Navigating the internet for Autism: a review of sites for teachers

More than a decade ago when I moved to Cairo, Egypt to set up a unit for children with Autism the internet was still in its infancy and “googling” was not an active verb. My resources at the time consisted of a few books, a few classes I had taken on Autism and my experiences as a clinician in London. Times have since changed and there is now an overwhelming amount of information on Autism. However are the challenges any different to what they were twelve years ago? What has happened regarding service delivery, resources, teacher training and parental support? If you are the parent of a child newly diagnosed or are a teacher of child with Autism working in a remote setting whether in Africa or the U.S, one of the primary tools we now refer to is the internet. If you Google, Yahoo, or Bing the word ‘Autism’ or related phrases, a plethora of information is out there. But how do you know what to look for? What are some of the better sites out there and why would teachers want to refer to them? The following comments are from teachers and teacher candidates.

62 Comments

  • Ebony says:

    TEACCH Autism Program is a research based program, designed by Eric Schopler, to support the educational, social, and integration skills for individuals with autism of all different levels and ages. This website is helpful for both parents as well as teaching professionals regarding support services for individuals with autism. There are many links within the site for specific questions someone may have regarding certain aspects of the program. For example, how they help individuals with autism with employment, teaching strategies used for children.
    However, this particular program is offered mainly in the regions of North Carolina. The website is user friendly and presents a vast amount of specified information for its viewers, alongside the accomplishments and reviews of its program. It’s unfortunate that this great program only supports one state.
    O.A.S.I.S.(Online Asperger Syndrome Information & Support), is a great resource site for parents. It offers articles, news and newsletters, blogs, bookstore along with products. They have a log-in for parents to receive e-mails. It appears to be a support site for parents dealing with children with autism. It’s very resourceful and gives additional resource sites for parents. They are informative on the Researcher and funders of their program.
    Both sites seemed to be pretty resourceful to parents. I enjoyed going through them both.

    • Fatima says:

      I agree with you Ebony, it is unfortunate that the TEACCH program is available in North Carolina only. I hope that in the future it will expand to other states. I had a chance to browse through the program’s website and it offers a wealth of services and support for children with Autism.

    • Jeremy says:

      About 5 years ago I was working for AHRC Middle/High School in Brooklyn, NY teaching teenagers with autism. The functional curriculum that we used was based on TEACCH and Applied Behavior Analysis. The beginning and end of year professional developments were about aspects of TEACCH. The staff that ran the pd had received training in North Carolina.

  • Dawn Lo says:

    http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/index.html

    The Center for Disease Control and Prevention website on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is a comprehensive one. This source educates parents on what ASD is, the screening and diagnosis process, treatments, and the current research on ASD. CDC thoroughly explains the signs and symptoms and the red flags of ASD. It even has a quiz in the section for the user to familiarize oneself with the information. The website offers information on when children are usually diagnosed with autism and recommendations on when to schedule a visit with the doctor for a developmental screening and/or diagnosis. The treatment section has information on different approaches to ASD such as applied behavior analysis, different types of therapy, and diets. It speaks briefly about medication and it says, “there are no medications that can cure ASDs or even treat the main symptoms. But there are medications that can help some people with related symptoms.”
    This website has information on other related issues such as the disorders that are comorbid with ASD, how vaccines are related to ASD, and other frequently ask questions. Research and statistics are also part of the website but there are only brief descriptions as to what it is. However, there are links to other websites that can explain it better and free materials that parents can order or download as a resource. On the left hand side of the site, there is information for everyone: families, people with ASD, professionals, educators, partners, media, and policy makers. Overall, the website is easy to navigate, well organized, and current (according to the updated dates). The links are labeled and the pages have headings. The websites’ contact information is easy to find and most of the information on this site is cited from credible journals. This website is also available in Spanish, through audio, and in larger print. Although the website is already well organized, there is a lot of information. I recommend that the web master organize the information into tables and charts so that it does not seem as overwhelming.

    http://nyfac.org

    “New York Families for Autistic Children: Helping families help their children” is a support group for parents and family members of individuals with autism. In their vision statement, it says: “By providing support, we can help each other get through any crisis by sharing our strengths and commitment to one another.” It also says in their mission statement that there is 24-hour support to parents with questions and needs. Overall, their mission and vision statement are clear and to the point. I believe that this is a valuable component to this website because parents who have experience with children with autism can guide and advise parents who are new into the world of ASD. A parent, family member, or a professional can become a member for a $50 annual fee. If anyone wants to purchase Autism products, this website sells them at retail price.
    This website offers information about their fundraisers and recreation programs available to families and their children such as tennis, bowling, swimming, and more. It also has resources and information on what autism is, treatments, and medications, however this information is linked to other websites. These other websites may or may not be reliable. Some of the sites are from educational institutions, from a professional’s blog, and other sites are long, overwhelming, and filled with medical jargon that a typical parent may not understand. There is a list of board members listed on the website. It is unclear whether these members are professionals, parents, or individuals with autism. However, the professional board and the clinical services director are educators, doctors, or professionals. The director of clinical services is also a parent of a child with autism and states his views and how family members and parents can become involved in the lives of individuals with autism.
    The contact information is easy to find and the website is easy to navigate overall. However, the website can be organized differently so that everything is accessible. This site may not be a good source of information if parents what to learn and read more about autism however, the recreational activities and the support system that this site has is valuable.

    • Leah says:

      New York Families for Autistic Children is an amazing resource for families in the NYC area. I know of a few families who are members and have done quite a few of the events that they offer. Its amazing for a family with a child with Autism to be able to connect with and relate to other families in the area. I also know though that the $50 dollars, which may not seem like alot of money to many families, is alot to some and often times this can be an issue for a family who may need resources but also do not have the money to pay for an organization like this one.

    • Tracy Noh says:

      I also came across nyfac.org when I had searched fundraising for autism awareness in the NY area. I do agree with your review in that the information is presented in a confusing and disorganized manner. Some of the headings are repetitive and a little out of order. However, I find its links to recent news articles helpful; as well as using the website as a resource to find out about various fundraising events in the NYC area for those who want to help and get involved!

  • A recent search for websites offering advice to teens with autism who are considering college brought me to a somewhat quirky, yet informative website, http://www.aspergerssyndrome.org/, which is managed by the University of Southern California’s Dr. Lars Perner, who himself has Asperger’s Syndrome. The website offers general information about Autism, external links, as well as humorous, personal writings (including his opinion of the Gilmore Girls). However, what intrigued me was his article, “College Planning for Students on the Autism Spectrum.” Although somewhat wordy, he nicely details maneuvering the SAT and admission’s processes and the pros and cons of attending a two or four-year college, or a combination of both. He also discusses some challenges of college-life such as maintaining motivation in non-major coursework, depression/loneliness, and not “being exploited” by “neurotypically developing” peers. Moreover, I would recommend reading his “Survey of Colleges With Experience Serving Students with Autism,” a compilation of accommodations available at twenty-five colleges as well as potential challenges one might face there. Although each college provided varying degrees of information, all offered direct contact addresses. Overall, albeit verbose at times, I enjoyed the candidacy, practicality, and scholarliness of each of his above pieces.

    • Fatima says:

      It’s interesting that the founder of the website has Asperger’s syndrome himself, so he is talking from expersince. He might have a better connection with families of children with similar diagnosis.

    • Dawn Lo says:

      I find this person inspiring. If I was a parent who was looking for information, I would rely on someone who has had experience quicker than I would on others. Because the person who manages the website experiences the disorder first hand, I would follow his advice. I feel that this also encourages those who live with ASD to pursue a “normal” life because having a disability does not mean you can”t be successful.

  • Lianna says:

    The two websites I looked at were http://www.globalautismproject.org/ and http://www.autismspeaks.org/

    The Global Autism Project’s website is very user-friendly, easy to read and navigate, and seems to have a lot of helpful information, including links to Autism and ABA websites. The goal of the organization is to spread Autism awareness and education throughout the world to under-served communities, starting in Ghana. This is definitively shown right on the homepage where there is a twitter feed of Autism related events throughout the world. They also have a blog page for people to post thoughts. What’s interesting about this site is that it doesn’t seem to be only geared to either parents or professionals. I see how this can be a valuable resource for me as an educator of children with Autism, as well as a resource for parents of children with Autism. I really like this website as it has a lot of information without feeling overwhelming. The only downside I can see is that so far they have a program going in Ghana, but haven’t branched out much to other communities. But, I’m assuming it’s in the works!

