A blog about resources for autism and care and treatment.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Let Our Life Songs Sing – Together

The autism community has been galvanized by the recent resignation of John Robison from his role at Autism Speaks, the largest and most powerful autism advocacy organization in the world, due to comments from founder Suzanne Wright. Robison, who has Asperger’s, acknowledges that autism confers “both gifts and disability on everyone it touches.”

Robison vehemently disagreed with Mrs. Wright’s description of autism as a “monumental health crisis” devastating the lives of millions of families around the world, leaving them depleted, both emotionally and financially.

Mr. Robison and Mrs. Wright, you are both right. I know individuals on the spectrum like Alex Plank, the founder of Wrong Planet, who are higher functioning and far more talented than most of my friends. But come to my offices at ACT Today! and look at the files from families who have received or are awaiting grants. There’s a different story to tell. Read about the grandparents living on Social Security who want behavior therapy for their 13 year old grandson, abandoned by his parents, so he can be toilet trained and learn to dress himself before they die, so in their words, he will have “less of a chance of being sexually molested in a home”. Read the requests of a single mother who works the night shift and moved back in the 2 bedroom house of her parents, who wants an iPad so her non-verbal child can type "I love you", words she will never hear spoken. Read the request from the father who wants to help his son stop the severe repetitive behavior of picking at his infected eye, which doctors will have to remove if something cannot be done.

These voices deserve to be heard as well, and it is downright shameful, that in a country as wealthy as the United States of America, that they need to apply to a nonprofit to get help.

As a nation, we need to become more accepting of autism and those with it, and we need a national plan to help the legions of families that have members who are lower functioning and cannot get the care and treatment they need. I once met with the Chairman and CEO of a major entertainment conglomerate, who generously agreed to run a public service announcement on autism awareness for the military family, then who asked me “Why are there so many of you? (meaning autism organizations) and why can’t you guys come together?” Indeed, why can’t we?

Monday, November 25, 2013

New autism grant program to assist valley families

 

Earlier this week, ACT Today! — a national nonprofit organization with the mission to provide care and treatment to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) — announced that it has committed $100,000 in grants for Coachella Valley families.

The announcement, made on Monday at the Coachella Valley Clinton Health Matters Initiative working group on seniors and disabilities, represents another positive action taken this year in a growing trend to increase access and reduce barriers to services and treatments for families with ASD.

Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the United States, occurring in approximately one out of every 88 children. This makes it more prevalent than juvenile diabetes, pediatric cancer and childhood HIV combined.

Though ASD cannot be cured or outgrown, it is highly treatable, especially when diagnosed early. For this reason, access to diagnosis, intervention and support services is extremely important. In fact, the Autism Society reports that the cost of lifelong care can be reduced by two-thirds with early diagnosis and intervention.

Throughout California and in the Coachella Valley, many local service providers are dedicated to increasing awareness of ASD and helping families identify resources, so their loved ones have the support they need.

Despite these efforts, children with ASD in underserved communities (low-income, rural and/or immigrant) are likely to be diagnosed much later than their counterparts in affluent areas. Moreover, a report by the Senate Taskforce on Equity & Diversity in Autism Services found that barriers related to race, language, education level and/or where one lives result in stark disparities in public spending for regional center autism services.

For instance, in Orange County, an average of $16,686 in services is spent per child, whereas the average in the Coachella Valley is $4,920.

To improve regional center autism services in underserved communities, a package of bills was introduced in the state Legislature this year. The governor signed four bills, including AB 1232 authored by Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez.

AB 1232 requires the Department of Developmental Services to assess the linguistic and cultural competency of service delivery in the state’s regional centers to ensure services are “people-centered,” as prescribed by law.

Also signed were laws to address how services are contracted through regional centers (SB 208), to set cultural competency training guidelines for regional center board members (SB 367) and to ensure that regional centers make a valid effort to develop individual program plans or family services plans in the language spoken by the family seeking services (SB 555).

While these new laws will improve access to services over time, ACT Today!’s Coachella Valley grant program can make a powerful and direct impact on local families right away. Beginning Jan. 1, families may apply for grants via the ACT Today! website. Paper applications in both English and Spanish can be requested by calling (877) 922-8863 or emailing info@act-today. org.

Grant funds can be used to defray the cost of treatment, assessments, and other necessary expenditures, including such things as nutritional supplements, adaptive communication devices, and household items that make a home safer for a child with autism.

