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Autism Blogs

Parents of children on the autism spectrum, teachers seeking out new resources, and individuals with ASD can all benefit from the online blogging community. Blogs are a perfect way to research and connect with like-minded individuals on the topic of autism. Finding the best blogs can be quite a challenge, especially when there are over 50 million results on Google for “Autism Blogs” alone! Our team at Action Behavior Centers decided to help with the lengthy search process by highlighting today’s top autism blogs.

Action Behavior Centers is a Texas-based company providing ABA therapy for children on the spectrum. Our goal is to raise autism awareness and educate both local and online communities on ASD. ABC selected the Top 40 Autism Blogs (in no particular order) to help others stay connected and informed. While some of the blogs on our new list are rockstar blogs that made last year’s line-up, we have carefully curated over 20 new resources that are absolutely loved and praised by parents, teachers, and professionals in the autism community.

 

Autism Journey

Recently founded in 2019, Autism Journey has quickly become a “go-to” website for autism blogs and resources. Autism Journey provides both educational blog posts and personal stories from parents all around the country. Autism Journey’s website features a link where parents can submit personal stories and experiences for a chance to be featured.

Autism Daddy

Frank Campagna, dad to a 14-year-old boy with non-verbal autism, blogs about the ups and downs of life with his son. Frank’s blog takes a more comedic spin on the struggles of having a child on the severe end of the spectrum, and he believes in sharing real and raw stories, not just the “sunshine and rainbows.” Autism Daddy also features many guest bloggers and thought provoking stories that will captivate readers for hours.  

Finding Cooper’s Voice

With over 300,000 likes on Facebook, multiple viral videos, and a feature on Jimmy Fallon, Kate Swenson has swept the nation with her blog Finding Cooper’s Voice. You’ll find multiple heartwrenching blog posts, photos, and videos on her easy-to-navigate website. Finding Cooper’s Voice was created by Kate in hopes of establishing a village of people supporting each other within the autism community.

The Autism Blog – Seattle Children’s

Seattle Children’s Autism Center has an active and informative blog that gives parents and caregivers the chance to learn from experts and doctors on topics focused on autism. The blog authors frequently post new research findings, as well as offer a range of relevant topics directly from doctors in the field.

The Autism Dad

Father of three kids on the autism spectrum, Rob Gorski’s blogging journey began in 2010 as a way to share the raw emotions that he faced daily with his boys. Rob does a great job of actively posting blogs every month. His mission is “to show others of similar circumstances that they are not alone, while at the same time, educating the rest of the world as to what Autism families can experience daily.

Atypical Familia

Atypical familia is a continuation of Lisa Quinones-Fontanez’ former blog AutismWonderland which received worldwide recognition and praise a few years back. Today, Lisa continues to blog and update the autism community on her journey with her son Norrin. She also shares a variety of fun meals, crafts, and resources for other parents to enjoy.

GoTeamKate

GoTeamKate is a blog that is booming with passion and creativity (and a bit of colorful language). Shanell and Alex, parents of their daughter Kate who is on the Autism Spectrum, tell their life story featuring an enjoyable writing style and fun pictures with each post. Shanell also includes a fitness section on her blog, motivating other parents with kids on the spectrum who have busy lifestyles to stay active.

Susan Senator

Author of multiple books on autism, Susan Senator is a mom with not only a passion for the topic, but a deep love for her son who is on the spectrum. Susan believes that she needs to share her stories with the world. Her website has many resources including blog posts, books, an advice column, articles, and more. Susan frequently re-posts articles that she’s written for magazines such as Psychology Today.

Faith, Hope, and Love… With Autism

Faith, Hope, and Love… With Autism follows the journey of a non-verbal boy named Phillip who wants to give the world an inside look into the thoughts and ideas of someone on the autism spectrum. Phillip writes about life experiences, poetry, travel, music, and his faith. His blog offers a wonderful firsthand perspective of an individual on the spectrum navigating through life and shares the struggles and accomplishments he faces each day.

Embrace ASD

Embrace ASD is dedicated to support and provides research for high-functioning individuals of all ages. They believe people with ASD have sensory, cognitive, and learning abilities that make them real-life superheroes. Embrace ASD’s website has a fun interface with easy to navigate pages and high-quality graphics which makes for a fun, modern way to read blogs about ASD.

