Raising a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be overwhelming. You need to know that you are not alone.
Public awareness of autism is greater than ever, so there is broader understanding of the diagnosis and the challenges faced by these young people and their families.
Department of Developmental Services
One of the most helpful resources for families with a member with an ASD is your local Autism Support Center. There are currently seven support centers located in Massachusetts that receive funding from the Autism Division at the Department of Development Services. The centers offer information and referral information, parent trainings, workshops and some specialized programs for children, teens and young adults. The centers are often staffed by parents who have a child with ASD, and are there to explain what services and supports your child and family can benefit from. Call and introduce yourself and your child, ask to be put on their mailing lists, and tell them you would like to do an “intake” for services. Many of the centers also offer support groups and information sessions that can be very helpful to families.
The Support Center staff can also explain the benefits of applying for government funds and assistant programs through the Massachusetts Department of Development Disabilities (DDS). In Massachusetts, DDS provides a wide array of services and supports to children under 18 years of age with autism or other conditions. Currently, there are two types of services you can apply for within DDS if your child has an ASD.
The DDS “Autism Division” only program is for children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Most children who qualify for these services do not have a secondary diagnosis of intellectual disability, global developmental delays or significant functional impairments, and therefore do not qualify for DDS Children’s Eligibility. Please remember to contact your local support center and complete the intake process, so that your family can access community-based social skills, sensory and family programs that are individually coordinated by the Autism Support Centers. These programs are of no or minimal cost to your family. Also note that each center raises private funds so they might coordinate other programs that do have participation fees.
For more information about the DDS Autism Division, contact the Autism Support Center that serves your area.
The DDS “Dual Eligibility” status includes the Autism Division and DDS Children’s Eligibility. If your child also meets this Children’s Eligibility Criteria then you may be able to also access DDS service coordination and perhaps family support services based on the availability of funds. In order to be eligibility for DDS Children’s services a child must have a diagnosis of a global developmental delay (under age 5), a diagnosis of a developmental disability (over age 5) and have impaired levels of functioning in at least three areas: self-care; communication; learning; mobility; self-direction and (for age 14 and older) capacity for independent living and economic self-sufficiency. The DDS eligibility team will review your child’s documentation and come out for an in-home assessment. If your child is determined Dually Eligible for the Autism Division and DDS Children’s services then you will get connect with a local DDS Area Office to determine what supports are may be available for your child.
For information about the DDS eligibility guidelines and to download the Application for DDS Eligibility, go to www.mass.gov and type “DDS application” in the search engine or click here to go directly to the PDF. The regional office information is referenced on the same page as the application. It is important to send the completed application to your Regional Eligibility office or call 888-367-4435 with any questions. After you send in your application, you will be contacted for a face to face interview and asked to provide diagnostic information and supporting documentation (for example, a report from a developmental pediatrician, psychologist, an IEP, etc.).
- The DDS “Autism Division” only program is for children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Most children who qualify for these services do not have a secondary diagnosis of intellectual disability, global developmental delays or significant functional impairments, and therefore do not qualify for DDS Children’s Eligibility. Please remember to contact your local support center and complete the intake process, so that your family can access community-based social skills, sensory and family programs that are individually coordinated by the Autism Support Centers. These programs are of no or minimal cost to your family. Also note that each center raises private funds so they might coordinate other programs that do have participation fees.
Autism Support Centers
Some of the services offered at Autism Support Centers are:
- Information and Referrals
- Lending Library
- Parent Support Groups
- Sibling Workshops
- Trainings and Consultations
- Speaker Series
- Open Gym and Swim Sessions
- Family Events
- Camp Listings
School Vacation Programs
AUTISM ALLIANCE OF METROWEST in Natick
Serves Metrowest, Middlesex West
AUTISM RESOURCE CENTER in West Boylston
Serves Worcester, North Central & South Valley areas
AUTISM SUPPORT CENTER in Danvers
Serves Northeast region
FAMILY AUTISM CENTER in Westwood
Serves Norfolk County
781-762-4001, Ext. 310
COMMUNITY AUTISM RESOURCES in Swansea
Serves Southeastern region, Cape Cod & Islands
COMMUNITY RESOURCES FOR PEOPLE WITH AUTISM in Easthampton
Serves Western region
TILL & BOSTON FAMILIES FOR AUTISM in Dedham
Serves Greater Boston
The Autism Consortium has a comprehensive RESOURCE DATABASE with hundreds of autism-related listings, such as summer camps, after-school programs, ABA providers, social skills groups, education consultants, and much more!
Advocates for Autism-Massachusetts (AFAM)
A parent-founded and -driven advocacy group for increasing the awareness of autism spectrum disorders and the current and pending legislation in Massachusetts.
