Review by Chantelle M. Grant, Special Educator & Hunter College Graduate Student
OASIS @ MAAP http://www.aspergersyndrome.org/Home.aspx: OASIS is the Online Asperger syndrome Information and Support site. MAAP provides services for people with Autism and Asperger Syndrome. OASIS @ MAAP is best categorized as a resource site. It links users to articles – scholarly and opinion-based – on how to cope with persons in our lives who may be affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder. There is also a section that contains the latest news concerning ASD. Members may participate on message boards about applicable topics.
The site seems relatively easy to navigate; however, finding specific information is difficult.
Articles and blogs are listed by date, rather than by topic, so it is necessary to go through everything in order to find something relevant to one’s needs. There are also no synopses to help evaluate information before reading it.
Although it claims to be geared towards “families, individuals and medical professionals who deal with the challenges of Asperger Syndrome, Autism, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder / Not Otherwise Specified,” I would not recommend this website to professionals. There are a few articles on diagnosing the disorder, prevalence and some treatment suggestions, but the bulk seem to be related to coping for families and are written by MAAP members. These individuals may be well-respected in their respective areas, but without adequate peer review, they are of little use to doctors, teachers, etc. who may be seeking evidence-based practices. They also seem to have as many items for sale as they do publicly accessible, which may lead one to suspect that making a profit is secondary to actually be of help.
The best feature of OASIS @ MAAP is the “Help and Services” section. It provides a seemingly thorough listing of national and local organizations and professionals who are available in specific areas, what they do, who they serve and contact information. On the homepage there is a list of regional upcoming events in support of autism awareness. I like and respect their disclaimer which warns that they are not connected to and cannot verify the quality of service received from these organizations. Unfortunately, referring users to organizations that one cannot validate does not a solid foundation make.
On a whole, I find OASIS @ MAAP is great for parent resources and networking, but as with everything else, with eyes wide open and a grain of salt.