Identifying a provider for therapy can be challenging. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration….
If you read my previous blog, you have now become familiar with some of the terminology that will help you when seeking a therapy provider for your child. You need to identify a wraparound services provider. Word of mouth from someone who is using an agency is the best, but if you don’t know anyone, you can safely rely on a referral from your physician or other individual who assessed your child and diagnosed him or her with autism disorder. Before you commit to obtaining services from a wraparound provider, make sure you have vetted them. Ask for references (although they will have to get consent from a family before sharing names with you), look them up on the internet, and most importantly, find out what their turnover ratio is. This area tends to be very fluid, which isn’t really a good thing for children with autism. You want to make sure that you are working with an agency that can hold on to its therapists. Having a revolving door of therapists is never good for a child on the spectrum. Make sure that your agency complies with your state laws regarding criminal and child abuse background checks for its employees. Finally, if your child exhibits physical behavior, be sure to have a full understanding of your prospective provider’s policies ad protocols for managing that behavior, and be comfortable with it.
Typically, once you’ve identified a prospective provider, you meet and share the results of your child’s autism testing. The provider will refer you to the psychologist that they have a relationship with (although you are free to choose your own), who will evaluate your child and development a treatment plan. The wraparound provider will assign a TSS to work with your child, and a BSC to supervise the TSS. The treatment plan will be individually based on your child’s condition, age, whether he or she is in daycare or a school setting, and other factors that will be very unique to your family situation.
Once you have services in place, expect to have have quarterly meetings to review your child’s process and obtain a re-authorization from your insurance company or Medicaid provider, whichever is applicable. The participants in your quarterly meetings will most likely be the director (or equivalent) of the wraparound services agency, the BSC, you, your third party payer and perhaps a teacher if your child is in a daycare or school setting. The goal of these meetings is to review your child’s progress and tweak the treatment plan as necessary. This will also be the time that the third party payer will be asked to for another “authorization” to continue therapy services. These discussions may also include whether your child needs more or less hours than previously requested and other modifications to the therapy schedule.
In addition to quarterly meetings, on an annual or bi-annual basis, you will also meet with the BSC and the psychologist for a re-evaluation to obtain a continuation of medical necessity for treatment.
So get ready to attend lots of meetings! Use them to be an advocate for your child. Be a participant, not an observer. Speak up, ask questions, if you don’t understand something, ask. If the agency, TSS, or BSC isn’t working out, articulate your concerns and if they aren’t met, consider a change.
Until next time…