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Autism Navigation 

Frequently Asked Questions

We know you have a lot of questions about life for your child with autism. Below are answers to some of the inquiries we hear most often. Interested in learning more or want to know something that isn't here? Contact us for more information.

I think my child may have autism but I'm not sure. How do I find out?

If you think your child might have autism, you should speak with your child's pediatrician and ask for your child to be screened. If the pediatrician would rather "wait and see," you can reach out to local resources to obtain an evaluation: if your child is older than three years old, contact an outpatient clinic or private practitioner who offers neuropsychological evaluations. You can also talk to your child's school about obtaining an evaluation. Autism Navigation can also help you sort through these options and make recommendations.

Should I feel guilty about how I've reacted to my child's diagnosis?

No. Caregivers of children with special needs go through a variety of emotions along the journey. Our program strives to provide support and a listening ear to caregivers/parents. As parents ourselves, we understand some of what you are going through. We are comfortable sharing our personal story if it is helpful to you in any way.

My child was just diagnosed with autism. What do I do now?

Find out what services are available for your child at school and/or in your home and community. Services vary depending on your child's age at diagnosis. There are many wonderful programs and opportunities available for all kids on the autism spectrum. Our goal at Autism Navigation is to help parents figure out how to prioritize and problem-solve at various transition points and decide between the many services available.

How do I find out what services are available?

Services are available from many different funding sources, including federal and state dollars, insurance reimbursement, and grants. Learning all the details of obtaining developmental specialists, nutritionists, support groups, social outlets, educational supports, and therapies can be very daunting. Our program aims to make this navigation easier and simpler and help caregivers feel less overwhelmed.

How can I find the best services for myself or my child?

There is no one singular type of treatment for autism. The most researched evidence-based practice is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), where the therapist studies how your child learns, applies customized interventions, and tracks progress toward increasing positive behaviors. However, there are many models used to address the cognitive and behavioral needs of a person with autism. These models may include a combination of medications for challenging behaviors, behavioral therapy, psycho-education, family support groups, educational interventions, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and specialized training to develop and improve acquisition of necessary skills. Many therapies for a youth with autism are going to heavily involve the parents. A predictable schedule, consistent behavior reinforcement, active engagement, and highly structured activities may all contribute to creating an effective treatment program as well.

As Navigators, we will share our resources and knowledge about treatment and referrals. We believe in working with parents of a child with autism as a team. We don't want to overwhelm you by handing you a long list of possible treatments. Instead, we'll make calls with or for you and make sure you know what to expect at the appointments. We can even come to some of the appointments if you are overwhelmed by the information or aren't sure what questions to ask. We do a lot of coaching with parents, offering suggestions based on our lived experience.

How much does this service cost?

Autism Navigation is a private pay service at a rate of $125/hour. Some families meet with us for just one hour while others engage for dozens of hours. Please contact us to discuss options if this cost presents a hardship.

What help is there for my child at home, school, and in the community?

Schools are required to provide services to meet your child's needs. Our program is able to walk you through the requirements of the school systems, review individualized education plans (IEPs), and provide other special education advocacy efforts. The parent/caregiver is an extremely important part of the team. Having goals in mind and clearly communicating with the school will help a parent/caregiver advocate for the child.

There is so much to research that it could take up all of my time. How do I stay organized and figure out what information is helpful versus harmful? Which sources are credible?

The research is more than a full time job. This is why we have a team of experts who have been researching for years and have developed recommendations together. It's too much information for one person to synthesize. Staying organized, weeding through books, websites, and workshops, and trusting credible sources is all part of our support to you and your family. Autism Navigation will help families feel less overwhelmed and will help caregivers establish priorities.

How do I decide where to allocate funds?

Deciding how to spend your funds can be a daunting process. Our team helps families learn about funding opportunities offered through foundations, grants, federal and state funding, and insurance companies. Our goal is to help families save money in areas that can be covered so they can afford other things that will help improve the quality of life for the entire family. Autism Navigation can help you stretch your dollars further and prioritize spending.

How do I balance the needs of everyone else in the family?

We hear this one a lot, along with "I have other children as well but can't figure out how to balance all their needs" or "I need more time in the day and another set of hands to get it all done." We understand that caregivers of youth with autism take it one day at a time and try to get through each day with fewer challenges and more improvement. We will help you find resources for yourself, your other children, and your marriage. Let us share some of our tips with you!

For more information, please fill out our inquiry form. You can also contact the Program Director at 781-693-1216.

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781-647-JFCS (5327)
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1430 Main Street
Waltham, MA 02451
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