So your child has just been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. Now what? Whether you were anticipating the diagnosis or completely blindsided by it, you have questions. And with those questions may rise anxiety, from the anxiety stress and from the stress overwhelming exhaustion. There are support systems out there to help you connect to others and share your journey. There are websites (trusted ones) that can educate you on autism, how far it has come and where it is headed. There are apps, books, suggested therapies and so on, and so on. We hope this blog gives you a starting point. A simpler, less overwhelming place to help you navigate all the resources available to you and your child. And have some fun in the process too.
1. Support systems – As a parent/caregiver of a child with autism, connecting with others is crucial. There are many support groups available and even online ones. Here are a couple of examples.
*Eastern Panhandle of WV Autism Group – Provides education, treatment options, explanation of Special Education Law and answers some frequently asked questions for families in WV. The site has a wonderfully comprehensive list of resources available to WV residents under the “WV Resources” tab. They also have monthly meetings, where children are welcome to attend, and a social skills group that also meets monthly in Martinsburg, WV. Check them out: http://www.freewebs.com/epwvautism/
*Treatment Diaries – a free online social network for those living with illness or medical diagnoses and their caregivers. You can share your feelings and fears and connect to others on a similar journey in a private way. Sign up is simple, and did I mention FREE…give it a try: www.treatmentdiaries.com
2. Specialized childcare facilities – Finding a safe place for your child to be while you are at work can be daunting. But there are options available.
*A Special Space, Inc., located in Charles Town, WV is a non-profit organization that has opened a therapeutic child development center to the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. It is for children on the autism spectrum and other special needs as well as their typically functioning peers. A Special Space offers before and after school care and summer programs in an environment tailored to children’s special sensory, social, educational, communicative and recreational needs, alongside typically functioning peer models. Their website is www.aspecialspace.org.
3. Recreation – With the rising numbers of autism many recreational facilities have become more special needs friendly. Below are some options available in our area and I encourage you to contact play places, children’s museums and theaters in your area to check out their options.
*Monkey Joe’s of Winchester, VA and Hagerstown, MD offer monthly play times for children with special needs and their siblings. Check their facebook pages for more details: http://www.facebook.com/MonkeyJoesWinchester http://www.facebook.com/monkeyjoesofhagerstown
*Therapeutic Riding opportunities – Horses with Hearts, Martinsburg, WV