A blog about resources for autism and care and treatment.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

TheSpeedGamers in Texas Begin Gaming Marathon to Help ACT Today! Fulfill its Mission, Providing Care and Treatment for Children with Autism

TheSpeedGamers are at it again…dedicating hundreds of spellbound, speed gaming hours to help ACT Today!, a national non-profit organization whose mission is to provide access to care and treatment for children with autism. TheSpeedGamers’ Pok√©mon Marathon runs June 15 – June 22, 2012, and can be seen online at www.thespeedgamers.com

"TheSpeedGamers are incredible! Sensational! We can’t praise these young gamers enough,” says ACT Today!’s Executive Director Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson. “This is the fourth marathon that TheSpeedGamers have hosted for our non-profit. Over the course of three years, TheSpeedGamers have raised over $115,000 for ACT Today!. We are truly grateful for such a dedicated and generous group of gamers who are joining us in the mission to help children with autism.” 

Jackson and web-show personality Shannon Penrod (“Let’s Talk Autism with Shannon & Nancy”) urge web crawlers to help spread the word of TheSpeedGamers’ June marathon.



In December 2008, TheSpeedGamers raised $5,923 for ACT Today! in 72 hours. They broke the 2008 record the following year, with over $50,730 raised in 168 hours. And, in June 2010 they surpassed the previous year again by raising over $57,400 in 189 hours. 

“When many people think of gamers, they tend to think of them as lazy or unproductive,” says TheSpeedGamers’ founder Britt LaRiviere. “However, this image is just an unfortunate stereotype. TheSpeedGamers are passionate about gaming and committed to helping non-profits like ACT Today! which provide direct help to those in need.” 

TheSpeedGamers will end their week long fundraising campaign for ACT Today! on Friday at 6 pm CST. Donations will be accepted on behalf of ACT Today! at www.thespeedgamers.com through Friday, June 22, 2012. 

For more information about the June 15-22 fundraising marathon, visit www.thespeedgamers.com

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 TheSpeedGamers:
TheSpeedGamers are based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas, but have members from around the world. The group was founded by Britt LaRiviere in March 2008, and has since raised over $300,000 for non-profit organizations across the country. 



Friday, May 25, 2012

The A Team, Helping Children with Autism Across the World



ACT Today!'s Founder and President Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh (2nd from left) is part of a  team of leading autism experts  are working together to help children and families that are struggling with autism. The A-Team spreads hope and changes lives by teaching and applying comprehensive "whole body" treatments. Spreading awareness of this broader approach is a prime objective of the global autism community. 

The A-Team has already helped many children and families - and, have been documenting their efforts and positive results along the way. The aim is to create a reality/documentary style television program that can reach millions of people worldwide. 

The A-Team includes: Parent/Advocate, Physician, Clinical Psychologist/Behavior Therapist (Dr. Doreen), and an Autism Nutritionist. 

A television pilot has already been "shot" and the proposed A-Team television series is currently being pitched to executives in the US and abroad. A short teaser "trailer" has been created that focuses on one of the A-Team's cases; a young boy in England named Jon Edwards. 

To help demonstrate public support for this educational series, we're asking people to watch the trailer below, post a comment, and please share it with others



Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson Speaks at AutismOne, May 26

The Westin Lombard Yorktown Center
70 Yorktown Shopping Center, Lombard, IL 60148

For complete conference details, visit:


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

CALL TO ACTION - HELP MILITARY FAMILIES WITH AUTISM


A critical vote is scheduled this afternoon in the U.S. Senate Armed Services Commitee to help military families caring for dependents with autism! Your state's U.S. Senator (and possibly both) serve on the committee.  

We need you to call your Senator(s) and urge them to vote YES for Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's amendment in support of military kids with autism.

The vote will be held in the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee starting at 2 o'clock EST today (Wednesday) on amendments to the new Defense bill. Senator Gillibrand's amendment is similar to one approved last week in the U.S. House of Representatives which would greatly improve access to autism insurance benefits for Department of Defense military members.

Here's your chance to help our military families! Call your  U.S. Senator's  office now! It will take only a minute and make a big difference! 

