Finding Help: Pre-Diagnosis

Disclaimer: This list of services is based on my own experiences.  It's not intended to be comprehensive but to give parents an idea to go.  Please let me know if any of them are no longer helpful.

Most of the autism services require a diagnosis before helping, but that's not useful when you're stuck waiting for a year or more to get your diagnosis.

If you have any concerns about your child's development, these services will help:

Quickstart Autism: Getting Started Clinics
This is a free service run by OCTC.  Any parent with a concern can contact them and ask for a free consultation with an Early Childhood Educator, a Social Worker, a Speech Language Pathologist and an Occupational Therapist.  This won't be a diagnosis but they can give you ideas on what to try and what to do (and what not to do) while you're waiting.

OCTC Waitlist: Playgroups
Other parents are an invaluable resource for figuring out what to do.  When you've registered for services with OCTC, you can attend their special playgroups.  Often these groups have an Early Childhood Educator and Infant Development Workers available.  From my experience, just being able to go somewhere where my child's "quirks" were understood and accepted was a huge relief.  But it also put me into contact with parents who are still my first point of contact when I have questions.  If OCTC doesn't mention this option during your intake appointment, ask them.

Infant Development Workers
These ladies are part of OCTC and are found at a lot of the Ontario Early Years Centres.  You can ask the program organizer when they'll be dropping in.  (I found they came about once per month.)  It's a good chance to informally ask for help and advice.

First Words Clinics
First Words concentrates exclusively on language issues.  However, their free clinics can be a good entry point for other developmental concerns as well, so don't hesitate if you think there's more than language.  When I went, it was first come, first served.  It looks like they are switching to appointments, which should greatly help the process. 



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Page Descriptions

Dealing with Diagnosis: Parents talks about the emotional impact of diagnosis. This is a major life-changing event which can leave people feeling isolated, angry and hopeless. You’re not alone in this.

Dealing with Diagnosis: Friends and Family offers suggestions to the extended family and friends of newly diagnosed families. We all want to help and make things better but sometimes the best-intentioned gestures can end up hurting.

Dealing with Other People's Reactions warns of some of the less than positive responses you can expect and talks about the stigma of accepting the "special needs" label.

The Autism World is an explanation of how people with autism experience the world around them. The ability to guess what your child is experiencing is one of the best tools you can have in helping and teaching them.

Tips and Tricks is a collection of suggestions and ideas contributed by parents. I’m always looking for more suggestions to share. Contact me with your ideas.

Choosing Therapies and Treatment isn’t about specific types of treatment. Instead it’s about what you should be looking for in a therapist or treatment expert. Every child with autism is unique and there’s no universal treatment.

Changing Challenging Behaviours is a basic overview of the Applied Behaviour Analysis system. While I recognize that not every child works best with the intense behaviour treatment based on ABA, the system of figuring out what is behind challenging behaviours is an effective way to understand what your child is trying to tell you. Understanding is the first step to trying to change the problem.

Communication offers ideas on how you can help your child with autism to communicate. Without an ability to tell you what he or she wants, frustration quickly leads to behaviour problems.

Referrals for Families are options for families with special needs to enjoy some of the ordinary experiences in life. It lists examples of non-therapy professionals and businesses who are willing and able to adapt to autistic children.

Finding Help: There are three sections, pre-diagnosis, getting a diagnosis and post-diagnosis. It's my attempt to give you a checklist of options.

Helpful Books: A list of books that I've found to be useful, in the order I discovered them.

My Blog is where I share new information, what's working (and not) for our family. Posted daily (mostly).