What To Do If You Feel Your Child Has Autism?
Knowing what to do will significantly impact your child's outlook.
If you are in Taiwan, look below. If not in Taiwan, click here
Steps You Should Take If You Feel Your Child May Have Autism
I. Make an appointment to get an assessment
Do this as soon as you can. When the children take an assessment, they will need to see a doctor and other specialists like a speech therapist and occupational therapist before you can receive the final report that says whether your child has ASD or not. You may be required to go to the hospital two or three times and some hospitals have long waiting list.
Not all hospitals can provide you with an official diagnosis. You can find qualified hospitals in the list below or check with your local hospital.
(insert list of hospitals here)
II. Apply for the government disability card
If the assessment results show your child has a certain disability, the next step is to apply for the government disability card. You will need the disability card in order to receive financial assistant from the government for all your medical cost including doctor’s appointments and therapy sessions as well as other benefits. To give an example, your cost for speech therapy may be 500 NT per session, but if you have the disability card, your cost will be reduced to 50 NT per session. After you turn in the application, it will take around 35 days to receive it.
Follow this link (insert link here to the Chinese disability card document) to learn all about the card and how to apply for it.
Some parents may want to make sure the results of the assessment are accurate and will want their child to do a second assessment to confirm the results. Maybe the child was not feeling well that day, or the parents just want another expert opinion. You can get more than one assessment; however, the government insurance card will help you pay for only one assessment per year.
III. Find therapists
While you are waiting for the disability card, immediately start looking for an ABA therapist and a speech therapist. The hospital you went to for the assessment will most likely offer you speech and occupational therapy sessions. No hospital in Taiwan will offer you ABA therapy.
You may be offered 30 minutes of speech therapy per week like the NTU Children’s hospital gave to my son, but the amount of speech therapy that the government will pay for is actually more than what your hospital will offer you. The people we spoke to at the insurance card department said the government will pay for one speech session per day. This means you can actually have five speech therapy sessions
per week (once per day from Monday through Friday). Each hospital has its own policy. The NTU Children’s hospital will not allow for extra sessions beyond what they offer, but you can check with other hospitals or clinics to see if their speech therapists have available time.
In addition, the government will pay not only for speech therapy at hospitals but also at private speech therapy clinics. Not all clinics accept the government insurance card. Click the link below to find a list of speech therapy clinics that accept the government insurance card. (Insert link here to see a directory of speech therapy clinics)
What To Look For When Searching For A Therapist?
A. Education background. Find out where they received their bachelor and graduate degrees. Keep in mind graduate degrees in ABA and speech do not always come from well-known schools. This is because these two fields are an applied science so they do not focus primarily on research that often brings the universities prestige; therefore, the well-known universities do not have ABA programs.
B. The amount of experience a therapist has working with this population is important because children with ASD often present various kinds of challenging behaviors. Therapists often do not have the time or the opportunity to experience all these kinds of behaviors during their time in college or graduate school. People who have experience generally know more techniques to help your child.
C. Ask the therapist if he or she knows how to deal with the various behavior issues or self-stimulatory behaviors that your child has. This should be a very significant factor when deciding if the therapist is capable of helping your child. Specifically for speech therapists, some will work with the child sitting in a chair while others will follow the child around on the floor to elicit language. Ask your therapist if he or she can teach the child to sit in the chair which is much more difficult to do but is more productive. Speech therapists can be very knowledgeable, but some have difficulty decreasing behavior issues that disrupt learning. Also regarding speech therapists, there are very good speech therapists at hospitals, but oftentimes, speech therapists at private clinics have more experience and expertise. This is the reason why they can open a clinic and work on their own without supervision. To see a list of speech therapists working in clinics, please click the link below (Insert link for directory of speech therapists here).
d. What age group has they worked with?
A therapist that has more experience working with the age group that your child is in would be ideal. Age is important but also take into consideration the cognitive level they have worked with as well. A child may be 8 years old but functioning at a lower IQ level. Has the therapist worked with children at that IQ level?
Extra help when finding a speech therapist:
If you do not have time to search for a speech therapist, you can contact the speech association (insert link here), and let them know about your child and your needs (e.g. English speaking), and they will find therapists in your area with those qualifications.
Finding an ABA therapist:
To learn more about ABA therapy and why over 40 years of research has proved that it is the most effective form of therapy for children with ASD, click on the link below
(Insert link to the “What Is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy” page)