When my son was first diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum I immediately had two responses. I wanted to take action and I wanted to deny it was happening.
At first, this was so overwhelming! To where do you turn? Who do you see? How do you know if that treatment is good? Should I see this doctor?
This is what I have learned when I was looking for the right doctor and treatment facility for my son with Autism.
Ask questions and get informed. Do as much research as possible. Time may be of the essence but rushing into a treatment may turn out to be a large regret later.
Educate yourself on the diagnosis, available treatment plans and different facilities. You do not want to visit a provider without preparing or else you could be misled. Know ahead of time what you want to discuss and show that you know your facts. The more knowledge you have, the less you are at the mercy of others, who may have strong opinions but weak facts.
Google is your friend. Do a Google search on:
[facility name] reviews
to see what others have said about it. This does not mean they are correct. But you gather information about it so that you are aware of what is being said out there.
Consider the Source
The internet is a big place, full of information, but also conflicting opinions. One of the best ways to refine your data is to join a forum and discuss various issues with like-minded people, many times parents of children with autism or special needs, who want to help others with lessons learned from their experiences. Over time, you will find out who has the facts and who does not.
You can search the forum for various questions you have, knowing that you are never the first person to ever ask the question you have in mind. Chances are, someone else asked it and another person answered it.
A Google search will give you a lot of results in response to typing out your question just like if you had asked a person that same question. But use your judgment when evaluating all of the answers you get. Some people do not think through their response before posting it.
Established reputable websites are also a good place to start, such as a well-known medical facility. You can find out who the big names are in the industry and what the popular treatments are. Chances are, there will be a lot of discussion about these people and treatments. You will be able to narrow down which people you think are trustworthy and which treatments you think will work for your child.
Be wary of a hyped-up warning message. We have all been forwarded urgent messages from well-meaning friends and family telling us about that dangerous food item, insect or common practice.
Do a Google search on one of the sentences in the message to see if others have posted it and refuted it. Since unthinking people forward the message in its original form, identical copies of it spring up everywhere.
It is so easy to fake who you are on the internet, so just because a message proclaims that some famous medical establishment has said this or that, does not make it so.
Use Google to check out the information.
Reviews and Testimonies
Some of the best advice given to me came from other parents or patients. Ask a prospective provider for testimonials, or, if possible, a parent who is willing to share his or her experience with you. This can be tricky because of patient confidentiality laws but the worse that can happen is that you get “no” for an answer. I found one provider who immediately pulled out a binder of letters from patients.
Look for groups in your area that you can join or events that you can attend. This is a great way to learn from others and get honest guidance. When joining local groups and events, you are more likely to find a local provider. Local is not a must but it is a definite plus!
There may be a forum made up of members who are local to you, thus combining the immediacy of online and the face-to-face of local. Do a Google search on:
You could be pleasantly surprised at what results come back.
Disclosure and Note: I am a mom with a child on the spectrum. I have struggled like many of you. These are not medical facts or researched facts. They are simply real tips from my real experience. I have made it a mission of mine to help other parents who are as overwhelmed as I was. I am still learning each day.