After getting the diagnosis of Autism for your child, you may find yourself with a bewildering range of professionals (Behavior Consultants, Occupational Therapists, and Speech-Language Pathologists) or Autism service providers from the Registry of Autism Service Providers (RASP) list. Even though a lot of them will be willing to take your son or daughter on as a client, it is still worthwhile to learn as much as you can to make sure that their services are the exact support which your child needs.
Here are some tips which we hope will make you an empowered and confident consumer of services:
Do you OWN research, even after what and which professional your neighbor, friend and Facebook group members recommend
Understand your child’s requirement of therapies based on the recommendations during the diagnosis. There are plenty of options for Early Intervention and other therapies (for example, Behavior Consultancy, Occupational Therapy, Speech-Language Pathology) and services. Do you own due diligence when hitting a professional in your own neighborhood. One therapy program or specific therapist might be the right fit for one child but might not be suitable for the other
Do not rush to start therapies or a program
Take the time to look around, visit the clinic; call the service provider; talk to the professionals, and ask them as many questions you have. You need to get a feel for the people and service as well as knowing the facts about them.
Please check their names in the
Registry of Autism Service Providers (RASP) list
and in their respective College registries
BEHAVIOR CONSULTANTS (BC):
SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGISTS (SLP):
There is no registry in British Columbia for Therapy Assistants and Behavior Interventionists. Parents should be very careful hiring then for their children. There are many agencies who claim to have Behavior Consultants in their team, but they do not have any credentials to validate such claims.
Talk to other families who are currently with the service provider you have shortlisted
Talking to the families won’t give you numbers of their unhappy customers, but you should be able to find out useful information and feedback regarding the provider.
Take the word-of-mouth referral of an agency with a pinch of salt
We all love a personal recommendation, however, there are many professionals in the world of autism who will paint a very rosy picture of whatever therapy they are implementing and will claim to be the best for your child. Some professionals might also set themselves up as “gurus” and have extravagant claims to match
If something sounds too good to be true… it probably is not
Everyone would love quick turnarounds, and these do happen. But it’s rare. Better to prepare yourself for lots of hard work ahead and then see quicker gains as a huge bonus, not the expectation.
Look at the costs: hidden and invisible ones too
Many professional services cost a great deal. This is generally based on their professional qualifications, specific expertise and experience working in their professional field. It might also based on the number of hours of intervention hours needed for the treatment to be effective. If the hourly rate of a single professional seems excessive (or out of the avarage range ) then that’s a very strong warning sign. Pediatricians, Psychologists, Speech therapists, Physiotherapists and Occupational therapists are generally expensive as they are regulatory professionals in British Columbia.
Other professionals (Therapy Assistants, Behavior Interventionists) who are charging similar amounts might be taking advantage of the “demand and supply” needs for the families who are desperate for starting the services at any cost.
Finally, seek service providers who are respectful, thorough, and transparent
A few questions to ask yourself:
- Does this professional take my input seriously and answer my questions thoroughly?
- Do they presume competence with my child?
- Do they openly discuss how goals will be set and how progress will be measured?
Beware of anyone who is evasive, dismissive of your concerns, or who doesn’t treat you and your child as active participants in developing and refining a program.