6 Organizations Helping People With Autism And Their Families

Living with Autism Spectrum Disorder, or raising a child with ASD, can be difficult for a number of reasons, from dealing with bullying to not knowing how to communicate effectively. That's why organizations like the ones listed here work to provide people with the support and education they need, from inclusive media to helpful services. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

Groups Supporting People With ASD

Name Mission
Geek Club Books Produce pop culture-based autism awareness education that is innovative, engaging, positive, and opens hearts and minds to a new way of thinking about autism
Autism Alliance Provide support, programs, and resources to families and individuals affected by autism spectrum disorders
The Center for AAC & Autism Improve awareness of the power of alternative and augmentative communication (AAC) devices to change the lives of children who are nonverbal or have limited verbal abilities due to autism and other developmental disabilities
Twainbow Advocate for LGBTQIA+ community members who also lie on the autism spectrum by serving as a clearinghouse of information, encouraging research, and coordinating resources
Life's WORC Provide services and support that facilitate an independent and fulfilling life experience for people with intellectual disabilities and autism
GoodLife Kids Foundation Foster supportive environments to help kids with intellectual disabilities and/or autism thrive through physical activity and fitness

Signs & Symptoms Of Autism Spectrum Disorder

According to the CDC, children or adults with ASD might:

  • Not point at objects to show interest (for example, not point at an airplane flying over)
  • Not look at objects when another person points at them
  • Have trouble relating to others or not have an interest in other people at all
  • Avoid eye contact and want to be alone
  • Have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
  • Prefer not to be held or cuddled, or might cuddle only when they want to
  • Appear to be unaware when people talk to them, but respond to other sounds
  • Be very interested in people, but not know how to talk, play, or relate to them
  • Repeat or echo words or phrases said to them, or repeat words or phrases in place of normal language
  • Have trouble expressing their needs using typical words or motions
  • Not play “pretend” games (for example, not pretend to “feed” a doll)
  • Repeat actions over and over again
  • Have trouble adapting when a routine changes
  • Have unusual reactions to the way things smell, taste, look, feel, or sound
  • Lose skills they once had (for example, stop saying words they were using)

Why Everything You Know About Autism Is Wrong

Do Vaccines Cause Autism?

Some people have had concerns that ASD might be linked to the vaccines children receive, but studies have shown that there is no link between receiving vaccines and developing ASD. A 2013 CDC study added to the research showing that vaccines do not cause ASD. The study looked at the number of antigens (substances in vaccines that cause the body’s immune system to produce disease-fighting antibodies) from vaccines during the first two years of life. The results showed that the total amount of antigen from vaccines received was the same between children with ASD and those that did not have ASD. One vaccine ingredient that has been studied specifically is thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative used to prevent contamination of multidose vials of vaccines. Research shows that thimerosal does not cause ASD. Between 1999 and 2001, thimerosal was removed or reduced to trace amounts in all childhood vaccines except for some flu vaccines. This was done as part of a broader national effort to reduce all types of mercury exposure in children before studies were conducted that determined that thimerosal was not harmful. It was done as a precaution.

What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

In Depth

People with autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, experience cognitive differences ranging from relatively mild social impairment, to severe difficulties with communication and sensory modulation. Many also suffer due to social stigma which prompts dismissive or hurtful treatment from neurotypical peers. Presented here, in no particular order, are six groups promoting understanding and providing services for individuals with ASD and those close to them.

Leading off at #1 is Geek Club Books, dedicated to fostering acceptance and understanding of autistic individuals through educational outreach. This group creates informational comics, including the Mighty League series for children, to explain the autism spectrum and share personal experiences from non-neurotypical people. The organization's online magazine ZOOM also shares news and highlights specific issues in disability acceptance.

Geek Club Books provides speakers and storytellers to deliver presentations at schools, community venues, and major events like comic conventions. The organization also offers educational resources including the kid-friendly video series Bluebee TeeVee, along with advice for teachers and curated lists of book recommendations. The group's blog shares real-world stories, life management tips for autistic people, and interviews with successful individuals on the spectrum.

The group's blog shares real-world stories, life management tips for autistic people, and interviews with successful individuals on the spectrum.

Next up at #2 is The Autism Alliance, an Advocates program based in Massachusetts that works to improve the lives of individuals on the spectrum. The group's resource directory offers help locating care providers, diagnostic centers, and other services for autistic people. The organization also shares information about the life journeys of those with ASD, from initial diagnosis to the transition out of eligibility for school-based services.

The Alliance's Autism Welcoming Initiative works with local businesses to develop sensory-friendly events for people on the spectrum, and the organization arranges numerous community events for autistic individuals and their families. Other offerings include family support clinics, information libraries, and detailed guides for caregivers. The group's blog shares organizational news, personal experiences, and reviews of relevant books.

At #3 we have The Center for AAC & Autism, established by the Prentke Romich Company to promote awareness of alternative and augmentative communication devices. The organization provides training in the Language Acquisition through Motor Planning instructional methodology. This approach uses speech-generating devices, in conjunction with sensory-rich activities, to help nonverbal children with ASD acquire communication skills.

The organization provides training in the Language Acquisition through Motor Planning instructional methodology.

The Center for AAC & Autism offers a certification program for professionals looking to utilize the LAMP method and recognizes exemplary programs through the Centers of Excellence initiative. The group provides information about the benefits of AAC usage, shares stories of individuals who have found success through the LAMP approach, and highlights locations that provide quality instructional programming.

#4 in our overview is Twainbow, a resource and advocacy hub for people occupying both the LGBTQ+ and autism spectra. This group works to increase public understanding about the difficulties faced by these individuals, who often face social ostracism both for their neurological differences and their sexual or gender identity. Twainbow shares informational materials and news about issues relevant to both of these communities.

Twainbow strives to change perceptions about LGBTQ+ and autistic individuals through advocacy efforts, such as creating an ASD flag for Pride displays, and offers guides to resources for people on either spectrum. The group shares articles that discuss topics like personal struggles and novel research on the neurology of autism.

The group shares articles that discuss topics like personal struggles and novel research on the neurology of autism.

Coming in at #5 is Life's WORC, providing assistance to people with ASD and intellectual disabilities in New York City and Long Island. Begun in 1970 with a group home for developmentally challenged children, the organization offers services ranging from habilitation programs to build social and vocational skills, to residential facilities where disabled adults receive support for everyday life. The group also provides clients with several employment assistance options.

The Life's WORC Family Center for Autism offers recreational and educational activities for individuals with ASD, including classes in art, technology, and career skills. The organization's Behavior Analytic Services help teach functional abilities to children with learning challenges. Life's WORC also offers financial services including assistance paying for summer camp, as well as a suite of trust options designed to ensure fiscal security for disabled clients.

Closing out our list is #6, GoodLife Kids Foundation, which helps children with special needs in Canada enjoy active and healthy lifestyles. This group provides funding for programs that bring athletic, recreational, and fitness-building opportunities to young people with ASD or other cognitive differences. The Foundation seeks to help participants enhance physical wellness, build confidence, and develop social skills.

The Foundation seeks to help participants enhance physical wellness, build confidence, and develop social skills.

The signature event from GoodLife is the annual Spin4Kids challenge, in which participants engage in fitness activities to raise money. The resulting funds go to the Foundation's Grant Program, directly supporting initiatives that let autistic and developmentally delayed children enjoy physical activities. The organization shares stories of the kids who benefit from these programs, as well as the volunteers and employees who make the group's work possible.