Child: Functions almost like a Craigslist for parents of special needs children. You can list and buy gently used therapy equipment.
• Bloom and Grow: This site shares products, strategies, and tips for how to help your loved one with the great demands that are put on them each day.
• Make Friends with Autism: Encouraging families to reach out to others with ASD.
2. What does this even mean?
As a behavior analyst or therapist, sometimes we use confusing jargon or acronyms that not even our significant others know what we are talking about! Parents may not have the time or energy to try and decipher what we are saying! Go to www.makefriendswithautism.org and www.Iloveaba.com . There is a fantastic list of terms that taught me a thing or two!
3. I have never even heard of ABA! Why should I trust you?
Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the science of applying learning principles to change behavior. We collect data, analyze it, and make program changes to ensure the success of your child.
Currently, ABA is the ONLY recommended treatment by the Surgeon General for autism spectrum disorders and the American Academy of Pediatrics notes that at least 25 hours of therapy per week, for toddler age children, can significantly improve cognitive and language skills.
We, as clinicians, are here to support you and help your children grow. However, when it comes to things like going out to dinner and dealing with a melt-down, I cannot honestly look at you say, “I get it.” Because I don’t. This is why I wrote this blog, in hope that our parents who have been asking for a support group can find what they are looking for and for those parents with newly diagnosed kiddos to get the answers they might not know they are looking for yet.
This article was written by Ashley Hart, M.S. BCBA with the help of Miss Jacqueline Atkin, RBT.