Here is How YOU Can Help:

1) CALL YOUR U.S. SENATOR(S)
 
Call Sen. Mark Warner
Phone: (202) 224-2023

In a polite voice say: "I am calling Senator [name] to ask that he/she vote in today's Armed Services Committee meeting in support of Senator Gillibrand's amendment for military families caring for dependents with autism. Thank you."

2) POST ON FACEBOOK

Urge friends and family who live in your state to join you in making calls.
 Write: "Can you help me help military families? The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee votes today at 2  pm EST on an amendment to improve autism insurance benefits for our military families. Our Senator serves on the committee. Can you call them and ask them to support Senator Gillibrand's  amendment? Thanks!"

Watch-Like-Share-Win-Skills and The-A-Word!


Join us online today for a chance to win a SIX MONTHS subscription of Skills®, the online autism solution.

Plus, watch the A-Word: Episode 32, leave a comment and you’ll be automatically entered for a chance to win a FREE DVD of RECOVERED: Journeys Through the Autism Spectrum and Back

Two chances to WIN BIG!
Two chances to see HOPE MOVE MOUNTAINS!


Why Wait?


 
SHARE this with your friends, colleagues, and on your Social Media Network. 


About Skills®: Skills is a system designed to provide educators of children with autism (including parents, teachers, and other professionals) access to the most in-depth evaluation of the child's development along with step-by-step lessons to teach the skills they need. Additionally, Skills provides a tracking system that allows the user to evaluate progress and the effectiveness of treatment on a personalized timeline. For more information about Skills®, visit www.skillsforautism.com.

About the A-Word:

The A-word chronicles a family's experience with autism and progress motivated by therapy from the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD). Follow Mike, Cheryl, and little Jack Riley, and experience the true meaning of
autism, the A-Word. Watch online at www.youtube.com/theawordautism.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh Receives Fearless Women Visionary Award




ACT Today!'s Founder and President Doreen Granpeesheh, PhD, BCBA-D received the Fearless Women Visionary Award at this year's Fearless Women Visions of a New World Global Conference, held in Los Angeles May 18-19, 2012.

Dr. Doreen has dedicated over thirty years to helping individuals with autism lead healthy, productive lives. She is a world-renowned clinical psychologist and expert in the field of autism research and therapy. She has worked with a wide range of patients – from high-functioning children with autism to the most challenging individuals whose families have been told to give up hope.


Dr. Doreen has an unparalleled recovery rate, enabling children with autism to lead independent lives. With a PhD in Psychology from UCLA, Dr. Doreen is licensed by the medical boards of California, Texas, Virginia, Arizona and is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst. She is the 2011 recipient of the American Academy of Clinical Psychiatrists' prestigious Winokur Award.


Dr. Doreen founded the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc. (CARD) in 1990. It one of the world's largest and most experienced organizations effectively treating children with autism using state-of-the-art therapy. CARD develops individualized treatment plans utilizing the principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA), a behavioral treatment approach which the scientific community has empirically validated. Under Dr. Doreen's leadership, CARD has seen success with every child over the past 20 years.

For more information about Dr. Doreen, visit www.drdoreentv.com.


About the Fearless Women Movement:
The Fearless Women movement and organization were inspired by the HH Dalai Lama who in 2009 declared, “The world will be saved by western woman.” Fearless Women Global founder and visionary photographer, Mary Ann Halpin took this to heart, gathering women with the wisdom, dynamism and vision to lead the way. One of her first steps was to create a book series titled Fearless Women. Fearless Women Day events in twelve major U.S. cities followed.

A global visionary movement, Fearless Women Global fosters women who make a difference in the world by overcoming their own fear with courage and uplifting others with love. Inspiring growth and transformation of themselves and others, Fearless Women Global builds self-direction, confidence and connections.

At the helm is Fearless Women Global, an international company with a mission to inspire, motivate, educate and connect women leaders, business owners, and community members. Members form enduring connections through its membership program, events, products, services and non-profit activities.

In addition, the sister non-profit organization, A Billion Fearless Women, aims to bring a billion women together globally to generate and support charitable projects that create a more compassionate, equitable and healthy world. One such project is Miracle Village in Ki-Mombasa, Uganda, where a new community with educational and health care facilities is being built for women and children living in extreme poverty and fear.

Fearless Women Global and its partners are a sisterhood of women who are stronger together than on their own as they support, honor and stand for each other in our challenged world.

For more information, visit: http://www.fearlesswomenglobal.com.

