If you’re an autism grandparent like me, you’re regularly on the Internet searching for additional information and support, and you’ve learned that when you Google “autism,” a million websites are listed. And some of those websites have their own headings entitled “Resources” that list a million more websites. Where do you begin? Which websites can be most helpful? Is there information targeted specifically for grandparents?
The Autism Grandparents Club herewith begins an ongoing project of composing our own list of websites. We begin with just five. We don’t refer to them as the “best five” or “top five” or “most important five” or any other superlatives. These are simply the five websites that we’ve chosen to start our list.
AUTISM SPEAKS – This is arguably the biggest and most influential autism organization in the nation, and its robust website is comprehensive indeed. It even includes a guide for grandparents. Here is part of the organization’s “About” section: “Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. We do this through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions.”
AUTISM SOCIETY OF AMERICA – This organization has been around since before most folks had even heard of autism. The website offers comprehensive information and resources. “The Autism Society of America has been improving the lives of all affected by autism for over 50 years and envisions a world where individuals and families living with autism are able to maximize their quality of life, are treated with the highest level of dignity, and live in a society in which their talents and skills are appreciated and valued. We provide advocacy, education, information and referral, support, and community at national, state and local levels through our strong nationwide network of Affiliates.”
AUTISM SOCIETY OF [YOUR STATE OR LOCALITY] – The Autism Society of America has “local” chapters throughout the nation. Mine, the Autism Society of Central Virginia [ascv.org], provides a lot of information and resources on its website, and even offers a local grandparents support group: “For over 30 years, the Autism Society Central Virginia (ASCV) has been proud to serve as one of the region’s premier sources of education, advocacy, services, and support for individuals with autism, their families and friends, and professionals. . . Our mission is to improve the lives of all affected by autism by maximizing the self-sufficiency, independence, and quality of life for all living with autism. We are committed to meaningful participation and self-determination in all aspects of life for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families. Our vision for the future is that all individuals with autism receive early identification, appropriate therapies, and supports to achieve their highest potential and quality of life.”
GRANDPARENT AUTISM NETWORK – This all-volunteer organization provides direct service to Orange County, California, but its website resources can be of value nationwide. There is even information on how to start your own grandparent support group. “The Grandparent Autism Network informs grandparents about autism and the medical, educational, legal and social issues that affect their families, enabling them to share how they may improve the quality of life for their children and grandchildren. GAN is an all-volunteer organization with limited resources to expand beyond the 34 cities that comprise Orange County, California. We share information about our programs, projects and events and we invite grandparents in other areas to replicate them.”
AUTISM RESEARCH INSTITUTE – One of the early autism organizations, it continues to provide a lot of information about autism including symptoms, diagnosis, intervention, support, and even COVID-19 guidance: “Established in 1967 by psychologist and renowned father of modern autism research Dr. Bernard Rimland, ARI continues to pioneer in research, outreach, and cooperative efforts with other organizations worldwide. ARI advocates for the rights of people with ASD, and operates without funding from special-interest groups.”