A blog about resources for autism and care and treatment.

Friday, December 21, 2012

We Need Your Help...Sign to Add ABA Therapy Under the Affordable Care Act

We’ve reached 2,000 signatures. But we cannot reach our goal without yours. 

Please join the autism community in signing the petition to add ABA therapy under the Affordable Care Act. 

Click this link to sign it now: http://tinyurl.com/d5nftgo 

This petition urges Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to specify that applied behavior analysis (ABA) is part of the essential health benefits in the Affordable Care Act. Without further guidance from Secretary Sebelius, each state will decide whether ABA-based treatment for individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is covered as a behavioral health treatment.




After you sign the petition right now, urge others to do the same.

Feel free to copy and paste the following posts to your social media pages weekly, along with the attached image:

Facebook (2 different posts)

Sign Petition to Mandate ABA Therapy Under the Affordable Care Act! Click here - http://tinyurl.com/d5nftgo
This petition urges Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to specify that applied behavior analysis (ABA) is part of the essential health benefits in the Affordable Care Act.  This petition seeks to protect the existing healthcare benefits of individuals with ASD and to enhance the benefits for individuals who live in a state that doesn’t require insurance carriers to provide coverage for ABA-based treatment for ASD.


Families Unite! Sign the petition to add ABA Therapy under Affordable Care Act  - http://tinyurl.com/d5nftgo
This petition urges Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to specify that applied behavior analysis (ABA) is part of the essential health benefits in the Affordable Care Act.  Without further guidance from Secretary Sebelius, each state will decide whether ABA-based treatment for individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is covered as a behavioral health treatment.


Twitter (5 different posts)

Sign the petition to add ABA therapy under Affordable Care Act  - http://tinyurl.com/d5nftgo

Did you sign the petition to add ABA therapy under Affordable Care Act? Sign now – http://tinyurl.com/d5nftgo

Families with children with autism unite! Sign the petition to add ABA therapy under Affordable Care Act  - http://tinyurl.com/d5nftgo

Time is running out! Sign petition to add ABA therapy under Affordable Care Act – http://tinyurl.com/d5nftgo

We can’t do this without you - SIGN petition to add ABA therapy under Affordable Care Act – http://tinyurl.com/d5nftgo


Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

ACT Today! Reports Second Half of 2012 Grant Distribution,


ACT Today! (Autism Care and Treatment Today!), a national non-profit organization whose mission is to provide access to care and treatment to children with autism, announces in the second half of 2012, ACT Today! issued 105 grants totaling $86,200 to children with autism. The Eddie Guardado Foundation, a partnership formed with ACT Today! in January 2011, funded 42 of the grants for assistive technology and medical support. 
“The amazing community and corporate support has made it possible for ACT Today! to help an additional 105 families,” says ACT Today!’s Executive Director Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson. “Autism is an epidemic, and many families cannot afford the necessary tools their children need to reach their highest potential. ACT Today! is working hard to ensure those who need access to care and treatment receive it. We can’t do it alone and urge the community to join us in our mission by making a donation at www.act-today.org.”

In the past five years, ACT Today! has helped 846 families and has distributed $980,671 in grants for behavioral therapy, medical care, assistance for military families with children with autism, assistance dogs, social skills programs, special needs schools, special needs camp, assistive technology, and basic safety equipment.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in every 88 children in America is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), making ASD more prevalent than juvenile diabetes, childhood cancer and pediatric AIDS combined. Research shows families of children with autism make $18,000 or 28% less than average. For more information about ACT Today!, visit www.act-today.org.

About ACT Today!:
ACT Today! (Autism Care and Treatment Today!) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and providing treatment services and support to families of children with autism who cannot afford or access the necessary tools their children need to reach their full potential. For more information about ACT Today!, visit: www.act-today.org.

