Advocating for children with autism is a process that includes being your child's voice and putting together a team of people to support you and your kiddo. 

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As a mom, you're already an advocate for your children.

But, when your child receives an autism spectrum diagnosis, that job becomes even more important. And complex. Especially when it comes to services — at the doctor's office, with therapists or at school. 

"Children can't navigate that," says Brie Seward, associate director of the Autism Society of Southern Arizona

Remember to be kind to yourself because setting up services and advocating for your child takes time.

"You can't do everything at once. It really takes time," Seward says. "It's something you chip away at and you see the fruits of your labor when over time your child begins to benefit from the results of what you've done to advocate for them."

1. Educate yourself 

Knowledge is power. Once you learn about what's out there, you'll have a better understanding of what you're advocating for.

Start with Google or by reaching out to organizations like the Autism Society of Southern Arizona to learn more about autism and what resources are available. 

You can also learn from from other moms in similar situations. 

2. Find your own voice because your child may not have one

Don't be afraid to speak up.

You literally become the voice for your child because their journey depends on how proactive you are, Seward says. 

If you need help with that, there are organizations like Raising Special Kids and Pilot Parents of Southern Arizona that offer free advocacy training services.

3. Put together your dream team 

It really does take a village. 

You'll align yourself with doctors to understand the diagnosis; work with the special education team at school; therapists your child might need such as food therapy, occupational therapy and behavioral therapy; and your home team to help them function on a day-to-day basis.

And, don't forget support for YOU. 

Find that by putting yourself out there and chatting with other parents at places like therapy appointments and autism walks, Seward says. 

There are also mom support groups on Facebook, popular with parents of special needs children because they can't always make time to go out and meet up with people in person.

Our strength is in our people

CPES Novelles is the nation’s largest employee owned company, offering a full range of community-based behavioral health services, psychological assessments for kids and adults, substance abuse treatment, foster care, and intellectual and developmental disability supports with locations throughout Arizona and California, including more than 40 in the Tucson area. Click here to get help and support today.

Angela Pittenger | This Is Tucson