Recommended Checklist for Newly Diagnosed Children with Autism in Delaware:
1. Contact Autism Delaware to speak with another parent and to learn more about local resources. Autism Delaware can be reached at 302-224-6020 for the Newark Office and 302-644-3410 for the Southern Delaware Office.
2. A free lending library can be found at the Parent Information Center located at 5570 Kirkwood Highway in Wilmington 302-999-7394 or www.picofdel.org.
3. For newly diagnosed children under three, contact Child Development Watch (CDW serves children birth to three years of age with a disability or a concern about a developmental delay). CDW offers assessment, service coordination and early intervention to eligible children and their families. This is a critical service that may provide essential services and therapies to young children across the spectrum.
New Castle County: Limestone Building 302-995-8617 or toll free 800-671-0050
Kent and Sussex: Milford Walnut St Building 302- 424-7300 or toll free 800-752-9393 (Spanish translator available)
4. Contact the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services to register your child for services funded by the state. You may be eligible for respite from DDDS. The application is online at: http://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/ddds/forms.html
5. For children three or older, schedule educational evaluations by contacting your local school district. The Delaware Autism Program requires you to go through a Child Find Coordinator. Contact your local school district and request to speak to someone in special services:
Caesar Rodney 302-697-2173
Cape Henlopen 302-645-6686
Indian River 302-436-1000 x1111
Lake Forest 302-284-9611
Red Clay 302-552-3749
Seaford 302-629- 4586
Woodbridge 302-337-7990 x205
6. Schedule educational evaluations to identify your child’s strengths and needs. Make appointments with recommended neurologists, developmental pediatricians, or neuropsychologists to receive a diagnosis or clarification of a diagnosis. Remember: the educational classification and the medical diagnosis of autism are two different things.
7. Educate yourself on autism. Many books, websites, and materials are available.
8. Research and begin therapy/interventions as soon as possible. Research shows that every dollar spent on early intervention is saved on post-educational services.
9. Become informed about the special education process including IEPs (Individualized Education Plan). Attend workshops and parent trainings on IEP planning. Go to your child’s IEP with your own specific goals tailored to your child’s unique needs. The Parent Information Center is also available to aid you with this process. (Visit www.picofdel.org.)
10. Consider applying for Supplemental Security Income. Under the age of 18, eligibility is based on the child’s parent’s income. Over the age of 18, eligibility is based on the income of the individual who has the disability.
11. Another program you may want to look into is Medicaid’s Children’s Community Alternative Disability program; click here for advice to smooth the application process. To learn more about the standard income-based Medicaid program, visit the Division of Medicaid and Medical Assistance.
12. Access respite care. For school aged children who attend the DAP, use services and information about respite provided by the DAP.If your child does not attend the DAP, you may have respite available through DDDS. Contact the DDDS Respite Coordinator at (302) 933-3100. An additional resource is the Easter Seals Lifespan Respite Program. Applications can be found online at www.delrespite.org or by calling 302-221-2087 (Erin Warren) and requesting a hard copy. For adults you will need to contact your DDDS coordinator 2-4 weeks before requested date.
13. Begin estate-planning and personal futures planning. Explore a special needs trust. Consider your child’s special needs in appointing a guardian. Keep your will and trust up to date. Make preliminary goals for supported employment, socialization, and supported independent living.
14. Encourage your child to learn self-advocacy skills by creating decision-making and problem-solving opportunities. Plan recreational and socialization opportunities to develop social interaction skills
15. Consider the needs of other family members. Professional counseling services are available to families dealing with a special needs situation as well as sibling supports.