I was vaguely familiar with autism growing up because my older brother was developmentally-delayed. However, the term autism wasn’t as common as it is in the current day. I got a job in college as a behavioral coach for autistic children. I was quickly immersed in their day-to-day lives and those of their families. The majority of the families I worked with had just had their children diagnosed and were learning to navigate this new season of life. I watched these families struggle to find resources and tools to utilize getting the help they needed for their child as well as for themselves. It’s a blessing to see that, over the last decade, more resources have become available. More nonprofits have formed, and more awareness is being put out into the public. For parents with a special needs child: remember to reach out around you for support—you don’t have to do this alone. We are here for you. Here are some local autism resources that can help you navigate these waters.
Could my son/daughter have Autism?
These are some signs your child could have autism according to Boys Town Pediatrics
Impaired social interaction. A child may have problems engaging in play, avoid eye contact and lack the warm expressions, such as smiling.
Indifferent to others. A child may fail to seek expression to a parent’s comfort or anger.
Delayed language development. A child may have the inability to hold small conversations or understand social engagement.
Difficulty with non-verbal communication. A child may not understand facial expressions or hand gestures.
Repetitive movements. A child may rock, spin or become intensely preoccupation with toys or objects.
Speak with your pediatrician if there are concerns about your children’s development. If your pediatrician is concerned as well, you can ask them to refer you to one of the following clinics.
Ways for your child to become involved in the community
Autism Society of Nebraska provides community activities with other special needs children, as well as resources and training for families and community members. Sibshops, in partnership with Ollie Web, are wonderful opportunities for the siblings of children with disabilities to play and obtain support. Ollie Web has been around for over 60 years supporting the developmentally disabled community. They offer social groups, sports activities & educational classes for children, teens and adults as well as residential and community employment support for adults.
What is there available for my older child post-high school?
The UNO Transitions Program offers social opportunities for young adults 18-25 who are on the autism spectrum. PACE (Partnership for Autism Career Employment) a branch of Autism Action Partnership, provides workplace development skills and helps individuals find competitive employment.
Where, as a parent, can I find resources and support?
PTI Nebraska (Parent Training and Information) offers statewide resources for families of children with disabilities and special health care needs. The Parent to Parent Support group matches a new parent who has been referred to the program with a supporting parent (veteran trained parent). When making a match common family characteristics are taken into consideration. P2P Coordinators use the following considerations in the pairing process. The Nebraska Department of Education—Office of Special Education website offers information on early childhood special education programs, assessments, parents’ rights, and resources.
The Munroe-Meyer Institute provides school consultation programs to help improve school-based services for students. They also offer a Family Behavior Management Program that provides outpatient services including evaluation, parent training, behavioral management, and caregiver consultation.