    The Autism Speaks website is also easy to read/navigate and user-friendly. It also has various links to other Autism related websites as well as a blog open to anyone to post thoughts. Perhaps because Autism Speaks is a US based organization that has existed since 2005, their site seems to have more information on Autism related politics and current events. What stuck out to me about this site is that they have a special section for student involvement, including tips on how to start Autism Speaks clubs and fundraisers. This site also seems to be a valuable resource for both parents and professionals.

    Overall, I’d say both sites are well-made and valuable resources for parents and professionals.

    • Natalie Wells says:

      After reading this post, I looked on the Global Autism Project’s website and found it to be incredibly interesting uplifting. I love their slogan, “Autism knows no borders, fortunately neither do we.” I really enjoyed looking under the “Projects” link and was touched to see pictures of the Autism Awareness Care and Training Center, which was founded by a moth of a child with autism. After navigating through the site, I am definitely considering donating to the project.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Website: http://www.firststepsforkids.com/
    ​First Steps for Kids is an Applied Behavior Analysis program focusing on Early Intervention. Their website offers a brief overview of autism spectrum disorders and Applied Behavior Analysis as well as an overview of the diagnosis process. For families with children that are undiagnosed, they offer supports such as The Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (CHAT) as well as a list of signs of autism in child development.  It provides many resources for families such as a collection of informational texts and online articles. Their portion focusing on the basics of ABA are especially informative and accessible to all users. For families in California, they provide lists of local family activities and child-friendly businesses.  The site has a clean, simple design in language that families with little background knowledge about autism could easily understand and navigate.  Although First Steps for Kids offers plenty of valuable information for families, the services and service providers are listed are strictly regional and therefore limited for nationwide users.
     
    Website: http://www.autism.org.uk/
    ​The National Autistic Society is the United Kingdom’s leading charity for autism. Their website is user-friendly and easy to navigate.  Each article is based around a question which then provides basic information, both for families with undiagnosed and diagnosed children, on different aspects of autism spectrum disorders.  The website also offers a section of real life stories from families who have a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, especially focusing on discussion of both therapies and interventions. Another feature of the website are “popular pages” which are the top viewed questions and articles, which help new families locate information quickly. Most of the text is short, simply written and often bulleted. Although based in the UK, the information is relevant and easy to read and makes communication and further questions easy through email.  For families outside the UK, the website features a section of resources from international organizations. I would recommend this website to families for both basic information as well as support once their child is diagnosed with autism.
     
     
     
     

    • Inna Yusim says:

      I really liked the First Steps For Kids website. It was very informative and welcoming. It gave a lot of information on ABA and I really liked the way everything was organized. I liked the fact that they give you a checklist for parents who’s children are not diagnosed yet. I agree that this website offers a wealth of information for parents that do not know much about autism. I would definitely recommend this website to parents.
      The national Autistic Society is a great website for parents to obtain information about autism. I agree that the website is easy to read and follow. The information presented is easily accesible through labels on each topic and question. I also like the feature of real life stories from parents who have children with autism. This is really helpful for other families to read and be able to relate to it. I would also recommend this website to parents.

  • Viridiana Reyes says:

    During my ‘google’ search http://www.autism-society.org/ was one of the first sites to appear, it was also referenced and linked on many other sites. At first glance the site could be a bit of a sensory overload due to ads and related sponsorship sites; however, after navigating the site I found the site to be designed in a coherent and logical manner, separated into categories for parents, people living with autism, and for professionals. There is a copious amount of information on the site, which is presented in layman’s terms. The site gives parents and professions access to numerous links and resources about Autism including journals and different programs for families to utilize to help manage autism. The site gives people the opportunity to get involved in supporting autism, it links people to support groups, and it offers links to resources available depending on the state they are located, this is particularly important because resources often vary by state.
    As a bilingual speaker the primary feature I found to be helpful is that the site is available in Spanish. While the information in Spanish is not as dense as the English version, the information was user friendly and organized in a similar manner as the English version. The information is accurate and the additional resources are helpful (ex: the site provides links to books in Spanish on ASD). I found the Spanish section of the website to be a helpful tool, especially if what the person seeks is reliable and nonbiased information. However, once a person reads through all the information there appears to be little incentive to return to the site since most of the information is from 2006, and the last time the Spanish section was updated was in 2008, I consider this to be problematic primarily because research on Autism is constantly changing and evolving. Another issue I had with this site is that it does not provide Spanish-speakers access to support groups or blogs.
    Something that was very frustrating during the Spanish search for autism is the lack of useful sites with credible sources. One site specifically stated that Autism was not a genetic disorder and could be cured with pills and the DAN diet, another site whenever I clicked on anything, a popup window would appear advertising cd’s and books to ‘cure’ autism.
    Two sites that are useful for Spanish speakers would http://www.felaac.org/index.html and http://www.manitasporautismo.com/index.html
    FELAAC stand for Latin American Federation for Autism. The entire website is in Spanish it is easy to navigate and is written in layman’s terms. While the site is not extremely dense in terms of informational resources it does provide a sort of outline for parents. The site defines ASD, it gives parents basic information on autism, tells people what to look for in terms of treatment, and resources; the site provides a checklist in Spanish like The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-Chat). .
    The primary issue I had with the site is that in order to access more detailed information, one would have to become a member to access forms and some other site features. The membership fee varies; I find this to be a particularly problematic because people are being excluded from accessing additional resources.
    The last site translates to Small Hands for Autism this site addresses some of the frustration that is apparent in the Spanish speaking community. The site is easy to navigate, it was created by “parents, friends, professionals and others, with the purpose of offering more support, hope and information to the Hispanic/Latino families affected by Autism” as stated in their disclaimer. The site is not promoting any one specific agenda (like dan diets or cd’s) the tools and resources on the site are meant to inform people and to provide support. The site provides a link to blogs and forums. The site also provides links to videos and their hi5 community. The site has three categories, ‘learn more’, ‘news’, and ‘red world’ each category has articles or information depending on the category. This site differs from the other sites in that it provides up-to-date information on Autism in Spanish and links parents to networking support groups online.

    • Susan Gelman says:

      I also reviewed the Autism Society website and I noted what a positive feature it was to offer the information in Spanish. Since I am not a Spanish speaker, I would not have known that the information on the website was not current until I read your post. Thank you for sharing other links to sites with up to date information.

    • Khadija Prowell says:

      Wow, I enjoyed reading this information you gave about the websites. I reviewed the autism-society website as well and overlooked that it was available in spanishso I went back and checked it out. I quickly checked out the second website you gave targeted for the latino community. Coming from a partially latino family myself, and having experiences with many latino families, I agree that more insight and support is needed for cultural groups. It is always beneficial for families to form alliances and groups that continue to support each other. Your post is a reminder that there will always be cultural differences that can sometimes have negative influences on parents who do not always know what to do. Thanks for sharing!

    • Shelley says:

      You are right Viridian, the website Autism Society of America is the first site to come up when Autism is goggled. Similar to you, I found the site to be easy to navigate. I thought the website provided a wealth of data and information for viewers to be interested in. It also allowed viewers to get involved with the cause through local chapters.

      I thought that the website provided numerous links to other websites for viewer so navigate. The language on the website was easy to understand. I also liked how the website spotlighted the professional, family member and the affected person with personal stories. I thought this was useful because would be allowed to gather different point of view and how the disorder effects.
      I did not think that the overall design of the website. I thought the overall design of the website to be less appealing as other.

    • Jeremy says:

      I find it troubling though not surprising that many of the websites that were Spanish language sites did not have accurate information. With the ever increasing number of immigrants coming to the US, it is important for websites to employ people who will be able to communicate accurate information to people who are not English speaking. Furthermore, autism affects all groups equally, so people living in countries that are not English speakers also need access accurate information in order to make knowledgible choices in selecting the forms of treatment for their children.

  • Anna Wojewoda says:

    I explored various websites, but two that I found quite interesting were, http://www.do2learn .com/ and http://www.usevisualstrategies.com/. Both websites present a great deal of information for inquiring knowledge about Autism among other subjects.

    The first website is an excellent choice for teachers and clinicians who work with children who have neurological disorders including Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Effects, OCD, attention disorders, learning and communication disorders and many others. In my opinion, the website appears be a more useful source for teachers than it is for parents. Although, if the parent is studied on the subject of different disorders and disabilities, he or she will find an overwhelming number of uses for this website. Some of these uses include research on a number of topics, information about rights regarding special education, diagnosis, helpful advice, book referrals as well as many ideas for activities, songs and games. The portion of the website that shows to be very valuable to teachers contains information about many techniques and tools for managing and organizing the classroom, such as calendars and the circle organizer or handy helper, along with valuable resources for everyday activities in the subjects of Math and Reading among other subjects. The website also contains social skills toolbox, which will assist teachers in improving the behavior and communication skills of their students. This user-friendly website is very easy to navigate, either through the horizontal menu or the site map, both of which will help users quickly find what they are looking for. The background and research information are easily available on the website and the philosophy is clearly stated, delivering what it promises. If a parent or teacher suspects a child has any of these disorders and is hoping to use the website as a diagnostic tool, they will not find the answer here. However, the website is very rich in its variety and quality of information and it provides a number of resources that can be useful in the classroom as well as in a more personal environment with an individual child. I highly recommend this website and will continue to use it in the future.

