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Better Together

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Ask to Join Parent Closed Facebook Page Better Together

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 Welcome! We are Better Together, An Autism Social Learning Club created by parents here in the Tri-Cities.

We are a group created by parents, to give our kids more social learning opportunities. We strive for sensory safe and emotionally supporitive environemnts to give our kids a chance at trying new things. As parents, we find that together we can handle the stresses of trying new places and situations so much better.

We have a private Facebook page that allows us to plan our activities, as well as connect to other local families. We carefully manage our page to keep it a safe forum for parents to share their struggles and their success. For that reason, it is not an open public page. If you are parents or a caregiver/family member that would benefit from this supportive on-line group, you can request an invite on Facebook. Or you can contact Melissa at p2p@arcoftricities.com for more information.

Families affected by autism is our main membership, but we also have families that are not on the spectrum but that share similar struggles. Diagnosis is not needed to join in our support group.

Better Together became part of The Arc's Parent to Parent program in 2015!  We remain a parent run group though and rely on our parents to organize activities for their children. We are all parents with our own children, so we all stay and help our kids at each event. That is how we make it a social learning time for our kids, as we address their areas that need work, as well as  doing a fun activity. Our goal is that our activities serve as building blocks. We want our kids to be able to manage their anxiety better and build their social skills so that they may be able to be included in more of what society has to offer. The more parent inolvement we get, the more we do! Please let us know if you have ideas or suggestions for some new outings!

When we do things together, our kids socialize more, learn more, and (we) worry less ...And that is why we are Better Together. 

(Above: Pictures of some of our more popular activities. Gym dates, Teens n' Tech night, Short Sport, and Bowling...just to name a few.  Meeting up at Autism confernces and workshops is always a good time with our fellow 'peeps'!)

Our Resource Guide book was created by Melissa Brooks. You will find autism resources that she has gathered in ONE place for YOU! WE update it yearly and it is due for a new update, but still pretty current. Take a look at all that is available to you here in your local area!

Download our Resource Guide 

 

Helpful Information about DDA, SSI and much more

From Informing Families, Building Trust (IFBT) Bulletins: Defining Autism Spectrum Disorder and Intellectual Disabilities. Find out how diagnoses are being made and how the DDA is revising its rules related to Autism. Click here to read the bulletin as well as others (Creating Healthy Relationships).

Plan To Work – How will working affect your social security benefits? Click here for more info.

Independent Living, Videos, Documents and Links, including a life skills assessment.

Trust Fund Information

Here is the main website with the information and the forms, http://www.ddlot.org/ and then the website with the folks that manage the trusts through The Arc of Washington state is here, http://arcwa.org/getsupport/life_opportunities_trust.
 

Step By Step

Screening
If you have concerns about your child's development, tell your child's pediatrician and be sure to ASK for an autism screening. Also do an at home screening with the "Modified Check List for Autism in Todders Revised" (M-CHAT-R). It is best for toddlers 16-30 months of age. BE SURE to also do the follow-up questions for accuracy. Whether it is autism or not, you should contact the Family Resource Coordinator at the Benton Franklin Infant Toddler Program at the ARC of Tri-Cities. (509) 783-1131 ext. 113. If it is determined your child needs early intervention, an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) will be developed. The Responding to Autism Center is available for autism screenings for all ages. You do NOT need a doctor's referral for a screening. (A screening is not a diagnosis.) It is important for parents to look for signs and seek help as soon as possible.
Diagnosis
If it has been determined that your child may have autism, you will want to pick a diagnostic center and call to get an appointment for a diagnosis. A diagnosis is important in getting services.There are several places to get your diagnosis done. Picking a center depends on you:
  • location
  • waiting time
  • insurance
Some will say "Center of Excellence". Choosing a Center of Excellence as your diagnostic center now may save you time in the future. If you have been in the early intervention program (birth to three years old), your Family Resource Coordinator (FRC) will contact you just before your child turns 3 years old to connect you with your local school district. Evaluations will be made then to see if your child meets the special education preschool services criteria from the school district. Do not wait for an official diagnosis to begin contacting local support services like the ARC and the Responding to Autism Center. Often times there is a long wait list for a diagnosis. Contact these services as soon as there is a concern to get put on the wait list. If a screening and evaluation show that it is not autism, you can always call and cancel, and you will have saved months of waiting!
Insurance
If you use Medicaid now (or possibly will in the future), and your child ends up needing ABA therapy, having the diagnosis made at a Center of Excellence will be very important in getting coverage. If you are having difficulties getting services covered by insurance or Medicaid, contact the Washington Autism Advocacy Association.
Schools
If your child is over 3 years of age, contact the local school district. Request an evaluation. Evaluations for special education services are done for ages 3-21 years old.
Support
  • Free autism classes at the Responding to Autism Center
  • Teleconferences held at Trios Health. These are classes done by the Seattle Children's Hospital, watched at teleconferenced locations.
  • Join a local support group. The RTA center has a support group every 2nd Tuesday at 6:30 pm.
  • Better Together is a parent created and run social activities group for our autism community. We have our website full of resource info and activities happening in our community. We have a parent social group called the Autism Optimism Society (AOS) once a month. Check our calendar. We also have a private Facebook page to connect autism families.
There are many other online communities and blogs, too, that are helpful in finding your way. Reach out! Support is there and it makes all the difference.
Resources
What do I do AFTER I find out my child has autism? What services are available in MY area?Our Tri-Cities Resource Guide on our website has been put together to help you find ALL the local resources available to you. Start by researching which ones may fit best with your child and family. You may need to ask for therapy recommendations, in writing, from your diagnostic center. You can connect with other autism families on our Facebook page (request an invite), a great way to ask questions to other autism families.The Responding to Autism Center is there for support, as well as the Parent to Parent program at the ARC.