Help Loved Ones Take Control Through Self-Determination

By Tina Stang

My name is Tina Stang and I am a parent of twin boys, Peter and Kyle. They are 10 years old now and were diagnosed with autism when they were two. They are my world and I adore them. When we started our autism journey, I was bewildered and overwhelmed by all the therapies and resources out there for parents. It seems as if you had to learn a whole new language of acronyms and be a lawyer, doctor, teacher and parent all at once. It was overwhelming but we took it one day at a time and my boys are thriving now.

Child and dad at Abilities Expo

New Regulations Allow Families More Autonomy in Choosing How Resources Get Spent

Peter and Kyle love nature and being active. They love to go hiking with their dad and love exploring different water sports like boogie boarding and paddle boarding. We are lucky to have the opportunity to go paddle boarding often and Peter and Kyle just light up with delight when they see a seal swim by. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to help them have a meaningful and happy life and a big part of that is owed to the help I received from my local Regional Center. The Regional Center provides therapies and other services mostly free of charge to children and adults who qualify.

When we started our autism journey, we applied to our local Regional Center which helped us learn about and access other local government resources. Regional Centers are a good starting point and a good resource for kids or adults who need extra resources. Regional Centers provide respite care so families can have much needed breaks. They also provide various therapies for the eligible child or adult. Starting in July 2021, another option at Regional Center called Self-Determination became available for everyone to choose from if they wanted to.

Family at Abilities Expo

Self-Determination is basically what it sounds like and we are more in charge of how Regional Center resources are spent on us and not limited to therapies and respite care. In Self-Determination, you are given a budget but you get to determine more freely how that budget will be used.

I chose Self-Determination for Peter and Kyle because I want them to have a happy and meaningful life and part of that is exploring and doing things they love. With Self-Determination, we can purchase things like a wetsuit with a built-in floatation which is an added measure of safety in the water. We can buy other water related equipment like a waterproof camera to capture all those great moments. We can also use Self-Determination to pay for social activities like summer camps.

Local Regional Centers and California NPOs Provide Guidance

We are in the process of entering Self-Determination and can't wait to see how it will change Peter and Kyle's life for the better. There is money set aside, $2500 per individual, by the state of California, to help with the transition into Self-Determination. You can use that money to hire people to help you navigate the process so don't worry that you have to go it alone and figure everything out by yourself. I am grateful and excited to have this wonderful opportunity to support my precious boys to live their dreams and hope they inspire others to live their dreams as well.

When I started on this autism journey with my boys Peter and Kyle, I did not know where to turn and was so grateful to learn about free, credible and important information from other parents who helped me along the way. I share the following resources with you in your journey and hope they help you as well!

  • Disability Rights California is a nonprofit organization that has many very detailed and free guides on all sorts of disability resources in CA.

Family at Abilities Expo

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