Asperger’s Association of New England (AANE)
A comprehensive resource and support center serving the Boston and New England area for individuals with Asperger Syndrome and high-functioning autism (adults, teens, children) and their families. AANE has an excellent website including a database of support groups, family grants, specialized programs, books and articles, conferences, trainings and more. Staff members include service coordinators for adults, teens, and children.
Autism Insurance Resource Center
This Center provides information to the public about insurance coverage under the law, An Act Relative to Insurance Coverage for Autism (ARICA) which took effect in Massachusetts on January 1, 2011.
Autism Special Education Legal Support Center at Massachusetts Advocates for Children
Through the Autism Legal Helpline, callers receive free technical assistance and answers to their questions about educational rights of children with autism.
617-357-8431 ext. 224
Charles River Center
This Center provides employment and job training, residential homes, therapeutic day programs, and recreational programs for children and adults with developmental disabilities. The Center also coordinates a travel readiness program with Logan Airport for families of children with autism who have difficulty with airline travel and security screeners. Please contact them for more detailed information.
Doug Flutie Junior Foundation for Autism
Raises public awareness and supports families and organizations through grants. Provides education, resources, and links about autism.
508-270-8855 or 866-3AUTISM
Massachusetts Disability Resources
ARC of Massachusetts
A statewide resource that provides advocacy and support for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, such as autism, through the 22 ARC chapters.
Department of Public Health / Children & Youth With Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN) Program
The CYSHCN program helps families coordinate their child’s medical, social and educational needs. This program offers a Community Support Line where Resource Specialists offer technical assistance to parents. The Care Coordination Program has Care Coordinators, who speak both English and Spanish, available to provide consultative services to parents who have a child with complex medical needs.
Early Intervention and Specialty Service Providers
For information about services for children under three in Massachusetts.
Go to www.mass.gov and type Early Intervention in the Search box.
For information about Specialty Services such as ABA or Floortime, call:
Early Intervention intensive services coordinator
Eye Safety, Vision Care & Finding an Eye Care Provider
MA Department of Health and Human Resources
Family Ties of Massachusetts
A statewide information and parent-to-parent support program for families of children with special needs and chronic illnesses. Offers a comprehensive resource directory.
800-905-TIES (8437) or 617-541-2875
Mass Family Voices/Massachusetts Family-to-Family Health Information Center
This center is staffed by parents who provide free, confidential assistance to families raising children with special healthcare needs become more knowledgeable about healthcare services and supports as well as receive assistance in obtaining those benefits.
Mass Family Voices Listserv
This listserv allows families raising children and youth with special healthcare needs to share resources and information, post question and answers, so that listserv members can learn and support each other. Membership is free and confidential.
Please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PAL)
Statewide parent support organization for children’s emotional, behavioral, and mental health needs.
Boston: 617-542-7860 or 866-815-8122
Sibling Support Project
This is a national program dedicated to supporting the concerns of brothers and sisters of people who have special health, developmental, or mental health concerns. There are also local service providers who host workshops, and listservs to support siblings of people with special needs.
Special Health Needs Community Support Line
Under the Massachusetts Office of Health and Human Services, the support line offers statewide information, help, and referrals for families of children with special health-care needs.
Go to www.mass.gov and type Community Support Line in the Search box.
This website has Massachusetts workshops and resources for children with special needs, along with pertinent news.
Community Activities/ Recreation
Federation for Children with Special Needs
Asperger’s Association of New England
Carol Grey/Social Stories
Massachusetts Department of Education/Special Education/Parent Information
A Parent’s Guide to Special Education
Federation for Children with Special Needs
Service Area: Statewide
Service Area: Boston
Resources by New England State
Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts
Provides legal services to low income children, and information and training to parents.
Disability Law Center
Offers legal advice for children who have disabilities; sometimes takes cases for free.
Boston, 617-723-8455 or 800-872-9992.
Western Massachusetts, 413-584-6337 or 800-222-5619
Provides legal representation, technical assistance, and training to families of low-income children in Boston in danger of not receiving appropriate education services.
Call Marlies Spanjaard at 617-989-8150
Or visit their website: www.youthadvocacydepartment.org/edlaw/edlaw-about.html
Eye Safety, Vision Care & Finding an Eye Care Provider
MA Department of Health and Human Resources
Federation for Children with Special Needs
Updated federal and state special education laws, advice, information, and access to advocacy, IEP development and related resources, parent information guides, and statewide parent workshops.
Boston office: 617-236-7210 or 800-331-0688.
Western Mass. office: 413-323-0681 or 866-323-0681.