Friday, May 18, 2012

US House of Reps Amendment to Help Military Children with Autism

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, commends the U.S. House of Representatives for approving a bipartisan amendment this week, that would guarantee that retired Department of Defense members of the military receive autism insurance benefits for their children with autism.  In addition, this bill removed spending caps for autism treatments that were previously in place.

ACT Today! led the first national campaign on behalf of military children with autism. The non-profit organization has distributed nearly 130 grants, in the past two years, through its ACT Today! for Military Families (ATMF) program. It was launched in July 2010. ATMF works to improve awareness and delivery of effective autism services, and provides financial assistance to military families to help defray out-of-pocket costs associated with autism treatments, services, and other quality of life programs.

“We are proud to help the children of our brave military families,” says ACT Today!’s Executive Director Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson. “It is important for us to help those who protect our freedoms.”

At present, members of the military lose their autism insurance benefits when they retire, even those who have medically retired as a result of being wounded in action. The amendment clarifies that coverage under TRICARE, the Department of Defense insurance program, should include medically necessary behavioral health treatments for autism, including applied behavior analysis (ABA).  The bill also removes treatments spending caps previously in place.

“We are so relieved that the government now sees the need to extend ABA therapy to military children with autism, to our retired service members’ families.” says ACT Today!’s Founder/President and world-renowned autism expert Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh. “ABA therapy has proven to be one of the most effective – if not the most effective – forms of autism treatment to date. This new act of Congress will allow many deserving children the quality care and treatment they need in order to reach their highest potential.”

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. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal/nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. They include Autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, Childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD), Pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger’s syndrome.

For more information about ACT Today! for Military Families, visit: www.acttodayformilitaryfamilies.org.

For more information about ACT Today!, visit www.act-today.org.


Here is How YOU Can Also Help:

EMAIL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE You can send them an email here. We have the message already addressed to your Representative as well as to Congressman Larson. But if you have a personal story, add a sentence or two to the message. This will take you less than 2 minutes to do!


SPREAD THE WORD 
After you call and email, use your favorite social media to spread the word. Tweet it! Facebook it!  

Post this:
"The U.S. House of Representatives just voted to support military kids with autism. Send an email to your U.S. House Representative to thank them for supporting Congressman John Larson's amendment to the Defense bill improving insurance coverage for military kids with autism. After you take action, share the link below, then write 'done' so I can thank you!" LINK TO: www.autismvotes.org/MilitaryHouse


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.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Asia Entertainment TV's In Focus interviewed me about autism last month, during National Autism Awareness Month. Here's the interview. How has autism changed your life? Let me know in the comment section. Thanks!

Love, Nancy





Friday, May 11, 2012

WHAT THE ARTS CAN DO FOR KIDS WITH AUTISM

 By Guest Blogger: Stephanie Wilson

We keep saying, “New study by the CDC!” and this time it truly is the most recent study but if you look at the fine print the data used for this study is from 2008. 
So, what does the study say? It says that one in eighty-eight children who are eight years old have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Let’s just say that together: One in 88 eight-year-olds are autistic. And this was actually in 2008, so who knows how many more there are today!

So then we puff out our chest, raise up one finger, and say “These figures are staggering!” as indeed they are. We can’t ignore the fact that the number of children with autism is growing. We have STOPPED saying over our shoulder, “Oh, we just got better at recognizing it.” No. We didn’t. We have more kids with autism than ever before and we are going to have more adults with autism, needing care, needing jobs, needing to feel useful.

So what does this have to do with Art? Art can help these children cope with important social and communication skills. Doctors at Vanderbilt University looked at levels of Cortisol, a primary stress hormone, in kids with autism before, during and after a theatre camp. In three different studies it was found that acting improved the way kids express themselves, thus lowering their stress levels. (Don’t you just LOVE studies?)

Shameless plug: Gold Coast Theatre Conservatory in Ventura County is addressing this issue head-on. My daughter is autistic and this inspired me to establish the Acting Academy for Autism: classes designed specifically to encourage emotional perception through acting exercises. This is a theatre program for high-functioning young people in grades 3 - 12 with autism or Asperger’s Syndrome, advised by teachers who are credentialed in special needs, adults who have autism, student teachers, and theatre training professionals. The Academy honors the sensibilities of these young people and provides a safe and fun atmosphere in which they can study theatre and present a showcase at the end of each session. The Academy’s Spring Session ended on May 5, with students presenting some of their acting exercises followed by a group scene compiled from Shakespeare’s plays.

