HOUSTON – An autism diagnosis can be overwhelming and change everything in an instant.
We've included a KPRC2's "Parent's Guide To Autism" Resources list below to help.
Click here to watch the full video of the parents autism roundtable.
Click here to download KPRC2's "Parent's Guide To Autism" Resources.
KPRC "Parent's Guide to Autism" Resources
Before the Diagnosis
A Quick 5-Step Checklist
1. Ask your pediatrician for an autism evaluation.
2. If your child is 3 years old or younger, contact Early Childhood Intervention for an evaluation. If your child is grade school-age, contact your district’s special education department for an evaluation.
3. After you receive a diagnosis, ask your provider and/or school what services are available for your child.
4. Contact and interview possible therapy providers and make a plan for your child's treatment.
5. Contact your health insurance company to find out what is covered by your insurance. Reach out to local nonprofits if you need financial assistance.
Getting Your Child Evaluated
Medical evaluations, private therapy evaluations and school evaluations are all different and often are required by each provider before services are suggested and implemented. Evaluations take time. Plan ahead and be patient.
- For Early Childhood Intervention and other public school programs, the child must be evaluated by the school district even if the child has a medical diagnosis. If a child is under 3 years old reach out to ECI for initial evaluation.
- If a child is school aged, 5 or older, reach out to the school district for evaluation. ECI and public schools will require the district to evaluate a child before any services are offered and provided. Once evaluated and offered services these programs are free to children who qualify.
After the Diagnosis
100 Day Kit from Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks created a 100 Day Kit specifically for families of children recently diagnosed with autism to make the best possible use of the 100 days following the diagnosis. The kit is available in Spanish, and an Asperger's syndrome/high-functioning tool kit is also available.
Click to get a free copy of the 100 Day Kit from Autism Speaks
Advocacy Tool Kit from Autism Speaks
The Advocacy Tool Kit aims to help both individuals on the spectrum and their families develop and use critical advocacy skills in order to achieve the best possible outcomes.
Click to get a free copy of the Advocacy Tool Kit from Autism Speaks
Therapies Your Doctor Might Suggest
Applied Behavior Analysis is one of the leading therapies in treating autism. The therapy is the application of the principles of learning and motivation from behavior analysis, and the procedures and technology derived from those principles, to the solution of problems of social significance. For further information on what ABA is and what it looks like, click here.
Many other types of therapies might be suggested. For a full list and explanation of occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and many more therapies, click here.
Insurance and Health Care Resources for Children on the Autism Spectrum
School Resources for Children on the Autism Spectrum
Public School Resources
Evaluations from the school district are needed to receive services from the school district even if a child has a medical diagnosis. From kindergarten to 12th grade, the school will have meetings to help set up and implement education services for children who qualify.
"ARD" is an acronym for Admission, Review and Dismissal. An ARD is a meeting between parents, teachers, therapists, specialists and school district employees. In this meeting, an education program will be formulated for the student. Parents can have private therapists and advocates participate in ARD meetings but it is good form to notify the school of anyone a parent is bringing to an ARD meeting. Although many ARD meetings are annual, it is important that parents know they can call for an ARD meeting at any time. Before an ARD meeting ask to see the proposed Individualized Education Program, or IEP. This will allow extra time to go over the proposed education program for the student. If there are aspects of the program that should be improved or changed, speak up.
"IEP" is an acronym for Individualized Education Program. An IEP is a document that is developed for each public school child who needs special education. The IEP is discussed and finalized in an ARD meeting. It is developed by district specialists, therapists and teachers but above all, parents should be involved. It is important to participate in ARD meetings and speak up about what is in an IEP. This is a document that the school has to implement. It is imperative to have everything that a child needs in their IEP. Parents will be asked to sign off on their child’s IEP. It is important that parents know they do not have to sign an IEP until they are happy with the plan for their child.
Texas School Districts Offering Autism Services
The Special Schools Coalition -- The Special Schools Coalition is a group of independent schools in the Greater Houston Area who serves children with special needs and their families. This website gives information for multiple schools that provide educational services to children with learning differences.
Bridge Preparatory Academy -- 420 Wood St., Building A, Sugar Land, TX 77498; (832) 886-4940
Children’s Oasis Foundation -- 705 FM 517, San Leon, TX 77539; (832) 651-1869
Texas Children's Hospital Autism Center
The Texas Children’s Autism Center is a great resource filled with information on the following topics and more:
- Early Childhood Intervention Services (ECI)
- Financial resources
- Behavioral interventions
- Social skills training
- Support groups
Local Nonprofits that Help Families Pay for Private School and Medical Bills
Texas Interest Lists
Included are a few links relating to Texas Medicaid Waiver programs in the state of Texas. It's incredibly important to call your local authority, which is based on your residential address/county you live in, and let them know you'd like to put your child on the Texas Home Living and Home and Community-based Services interest lists. The wait can be long.
You'll provide basic contact information and basic information about your child. The local authority will not ask for any documentation in order to put you on the lists. You should get a call yearly to ensure contact information remains updated, but that's about it. When the slot finally is available, you'll be notified by mail, which is why it's really important to keep contact information current.
Sometimes, reading through the resources can still be a little overwhelming when trying to understand what both Texas Home Living, or TxHmL, and Home and Community-based Services, or HCS, actually are. Briefly, they are programs that provide services to those with intellectual and development disabilities. The difference between TxHmL and HCS is that HCS includes funding for a residential component, such as a group home or a host home, which can also mean living with their own family, or paying for a staff member to assist the individual if they live independently but still need support.
These waiver programs offer a lot of services to support individuals with intellectual or developmental disability. The best thing you can do is get on these lists. You'll have plenty of time to learn about the programs while waiting for a slot to open up.
Local authorities in Houston and surrounding areas::
The Harris Center -- 713-970-7000
County served: Harris County
Tri-County Behavioral Healthcare -- 936-521-6200
Counties served: Montgomery County, Walker County, Liberty County
Texana Center -- 281-239-1363
Counties served: Austin County, Colorado County, Ft Bend County, Matagorda County, Waller County, Wharton County
Gulf Coast Center -- 888-839-3229
Counties served: Galveston County, Brazoria County
Included in this link is a full list of all local authorities and what counties they serve along with contact information.