About The Eddie Guardado Foundation: 
Major League All-Star Pitcher, Eddie Guardado and his wife Lisa established The Eddie Guardado Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) in 2008 after the Guardado’s daughter was diagnosed with autism.  Lisa and Eddie understand the emotional and financial hardships families impacted with autism experience and founded the Eddie Guardado Foundation to help other families receive access to therapy and treatments that they could not otherwise afford. In January 2011, the foundation merged with ACT Today! (Autism Care and Treatment) as both non-profits share the mission of providing awareness of and access to effective therapies for children with autism.  Lisa and Eddie Guardado now serve on the ACT Today! board of directors.
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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

ACT Today! Discusses Newton Shooter Whose Family Says Suffered from Asperger's

The family of the 20-year-old who killed 26 people, including 20 children, at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., said he suffered from Asperger's Syndrome. KCAL9's Serene Branson speaks with ACT Today!'s Executive Director Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Let’s ACT Today! Believe in Miracles!



HELP CRISCENT... 

Criscent is a nine-year old boy diagnosed with autism and currently living in California with his aunt and uncle. He was BEATEN and TORTURED in his home country of Uganda. His family can not afford to provide Criscent with treatment for his autism. 

Text ACTTODAY to 20222 on your mobile phone today to donate $10 - OR make a donation online at http://www.act-today.org/SOSIt’s tax deductible.

Let’s ACT Today! Believe in Miracles!


Have you stopped believing in miracles? Sometimes I find myself guilty of cynicism and loss of hope. Recently, I rediscovered my belief in miracles due to one remarkable family.

My church, Prince of Peace Episcopal in Woodland Hills, Ca., has a Ugandan Ministry, where we support a school and orphanage in that country, and we have several Ugandan members of our congregation.  Our minister, Father Rand Reasoner, has always encouraged me to share my work as an advocate and activist in the autism world as well as our journey with our son with autism, Wyatt.

Not long ago, I was approached after service by a local couple originally from Uganda named Michael and Pross Bahinyoza. They told me a story of their nephew, Criscent, age 9, who lived in a village in Uganda.  I was shocked and saddened by what I heard.
They shared with me that their innocent young nephew had been badly beaten on many occasions due to his habit of wandering (common with children with autism) into villager’s homes where he was mistaken for a burglar stealing on behalf of the family.  Furthermore, he was considered a “bad omen”, and locked up at school like an animal, given no help or treatment. Michael and Pross told me that if he did not get help here in America, he would surely die.

After learning about the symptoms of autism, they realized their nephew Criscent showed all the signs of having it, and had the family take him to the nearest city, Kampala, where he was diagnosed with the disorder by a neurologist in Kampala. I knew that if we could get Criscent to this country, we could get him the care and treatment he needed through a grant with ACT Today!

Letters were written to the Ugandan Embassy, and Pross and Michael were able to bring their nephew here, along with his father and sister.  It did not matter to Michael and Pross that they would be sharing a 2-bedroom apartment with 8 family members, including their own severely disabled 6-year-old daughter Melissa, still in diapers and a wheel chair. What mattered to them was they had hope for the nephew they loved and the chance for not only a better life for him, but his very survival.

Criscent and Melissa both received a full assessment from CARD, (Center for Autism and Related Disorders) through a grant from ACT Today! A special education advocate was found for both children who will work to make sure they have everything they need to realize their full potential, funded by our church. Other non-profits have stepped forward to help.

Through it all, this remarkable family has shown gratitude and humility that has touched everyone who has met them and shown us that helping others in need can bring joy and comfort to us all, “You cannot know heaven until you have experienced hell” Michael said to me one day.  They believe a miracle has happened in the lives of their nephew and daughter, due to the generosity of others. One look at the happy face of a little boy named Criscent shows that miracles can come true.

Love,
Nancy

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

ACT Today! Launches New Program to Help Individuals with Autism Facing Crisis Situations





ACT Today! (Autism Care and Treatment Today!), a national non-profit organization whose mission is to provide care and treatment to children with autism, announces the launch of ACT Today! SOS, a new program aimed to address the urgent needs of those impacted with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).  

“We understand some individuals on the autism spectrum are in immediate and personal danger or harm and are unable to wait up to 12 weeks for a response to their ACT Today! grant request,” says Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson, ACT Today!’s executive director. “The ACT Today! SOS program is designed to provide immediate support for families based upon need and the program funds available.”

