Especially for families that are new to the Autism community, finding the right resources for your child can be an incredibly overwhelming process. Not only have you just received a diagnosis that can be life-changing, but you’re probably feeling pressure when it comes to choosing the right kind of therapy for your child. Here are 3 tips to help you navigate the process and find a provider match.
1. Narrow Down Your Options
The first step to finding your perfect therapy provider is to determine which kind of therapy is best suited to your child. Autism centers like Heartleaf often provide Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) which is considered the “gold standard” of Autism therapy. But, there are so many more options to explore. Speech, Occupational, Physical, Art, Music, and even Equestrian or Animal therapies can all be beneficial. And, you don’t have to choose just one type of therapy and stick with it. As your child grows, you may find it appropriate to switch therapies or combine different therapy options.
A couple of things to note – Autism therapy can be expensive, so it’s important to connect with your insurance provider and understand what they will and will not cover. For example, all insurances are required by law to provide coverage for ABA therapy and most will provide some coverage for Speech, OT, and PT. But, therapies considered “experimental” like Art therapy, Music therapy, or summer camps will probably not be covered. If you want your child to participate in these alternative therapies but, don’t have the funds to pay out of pocket, there are national and state grants available.
2. Find & Interview Potential Providers
Once you’ve chosen which type(s) of therapies you want to enroll your child in, you’ll need to find providers in your area who offer those services. The fastest way to do this is with a quick Google search. After you’ve made a list of potential providers, we strongly encourage connecting with Autism parent groups in your area to see if there are any standouts. You can find many of these parent groups through your local Autism Society or right on social media.
3. Take A Tour
After you’ve narrowed down your list, it’s time to start interviewing. Touring an office and meeting clinicians is a crucial part of finding a provider that fits your family’s needs. If you’re enrolling in an Autism center, your child may spend up to 40 hours per week at the office. Taking a tour of the facility lets you see firsthand how the staff interacts with, not just your family but, other families enrolled at the center. It also gives you a day-in-the-life view of what the therapy process entails. Key things to look for include clinicians and staff members who:
- Are willing to listen to your feedback & compromise
- Ask for detailed information about your child’s strengths, challenges, and behaviors
- Communicate openly with you
- Spend time building a rapport with your child
- Take the time to understand your family dynamics
Learning how to navigate an Autism diagnosis is challenging for any family. But, by taking advantage of available resources and carefully evaluating your options you will find a therapy provider that is able to help your child prepare for a successful future.