Tuesday, May 15, 2007

New Autism Resource for Families

If someone in your family has an autism diagnosis, there's a new online resource you should check out. The Interactive Autism Network was created by the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore to connect families with other families and researchers, according to a recent article in the US News & World Report. You can fill out forms detailing your family member's treatment plan and find out more about how effective others view the treatment - though information is kept confidential unless you agree to have it released to researchers.

There's a community section , as well, where you can chat with other families. Within a month, the site has attracted 13,000 members - that's a lot of people who can give you feed back.

I have a friend whose child was diagnosed with autism. This child has a long medical history - she was born a micro preemie, and that means a lot of health problems and developmental uncertainity. She's had surgeries, is legally blind and is developmentally delayed. My friend handled these issues so well, I thought she should've been named Mother of the Year.

But the autism diagnosis was very difficult for her. It took her several months to process it and, more and less, accept it. (Everyone who knows this child has a lot of questions about the diagnosis, including me.)

My point is, autism is a frightening diagnosis because there's so little we know and we associate it with a child turning into some sort of robot that can't love us. But it's more complicated than that. Maybe this website will help doctors and families learn more about what autism is, what it means and what helps.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Monday Quick Tip: Judging Movies

Ever wonder if a movie is really appropriate for your child?

I mean, every child differs. You can't really say that what one five-year-old loves won't scare your five-year-old into week-long nightmares. And movie ratings are so general, they're useless, particularly since nothing gets a G rating anymore. Almost everything is filed under the ubiquitious PG or PG-13.

Personally, I need a lot more information before I decide whether a film is okay for my child. And I hate those conservative sites that just issue blanket commands about what's good for kids and what's not. Personally, I don't mind my child watching Bugs Bunny. But a lot of fundamentalist and peaceniks do.

Here's what I do: I check out the movie on Kids-In-Mind. It's tag is "Movie Ratings that Actually Work." What I love about this site is that it lists exactly what it means when it says there's cartoon violence or crude language. I mean, down to the actual lines and scenes. It's great.

Thanks to Kids-In-Mind, I can screen for what I think is appropriate, not what some unknown critic with a child-raising agenda thinks is okay.

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