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July 8, 2009 > Autism Resources for Parents Part II

Autism Resources for Parents Part II

By Thomas Gill, Ph.D.

Last month's article focused on bay area organizations involved in helping parents and children within the autistic spectrum. Today's article is directed at sharing some of the many internet resources available to parents, as well as few games and learning software that may help the child within the spectrum.

A great place for a parent or other interested party to start is (www.About.com/). Simply choose the autism topic from the scroll down menu on the right, and be connected to a veritable treasure trove of information on autism signs and diagnoses, life with autism, and treatments. The discussion of the various treatments options is a must read for those wishing to be informed of the wide range of interventions: expensive and non-expensive, behavioral and the relational, bio-medical and educational. The site also provides a non-biased discussion of controversial subjects such as vaccination and autism, provides tips for securing insurance coverage (also found at www.insurancehelpforautism.com/) and includes stories of hope and inspiration. All in all, it is a wonderfully accessible, balanced, and informative site.

Defeat Autism Now (DAN) has posted the results of over 26,000 parents who have responded to their questionnaires on three categories of intervention: drugs, biomedical/non-drug/supplements, and special diets (www.autism.com/treatable/form34qr.htm#biomedical). A summary displays percentages of "got worse," "no effect," and "got better" as well as the number of responses in each intervention and ratios comparing better to worse. DAN also presents parents stories of "recovery" (not cure): (www.autism.com/treatable/recovered/recovered.htm).

Another DAN offering is the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist (ATEC) Internet Scoring Program, a checklist which covers multiple domains (e.g., speech, health, social, behavior) and allows parents and other professionals to track progress and evaluate treatments for autism. (www.autism.com/ari/atec/atec-online.htm).

www.livestrong.com/article/14705-the-greenspan-floor-time-model/ is a good overview with suggestions for implementing Greenspan's DIR-floortime approach, a relational/developmental intervention which focuses on utilizing a child's play and lead for engagement. www.icdl.com/dirFloortime/research/index.shtml provides research support for the DIR-floortime model including full, web-accessible, articles.

A very popular intervention strategy for those with autism spectrum disorders is Applied Behavioral Analysis or ABA. This site - http://web.teachtown.com/ - provides a computer-based ABA program that may be synchronized among different members of the team, including parents, educators, and other professionals. A site with many free downloads (e.g, tracking sheets, flashcards, ABA materials) and resources for learning and implementing a home-based ABA program can be found at www.abaresources.com/index.htm.

The site www.autism-pdd.net/autism-resources.html provides state by state autism resources covering legal and financial assistance, tips for working with your child's teachers, message boards including one that supports nearly 20,000 topics relating to parent experiences, comments, questions and answers.

Last, but not least, an internet resource for the research minded. Go to Google and type in autism abstracts and then choose the drop down menu "more" to select Google Scholar. More than 26,000 research abstracts are presented for your perusal. You can narrow the date range (e.g., for obtaining more current research) using advanced search selections. Narrow the topics by adding a specific topic in your query (e.g., autism abstracts gluten free casein free diet) yields over 600 hits. Many of these abstracts also provide free access to the full article. Warning, this practice can be addicting and lead to informational overload.

There are so many books on autism and autism spectrum disorders that it would take several articles just to scratch the surface. If you desire written guides, tips, and inspiration, just go to Amazon.com and spend a few hours or perhaps a whole afternoon browsing; it may be well worth your time.

Finally, I have found video and computer games that have really challenged and delighted my son, games that are not specifically targeted for autism. Pac-Man and assorted games that are part of the plug-n-play series (you just plug them into your television) are captivating and allow practice in attention and integrating visual-motor coordination. They also provide an opportunity for social engagement and practicing turn-taking.

The Humongous Entertainment CD-ROM series includes Freddie Fish, Putt-Putt, and Pajama Sam, and are wonderful for cultivating logical thinking and exploration, as well as providing various educational and skill-based games. Living Books presents many titles including Dr. Seuss, and Arthur, and are engaging and interactive software programs that promote reading skills. Judging by my own son's interest and delight, these games really grab that resource which is often so hard to engage among those ASD children: internal motivation. They can therefore be used as developmental activities in their own right or as rewards or reinforcements for other tasks.



Thomas Gill is a licensed psychologist in Morgan Hill. The parent of an autistic child himself, he 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 reached 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 www.annechanconsulting.com

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