    The second website is designed specifically to provide knowledge about the use of visual strategies for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and learning needs. This is an excellent website which provides valuable information about visual strategies for the use of both, professionals and parents. The website offers visual strategies information, articles and success stories, as well as Autism products and printable picture cards. It is very user friendly and very easy to navigate through horizontal or vertical toolbars. Although the website offers some facts about Autism Spectrum Disorders, its focus is specifically on educating its users about visual strategies. Although it contains much less information than the first website and is more content specific, I would also recommend and use this website.

    • I also explored the website on the use of visual strategies. I agree with you when you say that this website seems like it could be useful for both parents and professionals. I didn’t feel that the information would be too overwhelming for parents since it didn’t appear to have too much information on it as you stated. After reading your post I explored the other website you commented on. I’m glad I chose to look into this after you stated you felt it would be a good tool for professionals! I feel that this website provides a lot of useful tools and activities that teachers can use in their classroom. I plan on taking advantage of this site!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thanks for posting the website on
      Visual Strategies!  I love the printable picture cards!  I also found the information to be helpful for both parents and professionals with little or no prior knowledge on the reasoning or purpose of using visual cues and picture strategies. It definitely is an easy to navigate and user-friendly website. As a professional, I liked the part of the website that described all the team members and that they each play an important role in an individual with Autism’s life. I’d be interested further to see the content that is sent out in the free emails, maybe I’ll have to sign up!

      • Cara Borrelli says:

        I really enjoyed navigating and obtaining information about visual strategies from the website. I liked how the website defined what visual communication is and that it gave great examples and pictures of it being used. This website is useful for both parents and educators as it offers many significant resources to meet the communication challenges in Autism. I also like how the website has an events link where those interested can see Linda Hodgdon, who has pioneered the development of using visual strategies for supporting communication, present her work. Even though there are no events scheduled for the tri-state area, perhaps one day there will be!

    • Jessica T. says:

      I agree, I love the printable picture cards for Better Communication! I found the printable picture cards to be so helpful that I decided to share the link with my co-workers in our education meeting. It’s a useful tool for the classroom and at home to reinforce communication.

      In the following site, there is a scripted story for social situations titled “I can use my words,” which I found to be helpful too for communication.

      http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/resources/strategies.html#scriptedstories

      • Jennifer D. says:

        Actually, I enjoy anything that’s printable because my school is a joke when it comes to providing materials. I have a child in my class who may be selectively mute, but now he seems to be engaging in concerning behaviors (spinning, brushing, stacking, rubbing and flapping) as well. I think I may go back to the site, to look into that tool for communication. I hope it works!

  • Inna Yusim says:

    The first website that I have chosen to review is http://www.wrightslaw.com/. What I like about this website is that there is a wealth of information about laws on special and regular education and advocacy for children with disabilities. There are topics ranging from ADD/ADHD; autism spectrum; early intervention; IDEA 2004 including the format of the IEP and legal requirements of IEP’s; related services; transitions; no child left behind; and FAPE (free, appropriate, public, education) including law cases and what makes a program appropriate. I think this is great information especially for parents who do not know their children’s rights and their parental rights when it comes to special education and the school system. There are also links to a great variety of books, articles, and training programs available in different states. There is also a blog where people can respond to many interesting posts on various topics. One thing that I don’t like about the website is that there is no explanation on top that Wrights law was created by Pete and Pam Wright. A parent or someone who does not know about autism might think that Wrights law is an actual name of a law. So I thought that was a bit confusing. I found the content easy to read and user-friendly with easy navigation throughout the website. This website can be useful for parents, teachers, advocates, and attorneys.
    The second website that I have chosen to review is http://www.aspergersyndrome.org/. What I like about this website is that there is a welcome paragraph on top that describes what the website does and the kind of information that it provides. This made me feel at ease and I knew exactly what kind of information was on the site without having to look through it. The website contains information about Asperger Syndrome, Autism, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder /Not Otherwise Specified (PDD/NOS). I like the fact that there is no assumption that everyone who visits the website knows the definitions of Asperger Syndrome and Autism. There are links that give you clear and easy to read definitions with examples of the symptoms to look for. The Asperger Syndrome’s definition is written by Dr. Tony Attwood and is very detailed. I like the fact that this syndrome is looked at from a positive perspective. Dr. Attwood writes, “Children and adults with Asperger’s Syndrome have a different, not defective, way of thinking.” This website gives you the option of becoming a member for a small fee of $4.95 a month. This gives you access to posting comments on blogs, forums and newsletters. There is still a lot of other information that you can access without being a member like reading blogs, articles, and accessing many different categories of books relating to Asperger Syndrome in the bookstore section. I can’t find anything that I don’t like about this website. I think it is a very informative and insightful site geared for parents who have children with Asperger Syndrome and need somewhere to turn for help, guidance, and support. The site is also useful for medical professionals. The information is presented in an easy to read way and navigating through the site is very easy since everything is clearly labeled.
    These two websites are both very informative about Autism Spectrum disorders. They focus on different aspects and parts. The first website focuses on the laws for children with disabilities pertaining to the school system. There is also a lot of links to other information pertaining to the school system and classroom instruction. This site would be more suitable for teachers as well as parents. The second website has information on high functioning autism – Asperger’s Syndrome and PDD/NOS. It has articles and forums that are meant for parents who are raising children with Asperger’s Syndrome. This website is more suitable for parents and forms a community for families going through similar experiences. I would definitely recommend both websites because they each have different but important and useful information in the world of autism.

    • I am so glad you decided to write about the website, http://www.wrightslaw.com/. I actually kept coming across it during my internet searches and just thought it was about some law, Wrights law, that I never heard of! So thank you for dispelling that myth. I agree that it is very helpful; I especially appreciate that they provide access to the complete version of laws in addition to summaries of them (yes, the full version is daunting, but everyone should have the opportunity to read it if they so desire). Also, the legal advice to people’s questions was another practical component. I could only imagine that one of the most daunting issues for parents of children with special needs would be comprehending the rights of their child and how to access them. Without this knowledge, it is easy for one to be taken advantage of… which sadly is the case of many individuals.

  • Natalie Wells says:

    Website: http://www.autismspeaks.com

    Autism Speaks is a comprehensive website providing information to the public regarding awareness of Autism, family services and community outreach, child’s rights, and much more. The website’s presentation of information was inviting, user-friendly, and easy to navigate. It offers extensive information on tools and resources families can take advantage of and allows users to search services by age or by zip code. Other interesting and useful resources presented on this website included the Autism Response Team, which provides a phone number or email address for families to ask questions, and the Autism Safety Project, which provides way you can communicate with individuals with Autism in the case of an emergency. These are valuable resources for parents to use in the future, if necessary. I found the link entitled “What is Autism” and “Your Child’s Rights” to be useful, especially for parents who are unfamiliar with terms, diagnosis, treatment, and the child’s rights to free and appropriate public education and early intervention and special education services. Overall, I was extremely pleased with the easily accessible and thorough presentation of information and resources available for parents, families, and anyone else interested in learning about Autism.

    Website: http://www.autism-society.org

    I found the Autism Society of America website to be a very useful resource for a wide range of audience, including family members of children with Autism, individuals who have been diagnosed with Autism, and professionals who work with children with Autism. The visual layout was use-friendly and pleasing to the eyes and the amount of resources and textual references provided were current, informative, and extremely useful. The links to the different stories of people affected by autism was touching and emphasized the website’s central theme, “improving the lives of all affected by Autism.” Those who navigate through this website not only gain a plethora of information pertaining to diagnosis, causes, research and programs, etc., but are also able to listen and connect to real life stories of individuals’ who have experienced successes despite their hardships. The only part of this website I did not like and found rather disturbing was where it mentioned the lifetime cost of caring for a child with Autism and the costs for Autism that the United

    • Lianna says:

      I also found the Autism Speaks website to be useful. While it is definitely helpful for educators, I think it is most valuable for families, especially those that may be new to the world of Autism and don’t know much about it. Having the section on “your child’s rights” is especially important to families and educators when working with kids with Autism. Since we, as educators, are not often experts on law, this is a great section of the website for us as well.

