Support offered for families facing autism diagnosis

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 29, 2015) - April is Autism Awareness Month, but the Autism Society of Indiana wants families to know resources are available to them anytime.

“The saying is, if you’ve seen one child with autism, you’ve seen one child with autism,” said Dana Renay, Chief Executive of Indiana’s Autism Society and mother of an autistic child.

Renay’s now 12-year-old son was diagnosed with autism at age 3.

“At that time, he was non-verbal, ran away,” Renay said. “But with all the early intervention, with ABA and social skills, speech and occupational therapy, he’s now in a mainstream sixth grade classroom with no aid.”

She says families need to take advantage of resources available.

“We have a lot of different practitioners who are doing a nice job of doing early assessment and diagnosis of autism,” she said.

Nationwide, one in 68 people is diagnosed with autism; in Indiana one in 50 people is diagnosed.

“It’s very overwhelming,” Renay said.

She says families don’t have to deal with this alone. Emotional help exists, as does financial help, education, training, and respite care.

“We provide a personal caregiver in the home so the families, the parents can reconnect with each other and do something for themselves,” Renay said of resources offered by the Autism Society of Indiana. “We have an employment program called Career Ally, and that’s to help young adults and adults find meaningful employment at competitive wages.”

They also help families make sure schools have the services an autistic child might need, like speech and occupational therapy, music therapy, play therapy, social skills.

Renay said no single cause or cure for autism exists, but it is treatable.

The organization says, studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes.