CLICK HERE TO JOIN OUR FREE FACEBOOK GROUP!

Autism Help in Arkansas: From Diagnosis to Resources

Discover comprehensive autism help in Arkansas, from diagnosis to support programs and resources.

steven zauderer
Steven Zauderer
March 5, 2024
Unveil a world of autism help in Arkansas, from state programs to supportive employers and clinics.
min read

Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder

To effectively navigate the realm of autism help in Arkansas, it's first essential to understand what Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is, and the challenges faced by individuals who have this condition.

Defining Autism

Autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a neurodevelopmental disorder impacting communication, social interaction, and behavior. ASD is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. It initiates before the age of 3 and remains throughout an individual's life.

It's characterized by a spectrum of symptoms and behaviors, varying from mild to severe. This spectrum nature of the disorder means that every individual with autism is unique and may exhibit different symptoms or behaviors.

In the United States, including Arkansas, autism is recognized under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), ensuring that individuals with ASD receive a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.

Challenges Faced by Individuals with Autism

Individuals with autism often face challenges in various aspects of their daily lives. These include difficulties in social situations, understanding and expressing emotions, adapting to changes, and sensory sensitivities.

Communication can also be a significant challenge for individuals with autism. Some may have difficulty understanding and interpreting verbal and non-verbal cues, while others may struggle to express their thoughts and feelings effectively.

These challenges often require support and interventions to help individuals with autism lead fulfilling lives. In Arkansas, individuals diagnosed with ASD can access various services and supports such as early intervention, special education, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and behavioral therapy.

In the next sections, we'll delve deeper into the specific autism help in Arkansas, detailing the resources and support networks available to those affected by ASD.

Autism Support in Arkansas

Autism support in Arkansas is wide-ranging and comprehensive, providing individuals with autism and their families the necessary resources for their unique needs. This support comes in many forms, including robust networks, state legislation, and numerous organizations dedicated to offering assistance.

Importance of a Support Network

Having a strong support network is essential for individuals with autism and their families. These networks can provide emotional backing, guidance, and access to resources and services. Support networks can include immediate family, friends, therapists, educators, support groups, and organizations specializing in autism support [1].

In Arkansas, there's a wide range of resources and services available to support individuals with autism. These include statewide organizations and support groups, educational resources and programs, therapeutic services and treatment centers, and healthcare services. Such resources play a significant part in building a robust support network that can enhance the quality of life and development opportunities for those with autism.

Role of State Laws in Autism Support

State laws play a crucial role in regulating insurance coverage for autism-related services in Arkansas. The Arkansas Autism Insurance Reform Act mandates that certain insurance plans provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders. This legislation ensures that individuals with autism have access to the necessary resources for managing and treating their condition [1].

Furthermore, organizations like the Arkansas Autism Resource and Outreach Center (AAROC) aim to provide training, technical assistance, and support for parents with children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. This includes helping parents understand the diagnosis, navigate the service system, engage with special education services, and employ practical strategies at home to support their child's development.

The activities of AAROC have been supported by various funding sources, including general revenue from the Governor's office, GIF funds, and donations from a parentally created non-profit organization, AAROC, Inc. The combination of these resources emphasizes the role that both state laws and community support play in providing comprehensive and accessible autism help in Arkansas.

Autism Medicaid and Waiver Programs

In the path to autism help in Arkansas, understanding the available Medicaid and Waiver Programs is crucial in securing the necessary support for individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Arkansas Autism Waiver

The Arkansas Autism Waiver is a program provided by the Arkansas Division of Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS) specifically designed to offer additional support and services to individuals diagnosed with ASD. This program aims to provide comprehensive support to both individuals with autism and their families, intending to enhance the quality of life and services available to them.

Coverage and Eligibility of Autism Waiver

The Autism Waiver in Arkansas covers a range of essential services geared towards aiding individuals with ASD and their families. These include Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, assistive technology, and respite care [4].

Services Covered by the Autism Waiver
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy
Speech and Language Therapy
Occupational Therapy
Assistive Technology
Respite Care

Eligibility for the Arkansas Autism Waiver includes being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and meeting specific criteria determined by the program. The exact criteria may vary, and it is best to contact the Arkansas DDS or a similar agency for more detailed information on the application process and eligibility requirements.

The availability of such programs like the Autism Waiver plays a pivotal role in the comprehensive support network for autism help in Arkansas. By understanding and utilizing these resources, families and individuals can access much-needed services, therapies, and supports to navigate life with autism.

Autism Support at University of Arkansas

The University of Arkansas stands as a beacon of hope and assistance for individuals seeking autism help in Arkansas. The institution's Autism Support Program is specifically designed to provide comprehensive help to students on the autism spectrum.

Autism Support Program Overview

The University of Arkansas Autism Support Program offers intensive assistance to students with high-functioning autism, Asperger's syndrome, PDD-NOS, and non-verbal learning disability. The program's primary objective is to help these students succeed in their college journey [5].

The students enrolled in this program are matriculated University of Arkansas undergraduates who possess the cognitive abilities to be in college but require additional support to complete a degree. Driven by the aim of providing comprehensive support and skill development, the program is directed by Aleza Greene, Ph.D., who has been working with students with autism spectrum disorder since 1999.

Areas of Support and Program Benefits

The support provided by the Autism Support Program at the University of Arkansas is multi-dimensional, covering three key areas: academics, transitioning to independent adult roles, and social skills.

Academic Support: The program provides robust academic support, focusing on executive function skills. Students receive assistance with academic programs, registration, schedule changes, communication with professors, time management, organization, and meeting assignment deadlines.

Transitioning to Independent Adult Roles: The program aids students in transitioning to independent adult roles. This support includes the development of organizational skills, self-advocacy, and assistance in finding internships or volunteer opportunities on campus. Additionally, students receive help with interview skills and resume writing, along with practical skills for thriving in college and future life.

Social Skills Development: A significant aspect of the program is the emphasis on developing social skills. Students regularly meet with peer mentors, participate in clubs, intramural sports, and campus events to practice and enhance the social skills necessary for building and maintaining friendships, integrating fully into campus life.

The program's benefits extend beyond just academic success. It aims to ensure that students not only graduate successfully but also become productive and happy citizens during and after their university years. With tailored assistance and a nurturing environment, the University of Arkansas's Autism Support Program is a significant resource for autism help in Arkansas.

Non-Profit Organizations for Autism Support

Non-profit organizations play a pivotal role in providing autism help in Arkansas. These entities provide resources, support, education, and advocacy to individuals afflicted with autism and their families. The Arkansas Autism Resource and Outreach Center and the Arkansas Autism Foundation are two noteworthy organizations in the region.

Arkansas Autism Resource and Outreach Center

The Arkansas Autism Resource and Outreach Center (AAROC) is a non-profit organization committed to enhancing the lives of individuals with autism. They accomplish this mission by providing education, advocacy, and support services [6].

One of AAROC's primary aims is to provide training, technical assistance, and support for parents with children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. This includes helping parents understand the diagnosis, navigate the service system, engage with special education services, and employ practical strategies at home to support their child's development.

Activities of AAROC have been supported by various funding sources, including general revenue from the Governor's office, GIF funds, and donations from a parentally created non-profit organization, AAROC, Inc..

In line with their commitment to accessibility, AAROC strives to overcome any barriers arising from the website's design or materials provided. They invite users to reach out for assistance at partners@uark.edu.

Arkansas Autism Foundation

Similarly, the Arkansas Autism Foundation is another non-profit organization that offers a range of resources and support for individuals with autism and their families. Like AAROC, the foundation's mission is to improve the lives of individuals with autism by providing education, advocacy, and support services.

These non-profit organizations play a crucial role in the autism support network in Arkansas, providing valuable assistance to individuals with autism and their families. Their commitment to education, advocacy, and support services helps enhance the quality of life and open up new possibilities for those affected by autism.

Autism Services in Arkansas Hospitals

When looking for autism help in Arkansas, one of the major sources of support can be found in the healthcare sector. Several hospitals in the state offer specialized services for those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Among these, the Autism Clinic at the Arkansas Children's Hospital stands out for its comprehensive approach to autism care.

Autism Clinic at Arkansas Children's Hospital

The Arkansas Children's Hospital Autism Clinic is a key resource for autism help in Arkansas. This clinic is dedicated to providing diagnostic and treatment services for children with autism. The clinic aims to provide personalized care that meets the unique needs of each child and family, recognizing the wide range of symptoms and behaviors associated with ASD.

Through a team-based approach, the Autism Clinic ensures that each child receives a comprehensive evaluation and treatment plan. By bringing together professionals from various disciplines, the clinic is able to address the diverse needs of children with autism in a cohesive manner.

Services and Specialists at the Clinic

The team of specialists at the Autism Clinic includes pediatricians, psychologists, and speech-language pathologists. Each of these professionals plays a vital role in the diagnostic process and treatment plan for children with autism.

Pediatricians monitor the child's overall health and development, while psychologists focus on understanding the child's behavior, emotional state, and cognitive abilities. Speech-language pathologists, on the other hand, work on enhancing the child's communication skills, which are often one of the major areas affected by autism.

The services provided at the Autism Clinic are designed to cover all aspects of care for children with autism. This includes:

  • Comprehensive diagnostic evaluations
  • Development of individualized treatment plans
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Speech-language therapy
  • Consultation and coordination with other healthcare and educational professionals

This collaborative approach ensures that children with autism receive holistic care that addresses not just their medical needs, but also their social, emotional, and developmental needs. By doing this, the Autism Clinic at the Arkansas Children's Hospital plays a significant role in providing autism help in Arkansas.

Role of Employers in Autism Support

Employers in Arkansas play a critical role in supporting individuals with autism. By implementing inclusive practices and providing training opportunities, businesses can create a supportive environment that allows individuals with autism to thrive professionally.

Importance of Workplace Accommodations

Workplace accommodations are essential for enabling employees with autism to perform their jobs effectively. These accommodations can include flexible schedules, noise-reducing headphones, or designated quiet spaces for employees with sensory sensitivities.

In addition to enhancing job performance, workplace accommodations can lead to increased job satisfaction, productivity, and retention for employees with autism. Employers can foster a culture of acceptance and understanding by promoting diversity and providing ongoing support and resources.

Several resources are available to guide employers in creating an inclusive workplace. The Autism Speaks Employment Tool Kit offers information on recruitment, hiring, onboarding, and ongoing support for employees with autism [7]. The Job Accommodation Network (JAN), a free service provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, offers guidance on workplace accommodations for individuals with disabilities, including autism.

Training Opportunities for Individuals with Autism

Training opportunities are another important aspect of autism support in the workplace. Employers can make a significant impact by providing job-specific training, social skills training, and support in developing strategies to navigate the workplace environment [6].

Several organizations in Arkansas offer resources and support to employers looking to train individuals with autism. The Arkansas Rehabilitation Services (ARS) provides guidance on workplace accommodations, training programs, and financial incentives available to employers.

The Arkansas Autism Foundation offers training programs, consultation services, and assistance in developing autism-friendly workplace policies and practices. Similarly, the Autism Society of Arkansas provides workshops, webinars, and consultation services to promote autism awareness and inclusion in the workplace.

The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services and the Arkansas Autism Resource and Outreach Center (AAROC) also offer resources for employers interested in hiring individuals with autism, providing guidance on workplace accommodations, tax incentives, and access to qualified job candidates.

By embracing the importance of workplace accommodations and providing training opportunities, employers in Arkansas can make a significant contribution to autism support, helping individuals with autism achieve their professional potential.

Easterseals Arkansas and Autism Support

When seeking autism help in Arkansas, one organization stands out for its dedicated services: Easterseals Arkansas.

Overview of Easterseals Arkansas

Easterseals Arkansas is committed to empowering individuals with disabilities, including those on the autism spectrum, to live, learn, work, and play in their communities. Their aim is to support these individuals in reaching their full potential of independence and well-being.

The organization works towards enhancing health, expanding employment, and elevating the community, with a mission focused on 100% equity, inclusion, and access for individuals with disabilities. As part of their advocacy, they strive to empower individuals and their families to live, learn, work, and play in their communities, ensuring inclusivity and support for all [12].

Easterseals Arkansas encourages individuals to join them in increasing opportunities and independence for people with disabilities, families, and communities statewide. They offer various ways to get involved in supporting their mission.

Programs and Services Offered

Easterseals Arkansas provides a range of services, tailored to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities. These include education enrichment, health enhancement, and employment expansion, all with a focus on enabling individuals with disabilities to lead fulfilling lives.

Services offered by Easterseals Arkansas include:

  1. Education Enrichment: This includes programs designed to provide individuals with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in school, work, and life.
  2. Health Enhancement: These programs focus on improving the physical health and well-being of individuals with disabilities, helping them to live healthier and more fulfilling lives.
  3. Employment Expansion: Easterseals Arkansas offers programs aimed at providing individuals with disabilities the skills and opportunities necessary to secure meaningful employment.

By providing these services, Easterseals Arkansas plays a vital role in offering autism help in Arkansas, contributing to the enhancement of lives of individuals on the autism spectrum and their families. For more information or assistance, individuals and families can reach out to Easterseals Arkansas directly through their website.

Navigating Autism Services in Arkansas

Navigating autism services may seem overwhelming, especially after a recent diagnosis. However, understanding the service system and knowing who to contact for assistance can make a significant difference.

Understanding the Service System

The Arkansas Autism Resource and Outreach Center (AAROC) plays a crucial role in helping individuals understand and navigate the autism service system in Arkansas. A key objective of the AAROC is to provide training, technical assistance, and support for parents with children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. This support includes helping parents understand the diagnosis, navigate the service system, engage with special education services, and employ practical strategies at home to support their child's development.

AAROC's efforts are supported by various funding sources, including general revenue from the Governor's office, GIF funds, and donations from a parentally created non-profit organization, AAROC, Inc.. The diverse funding ensures that AAROC can provide comprehensive support to those seeking autism help in Arkansas.

Contact Information for Assistance

For parents seeking assistance or information, the Arkansas Autism Resource and Outreach Center is located at 10809 Executive Center Drive, Searcy Building, Suite 316, Little Rock, AR 72211.

Contact Method Details
Phone 800-342-2923 (V/TTY), 501-301-1100 (V)
Fax 501-682-5423
Email partners@uark.edu

AAROC is committed to accessibility and works diligently to address any barriers resulting from the website's design or materials provided. They invite users to reach out for assistance at partners@uark.edu.

In summary, seeking autism help in Arkansas begins with understanding the service system and knowing who to contact for support. Whether you're a parent, educator, or healthcare professional, resources like AAROC can provide valuable guidance and assistance as you navigate the path to progress.

References

[1]: https://www.abtaba.com/blog/arkansas-autism-resource

[2]: https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/wp-content/uploads/AUTISM_II.doc

[3]: https://uofapartners.uark.edu/projects/autism-resource-outreach/

[4]: https://www.crossrivertherapy.com/autism/how-to-get-an-autism-waiver-in-arkansas

[5]: https://autism.uark.edu/

[6]: https://www.crossrivertherapy.com/autism/arkansas-autism-resources

[7]: https://www.autismspeaks.org/tool-kit/employment

[8]: https://askjan.org/

[9]: https://www.ace.arkansas.gov/ars

[10]: https://arkansasautismfoundation.org/

[11]: https://www.autismarkansas.org/

[12]: https://www.easterseals.com/arkansas/programs-and-services/childrens-services/autism-classroom.html

steven zauderer

CEO of CrossRiverTherapy - a national ABA therapy company based in the USA.

Table of Contents