Autism websites tried and tested

If you put in the search word ‘Autism’ or ‘Autism Spectrum Disorders’ depending upon the search engine you use, anything between 14 to three million hits will appear. If you are the parent of newly diagnosed child with Autism it is an overwhelming task to sieve through this information. What criteria can you use to help you decide whether or not the sources are accurate, authentic and valid? Some websites can be extremely useful and include both valid and relevant information while others can be misleading leading to even more confusion. When searching here are some considerations or questions which can help you in your search:
1. Who has authored the site? Parents? Clinicians? An organization?
2. Is it a .org, .gov or .com?
3. How recent is the information and how often is it updated?
4. Is there a charge for using the site?
5. Who advertises on this site?
6. Are the recommendations anecdotal or based on evidence based practice and research?

The comments that follow are from teachers and clinicians who have reviewed different ASD websites.

30 Comments

  • Geraldine says:

    Autism-help.org and specialed.us/autism
    The first of the two sites listed above is very informative and sensitive to parents of a child exhibiting echolalia. The site opens with an acknowledgment of differences in people with autism but quickly points out the similarities: echolalia is a means of communication, and, quite normal for all children up to ~30 months of age. The mere existence of echolalia is identified as a positive sign in persons with autism and an important prognostic indicator of future language development (Lovaas, 1981). However, regardless of the utility of echolalia, it is identified as an interference with social interaction and learning.
    The site offers several evidence-based interventions that can be initiated and practiced by a parent, albeit a parent with patience and persistence. Examples of such strategies include: teaching an “I don’t know” response to questions where the answer is not known rather than have the child echo the question and using a starter sentence such as, “I want some _____” and let the other person fill in the blank. These and other examples provided are presented in authentic, naturalistic settings. I found the site helpful and encouraging (not preach-y) and believe the information to be straight forward and extremely useful.
    The information is clearly marked as general education stating that no guarantees can be made regarding the accuracy of the information and it should not be used as a basis for any medical, behavioral or cognitive interventions. As always, consult experienced qualified health professionals before commencing interventions.I was unable to discern the academic qualifications of the site’s author despite additional searches other than a connection to the Judevine Center for Autism.

    The second of the sites, specialed.us/autism, was funded by a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction -.us- and written by an Autism Consultant, Susan Stokes, whose qualifications I was unable to determine directly from the site.
    This site is somewhat parent friendly as it provides a clear definition of echolalia and it’s characteristics with an emphasis on the child’s current communication abilities/needs. Additionally, this paper provides some insight into how the child with autism processes information: chunking information without processing the individual words. This brain based processing information is very helpful to parents of a child with autism.
    The paper is presented in two parts: Questions to determine the child’s current abilities and Development of an intervention program based upon the communication needs of the child with autism. It is written in a somewhat academic style (bullet form with examples following each echolalia function) but, all in all, helpful although not age specific enough for a parent whose child is just exhibiting echolalia.
    Despite it’s lack of emotion stroking, the site has links to other sites including Special Education Services Autism: Interventions and Strategies for Success and Structured Teaching: Strategies for Supporting Students with Autism written by the same author and sponsored by the same group.

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  • Lauren Sekosky says:

    Operation Autism: A Resource Guide for Military Families
    http://www.operationautismonline.org/

    Operation Autism directly supports U.S. military families. The presentation of information on the website is simple and well designed. The main page serves as an introduction to Autism, and provides a multitude of information, resources, services, and support for families touched by Autism and other ASDs. The site appears to be updated frequently, with the last update occurring in March 2010. The site offers basic information on Autism and other ASDs, titled Autism 101. One of the exceptional components of the site is the ‘Life Journey through Autism” series that they offer for parents including research, assessment, and transitioning into adulthood. While this website focuses on military families touched by Autism, it can serve as a great resource for all parents. The site offers information and resources for parents of a child whom was just diagnosed, as well as parents of child whom has been diagnosed for some time. The site has a Search for Resources section which provides external links to a wide array of sites including Federal/Military links, as well as links to the National Autism Center and the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies. While the website appears to be a great resource for parents, the site does not offer resources for educators or other professionals. Overall, while Operation Autism is geared towards military families, it provides useful information that can be very beneficial for non-military families as well.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/index.html

    The layout of this site is simple and has options such as adjustable text size and accessing the information audibly. All pages are also available in Spanish. The CDC site incorporates written information, videos and other data including charts in a way that flows well and all information is up to date, the site was last updated June 24, 2010. Each section has links where someone can obtain additional information on a given topic, which may be a link to another area within the CDC site or an external link to sites such as Autism Speaks or Autism Society of America. This website not only provides information, but free materials are available for parents, educators, and clinicians, that can either be ordered through the website or accessed instantly and printed through Adobe.
    While the website appears to be a great resource for parents, teachers, clinicians, etc, for those that may be less tech savvy this website can be a little confusing. The presentation of the information two ways may lead someone to believe they are reading different information when some of it is just accessed in a different way, for example, signs and symptoms can be accessed both through “Facts” on the first menu and also through “Information for ‘families’” on the second. In addition, the large number of links can be a little overwhelming if a person is unsure exactly what information they are looking for, including links that have nothing to do with ASDs but deal with other health information. Overall, the CDC website provides useful information that can be very beneficial for families, parents, caregivers, educators, and clinicians.

