Christophore Wang was around 2.5 years old when he received an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis. His parents, Ying and Jim, felt overwhelmed. Where could they turn for help? How did they navigate the insurance portion? What preschool should he be at?
Their diagnosing psychologist provided the family with a list of services and places that could help, and Ying sat down to begin her research.
One of the places mentioned on the list was Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC).
“I saw the JumpStart program,” Ying shares.
An Online Learning Option
Although JumpStart, a program offering state-of-the-art information, support and training for parents of children up to age 6 who were recently diagnosed or are at risk for ASD had been offered in its traditional, entirely in-person format for awhile, the Wang family was one of the first to have the option to enroll in the newest option, JumpStart Online.
The online option provides flexibility for those families who are not able to make the in-person time commitment of the traditional JumpStart program by offering an online component and a once-a-week on-campus portion versus twice a week.
“It was perfect because we could just do what we needed to do online to learn about the weekly program materials,” she explains. “And then on Fridays, when we were off from work, we could bring Christophore to the facility to have him meet with a clinician, and to learn about ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) and other services.”
The mix of online and in-person training was perfect for the Wangs, who were juggling a busy work schedule, an older daughter, as well as trying to find help for Christophore and learn about his diagnosis.
Learning to Navigate Therapy and Insurance
The Wangs enrolled in the 4-week course and quickly learned how to navigate the state insurance, how to use it, how to obtain services Christophore would need and more. The Friday in-person classes taught the family how to provide Pivitol Response Treatment (PRT).
“The program was really helpful, because when you’re overwhelmed you don’t know where to look and [SARRC] takes it a week at a time and they almost guide you… this week we do insurance, the week we do ABA, etc. It worked for us,” Ying says. I just thought it was wonderful to be able to understand all of this at the beginning of our journey.”
Because of the program, Ying says they were able to obtain the services Christophore needs, from specific types of therapies to state insurance that would help pay for those therapies.
Finding A School Placement
The family was also so impressed with SARRC that they enrolled Christophore in SARRC’s Community School, a preschool offering intense, ABA therapy for those with ASD and high-quality early education for typically developing children.
“The PRT team worked with him during JumpStart and it was tremendous. That's how we went into the community school—because of [JumpStart]. We had been looking at priority preschool prior, but felt this was a better fit.
“[JumpStart] is a really great program for people who are just starting and don’t know where to begin."