Autism Awareness Month: Where to Find Help

26 Apr

As I know firsthand, an autism diagnosis typically terrifies most parents.  From daily realities to dreams of the future, moms, dads and siblings must process the news and begin adjusting their expectations.  My advice: give yourself time to grieve then reach out for help.  (I wasn’t good at either one of those; I’m convinced I would have fared better if I’d just let myself feel crummy after my now-15-year-old daughter, Paige, was diagnosed as a preschooler.  I shut down instead.)

Here is an abbreviated list of resources from Autism Speaks, the nationwide advocacy group that might help you or a friend coping with a new diagnosis.  For more, visit autismspeaks.org:

Autism Research Institute (ARI)
Founded in 1967 by Dr. Bernard Rimland, ARI conducts and fosters scientific research designed to improve the methods of diagnosing, treating, and preventing autism.  ARI also disseminates research findings to parents and others worldwide seeking help.  One of ARI’s primary projects, DAN! conferences share information and ideas toward defeating autism as quickly as possible.

Autism Society of America (ASA)
ASA exists to improve the lives of all affected by autism.  They do this by increasing public awareness about the day-to-day issues faced by people on the spectrum, advocating for appropriate services for individuals across the lifespan, and providing the latest information regarding treatment, education, research and advocacy.

Defeat Autism Now (DAN!)
A project of the Autism Research Institute, DAN! meetings bring together physicians and scientists from around the world to develop advanced methods of diagnosis and treatment.  DAN! Conferences and practitioner trainings are held twice a year.

Families for Early Autism Treatment (FEAT) or www.featnt.org/home.php.
FEAT is a non-profit organization of parents, educators, and other professionals dedicated to providing Education, Advocacy and Support for the North Texas autism community.

First Signs
First Signs is dedicated to the early identification and intervention of children with developmental delays and disorders.  The organization provides a wealth of resources ranging from healthy development to concerns about a child: from the screening and referral process, to treatments for autism spectrum disorders.  Their stated goal is to improve screening and referral practices and to lower the age at which young children are identified with autism and other developmental disorders.

Generation Rescue
Generation Rescue was formed in 2005 by parents of children who have been diagnosed with childhood neurological disorders including autism, ADHD and other learning disabilities.  Their belief is that most of these conditions are environmental illnesses that can be treated through biomedical intervention.

National Autism Association (NAA)
NAA’s mission is to educate and empower families affected by autism and other neurological disorders, while advocating on behalf of those who cannot fight for their own rights.  They aim to educate society that autism is not a lifelong incurable genetic disorder but one that is biomedically definable and treatable.  Their efforts include raising public and professional awareness of environmental toxins as causative factors in neurological damage that often results in an autism or related diagnosis.

Organization for Autism Research (OAR)
OAR was created in 2001 by parents and grandparents who shared a common belief that applied research would answer the questions that parents, families, individuals with autism, teachers and caregivers confront daily.  No other autism organization has this singular focus.

Talk About Curing Autism (TACA)
TACA provides information, resources, and support to families affected by autism.  For families who have just received the autism diagnosis, TACA aims to speed up the cycle time from the autism diagnosis to effective treatments.  TACA helps to strengthen the autism community by connecting families and the professionals who can help them.

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