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Community Resources

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.

There are also many more professionals coming into the field to provide clinical care, and a much more diverse corps of service providers who are available to help families.   

 

  • Department of Developmental Services

    One of the most helpful and supportive resources for families are the local autism support centers, located all across Massachusetts. There are currently seven support centers that receive funding from the Autism Division at the Department of Developmental Services. The centers offer a wide range of information and resources, parent trainings, workshops and often times specialized programs for children, teens and young adults. The centers can also refer to other community supports and resources, and are often staffed by parents who have a child with ASD who are available to explain what services and supports your child and family may benefit from. Many of the centers also offer support groups that can be very helpful to families.

    1. The DDS “Autism Division” only status for children diagnosed with ASD. 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 or “Dual 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 minimal or no cost to your family. Also note that each center raises private funds so they may 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.
       
    2. The DDS “Dual Eligibility” status includes the Autism Division and DDS Children’s Eligibility. If your child also meets Children’s Eligibility Criteria then you may be able to also access DDS service coordination and many other 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), diagnosis of a developmental disability (over age 5) and have impaired levels of functioning in at least three of the following 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 to determine eligibility. If your child is determined Dually Eligible for the Autism Division and DDS Children’s services then you will get connected with a local DDS Area Office to determine what supports may be available for your child and family.

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  • 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 and Outings
    • Summer Camp and Program Listings
    • Newsletter
    • School Vacation Programs
       

    AUTISM ALLIANCE OF METROWEST in Natick                               
    Serves Metrowest, Middlesex West                        
    508-652-9900
    www.autismalliance.org

    AUTISM RESOURCE CENTER of Central Massachusetts                  
    In West Boylston; Serves Worcester, North Central & South Valley areas
    508-835-4278  
    www.autismresourcecentral.org

    AUTISM SUPPORT CENTER in Danvers
    Serves Northeast region
    978-777-9135
    http://www.ne-arc.org/services/autism-services/autism-support-center
     
    FAMILY AUTISM CENTER in Westwood                        
    Serves Norfolk County
    781-762-4001, Ext. 310 
    http://www.arcsouthnorfolk.org/family-autism-center.html

    COMMUNITY AUTISM RESOURCES in Swansea                          
    Serves Southeastern region, Cape Cod & Islands                           
    508-379-0371    
    www.community-autism-resources.com

    COMMUNITY RESOURCES FOR PEOPLE WITH AUTISM in Easthampton                    
    Serves Western region            
    413-529-2428   
    www.communityresourcesforautism.org

    TILL & BOSTON FAMILIES FOR AUTISM in Dedham                            
    Serves Greater Boston             
    781-302-4835         
    www.tillinc.org/autism_support.html

    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!

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  • Autism Resources

    Autism Resources

    Advocates for Autism-Massachusetts (AFAM): A parent-founded and -driven advocacy group for increasing the awareness of autism spectrum disorder and the current and pending legislation in Massachusetts. 781-891-6270 Judy Zacek. www.afamaction.org

    Asperger/Autism Network (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. Watertown.  617-393-3824. www.aane.org

    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 and the Autism Omnibus Bill, which was signed by the Governor on August 6, 2014. 800-642-0249. www.disabilityinfo.org/arica

    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. Boston. 617-357-8431 ext. 224. www.massadvocates.org/autism-center.php

    Charles River 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 Wings for Autism, a travel readiness program at Logan Airport for families of children with autism who have difficulty with airline travel and security screeners. 781-972-1000. www.charlesrivercenter.org/

    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. www.flutiefoundation.org/

     

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  • 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 17 ARC chapters. 781-891-6270. www.arcmass.org.

    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.  800-882-1435. www.mass.gov/dph/specialhealthneeds

    Early Intervention and Specialty Service Providers: For information about services for children under three in Massachusetts, go to www.mass.gov/dph/earlyintervention or call 800-905-8437. For information about Specialty Services such as ABA or Floortime, call Tracy Osbahr, Early Intervention intensive services coordinator at 413-586-7525.

    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. www.massfamilyties.org

    Mass Family Voices/Massachusetts Family-to-Family Health Information Center:  This center is staffed by parents who provide free, confidential assistance to help families raising children with special healthcare needs become more knowledgeable about healthcare services and supports as well as receive assistance in obtaining those benefits. 800-331-0688 x. 210 www.massfamilyvoices.org

    Mass Family Voices Listserv:  This listserv allows families raising children and youth with special healthcare needs to share resources and information, post questions and answers, so that listserv members can learn and support each other.  Membership is free and confidential.  Please send an e-mail to massfv@fcsn.org for more details. 

    Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PAL): Statewide parent support organization for children’s emotional, behavioral, and mental health needs. 617-542-7860 or 866-815-8122, Boston. 508-767-9725, Worcester.  www.ppal.net

    Sibling Support Project:  Sibshops is a program developed by the national Sibling Support Project, specifically for brothers and sisters of a person with special needs. The program recognizes and appreciates that every brother and sister has different feelings, thoughts, and emotions, and allows opportunities for expressing each in a unique way. They celebrate all that brothers and sisters have to offer and provide programs that are designed to be engaging, fun and informative! Sibshops is a chance for siblings to meet new friends, and receive support and encouragement. To find a Sibshop near you visit: www.siblingsupport.org/sibshops/find-a-sibshop

    Special Olympics Massachusetts: Provides year-round sports training, athletic competition and other health related programming for athletes with intellectual disabilities throughout the state. 508-485-0986 or www.specialolympicsma.org/

    Sped Child Mass: This website has Massachusetts workshops and resources for children with special needs, along with pertinent news. www.spedchildmass.com 


    Special Education Resources

    Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts: Provides legal services to low income children, and information and training to parents. 888-KID-LAWS. www.clcm.org

    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. www.dlc-ma.org/Priorities/index.html

    Ed Law Project: 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 617-989-8347, Bryna Williams at 617-988-8363 or visit www.youthadvocacydepartment.org/edlaw/edlaw-about.html

    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. www.fcsn.org
     

    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_sepacs .  Also visit www.fcsn.org/masspac/ for more information.

    Special Needs Advocacy Network (SPAN): Provides a list of special education advocates. Fees vary. Also offers workshops. 508-655-7999. www.spanmass.org

    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. 781-338-3000. www.doe.mass.edu/sped/parents.html  

    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. 781-338-3700. www.doe.mass.edu/pqa/

    SPED Watch: Grassroots nonprofit social change movement working to secure the educational rights of all Massachusetts schoolchildren with disabilities. www.spedwatch.org 

    Urban PRIDE: For families of kids with disabilities living in the city of Boston. A resource for workshops, parent supports and advocacy. 617-206-4570. www.urbanpride.org

     

  • Resources by New England State

    Content Quicklinks

     

    New Hampshire:

    Autism Resource Center at Crotched Mountain: No cost for services. Helps parents advocate for their child, find funding sources, explore treatment options, and navigate services. 603-226-2900, ext. 29. www.crotchedmountain.org/autismresource/

    The Birchtree Center: Provides specialized educational services for children and youth with autism. Portsmouth.  603-433-4192. www.birchtreecenter.org/

    Department of Education: 603-271-3494. www.education.nh.gov/instruction/special_ed/index.htm

    Easter Seals Autism Network, Family Support Program: Offers therapies, social skills groups, camps. Manchester. 603-893-0984. www.easterseals.com/nh/our-programs/autism-asd-services/

    Jacob’s Bridge Through Autism: Developed by parents, has listing of local and national resources. Plymouth. www.jbtautism.org

    Nashua Autism Network: Autism news, resources, and support in the Nashua area. www.nashuaautismnetwork.com/

    New Hampshire Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders: Established by the state legislature to improve services and supports for those impacted by ASD. www.nhvirtualautismcenter.info/

    Parent Information Center: Information about special education laws and advocacy in New Hampshire. 603-224-7005. www.parentinformationcenter.org


    Rhode Island:

    Autism Project of Rhode Island: Family support, resources, and education. 401-785-2666. www.theautismproject.org

    Autism Society of America (Rhode Island chapter): 401-595-3241. www.asa-ri.org

    Families for Effective Autism Treatment of Rhode Island: 401-886-5015. www.featri.org

    Rhode Island Developmental Disabilities Council: 401-737-1238 www.riddc.org

    Rhode Island Department of Education special education services: 401-222-4600. www.iser.com/state-gov/special-needs-RI.html  

    Rhode Island Disability Law Center: 401-831-3150. www.ridlc.org

    Rhode Island Parent Information Network: 401-270-0101. www.ripin.org 

     

    Connecticut:

    Autism Families Connecticut:  www.autismfamiliesct.org/

    Autism Services and Resources Connecticut: 203-265-7717. www.autismconnecticut.org

    Connecticut Collaborative to Improve Autism Services: 800-505-7000. www.ct.gov/dph/cwp/view.asp?a=3138&q=499610 

