Resources. So many resources! This is a good thing, though — because with resources comes knowledge, and with knowledge comes that feeling that you can do this. You can understand how autism manifests itself in your child — you don’t have to understand all the ins and outs of the neurological disorder. But you can understand the ins and outs of your amazing and special kid. And then, once you have that, you can share the information with other people in your child’s life, to help ensure that your child has advocates everywhere who understand and support them.
In the Classroom
How autism manifests itself in the classroom will be different for every child, of course, but it’s a good idea to make sure that your child’s school is aware of the diagnoses and specific behaviors they might experience. This is where a good, strong IEP can come in handy! In addition to having an IEP, keeping open lines of communication with your child’s teachers and support staff can help head off concerns before they become bigger issues. Hands in Autism has dozens of outstanding one- or two-pagers that can be helpful for teachers and classroom staff, including visuals for classroom rules and bus-riding rules, ways to ensure your classroom is ready for a child with ASD, and tips on handling peer interactions.
A lot of teachers appreciate it when parents who have children with different needs can recommend some helpful books for their classroom or school library. Or, perhaps you’ve noticed that local library doesn’t have many books that can help older children understand their friends on the autism spectrum. Here are a few of our favorites that you can suggest to teachers or librarians.
For children who are a little older, in the 8-12 range, we’re big fans of The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee and the A Boy Called Bat series. The Survival Guide for Kids With Autism Spectrum Disorders (and Their Parents) is a must-read, as is The Autism Acceptance Book: Being a Friend to Someone with Autism.
You can find some additional book options in this HANDS in Autism resource.
Summer and Day Camps / Activities
If you’re looking for summer camps and activities for your autistic child, there are plenty of those around the state! Some are day camps, some are overnight / weekend camps, and some even allow the parents to join! Not surprisingly, the Indianapolis area has many options to choose from, including Easterseals Crossroads, Noble Summer Day Camps, Jameson Camp, and Embracing Abilities. A little further south, you have Camp Yes And in Bloomington – a camp designed for teens 13-18 who are on the autism spectrum – and SpringHill Camps in Seymour. Camp Millhouse and Camp Wy. Not are favorites in the South Bend area and Life Compass Camp in Northwest Indiana has also gotten positive reviews from parents and campers alike. If you’re in Fort Wayne, you may want to check out Camp Red Cedar, and down in Perry County is the outstanding Anderson Woods Camp.
Other Resources to Keep Close at Hand
If you have a school-aged child and are not already aware of IN*SOURCE, you’re going to want to check out their site. They are an organization that offers education support for parents, especially as it relates to legal protections and developing / adhering to IEPs. You can access resources on IEPs, bullying prevention, transitioning to adulthood, and many other topics. They are statewide, and have been helping families navigate the complexities of special education for over 40 years. And, nearly all of their staff are parents of children with special needs who have personal, as well as professional, experience with the special education landscape.
HANDS in Autism is an interdisciplinary training and resource center through IUPUI. Their resources are too numerous to mention, but suffice it to say, there’s something for everyone, from families to educators, from autistic adults to emergency responders. They host an art expo for artists with autism, facilitate virtual meetups and support groups, educate medical professionals on how to treat patients who are autistic, and much more.
If you’re in the Indianapolis area, you’re likely familiar with EasterSeals Crossroads. They offer everything from respite to kids’ nights out, diagnostic evaluations to outpatient therapy. The Arc of Indiana has 42 chapters around the state, many of which offer direct services. Autism Society of Indiana has many online and in-person support groups, as well as case managers who can provide additional support to families. And of course, no discussion of resources for families affected by autism would be complete without the inclusion of the Indiana Resource Center for Autism.