  • Jennifer Lanzallotto says:

    During my internet search in an effort to find out more information on Autism Spectrum Disorders, I came across many sites, many of which I chose to disregard as sources of information and other in which I took a great liking to and felt provided valid and appropriate information. One of the websites that I explored was MyChildWithoutLimits.org. This website provided a great deal of information about autism spectrum disorders in lay terms, making it easy to read and understand for individuals whom do not have a professional background in this field. I liked that it presented readers with general background knowledge of the disorder and then continued to supply detailed information on specific aspects, types, diagnosis, treatment, common associated health problems, co morbidity etc. One of the most unique aspects of the website that I found to be extremely educational and served as an informative means of comparison to the typically developing child was the Developmental Milestones chart. I think that this chart painted a clear picture of what skills should be developed by a certain age and allowed parents to use it as a checklist to see if their child is developing accordingly or if they should monitor their child. This website also provided parents with plans of action, community support and government funding that is legally available to their children. Along with all of this valid information, the website also supplied parents with links for parental and community support, resources and therapies that can be accessed. I found this to be an extremely informative and reliable source for information to parents with autism that opens many doors to other resources that they can readily access. I also feel that this website also gave parents a personal insight into the world of autism, as well as a professional one. It allows parents to see that there are other families whom share in their struggle and can use one another for emotional support. There was nothing in particular that I could identify as a negative addition.
    The website http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/autism-spectrum-disorders provided detailed information and definitions of each of the five disorders on the spectrum that helped differentiate the characteristics from one another. The primary symptoms were not only stated, but thoroughly explained, as well. One of the most beneficial factors of this description was the specific examples provided; parents can use these to refer to when observing their own children. I also thought that the available exams and tests, places to get help and related information was very useful for parents. A primary reason why I believed that this website was reliable was because of the references provided; this ensured that the information stated was relevant to evidence based practice and valid research. One of the few downfalls of this website was the lack of personal insight into the disorder which makes it to difficult for families to personalize the information. Another aspect that may be detrimental to a worried parent was the numerous links to diets and recovery stories. These links gave parents access to claims and false hopes that may make them more worrisome and result in them trying out treatments that may not be valid or evidenced-based. If their own children do not benefit from their attempts at these claims, parents may begin to lose hope on other therapies that are proven to work and this may result in a downhill spiral of emotions and hope for a better life and future for their child with autism. I would use this website in the future solely for the purpose of searching for definitive explanations of autism.

  • VN says:

    Web Site: http://www.wrongplanet.net

    What I like about this site is that it is by a person with Asperger Syndrome for other people with Asperger Syndrome, autism, PDD and ADHD. The purpose of the web site is to create a community for individuals with autistic spectrum disorders or ADHD. I think that a parent would appreciate this site, it is a refreshing change from all the medical and technical web sites about autism. When a diagnosis of autism is made, it can feel isolating and stigmatizing. This site opens the door to an entire community of people with autism, which reduces those feelings of isolation and stigmatization.

    What I don’t like about the site is that it can’t be considered a reliable source for treatment, diagnosis or facts about autism. As long as the visitor understands this, it is a good site for parents and older children (teens, young adults) with autism.

    The site provides useful links to books, videos, and resources. However, the main resource is other people with autism, and the opportunity to share experiences, ask questions or just plain talk about what is on their mind.

    http://www.aspergersyndrome.org/

    This site is targeted to individuals with autism, families and medical professionals. It has a wealth of information, including links to educational resources, articles, and support groups. One of the best things about this site is the broad range of forums that one can participate in, including forums for preschool, elementary school and social skills. I also like that Tony Attwood has endorsed the site and participates in the forums. It gives the site good credibility.

    Some negative aspects about this site are that you must become a member ($4.95/month) to access forums and some other site features, and there are banner ads for commercial products and other (unrelated and dubious) sites that could be mistaken for being part of the main site.

    The site is user friendly, easy to navigate and is updated frequently. The resources would be very useful to parents and were easily accessible.

  • There are many online resources for families with children on the autistic spectrum to access for information about the disorder. The Autism Society of America’s (ASA, http://www.autism-society.org/site/PageServer?pagename=homepage) website is designed in a logical way which is easy for family members to navigate. In addition, the website is available in Spanish for Spanish-speaking users. The site provides a plethora of information about Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and is written in layman’s terms. Users of the site have the ability to get involved with Autism and learn about the disorder. The site provides the perspective of a family member, individual on the spectrum, and a professional in regards to Autism. In addition, the website provides many links to different resources about Autism including journals and different programs for families to utilize to help manage the disorder. Although the website provides many journal links, many of the links are not accessible. In addition, the statistics and information about Autism have not been updated since January 2009 and should be updated more frequently since the statistics and research about Autism is constantly expanding and evolving.
    Another website available is from the Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support (OASIS, http://www.oasisautism.org/) corporation. This website is designed for family members, individuals on the spectrum and medical professionals who are affected by ASD. The site provides information about the disorder including a running blog of users about their experiences with Autism. Although there is a lot of information about the disorder, this website is less user friendly and organized than ASA. Both websites provide a wealth of information about ASD and are .org’s which increases their reliability.

  • TN says:

    I liked how the information on the symptoms of autism was taken from the National Institute of Mental Health. I would consider this information reputable since it is a regulated source (it is a .gov). This site also quotes information from the Center for Disease Control, another regulated source. I also liked how the information was easy to read and understand. I didn’t like how some information from the section on what causes autism stated “piecemeal evidence” and “emerging studies”. I felt that some of these statements were not concrete and were unfounded evidence and may be alarming to some parents who are looking for information.
    The presentation of the website was user friendly. It was easy to navigate through the website and get to the information that I wanted to see.
    The targeted audience was parents of children with autism and for any individual who wanted to educate themselves on the area of autism. There were sections that included upcoming events and blogs and facebook pages for people to get information and ask questions.
    There were resources available and they were accessible. There was an interactive quiz that gave you an explanation after each question was answered. I found it informative and easy to use. There also were related articles for parents and teachers as well as a section on rights for your child that I found very informative.

