This section started out collecting autism information and then, as I did more research, turned into autism spectrum which may or may not be the proper term but refers to all of the autism-LIKE disorders out there. And of course the sensory integration stuff came about because a dear friend's child is struggling with it.
The number of people I know with autistic children has gotten larger and larger. Some of this information is from those people, and some is just from media.
This section is called All about Autism from the Autism Society of America's website. There was an interesting article a few years ago in Wired magazine about autism. The title was: The Geek Syndrome and the premise was: "Autism - and its milder cousin Asperger's syndrome - is surging among the children of Silicon Valley. Are math-and-tech genes to blame?" Another interesting website - with more autism links than I've ever seen - is the neurodiversity.com site. Some of the links look pretty "alternative" (e.g. the entire page of books on ... indigo children (?)), but it's a formidable piece of reference work. The Autism Key website has forums, and also lists the top states in the US for autism support. They are:
The First Signs Organization seems interesting. They're devoted to the early identification of children with developmental delays and disorders. The Handle Institute is involved in both diagnosing and treating people with neurodevelopmental disorders. I discovered it while doing a very heavy-duty web search for a friend with autistic twins about two and a half years ago and was blown away by the website. VERY wonderful story. Very interesting stuff. If your child has any type of neurodevelopmental problems, I would suggest that you take a look a them. Handle deals with Add/ADHD, Autism/PDD, dyslexia, learning disabilities, Tourette's Syndrome, and traumatic brain injuries. Their brief look at Handle is very interesting.
This section contains names and contact information for general support organizations for parents of autistic children
Bethesda, MD - local chapter in Belmont
Nancy is a writer and mother to Quinn. She has started a website called Face Autism.
Communities and Blogging
I do not have an austic child so I will have to go out and research the best short pointers to a huge resource: autism communities and autism bloggers (aka mommy bloggers whose children have autism.)
If you are just coming to terms with an autism diagnosis, if you want to hear from other parents of autistic children, I cannot stress the value of the autism blogs. It is a wonderful, warm, sometimes utterly goofy, sometimes terribly sad, always very supportive community of parents who are working their hearts out and loving their children.
Shannon Des Roches Rosa just became the BlogHer contributing editor on special needs. Here is her first post, introcing herself.
Outdated generic notes
This article, written by Dr. Mythily Chari in India, talks specifically about interventions and training that they did to teach children to get along in the world. She maintains (and I agree with her), that you really need to teach context and social hierarchy when you teach behavior (e.g. about hugging.) Interesting and very useful.
It is my experience (from years of infertility) that there are entire industries set up to prey upon people such as parents of autistic children, who are on never-ending quests to help their children. I saw this with infertility, when it finally cost $25,000 to be introduced to a prospective surrogate mother (with no promises), and I definitely see it in some of the more bogus and ridiculous products aimed at parents of ADHD, dyslexic, and autistic children (not to mention the other acronyms.)
However some products and services are good. When I find them I'll put them here:
Behavior Buddies behavioral tools for positive parenting. Nice. And if you want to, you can make these yourself!
Programs, Theories and Therapies
I am not qualified to talk about the various programs, theories, and therapies for autistic children, other than to tell you that there are about fifty billion. I will try to find a "guest mom" (or several ) who can talk about this.
Autism is NOT caused by:
- Cold mothers or poor parenting
A friend of mine who is smart as a whip inhaled every autism book out there, tried on for size and discarded things left and right, and finally has been using RDI on her child, with great success. RDI stands for Relationship Development Intervention and is an innovative program for autistic children developed by Steven Gutstein, who has written many publications on the subject of autism, Asperger's, the relationship puzzle, activities, etc. My friend says that RDI has done wonders for her child. See also the ADHD page for an overview of things to check and bases to cover.
Standard Autism Treatment
Standard Autism treatment is available, and from a very young age. I will have to find out how you do this, but I know of people who have three years olds whose treatment and support is paid for by (I believe) the school district. Make sure that you research treatment payment alternatives. Medicine and treatment is outrageously expensive Get Help.
Standard Treatment includes:
- Behavior modification (ABA)
- special teachers, and so forth.
Again, please forgive me here. I do not have an autistic child and have not been through this myself, although I have many friends who have been. I will work to give pointers to the correct places.
Remember: every school district and every area has different and different quality resources for you and your child. Do your homework. Be aware of your rights, and keep talking with other parents of autistic children so that you know what resources are available, what works for them, and so forth.
Nonstandard Autism Treatment: DAN Doctors
Michelle Garcia Winner is the queen of social skills classes for Autistic and Aspie (Aspberger's) children. She is mentioned in the Social Skills page.
Local (San Francisco area) programs
Palo Alto (650) 494-0550
Various services for infants, children and adults who are developmentally disabled.
Legislation, insurance, and funding
This depends totally on your state, unfortunately.
A friend of mine recommends DSM-4, which stands for THE definitive research book on diagnostic criteria. She said that you've got to read it, get on top of it, especially if you're trying to track down what's happening with your kid.
Here are some extremely good link pages:
Links, especially local to Northern California, from Achievekids. Room5 is a classroom web page dedicated to helping parents and teachers of students with autistic spectrum disorders. The Eide blog is fascinating - it's all about neurolearning. This is the Autism archive page for the Eide blog, which summarizes all mention of autism and related topics.
Resources for caregivers
Just found a site named empowering caregivers. Has some good books and references for people who are taking care of others.