To promote inclusion, ACT Today! has translated parent training and outreach materials into other languages and launched a new website and program known as ACT Today! Español. In addition to the Spanish-language resources on its website, ACT Today! Español’s bilingual program coordinator can assist families in accessing the services they need.

The grant program also leverages other recent investments in our region to address health disparities, such as the Clinton Health Matters Initiative and the Coachella Valley Building Health Communities Initiative.

We are excited by these developments and will continue to work to build out the system of supports to ensure that all children have access to the resources they need to fulfill their potential.

V. Manuel Pérez is the state Assembly member representing eastern Riverside and Imperial counties. He invites you to contact him through his Indio office at (760) 342-8047.


Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson is the executive director of ACT Today! More information about ASD and about the Coachella Valley grant program or can be found at www.act-today.org.

Original column posted in the Desert Sun on Nov. 21, 2013.

Friday, October 18, 2013

emPOWERing Autism Parents Chapter 1


 

Best-selling author, motivational speaker and media personality Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson is the co-host of Autism Live’s one-hour web show, “Let’s Talk Autism with Shannon and Nancy,” which broadcasts each Wednesday at 11:00 am (PDT).

Watch her "EmPOWERing Autism Parents" each week on www.autism-live.com or via Youtube.

She is also an autism parent and the executive director of ACT Today! (Autism Care and Treatment Today!), a national, nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide access to care and treatment to children whose families cannot afford or access the necessary tools their children need to reach their highest potential. Alspaugh-Jackson is an Emmy award-winning television producer and executive who pioneered the magazine program format with Westinghouse’s PM Magazine. She served as executive producer for several nationally syndicated programs, including LEEZA. She has been honored with the United Press International Award, the Associated Press Award, the Gabriel Award, and the Genesis Award and was named one of the Hollywood Reporters “Women to Watch.” Nancy co-authored Not Your Mother’s Midlife: A Ten Step guide to Fearless Aging (Andrews McMeel) and Fearless Women: Midlife Portraits (Stewart, Tabori & Chang). She wrote and performed the stage show “Boomer Babes” and does motivational speaking to sold out audiences around the country.
Nancy says her life changed drastically when her 12-year-old adopted son, Wyatt, was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. She saw an urgent need for families to have an outlet for advice and assistance in order to cope with this devastating disorder.

“I have found myself on the kitchen floor, crying…begging God to show me the way. Other times, I find myself singing and dancing with joy. Autism truly is a journey. We, as parents, need to know that this is not a disability…but, instead, an opportunity to empower ourselves.”

For more information about Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson, visit http://www.nancyalspaughjackson.com.

About Autism Live
Autism Live is an interactive web show providing support, resources, information, facts, entertainment, and inspiration to parents, teachers, and practitioners working with children on the autism spectrum. Autism Live is sponsored in part by the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD), Inc., one of the world’s largest and most effective autism treatment providers offering evidence-based, state-of-the-art services to individuals of all ages. For more information about Autism Live, visit http://www.autism-live.com.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Emmy Award Winner and Autism Parent Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson Begins Weekly Broadcast Segment “EmPOWERing Autism Parents” on Autism Live



Best-selling author, motivational speaker, and media personality Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson launches a new Autism Live segment called “EmPOWERing Autism Parents” this Wednesday, October 16, 2013. The segment will air during the 10:00 a.m. (PDT) hour on www.autism-live.com. “EmPOWERing Autism Parents” provides motivation for parents of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and inspiring tips on how to address the challenges. Viewers can also watch “Empowering Autism Parents” on its YouTube channel.


Alspaugh-Jackson is the co-host of Autism Live’s one-hour web show, “Let’s Talk Autism with Shannon and Nancy,” which broadcasts each Wednesday at 11:00 am (PDT).

She is also an autism parent and the executive director of ACT Today! (Autism Care and Treatment Today!), a national, nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide access to care and treatment to children whose families cannot afford or access the necessary tools their children need to reach their highest potential. Alspaugh-Jackson is an Emmy award-winning television producer and executive who pioneered the magazine program format with Westinghouse’s PM Magazine. She served as executive producer for several nationally syndicated programs, including LEEZA. She has been honored with the United Press International Award, the Associated Press Award, the Gabriel Award, and the Genesis Award and was named one of the Hollywood Reporters “Women to Watch.” Nancy co-authored Not Your Mother’s Midlife: A Ten Step guide to Fearless Aging (Andrews McMeel) and Fearless Women: Midlife Portraits (Stewart, Tabori & Chang). She wrote and performed the stage show “Boomer Babes” and does motivational speaking to sold out audiences around the country.

