Tags: Special Needs
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released staggering statistics on autism. They estimate one in 88 children are now identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This is up from one in 150 in 2000.
The cause of the increase is up for debate. What is known is that Indianapolis-area families affected by autism have access to services that can help ease symptoms of the disorder and improve the child's and family's quality of life. Following are a few organizations that offer services, training and information for help families need now.
Autism Resource Network of Indiana
Found at www.arnionline.org, the Autism Resource Network of Indiana is a database of providers and information important to the autism community. Families can search the database by subject matter or by provider location.
Indiana Allies is a free peer-to-peer support program. Mary Roth, lead Ally with the statewide autism program, says people can connect directly with an Ally by dialing 800-609-8449. The program's services are broad and range from simply listening to helping parents with individualized education plans, strategizing on treatment options, and more.
HANDS in Autism
HANDS in Autism is an extension of the Christian Sarkine Autism Treatment Center. Its website, www.handsinautism.org, offers practical information for families and caregivers as well as a Kids Corner tab that features crafts, games, videos and more for kids with ASD. HANDS in Autism provides workshops and a computer lab where caregivers can create visual supports. Roth praises the organization's Make It Take It workshops where caregivers make individualized visual supports to take home for immediate use. She also likes their Learn It Live It workshops for learning new skills for dealing with behaviors.
Indiana Resource Center for Autism
The Indiana Resource Center for Autism (IRCA) conducts research and provides information and training on a variety of topics that affect individuals touched by autism. IRCA staff writes and posts articles at www.iidc.indiana.edu/irca that address a wide range of topics such as behavior, sensory programming, education, communication, self-help, and more.
IN*SOURCE is a statewide, parent-helping-parent organization that provides training and mentoring for parents of children with Special Needs so they can more effectively navigate the school system. Some training sessions like Understanding Article 7 are even available at www.insource.org.
Applied Behavior Analysis is not the only treatment for autism but it is widely recognized as an effective therapy for the disorder. There are about 10 ABA centers in Greater Indianapolis and more ABA therapists work freelance. Families can locate therapists and centers at www.arnionline.org or www.bacb.com.
While some may stereotype ABA as a therapy for young children with autism, the truth is it can help individuals of all ages and area ABA centers are adding programs to reach an older audience. The Applied Behavior Center for Autism, for instance, offers a new L.I.F.E. program that occurs in a home setting and provides older students opportunities to interact and learn in real-life environments like grocery stores or through volunteer work. Little Star Center's Middle Star program for students ages 10 and up will work with students in their homes or workplaces. The Behavior Analysis Center for Autism avails its therapy to a broader audience with an after-hours program for individuals ages 8 - 18 who attend school full time but need help with social skills or face academic issues.
While Roth contends Indiana as a whole still has strides to make to bring much-needed support to families touched by autism, Indianapolis is without doubt on the right foot with a variety of services already in place for these families. The preceding list is just a handful of the support out there, but it's a good list to have handy.