  • The first site that was reviewed was the Autism Society website, http://www.autism-society.org. This website had a lot of information on it that would be useful for parents and also professionals. Information about autism was provided in an easy read format which allows parents to learn more about what autism is. The information that was provided on the website was very parent friendly and jargon free. I liked that the website also provided links to other resources that would be helpful for families learning about autism and also to help them with additional supports. I felt that it was really helpful that there was a link provided that families or professionals could click on that provided additional resources available for each state. The part of this website that was most informational, in my opinion, was the section on life with autism. This provides a great deal of information about autism from birth all the way through adulthood. The information on this website was clear and easy to navigate. The only criticism I have about this website is that there is so much information that I could see it being a little overwhelming for parents. Overall I found this website very informative and useful for me as a professional and also parents of children or adults with autism.

    The second website I reviewed was Use Visual Strategies, http://www.usevisualstrategies.com. This website is dedicated to the idea that students with autism have trouble with behavior and communicating their needs. Due to this the use of visual strategies and supports helps children to come over these challenges. This website would be useful for both families and professionals. It was easy to navigate through this website so I found it very user friendly. I liked that although this website is really for visual supports some information was provided on autism and their rational for use of visual aids. I thought that the articles provided through the website were helpful. I felt that the article about how to make a daily schedule could be very useful both in the home and in the classroom. Though this website definitely provided a lot of useful information it was also a lot about the products that you could purchase for visual strategies. If families or professionals were looking for tools to purchase this section would be very beneficial and the products appeared very useful. I felt that this website had the perfect amount of information on it that didn’t seem overwhelming.

    • After reading your post I looked over the Visual Strategies site and completely agree with you in that the website is useful for both families and professionals. I feel that the articles on the site can be seen as helpful tools to explain certain teaching techniques to parents.
      As an educator I am frequently in search for an assortment of resources on how to reach, teach, and facilitate the lives of children with autism and their families; I found this site to have many useful tools. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Fatima says:

    http://www.autismspeak.org is a website both teachers and parents will find easy to browse.it provides basic information to raise awareness about Autism and information on current research in the field. People who want to support the organization can easily make donations through the website. It is user friendly because its layout is simple. At the top the user finds 6 icons that are heighted with color to make them stand out. For parents who might not be computer savvy they will find this feature helpful. The ‘Be informed’ button provides important introductory and basic information about Autism. The language used through the website is easy and terms are simple, and parents can link to different resources specific to the state where they live. The website displays developing stories and current search information for those who want to keep abreast of current developments.

    http://www.autismspectrumdisorderfoundation.org is another website that providers a wealth of information about ASDs. This website provides valuable information for parents, such as available screening tools and a list of signs of ADS for parents who are suspecting their child might have Autism. The Site provides links to resources in each state and links for financial support for family of children diagnosed with ASD. The information tabs are simply and clearly laid out to the left side and the language used throughout the website is modest. I would recommend that teachers to visit the website as it provides links to screening tools that they can use in their classrooms. The website also provides detailed information about all the ASDs including diagnosis, treatments and symptoms.

    • Anna Wojewoda says:

      I agree with Fatima that autismspeak.org is a helpful website for both parents and teachers. It is easy to browse and it provides current research in the filed, which I feel is a must.
      All the parents with Autistic kids know that learning about the disorder and treating it can be a challenge, but know they are not completely in the dark. There are a many of websites that deal with all the different aspects of Autism. They are easy and accessible and with just a couple clicks you will be exposed to of resourceful information about Autism.

  • As a preschool teacher, I decided to Google “Autism in Early Childhood Education.” There were roughly 1,570,000 hits, yet http://www.brighttots.com/Resourcehome caught my attention as it was titled “Autism Resources.” This website has many different components relating to Autism, such as Autism diets, ABA therapy, Autism treatments, Autistic behaviors, Early Interventions, Early Signs of Autism, Myths of Autism, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Sensory Integration, Signed Speech, Speech Therapy, Teach Play Skills, and TEACCH Method. This website serves as a great tool, especially to parents/guardians as it has many links relating to the family, such as siblings of Autistic children, toilet training a child with Autism, and Autism sleep problems. The website also details how effective therapy can be for the child and how their parents/guardians can assist them with the therapy. As an early childhood educator, I particularly liked the links based on services that can be provided for children with Autism. I also discovered the TEACCH Method, which is a program of services for Autistic children which uses associated techniques depending upon the individual child’s needs and emerging capabilities. The main goal is to help children with Autism group up to their maximum ability by adult age. This website gives parents a wealth of information regarding any questions they may have regarding Autism and is user friendly.

    • Amir says:

      This website (brighttots) does provide a lot of very good information for people who don’t have much prior knowledge/exposure to the complex world of having a child with an ASD. I especially like the descriptions, from Wendy Stone PhD (on the ‘Early Signs’ link), of the “Signs of Autism”
      vs. “Autistic Behavior”.
      However, the advertisements and the layout of the main resource page is visually jarring and would possibly turn off someone trying to read through the massive amount of text, which alternates between red and blue font color on a “cloudy” background. I think that sometimes good information loses it’s impact when it is poorly presented.

  • Global Autism Project (http://globalautismproject.org/about.php) began in 2003 and is a unique venture undertaken by Molly Ola Pinney. Pinney moved to Ghana in order to continue providing ABA therapy services for a child she worked with in Seattle. After being in Ghana for less than two months, numerous families sought Molly’s assistance in obtaining resources to help their children. In November of 2007, the Global Autism Project officially incorporated as a non-profit organization in NY State and has recently launched a program in India as well. The vision of the Global Autism Project is to work with individuals providing services to people with Autism in under-served populations around the world, including the U.S. Their mission is to bridge the global gap in resources and understanding of Autism. The website informs its visitor of the projects they have undertaken in Ghana and India. It also informs its viewer how they themselves can get involved, whether through donations or “Paddle for Autism Awareness” which gives children with Autism and their friends and families in the U.S. a chance to enjoy a day on the water while raising awareness of children living with Autism in developing countries. Individuals can even help the project write grants to assist in researching and identifying potential funding opportunities. The project even recruits interns on their website. The website gives a list of the project sponsors, press releases, and a way to contact them. Whereas this website serves as a great tool for those who wish to assist in the Global Autism Project mission and vision, it doesn’t give parents any insight as to what they or their child may be experiencing in terms of Autism. It is user friendly and does offer an insight into the dire need for such programs in underdeveloped populations.

  • Jessica T. says:

    Two Websites:

    1. Positive Behavior Support and Challenging Behavior:
    http://www.pbis.org

    2. Center on the Social-Emotional Foundations of Early
    Learning
    http://www.vanderbilt.edu/csefel/index.html
    ***********************************************
    1. Positive Behavior Support and Challenging Behavior:
    As a parent with no prior knowledge of this website, I found it to be easily accessible through two common engines (Google & Yahoo). When given the key words “positive behavior support” the website was amongst the top hits for each of the search engines. Once I clicked on the link I found all of the information on the site to be mapped out well, especially the site map that outlines the key concepts. I was also pleased to see that with a click of a button all the information is provided in Spanish. Hopefully with time, the site will be available in other languages as well.
    The purpose of the site is clearly stated, which is to support parents, educators, and the community in learning about how to modify behaviors in children with special needs. There are links to different categories, such as Home, Family, School, Community, Evaluations, Research, and Training, which helps users navigate through the site easily. Users are able to click on the tabs that provides the information they are looking for. Parents can click on the Family tab and automatically tools, videos, presentations, publications, and training sources are given, each topic can be explored in depths and links are given with additional resources.

    The following are items of interest that I found to be useful for parents:

    · Pod Casts: This is a summary of the web content such as
    presentation files, conference information, links, and
    video files, when subscribed one will receive a summary
    of new content from PBIS.org. The advantage is that it
    prevents the user from having to repeatedly check the
    site to see if something is new. Also, videos can be
    downloaded and viewed at a convenient time.

    · Newsletters

    · Presentation Resources

    · Resource Catalog

    · Videos

    2. Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations of Early
    Learning:
    Surprisingly, this website was not as easily accessible as the Positive Behavior Support and Challenging Behavior website was. I typed in different key words, such as, “social support for my young child,” “emotional support for young children,” and this website was not one of the top hits for each of the two search engines I used (Google & Yahoo). I went as far as typing in “social and emotional development,” and it was was low amongst the hits in both search engines. I was shocked because this site is extremely helpful and interactive, many can benefit from the different features that are offered, and since this site is funded by the Office of Head Start and Child Care Bureau its focus is on school readiness, and family and community involvement. This is definitely a website that should be promoted more because of its endless resources.
    Like the Positive Behavior Support and Challenging Behavior website, the materials in this site are provided in English and Spanish, also it is broken down into different categories, such as are resources by type and group. This site is geared towards families, teachers, caregivers, trainers, and coaches. The layout is user friendly; everything is organized in sections. Once I gained knowledge of this website I was easily able to navigate through the site because the text is user-friendly and pictures are provided as well.