Nancy says her life changed drastically when her 12-year-old adopted son, Wyatt, was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. She saw an urgent need for families to have an outlet for advice and assistance in order to cope with this devastating disorder.

“I have found myself on the kitchen floor, crying…begging God to show me the way. Other times, I find myself singing and dancing with joy. Autism truly is a journey. We, as parents, need to know that this is not a disability…but, instead, an opportunity to empower ourselves.”

For more information about Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson, visit www.nancyalspaughjackson.com.

About Autism Live
Autism Live is an interactive web show providing support, resources, information, facts, entertainment, and inspiration to parents, teachers, and practitioners working with children on the autism spectrum. Autism Live is sponsored in part by the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD), Inc., one of the world’s largest and most effective autism treatment providers offering evidence-based, state-of-the-art services to individuals of all ages. For more information about Autism Live, visit www.autism-live.com.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Why Does My Child Do That?


Join the Autism Research Group this Thursday, September 26 for a free workshop that will give you practical tips for improving your child's behavior.

We know that parenting a child with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can present extra challenges and be a source of frustration. Thankfully, the vast majority of misbehavior in children with ASD is caused by a small number of reasons.

This presentation will give practical tips and strategies on how to approach your child's misbehavior in a positive and effective way. We'll address tantrums, defiance, verbal and physical aggression, and provide you with a consistent approach to make your child behave better, while making you happier!

Sign up today to learn practical tips. 


Sign up today!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Salute to a Military Family

Our Inclusion Film Camp for Military Children with autism is one of the most gratifying programs we put on at ACT Today! 
 
Military wife and autism mom Keary Mason sent us this letter, which we want to share with you. And to the Mason family and all of our brave military families fighting for their country and their children, we thank you! 

"Film Camp is the best experience of the year" or so said my son, Mackenzie.
 
This was my children's second year at camp and it was the most incredible experience. I actually volunteered as the Film Camp Coordinator this year and I have to say that it was the MOST rewarding experience. Not only did I as a mother get to see my own children grow and gain confidence but I saw all of the children change over the camp's two weeks. It was so fulfilling to see a child who wanted nothing to do with filming want to go onscreen and enjoy it and to know you were a part of it.
 
I enjoyed the relationships I watched my children make and the bonds I formed with other parents. These are people we will forever be in touch with. My children truly made "friends." They gained confidence and they found their voice. I too made friends and found a passion. I truly cried our first day without camp because I just missed all of their sweet faces and the amazing adults who make this work. Their passion is immeasurable. They have my heart and my gratitude forever.
 
My son Mackenzie, who is 16 went from a shy kid in pull out SDC (small group classes) to having the confidence now to approach people and he even went to the zoo with another camper. He  changed schools after we got back to one of the area's most challenging prep schools with honors and AP classes. He joined is school's dodge ball team, went to the school's dance, made new friends, ditched having a full time one on one aide and signed on for robotics. These are things I'm so proud of and amazed by. He is truly coming out of his shell.
 
My daughter Kylie, who is 9 is incredibly sensitive (and it often comes out as mean) because she rarely sees her Daddy. He is a Gunner's Mate First Class who spends between 8 - 12 months away each year on special missions. Her loss has really caused her to develop a thin skin but I noticed this year that although the kids are mean her attitude about it has changed. She is confident in her style, her hobbies, her choice of friends and she tries to show it. One of the things she is most proud of are the film's she helped create. The other thing I noticed with Kylie is her ability to be patient and empathetic to others. She decided, after hanging out a few times, that one of the boys in the group is her "little brother" and has taken it upon herself to be protective and have fun with him. The cutest part is that she and her friends treat him no differently just because he has Autism.
 
While I know this Film Premiere is once again bittersweet for my babies as their Daddy is gone once again.... I also know the fun they will have giving him his own special screening of their movie. We appreciate the opportunity and know how much it means to all of the military families. Without this program our kids would never have an opportunity like this. Seeing the same families at the premiere and the following year at camp continues to impact them socially and creates even stronger bonds.
 
So I think I will leave you with a cute story from our 2 weeks at camp. My children and I slept in the same hotel room, were at camp all day, were together in the car and together basically every moment and they never argued. Not only did they not argue they got along....they swam, they hugged, they mugged for pictures but one morning on our way to camp in the car while playing electronic Life (the board game) my son started to get very upset because he and his "wife" didn't get babies....my daughter pops in and says "Oh Mackenzie you can have some of mine I have plenty and plan to adopt and work with kids with Autism."
 