  • TN says:

    I liked how the information that was presented was easy to read and understand. Although there were many facts and research stated, it wasn’t overwhelming and over complicated. I thought it was interesting that there was an ARI diagnostic checklist that was available in 17 different languages. You can download this checklist and after you complete it, mail it in for a score and interpretation. There was no fee for this service. I was a little apprehensive about this checklist and how accurate the data is. I guess you have to assume that the person taking the checklist was honest and gave correct information. I also questioned who is the “staff” that analyzes this data and gives you feedback.
    The website was user friendly and it was easy to navigate through. The sections were clearly labeled and it was easy to get to the information that you wanted.
    I liked how the targeted audience was clearly stated on the tabs on this site. There was a tab for families, educators, providers, and individuals with ASD. The information on each tab was informative and geared towards that particular audience.
    There were many resources available and they were all accessible. There were frequently asked questions and myths about autism and that was very helpful. There was also a section for parents called, “what do I do”. This section outlined steps that parents can take if their child has autism. It was very clearly stated and supportive. I also found the section on “An Inside View of Autism”, written by Temple Grandin eye opening and interesting to hear it in the point of view from someone with autism rather than an outsider looking in.

  • Lauren Rodriguez says:

    The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s (www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/asd.cfm) main page offers important and significant information about Autism; breaking it down into key sections that are critical to a parents’ understanding of the disorder. Three of the main areas of interest for a parent when inquiring about the disorder are; firstly what is the disorder (definition), the symptoms, and best available treatment. This website provides these three areas in a conclusive and concise manner. It offers specific information that is easy to understand and user friendly; it is not loaded with difficult terminology that parents may have trouble identifying with. My favorite part of the website is the link included in the Symptoms section of the page. If you click into red flags for autism, it brings you to a nine page pamphlet detailing autism research conducted by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. This research is very thorough as it informs the parent of the warning signs of autism as well as providing the number of people that have autism. I also like that they list their references at the end of the pamphlet in order to ensure reliability and validity. One of my dislikes regarding this particular website was the visual format of the page. I thought there could have been photographs, charts, and graphs that might catch my eye and sustain my attention and keep my interest while I surf the site. I found after reading the main points on the first page, I wanted to quickly begin a new search in another website. Some people prefer visuals when learning (visual learners) about a particular topic and I think this site could have included more.
    The second website I analyzed was organized by Autism Speaks (www.autismspeaks.org/whatisit/index.php) and delivered a more visually appealing site. My favorite aspect of the page was the pictures of children that you can click on to hear a little excerpt of their story dealing with autism. This grabbed my attention and prompted me to continue searching the site. The site also provided the three main areas of interest for a parent acquiring information about the disorder including; definition, diagnosis, and treatment. However, they also included a 100 day Kit under the Diagnosis section which was created for newly diagnosed families to make the best possible use of the 100 days following their child’s diagnosis of autism. I think is a great component of the website for parents who have just been informed their child has autism and are looking for assistance and guidance. Another valuable asset of the website is the Resources section. Parents are able to click on a particular state on a map to find all of the available resources in that region ranging from services specializing in early intervention to adults 22 and older. There is also a resource library that includes blogs, books and catalogs on autism, as well as developmental tools and toys that can offer parents even more additional help. There was not much I did not like about this website. I think it was very thorough in the information it provided; there were many research-based facts on autism as well as many opportunities for parents to learn alternative ways to help and cope with the diagnosis of autism in their family.

  • Nate Dallas says:

    Autism Society of America
    http://www.autism-society.org/
    The website was very informative as it categorizes the effects of autism through three different perspectives, the family member, a person with Autism, and professionals working with people with Autism and their families. This makes the website very easy to navigate. Although the website gives you a great perspective of what everyday life around Autism can be, it lacks teacher resources such as tools that could be used in the classroom, which could not be found on the site. It would have been nice to see links to articles and other items for teachers. I believe the website is geared towards anyone who is affected by Autism. There is information for parents, professionals, and even individuals who have ASD. Their slogan even says “Improving the lives of all affected by Autism. The website does a good job of giving you a lot of ASD organizations for each state. However, it does not have many printable or downloadable resources.

    National Autism Association
    http://www.nationalautismassociation.org/
    I really liked how the website clearly identifies who they are and what their mission is, which is to “Reach all who are affected by Autism, by providing real help and response to the urgent needs of the Autistic community.” The one thing that is disappointing about the website is how cluttered it is. There are videos, advertisements, and pictures that are unnecessary. If I am a parent of a child with Autism I would find the website very overwhelming and not know where to begin my search. This makes the website difficult to navigate. The website is geared toward anyone affected by ASD. However after looking at articles on the site I believe there is an underlying bias toward parents. For example, there is a lot of information regarding vaccines containing mercury and how parents are fighting for the rights of their vaccine-injured children. The website does have an extensive online store where you can purchase videos, National Autism Association products, and teacher resources such as weighted blankets.

  • The Geneva Centre for Autism website is targeted specifically towards parents, educators, health care professionals, researchers, and for those who are interested in donating to the cause. It’s useful because they break down the links specifically for each target audience using user friendly terminology. In regards to web design and ability to navigate, you are able to view what the next link on the drop down menu is without having to click on it directly. This saves time and allows for quick access or immediate feedback. Embedded in each link encompasses various essential information for all audiences.
    After reviewing Geneva centre website, I felt it was well organized and visually appealing for all ages and persons with various educational levels. It was a very dynamic website with a lot of changing pictures and it allowed for visual challenged users to access larger font sizes which many websites don’t have. Another appealing characteristic on this websites home page was its bold headlines of current information and announcements related to Geneva. This can give parents quick and relevant information when time is limited.
    Although there is an abundance of information and it is well organized, there is a lot of non-essential information regarding the Centre, its mission, etc. There is also no clear cut link to allow for translation of information into other languages (limited French was found after several minutes of searching specifically for second language access). I found that this to be a negative aspect of the website.
    One very useful area for parents and health care providers was the alphabetized glossary of related resources. This glossary included recommended books/video, useful websites, student information and publications. However, as mentioned above, there is abundance on non-essential information. Thus, if one doesn’t know exactly what they are searching for it can present itself as overwhelming.

