How to Find Support for an Autistic Child

Autistic children face difficulties with communicating, social interactions, speech, and sensory input.[1] To learn how to find support for an autistic child, you must have ongoing conversations with your child's physician and administrators at his or her school. Online research is also helpful for finding support groups, autism organizations, and treatment programs.


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    Talk to your child's pediatrician. Your child's pediatrician can provide you with information about autism that will help you relate to your child. He or she can also make referrals to specialists whose work focuses on children with special needs.
    • Specialists who work with autistic children include developmental pediatricians, pediatric neurologists who focus on developmental disabilities, and mental health specialists (counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists) who work specifically with children.
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    Reach out to your local public school system. The school's social worker or special education coordinator can help you figure out how the school can help your child.
    • Under the federal law, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), children with special educational needs are provided early and on-going intervention from birth to 18 years old. Your local public school system can evaluate your child and develop a customized educational plan.
    • Other services provided by local schools under IDEA include speech therapy, counseling, and behavior management intervention. Evaluations and services are free of charge in public schools. You can also contact the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY) for assistance in getting your child early intervention services.
    • You can learn about treatment facilities and programs during interactions with your child's special education team and medical caregivers.
    • Even when your child goes to college, he or she can still find support. Many colleges have disability centers where they can offer accommodations to disabled students.
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    Search for organizations, support groups and treatment facilities that focus on the needs of children with developmental disabilities.
    • Research the websites of national autism organizations to find resources in your area.
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    Exercise caution when researching support groups and treatments. Some operate on very dangerous ideologies that can hurt your child's self-esteem or destroy their ability to function.
    • Be wary of organizations that demonize autism, don't have autistic people in their leadership,[2] or are loudly criticized by autistic people.[3][4] Think about their rhetoric: "Would I want anyone to treat my child this way (now or in the future)?" You may be dealing with a hate group.[5]
    • Research therapies closely for ethical violations. Compliance therapies may focus more on being "normal" and submitting to authority,[6] something that can hurt or destroy your child.[7][8] Don't pursue therapies that use Quiet Hands,[9] or use restraint and seclusion techniques.[10][11]
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    Ask autistic people (online or in person) for ideas. Most autistic adults have gone through treatments themselves, and can offer insights on what is most effective. There is a large community of autistic bloggers online who write extensively about treating children. Autistic-run organizations also offer great resources and advice.
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    Check with your local school system and your pediatrician for referrals to support groups that can provide your child with opportunities to practice their social skills and learn to adapt to a neurotypical world. Furthermore, it will allow you to meet other parents, who can share tips for helping your child.


  • Your child does not have to attend a school in your local system to receive a free evaluation and services.


  • If your child is afraid of a particular therapy, stop the therapy.
  • If your child suddenly loses skills and acts out after starting a new therapy, stop the therapy, even if the therapists say that it's normal.[12]

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Categories: Autism Spectrum | Raising Children with Special Needs