Parent Training and Information – Spanish www.fcsn.org/pti/espanol/index.php
Parent Training and Information – Portuguese www.fcsn.org/pti/portuguese/index.php
Special Needs Advocacy Network (SPAN)
Provides a list of special education advocates. Fees vary. Also offers workshops.
Massachusetts Dept of Elementary and Secondary Education, Special Education
The state’s official website for parents of children ages 3 through 22 eligible for special education. Provides state and federal regulations, information on IEPs and parent rights and procedural safeguards manual for working with your district’s special education department.
Program Quality Assurance
Call if you are having problems with the school district and ask to speak to the contact person for your town or city.
Parent Advisory Council (PAC)
A PAC is a group of parents in your city/town whose children are receiving special education services from the school district. They have information about local services, and offer workshops and the opportunity to network with other parents. To find the PAC for your school district, ask your district’s special education office or visit www.concordspedpac.org/Pacs-in-Mass.html or www.spedchildmass.com/support_groups_sepacs. Also visit www.masspac.org for more information.
Grassroots nonprofit social change movement working to secure the educational rights of all Massachusetts schoolchildren with disabilities.
For families of kids with disabilities living in city of Boston. A resource for workshops, parent supports and advocacy.
Autism Society of America (New Hampshire chapter)
Offers educational support and resources for parents. Concord.
The Birchtree Center
Provides specialized educational services for children and youth with autism. Portsmouth.
Department of Education
Easter Seals Autism Network
Family Support Program: Offers support meetings, parent education, respite program. Manchester.
Jacob’s Bridge Through Autism
Developed by parents, has listing of local and national resources.
New Hampshire Resource Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders
At the Institute on Disability at UNH.
Parent Information Center
Information about special education laws and advocacy in New Hampshire
Southeastern Regional Education Service Center
Education and behavioral support programs and services for families and schools; has specific autism services. Bedford.
Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Families for Effective Autism Treatment of Rhode Island
Rhode Island Developmental Disabilities Council
Rhode Island Department of Education special education services
Rhode Island Disability Law Center
Rhode Island Parent Information Network
Autism Society of America (Connecticut chapter)
Connecticut Autism Spectrum Resource Center
Connecticut State Department of Education
Hartford-New Haven Community Parent Resource Center (CPRC)
Stamford Education 4 Autism
Autism Society of America (Maine chapter)
Children’s Behavioral Health Services (Department of Health & Human Services)
Autism Society of America (Vermont chapter)
Autism Support Daily
Department of Education
Vermont Division of Disability Autism Supports
Vermont Autism Task Force
American Academy of Pediatrics
Autism, Asperger’s and Pervasive Developmental Disorders
Offers comprehensive information, education, articles, and fact sheets.
Autism Society of America
Oldest parent advocacy group. Offers many resources. Provides annual conference and state chapters.
Funds global research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism; and raises public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families and society. www.autismspeaks.org
Also offers a free comprehensive guide to the first 100 days after diagnosis which is available in English and Spanish. Download the PDF here.
Wrights Law autism information
Special education laws and advocacy information.
Yellow Pages for Kids with Disabilities
Comprehensive list of resources by state for children with all disabilities.
Parent Training and Information Centers & Community Parent Resource Centers
Each state has at least one parent center serving families of children and young adults from birth to age 22 with disabilities. Parent Centers help families obtain appropriate education and services for their children with disabilities; train and inform on a variety of topics; resolve problems; and connect children to community resources that address their needs.
For information and to locate the Parent Center in your state, go to www.taalliance.org/ptidirectory/pclist.asp or call 888-248-0822
Are There Grants I Can Apply For?
All too often, parents of children with ASD incur unexpected and immense out-of-pocket costs for treatments and services. Unfortunately, in many cases insurance companies do not cover these expenses. Through the generosity of foundations and, sometimes, public funding, applicable grants might help parents offset these costs.
Read each option carefully and understand that specific criteria pertain to each. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, and information is subject to change.
Act-Today for Autism
Awards grants up to $5000 to families, with priority given to those with a household income under $100,000. Funding may be used for ABA, speech, OT, medications, & home safety devices. 19019 Ventura Blvd. Suite 200 Tarzana, CA 91356; 818-705-1625. www.act-today.org/act-today-grant-program.php
Asperger Association of New England Family Grant Programs
Offers the Rainy Day Fund for Adults for adults with Asperger Syndrome in crisis ($50-$100) or Family grants: Sponsored for a child with Asperger Syndrome or closely related disorder, such as PDD-NOS or high-functioning autism. 617-393-3824. www.aane.org/aane_services/grant_programs.html
Autism Family Resources
Families with a household income below $50,000 can apply for a one-time grant totaling $500. Money may be used to cover therapy equipment, safety equipment, and respite care. 3535 Eastside Hwy. Stevensville, MT 59870
Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund
Provides financial assistance to families in Massachusetts for expenses incurred for the medical and related needs of children under age 22 who are not otherwise covered by insurance, federal or state health-care assistance. 800-882-1435 or 617-624-6060. www.mass.gov/cicrf
Children’s Charity Fund
Provides funds for medical or educational supplies, open to all incomes. 6623 Superior Ave Suite B, Sarasota, FL 34234; 800-643-5787. www.childrenscharityfund.org
Community Block Grants
Home modification grants may be available by contacting your local city government.