  • The Association of positive behavior support website is targeted specifically for professionals (teachers, researchers, trainers, administration, family members, etc.) who already have basic knowledge on the diagnosis of autism. Professionals who are interested in joining an organization with a specific treatment approach in mind (Association of positive behavior support- APBS).
    I favored this website’s informative review of APBS, its mission, vision, approach and how it works. It’s an interesting approach which combines ABA, biomedical science with person-centered values and systems change to increase quality of life and decrease problem behaviors. However, a large amount of this information is not parent friendly and may be confusing. Another appealing characteristic was the website’s search bar. The use of this feature is time saving and efficient. A person is able to type specific key words into the search and instantaneously derive various sites, article and information.
    Adversely, this website was not geared for parents or persons who are looking for basic information and knowledge regarding autism. This organization requires annual dues in order access more detailed information on their approach. Because I am not a member I am unable to view additional resources through this website.
    In terms of web design and navigation, this website was very simplistic. Although it is very organized however, there is a lack of detail and visually stimulating colors or pictures. Due to these characteristics, it may not immediately attract viewers to this site unless they are specifically in need of information regarding APBS. In addition, there were limited resources available to research beyond APBS. This sight was narrowed specifically for APBS.

  • Richard Divis says:

    Website Reviewed:

    Autism Speaks is dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, to funding research into the causes, prevention and treatments for autism, …
    http://www.autismspeaks.org/ – Cached – Similar

    Review for Autism Speaks:

    I used Google as my search engine in order to reach the home page of Autism Speaks. Before entering the site, Autism Speaks provided a plethora of viewing options. The options that I found most useful are the following: Learn the Signs, Contact Us, Resources, Community, Diagnosis, and What Is Autism. I began my exploration of this site by beginning at the home page. The site was extremely easy to navigate. Thankfully, there were absolutely no pop-ups and tabs to various sections of the sites were bright red and allowed for simple and quick navigation. I was very excited about one specific section entitled “video glossary” as visual explanations can often reinforce textual information and increase knowledge gained. Yet, once I entered the section of the website, I was immediately informed about DVD purchases. Also, in order to view a video or any visual aid, the viewer must provide an e-mail and a password as well as other personal information. As a teacher, this is disheartening because I have met numerous parents and grandparents that do not have an e-mail or a computer. It pains me to think of a grandmother venturing to a library to utilize the necessary technology to reach the aforementioned website and to be met with a screen that is asking for an e-mail in order to view videos that might serve as the catalyst for empowering change.
    The target audience for this website is parents and any other individual that desires to become informed about children with Autism. I cannot say that the website is geared towards teachers and other professionals due to the lack of data driven information and statistical information.
    The website provides a plethora of resources that are extremely accessible. The resources are divided into sections so that one can have a specific topic and find information that matches their inquiry. Most importantly, all websites referenced can be easily reached by simply clicking on the title of the referenced website.

    Website Reviewed:
    The primary mission of ASAF is to raise and allocate funds to address the many unanswered questions about autism. ASAF sponsors work as diverse as the …
    http://www.autism-society.org

    Review for Autism Society of America:

    As I entered the Autism Society of America website, I was enthused to see three sections prominently displayed that dealt with the most important aspects of autism. These three sections are entitled: “I’m a Family Member- Read My Story”, “I’m On the Spectrum- Read My Story”, and “I’m a Professional”. This website is able to intricately weave a web of support that includes advice from family members, individuals with autism, and Professionals.
    I could not find any faults with this website as I was thoroughly impressed with its visual layout and the amount of textual references that were current and informative. All of the information is displayed in a user- friendly manner whereby the enormity of information does not become overwhelming.
    The presentation of the information on the website is clear and concise. More importantly, pertinent information regarding resources for children with autism is presented on a national level and a state level. By doing so, viewers are able to access support and statistical data on a macro and micro level.

  • In researching websites of Asperger’s, I came across http://www.aspergerssyndrome.org. The article by a doctor giving a profile of abilities was surprisingly reader-friendly. He stated he had extensive cllinical experience and then gave a personalized description. The article was short but helpful in giving a parent or student some comparisons or traits to look at. We know there are no definite or rigid qualifications for this disorder so this doctor’s report seemed to be another good view to look at. Obviously, other websites should be checked for more information. It should also be noted, though, that this is dated 2005 so some data would be outdated.

  • The Geneva Centre for Autism had a massive amount of information: numerous links, research data, funding resources just to name a few. Each topic should be beneficial to a parent or student. I was very impressed with the links provided for anyone connected to ASD. Education is such a key component in working with this disorder and these links are worthwhile. This website also offered a sense of community in educating and training families which is so helpful in dealing with their feelings of isolation.
    The student information listed was also helpful in giving definitions, statistics, volunteer information, and training opportunites. This is definitely a very worthwhile website since it leads to lots of other modes of information.

  • Lisa Cordone says:

    Autism can pull a family apart, finding a resource to help them is extremely important. Families are turning to the Internet in order to find information about autism.
    Google, Yahoo and other search engines have millions of hits, so how does a family find a reputable websites? There is know one answer to this question. As I began my researching focusing on the many families dealing with autism I was overwhelmed and curious. My research lead me to a website titled “ Autism family café
    http://www.child-autism-parent-cafe.com/stress-on-families.html

    This website has a great deal of information. Some of the information is a family’s personal experience; therefore families have to be cautious. Some of the information is researched. This website is well-organized, easy to read and understandable, there are also links to other websites, but it takes time to read and look through all of the information.
    The next website I chose is the “Autism speaks” this website is a well know site and is commercialized. The “Autism speaks” website is a good start, the website is updated regularly and provides research as well as links to other site about autism. The Internet has loads of information about autism we need to be careful and make sure we research the information before utilizing it.
    http://www.autismspeaks.org/press/index.php

