Concerned About Your Child and Autism?
Reviewed and edited by Becky DiLettuso, MSW
Are you concerned that something just doesn’t seem right with your child? Have you talked to your health care professional about concerns such as your child’s lack of babbling, or poor visual connections with you, or oversensitivity to touch? While these are potential red flags for autism, there are no specific medical tests that can confirm that a child is autistic and no individual symptom that is a sign of autism. Perhaps an evaluation should be your next step. But where do you turn?
The Autism Connection of Pennsylvania – a Valuable Partner
Importantly, there a number of resources available to get you the help you need. Over the many years that teli has been providing Early Intervention services to children on the autism spectrum, we have forged a strong relationship with a valuable resource for our parents. The Autism Connection of Pennsylvania was founded by parents in 1996 as a nonprofit organization serving thousands of parents, families and health care professionals seeking help for autism and autism related concerns. They help both parents, adults with autism and health professionals alike to learn more about autism and facilitate access to much needed resources.
The Autism Connection Mission in Action
“We make it our mission to be to be a lifeline and hub for families and adults, providing support, information, and advocacy,” explains Jennifer Salamon, Director of Communications for The Autism Connection of Pennsylvania, located in Pittsburgh. “We receive phone calls, emails and social media requests from parents with questions on everything from a reference for screening to where to access Early Intervention help. We provide support group options for parents and children in their area.”
Through their devoted and knowledgeable staff, The Autism Connection provides the following services:
Professional staff provides one on one telephone and email support, as well as resource information through weekly announcements and quarterly autism newsletters. Additionally, they coordinate more than 64 support groups across Pennsylvania. These groups, located in local neighborhoods, help to provide parents and their children an opportunity to access important tools to assist with the management of their day to day lives, as well as find common ground with others who are have similar experiences.
Annual conferences and workshops are conducted on autism related subject matter such as Autism 101, Autism and Communication, and Transitioning to School. Additionally, educating the broader community in regard to the needs of autistic children has forged an important relationship with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust who produce special autism friendly performances of the ballet, symphony and musical performances.
The organization offers parents tools and resources to strongly advocate for their child in both medical and educational situations. Some parents may not be sure what questions to ask or what services to request of their health care professional. Similarly, educational resources are provided to parents to help in preparation of their child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to include supportive services in the classroom to enable their child to be successful.
A Popular Resource – Checklist for Parents
“One of our most popular resources for our parents and professionals is our Checklist for Parents,” notes Jennifer. The Autism Connection often receives calls and emails from parents asking for information on what to look for in their child if they are concerned about autism. Importantly, this tool along with a referral for medical evaluation are the most important next steps.
“My recommendation to parents if they suspect that something is just not right with their child, is to have an evaluation performed. There is no better investment you can make in your child!” assures Jennifer. If you would like further information or would like to speak with someone about autism, check out the Autism Connection website at https://autismofpa.org/.