Sunday, April 12, 2009

Focus on: AutismSpot

April is Autism Awareness Month, and each week this month I'm focusing on issues about autism at's Child Caring blog. This week, I profiled Kent Potter, a father of two and the founder of

Kent and Angie Potter's oldest son, Sam, was born prematurely, and from the very beginning they had a swirl of doctors and specialists around them, helping them navigate the world of preemie development. So when Sam started exhibiting severe developmental delays (above and beyond the ones most preemies have), they had people to turn to for advice.

An autism diagnosis quickly followed, and they began their search for ways to help Sam, who is now 8 years old (their younger son, Luke, 4, is neurotypical). "We were spending over $100K on medical care year after year," Kent Potter recalls. "My accountant said, 'You spent $500,000 in med care the last few years, what’s next? What are you going to do?' And I said, 'I’m going to do something about it'."

That something was, a website dedicated to inspiring, informing, and educating people about autism.

With a free online library of blogs, articles, and about 400 videos from parents, teachers, therapists, and medical professionals -- plus 120 or so more on their educator-training platform, -- AutismSpot aims to make information from private providers accessible in a community environment. "You know the last five minutes of a therapy session, when the therapist tells you, 'This is what you should work on at home'?" Potter says. "Many people can't afford to meet with these providers." AutismSpot focuses on offering as much information as possible -- not just the popular ideas. "We don't have to agree on what works," Potter says, "just that there are many options... It's not just about talking. It's about communication."

April is National Autism Awareness month. Each week this month, I'll devote a post to issues that relate to life on the spectrum and the special parenting challenges that autism presents. After last week's post, many readers emailed or wrote comments asking for resources for parents of kids on the autism spectrum, and for information for adults with autism. Here are a few others:
: A parents' guide offering news, conference information, educational resources, and interactive message boards.
The forums here are geared toward people of all ages on the Autism Spectrum, with threads for parents, school and college life, jobs, and social skills, as well as active forums on adult autism issues and discussions.

The Autism Research Institute: In addition to information for parents dealing with new autism diagnoses, offers resources for those searching for a doctor affiliated with Defeat Autism Now! (DAN) and information about possible autism triggers and the controversial idea of autism recovery.

Parents, please weigh in: What resources have helped you the most?

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