Consumer Empowerment Funds Program
Provides funds for individuals who are legal MA residents with developmental disabilities and/or a family member or guardian to attend conferences, trainings, or other events. Applications must be approved before the event and be based upon set program guidelines. 1150 Hancock Street, 3rd Floor, Suite 300
Quincy, MA 02169. 617-770-7676 ext.115. http://www.mass.gov/anf/employment-equal-access-disability/disability-info-and-resources/dev-disabilities-info/citizen-empowerment/council-empowerment-funds-program.html
The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC)
Provides assistance, information and funding options for services and child care for children, birth to age 5, and their families. 617-988-6600. www.mass.gov/edu/birth-grade-12/early-education-and-care/financial-assistance/financial-assistance-for-families/
Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism
Provides computers to families of children with autism who otherwise couldn’t afford to buy one under the Laurie Flutie Computer Initiative. Provides a one-year subscription and free activation to LoJack SafetyNet under the Flutie Family Safe & Secure Program to families who could not otherwise afford it. 508-270-8855, Framingham, MA. http://www.dougflutiejrfoundation.org/Programs.asp
Easter Seals of Massachusetts Assistive Technology Loan Program
Offers Massachusetts residents with disabilities and their families low-interest cash loans they can use to purchase assistive technology, devices and services that will increase their independence. The program also loans low-cost assistive devices through its Long-Term Device Loan Program; 508-751-6431 or 508-751-6428, or email MassATLoan@eastersealsma.org. http://ma.easterseals.com/site/PageServer?pagename=MADR_ATloanpressrelease
Edwin Phillips Foundation
Provides grants directly to families who have children with disabilities, including physical and cognitive challenges. Funds can be used for more expensive projects or services such as assistive technology or home modifications. P.O. Box 610075, Newton, MA 02461-0075. www.edwinphillipsfoundation.org
Autism Speaks maintains a database of local and national foundations and agencies that offer grants and support for families who are dealing with an autism diagnosis.
First Hand Foundation
Provides funds to families with limited incomes for Medical/psychiatric services, vehicle modification, transportation or items not covered by insurance. 2800 Rockcreek Parkway, Kansas City, MO 64117; 816- 201-1569. www.cerner.com/firsthand/FirstHand_1a.aspx?id=28729
Home Modification Loan Program
Provides financing to disabled, cognitive, developmental, environmental sensitivity and neurological disabled persons and their families. Borrowers must reside in the home being modified. Contact RCAP Solutions Financial Services at 978-630-6725.
Individual Development Accounts
IDAs are special savings accounts that match the deposits of low and moderate income people to save towards the purchase of a lifelong asset, such as a home.
To find a program near you, go to the IDAnetwork website at http://cfed.org/programs/idas/directory_search/
Knights of Columbus
Families with children under the age of 20 who need wheelchair ramps, hearing aids, or stair lifts may be awarded grants of up to $5,000 from the Knights of Columbus Charitable Fund. 470 Washington St, Suite 6, Norwood, MA 02062; 781-551-0628.
National Autism Association
Provides a one-time grant up to $1500 to families whose household earns less than $50,000 to help support tuition, supplements/medication, medical evaluation or testing, therapies, etc. 22136 Westheimer Pkwy. #623, Katy, TX 77450; 877-622-2884.
Social Security Disability Insurance
Provides benefits to families because of a child’s disability, depending on income. To apply, call 800-772-1213. www.socialsecurity.gov/disability/disability_starter_kits_child_eng.htm
United HealthCare Children’s Foundation
Households with private-pay or employer insurance (MassHealth/Medicaid subscribers do not qualify) may receive up to $5,000 annually/$10,000 lifetime to support their child, who must be 16 years of age or less. MN012-S286, PO BOX 41, Minneapolis, MN 55440-0041; 800-992-4459. www.uhccf.org/apply_applicant.html
Wish Upon a Hero Foundation
Individuals and families with financial need may submit “wishes” to this organization, which provides grants and other forms of charity to chosen applicants. 1640 Nixon Drive, Suite 336 Moorestown, NJ 08057 email@example.com