New Hampshire Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders
Putting the Pieces Together in the Granite State
Information and Resources
for Family Caregivers
As a parent, caregiver, or extended family member of an individual on the autism spectrum, you may have many questions: What does a diagnosis of ASD mean? How can I put together a treatment program? What supports are out there to help my son or daughter transition to adulthood?
Throughout this guide, resources are organized into five Systems of Care that are typically accessed by families supporting someone who has an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). These are: The medical home, therapeutic intervention, community-based care, family support, and special educational. There are no hard and fast rules about which services fit in each of these categories. The more important thing to keep in mind is the idea of wrapping services around your child and family. No single set of supports -- for example, special education -- is going to meet all of your needs. If you are a visual thinker, you may want to use the service map linked here, to help you see where your resources are strongest and where they may be lacking.
Because of the vital importance of early identification and intervention, New Hampshire is an active participant in the national Learn the Signs. Act Early. campaign sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control. If you are wondering about your child's development, or if you are facing a new diagnosis of ASD, you will find many helpful introductory resources in this section.
Just as in parenting any child, new questions arise with each stage of a young person's development. Because eligibility for services may also change with each successive stage, information in this family guide is organized into sections based roughly on chronological age. Early childhood, which is the period when most children are diagnosed with ASD, includes important information about treatment planning and different approaches to intervention. This is followed by the time between early childhood and adolescence (Staying on Course), a time when much of your child's day is occupied with school and school-based services. This is also a period when children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder are more likely to confront some of challenges that they face in navigating increasingly complex social situations. It is not unusual for someone with this type of ASD to be diagnosed as late as 10 to 12 years old.
Beginning at around the age of 14, parents are encouraged to start planning for their child's adult life. While this may seem early, it's not at all unusual for families to begin making college or vocational school plans for a typically developing teen entering high school. To take full advantage of the transition services available through special education, it's important to begin talking about the transition to adulthood at an early age and to begin formal planning by the time high school begins.
One final note. You may notice that throughout this family guide, we have included information about personal safety. We have been fortunate in the Granite State to have the support of Easter Seas in training First Responders and family caregivers about the unique
safety needs of individuals with ASD. Safety First is an initiative that teaches families simple steps that can prevent a serious safety issue at home, school, or in the community.
The NH Council on Autism Spectrum Disorders
2 1/2 Beacon St., Suite 10
Concord, NH 03301
Copyright (c) 2012 NH Council on ASD, all right reserved
Information for Family Caregivers
Learn the Signs.