Thank you again,
 
Keary Mason
Wife of GM1 Nicholas M. Mason
USCGC Sherman

Monday, July 22, 2013

Support ACT Today! and Purchase Paper Clouds Apparell

The amazing art was created by Jem, a young boy with autism, whose mom Shannon Penrod is the host of Autism Live.
 
The custom designed canvas tote bags, shirts, and hats will be on sale starting Monday, July 22nd and ending Sunday August 4th at midnight ET.
 
50% of the proceeds from every item sold with Jem's art
will go to ACT Today.
 
You can make your purchase at www.papercloudsapparel.com!
 
Paper Clouds Apparel not only is showcasing the art of those with autism and raising money for a great cause but EVERY Paper Clouds Apparel shirt is packaged by an employee with special needs. So every shirt sold creates a job for someone with special needs.

Friday, July 19, 2013

(Free) CARD Louisiana Autism Conference, August 24 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana



Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) invites you to attend the  CARD Louisiana Autism Conference on Saturday, August 24, 2013, at the Oak Lodge Reception and Convention Center, in Baton Rouge.
CARD Louisiana Autism Conference is designed for parents, practitioners, educators, and caregivers. The free, one-day conference will feature keynote speaker, world-renowned autism expert/clinical psychologist, and CARD founder/CEO Doreen Granpeesheh, Ph.D., BCBA-D.

Attendees must register online at http://conference.centerforautism.com

The conference will include presentations on “Creating a Comprehensive and Individualized Treatment Program for a Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder” by Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh; “Practical Solutions for Addressing Challenging Behaviors” by Dr. Dennis Dixon; and “Skills®: A Web-Based Toolkit for the Effective Management of Autism Treatment” by Dr. Adel Najdowski, as well as a screening of RECOVERED: Journeys Through the Autism Spectrum and Back, an award-winning documentary produced by CARD about four children who have recovered from autism which includes documentation of therapy sessions, along with interviews of the children who are now teenagers, their parents, therapists, and the founder of CARD. Following the screening, conference attendees are invited to join the experts for a panel discussion regarding children with ASD and treatment services in Louisiana, as well as topics presented at the conference.

“We are very excited to be able to bring such a comprehensive, no-cost conference to Louisiana,” says Doreen Granpeesheh, Ph.D. BCBA-D. “We believe everyone should have access to effective autism intervention, and those affected by ASD should have the opportunity to lead healthy, happy, and productive lives.”

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in every 88 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with an ASD, making it more prevalent than juvenile diabetes, pediatric cancer, and pediatric AIDS combined.

CARD is one of the world’s largest and most effective autism treatment providers offering evidence-based, state-of-the-art services to individuals of all ages.

In August, 2009, CARD researchers published "Retrospective Analysis of Clinical Records in 38 Cases of Recovery from Autism” in the Annals of Clinical Psychiatry, showing that recovery from autism is possible. CARD services include (but are not limited to) center-based treatment, home-based services, school shadowing, and parent training. The CARD treatment model is based on the scientifically-proven principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA). CARD’s comprehensive model of treatment includes over 3,500 lessons in eight areas of learning: academic, adaptive, cognition, executive function, language, motor, play, and social skills. The model’s relationship-building, cognitive, and executive-functioning programs are known throughout the world for their focus on developing advanced skills, such as perspective taking (i.e., inferring others’ thoughts and feelings) and developing and maintaining friendships. CARD has also developed and utilizes technology to increase global access to effective autism treatment.

For more information about Center for Autism and Related Disorders, visit: http://www.centerforautism.com  or call (855) 345-2273.

    

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

ACT Today! Sponsored Disability Services Bill Heads to Governor

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – ACT Today! (Autism Care and Treatment Today!) announces the bill for the equitable provision of disability services authored by Asm. V. Manuel Pérez and sponsored by ACT Today! is now on the desk of Governor Brown.

"ACT Today! is proud to be sponsoring this legislation and we salute Asm. Perez for his leadership in serving the needs of the developmentally disabled community in diverse populations in California," said Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson, executive director of ACT Today!. "As the Center for Disease Control figures show, Hispanics are the fastest growing population in the dramatic rise of autism. Assemblyman Perez is to be saluted for his response to the needs of his constituents."