To qualify for an ACT Today! SOS grant, applicants must have an immediate need for treatment or support and if treatment is not found, the applicant’s physical safety is in jeopardy. ACT Today! SOS will fund effective treatments and services to treat ASD and will not fund living expenses, travel, utilities or clothing. Income level of the applicant’s family must be below $45,000 per year and the applicant may not have received support from ACT Today! within the past 12 months. 

There are currently three families on the ACT Today! SOS wait list. 

The Maroni family of New Jersey has three children on the autism spectrum. The fence around their home was completely destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. The chances are now greater for the three children to run away, or “wander,” a common trait with children with autism. 

Criscent is a nine-year old boy diagnosed with autism and currently living in California with his aunt and uncle. He was beaten and tortured in his home country of Uganda. His aunt and uncle cannot afford to provide Criscent with treatment for his autism. 

Elijah is a four-year old boy from Iowa. He suffers from severe autism and needs a padded safety bed to prevent concussions caused by seizures and head banging. 

“We are sending out an SOS and asking the community to help us help these families and others like them who are in dire need,” says Alspaugh-Jackson. “Starting this week, we will launch the ACT Today! SOS social media campaign, calling on the online community to make a donation, either by texting or on our website.” 

For more information about ACT Today! SOS and the requirements, visit www.act-today.org/SOS


About ACT Today!:
ACT Today! (Autism Care and Treatment Today!) is a 501(c)(3) national non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and providing treatment services and support to families of children with autism who cannot afford or access the necessary tools their children need to reach their full potential. For more information about ACT Today!, visit: www.act-today.org.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

New Online Video Series Showcases Portraits of Hope for Families of Children with Autism

Friends, there's a new online video series called "Mission Possible: Portraits of Hope" that showcases stories of families affected by autism.

The stories are truly amazing and I hope, like me, you will appreciate these stories as well are work to raise autism awareness and the need for effective autism treatments.

Watch "Mission Possible: Portraits of Hope" with me at:



Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Case of the Picky Eater


By Guest Blogger, Nicole Lindstrom
Author of Simply Happenstance Blog


This past week we celebrated Thanksgiving with both sides of the family. It was great to be able to do this, as my husband has been on shift the past three years.

I love being able to visit with everyone. It is a nice time to catch up with what is new in their lives, as well as getting to know the newer, and soon to be, new additions of the family. All wonderful things to be thankful for.

It is all grand until it is time to sit down for the meal…..

The part in which I dread the most. My palms sweat and it is time to answer the question,

“What is Mason eating for dinner, where is his plate?”

Uh oh….

The dreaded picky eater…..

My son is a picky eater and has been for the majority of his life. He is like most kids on the Autism Spectrum, that crave routine and predictability. This trait goes hand-in-hand with some children that also have a sensory processing disorder. The sensory component means that he will eat the same few meals over and over again without a huge fuss.

I know what you think… the kid won’t starve, but he will, as it is part of this disorder.

Textures and smells create sensory stop signs for these kids. Loud full houses and having to sit for extended periods of time is extremely hard for a child who has a hard time sitting in school, let alone a crowded dinner table

{I myself get overwhelmed after being around too much noise for an extended period}.

More often than not, it is a battle in which their behavior goes from zero to 60 in 2.5 seconds.

Believe me I have tried it all… heard it all, but I know as a Mom that we worked very hard with our son and that this is the smaller piece to a very large puzzle.

As per Lindsey Biel, M.A., OTR/L and Nancy Peske’s book RAISING A SENSORY SMART CHILD, if a child has food related issues try to avoid food related battles at the family meal and focus instead on pleasure of the company {this book is amazing for any child}.

We see an Occupational Therapist for help with Mason’s SENSORY PROCESSING DISORDER and with his eating behaviors {thank goodness for Wayne Centra at KARATE FOR ALL}.