  • The article titled “Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew” by Ellen Nothbohm provides an explanation of the characteristics of autism through a “child’s perspective.” This article is generally geared towards parents and future parents. This article is written in the first person as a child with autism. I believe that by writing the article in such format becomes more personalized for any parent to understand what their child with autism may be feeling or thinking. The article also clarifies that although autism is a very complex disability many children who have autism are in no way alike. No two children with autism display the same symptoms and/or behaviors. There are also many interesting facts in the article that may help a parent or future parent identify signs and symptoms of autism. The article explains many signs that can be misread by parents. One of the important facts stated in the article is children with autism struggle with communication. The website states that a child with autism is generalized as “acting out,” however, this mechanism is used to help the child express how he/she is feeling in their environment. The article explains also that some children with autism do not have the vocabulary to express how they are feeling in their current environment therefore, they result in expressing it behaviorally. This characteristic is often times a misconception that some parents whose children have autism commonly make. Sometimes parents do not know why this may happen without having further consultations or through thorough research. As a warning, while the article is very informative it does include one statement that has false reasoning. The article states that “individuals with autism are showing us that they can overcome…many of autism’s most challenging characteristics.” This statement is false because it is known today that autism cannot be overcome, however the characteristics can be managed and balanced to help a child with autism learn how to deal with certain factors within their environment and how to properly manage their emotions. I do not believe that this website is exactly “user-friendly.” There is no search bar to help individuals find specific information. However, it does give the option to click on related links in the website to get additional information about autism. In reading this article, I also noticed that its is written for parents residing in South Florida. I believe that this information will help make parents understand the awareness of this disability globally and not just state wide. In conclusion, I do believe that this website is a great source of information for parents or future parents seeking more of an answer about this interesting yet complex disability known as Autism.

  • The article “Teaching Children with Autism” by Jason M. Wallin, is generally geared towards professionals working with children and autism. There are many things like I liked about this website including the fact that it lists site content very visibly, it is very easy to navigate, and provides various strategies for teaching students with autism. Although, this website is geared mainly towards professionals, it may be a great resource for parents looking to reinforce such techniques within their own homes. It also provides printable documentations to use for data and implementations of programs and interventions. In addition, it provides related links for other outside resources, sorted by categories and specific topics. Some of my dislikes regarding this website is that the website is not as current as a professional like myself would like or expect it to be. Also, in browsing through this website I realized that the individual who set up this website is an undergraduate using this site for their thesis. I learned through researching this website I learned more about the different supporting documents that can be used with implementing specific programs with children with Autism. I also learned what exactly “Floortime” is and how to implement it. I also learned that when working with a child with autism, by incorportating “play” helps form and maintain a stable and healthy relationship between the child and the professional. This site also has a site map, a specific link for related site content, and individual tabs to make the information more accessible. Overall, I believe this website contained great insight for professionals working with children with autism.

  • The article titled “Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew” by Ellen Nothbohm provides an explanation of the characteristics of autism through a “child’s perspective.” This article is generally geared towards parents and future parents. This article is written in the first person as a child with autism. I believe that by writing the article in such format becomes more personalized for any parent to understand what their child with autism may be feeling or thinking. The article also clarifies that although autism is a very complex disability many children who have autism are in no way alike. No two children with autism display the same symptoms and/or behaviors. There are also many interesting facts in the article that may help a parent or future parent identify signs and symptoms of autism. The article explains many signs that can be misread by parents. One of the important facts stated in the article is children with autism struggle with communication. The website states that a child with autism is generalized as “acting out,” however, this mechanism is used to help the child express how he/she is feeling in their environment. The article explains also that some children with autism do not have the vocabulary to express how they are feeling in their current environment therefore, they result in expressing it behaviorally. This characteristic is often times a misconception that some parents whose children have autism commonly make. Sometimes parents do not know why this may happen without having further consultations or through thorough research. As a warning, while the article is very informative it does include one statement that has false reasoning. The article states that “individuals with autism are showing us that they can overcome…many of autism’s most challenging characteristics.” This statement is false because it is known today that autism cannot be overcome, however the characteristics can be managed and balanced to help a child with autism learn how to deal with certain factors within their environment and how to properly manage their emotions. I do not believe that this website is exactly “user-friendly.” There is no search bar to help individuals find specific information. However, it does give the option to click on related links in the website to get additional information about autism. This article is written for parents in South Florida, I believe that this a also a great way for parents to understand the awareness of autism globally and not just state wide. In conclusion, I do believe that this website is a great source of information for parents or future parents seeking more of an answer about this interesting yet complex disability known as Autism.

  • The article titled “Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew” by Ellen Nothbohm provides an explanation of the characteristics of autism through a “child’s perspective.” This article is generally geared towards parents and future parents. This article is written in the first person as a child with autism. I believe that by writing the article in such format becomes more personalized for any parent to understand what their child with autism may be feeling or thinking. The article explains many signs that can be misread by parents. One of the important facts stated in the article is children with autism struggle with communication. The website states that a child with autism is generalized as “acting out,” however, this mechanism is used to help the child express how he/she is feeling in their environment. The article explains also that some children with autism do not have the vocabulary to express how they are feeling in their current environment therefore, they result in expressing it behaviorally. This characteristic is often times a misconception that some parents whose children have autism commonly make. As a warning, while the article is very informative it does include one statement that has false reasoning. The article states that “individuals with autism are showing us that they can overcome…many of autism’s most challenging characteristics.” This statement is false because it is known today that autism cannot be overcome, however the characteristics can be managed and balanced to help a child with autism learn how to deal with certain factors within their environment and how to properly manage their emotions. I do not believe that this website is exactly “user-friendly.” There is no search bar to help individuals find specific information. However, it does give the option to click on related links in the website to get additional information about autism. This article is written for parents in South Florida, I believe that this a also a great way for parents to understand the awareness of autism globally and not just state wide. In conclusion, I do believe that this website is a great source of information for parents or future parents seeking more of an answer about this interesting yet complex disability known as Autism.

