Try to Remember, Life's a Marathon, Not a Sprint
You’ve just been told that your child has an autism spectrum disorder. You may be reading this late at night, after an exhausting couple of hours or days, trying to get as much information as possible, as quickly as possible. The last thing you want to do is slow down and take a deep breath, but that's my best advice. Actually, it was my husband's advice to me when we went through the first weeks and months after our son's diagnosis. He said to me, "Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint." You cannot change your child's diagnosis, but you can do several things right now to help him or her -- all the experts agree that the sooner you get started, the better:
- Investigate early, intensive intervention options.
Check out Therapies for a comprehensive list of options. Click here to search for providers who can help.
- Check out educational options for your child.
If your child is over age 3, make an appointment to meet with your local school to establish an Individual Education Plan for your child. There are several charter schools in Palm Beach County that offer programs for children with autism. Click here to search for both public and private schools who can help. Some parents opt for home schooling.
- Join a support group.
Call FAU's Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) at 561-297-2055 or 772-873-3368 to register your family member. FAU-CARD offers support groups and trainings to help you support your child and the rest of your family as well. The Autism Society of America has chapters throughout the state of Florida, and each hold regular meetings.
- Register your child with the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.
Your child over age 3 may be eligible for MedWaiver services which can include behavior management, consumables (like diapers) and respite services for your family. Go to http://apd.myflorida.com/customers/application/ to register -- there is a waiting list but your child needs to be on the list to receive services. If your child isn't age 3 yet -- make a note in your calendar on his or her 3rd birthday to register. This program can make a real difference in providing services your child may need, now or in the future.
Pam Minelli, proud parent of a child with autism