First Steps

First Steps

We are here to support you on your journey.

 

First Steps

When a child gets an autism diagnosis, parents often experience a wide range of emotions quickly, intensely, and broadly. It is a life-altering diagnosis—the closing of one chapter and the beginning of a new, more complicated one. It’s complicated because autism is a behavioral diagnosis, not a medical one. There is no known cause, no known cure, and no clear answers about long-term functioning for your child. Each child with autism is unique, and no two children will develop or respond to therapies in the same way. However, there are shared experiences and knowledge that unite us all, and we can learn from and support each other. Here are some ways to get started.

Connect with Your Autism Support Center

One of the first things we recommend that you do upon getting a diagnosis is to schedule an appointment to meet with one of our Autism Specialists.  We can help guide you through the next steps, no matter the age of your child. We will help you to identify and maximize your child’s and family’s unique strengths.

The Autism Alliance is one of seven Autism Support Centers in Massachusetts. If you live outside of the Greater MetroWest area, you may prefer to connect with the Autism Support Center that serves your region. You can find a full listing of centers through our Resource Directory.

Coordinate Educational Services

All children diagnosed on the autism spectrum in Massachusetts are entitled to individualized developmental and/or educational supports through the state’s Early Intervention program or your community’s school district, depending on the age of your child.

Under 3 Years

Contact the state's Early Intervention program.

Age 3 and Older

Contact the Special Education Director in your community's public school department.

Access Your Insurance Benefits

Massachusetts law requires health insurance plans to cover Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) treatment for children with an autism diagnosis if deemed appropriate by a clinician. For more information and to learn how to access your insurance benefits visit the Autism Insurance Resource Center web page.

Apply to the Department of Developmental Services

We highly recommend that your family apply to the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS). Applying will ensure that you can access all the programs, resources, and entitlements that your child may be eligible for, now or in the future.

DDS Eligibility Application - Birth to Age 4

DDS Eligibility Application for Ages 5-22  and 22 and Above