Review by: Angela Wai: Special Educator and Hunter College Graduate Student
As someone that works with young children and their families, I believe First Signs, www.firstsigns.org, is an invaluable website. First Signs is a website that is used for parents and professionals to find out more information about autism. The website promotes early detection of autism and provides information on how to navigate the system in regards to services and insurance plans. The videos are extremely useful in showing the subtle behaviors that are red flags. There are side by side videos of typical and red flag behaviors. Viewers can see the difference in how a child responds if they are on the spectrum or if they are developing typically. Even parents that do not understand English can compare their child’s behavior to those that are presented in the video gallery. There are videos of parents with children with autism that share their experience. This website also exposes viewers to the different types of therapies that are out there for children with autism.
This is a website that provides information for parents to look into in regards to autism though it is not 100% user friendly. The menu links should be changed so that it is a different format. It took me a few clicks before I was able to find the information that I was looking for. The only ad that is found on the website is promoting the books and materials that are sold through the site. I was ecstatic to find there are limited amount of advertising in this site, however, it is on the unappealing side that they promote readers to purchase their materials instead of putting it on their website for free such as milestones. There are many milestones that are readily available for free on the internet but they choose to share theirs for a price.
Overall, this site’s greatest asset is the video library. This is something that I will share with my colleagues and families that I work with in order to help them learn more about autism. Watching some of these videos, I look back and see warning signs of children that I have previously worked with that was diagnosed as being on the spectrum. Through the videos, I learned more about the importance of milestones.
Great review Angela. As a special education teacher and camp director for children with special needs, I agree with Angela and benefit from using this website as a teaching tool for myself and for the staff that I work with. I have used this website, specifically the ASD Video Glossary, during camp orientations with my staff to show them what certain behaviors children with Autism might exhibit. Before watching the videos we discuss what we know about Autism, and then during the segments I am able to point out specific behaviors that I know will be seen with our campers. The videos in the Communication, Repetitive Behaviors and Restricted Interests, and Regulatory and Sensory Systems links are ones I find most useful when educating others who may have limited or no experience in working with children who have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Once my staff knows what certain behaviors look like we are then able to have a productive discussion of what the behaviors will look like at camp and how they will best be able to support their campers in that setting. The same can also be done with staff in a classroom setting. This is a website I will continue to use and recommend to anyone wanting to learn more about Autism and it’s first signs.
Everyone loves it when folks get together and share thoughts.
Great website, stick with it!