Behavior in Balance

Behavior in Balance was founded by Board Certified Behavior Analyst Erin Tracy, whose dream was to create a website with easily attainable tools and resources for parents and caregivers of kids on the spectrum. On her website, Erin features an educational blog, free training courses, and professional resources for both parents and practitioners.

The Art of Autism

The Art of Autism is an international nonprofit website displaying the creative abilities of those on the autism spectrum. The site offers many great resources for those on the autism spectrum and for those looking to connect with like-minded individuals. The Art of Autism features blog posts, artwork, poetry, events, and many different forms of media.

The Never-Empty Nest

Marguerite Elisofon’s blog, The Never-Empty Nest, tells personal stories of her daughter Samantha, a young adult on the autism spectrum. Samantha’s diagnosis has not kept her from achieving great things, such as a nomination for best actress at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. Marguerite publishes weekly blog posts, many of which contain updates on her daughter’s joys and struggles through life.

Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism

Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism is an informative blog with the mission of being a “one-stop source for carefully curated, evidence-based, neurodiversity-steeped information from autistic people, parents, and autism professionals.” Blog posts found on Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism include different sources such as autism seminars, books, and scientific studies.

Velcro Shoes

Full of positivity and hope, Velcro Shoes is about one mom’s journey through life with three boys on the autism spectrum. Alli Baldocchi blogs about what it looks and feels like to be a mom, wife, and career woman, all while facing the everyday joys and struggles of parenting boys with ASD. Alli is also working on a book about how autism changed her life, and she frequently shares updates and information for her followers.

The Journey Through Autism

Back again from last year’s line-up, blogger Ethan Hirschberg shares personal stories of the ups and downs of being a kid on the spectrum. The Journey Through Autism provides a raw and real look into Ethan’s life with high-functioning autism and how he plans to take the world by storm. Ethan is a driven and motivated individual that inspires others to be the best version of themselves, despite any differences that they may have.

Different Brains

Different Brains is a fantastic blog that provides resources for both individuals on the autism spectrum, as well as people with other neurological diagnoses. The website is loaded with blogs, news articles, videos, podcasts, and more. Different Brains is unique in the fact they they are a non-profit organization with a large board of doctors, BCBAs, and psychologists who are constantly providing resources and information.

Dr. Mary Barbera

Dr. Mary Barbera, Board Certified Behavior Analyst and mother to a son with autism, is a huge advocate of Applied Behavior Analysis. Her blog is dedicated to sharing information on ABA therapy each month. Dr. Barbera’s website also contains helpful resources and ABA therapy training tools, such as educational video blogs for parents and caregivers of children on the spectrum.

This Podcast Has Autism

For those who prefer to listen to information rather than read it, This Podcast Has Autism features entertaining and relatable topics discussed in each episode. Each week, a different parent, professional, or individual on the spectrum is interviewed on topics such as transitioning into school, traveling, making friends, and more. This Podcast Has Autism gives listeners the perfect way to access interviews and autism information on the go.

Autistic and Unapologetic

Autistic and Unapologetic is a blogging website created and founded by James Sinclair. Having autism himself, James does a fantastic job of blogging about important topics while also sharing intriguing personal stories and opinions. Autistic and Unapologetic contains four different categories including Understanding Autism, Embracing Autism, Autism in Entertainment, and Autism News.

The Autism Academy

The Autism Academy is an Arizona-based chain of schools for children on the spectrum. The Academy’s website includes a blog that provides many educational resources and helpful articles related to autism. The blog shares many autism events local to Arizona residents, but readers can also find many easy-to-read blog posts such as “How Animals Benefit Kids with Autism” and “Focus on the End Game: Transitioning Into Life After School.”

National Autism Resources Inc.

National Autism Resources Inc. provides cost effective, research-based therapeutic tools, including toys, games, electronics, and books that meet the needs of people on the autism spectrum. The organization also offers an incredible blog filled with important news updates and research that speak to both caregivers, parents, professionals, and those with autism alike.

