Where to Start
My Child Was Just Diagnosed - What Next?
For many, the diagnosis of autism creates a great number of questions. Often, doctors recommend a therapy and send you on your way, providing little guidance on where to obtain that therapy. MO-FEAT serves a guide through the overwhelming world of state agencies, schools, and service providers.
Below is a list of what your first steps should be:
Call your regional center
The Missouri Department of Mental Health has 11 regional centers throughout the state. Call your local regional center to discuss eligibility for services, ask for intake.
- Request an evaluation from your school
Schedule an evaluation from your school's special education department. Once an evaluation is complete, an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting is scheduled with the school and parents to discuss your child's needs and the services they can provide to best meet those needs.
- Find a good support for you
Make sure you are taking care of yourself. Find a support group, whether it is online (A-List) or in person, or a one-on-one parent mentor. Taking time for yourself means you are better equipped to advocate for your child.
- Find therapy services
If your child is under the age of 3, contact First Steps. If your child is over the age of 3, contact your local school district's special education department.
Educate yourself about autism and how to best meet your child's needs. Find a lending library in your area, or start with the recommended books listed on our website. To learn more about special education, visit the MPACT website to find out about workshops and other information that will help you be a better advocate for your child. Research information on behavior intervention and positive behavior support strategies. Remember to stay patient and positive!
Create a system to organize reports and notes. Keep all reports from doctors, therapists, school, and any testing. Organize them by date or by type of service- however it makes sense to you. Work towards a routine schedule for home. Try making a visual schedule with pictures or words. Warn your child in advance of any changes in the schedule.