Yes I would love to be that mother whose child eats all of my homemade food and I wish I could say my son loves all of his basic food groups, but that is something that I know is in the far off distance… a work in progress. I know that a special gluten free and casein free diet works for some children on the Autism Spectrum, but Mother knows best {well with the support of an educated therapist… wink wink}

I am just happy that my child is eating food. It may be considered processed and babysitter like, but it is what is. Luckily I am able to sneak in nutrients in places where I can.

For now I will be happy for the progress he has made and the obstacles we have overcome, for they have been great… if not amazing!

So when we pull up a seat at a table please don’t ask, “Is that what he is eating?”

For I am thankful for the boy he is, and not for how I would like the situation to be.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Call-to-Action for Military Families of Children with Autism - ACT Today!


Senator Gillibrand (NY) introduced important legislation to clarify TRICARE coverage of ABA care for military dependents and align coverage of ABA treatment with best practices.  

Please take action and share the below action alert with your network of supporters and help provide the medical care our military families have earned and deserve.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Art for Autism Care and Treatment Today!

Be a Part of Art for Autism Nov 29th in Indianapolis - Benefiting ACT Today! and featuring the artwork of William Henry Studio, Marc Aronstam and Philip Stein. 8685 River Crossing Blvd - Details? Call (317) 817-9000. 

See you at the auction! :-)


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Crusader for Autism Treatment

Ability magazine interviewed me about being a mom with a child with autism and running a national non-profit organization. The article by John D. McMahon just came out in the most current edition...

Read the article with me.

Click on this link to read the article. 



 
CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE

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Monday, November 12, 2012

ACT Today! Raises a Quarter of a Million Dollars at the 7th Annual Denim & Diamonds for Autism Fundraiser, November 3 in Malibu


ACT Today!’s (Autism Care and Treatment Today!) 7th Annual Denim & Diamonds for Autism fundraiser raised over $260,000 on Saturday, November 3, 2012 at the Calamigos Ranch in Malibu, California. Net proceeds from the star-studded event will help provide resources and grants to children with autism whose families cannot afford or access the necessary tools their children need to reach their highest potential, including grants for therapy, medical care, assistance dogs, assistive technology, basic safety equipment, tuition for special needs schools and social skills programs. More than 500 guests attended the fundraiser.

Actor Joe Mantegna (“Criminal Minds”), television executive Steve Mauldin (KCBS 2/KCAL 9) received the 2012 ACTivist awards and community activist Kathleen Sternbach received the 2012 Golden Cowgirl award for their tireless efforts raising autism awareness.


The evening began with star-studded red carpet arrivals which included actor Joe Mantegna ("Criminal Minds"), television executive Steve Mauldin (President/GM of KCBS 2/ KCAL 9), award-winning singer/songwriter Brian McKnight, actor Shemar Moore ("Criminal Minds”), actress Jean Smart ("Hope Springs"), actor Richard Gilliland  ("Torchwood"), actress Bonnie Hunt ("Cheaper By the Dozen", "Jerry Maguire"), actress AJ Cook ("Criminal Minds"), actor Mark Christopher Lawrence ("Chuck"), television executive Vin Di Bona (Vin Di Bona Productions), actor Erik Fellows ("Days of Our Lives"), actress Hunter King ("The Young and The Restless"), actor Don Diamont (“The Bold and the Beautiful”), actress Katherine Kelly Lang (“The Bold and the Beautiful”), actor Lou Diamond Phillips (“Longmire”), martial artist/actor Don “The Dragon” Wilson and actor Kyle Massey.

The reception was hosted by Maddy’s Market and sponsored by Natrol, Inc. Guests mingled and bid on 85 silent auction items before being seated for the dinner buffet program. ACT Today! grant recipient Dora Perez joined actor Mark Christopher Lawrence on stage and told the audience how her son Dustin was once nonverbal and low functioning and with the help of an ACT Today! grant for an iPad, Dustin has learned to speak and make friends. Dustin joined his mother on stage and said an emotional “Thank you, ACT Today!” using his iPad to help communicate the words. Guests bid on 17 live auction items including a lavish trip to Las Vegas with a stay at Caesars Palace, a 2-year prepaid Nissan LEAF 100% electric car provided by Universal City Nissan and a national champion reserve half Arabian horse provided by Hoffman International Properties. Musical entertainment was provided by tenor George Komsky who sang “Dare to Live,” twins 2-U-NEEK performed “Hero” and multiple award-winning singer Brian McKnight performed a mini-concert to the guests’ delight. At the end of the dinner program, guests were treated to a post party with BOSS in the USA; a Bruce Springsteen tribute band.