    The following are items of interest that I found to be useful for parents:

    · Chat sessions in English and Spanish: Parents have
    access to live chat sessions on topics related to the social
    and emotional development of young children. In these
    live chat session, participants can ask questions to
    different guests via email and receive “real time”
    responses. After each chat session, a transcript of the
    session is made available on this Web site.

    · Scripted Stories for Social Situations is a feature that is
    useful for teachers and caregivers to use in their
    classroom and at home to reinforce the routines in the
    classroom and positive behavior.

    · Family Tool: Different reading materials are available to
    guide parents.

    · Videos

  • Susan Gelman says:

    Website: http://www.autism.org/index.htm

    Autism Collaboration is a user friendly website, geared specifically for parents of children with autism. The Autism Collaboration is a wonderful forum for parents and advocacy groups. One feature of The Autism Collaboration site was the simple format. One can easily find information about the “Parent as Partners” Research Initiative. One of the best components of the site was the enhanced Google search engine section. Here, visitors can plug in any autism related question or term and helpful sites will be found. As an educator, this could be a useful site to recommend to parents of children with autism.

    Website: http://www.autismsource.org/

    The Autism Society of America offers information for parents, professionals and adults with autism. The menus on this site were easy to navigate and extremely user friendly. One noteworthy feature is that this entire site is available in Spanish with a simple click on a tab marked ‘en espanol’. The home page also includes individual testimonials from professionals in the field, family members and people with autism, making the site relevant to wider audience. Lastly, in contrast to the Autism Collaboration, the Autism Society includes links and information about professionals in the field. Under a helpful link called “Working with Professionals”, parents are encouraged to prepare to work and communicate with doctors, service providers, teachers and other professionals

  • Bryce says:

    Website: http://globalautismproject.org/

    The Global Autism Project is an organization whose goal it is to help individuals with autism around the world, especially in underserved areas, be able to access services more easily. Founded in 2007, they aim to empower, educate, train, and promote acceptance and awareness of autism in communities all over the globe. This website is targeted at individuals who are also looking to help raise awareness of autism, and who would like to help support this cause by making cash donations to the project. As an educator, I can see myself visiting this site to see whether there are any fundraising events occurring in my area. While this site does provide a few links to autism and ABA therapy websites, it does not, itself, provide any information about autism. I found this site to be fairly easy to navigate, however, were I to be picky, some of the links on the home page that state, “click here to learn more” contain text that is difficult to read without looking more closely. A nice feature of this site is that it allows readers to choose the language they would like to view it in. The flaw, however, is that the text is only changed if it is not contained within/over an image, causing the entire homepage to stay basically the same when this change is made. Like the Global Autism Project’s goal itself, their website seems to simply be a way to bring about an awareness of their efforts. It also acts as a means of advertising fundraising events and provides readers with a place to go if they want to make a donation toward the project. Overall, I did not find this website to be a particularly useful resource when looking for information about autism, however, I am happy to know that this project exists and fully support their efforts in bringing autism awareness and services to individuals worldwide!

  • Christine Rodgers says:

    Global Autism Project http://www.globalautismproject.org/about.php
    My first impression of the site is a positive one. It is very well put together, looks professional, and is fairly easy to navigate. The site is not geared toward providing parents with information about Autism. However, they do provide a few different links to other sites that provide further information.
    After experiencing the lack of services in a country Molly Ola Pinney decided to do something about it, start Global Autism Project. Her mission is “To build local capacity to provide services to individuals with autism in under-served communities Worldwide.”
    To me the site seems to be geared towards business. Attracting people to join their cause and/or donate money. It is not a general site to obtain information about Autism. This is not a good site for parents to search for information and resources. If a parent wants to be proactive and get involved then this would be a good site for them. What I didn’t like is that the site doesn’t provide information about Autism. Maybe they could have a section “What is Autism and why should you help?”
    What I do like about the site is the passion behind it. These people are committed to bringing awareness and resources to other parts of the world. They seem to have a good team of people set up and offer ways to get involved.
    When searching for my second site I did a google search for “Autism”. If I was a parent of a child with Autism and I was doing an internet search I would probably start out with the basics. I wanted to see what is the first information presented to parents. To my disappointment the first site available is a Google Health site: https://health.google.com/health/ref/Autism. Upon entering the site one of the first sentences I read it says “autistic children”. Furthermore, the site is very sterile and detached. The information is vague and it starts of talking about children with Autism but then lists characteristics of Autism for all ages.
    The site has a section on “Treatment” but does not say that Autism cannot be cured. It also talks about gluten-free diets but does not mention that it is not scientifically proven nor is it a cure. Also, the site does not contain any links to other sites for more information. The only thing I liked about the site was it was on one page, the information was concise (but not good), and there were no distracting advertisements. Overall, I do not think this is a good website, especially for a parent with a newly diagnosed child.

    • Dorothy says:

      After reading your post, I decided to check out the website. It is a great website and definitely inspirational. Thank you for the helpful info!

    • Bryce says:

      After reading your description of the Google Health website, and then visiting it, I completely agree with you. It is certainly not surprising that it is the first link shown when the word “autism” is searched using GOOGLE! This site definitely has a “sterile” feel to it, but I agree that it is nice how clear and organized all of the information is. I can imagine that for parents who are just learning about the specifics of Autism, this feature might be very helpful. I would definitely recommend that parents view other websites in addition to this one, though, in order to obtain information that is both more humanistic and supportive in nature.

  • Bryce says:

    Website: http://www.ahany.org/

    This website is extremely comprehensive and offers a wide variety of in-depth support for both parents and educators. It is very user friendly, and provides a large amount of information without becoming visually overwhelming. While the main audience for this website would be those living in the NY and Long Island area, much of its content would be useful for parents and professionals in the autism community across the country, and even the world. What I like about this website is that the support offered is very specific. For example, visitors can access sample letters, like a class visitation checklist, to use while they are in the process of locating services for their child. A list of support groups for parents living in the NY/Long Island area, as well as internet support groups, are provided to visitors. Although a large amount of information can be accessed through the website alone, visitors can pay $40 to become year-long members. This gains them access to a quarterly newsletter, the ability to use the library, and other perks, too. If readers choose to not become members, though, plenty of information is still readily available to them. Overall, I think that this website is an excellent resource for parents and professionals in the autism community due to its ease of navigation as well as sheer amount of information that is offered to its visitors.

  • Khadija Prowell says:

    Website: http://www.nationalautismassociation.org.
    The National Autism association website appears to be very informative and useful for parents in search of answers about autism. The information displayed is realistic and concrete which allows viewers to pull out straight forward answers. Although I did not notice any insight from actual parents or educators of children with autism, I feel the information was factual and helpful.
    When I first opened the website it seemed a little overwhelming, as the opening page looks like an advertisement page, but the links to the left are detailed and organized. The information on each link was easy to follow and understandable. For example, the first major question,what is autism, is broken down into the definition and characteristics. This link then displays relevant resources, as well as clear steps for parents to take in getting the services their child needs. I particularly liked how this website encourages parents to trust their instincts and go for help, especially if a pediatrician opposes. The site lists the http://www.nichy.org/states.htm website for parents to visit and make an appointment for their child, as well as other resources which includes the different services offered for their child.
    They also have a list of recommended readings of various authors that stand out. In addition to thewealth of information, I found it especially intriguing that their “Help for families” link includes an “Autism Safety Initiative,” for families and communities. I would not have even thought of a program like this, until I read it. This initiative takes precautions to prevent losing their children or family members whom have autism. Overall, this website is a good, informational and straight forward website for curious parents of children with autism or others who suspect that a child has autism.

    Website: http://www.autism-society.org
    This website is another well established site that is user friendly, targeted for parents and others who would like to know more about autism. I liked that on the home page there are stories from real people whom either have a family member with autism, has autism, or is an educator of children with autism. I read a few of theses stories and they are insightful and real. The website is colorful and welcoming. The links on the left of the page are easy to navigate and open up to detailed information. I especially liked that the policy and regulations, such as the No Child Left Behind Act and IDEA were explained, as well as the evaluation process.
    There are a lot of resources given, which includes medical, financial information, readings, as well as relevant websites. This website also offers a quick course for parents to do online to gain more knowledge of autism. Overall, this website is also a straight forward website, that seems to be friendly and positive.

