ASA's 37th National Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders (July 13-15, 2006)

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Thursday, July 13, 2006: 11:00 AM-12:15 PM
Narragansett Ballroom B
#2248- Entering the Maze: Getting Answers, Getting Help, Getting Going
Every time a child is diagnosed, parents are left wondering “What do I do?”, “Where can I go for help?”, and “How can I help my child?” Nancy Wiseman, parent of a child diagnosed with autism, author, and founder of the national non-profit organization First Signs, will help parents navigate their way through the maze of treatments and specialists, setting up a team, negotiating long waiting lists, unraveling the diagnosis, and finding the best possible outcome for their child.

Presenter:Nancy D. Wiseman, B.S., Communications, First Signs, Inc., Founder and President - Nancy Wiseman is founder and president of First Signs, a national non-profit organization dedicated to early identification and intervention of children with autism and other developmental disorders. Before devoting herself to First Signs, Nancy worked in corporate communications for over 20 years. She is the mother of a child diagnosed with autism and she knows firsthand how to unravel complex issues, find the right treatments, and learn where to go for answers. She has counseled thousands of parents nationwide and she is author of the book, Could It Be Autism? A Parent’s Guide to the First Signs and Next Steps.
Often, parents feel paralyzed once they receive a diagnosis of autism and don't know where or how to begin. What lies ahead in each child's future? No parent knows. The best that you can do is to care for your child and give him what he needs to reach his full potential. The catch, of course, is that different children need different things. So you must look to your child for the answers. Nancy Wiseman, through her non-profit organization, First Signs, and her recent book, Could It Be Autism? A Parent's Guide to the First Signs and Next Steps (Broadway Books/Random House), helps to empower parents and give them the tools they need to get started on this challenging journey and navigate what can be a time consuming, complicated, and often frustrating and overwhelming process. Parents often enter the maze, where they are traveling towards a goal, but the path is unclear and full of false turns. Getting to the goal quickly requires persistence, skill, knowledge, and, sometimes, a bit of luck.

Many parents start this process with the idea, and the hope, that their child's problems, no matter how varied, can be explained with one name--and, ideally, addressed with one "magic bullet". In fact, many children with developmental problems get more than one diagnosis. Sometimes, underlying problems manifest themselves in one way early on and another way a few years later. The important thing is to realize that children diagnosed with autism often have other overlapping (or co-morbid) disorders. Or, they can develop new problems over time.

Nancy's goal is to give parents a roadmap for attaining the best possible outcome for their children. Although you cannot know how far a child will go, you can give him every opportunity to develop, learn, and enjoy life. For some children, that will be a life in which their disorder, having been diagnosed early and treated aggressively, will someday play a minor role. For others, it will be a life in which the disorder, hard-wired and resistent to the best treatment efforts, poses profound, continuing challenges. But for all children, the fight for effective treatment is worthwhile.

What Nancy learned through her own personal journey as a parent of a child diagnosed with autism has turned into her life's work. The challenge is not only to diagnose and treat early, but to delineate individual differences that characterize a child's unique expression of the disorder. A child is not defined by any disorder, but by his or her personality, strengths, and challenges. Each child evidences different patterns of motor, sensory, cognitive, language, and affective processing. Planning an effective treatment program depends on careful identification of areas of strength and weakness for each child. Through Nancy's own personal journey, she shows that a positive outcome is possible. Nancy will describe how to build the best possible team and work together, know which specialists to see, how to choose treatments that best meet a child's needs, how to prioritize the treatment program and, layer by layer, how to peel apart one issue at a time.

Learning Objectives: Participants will 1. Learn how to build the best possible team and get the proper evaluations 2. Learn how to put together an individualized treatment plan that will best meet a child's needs

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