With one in 68 children now thought to be affected by an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), more and more parents are struggling to understand an autism diagnosis and find the resources their children need. “Where do I begin?” families often ask.
The answer is the Autism Roadmap, a new website developed entirely as a result of philanthropy and with the expertise of nearly a dozen of the nation’s top autism experts at The Center for Autism Research (CAR) at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Families using the Roadmap will find directories of service providers, community resources, government programs, ideas for various stages of childhood and beyond, and explanations of the latest research on ASD treatments and interventions.
“This tool has the potential to greatly improve the lives of families struggling with the maze of government, medical, and community service providers and as such, enables CAR to be a great service to the broader community,” said Robert Schultz, PhD, director of The Center for Autism Research.
Susan Wenger, who funded the website’s development along with her husband, Don, and other family members, witnessed firsthand the difficulty of finding reliable information the internet and locating autism-specific resources for their grandson. They understand how a family’s life can be turned upside down by a diagnosis of ASD.
“I wondered why, with so many kids affected by autism, wasn’t there a single clearinghouse for information,” Wenger said. “A tool like this is just so needed — it will make life so much easier for parents and grandparents to help get children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder the resources they need as quickly as possible.”
Families, researchers, mental and behavioral health workers, and others gave extensive input and tested the website to ensure that it was comprehensive and easy to use. Autism Roadmap provides customized information based on what families need, whether their child has been diagnosed recently or is navigating developmental milestones, from toilet training and school to adolescence and adulthood. The website will be continuously updated as new information becomes available or as resources and community information change.
“We’re extremely grateful for the Wenger’s support to help transform a longtime vision into a reality,” Dr. Schultz said.
A news report about the launch of the comprehensive, one-stop website appeared on 6abc Action News. View the broadcast here: For more information about the CAR Autism Roadmap, visit www.carautismroadmap.org.