“When I first enrolled my 10 year old son Wyatt in the program, I was worried that he would not be outgoing enough, too easily distracted and unable to fully understand the materials. Was I wrong!” says Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson who is also the Executive Director of ACT Today! (Autism Care and Treatment Today). “He is in love with the experience, and just today he was reciting lines from Shakespeare! I feel this is due to the joy that (the teachers) bring to the process of teaching, and the respect and compassion they have for children on the autism spectrum. We plan to stay in this program as long as it is offered!”

“This is no different from any other good acting class,” says Elizabeth Angelini, my daughter and one of the Academy’s founders. “Students gain abilities to overcome social challenges and self-confidence, while learning the basics of theatre.” Elizabeth was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when she was 12 years old, and found studying theatre to be an excellent creative outlet. Now 31 years old, she has been teaching young people with special needs since 2003, after receiving her degree from Pitzer College and completing Levels I and II Credential as an Education Specialist in Mild/Moderate Disabilities. (there IS hope!)

When Elizabeth was diagnosed no one even knew what Asperger’s was. We had no idea that kids with autism could be high-functioning. Her teachers never called and said, “By the way, your daughter is jumping up and down and flapping her arms on the playground.” So I guess you could say that we HAVE gotten better at diagnosing it, but the experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention no longer believe that this is the reason why there are so many kids on the autism spectrum today. It’s here and we need to deal with it.

I only teach theatre and can only give you one example of what I know works. But you can bet the grocery money that there are huge benefits in using music, dance and visual art as therapy for these kids. So, what do you say? Maybe we should be thinking about how we can reach out and lend our talents to this brave new world, a world filled with kids who perceive things in extraordinary ways. Hmm, doesn’t that sound like ARTISTIC?

- Gold Coast Theatre Conservatory’s Founding Artistic Director Stephanie Wilson has taught theatre to people of all ages since 1980. She has produced and directed for The Olympic Arts Festival, Cabrillo Music Theatre and The Granada where she was Director of Education. Also a playwright, her original productions have been showcased at the Mark Taper Forum and Covent Gardens in London.

Stephanie Wilson,
Founding Artistic Director
Gold Coast Theatre Conservatory
Teaching all aspects of theatre arts
805/427-5314

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Compassion Project - Compassion for Autism is Cool!

THE COMPASSION PROJECT
Compassion for Autism is Cool!
http://act-today.org/the-compassion-project/ 


Dear Friends, 

ACT Today! has launched a public awareness campaign called "The Compassion Project," teaching "Compassion for Autism is Cool." Our goal is to spread awareness and educate people on the rampant bullying of young people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), foster understanding of those who are "Atypical," and provide access to treatments and life supports for families that cannot afford or access the treatments their children with autism need.

Together we can show the world that compassion is cool. 

Show your compassion by donating to provide treatment and care for individuals with autism. 


Love, 
Nancy




Wednesday, May 2, 2012

ACT Today! and Cox Communications Team Up to Offer an Autism Film Program for Military Children in San Diego


ACT Today! (Autism Care and Treatment Today!) is joining forces with Cox Communications to present the Autism Film Program for Military Children. The two-week program, taught by Inclusion Films, will run from June 18-29, 2012 at the Cox Communications main campus in San Diego.

The program is free for military children with autism and their siblings between 9-21 years of age. Military families can be active, retired; Guards or Reserves, and can apply for the program online at http://www.acttodayformilitaryfamilies.org/CoxFilmProgram.aspx
“We are so happy to be able to offer this program to the San Diego community,” says ACT Today!’s Executive Director Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson. 
“We believe the Autism Film Program for Military Children will give children a unique opportunity to work with a professional team of film makers, and also the chance to exercise creativity, build self-esteem and meet new friends. We hope this program will be the spring board for other such programs across the country in the coming years.” 

“The skills kids learn in our Inclusion Films summer programs go beyond the technical aspects of film making,” says Inclusion Films creator, Joey Travolta.  “The core of the process is collaboration, which in turn enhances social skills.  These skills will serve the participants in life as well as with any future aspirations they have to become part of the entertainment industry.   We are proud to partner with ACT Today! and Cox Communications to give even more access to children with developmental disabilities and their families.”

