Are you wearing your blue this month? April is World Autism Month and, at Thompson Law, we pledge to help increase understanding and acceptance of children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We understand the struggles Florida parents face when their children have genuine obstacles that make it difficult for them to grow and learn. Here are some resources that are available to families with a child on the spectrum.

Early Screening

1 in 59 children is diagnosed with the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), according to the 2018 CDC research. More specifically, 1 in 37 boys and 1 in 151 girls. If autism can be accurately diagnosed by age 2, then why is the average age for diagnosis in the United States 5 years old? Many believe it is due to lack of awareness and resources for early detection. Autism Speaks offers the M-CHAT-R (Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, Revised). This screener asks a series of questions about your child’s behavior. The results tell you if a further evaluation is needed. You can then use the results of the screener to discuss any concerns that you have with your child’s healthcare provider.

Autism Society of Florida (ASF)

ASF’s mission is to assure full participation and self-conviction in every aspect of life for everyone on the spectrum. ASF offers parent support groups, opportunities to get involved in legislation, family events, teen and adult social groups, and so much more. They are even making an impact with First Responders by offering specialized training. This training is helping them respond more effectively to persons living with autism and who are in crisis.

The Center for Autism & Related Disabilities (CARD)

Since 1993, CARD has provided services to individuals with autism and related disabilities, to their families, and to the professionals who work with them. Through the Department of Education, the Florida State Legislature allocates funds to the seven regional CARD sites. The program has grown to include several branch offices. To determine which CARD site serves your area, checkout the state map on their site.

Florida Autism Center of Excellent (FACE)

While there are MANY more resources available throughout Florida, we will end with the Florida Autism Center of Excellence. The center is an educational resource for children and young adults. FACE is unique in this list because it collaborates with public school districts. They bring new choices for families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. FACE is located in Tampa and currently serves Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, Manatee and Sarasota counties.

These groups have some overlap in their goals. They are all here to help and inform families and offer mental, physical, and emotional support. Find the ones that fit your families’ roadblocks and that will also help you achieve your short- and long-term goals. If you need help in determining what Florida is required to offer your child by law, you can request a free evaluation of your case and learn how we can support you specifically.