We talk so much about advocating for our loves ones with autism. As a mother with a young child diagnosed with autism, I use the world advocate frequently. In fact, it’s become a constant in my daily vocabulary.
Personally, I have advocated for my child by fighting for testing and diagnoses. This allowed him to gain admission into school programs. I’ve advocated for the school services he needed. I did this through requesting PPT meetings and creating a case for those services. I feel as though I’ve been very successful in this regard but it took time to learn the ropes.
In addition, I’ve unfortunately had to fight for him to receive private services and the financial support to make that happen through the courts. There is always an ongoing battle to maintain or increase supports.
I recently had a conversation with another mother of a child with autism and she has been struggling with advocating for her son. She felt that no one returned her calls and she wasn’t having luck obtaining private services. While she told me he was non-verbal and he received no early intervention and still isn’t receiving private services as a 7-year-old, I was initially shocked. She admitted that she gave up when she was told “no” one time. I realized advocacy doesn’t always come naturally or instinctively and could be considered a skill, one you hone over time and with experience. Utilizing a checklist can be extremely helpful in starting the process or considering new advocacy options. I found two list from Center from Autism Research and Autism Speaks that filled this gap:
I find it can be empowering not only to become educated in all the ways to advocate for your own loved one but to help others. I find sharing my knowledge with other parents, utilizing my experience, can make a huge impact.