    • Gabby Soep says:

      Hi Khadija, I agree with you about autismsociety.org. I really enjoyed reading those real stories from real people on the site. It was so great to read the story of a man who is on the spectrum and who has gotten married and has a job and a wonderful life. His story can be inspiration to young children or parents of children with Autism, because like Donia said in class, “children with Autism grow up to be adults with Autism”.

  • Tracy Noh says:

    Ahead with Autism – http://aheadwithautism.com/index.html
    Ahead with Autism is a website for the Veronica Bird Charitable Foundation, which is a foundation instated to promote an understanding and increase awareness of autism and its related disorders. Veronica Bird is the mother of a child who was diagnosed with regressive autism at 24 months. She has committed her life to bringing awareness of autism to a broader community because she believes that the early diagnosis and establishment of intervention strategies has helped her son’s ability to have a more “normal, productive life.” Filming her son’s progress on video, she went onto produce an award winning documentary bringing awareness to the early signs of autism entitled, “The Different Shades of Autism.” The website is geared towards increasing awareness of autism and educating parents, families, pediatricians, teachers, therapists, and other individuals and professionals of early warning signs of detection by providing information and resources about ASD.
    I liked that there is a significant amount of information provided on the website dedicated to increasing awareness, particularly emphasizing the importance of implementing intervention strategies as early as possible. Even though the website’s main purpose is for her charitable foundation and her documentary, her commitment towards her cause is apparent through the quality and quantity of information and resources. She presents information, supported by personal experience along with medical research regarding basic information of autism, warning signs, and how it is diagnosed in a tone that is intended to inform, not intimidate. To promote further research, she also provides a wealth of external links including general information (as well as links obtaining information in non-English resources), and other resources regarding families, nutrition, legal information, government, and other organizations related to autism.
    Although, at times, the promotion of her video conspicuous, and the basic information provided uses language that is understandable to those unfamiliar with the topic and foundation. In particular, the information provided by the website under the Resources heading is comprehensive, organized with headings. Presented in an user-friendly layout, the site provides links to valuable resources across a large subject matter that concerns ASD. Bird’s genuine commitment to increase awareness at an early age is apparent through this website.

    Interactive Autism Network – http://www.ianproject.org/
    The Interactive Autism Network is a national online registry of people affected by autism spectrum disorders across the nation. The website was launched by teams of researchers and advocacy groups who are dedicated to “linking the autism community with researchers.” These researchers believe that by reaching out to affected people, a community can be formed that encourages a collaboration among those with autism, along with their family and friends, researchers, teachers, and policy makers in order to obtain information regarding a spectrum of disorders with many unanswered questions. Only adults and children, with their parents’ consent, may initially register to participate in the Interactive Autism Network.
    Even though the website is intended to increase the number of participants in their network to further the research process on its quest to find answers, it also provides information to visitors regarding ASD, including an overview of challenging behaviors, as well as an overview of information that would be useful to a person who is, or knows someone who is newly diagnosed with ASD. This website also compiles links to recent related news articles and stories. A helpful feature of this website is the comprehensive glossary of terms related to ASD. From ABA to Zyprexa, this glossary could be a valuable tool to those unfamiliar with jargon surrounding the subject.
    Even though the website provides much information regarding autism and the importance of continuing research, a person who is using this website as a resource of general information may find the amount of information and some of the language overwhelming–which is perhaps the reason it provides a glossary. With careful navigation of this easy-to-use layout, this website, however, can be used as a helpful tool of recent and ongoing information regarding autism.

  • Shelley says:

    Autism Speaks

    • I found the website Autism Speaks to be user-friendly and easy to navigate. It looks like the website is geared toward parents. The major headings of the website were getting involved through community walks and advocacy, currents news and recognizing the early signs. I thought the website is resourceful and useful for parents.
    • What I liked the most about Autism Speaks website was the videos. I thought the videos were a good informative tool that shows parents what the early signs of autism looks like in a child. It also allowed viewers to compare typical developing kids and kids displaying traits of autism in different environments. I would caution parents about diagnosing their own child after watching the videos. The videos are useful however as such diagnoses should be left to the child’s pediatrician. Also, autism is such a complex neurobiological disorder that the 45-second clips really are not sufficient to clearly describe a child. I think the videos are a starting place, but parents should seek an evaluation if they have concerns.

    National Autism Association

    • I found the website National Autism Association to be a user-friendly website. The links were easy to navigate. It looks like the website is geared toward parents. The major headings of the website. I thought the website is resourceful and useful for parents.
    • The National Autism Association provided some good tools for parents and the most recent research. I like that the website included the recent research so families can have access to all available information including environmental insults, vaccines and genetics.
    • The website’s banner displays the mission of the National Autism Association however I thought the overall graphics were less than appealing. I did not that the website included medicine as I believe such medicines should come from a doctor.

  • Jeremy says:

    The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/asd.cfm) is designed by the government in order to foster and disseminate information autism spectrum disorders as part of a larger child health website. This website has been created for parents. Since it is part of a larger clinical website, where one clicks can easily take the reader away from the topic at hand. It gives a very basic overview of autism, Asperger Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), briefly describes how the symptoms affect the different domains (communication, socialization, and stereotyped behaviors), explains that there is no conclusive causal link between vaccination and autism, and states that boys are about 3 to 4 times more likely to have autism. It has many links which parents can utilize to gather further information.
    The Autism Spectrum Therapies (http://www.autismtherapies.com/Default.aspx) company website is a comprehensive website dedicated to the treatment of autism using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). This website is mostly geared towards parents with some information targeted at physicians and perspective employees. This company services individuals in Southern California with autism of all ages, their families, and work with schools to address the needs of these individuals. AST services families by providing parents with training to most appropriately help to their children. This website is highly interactive by providing numerous links regarding information about laws, services, resources, recommended readings, and videos as well as online webinars for parents. Not only does this company provide regular services, but they also provide a four month intensive ‘catch-up’ program which directly involves the infant and his/her parents.
    Overall, I found the Autism Spectrum Therapies website more user –friendly than the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development on Autism Spectrum Disorders. The one positive aspect that I found from the Kennedy Shriver website however, was the link that connected people to information about clinical trials because it gives parents a chance to find a variety of studies that could benefit children with autism. Otherwise, the website is not specific to autism, the information about autism is not substantive enough for either a parent looking for answers or one who has a variety of information, and it is difficult to navigate because it is very easy to click a link that directs a user away from information about autism. On the other hand, AST’s website is robust with useful information and would be helpful to anyone trying to find information and services for autism. It was easy to navigate for an educator and probably would be for a parent who has a good deal of experience with autism but to a parent with little to no information the website could be daunting and intimidating because of the volume of information about the variety of services that AST provides and the links regarding the law, resources, recommended readings and the online webinars offered to parents.

  • Jennifer D. says:

    Autism Society of America: http://www.autism-society.org/
    I really liked this site because it was really user-friendly and inviting. I feel that the target audience was parents because it was pretty simple to understand. It offered the perspective of a doctor, a family member and a person on the spectrum. I especially enjoyed seeing the varying perspectives because I can get a glimpse of ASD from every angle and I can become more sympathetic and understanding of other people with ASD, their families and what the doctors see. Another reason I really liked this website is because it has links to other sites on ASD on either side of the screen. This can be very useful to people and parents who don’t know where to look for information. I really liked how it had an online art exhibit and it had stories chronicling the stories of the aforementioned people.
    One thing about this website that I found a bit distressing is that it could be very overwhelming for a parent who has just recently received a diagnosis.

    Autistic Spectrum Disorders: Sorting Out Autism, Asperger’s …
    http://www.pediatricneurology.com/autism.html

    I didn’t like this website as much as the Autism Society of America because it was more wordy. It was black and white; almost completely void of color. It seemed more informative than the first website, although they were both very informative. I feel as if this website wanted to be geared towards parents and laypeople, but I was overwhelmed just looking at it.
    It was very informative. I liked how it broke down communication and how we acquire it, but I feel like mostly professionals or people who are seeking to work with children/ people with autism would benefit and/or appreciate this website.
    Although the website was very informative, and hi-lighted books on ASD, it was overwhelming and almost too easily accessible. By that I mean that the information is just thrown at you. I’d rather it be broken down into links and categories so that it’s more organized.

