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June 10, 2009 > Autism Resources for Parents

Autism Resources for Parents

By Thomas Gill, Ph.D.

In the wake of an autism diagnosis marriages may crumble, resources may be drained, and dreams may be denied. These scenarios are all too common as the rate of autism diagnoses has skyrocketed to 1 in 150 today, with a rate of more than 1 in a 100 for male children. Between the years of 1993 to 2003, the number of schoolchildren with an autism diagnosis has increased by 800%. The stresses involved raising a child with an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis is enough to test even the best and most resource rich marriage. Many families are stretched to the breaking point.

What we, as parents of autistic children need, are hope, resources, support, and advocacy. This article seeks to address some of those needs with information about Bay Area groups and internet resources.

Parents Helping Parents (PHP) is a parent-directed, community-based, non-profit organization located in San Jose ( PHP is focused on helping strengthen and support families of children with special needs, of whatever background or age. They accomplish this by providing information, training, and resources. PHP hosts a dynamic series of workshops, lectures, and support groups. You do not need to be a member to attend.

Hope Services (, serves about 3000 individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, and has service locations throughout the bay area. The services provided are diverse, ranging from early intervention with infants (Homestart) through employment training and placement, to work with seniors. Professional counseling, independent and assisted living, and mobility training are available.

San Andreas Regional Center (SARC - serves people with developmental disabilities as required by the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Act and funded by the State of California. SARC provides individually determined services such as intake and assessment, early start interventions, school age interventions, and services for adults. The goal of SARC is to assist its consumers in maximizing opportunities to live independent, productive, and satisfying lives as members of the community.

In terms of direct intervention, the Center for Autism & Related Disorders (CARD) ( provides applied behavioral analysis (ABA) interventions for children within the autistic spectrum, and has chapters in San Jose and Berkeley.

The Morgan Autism Center ( is a non-profit, special education school dedicated to teaching those within the autistic spectrum or with other developmental disabilities in a positive and loving environment, with the goal of promoting autism awareness and information, and helping their students live happy and productive lives in the community. The center hosts a lecture series and is located in San Jose.

Tucci Learning Systems Inc. ( is located in Watsonville and provides consulting and training services for educators and parents. The Competent Learner Model(c) (CLM) is used to provide a cooperative and consistent individualized program across all settings (e.g., school and home), and is directed at those within the autistic spectrum, other developmental disabilities, or those with other challenging behavioral difficulties.

For those who are interested in biomedical intervention and research, Defeat Autism Now (DAN)( provides information and guidance, as well as links to local biomedical practitioners. They maintain a very large database of parental ratings of the effectiveness of a large class of biomedical interventions, as well as stories of "recovery."

Last, but certainly not least, don't forget about two tremendous resources right here in our own Tri-Cities backyard. Friends of Children With Special Needs (FCSN) was founded in 1996 by Dr. Albert Wang and his wife, Anna Wang, who wanted to create a support network for families with special needs children. This nonprofit organization is dedicated to providing support, friendship, and life skills to developmentally disabled individuals and their families. FCSN has a membership of over 500 families, serving over 200 individuals with autism, Down Syndrome, and cerebral palsy. FCSN's goals include providing resources, information and support to families, and providing an educational, accepting, and fun environment for children with special needs, as well as promoting independence and tapping into hidden talents.

A nonprofit Milpitas organization, Jeena (, is a self-help resource for parents with a focus on the specific cultural needs of families from South and South-East Asia. Jeena seeks to provide support and services for parents of developmentally disabled children.

So, while the diagnosis of an autistic spectrum disorder can be traumatic, it is important for parents to realize that it does not have to be devastating. There is a wide range of services and community support out there, parent groups and internet resources, as well as a growing awareness that this epidemic needs to tap into the very best that we, as parents, professionals, and concerned citizens, have to offer.

Thomas Gill is a licensed psychologist in the Morgan Hill/ Gilroy area. He is the parent of a child with autism and is dedicated to providing professional assistance to other parents in finding resources, support, and hope in their efforts to maximize the opportunities for their children. He can be contacted at 408-843-7997.

Anne Chan is a career counselor and licensed psychotherapist in Union
City. She specializes in helping people find happiness in their
careers, lives, and relationships. She can be reached at 510-744-1781.
Her website is

(c) Thomas Gill, 2009.

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