Kerry Magro

Kerry Magro was diagnosed with PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified), a form of autism, at age 4. With years of therapy and family support, Kerry is now an accomplished professional speaker, best-selling author, movie consultant and non-profit founder. His blog features different news articles, current events in the autism world, and updates on his life and journey.

Play Project

The Play Project has a fun and user-friendly website filled with creative resources for parents, educators, and professionals. The Play Project also has a new blog on its website that presents a variety of fun and lighthearted articles from arts and crafts tips to getting your child ready for kindergarten.

American Autism Association

On the American Autism Association’s blog, readers will find captivating new articles published by a variety of different authors. With multiple blog posts each month, the American Autism Association does a fantastic job of posting articles related to current issues and accomplishments in the autism community. The organization also highlights  recreational workshops, educational programs, and volunteer opportunities.

Organization for Autism Research

In 2018, OAR was voted a top non-profit organization by multiple organizations. The Organization for Autism Research is led by parents, autism professionals, and scientists, and strives to produce science-based, community-focused research. Along with an informative blog, the Organization for Autism Research’s website offers research grants, scholarships, and employment opportunities for individuals on the spectrum.

Stories About Autism

A captivating blog from the dad of two non-verbal boys on the Spectrum, Stories About Autism sheds light on author James Hunt’s experience with his sons Tommy and Jude. James does a wonderful job of blogging about the idiosyncrasies that make his boys’ journeys unique and wonderful. Stories About Autism occasionally features guest bloggers as well as a variety of different posts on sleep, parenting, and more.

Starlight and Stories

Victoria of Starlight and Stories is an autism specialist teacher with a degree from Cambridge in English and Education. She has a strong passion for helping teachers and families learn about autism. Not only does Victoria keep up with her blog every month – she is also the founder and coach for Autism Consultancy International.

Carrie Cariello, Exploring the World of Autism

Book writer, blogger, and public speaker Carrie Cariello is taking the autism world by storm. Carrie blogs every Monday about life with her five kids, autism, marriage, and more. She writes with beautiful imagery and heart-wrenching storytelling which is sure to capture a wide variety of audiences interested in family life and autism.

Faithmummy

Mimiam, author of Faithmummy blog, is a Scottish mother, wife, and Christian. Her story is unique in that she had her twin children as a result of IVF treatments after a long 10 year struggle with infertility. She loves sharing the stories of life with her children, all the while staying strong in her faith through the good times and the hard times.

Paul Isaacs’ Blog

Paul Isaacs is a motivational speaker, trainer, blogger, and author. Formally diagnosed with autism at 24 years old, he began a journey of raising awareness and helping others on the spectrum. His blog is full of passionately written stories and information that readers from young adult to mature adult can enjoy.

The AWEnesty of Autism

Kate’s philosophy behind her blog, The AWEnesty of Autism, is to keep it real, raw, and AWEnest while laughing, loving and living. Her blog highlights her life as a mother to 3 children, one of whom is on the autism spectrum. Kate blogs about tons of topics including travel, school, bullying, sports, and more.

ACT Blog

Autism Care Today is a national nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to raise awareness and provide treatment services and support to families with children on the autism spectrum. One of Autism Care Today’s many resources include the ACT blog which features multiple authors, national events, links to autism resources, and therapy tips.

I Love ABA!

Started by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in Atlanta, Georgia, I Love ABA! shares insider tips and research from a Master’s level practitioner in the field of autism. She blogs about ABA, or Applied Behavior Analysis, in a way that is fun and reader-friendly rather than wordy and intimidating. Parents, as well as individuals on the spectrum, will be sure to find wonderful tips, strategies, and resources on I Love ABA.  

Friendship Circle

Friendship Circle is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing resources for a variety of special needs children, including those on the spectrum. The Friendship Circle’s blog features top categories including parenting, education, training, and therapy tips. Many of the blog posts include sensory toys for special needs children as well as activity guides, making the website a one-stop-shop for all special needs families.

Autism Adventures

Melissa, founder of Autism Adventures, taught a handicap class for 8 years before realizing she could help other teachers and caregivers by sharing all her ideas implemented in her classroom. This California gal now has a bright and colorful blog packed with behavioral, communication, and education resources for teachers to easily access and download.

