Autism is an increasingly common condition in children today: as many as one in 91 children are diagnosed with autism, and this number doesn’t include spectrum disorders like Asperger’s, and pervasive developmental disorders (PDD). Autism is undetectable until a child is between 18 months and three years of age. Parents generally identify the child’s symptoms before their pediatricians, as they are generally manifested in behavior and development, and hard to identify on a strictly physical basis. Education is crucial to a parent of an autistic child, and the following sites feature information about the disorder, as well as parenting advice, links to teaching facilities, advocacy events, and forums for support. Here are the best choices for the websites for parents and educators on Autism information, Autism Support and Autism Resources.
Autism Speaks may be the best-known source of autism awareness, thanks in part to the omnipresent puzzle piece logo. This organization is the largest of its type, and contributes mightily to research regarding the causes of autism, as well as the possibility of prevention and treatment. Autism Speaks is also fiercely devoted to raising awareness of autism’s many spectrum disorders, and is an advocate of autistic individuals and their families. This is a great site, especially for families of newly diagnosed children. It is easy to navigate and you will quickly find links to fund raising events, family services, and the latest developments in medical research. What may be most helpful to newly diagnosed families are the tool kits, specifically the 100 Day Kit, which is filled with helpful information to get families through the first one hundred days following a child’s diagnosis with autism, Asperger’s, or high functioning autism. This kit will assist families in understanding how to communicate with the child, and seeing the disorder as only one part of the child, rather than his or her defining characteristic.
The Autism Society is a grassroots organization founded in the 1960s by two doctors and several parents of children with autism. At a time when there was little known about the disorder, the Autism Society worked to raise awareness and a greater understanding of the needs of individuals with autism and related conditions. The site is in English and Spanish, and there are several narratives written by adults and children with autism who have overcome many of the obstacles often associated with autism. There is information about autism and related conditions, as well as advice for families and individuals regarding services, treatment, and understanding autism as the child moves into adolescence and adulthood. You can subscribe to the society’s blog and its quarterly publication, and learn about resources in your area. If you are near San Diego, or you like to travel, you might consider attending the National Conference and Exposition: the 43rd thus far.
The Autism Research Institute works tirelessly to undo the common misconceptions about autism. In annual conferences, writers, parents, doctors, and individuals with autism and the spectrum disorders present papers that do just that. One topic up for discussion this year is the discovery that autism is far more than a neurological condition. There is a wealth of information on the ARI page, ranging from support for new parents, like finding a doctor and dietary advice, to preparing adults with ASD for entering the workforce. The site offers translations to ten different languages. The links section will take you to podcasts, videos, literature, and advocacy groups, while the information within the page will give you an incredibly thorough rundown of common medications and side effects, how to address some of the stumbling blocks to communication, and the latest medical developments. There is an abundance of support for siblings of autistic individuals, who may often be overlooked as the main focus of attention goes to the person with ASD, and then to the parents.
4. Autism Today
Autism Today is a page intended to simplify the deluge of information one will encounter when beginning research on autism. With over 2,500 pages of content, the site’s archives are surprisingly easy to navigate. Autism Today is more than just articles, though: there are streaming Tele-Classes, a gallery of artwork by individuals with ASD, and tons of resources. While the site is a bit blocky in spots, the links all work, and you won’t be thrown off the site as you click around. To get the full benefits of the site, you will have to join, which is free. Do take the time to explore some of the profiles on the “Experts” page. There are doctors and researchers who share there experiences with ASD, but there are also truly inspiring bios of individuals who have become singers, therapists, computer scientists, and dean’s list college students, despite bleak diagnoses in childhood.
The National Autism Association gives a great deal of emphasis to both the treatment of autism, and to addressing the way in which parents, doctors, and educators approach the disorder. Much of the literature on this site points to evidence of the successful treatment of autism through nutritional supplements and diet, as well as various therapies. Anyone interested in exploring these treatments can search under the “About Autism” heading to read more about music therapy, Canine Companions, and other unconventional approaches. Unfortunately the site doesn’t link to a directory for these services, so consider it a great starting point for treatment and continue your research elsewhere. The home page does address some of the major concerns like wandering off, bullying, and depression.
Talk About Curing Autism, or TACA, began in 2000 when Lisa Ackerman and her family decided to start a family support group after her son’s diagnosis left her reeling. As little as ten years ago, doctors were still recommending institutionalization for autistic individuals; Ackerman refused to accept that as an option. Because of this, her son is now in a regular 7th grade class with an aide, and he is responsive and has lots of friends. The Ackerman family is on a mission to help other families create success stories of their own, and this site is filled with family resources, advice for newly diagnosed families, autism facts and statistics, and more. There are TACA chapters throughout the country and you can find one near you on the interactive map. If you are curious to know what goes on at these meetings, you can check out videos of previous ones. TACA takes full advantage of social media, and is available in just about any language you like. This is a good-looking, easy to navigate site that might just take over the world. Any question you might have regarding autism can be answered quickly and efficiently here.
This website is managed by parents of children with autism. It offers some very useful insights on different autism teaching methods. The site also provides a forum where parents can go to share their stories, give updates on their children’s progress and share recipes that may be useful for other children with ASD.
Parents of children with special needs know how hard it can be to plan a vacation that is right for their children. This website is useful at helping parents of children with autism map out their getaways, whether it is a cruise or just a camping trip at the nearest state/provincial park.
About Alex Noudelman
Alex Noudelman is a digital marketing expert at iRISEmedia. He received his Honors B.A. from York University and a Masters in Adolescent Education from D’Youville College.