  • The article titled “Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew” by Ellen Nothbohm provides an explanation of the characteristics of autism through a “child’s perspective.” This article is generally geared towards parents and future parents. This article is written in the first person as a child with autism. I believe that by writing the article in such format becomes more personalized for any parent to understand what their child with autism may be feeling or thinking. The article explains many signs that can be misread by parents. One of the important facts stated in the article is children with autism struggle with communication. The website states that a child with autism is generalized as “acting out,” however, this mechanism is used to help the child express how he/she is feeling in their environment. As a warning, while the article is very informative it does include one statement that has false reasoning. The article states that “individuals with autism are showing us that they can overcome many of autism’s most challenging characteristics.” This statement is false because it is known today that autism cannot be overcome, however the characteristics can be managed and balanced to help a child with autism learn how to deal with certain factors within their environment and how to properly manage their emotions. I do not believe that this website is exactly “user-friendly.” There is no search bar to help individuals find specific information. However, it does give the option to click on related links in the website to get additional information about autism.. In conclusion, I do believe that this website is a great source of information for parents or future parents seeking more of an answer about this “thing” called Autism.

  • On the recommendations of several colleagues, I decided to explore the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence (OCALI) website. OCALI’s target audience is families, educators and professionals working with students with autism and low-incidence disabilities. This site contains information presented in various formats such as video modules, webinars, iTunes lectures, videos and document downloads. OCALI is an excellent resource for parents who are looking for all levels of information about autism spectrum disorders. The 60 free Autism Internet Modules (AIM) are written by experts from all over the United States in partnership with the Autism Society of America (ASA) to “promote understanding of, respect for, and equality of persons with ASD”. The AIM Modules are user-friendly and each can be viewed in its entirety, replayed or stopped and restarted at any point. Each module also includes the approximate completion time. This is especially helpful to parents who may not have an unlimited amount of time. OCALI contains a lending library and a services and supports database, which in turn contains public and private services and a myriad of programs available to local (Ohio) families. The site provides a clear definition of autism spectrum disorders and provides not only the DSM-IV definition, but explains IDEA and autism related disorders in straightforward and understandable terms. OCALI can be overwhelming and, because it contains so much information, navigation can be complex but it is well worth the time for families or professionals searching for information.

    In a Google search of, “Autism Spectrum Disorders”, the first of about 1,680,000 results was a National Institute of Health website for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. I first noticed that the web address has a .gov extension, which afforded the Institute’s website a certain degree of credibility. Once the user has accessed the site, it becomes apparent that the NICHD is involved in investigating broad aspects of human development and conducts and supports research, only some of which is related to autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The NICHD website is a very technical website and may not be a good starting place for parents who are looking for entry-level information about ASDs. In searching for information about autism on the NICHD website, the results yielded several research-related links, a definition of ASDs and an overview. The autism overview was comprehensive and detailed but clinical and may appeal to parents who are looking for more research or study-oriented information.

  • Faina Levitsky says:

    I wanted to research 2 websites that are belived to be the go-to websites for autism, and identify their differences and similarities. There are so many websites regarding autism, I find it difficult to know which to use to get answers or information. The 2 websites I chose even sound like the “it” website for the country, as their names declare. The websites I researched are: http://www.Autism Society of America (ASA) http://www.autism-society.org and http://www.NationalAutismAssociation.org. (1) After checking http://www.autism-society.org there were things I liked and didnt like about it. It did provide the reader with helpful definitions, facts, resources, and ways to help and get involved. However, when you dig deeper you being to feel like your trapped into paying them for something. There is false advertisement for free downloads but when you click on it you are told its only free if you a PAYING member. I understand that websites cost money to uphold, but many parents who have children with Autism cant aford it to spend another dime. What I really liked about it though is the useful phone #’s it recommended for contacting in case referrals are needed. I am a much bigger fan of http://www.NationalAutismAssociation.org because it is very informative regarding all aspects of Autism and provide pertinent support links (including safety tips and survival guide tips for parents). It does not seem like they are selling much becuase most of the links I clicked on did not cost me anything or were asking for money. I cannot think of anything I dont like about this website and would absolutely recommend it to parents. (2) Both websites are easy to navigate and ASA even offers all the info in spanish. They are both fantastically organized. However, a lot of the information presented is still a bit technical and may be overwhelming for parents. (3) Both websites are geared toward anyone wanting to know more about Autism, getting involved in autism, purchasing books/items to educate themselves further about autism, and for parents who need to empower themselves to best help their children. I wiuld definitely guide parents to either of these websites, with http://www.NationalAutismAssociation.org being my first choice.

  • Gloria Young says:

    http://www.autism-society.org

    After reviewing several ASD websites, as an educator I would recommend The Autism Society of America to parents who may be searching for general information, parents whose child has just received a diagnosis of autism and to the families of children that have been living with autusm. As a parent I find the site is user friendly, easy to navigate and the images were colorful but not overwhelming.The information was thorough and presented in language that was easy to read and understand without being overly technical or scienitific. The site offers a newsletter, an on-line course, the opportunity to read three different personal profiles, one from a family member of someone with autism, someone on the spectrum and the third from a professional working with individuals and families. You can also find autism chapters (locally, across the country, around the world), free downloads, an on-line data base of state resources and other helpful information. Through 1 Power 4 autism there are ideas and suggestions for individuals, groups and organizations that would like to become involved and make a difference.
    Missing are strategies for educators to use in the classroom to teach social skills, play and communication skills, room arrangement/organization, developing positive working relationships with families and handling meltdowns.

    http://www.autimspeaks.org

    Autism Speaks is an advocacy group begun in 2005 by grandparents of a child with autism. I applaud parents/grandparents who are unable to find needed support and resources for their children and go out and make things happen in the world little by little. Autism Speaks mission ” is to change the future for all who struggle with spectrum disorders” by raising money for research and increasing public awareness. Very powerful statement, unfortunately this is not a website I would recommend. The first words I read on the homepage were “donate now”. That seemed to be the theme carried on throughout several different pages I opened. I didn’t find the site to be user friendly in terms of graphics and information provided. There was one component I found to be helpful to parents. It was a free downloadable Toolkit that provided useful information on what to do the first 100 days after your child has been diagnosed with autism. It lists forms, outreach programs, family tips, information on therapies and treatment, resources, early intervention and education rights, safety tips and how to develop an action plan for the next 100 days after. There is also a toolkit for Asperger Syndrome and High Functiong Autism created specifically for families of children newly diagnosed.