The Mom Kind

The Mom Kind is a blog launched by a mom with four children, all of whom have different diagnoses. The main goal of Alicia’s blog is to bring more awareness to autism and teach others about neurodiversity. From sensory craft ideas to an in-depth look on parenting children with autism, The Mom Kind is a motivational blog for all parents and caregivers to enjoy.

Teach Love Autism

Founded by a teacher with a passion for children with autism, Teach Love Autism gives parents and teachers an inside look into which training techniques, therapies, and crafts are best for children on the spectrum. She is a big believer in teaching children how to be independent all while having fun and expressing their individuality. Teach Love Autism is a beneficial blog for both new teachers and seasoned teachers trying to incorporate new teaching techniques into their classrooms.

Scary Mommy

Scary Mommy is a website dedicated to empower moms all over the world by giving them advice from pregnancy and self-care to raising children. The blog is also a great resource for moms who have children with special needs, including ASD. The website not only has great articles by a variety of different moms going through struggles with their children; it is also jam packed with beauty tips, health tips, a clothing store, and more.

The Autism Cafe

Eileen Lamb, founder of The Autism Cafe, is a writer and photographer. She was born in France but now lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and two sons, Charlie and Jude. On her blog, she shares the ups and downs of raising a child with ASD while being on the spectrum herself. Her blog is not only artistic with beautiful photos she’s taken, but also filled with thought-provoking stories and advice.

To all of our wonderful winners: if you’d like to share this distinguishment on your blog, use the code in the box below:

Action Behavior Centers

 

After a child receives a new diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), it’s natural for parents to be full of questions. The good news is that the autism community is full of parents who understand ASD and are eager to share their knowledge with those who are new to the community. We compiled 14 expert tips from individuals with autism, autism professionals, special education teachers, and parents of children with autism and special needs:

 

Chris Bonnello – Autistic Not Weird

Chris Bonnello is the owner and author of Autistic Not Weird. He was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome when he was 25 years-old. Prior to his diagnosis, Chris had experience teaching both primary education and special education. Since receiving his diagnosis, he has become an award winning writer and an international speaker on autism. Chris says:

“I guess that the most important piece of advice I can offer to families is to define their children by their strengths rather than their weaknesses. It’s a very easy trap to focus on just the deficiencies and the struggles when it comes to autism, but if everything a child does is focused on their weaknesses, they’ll never get a chance to develop what they’re really good at. And a child’s self-esteem can rocket once they see themselves being really good at something.

There were plenty of reasons to have been negative about my prospects, going by the developmental report written about me when I was 4. I’m very glad my parents and teachers didn’t spend my childhood years just being sad about all my “bad points, “ and then being surprised when I didn’t reach my potential as a result of not focusing on the good.”

 

Erin Tracy – Behavior in Balance

Erin Tracy is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and the founder of Behavior in Balance – a website that provides educational resources for parents. She has over 12 years of experience working with both teens and children with autism. Erin says:

“I think the biggest piece of advice I could give parents is to educate themselves.  This is for a couple of reasons.

  1. There is so much noise and inaccurate information out there, that it can be difficult to know what to do or how to best advocate for a child.  Researching reputable organizations and those that promote using evidence based practices is a good place to start.
  2. Sometimes I feel like there’s a perception that we, as clinicians, have it handled.  This may be our own fault for creating that perception or not involving parents enough. The truth is, parents play such an important role in a child’s progress. When we leave, who gets to manage challenging behavior?  

There are a lot of hours in a week outside of therapy time. Using that time to teach a child new skills or manage behavior can be invaluable to progress.  A quality BCBA should be providing this training but supplementing in-session parent training with classes or tutorials can be highly beneficial.

It’s important for parents to learn and understand what evidence based treatments look like, what their child’s rights are for services and in school, and how to carry out behavior techniques and strategies for teaching their child.”