Major corporate sponsors of this year’s event include: CBS Corporation, Vin Di Bona Productions, Universal City Nissan, TWIW Insurance Services LLC, Reaction Audio Visual, Natrol, William Henry, Maddy’s Market, Wells Fargo, Judy and Jay Hearst along with Pressure Tech, Puritas, Sandy and David Stone, Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc., Burbank Printing, Hoffman International Properties, City National Bank, The Hollywood Reporter, Latham & Watkins, The Shape of Behavior, United Healthcare, CodeMetro, Valley Economic Development Center, Double Helix Water, Lineagen, Isabella Emporium, GLO Hair Salon, Passageway School, Planet Beauty, Rage Models and Westlake Magazine.

Visit www.denimanddiamondsforautism.net for event photos and media.

About ACT Today!:
ACT Today! (Autism Care and Treatment Today!) is a 501(c)(3) national non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and providing treatment services and support to families of children with autism who cannot afford or access the necessary tools their children need to reach their full potential. For more information about ACT Today!, visit: www.act-today.org

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

"Ask Dr. Doreen" Starts this Wednesday at 10:00am (PST) on Autism-Live.com

ACT Today!'s Founder/President Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh,  a leading expert in the field of autism will host “Ask Dr. Doreen”, a live web show that airs each Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. on www.autism-live.com. “Ask Dr. Doreen” begins November 7, 2012. “Ask Dr. Doreen” allows parents, teachers and practitioners to call in, ask questions and get answers in real time about autism spectrum disorders, effective treatment options, the latest research, how to address challenging behaviors, and more.  


Doreen Granpeesheh, PhD, BCBA-D has devoted over 30 years to the study and treatment of autism spectrum disorders and is recognized as a leading expert in the field.  Through her organization the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, she has successfully treated tens of thousands of individuals with autism using the CARD Model of ABA treatment.

“Ask Dr. Doreen” is part of Autism Live, a premiere source for autism information on the web hosted by autism mom, Shannon Penrod.


Friday, October 26, 2012

RETURNING TO THE SOURCE OF IT ALL AND EVERYTHING

By Guest Blogger: Jesse A. Saperstein

Nostalgia is a powerful weapon and everybody holds onto those pleasant memories of those days of yesteryear and times of yore!  And despite all the painful realities that did exist...my generation has much to be nostalgic about when we reminisce!

We were the last generation to enjoy primitive video games where we could function without the constant bombardment of relentless, and addictive, game play found with Angry Birds as well as its brethren.  We experienced the lushness of economic prosperity in the eight years of Bill Clinton.  Recession and Depression were merely buzz words from years before we were born.  There were definitely realities we should forget, but it is my choice to hold on for dear life.  I have never been able to let go and this perseveration may be attributed to some of my life's biggest successes.  It is why I completed the 2,174-mile Appalachian Trail and published a book back in 2010.  I choose to hold onto the bad stuff.  This is partially why I returned to the yin-yang symbol of beauty and ugliness.

On the date of Thursday, October 18. 2012 I had the privilege of delivering a speech to the Special Education Parent Teacher Association (SEPTA) of the Arlington Central School District.  Back in 1996 - 2000 there was no such organization in existence.  There was also no IMPACT program, which thrives in the middle and high school.  The IMPACT program caters to mostly students on the mildest end of the autism spectrum.  It exists to provide a haven while letting them experience the rest of the school community.  Most important, it always reinforces the notion there is something to fight for and everybody has something profound to offer those who give them a chance.  There was plenty of bullying during the days without an Anti-Bullying Movement.  There were 
also teachers who failed to understand that my uniqueness was something to be nurtured and not a flaw that needed correction.  But somehow, with the absence of our modern understanding, I was still able to thrive within the halls of Arlington High School.  The mercy not delegated from my peers in class was obtained in many of the extra-curricular 
activities that I tried over those four years.  Life was marred by traumatic bumps like an intense, six-month case of cyber bullying back in 1999, but it is not hard to find nostalgia.