AB 1232 adds new quality assurance measures to ensure that services provided by the state’s regional centers are provided in a linguistically and culturally competent manner. The State has a quality assessment program in place for its regional center system, though it does not collect data on cultural and linguistic competency of services. That means that as the state grows more diverse, it is lacking important information related to the equitable provision and utilization of state services. AB 1232 addresses this critical issue in a cost-effective manner, gathering the data needed to ensure California’s developmentally disabled are being served in an equitable manner. The bill is also sponsored by Fiesta Educativa.

According to a recent report by the Senate Select Committee on autism and related disorders, many California families due to linguistic and cultural barriers lack access to vital behavioral therapy services.

In addition to sponsoring AB 1232, ACT Today! launched, in 2013, the ACT Today! Español program to address the needs of Hispanic families affected by autism. ACT Today! Español provides resources, care and support to families who cannot afford or access the necessary tools their children need to reach their highest potential. For more information about ACT Today! Español, visit http://www.act-today.org/espanol.


About ACT Today!:
ACT Today! (Autism Care and Treatment Today!) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing resources and funding 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.




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Friday, June 28, 2013

Dancing With the Stars Celebrity to Kick Off Salsa Festival Pre-Event at The Topa Tower Club in Oxnard , this Saturday

Season 11 Runner Up for Dancing With the Stars championship
runner up
, actor and comedian
Kyle Massey (Disney's "That's
 So Raven", "Cory in the House") and his brother Chris Massey (Nickelodeon's "Zoey 101") will kick off a "Fun-raiser"  on Saturday, June 29th from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm at the Topa Tower Club, located at 300 East Esplanade Drive in Oxnard. The pre-event to the 6th Annual Oxnard Salsa Festival's Dancing with our Community Stars dance contest will benefit ACT Today! Autism Care and Treatment Today!) and Gull Wings Children’s Museum

The community is also invited to meet award winning broadcast journalist Gabriela Teissier, who is representing ACT Today! and Terrance Dixon, representing Gull Wings Children's Museum, who will be competing in the 6th Annual Oxnard Salsa Festival's Dancing with Our Community Stars dance contest and charity fundraiser on Sunday, July 28, 2013 at Plaza Park in Oxnard, CA. The popular community contest is a salsa-twist on the hit TV show, benefiting local charities in Ventura County. 

Gabriela and Terrance will be showing off some of the moves they have been practicing with their professional dance partners on Saturday evening. The Salsa Sunset Soiree will also feature delicious appetizers, an authentic salsa band, and an auction of award winning local California wines, as well as other exclusive items.
 
 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

TheSpeedGamers Play “Final Fantasy” in WeekLong Marathon to Help Kids with Autism




TheSpeedGamers kick off their  “Final Fantasy” weeklong video game marathon to help increase autism awareness and funds to benefit ACT Today! (Autism Care and Treatment Today!).  The “Final Fantasy” marathon  is held from June 24th through July 1st and can be watched live at www.thespeedgamers.com.



The gamers have raised over $173,000 for ACT Today! over the past four years, and plan to dedicate this entire week to nonstop gaming with the goal of raising an additional $15,000 in support of the national non-profit. ACT Today!’s mission is to provide resources and support for children with autism whose families cannot afford or access the necessary tools their children need to reach their highest potential. This includes therapy, medical care, social skills programs, assistance dogs, assistive technology, basic safety equipment, tuition for special needs schools, and assistance to military families with children with autism.  
"We really can't praise these young gamers enough," says ACT Today!'s executive director Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson. "This is the fifth marathon that TheSpeedGamers  has hosted for our non-profit. 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, who goes online to watch TheSpeedGamers in action and to give encouragement, urges others to join her. While watching TheSpeedGamers play through the Final Fantasy series, viewers can make donations which go directly to ACT Today!.
"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, 168 hour fundraising campaign for ACT Today! on Monday, July 1st  at 6 pm CST. Donations will be accepted on behalf of ACT Today! at www.thespeedgamers.com

About ACT Today!:
ACT Today! (Autism Care and Treatment Today!) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing resources and funding 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 (also abbreviated as TSG) are a group of gamers based out of Arlington, Texas, who raise money for various charities. They accomplish this by streaming live marathons of video games played over Justin.tv (formerly Ustream). The group was founded by Britt LaRiviere in early 2008 and still hosts marathons regularly. Viewers can interact with the commentators and other viewers via IRC chat on Justin.tv. The group has raised nearly $400,000.00 for at least 16 different charities.