  • Jamie says:

    The first website reviewed was AutismSociety.org. This website appears fourth when “autism” is Google searched. My initial response to the site was overwhelmed. The website is dense with information, but there are too many links to click on the homepage. I would imagine an already uncertain parent being new to autism would be looking for concrete and parent-friendly information. Autism Society offers such information, but the way in which it is presented is confusing to sift through. The lay out could discourage parents from further study of the site. A doctor and parents of children with autism founded the Autism Society in 1965, which is engaging. The organization is efficient in that they provide a quarterly journal, hold an annual national conference and offer information and referral team to help locate services. The website is very helpful in assisting to find local resources. In addition to being a little too overwhelming, as Faina Levitsky’s post previously mentions, certain links such as “Free Downloads” require users to log on in order to be viewed. With time and money being of essence, requiring website visitors to log on is a deterrence.

    The next autism-related website reviewed was TheGlobalAutismProject.org. This website is well organized and simple to navigate. The mission of the nonprofit organization founded in 2003 is “Bridging the global gap in the resources and understanding of autism”. The website is available in a plethora of languages furthering its worldwide approach to autism awareness. The organization originated in Ghana after personal experience with lack thereof autism resources and information. In Ghana, the Global Autism Project is now partnered with Autism Awareness Care and Training Centre in providing families and community education through workshops and training. The organization is composed of an experienced team of professionals and parents of children with autism whose aid focus is on ‘underserved populations’ around the world. The website has available posts for internships, fundraisers, donators and contact information. It also offers links to additional information-packed websites about Autism and ABA. There are no ads on this website which is also a positive. Overall when compared to the Autism Society website, The Global Autism Project appears less commercial and truly committed to spreading awareness on a more personal and global level.

    • Melissa says:

      I have worked with the Global Autism Project in New York and they truly are a grass roots project that is committed to their mission statement. I’m glad their website is an accurate representation of who they are!
      Also, I agree that the Autism Society website is difficult to manage, I would think that with all of their knowledge about how people learn and process information that they would reduce the number of images on a single screen and try to streamline the information. I think a lot of parents would look at it and become immediately overwhelmed.

  • Emma Nelson says:

    The first website that I visited was Tony Attwood’s site about Asperger’s Syndrome: http://www.tonyattwood.com.au/. This website is incredibly simple and easy to navigate. It is geared toward both families and individuals with Asperger’s as well as professionals who work in the field. The top of the page has navigation bars that list the sections of the website: Home, About Asperger’s, Publications, Research Studies, Workshops and Conferences, Support Groups, and Links. The “Home” page has information about Tony Attwood, a link to a radio broadcast about girls who have Asperger’s, a link to “Minds and Hearts” which is a clinic where Mr. Attwood works that diagnoses and supports children with Asperger’s and their families, as well as a link to an audio recordings in which he describes the major components of Asperger’s Syndrome. The second tab, “About Asperger’s,” discusses what the defining characteristics of Asperger’s are in easy to understand terms. He also discusses what his experience is in working with and diagnosing individuals with this disorder. He helps families to see positive attributes of Asperger’s while being realistic. I think that this section would be incredibly helpful to families who are having difficulty adjusting to their child’s diagnosis. Another section, “Publications,” is an enormous data base of books, articles, and research. It is well organized and easy to navigate by theme. For example, families who are looking for information on adolescents simply have to click on the tab and they are taken to a web page with fourteen articles listed. Another tab is “Workshops and Conferences.” This is another immense data base of conferences and workshops that are taking place all over the world this year. There is also a “Research Studies” tab where families who are interested in participating can get more information about studies happening throughout the world. Lastly, the “Support Group” tab lists groups around the world as well as online with contact information for each. Throughout the navigation of this website, there was a box on the right hand side of every page entitled, “Information to help you,” which had links to publications, support groups, and workshops/conferences. Despite the wealth of information, this website does a lot of self-promoting of Tony Attwood and his products and publications. Overall, this website was accessible and easy to navigate, but I found the self-promotion a bit distracting.
    The next website I visited was the National Autism Association: http://www.nationalautismassociation.org/. Although this website’s target audience is parents, it is complicated and visually over stimulating. New parents may find the amount of information overwhelming. However, once they have adjusted to their child’s diagnosis and are looking for treatment options and lists of doctors, this website has information that parents may find helpful. It also is a bit biased toward biomedical causes, and some links describe controversial treatments such as Chelation Therapy. The site did offer applications for programs that help families such as “Family First,” which works with parents of children with Autism to address the growing divorce rate and “Helping Hand,” which addresses the financial strain of having a child with a disability and offers financial assistance. Overall, although I felt that this website had a lot of information about treatments and causes, I do not think that it would be as helpful for parents who had just been given a diagnosis for their child as the Tony Attwood site.
    The Tony Attwood site was simple, user-friendly and informative. It had links to many research articles and books and gave parents a positive and realistic view of what Asperger’s Syndrome is. The layout was simple and easy to follow and navigate. However, Tony Attwood does a lot of self-promotion, which might be off putting to some families. The National Autism Association was a bit more confusing. The home page is filled with advertisements and is overcrowded. There is a lot of information about causes and treatments of Autism, but they are slightly biased and a bit less directly informative.

