Advice for Parents Who are Seeking a Diagnosis or
Have Recently Received a Diagnosis for Their Child
The most important things to remember when you learn your child has autism:
- Your role as a parent has some new additions: advocate and researcher. You have to be your child's advocate for their education and healthcare. To do that, you have to read, talk to people, and learn all you can.
- There are so many other moms and dads in our area that are here for you! We are happy to share what we have learned and help you. All you have to do is ask.
- Don't give up hope! Getting the proper supports in place will help your child learn valuable skills that can lead them to grow into independent adults.
Searching For a Diagnosis?
There are two routes for diagnosis for your child and most families should seek both. They are through the medical and educational systems.
The Medical Route
Depending on your health plan, they may have a specific route you must follow to receive a diagnosis for your child. You may first ask your pediatrician for their advice and / or referral, but your pediatrician will not make a diagnosis for an Autism Spectrum Disorder. You may see one doctor or some combination of specialists, but it will likely entail a psychologist, child development doctor, or neurologist. The wait time seems to average three months in central Texas to see these specialists for your first visit.
*****Once your child has a medical diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder, you need to put them on BOTH the CLASS and HCS Medicaid Waiver lists NOW**** Click here for more details on waivers.
While You are Waiting for Medical Diagnosis - Start Therapy!
It sometimes takes several months to see the appropriate specialists who will provide a diagnosis for your child, but that does not necessarily mean you have to wait that long to start getting help for your child. If your child has any obvious delays (i.e. speech, motor, etc.), ask your child's pediatrician to write an order or script for the appropriate assessment (i.e. speech, occupational, or physical therapy). Then the therapist will do their own assessment of the child's skills and make their recommendations for therapy. Oftentimes this will be adequate for your insurance company to begin coverage if it is covered under your policy. See the Local Therapy Providers page for a list of providers in Bryan / College Station if you need a place to get started.
The Educational / Early Intervention Route
The government has two programs in place to help depending on your child's age.
For children birth to age three, contact Early Childhood Intervention Services (ECI.) ECI will come to your home to assess the child for any developmental delays. They are able to provide various forms of therapy including speech, occupation, and physical therapy in your home (or daycare if appropriate). ECI's services are offered on a sliding fee scale. Many families may qualify for free services, but this is a very affordable option for most families especially if they have no or limited insurance coverage.
After a child's third birthday, they are eligible for services from your local school district. Contact your district's local Child Find Program or Special Education Department and request a full individual assessment for your child. A medical diagnosis is helpful in obtaining services for your child, but it is not required as the school will do its own assessment of your child.