On that Thursday evening I had the gift of giving a semblance of hope and realistic advice to parents with kids in the Arlington School District.  They are worried about the present and future.  Like my mother and father, they may want to instill in their kids a sense of normalcy and help tone down their eccentric behavior.  They are hurt by their child’s isolation and want them to be embraced with the rituals of dates to the school prom...tasting victory in a sports game…and all the rituals that are supposed to speckle the high school experience.  My mother and father frequently told me, “You can be as weird as you wish.  But keep in mind there are going to be consequences.

The social isolation would be far less intense if we could accept one inalienable truth.  We are all a little weird in our own wonderful ways.  Wonderfully weird, if you will.  I brought out a cup-and-ball toy and started playing with it.  Then I invited an audience member on stage and she got into it.  This silly, “inappropriate” toy became addictive and fun.  It was important to remind the audience that when they learn their child is affected by a lifelong disability…they experience a whirlwind montage of milestones that may not come to fruition, such as those corsages at the prom, standing ovations, nights out with friends at the movies and other venues of teenage euphoria.  These moments in my childhood have been few and far in between, but they have definitely thrived just a little.  And the greatest way to help their children is by focusing on continuous and relentless compromise.  No matter how ridiculous or age-inappropriate a problem may seem…it is important to first focus on the compromise before trying to force a determined child to “just let it go.”  I have come to accept and embrace this characteristic a long time ago.  I cannot and will not let go or move on.  I have instead learned how to compromise, put something on a backburner, and the most effective quality of all…move forward.

There was an unusual amount of passion in my words that night despite the fact that I was still fighting off the aftermath of a horrific cold that brought me to my knees for a solid week.  The passion was also very personal because of the lessons and contrition that the Arlington Central School District infused in my life long after I had left the classroom.  When I graduated college and completed the Appalachian Trail…I decided to take a small step backwards before moving forward with my life.

My college education had been devoted to taking English and Educational courses because it was my career path to be a teacher.  Every test pointed to this career and I was also aware of my power to make a contribution.  My immaturity coupled with the Asperger’s syndrome ruined these prospects.  Six years ago in 2006, I attempted to substitute teach within the Arlington Central School District and was met with disastrous results.  As I explained to the audience, my outbursts in the classroom were not involuntary like Tourette’s syndrome, but they were as close as possible!  It was not an uncommon occurrence for me to pull a stunt like answering my cell phone in the middle of class or make a reference to the overpowering sexiness of Eva Longoria from Desperate Housewives.  This was the first time in my life when I realized there would be brutal and long-term consequences for behavior exacerbated by the demons of Asperger’s syndrome.  And there have been consequences that have haunted my life for six years.

The Arlington Central School District was the only school that was fair in terminating my employment during those days of pain and harsh lessons.  Other schools made up reasons such as, “You accidentally told a student your name is Jesse instead of Mr. Saperstein” and “We did not feel you related well to children.”  Returning to advocate for the abilities of the current students and myself was both powerful and cathartic.

The past six years have been spent building my life back and proving that I am not going to be a liability in future, employment venues.  I have taken on jobs that were initially not for me and I certainly did not belong.  But they worked out when they should have failed.  And with that said, one of the most important qualities that will lead to success for those on the autism spectrum is this same tenacity.

I am never going to stop fighting for myself as well as those students struggling to build back their life after a rough start.  It was clear the audience was ready to join me!  Every day there is a little more to fight for as well as the hope that I may someday return to the familiar halls as a Human Sequel and become more of a consistent voice for my peers…

Web: 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Join sponsor Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) at the 7th Annual Denim & Diamonds for Autism. Get tickets today! – www.act-today.org/denimanddiamonds2012  - CARD leads the way in the successful treatment of autism, www.centerforautism.com.