  • Indira says:

    http://www.autism-society.org- I found this site to be very helpful and user-friendly. In contrary to Jamie, I found the site to be very organized and easy to read. The site breaks subjects into categories and therefore I do not think it overwhelms the reader. The website’s main focus seems to be to educate and therefore can be geared towards anyone who is interested in learning about autism or associated with someone with autism. The site is very informational and provides many resources and support for families. It is also helpful that it provides links to other websites and information for people to participate in or even create their own events. There are links to join newsletters and shopping stores which sell toys according to the child’s needs and educational books. This can be helpful for the families as well as professionals. Furthermore, something I found to be absolutely helpful was the fact that the site can be translated into Spanish. This is especially helpful for immigrant families who are affected and may be confused and overwhelmed with something extremely foreign to them. This provides them the opportunity to be informed and be able to independently seek answers they are looking for. I would definitely recommend this site to parents who are looking to understand the diagnosis’s of autism. In addition, I really enjoyed the art gallery. It was something inspiring and very motivating to see. It brings out such a positive outlook and can be something joyful for parents to see and feel proud of.

    http://www.autismspeaks.org-I also looked into the Autism Speaks website which I thought was very organized and easy to read. However, the site’s main focus seems to be to raise awareness by raising money for research into the cause, prevention and treatment of Autism. Therefore, I feel as though the website is geared more towards advocacy then educating and providing information on autism to families. For this reason, I would not necessarily recommend it to parents who have no knowledge of Autism and are seeking to learn and understand more about Autism. However, the site does contain useful information for professionals and more knowledgeable parents such as the services and rights of children with special needs such as FAPE, Early Intervention, the least restrictive environment and treatment and therapy methods. This is something I found to be very helpful and something that should be emphasized especially to parents since starting as early as possible can make a big difference in a child’s life. The site also provides information on programs and resources that can be helpful to parents such as Autism Cares which support families affected by autism during natural disasters, the Autism Summer camp program and the “First 100 days Kit”. Professionals such as teachers and therapist can definitely use this information and provide it directly to parents as needed.

  • Melissa says:

    Polyxo.com: Teaching Children with Autism
    A Resource by Jason M. Wallen
    http://www.polyxo.com

    Polyxo is a useful site for anyone who has some background working with children with Autism whether it is a parent, teacher, or related discipline. This site should not be used as an introductory website due to the professional language used throughout the site which may be overwhelming for parents whose child has a recent diagnoses. While Mr. Wallen provides an overview of various types of interventions used with children with autism, he focuses on Applied Behavior Analysis, his area of expertise. The most useful aspect of the site, other then the resources page which provides a thorough list of websites, books, and research studies, is the section that contains downloadable data sheets for a variety for programs which would allow parents and teachers all over the country to follow an ABA program, or at least see what kind of data it entails. Mr. Wallen also invited parents to participate in his most recent research study on gestures and how children, those with and without a diagnoses, gesture.

    Healing Thresholds: Connecting Community and Science to Heal Autism
    http://autism.healingthresholds.com/

    Healing Thresholds is a phenomenal website for anyone looking for an in depth look at autism and the various therapy’s that exist. It includes an overview of autism as well as a guide for families who have recently received a diagnosis. The family guide is an easy to read resource that breaks down the steps of getting therapy started and other resources available to new families in the autism community. The website provides extensive information about the most popular therapies as well as links to research articles and recent news relating to that therapy. Additionally, Healing Thresholds has a tool to find service providers, as well as family services such as marriage counseling and special education lawyers. The website is clearly laid out with only four major headings. The website does require membership to access certain research articles but it is possible to gain a lot of information without registering. The only drawback is the number of adds on the sides and top of the website, although none of them are pop-ups or animated in any way.

  • Jason Stauffer says:

    I chose to review here a website (http://autism.flop.jp/ comes up as first when searching for “jiheishou”, Autism in Japanese) designed to target a Japanese-speaking audience living in Japan, and to help them understand the basics of Autism Spectrum Disorders.
    The design of the website is refreshing and straightforward. There is a balanced mix of text and visuals, and navigation is made easy by external links arranged on the side, and internal links arrayed across the top as a series of clearly labeled tabs. Colors and fonts are attractive and pleasant, without being cluttered or distracting. The website’s language is of a layperson, aimed at laypersons, and is intended to be as widely accessible as possible. The effect is a personal, down-to-earth feel; however, this sometimes leads to oversimplification, particularly in the description of the characteristics of different Autism Spectrum Disorders.
    The website’s main page opens with answers to a few common questions, such as the causes of and cures for Autism (It states that Autism is a lifetime disorder, and can be managed but not cured). Other links within the site include more in-depth information on the characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorders, as well as information on Autism-related media, including television and movie programs. All links in this website are working properly and regularly updated, as well as the Autism related information, which is summarized from medical or research sources. This website is privately and individually owned, and proffers no endorsement of any particular treatment of ASDs, or any ASD related organizations, nor does it solicit sales or donations.
    The website’s main strength is the variety of resources it provides in the form of external links to a range of other organizations and governmental agencies; it also has a directory for National Autism Association facilities listed by prefecture and address. As far as weaknesses, they stem mostly from the website’s familiar, non-jargon vernacular leading to oversimplification – yet not misrepresentation – of complex topics. This shortcoming is partly redressed by rerouting guests to other, external sources of more detailed information on specific topics.
    All in all, and in consideration of the cultural background of the website’s target audience, I would recommend this website as an appropriate resource for Japanese parents of children recently diagnosed with ASD/PDD who are looking for more information as well as support in a warm environment, or for parents who suspect their child may have characteristics of ASD/PDD. In particular, the previously mentioned shortcomings might serve as strengths for parents seeking refuge from possibly dismissive or cold medical and educational professionals.

    Jason Stauffer

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