 

Jessica Watson – Four Plus an Angel

Jessica Watson is the author and owner of Four Plus an Angel where she shares stories about her life, parenting, and autism. Jessica has experience raising a child with autism and shares her autism story on her website. Throughout Jessica’s time raising a daughter with autism, she has gained valuable knowledge. Jessica says:

“Appointments or school meetings that involve discussing test results or progress reports related to your child can be emotionally draining. Whether your child made little to no progress or added a new diagnosis to their list, leave that meeting reminding yourself that your child is the exact same, uniquely awesome person they were when you walked into the meeting. No test result or expert opinion will ever change that.”

 

Gina Badalaty – Embracing Imperfect

Embracing Imperfect, created by Gina Badalaty, offers many great resources for healthy eating and autism. Gina has experience raising a daughter with disabilities and autism and has found healthy eating habits can make a major difference in children’s lives. Gina says:

“Kids on the autism spectrum quite frequently suffer from food sensitivities and gut health issues. We have learned, the hard way, that my daughter is reactive to most forms of cow milk. It contains a protein – casein – that disturbs her sleep pattern. For many years, she could not sleep through the night, yet removing products containing cow milk reset her system and she began sleeping through the night in just 2 weeks.

If your child is experiencing behaviors and issues including sleeplessness, eczema, constipation, diarrhea, behavioral outbursts and more, you might want to see if they are reacting to foods that are not good for their system or if their gut is out of balance. A healthy, clean, low sugar diet can make a world of difference to your child!“

 

Mary Winfield – Growing as They Grow

Mary Winfield has experience working in Special Education as well as raising two children with special needs. She is the owner and author of Growing as They Grow. She writes blog posts on a variety of topics and offers advice on many topics relating to parenting. Mary says:

“I think my biggest piece of advice for people wading through the trenches of special needs parenting is to trust yourself. You know your child better than anyone else, and you are their momma for a reason. They need what you have to offer. People will tell you that you are doing it wrong, that you are messing them up, and that if you would just do “insert unsolicited advice here,” that it would be much better. Only listen to advice from a few trusted people, and then weigh it against your heart and what you know about your child. You are not going to mess them up. If you love them and never give up on them, they will have all they need.”

 

Amy H – Taking it Day by Day with Developmental Delays

Amy H is the author of Taking it Day by Day with Developmental Delays (and Autism) and is the mother of a son with autism, physical impairments, and mental impairments. In her blog posts, Amy discusses her adventures through life raising her son and shares helpful information relating to autism and developmental delays. On her website, she writes a letter to special needs parents. In this letter Amy writes:

“Don’t let the stress of raising this child eat you up inside. Don’t let it be the only thing going on in your life. You need distractors, and a chance to get out of your head. Take breaks from your child when you need them. Sometimes we just have to put him in his room and walk away to decompress. It’s okay. Please don’t try to bear the brunt of everything, because you don’t want to trouble anyone else with your child. Let teachers help. Let therapists and social workers help. They will lighten your heavy load. Let them be a part of your child’s life, they will make your journey more enjoyable.

Search your entire county and beyond until you can find a support group, and if you don’t find one, create your own. Seek out a counselor to touch base when you need to. When your child goes to school, get to the gym, or take a walk to combat stress. Get together with friends at least a few times a year. You need to socialize with others and feel normal again. Communicate at all times any stresses you are feeling to your partner/spouse, parents, siblings and don’t keep this stuff inside. Try to stay hydrated, get enough sleep and eat healthy when you can to help your overall well being. His pediatrician used to tell me, “You can’t take care of him, if you don’t take care of yourself.”

 

Tameika Meadows – I Love ABA!

Tameika Meadows is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and the blog owner of I Love ABA! Her blog posts offer many tips and resources for understanding autism and ABA therapy. One blog post in particular offers excellent advice and strategies for making life easier for both parents and their children. This post is titled “My Top Ten List” and explains what Tameika believes are the essentials to everyday life for a child with autism. Some of the essentials that she discusses are creating structure and routine, creating visual daily schedules, using a choice board, and creating a cool down area. She goes further into detail about each of the top ten essentials and provides examples of how to apply them to everyday life.  

 

Jolene Philo – Different Dream Living

Different Dream Living is a website created by Jolene Philo which offers resources for those who are caring for others with special needs. She has experience raising a son with special needs and has gone on to become a published author and speaker for special needs. Jolene says:

“On the days when parenting your child contains no Hallmark moments, remember one thing. You stand between your child and the big, scary world he can’t understand, but you don’t have to stand alone. By seeking resources, advice, and support for your child you will become a better advocate and protector. So ask for help when you need it and give help when you can.”

