Question: My son finally was able to be diagnosed by the School’s education team that oversees his IEP as ASD. He is in 5th grade and 11 years old. Since he was 2 years old he has been to countless doctors and had plenty of evaluations that never would place him in a category. When he was young we lived in Iowa and I pursued all the early education avenues available but all placed him borderline and offered me no options. The public school was a struggle to even get an IEP. Finally, at the charter school a team of awesome teachers and educators have been able to start to get my son help with social, pragmatic and writing assistance. My question is what do i do now or first? I’ve waited a long time to get a diagnosis and now I’m at a loss of what to do next. do i need to pursue medical diagnosis, outside therapy just don’t know my next move
Answer provided by a team collaboration at Autism Alliance of Michigan.
Services required to access the curriculum and be successful in school are addressed in school through the individual education plan (IEP) process. The IEP is written to ensure school success and provide the student with a free and appropriate education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). If you are interested in accessing additional services outside of school based programming, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, or social skills groups, a medical diagnosis will be needed.
Getting to the right place for an evaluation is key to ensure a comprehensive assessment and access to services. The most important thing you need to know about the Medical autism assessment process in Michigan is that the medical insurance you have for your child will determine where your child’s autism assessment needs to be done.
Michigan Medicaid or Medicaid HMO: If your child’s medical insurance is Michigan Medicaid or a Medicaid HMO, you will need to contact the Community Mental Health (CMH) Department in the county in which you live. Your local CMH Department is responsible for coordinating autism services and will assist you in getting an evaluation scheduled at the right place. If your child meets diagnostic criteria for autism following this evaluation, you will be assigned a supports coordinator who will help you to enroll your child in the recommended services. A list of CMH Departments in Michigan can be found at www.michigan.gov/mdhhs
Private Insurance: Not all private medical insurance plans include autism benefits, so you will need to contact your insurance provider to find out if your medical plan pays for autism evaluations and therapy. If they pay for these services, then ask where you can schedule an autism evaluation for your child. Most private insurance providers require autism evaluations to be done at an Approved Autism Evaluation Center (AAEC) and you will likely be referred to one of these centers. There are 13 AAECs throughout Michigan. A list of AAECs is available on the Autism Alliance of Michigan website. Once your child is evaluated, a diagnosis and recommendations will be made by the AAEC assessment team for appropriate therapy and services. If autism services are not covered by your medical insurance provider, contact the Autism Alliance of Michigan as we may be able to suggest other options for you to explore.