An Introduction to “Autism: Life After Diagnosis – A Road to Service”
ShineLight was created with the distinct purpose of providing a brighter life and future for individuals with autism. As you can imagine, life with services can dramatically improve the quality of life for individuals with autism, which is why early intervention is key. My name is Nikki Giovanni Creecy and I am the Founder and CEO of ShineLight. I wanted to create a blog series entitled “Autism: Life After Diagnosis – A Road to Service” to help individuals with autism and their loved ones as they navigate life after a diagnosis and begin seeking autism treatment near Durham and beyond.
This six-part series will cover the following topics:
- Part One: What treatment options are available to your loved one with autism?
- Part Two: How do you qualify for supplemental income? Here, we will discuss the process for being declared disabled in the state of North Carolina as well as applying for social security.
- Part Three: How to qualify and apply for Medicaid in North Carolina.
- Part Four: The difference between behavioral and medical health care and whether Medicaid will cover the services for your loved one.
- Part Five: What are Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment (EPSDT) services?
- Part Six: What is an Innovations Waiver is, why it is necessary, and how to apply for these services. We will also explore the importance of applying ASAP after the diagnosis due to the high demand and long waitlist associated with services.
A Little Bit About Me | Nikki Giovanni Creecy
I am a local, born and raised in Fayetteville, NC, and I have more than two decades of experience in serving individuals with autism. In 2006, after eight years of working with the Autism Society of North Carolina, my vision and leadership led me to create ShineLight, Services and Support for People with Autism. As Founder and CEO of ShineLight, I am committed to hiring and employing cutting-edge methodologies and uniquely qualified staff to provide the very best residential, community, and employment support for individuals with autism. When I’m not involved in my work, I can be found singing in my church choir, teaching Sunday school, and making music as Nikki Giovanni Worship.
Difficulties Individuals with Autism Face Across Their Life Span
As individuals with autism reach developmental transitions, they may be met with many more difficulties when compared to neurotypical individuals. Autism affects each individual differently. Some individuals with autism may be nonverbal, some may have a limited vocabulary, and some may have a broad vocabulary.
Individuals may have little or inconsistent eye contact with others and may tend to not look at or listen to people. You may also find that individuals with autism may have facial expressions, movements, and gestures that may not match the subject matter of the conversation.
With regard to tone of voice, individuals with autism may have a sing-song quality to their voice or they may talk in a flat or robot-like manner. They may have trouble understanding another person’s point of view and they may not be able to predict or understand other people’s actions.
People with autism may also repeat certain behaviors or express unusual behaviors such as a lasting and intense interest in certain topics like numbers, details, or facts. They may also have overly-focused interests, such as with moving objects or parts of objects.
Individuals on the spectrum may become upset by slight changes in a routine. These changes in routine can cause sleep problems and irritability.
Even though individuals with autism have many challenges, they also have many strengths. They can learn things in detail and remember information for long periods of time. People with ASD are also strong visual and auditory learners and may excel in math, science, music, or art. Autism treatment near Durham, such as those provided at ShineLight, can help to foster each individual’s unique abilities through encouragement and activity.
How Autism Services Can Benefit Individuals with Autism
1. Skill Development- Autism services can help build many skills for people with ASD. Some areas of skill development include health and safety, home living skills, self-determination and advocacy, peer relationships, socialization, and social communication. They are also encouraged to participate in their communities, have hobbies and recreational outlets, and learn personal finance.
2. Social Skills Development- Autism services create teachable moments with practice in realistic settings, which often focus on timing and attention. They often focus on support for enhancing communication and sensory integration and on learning behaviors that predict important social outcomes such as happiness and friendship. Social skill development in individuals with autism is important because it increases their cognitive and language skills.
3. Academic Support- The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) guarantees people with a disability a free public education in the least restrictive environment. Autism services can help with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), which are tailored to the specific needs of each individual.
4. Promotion of Independence- Autism services also focus on learning and positive reinforcement. These programs highlight each student’s strengths and use them to create a plan based on building confidence and motivation for personal growth. Focusing on life skills education, exposure to new experiences, and practicing concepts in real-life settings allows for greater independence.
5. Prepares Individuals for Careers- People with autism need direct instruction in areas of social skills, communication skills, and basic living skills. When preparing individuals for a career, autism support focuses on skill development related to jobs, how to choose a
profession, support in finding those jobs, and on-the-job support. It is important to begin teaching these types of skills at an early age because they help prepare people with ASD for the workforce, volunteering, completing chores at home, school attendance, and hobbies.
6. Supports in Life Transitions- Practicing activities can reduce the stress of transitions, resulting in more confidence and comfort during these difficult phases.
The Importance of Beginning Autism Treatment in Durham and Beyond as Soon as Possible
From birth, children receive well-child check-ups with a pediatrician, and at their 18 and 24-month well-child visits, doctors begin to screen for autism. If the doctor determines that your child is at high risk of developmental problems or autism, additional screening will be needed. Your child may be at high risk if they have a family member with autism spectrum disorder, have some ASD behaviors, certain genetic conditions, have older parents, or are born at a very low birth weight. If your child is diagnosed with ASD at the age of 18-24 months old, you can begin applying for Medicaid and other services needed to support your child and family. It is very important to begin seeking autism treatment near Durham and beyond at this phase, as early intervention is key.
Medicaid is health insurance administered by states, according to federal government requirements. Medicaid provides health coverage to millions of Americans, including eligible low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults, and people with disabilities.
ShineLight Provides Autism Treatment Near Durham and Beyond
ShineLight was created with the distinct purpose of providing a brighter life and future for individuals with autism. ShineLight serves as a guiding light for individuals and their families by leading the way in residential, employment support services, and community advocacy. Our service areas include: Fayetteville, Wake, Sampson, Scotland, Duplin, Wayne, Lenoir, Greene, Wilson, Edgecombe, Durham, Johnston, Cumberland, Hoke, Robeson, and Bladen Counties. Contact us today.