Receiving a diagnosis that your child has autism is life changing. It can be hard to know what to do and where to turn for help. Fortunately, you are not alone. Autism is becoming more and more common. In 2000, 1 in 150 children were diagnosed with autism. By 2014, that number had jumped to 1 in 59.¹ As diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) increase, so do the resources and tools available to support children and their families.
Help Your Autistic Child with These Tech and Online Solutions
If you’ve been searching for solutions, we’re here to help. We’ve done independent research and talked to parents in order to put together a guide to the best tech and online resources for families living with autism.
It's Autism Awareness Month
Autism Speaks encourages you to wear blue during April to support their global effort to increase both acceptance and understanding of people with autism. Learn more at www.autismspeaks.org/world-autism-month
Smart Tech for Kids with Autism
Parents often have a love-hate relationship with technology, but it can provide help and peace of mind when used the right way. These are two tech solutions that both parents and kids with autism love to use.
This GPS tracking system was designed by a father of an autistic child. He created this smart gadget specifically for children with autism and developmental delays.
“It has so many amazing features that allow me to connect with my son while keeping him safe,” says Jessica, mom of an autistic child. “AngelSense is capable of monitoring the speed in transit when he’s with caregivers, auto pickup when I or an authorized guardian calls him, real-time location alerts, and so many other great features designed to meet the needs that parents of children with special needs have.”
AngelSense is a GPS tracker that attaches to your child’s clothing. It can be affixed anywhere and that flexibility can help children with sensory issues. Best of all, kids can’t remove it. Multiple features, including real-time GPS tracking, two-way talk, and multiple alarms, make this a tech tool that helps both parents and kids feel safe.
“AngelSense has been a lifesaver for my family,” says mom L.W. “It came in handy when my son who is autistic left school without anyone noticing. I was alerted as soon as he left the building and was able to pinpoint his location to his teacher. Within 15 minutes he was safely back at school. Thank you so much for giving my family peace of mind!”
Used in schools, TeachTown offers tools and programs designed to “improve the academic, behavioral, and adaptive functioning of students with disabilities.” The company is laser-focused on serving specific populations, including children diagnosed with ASD. One mom, Brāv Ambassador Dr. Christine McLean-Lee, has seen positive results in her 5-year-old son, who uses the program at school.
“I am the mother of an amazing autistic child,” says Christine, “TeachTown is an Applied Behavior Analysis program that he uses at school. This program is interactive and encourages functional and expressive communication, social learning, and imitation skills.”
TeachTown has programs for children from 18 months old through middle school. The programs address the cognitive, academic, and social/emotional challenges that children with ASD and other developmental disorders face. Resources are available for teachers, clinicians, and parents.
Online Resources for Families Living with Autism
Whether you’re looking for a support system or the latest news, research, and discussions about autism, a wealth of resources is just a click away.
Resources for Caring for Autistic Children
If you’re a caregiver, parent, teacher, or clinician, these resources can provide information, insights, strategies, and support.
Shut Up about Your Perfect Kid: The moms we talked to love the blog and social media accounts of this “movement of imperfection.” The site is a celebration of “special kids” and the challenges and triumphs of their “ordinary parents.”
Autistic Self Advocacy Network: This nonprofit organization started as a grassroots movement that advocated for disability rights for the autistic community. It is run by autisticindividuals and focuses on working toward a world where autistic people will have “equal access, rights, and opportunities.”
LetMeTalk App: This free AAC talkerwas designed for non-verbal individuals to give them an intuitive way to communicate basic daily needs like “I want to eat.” It’s an easy way for non-verbal children to communicate their wants, needs, and emotions.
Not all resources are the perfect fit for every family, so Jessica recommends looking for help based on the specific needs and challenges that you are dealing with.
“There are a lot of really great resources out there, but I think which ones are best depends on where on the spectrum your child is and what needs you have as a family. Personally, the best guidance I have received has come from adults on the spectrum. They offer an insight into my child’s world that I don’t have.”
Resources for People Unfamiliar with Autism
Christine recommends these FaceBook Pages to learn more about autism.
AutismTalk: This page gives people dealing with ASD and Asperger’s Syndrome a place to connect, communicate, and support one another.
Autism on the Mighty: Sponsored by The Mighty, this FaceBook Page is a digital community that aims to connect and empower people facing disabilities and other health challenges.
Autism Support Network: If you’re looking for a peer-to-peer network where you can share knowledge, challenges, and support, this is it. The network also provides the latest news, conferences, and other information about autism.
Jessica has also found a lot of support on social media, but she offers some insight into which groups are best for parents and other support people who are helping an autistic child or adult.
“I found a few closed groups on social media, and through their discussions I have learned so much more about sensory processing disorder, social issues, and other related topics than I did from doctors or professionals…[but] you must be honest about your intention in the group you want to join. I requested access to a few groups that denied me because they were groups for support from fellow autistics. I think it’s really important to respect that kind of atmosphere because adults on the spectrum don’t have enough support in general.”
How to Get Involved
There are a number of national and local organizations dedicated to supporting autistic people. To find local resources, check with your child’s school or doctor for referrals to services and support for families. When it comes to national organizations, both the moms we interviewed shared their favorites.
National Autism Association
Jessica recommends this organization, especially if you’re just starting your journey with autism. Check their website for local chapters and support groups.
“My favorite is the National Autism Association. Besides having a lot of great resources to learn more about autism and the related issues, they also offer the Big Red Safety Box to families with autism. The package includes resources and tools to help keep your child safe.”
Autism Self Advocacy Network
Christine enjoys the unique perspective provided by the Autism Self Advocacy Network, and she turns to it for research and education. You can get involved by sharing your experiences, volunteering, or donating to the ASAN.
“This is an organization that claims to be run for and by autistic people. I find that they are strong advocates and always provide a perspective that is different from that of a researcher, parent or therapist.”
Living with autism can be a challenge, but it’s one that you don’t have to face alone. Building a strong support system and taking advantage of technology and other online resources can transform your struggles into triumphs.
Caveat: SafeWise strives to use inclusive language in all of our publications. Although we usually opt for person-first language, we found that in the case of autism, there are many opinions about person-first versus identity-first language. For this article, we followed the lead of the parents we interviewed and used identity-first language. Although the semantic approaches may vary, we remain committed to respectful and inclusive language, and we want to hear your thoughts and questions. Please send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for SafeWise.com. Her safety expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. ou can find her work and contributions in places like TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, HGTV, MSN, and an ever-growing library of radio and TV clips. Learn more