information and resources on the Northwest Indiana Families for Effective
Autism Treatment (INFEAT) Website (The Site) are for educational and
informational purposes only. Information provided through The Site should
not be used as a substitute for care by a qualified Developmental Pediatrician,
Pediatric Neurologist, Behavioral Psychologist, Behavior Analyst, Speech
and Language Pathologist, Attorney, or other appropriate professional.
my child is autistic. What should I do now? "
If you suspect your child may be autistic, there are a number of
ways for you to get help. Furthermore, if you reside in Indiana, there
are services available for your child which are at no cost to you.
This is the good news. The bad news is, you and your child may have
to wait a long time to get this help; however, it’s important
not to wait for someone else to help you. You should do all
you can for your child right now. You may be aware by now
that the earlier you start therapies, the better your child’s
overall outcome is likely to be. It’s also important to get
your child signed up for all available services immediately, even
if there is a long wait, because eventually, he/she may be able to
make use of them.
Here are the things that we, as Indiana parents of children with autism,
wish we had been told on day one:
- Get your child signed up
for the Medicaid Waivers.
There are three Medicaid
Waiver programs which provide funding for services for autistic individuals.
Your child is eligible for this government funding because he/she
has a disability. Services are expensive, and not all insurance companies
cover them. This is partly why these programs were put in place. Even
if you do not yet have a diagnosis, call and have your child’s
name added to the lists. You will not be required to provide proof
of a diagnosis until your child’s name reaches the top of the
waiting list. And, believe me, this will take a long time. You will
have plenty of time to get a diagnosis. The sooner you sign up the
The three Waivers are called the Autism Waiver, the Developmental
Disability Waiver (or DD Waiver), and the Support Services Waiver.
They are called "waivers" because the income of the parents,
or caregivers, is “waived” when considering the eligibility
of the child for services under Medicaid. The child becomes eligible
simply by nature of his/her disability. The Support Services Waiver
has a shorter waiting list than the other two. It was designed to
meet some of the needs of individuals who are waiting for one of the
other two Waivers. Make sure your child gets signed up for all three
waivers. Once your child becomes eligible for services, you can use
funds from these Waivers to pay for various therapies and other services.
Even though you will wait a while for funding, it will be a great
help when it arrives.
How do I sign up?
Contact your local Bureau of Developmental Disabilities Services (BDDS)
office and ask to sign up for all three Medicaid Waivers. BDDS is
a division of the Family and Social Service Administration (FSSA).
Here is the contact information for the BDDS office in Northwest Indiana:
110 W Ridge Rd, Gary, IN 46408 (219) 981-5313 or 1-877-218-3053. For
a complete listing of BDDS offices throughout Indiana, go to www.state.in.us.
Some Area Agency on Aging (AAA) offices accept applications for Waivers
as well. Here is the contact information for the AAA office in Northwest
Indiana: Northwest Community Action, 5240 Fountain Drive, Crown Point, IN 46307. See
www.state.in.us for a complete
listing of AAA offices. The date and time your application is signed
will determine your position on the waiting lists. Be sure to keep
a copy of your application for documentation purposes.
- If your child is under
3 years of age, check out FirstSteps.
is Indiana’s early intervention program for children with developmental
delays or disabilities. First Steps serves children from birth to
age three. They do not provide intensive ABA therapy. First Steps
may provide access to a Behavioral Consultant, but they do not provide
the intensive kind of ABA which FEAT recommends. First Steps does,
however, provide other services, usually free of charge, which may
be helpful. Some of these include: speech therapy, occupational therapy,
and physical therapy, among others. For more detailed information
on services through First Steps, go to www.state.in.us
and click on Public Assistance to get to First Steps. You can also
get information on First Steps from the Family and Social Services
Administration, Division of Family and Children, Bureau of Child Development,
402 West Washington Street, Room W. 386, Indianapolis, IN, 46204-2739,
phone (317)232-1144 or (800)441-7837.
- If your child is more than
(or nearing) 3 years of age, you may be interested in Indiana’s
Special Education Program.
special education program generally does not provide the intensive
kind of ABA which FEAT recommends. Some special ed departments or
Cooperatives may be flexible and willing to provide a similar program.
However, in general Indiana does not promote or practice an ABA methodology
for its autistic students. However, this does not mean that a child
with autism will not benefit from a special ed placement. Simply put,
it is up to the parents, and the personnel involved in a child’s
specific placement, to spell out exactly what is to be taught to the
child, as well as how it is to be taught. This is no small feat. It
is a very complicated process, and it is best to get as much advice
from other parents and professionals as you can in order to determine
the best placement for your child and how to insure that your child
gets appropriate services.
Many members of FEAT, as parents of children with autism, recommend
early and intensive ABA therapy for children with autism. Helping
a child with autism acquire language, pre-learning skills, social
skills, and early academics usually requires a great deal of special
training for the instructors/therapists and intensive teaching with
the child. As a general rule, these two crucial components are not
available in special education placements in Indiana. For these reasons,
FEAT recommends intensive in-home ABA programs over public school
placements. Once a child with autism has acquired certain skills,
they may benefit from a public special ed placement in an inclusive
setting with typical children, or in a special needs classroom or
resource room of some sort. It’s also important to clearly define
what you expect from such a placement for it to be successful.
Your local Special Education Department or Cooperative can be helpful
in providing your child with a diagnosis by conducting an Early Education
Screening (FEAT recommends you also get a diagnosis from a doctor).
For more information on Indiana’s Special Education services,
including their screening/diagnostic services, contact the Special
Education Department or Cooperative in your area..
The Hammond School system has it’s own Department of Special
Education. You can contact them at: The School City of Hammond, Special
Education Department, 41 Williams St., Hammond, IN, 46320, phone (219)933-2400.
The Gary School system has it’s own Special Education Department
as well. You can contact them at: Special Education Department, Lincoln
Achievement Center, 1988 Polk St., Gary, IN, 46407, phone (219)881-5493.
The East Chicago school system Department of Special Education may
be reached at: Special Education Department, East Chicago, IN, 46312,
The other communities in Northwest Indiana are served by Cooperatives
(a Cooperative is an agency which serves children with special needs
from various surrounding communities).
Special needs children who reside in Munster, Schererville, Dyer,
and St. John are served by the Westlake Special Education Cooperative,
212 E. Joliet St.,Scherervillee, IN, 46375, phone (219)865-1171.
Special needs children living in Highland, Griffith, Crown Point,
Lowell, Hobart, Lake Station, the Lake Ridge portion of River Forest,
Merrillville, and Hanover Township(Cedar Lake) are served by the Northwest
Indiana Special Education Cooperative (NISEC), 2150 West 97th Place,
Crown Point, IN, 46307, phone (219)769-4000 or (219)663-6500.
Children who live in Porter County are served by the Porter County
Educational Interlocal, 750 Ransom, Valparaiso, IN, 46385, phone (219)464-9607.
If none of the aforementioned agencies serve your area, you can contact
the Indiana Department of Education, Division of Special Education,
Room 229 State House, Indianapolis, IN, 46204-2798, phone (317)232-0570.
They will provide you with information on local special education
services available to your child. You can also access this information
on the Division of Special Education’s website, www.doe.state.in.us/exceptional.
Additionally, the Division of Special Education can provide you with
a current copy of Article 7, the Special Education Rules for the state
of Indiana. There are also consultants on staff who can provide answers
to your questions, and help explain your child’s rights regarding
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