    Connecticut Families for Effective Autism Treatment: 860-571-3888. www.ctfeat.org

    Connecticut Family Support Network: 203-710-3041. www.ctfsn.org/

    Connecticut Parent Advisory Center: 860-739-3089. www.cpacinc.org

    Connecticut State Department of Education: 860-713-6543. www.sde.ct.gov


    Maine: 

    Autism Society of America (Maine chapter): 800-273-5200. www.asmonline.org

    Children’s Behavioral Health Services (Department of Health & Human Services): (207) 287-5060. www.maine.gov/dhhs/ocfs/cbhs/index.shtml 

    Developmental Disabilities Council of Maine: www.maineddc.org

    Disability Rights Center: 800-452-1948. www.drcme.org

    Maine Autism Alliance: www.maineautism.org

    Maine Autism Spectrum Resource Center: 207-581-1084. www.ccids.umaine.edu/resources/maineasrc/

    Maine Parent Federation: 800-870-7746. www.startingpointsforme.org

    Woodfords Family Services: 207-680-4790. www.woodfords.org

     

    Vermont:

    Autism Puzzle Foundation: www.vtautismpuzzle.org

    Autism Support Daily: 802-985-8773 www.autismsupportdaily.com  

    Department of Health: www.healthvermont.gov/family/autism.aspx

    Vermont Division of Disability Autism Supports: 802-241-2863. www.ddas.vermont.gov/ddas-programs/programs-autism-default-page 

    Vermont Family Network: www.vermontfamilynetwork.org/i-need-help-with/developmental-disabilities/autism/new-diagnosis-asd/                      

    Vermont Autism Task Force: www.vtautismtaskforce.org


    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


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  • National Resources

    National Resources

    American Academy of Pediatrics 
    http://asdinfo.org/1apMI4d

    Autism, Asperger’s and Pervasive Developmental Disorders 
    Offers comprehensive information, education, articles, and fact sheets.
    www.autism-help.org

    Autism Society of America 
    Oldest parent advocacy group. Offers many resources. Provides annual conference and state chapters.
    www.autism-society.org
      
    Autism Speaks 
    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.
    www.wrightslaw.com/info/autism.index.htm

    Yellow Pages for Kids with Disabilities 
    Comprehensive list of resources by state for children with all disabilities.
    www.yellowpagesforkids.com

     

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  • Grants

    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. http://www.act-today.org/act-today-grant-program.php

    Asperger/Autism Network Family Grant Programs
    Offers the Rainy Day Fund 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

    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/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/family-health/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

    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. http://www.mass.gov/edu/birth-grade-12/early-education-and-care/financial-assistance/financial-assistance-for-families/ 

    Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism
    Provides grants to New England families of children with ASD under the Joey’s Family Fund Grant Program. 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. www.flutiefoundation.org

    Easter Seals of Massachusetts Assistive Technology Loan Programs
    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; 800-244-2756, www.easterseals.com/ma/our-programs/assistive-technology/loan-programs.html

    Edwin Phillips Foundation
    Provides grants directly to families in Plymouth County who have children with disabilities. 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. http://www.edwinphillipsfoundation.org

    Financial Assistance
    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. http://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/community-connections/financial-assistance  

    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
    State-wide program. Provides home modification financing to people with disabilities and their families. Borrowers must reside in the home being modified. Visit: www.mass.gov/eohhs/consumer/disability-services/housing-disability/home-mod-loan/hmlp-cities-and-towns.html to find the agency that services your town. To learn more visit: www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/mrc/hmlp-brochure-2014.pdf or call Susan Gilham at 617-204-3739.

    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 IDA network website at http://www.cfed.org/programs/idas/directory_search/   

    National Autism Association
    Provides a one-time grant up to $1,000 to families whose household earns less than $50,000 to help support medical treatment, lab testing, supplements or therapy ONLY. 877-622-2884. www.nationalautismassociation.org/family-support/programs/helping-hand/

    Social Security Disability Insurance
    Provides benefits to families because of a child’s disability, depending on income. To apply, call 800-772-1213. http://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 the medical needs of their child, who must be 16 years of age or less. 855-698-4223. www.uhccf.org/apply

    Will Power Foundation
    Provides grants for Western Massachusetts families who have individuals with different abilities. $500/limit a year. 413-559-0066. www.willpowerfoundation.org

    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. 856-874-4444. 1640 Nixon Drive, Suite 336 Moorestown, NJ 08057 info@wishuponahero.org