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March 31, 2015
Essential ASD Resources for Families

Tags: Resource Guide

By: Bernadette Murphy Bentley, MPA
 

Are you connected with all the resources that can help you help your child? There are many tools and organizations whose mission is to assist families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder as you advocate for your child both educationally and medically, and search for all of the recommended programs and services.

Autism Consortium Resources

Autism Consortium Book List — Want to learn more about any of the following topics? Check our comprehensive list of books to find the perfect one for your family’s needs.

  • Obtaining Educational Services
  • Parenting Children with ASD
  • Improving Behavior or Emotional Regulation
  • Improving Communication Skills and Social Skills
  • Improving Organization and Executive Functioning Skills
  • Discovering Therapy Approaches
  • Understanding Adolescent Issues
  • Books in Spanish
  • Books for Siblings
  • Books for Children with ASD
  • Books to Teach Children about ASD


Autism Consortium Resource Database — Need a speech language pathologist? Looking for a social skills group? In search of an ABA provider? On the hunt for a counselor or dentist or nutritionist or educational advocate? Our database has hundreds of entries and allows you to do a customized search to find exactly what you are looking for.

Autism Consortium Publications — Check out the Parent Information Packet designed for parents of newly diagnosed children but helpful for any parent who wants an overview of all the educational, financial, and community resources available for your family. And if your child is 12 or older, be sure to look at Transitioning Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Resources and Timeline Planning for Adult Living, a chapter by chapter guide to what you need to do to prepare your child for the future.


Community Resources

Autism Support Center —The most important resource that you must sign up with is your local autism support center. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts funds these centers, which in turn provide support and training to parents, programming for their children, and activities for families. Each region of the state has its own center so that the resources they offer are specific to your area.

Doug Flutie Jr Foundation for Autism — Celebrating its 15th year, this family foundation has a variety of opportunities for families of children with ASD including:

Your Local Arc Chapter — There are 18 chapters of the Arc across Massachusetts and they provide services and supports to people with developmental disabilities, such as ASD, and their families. Contact the chapter that covers your city/town and find out what they might have to help you.

Family Ties of Massachusetts —  Family Ties provides information and referral services, emotional support, and trainings to parents youth with special needs, in addition to their highly regarded Parent-to-Parent Program , Directory of Resources for Families of Children and Youth with Special Needs, and Regional Coordinators,  who are information specialists for their part of the state. 

The Sibling Support Project — It’s important not to forget the needs of the brothers and sisters of your child with autism. Connect them with a local sibshop (there are 25 across Massachusetts), where they will have the chance to connect with other siblings, share their experiences, and learn how to cope with the challenges— Iand enjoy the benefits— Iof having a special sibling.

Autism Speaks has a comprehensive state-by-state resource guide and offers helpful “tool kits” for families on topics such as haircuts, dental care, toilet training, sleep, eating, challenging behaviors, blood draws, and more.

Advocates for Autism-Massachusetts — If you would like to get involved in making a difference for people with autism through the political and legislative process, join this powerful parent-founded and -driven autism advocacy group and make your voice heard!


Education Resources

Federation for Children with Special Needs (FCSN— As the special education experts in Massachusetts, FCSN is the first place to turn if you have a question about your child’s educational rights or the process to obtain school services. FCSN offers a brochure on how to choose an educational advocate, provides a guide to special education in Massachusetts, and much more.

Special Education Parent Advisory Council (PAC or SEPAC) — Each school district in Massachusetts is required by law to have a group for families of children who receive special education services. These groups present an annual workshop to help parents understand their children’s educational rights. The SEPAC can also offer the opportunity for you to network with other parents in your district so you can learn more about how your school system works.  Despite being legally mandated, some districts don’t have a PAC. To find out how to start a PAC in your city/town, contact the Coordinator of the Massachusetts Association of Parent Advisory Councils (MassPAC) Leslie M. Leslie at 617-399-8307 or lleslie@fcsn.org.

The Autism Center at Massachusetts Advocates for Children — This nonprofit specializes in helping families with questions about the law and special education for their children with ASD. They offer free assistance when you call their help line  and an extensive list of resources.

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) — Liaisons at the DESE’s Problem Resolution System can answer your questions about whether a school is complying with educational regulations, help you work out problems with the district, and give you the paperwork to file a complaint if the problem is not solved.


Healthcare/Insurance Resources

Autism Insurance Resource Center —To learn more about getting insurance coverage for Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) and other autism treatments, contact this organization.

Massachusetts Family-to-Family Health Information Center (800-331-0688)If you have questions about healthcare, public benefits (MassHealth, CommonHealth, Social Security Disability Insurance), and/or health insurance, these professional parents of children with special needs have the answers. Also, sign up for their list serv to post questions, share resources, and learn from others on the same journey.

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