We all agree that if a child is diagnosed with autism, intervention should start as soon as possible. Unfortunately, waiting lists seem to be the norm for every program. But you don’t have to just wait and worry – you can learn about your child and about strategies to improve their language and social skills right away. Those of us who are in a program can also use additional help and resources to effectively work with our children. Here is a parent-friendly list of resources to find support with a developmental approach to autism therapy:
The Hanen Centre: Speech and Language Development for Children
This is a good place to start. The Hanen Centre is a Canadian organization promoting family-focused early language intervention. They offer books, videos, and occasional seminars and workshops. The parent manual for autistic children, More Than Words, provides strategies for very young children on the autism spectrum. TalkAbility is for children with autism or Aspergers who have begun to communicate verbally. Both books have guides to evaluate sensory needs and to track your child’s progress. You can also purchase DVDs to go along with the books which give you visual examples of how to carry out the strategies. Highly recommended!
ICDL is the organization in Bethesda, Maryland, where Dr. Stanley Greenspan, founder if DIR/Floortime was based. They now offer training opportunities, provide information to parents and caregivers, and do research.
Autism Therapy – The P.L.A.Y. Project
The P.L.A.Y. Project is a successful therapy program for children with autism, located at the Ann Arbor Center for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics in Michigan. PLAY Project therapists train parents to help children connect, communicate and build relationships with others, using the principles of DIR/Floortime. PLAY Project is being implemented in several states and can be offered as a distance learning option for families, as the focus is on coaching parents using videotapes of interactions with their child.
They offer information on their webpage, and offer online courses at reasonable cost for parents, therapists and teachers.
The Profectum website is the home of an organization offering professional training in DIR – and they also have a collection of resources for parents. Their Profectum Parent Toolbox is free, and has some great information, including webcasts and reading material.
Autism Discussion Page
This Facebook page was developed by Bill Nason (a psychologist with many years of experience working with people with autism) to discuss tools that help children on the spectrum feel safe, accepted and competent. Although each child is different with unique strengths and challenges, there are some common strategies that can strengthen the social, emotional, and cognitive development of most children on the spectrum. He has a “tool kit” as a picture gallery, and he posts often.
Youtube Video: Journey to Engagement
What does the first stage of Floortime look like? Here is one family’s visual diary of their first 7 months doing Floortime with their child.
Those Who Have Gone Before Us
We also recommend that you start reading blogs of other parents with children on the autism spectrum, and listening to the insights of adults with autism is invaluable – many are sharing their thoughts and experiences online. There is a wealth of experience and inspiration out there. You can get started in our blog lists in the sidebar.
You are not alone! No question, parenting a child with autism is hard work. But we also find we are learning more about ourselves and what’s really valuable in life than we ever would have thought. Our children are just that – our children – and are a valued part of our families and communities, making contributions according to their unique personalities and gifts. As with any other child, the joy in parenting comes with seeing character and abilities unfold as we develop relationships. May you find joy in the journey!
Click here to read some additional thoughts on getting started.