Inclusion Films educates individuals with developmental disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy by taking them through the process of making a short film, from pre- to post-production. During the two-week workshop students will work with professional production crews; writing scripts, and using film and editing equipment, with the goal of showcasing their film at the San Diego Film Festival on September 29th. 

“Children, education and the military are areas that Cox Communications focuses on when we’re looking at ways to support our community,” says Cami Mattson, Director of Community Relations for Cox Communications. “By partnering with ACT Today! and Inclusion Films, we’re able to make an impact in all of those areas by helping young people with developmental disabilities discover their talents and strengthen their skills for the future.”

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. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal/nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. They include Autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, Childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD), Pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger’s syndrome.

For more information and to register for the Autism Film Program for Military Children, visit http://www.acttodayformilitaryfamilies.org/CoxFilmProgram.aspx


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 ACT Today! for Military Families: 
ACT Today! for Military Families (ATMF), is a national program of ACT Today!. It was launched in July 2010. ATMF works to improve awareness and delivery of effective autism services, and provides financial assistance to military families to help defray out-of-pocket costs associated with autism treatments, services, and other quality of life programs. For more information about ACT Today! for Military Families, visit: www.acttodayformilitaryfamilies.org

About Inclusion Films:
Inclusion Films was established in 2006. The film school trains adults with special needs such as autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy.  It is a vocational program for basic film production skills. Students attend the film school Monday through Friday and are involved in all facets and specialties.  Headquartered in Burbank, California Inclusion Films hosts a second location in Bakersfield, California and summer programs throughout the country.  For more information, visit www.inclusionfilms.com.

About Cox Communications:
Cox Communications is a broadband communications and entertainment company, providing advanced digital video, Internet, telephone and wireless services over its own nationwide IP network. The third-largest U.S. cable TV company, Cox serves nearly than 6 million residences and businesses. Cox Business is a facilities-based provider of voice, video and data solutions for commercial customers, and Cox Media is a full-service provider of national and local cable spot and new media advertising. For more information about Cox Communications, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cox Enterprises, visit www.Cox.com and www.Coxmedia.com



Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Week


Guest Blogger: Nicole Lindstrom

This week is teacher appreciation week at my son’s school. A week devoted to giving thanks and showing gratitude to teachers, aides, helpers, and the list goes on. I say the list goes on because there is a team of people along with his teacher that help my son through his day at school. We dedicate this week to these people, and in my realm I cannot fathom a way that is big enough to say “thank you”.

Autism is a very complicated world. It has its good days and it has its bad days. The educators and team that are all on board to help my son really do care and find every means possible to continue to help him grow both academically and socially. They are true miracle workers. So how do you thank these people? How can I win the lotto to give them the well-deserved trip that could possibly show my gratitude?

My family has been blessed with a combination of services that have been provided by our school district as well as services that we seek outside of the school district. This puzzle that we have stratigically placed together to broaden my son’s needs cannot be measured. I cannot figure out a way to say just a simple “thank you” to the occupational therapist that helps with my son’s sensory needs, or the school OT that has gone out of her way in the classroom setting to be inclusive with his schoolmates on teaching them “How their engine runs”. The IBI teachers whom get down to the children’s level to work and play with them while teaching positive social behavior. The teachers and his aide that continue to teach my son while working with his bouts of frustration and deterring him from having a temper tantrum, or the Principal that checks in to make sure that all parts are working together.
These are all of the people that I would love to scream on top of a mountain and yell “THANK YOU!” 
You have helped my son progress, you have helped him to mainstream and you continue to help iron out all the bumps in the road. Your help in the classroom with making him feel like everyone else has eased some of my daily worries and has given me hope.

Separately I have thanked these individuals, I have participated with the rest of my son’s classroom with the teacher’s gift, but I want them to know they have given my family hope. Hope that there will be a better tomorrow for him, and that he is loved and cared for. His future is not a file of paper work but an actual person that will integrate with his peers. All a work in progress but non-the less progress.

What are some of the ways that you as readers have thanked all those have helped in your child’s day? A note, a gift, what are some of the ways you have been creative in giving thanks to these super heroes?

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!