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Step #1: Obtain a Formal Diagnosis 

This cannot be stressed enough. Other from the obvious (getting a straight answer from a trained professional), a written diagnosis can prove to be one of your most valuable tools. Have your child evaluated by a specialist, trained in the field of autism.

DO NOT RELY ON YOUR LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICT TO EVALUATE YOUR CHILD'S CONDITION AND SPECIAL NEEDS. Many school districts will assure you that standard testing accurately evaluates or diagnoses the presence of autism. Such tests are often given by the school physiologists (at best) and should NOT be used to draw any solid conclusions. Most school district employees, regardless of their capacity, are not qualified to diagnose autism. Test results are frequently found to be inaccurate and, therefore, inconclusive.

A formal diagnosis (including prescribed treatment and therapy recommendations) also serves as indisputable justification for the special education and services that would otherwise not be offered by your school district. Funding for services such as home-based behavior therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy can be difficult to negotiate without formal justification.

Unfortunately, professional testing and evaluation can be costly and is usually considered an out-of-pocket expense. Parents are encouraged, however, to check with their insurance provider; some companies may be willing to pay for some or all of the expense if prescribed by your child's Pediatrician. In either case, this course of action will prove to be one of your greatest investments.

There are a number of ways to locate a specialist in your area. Start with your child's Pediatrician. Don't stop there, though; contact as many of the following resources as possible: [fix bullet list alignment]

DAN! (Defeat Autism Now!) Physician List (Scroll down to view list)
National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
Family Physicians
Local Neurologists
Departments of Psychology or Neurology at nearby Universities
Other parents of autistic children.

Talk to the chosen specialist (before) the evaluation. Let them know you're expecting the following:

    1. Written evaluation and diagnosis for autism
    2. Written and specific recommendations for a minimum of the following treatments:
      - Structured home-based program in behavior therapy (ABA, RDI, etc.)
      - Spaech and language therapy
      - Occupational therapy

NOTE: Each therapy listed should include specific amounts of time or frequency that the treatment should be performed. Recommendations on time and frequency will vary based on age and level of disorder.

Example:

    - Structured program in ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis): 15 hrs/wk
    - Speech/language therapy: 2.0 hrs/wk
    - Occupational therapy: 2.0 hrs/wk



What is Autism? | Can Autism be Treated? | Steps for Treatment | Tell a Friend About Us! | Contact Us

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