Autism FAQ

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Parents can complete the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT), a screening tool that assesses the risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder in children between 16 and 30 months of age. Discuss the results with your child’s pediatrician or with a member of our team.


Spectra evaluation

A referral by your physician is not necessary to be evaluated at Spectra.  For more information about how you / your child can become a client at Spectra, visit our New Client Steps & Intake. Contact your insurance company to ask about your out-of-network benefits by using our Insurance Guide for assistance.

Pediatrician, Physician, or Psychiatrist appointment

Make an appointment with your / your child’s physician to talk about your concerns.

Early childhood intervention

If your child is under the age of 3, you can call 1-800-628-5115 to see if your child qualifies for Early Childhood Intervention services. Your child does not need to have a medical diagnosis or a doctor’s referral to receive these services. The initial evaluation is provided at no cost to the family.

School district evaluation

If your child is between the ages of 3 and 21, he/she may be eligible to receive services through your local school district. A doctor’s referral is not needed. The first step is to submit a written request for an evaluation to your local (zoned) school. Download a sample letter to request the evaluation, and learn more about services that may be available through the school district.

Speech and language therapy and occupational therapy

A Speech and Language Evaluation and/or an Occupational Therapy Evaluation may be appropriate for you/ your child. There are many providers who can perform these evaluations and services. Our Speech Therapist conducts speech and language evaluations as well as provides services.


Applied behavior analysis – community provider

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the recommended, evidence-based intervention for many children and some adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Depending on your child’s needs, ABA therapy may be a good option. For further information about ABA and to learn how to find an ABA provider,visit Autism Speaks Resource Guide and visit our Spectra Referral page.

Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) – community provider

If your child is under the age of 3, you can call 1-800-628-5115 to see if your child qualifies for Early Childhood Intervention. A medical referral and/or diagnosis is NOT needed to receive ECI services, and the initial evaluation is provided at no cost to families.  Please visit the Texas Project First, a project of the Texas Education Agency committed to providing accurate and consistent information to parents and families of students with disabilities.

Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities (PPCD) – community provider

If your child is between the ages of 3 and 5, you can request to have your child evaluated by your local school district for the Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities. If your child qualifies, this program is provided at no cost to the family.  Please see the Texas Education Agency (TEA) website for more details.



Medicaid waiver programs.  Place your child on the wait lists for the appropriate Medicaid waiver programs. The most common programs for children with an ASD diagnosis are the HCS and the CLASS waivers. Depending on your child’s needs, there may be others that he/she will qualify for. Don’t delay! These lists have extensive wait times, some as long as 10 to 12 years.

Home and Community Based Services (HCS) is a Medicaid waiver program that provides services and support to individuals with intellectual disability disorders so they can continue to live with family or independently.  Such services include residential, day habilitation, supported employment, respite and professional & technical supports.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  Based on your child’s level of functioning and your family’s income, your child may be eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). For more information about eligibility requirements and the process of applying for benefits, take a look at this brochure from the Social Security Administration about social security benefits for children with disabilities.

SSDI vs. SSI Disability.  Children with autism may be eligible for SSI disability benefits if their family’s income and assets aren’t above the SSI limits (financial eligibility). An adult with autism can apply for SSI or SSDI. However,  SSDI is available only to those with a work history from jobs that paid Social Security taxes (SSDI requirements). An “adult child” of a parent receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits, meaning a child over the age of 18 who has had autism before turning age 22, can get SSDI benefits on the earning record of the parent (disability benefits for adult children).

Texas Workforce Commission – Vocational Rehabilitation (TWC-VRS). TWS-VRS is a program operated by the Texas Workforce Commission in coordination with 28 local workforce development board partners – also known as Workforce Solutions Offices. TWS-VRS helps eligible Texans with disabilities prepare for, obtain, retain or advance in employment through education, training and support services, and other vocational rehabilitation assistance.


Evaluations – School and / or evaluation at SPECTRA

If your child is between the ages of 6 and 21, you can request to have your child evaluated by the school district to determine if he/she qualifies for special education services or other accommodations may be available through the school district.

Spectra evaluations are accepted by specialized private schools as well as most public school.  Our comprehensive evaluations also provide a list of school accommodations to be considered by 504 or ARD teams.

Spectra offers evaluations services for ages 18 months through late adulthood, including evaluations for college and work.

Speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and/or physical therapy – Speech therapy at SPECTRA

Your child’s pediatrician or evaluation specialist may have recommended speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, or physical therapy, depending on your child’s needs.  Our Specta speech therapist will be happy to help.

School Advocacy & Support – at SPECTRA

Our staff helps parents understand and interpret special education law. We review school developed education plans to help adequately address your child’s needs.​  As part of our School Advocacy services, we have expertise navigating Admissions, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) and 504 Meetings, in addition to testifying in Due Process Hearings.

Social skills intervention at SPECTRA

Individuals with ASD may have difficulties navigating the social world they live in. Depending on your child’s level of functioning, he/she may benefit from participating in social skills groups or classes in order to learn strategies and increase socialization opportunities. Take a look at this list of our social skills groups for all ages.

Parenting and support at SPECTRA

As a parent, you may be having difficulties adjusting to your child’s diagnosis or having difficulty managing his/her behavior. There are many parents who are going through a similar situation, and there are ways to gain support and assistance. Spectra offers parenting classes, behavior management , and support groups at different times of the year.


The National Autism Assoication (NAA) Meet the Police safety initiative is a free, downloadable toolkit for individuals with autism, parents or caregivers who are concerned about their loved one’s safety in the community. The purpose of this program is to help enhance the quality of interactions between individuals with autism and members of law enforcement.

The toolkit includes steps you can take to establish trusting relationships, reduce confusion and fear, and encourage opportunities for law enforcement agencies to get to know members of their community who may be at increased risk due to behaviors commonly associated with autism.

Click here for the downloadable toolkit.

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