New Parent Quick Start
Special note to new parents:
A new diagnosis of autism for a child you love can be an extremely stressful, confusing, and time-consuming experience. The wish is for this experience to be less traumatic and that the process of determining what is wrong and how to fix it were FASTER.
What TACA provides and can help explain are some “best practices” for you to begin implementing immediately for the benefit of your child. These best practices are the results of working with the many families that make up TACA (over 14,000+ families to date) for the past nine years.
An autism diagnosis for a child does not steal away his/her hopes and dreams. The child is still here so hopes and dreams must be kept alive. So much good can come from early, intensive, one-on-one intervention and biomedical therapies. Many families have seen tremendous progress when their children are mainstreamed in typical classrooms. Some fortunate families have even seen their children progress so well that they become indistinguishable from their peers and require no additional services. Our goal is and will continue to be: Help all children be the best they can be and to realize their full potentials.
How Was This New Parent Quick Start List Created?
This Quick Start checklist was created by dozens of parents one to four years after their children was diagnosed with autism. The purpose of this checklist is to provide you with the wisdom and recommendations of seasoned parents who have “been there already” and to learn from their experiences. Please make the decisions that are right for your family! We hope this checklist gives you a QUICK START to helping your child.
Where To Get Started! The Checklist (in this order:)
As mentioned, you have a lot of work ahead of you. You can do it if you stay organized and work quickly. Here is the homework I promised you for potential next steps for you to consider:
1. Get ready to read the following:
2. Read about, sign up and attend TACA’s Autism Journey Seminar. It is important and highly recommended that parents attend this seminar together to learn and plan their child’s next steps. Extended family members are also welcome and encouraged to participate in the learning process. Information covered at the TACA Autism Journey Seminars is also covered on the Autism Journey Guide DVD.
3. Consider hiring a special education attorney. You should find one familiar with your school district (at LEAST consult with one!). At minimum it is critical each family get educated on SPECIAL EDUCATION LAW AND YOUR CHILD’S RIGHTS.
- I recommend reading the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) Checklist for preparation of your next steps.
- And reading about Managing Professionals
4. Obtain outside assessments. The assessments will provide detailed recommendations for your child's needs. It is crucial to schedule independent assessments as soon as possible. See the provider directory for possible resources, get on wait lists and get assessments scheduled quickly. Also, see Who Pays for What.
5. Consider speaking with a free TACA parent mentor. This person should be familiar with your situation and will share their experience and knowledge of dealing with a school district, available providers in your area, obtaining services, implementing a dietary intervention, and beginning biomedical interventions and traditional therapies. A TACA parent mentor has “been there and done that” already and can offer sage advice as well as a shoulder to lean on.
*Important note: A PARENT MENTOR DOES NOT REPLACE THE NEED FOR AN ATTORNEY/ADVOCATE!
6. Attend TACA meetings regularly. These are free and will continue to provide you with support and educate you on the options available to your family. TACA meetings are available across the nation. Visit the TACA meeting near you. TACA also now offers online chat through our website for parents looking for advice and mentorship online.
7. Find a MAPS Doctor. A doctor is an important step on the autism journey.
Some relevant reading on this all important topic:
8. Start a Gluten Free/Casein Free Diet (GFCF)/Soy Free Diet ASAP. Most MAPS doctors that specialize in autism will not see you until your child is on this diet! An important note: more than 91% of children with autism respond positively to a GFCF diet!
9. Start Early Intervention ASAP. Begin an Early Start program if your child is under three years of age. For all children with autism, it is recommended that parents obtain and begin early intervention programs and services at home and/or in school as soon as possible. Meet with your state agency and/or school district to setup and begin a home-based program for your child. Studies demonstrate that children with autism benefit from EARLY INTERVENTION, including 1:1 intervention! Special education services are funded and provided through your state agency/school district/Early Start program to help each family that has a child with autism.
Some therapy options include: Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Floortime, Son Rise, etc. Other additional therapy options that should be considered are: speech, occupational or physical therapy, sensory integration therapy, and auditory integration training (AIT). Program providers often have a 3 to 24 month long waiting list! Get on the waiting list for all providers in your area as soon as possible. See the TACA Provider Directory.
10. Read More. Being educated about autism and the available treatment options and steps is going to make you, your child’s BEST ADVOCATE.
Great Books To Read. There are thousands of books on autism, early intervention, biomedical treatments and a variety of other topics. Review our recommended book list.
Web & E-mail Help
Need support BETWEEN support group meetings?
Not a problem - it is just an email away!
Email lists are a great way to stay connected between meetings. You can subscribe, read emails and ask questions all related to autism. These lists connect you to other parents like you in California. Here is how to connect:
Step 1 - Get a Yahoo! user ID and password
Step 2 - Go to Find a Meeting to see if there is a TACA Yahoo! group for your region/state. Or join our national Yahoo! group TACA-USA.
Step 4 - Click on “Join This Group”
Step 5 - Set your account to “Individual Emails,” “Daily Digest” or “Web Only.”
A Great E-mail Newsletter Just About Autism
Schafer Autism Report (SAR)
Lenny Shafer is a father with a child affected by autism who publishes an electronic newsletter. It is very comprehensive and well worth the read! It is
The Schafer Autism Report Archives – an awesome resource that is a complete autism information database and news archive! Through its Yahoo!-based online archives, back articles and issues of the Schafer Autism Report are available free and do not require a subscription to the Schafer Autism Report.
A Great Printed Newsletter About Autism
Autism Research Institute (ARI) newsletter has amazing information. This resource has been around as one of the only beacons of information for autism since the mid 1960s!
Balance seems like the least appropriate item on the entire checklist! After a diagnosis of autism is received, many parents/families go into “disaster recovery” mode and focus solely on trying to recover their child as quickly as possible. Please remember, the autism “race” is more like a marathon versus a sprint. You need to pace yourself and think about both the short-term and long-term about every decision you make. Like any athlete or professional preparing for a long race–you must have balance in your life. Please remember the needs of your spouse and other children–and importantly, remember to take time for your self. Even if that time is 10 minutes of day to unwind. Balance must be part of your overall agenda for helping your child. After all, if you are not healthy and happy, how can you fully help your child when you are not able to use the full strength of your mind and body? I write these words to you with the complete understanding that I lost the word “balance” from my vocabulary for over a year and do not suggest you do the same. Take this suggestion to heart.