  • Gabby Soep says:

    According to http://www.autismspeaks.org, Autism Speaks’ mission is to ” fund global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and cure for autism; to raising public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families, and society; and to bringing hope to all who deal with the hardships of this disorder. We are committed to raising the funds necessary to support these goals. Autism Speaks aims to bring the autism community together as one strong voice to urge the government and private sector to listen to our concerns and take action to address this urgent global health crisis. It is our firm belief that, working together, we will find the missing pieces of the puzzle.” This was the first tab i saw on the website and immediately clicked on it to see what it would say. this mission statement made me think that this website is geared towards the general public, to raise awareness and therefore funding as well. I found this website to be extremely clear and easy to navigate. The information is presented clearly and written in language that is clear and easy to understand. As I began to search further, i saw that there were also many parts of the website that were geared towards parents and families of children with Autism as well. I found the video glossary to be the most interesting part of the website because these videos allow viewers to see children with Autism and their families and to relate to something they may not be familiar with beforehand. In addition it gives parents of children with Autism the opportunity to see other families and their children who have Autism and to feel that they are not alone. I found this website to be very useful and informative. Within just a few short minutes i had already learned new information about Autism.

    http://www.autism-society.org is a website was a website that i chose to explore. I found it interesting that i had to look for a few minutes to find the tab labeled “about us”. It was not the first thing my eye was drawn to on the page, so i was not exactly sure what this web site/ organization was about. After locating the tab, i clicked on it and found that The Autism Society is the nation’s leading grassroots Autism organization. Their main purpose is to “improve the lives of all affected by Autism”. This website is geared towards families of children with Autism, but also serves as a wealth of information to the general population. My favorite part of the website was a link i had clicked on titled, “sensory friendly films” AMC Entertainment (AMC) and the Autism Society have teamed up to bring families affected by autism and other disabilities a special opportunity to enjoy their favorite films in a safe and accepting environment on a monthly basis with the “Sensory Friendly Films” program.
    In order to provide a more accepting and comfortable setting for this unique audience, the movie auditoriums will have their lights brought up and the sound turned down, families will be able to bring in their own gluten-free, casein-free snacks, and no previews or advertisements will be shown before the movie. Additionally, audience members are welcome to get up and dance, walk, shout or sing – in other words, AMC’s “Silence is Golden®” policy will not be enforced unless the safety of the audience is questioned. In addition to these types of wonderful events and accommodations listed on this site, there were also many useful and important resources as well. Parents could click on any state on the United States map and see what state resources are available. The site was easy to navigate (other than the initial “about us” issue) and bright, colorful and friendly. The information was presented simply and clearly and the language was not too complicated.

  • Samantha Mann says:

    I chose to visit the websites for Autism Speaks and The Autism Society of America for this assignment. I first explored the Autism Speaks website, and my initial reaction to the homepage was that it was clean and inviting. In an attempt to look at the site through the eyes of a parent with a newly diagnosed child with autism, I first chose to look at the “Family Services” section, which was in the center of the page, listed as one of the organization’s missions. There, I found information on resources that families could take advantage of. I liked that you could search the services by age or by zip code, which could narrow a wealth of information down to exactly what the family needs. Other resources that came up which I found very interesting and could be helpful for parents are the Autism Response Team, which provides a phone number or email that families can utilize to ask questions, and the Autism Safety Project, which has ways in which you can communicate with individuals with autism in the case of an emergency. These are resources that a parent may not utilize right away, but are good for them to know about for the future. I then went to the top of the screen and investigated the “Mission” and “Be Informed” sections of the site. The “Be Informed” section gave a great amount of basic information about what autism is and a link to a video glossary. One of the links that I think would be helpful to a parent that is new to a diagnosis of autism was about “Your Child’s Rights”, which provided information about IDEA that was written in a way that was easy to understand and that is extremely important for parents of children with autism to know. It also had a section called “Caring for the Caregiver” which provided examples of things specific to helping parents, such as getting in touch with support groups and simply trying to take a few minutes each day for themselves. Personally, my only complaint overall about the Autism Speaks website was that the “Be Informed” section, which would be the most helpful for new parents, could have been more prominent, as it was not one of the initial links that I thought to look at. I think that it would be important for that to be more obvious on a website such as this because Autism Speaks has become the most well known advocates for autism in the recent years and one of the first resources that I think a parent who has heard of them would look at.
    I also investigated the Autism Society of America website, which I found would be a very useful website of a parent whose child was recently diagnosed with autism. At first, I felt that the homepage was somewhat busy and overwhelming, with many links to click on and lots of bright pictures and huge fonts. The first thing that caught my eye were the links to different stories of people affected by autism; people who are on the spectrum themselves as well as family members of individuals with autism and professionals. I think that this was a nice touch because most people visiting the website can relate to at least one of those stories. Also, the stories of people who are on the spectrum are all uplifting and describe successes despite their hardships. The homepage also has a feature called “Tip of the Day”, which had useful ideas that parents could use in their everyday life. Once you click on that link, past tips of the day are available and are sorted by headings such as “clothing”, “shopping” and “food”. I found a few tips that I could use with the child that I work with within one or two minutes of looking through a few areas. The “About Autism” part of the site was written in a way that was easy to understand and also provides information and resources for other disorders. However, there was one part that mentioned how much it typically costs to have a child with autism, which was extremely surprising and overwhelming to me and would be sure to send new parent into shock. Similar to the Autism Speaks website, this also provided parents with information about IDEA and other important things they should know about their rights and special education. Finally, I was interested to see that there was also an online course called “Autism 101” that is a short, 30 minutes introduction about the disorder and ends with a certificate of completion.
    Overall, I found that both of these websites were geared towards parents and family members, as well as professionals in the field who can learn about up to date news on research and other information about autism. They both provided links for other resources and I found them overall very user friendly and easy to navigate.

  • Michelle says:

    I found this website to be an excellent source for those who do not know much about Autism. It was a very easy and friendly website, making navigation simple. All the language they use is easy to follow and understand. It did not include a lot of jargon that only a doctor or professional in the study field of Autism would understand. I really loved how there was a “be informed” section on their page. It was direct and very helpful. I also really enjoyed how Autism Speaks incorporated a section that was solely dedicated to children’s rights. The section “Get Involved” was a great to see, because for someone who is new to understanding Autism, it provides ways for them to get involved and communicate with others. It provides that sense of support. Overall I found this website to be very truthful, honest, and very accessible.

  • Casey Gaetano says:

    Association For Science in Autism Research http://www.asatonline.org

    The ASAT website is an extremely useful tool in assisting both parents and professionals in navigating through the wealth of information regarding autism and treatment intervention. It provides scientific-based research for supporting proven effective intervention (i.e., applied behavior analysis) and evaluates other interventions that lack evidence-based research.
    In one subsection of Autism Treatments: Descriptions and Research Summaries, a comprehensive list of autism interventions is provided with a description of the therapy/medication, examples, whether research studies have been conducted and recommendations for ways of improving the validity of a particular treatment if research is lacking. This section is an invaluable resource for a parent of a recently diagnosed child who may be overwhelmed with choosing an effective treatment plan.
    The misconception that ABA only uses discrete trial instruction may turn a parent of a newly diagnosed child away from seeking this effective intervention. In a subsection of Autism Treatments, ABA teaching procedures are listed and summarized. The extensive list which includes incidental teaching, errorless learning/teaching, shaping, verbal behavior, etc, helps to disprove the discrete trial misconception. It also provides parents with a framework for understanding the necessary components of a strong ABA education program. This can assist a parent in identifying both strong and weak ABA programs. Video examples of teaching procedures are also a useful resource.
    Overall the website layout is parent-friendly and it is easy to navigate through the various sections (e.g., About ASAT, About Autism, Treatment). The information is current and frequently updated (e.g., Media Watch section). The simple website design is not overwhelming, with the focus being on the critical information provided.

  • Danielle O'Brien says:

    Autism Speaks: http://www.autismspeaks.org/
    I was immediately pleased once on the Autism Speaks website. Their page greets you in a warming and friendly manner. After navigating the different categories, I soon realized this site was definitely family oriented. Not knowing much about ASD’s myself, I found that the information provided on this site was very informative and useful. They were also able to avoid ‘jargon’ while getting trying to get the information across. I also liked the different categories that encompassed the website- such as What is Autism?, Diagnosis, Treatment, Child’s Rights, and Autism & Your Family, as well as ways to get involved (through donations and events). The information found in these categories are what families with children with ASD’s seek to gain knowledge on. Being that I am interested in Early Intervention, I particularly liked the information found in the Diagnosis section. Some interesting points included: educating parents and physicians so that children with an ASD are identified as early as possible, having children screened from birth to 36 months for developmental milestones during the routine well-visits, and the Modified Checklist of Autism in Toddlers (MCHAT)- which is a list of simple questions used to determine weather or not a child needs to be referred to a specialist. I also liked that there was current news sections relating to Autism; links to external resources. Lastly, I thought the online store was a great addition to their site. I learned that 60% of each sale is donated back to Autism Speaks by New York based Mountain & Sackett, which is such an amazing and generous contribution. While being very informative and user friendly, the only thing I did not like was the feeling of ‘information over load’ while navigating the site.

    The Autism Research Institute: http://www.autism.com/index_b.asp
    The Autism Research Institute website on the other hand was not so ‘warm and friendly’. Upon entering the website, It felt more cold and technical than the Autism Speaks website. It didn’t seem welcoming or comforting, rather I felt overloaded with with information and different links. The website itself was more dull than vibrant- with dark blue and green themes. I felt very overwhelmed while navigating this website, and would not recommend it for those seeking more information regarding Autism due to the information overload.

    OASIS @ MAAP- The Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support Center: http://www.aspergersyndrome.org/
    After clicking on the link to the OASIS (The Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support) website, at first glance, I predicted this site would not be as warm and friendly as the Autism Speaks website. I immediately thought this would not be as good of a website for parents and families. The opening page was not very inviting- nothing really ‘popped-out’- the page consisted of mostly dull colors (blue and gray). There were also very little pictures/images throughout the site- it was mostly text. The one thing that I did like about this website was the amount of useful information they provided for their readers- such as: Articles, Educational Resources, Links to Support Groups, Sources of Professional Help, a List of Camps and Schools, Conference Information, Recommended Reading and Moderate Support Message Board.

  • Danielle O'Brien says:

    Autism Speaks: http://www.autismspeaks.org/
       I was immediately pleased once on the Autism Speaks website. Their page greets you in a warming and friendly manner. After navigating the different categories, I soon realized this site was definitely family oriented. Not knowing much about ASD’s myself, I found that the information provided on this site was very informative and useful. They were also able to avoid ‘jargon’ while getting trying to get the information across. I also liked the different categories that encompassed the website- such as What is Autism?, Diagnosis, Treatment, Child’s Rights, and Autism & Your Family, as well as ways to get involved (through donations and events). The information found in these categories are what families with children with ASD’s seek to gain knowledge on. Being that I am interested in Early Intervention, I particularly liked the information found in the Diagnosis section. Some interesting points included: educating parents and physicians so that children with an ASD are identified as early as possible, having children screened from birth to 36 months for developmental milestones during the routine well-visits, and the Modified Checklist of Autism in Toddlers (MCHAT)- which is a list of simple questions used to determine weather or not a child needs to be referred to a specialist. I also liked that there was current news sections relating to Autism; links to external resources. Lastly, I thought the online store was a great addition to their site. I learned that 60% of each sale is donated back to Autism Speaks by New York based Mountain & Sackett, which is such an amazing and generous contribution. While being very informative and user friendly, the only thing I did not like was the feeling of ‘information over load’ while navigating the site.

    The Autism Research Institute: http://www.autism.com/index_b.asp
         The Autism Research Institute website on the other hand was not so ‘warm and friendly’. Upon entering the website, It felt more cold and technical than the Autism Speaks website. It didn’t seem welcoming or comforting, rather I felt overloaded with with information and different links. The website itself was more dull than vibrant- with dark blue and green themes. I felt very overwhelmed while navigating this website, and would not recommend it for those seeking more information regarding Autism due to the information overload.

    OASIS @ MAAP- The Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support Center: http://www.aspergersyndrome.org/
     After clicking on the link to the OASIS (The Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support) website, at first glance, I predicted this site would not be as warm and friendly as the Autism Speaks website. I immediately thought this would not be as good of a website for parents and families. The opening page was not very inviting- nothing really ‘popped-out’- the page consisted of mostly dull colors (blue and gray). There were also very little pictures/images throughout the site- it was mostly text. The one thing that I did like about this website was the amount of useful information they provided for their readers- such as: Articles, Educational Resources, Links to Support Groups, Sources of Professional Help, a List of Camps and Schools, Conference Information, Recommended Reading and Moderate Support Message Board

  • Alexandra Burdett says:

    One of the first sites that popped up when I googled “Autism” was this one : http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002494/

    Although it did bare factual information, I disliked the way it began. First of all, this was a part of “PubMed Health” under the “disease and conditions” sections. For a parent of a newly diagnosed child, this could be traumatic. Early on they list the “possible causes” of Autism. I agree with their providing this information, and that they did say these “causes” have not been proven, but I did not like that such information was given so early on. I think it would have been better with more factual, research based information at first, followed by speculations. This would give the parents the big picture, without filling their heads with ideas and possible causes. I understand that this was a medical site, but there was no hope for those researching the disorder. The website completely treats Autism Spectrum Disorders as a disease and gives a lot of information about medication rather than treatment programs. There was not even a link to a program option. I think that would have both supported the information, and connected parents to further resources.

    I also visited the Autism Speaks website;

    This website will, and most likely does, get a lot of parent attention. It is flashy, well known, and “inviting”. It could also be viewed as overwhelming. There is a lot of information there. The positive side of this is that it brings much of the news articles and information about Autism together to one place. But this may give parents the impression that this is the ONLY place they need to go to get their information. (and that is never the case!) Other sources should always be referred to and considered.This is especially when researching something that may be a part of your child, and your families’ lives. I love the awareness that this organization and website has brought to Autism, because with more attention and awareness, more can be achieved. I just hope that parents don’t stop here.

  • Laura says:

    Website: http://www.autismweb.com/
    This website is extremely informative and offers a wide variety of information related to Autism including an explanation of warning signs, teaching methods, books, and even a message board to connect with others. While the website is mainly geared towards parents, it also provides a range of resources for professionals who may want to expand their knowledge about specific teaching methods such as Applied Behavior Analysis, Applied Verbal Behavior, Floortime, Relationship Development Intervention, Sensory Therapy, and TEACCH. Under the description of Autism, the website also includes “Tips for Teachers” who are looking to learn more about intervention methods. Additionally, the website features a decent amount of excellent resources to help parents answer their questions, many of which provide free materials and guides. The resources also include links to organizations such as the Autism Society of America, which has chapters in many different regions.
    While the website is easy to navigate as topic headings are clearly listed at the top of the homepage, fonts are clear, and all of the links appear to be working, the one thing I do not like is the emphasis on a GFCF (Gluten-Free, Casein-Free) diet that the website seems to support. A portion of the website is dedicated to the heading, “Special Diet” and cites specific references such as Karyn Seroussi, an author who claims that due to this diet her son has no traces of Autism, as well as several research studies. Although the website does state that the GFCF diet has not gained widespread acceptance in the Autism community as of yet, in my opinion the information it provides implies otherwise as it lists positive results of research studies that could potentially misinform parents of its success. Additionally, a portion of this section is dedicated to advertisement as several mail order and online retailers of GFCF foods are listed. Therefore, while this website is an excellent resource for parents and professionals overall, the information in this section should be explored with caution.

    Website: http://www.autism-society.org/
    This website is extremely easy to navigate as it features colorful pictures, readable text, and organized headings. Furthermore, I really liked the fact that the page provides specific information for family members, individuals on the spectrum, professionals, and advocates as it has different sections for all of the above. Additionally, the website provides useful resources such as research articles, facts and statistics, and agencies available in many different regions. Additionally, the website features real stories of children and adults living with Autism and allows parents to submit their stories to be shared.
    Although the website provides many sources of information for family members, individuals, professionals, and advocates, a large portion of the site is dedicated to donations and funds, as to become a member and gain access to additional information you must pay a forty dollar fee. Furthermore, I did not like a lot of the language used on the site to describe living with an Autism Spectrum Disorder as I felt it was disheartening and pessimistic. For example, the section of the site devoted to family members talks about how having a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder will place multiple strains on the family and lists “Understanding Autism for Dummies” as a credible source. Therefore, while I think that this website could be utilized by professionals and parents interested in learning more about resources and recent research, I think it is inappropriate for parents with a newly diagnosed child who want to learn more.

  • Lorri says:

    First off I want to say terrific blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your thoughts prior to writing. I have had difficulty clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out there. I do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be wasted just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or tips? Thank you!

    • dfahim says:

      Hi Lorri, it is not always easy. The best advice I got was to just sit down and do it! Often we take up so much of our energy thinking about what we need to do. Often the task takes less time to complete than it does thinking about it.

  • Mercedes says:

    I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I don’t know who you are
    but certainly you’re going to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

  • Max says:

    Most parents couldn’t accept the fact that their children are suffering from autism. Even though there will be symptoms of the disease in earlier stages of infancy parents often misread it and only when it reaches a certain age when they understand the seriousness. With the advancement of technology over the years more and more people are aware of such diseases and know the symptoms to look for.
    https://www.htaba.com/

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