 

Kate Hooven – The AWEnesty of Autism

Kate Hooven blogs about her life raising three children, one of whom was diagnosed with autism. Her website, The AWEnesty of Autism is filled with honest accounts of everyday life raising her son with autism, as well as tips to help other parents in similar situations. Kate, along with the help of her son and niece, developed a poster to help others befriend children with autism:


Credit: Kate Hooven. *Disclaimer: Per Kate’s request, no edits may be made to this poster.

 

Erin Hagey – You AUT-a-Know

You AUT-a Know, created by Erin Hagey, shares the knowledge that she has gained from her experience as a Special Education teacher. She bases her classroom on ABA principles and offers many resources for other Special Education teachers. Erin Hagey says:

“Look at your IEP team as just that, a team. Working with multiple service providers can be tough, but the more we can work together, the more benefit our students will receive. I love working alongside families to develop goals and objectives to make our students more successful at school, home, and in their communities. Working together as a team allows all members to share what is important for the growth and development of our students and I find that it makes for greater student achievement. Doing this is not always easy, but I suggest using open, honest communication as a key tool to build a collaborative team that can best support our students.”

 

Rebecca Branstetter – Thriving School Psychologist Collective

Rebecca Branstetter is the founder of Thriving School Psychologist Collective. Thriving School Psychologist Collective is a community of school psychologists who are dedicated to improving mental health services in public schools. Rebecca has over 15 years of experience as a school psychologist. She has written many blog posts and books sharing what she has learned throughout her career and also offers online courses. Rebecca offers advice for families deciding what school support is best for their children:

Getting a diagnosis of Autism can be understandingly overwhelming for parents. One of the first things to do to reduce overwhelm is to build your child’s school support team and find a “guide” in navigating the process for garnering the right supports at school. In the public schools, the school psychologist is a professional who can serve as a guide in the process. It is not always widely known, but public school psychologists are available to support families from ages 3-21, even if your child is not enrolled in a public school. You can contact your child’s local school district to find out who the school psychologist is.

One reason starting your journey in the world of deciding what the best school support options are with your school psychologist is that they are experts in not only diagnostic assessment, but also helping parents navigate the sometimes complex and daunting menu of options for their child. From general education all the way to special schools for students with Autism, the choices and process for getting the “just right” level of support can leave parents feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. Whether a medical professional or the school psychologist provided the initial diagnosis, ask for an appointment to meet to discuss the new-found diagnosis and learn the next steps. The school psychologist may also have knowledge of community agencies that offer ongoing support to parents of children with Autism.”

 

Kara Dedert – Live Better

Kara Dedert is mother to five children and the author of Live Better. One of her sons was born with special needs, and she discusses many topics relating to special needs parenting. She offers wise words and tips for parents in similar situations as her own, as well as a Facebook group for other mothers raising children with special needs. In one of her blog posts titled Your Child Needs Friends Too, Kara writes, “Not only does my son need friends, they need him.” It is important to remember that children on the spectrum and neurotypical children can both benefit from having a friendship with each other.

 

Alicia Trautwein – The Mom Kind

Alicia Trautwein is the author and creator of The Mom Kind. She has experience raising four children with different diagnoses, and she writes blog posts discussing topics relating to autism, special needs, parenting, and managing money. Alicia says:

“Remember, your child is the same child who walked into that office without a diagnosis that walked out with one.

Not only is it okay to grieve, it is normal.  We all have different steps in the cycle of grief (denial, shock, anger, sadness, depression, even relief).  You are not necessarily even grieving your child, but the idea of who your child might have been in your head.  What is important is that you actively move through the cycles of grief into action. As Dr. Rick Solomon of The Play Project says, ‘There is a feeling much worse than grief and that is the guilt of looking back on what you should have done.

You are the expert in your child’s life and their strongest advocate.  Though you may not be a doctor, you’ve known your child since day one. You know what they need and are the only one who is going to fight for your child’s needs. So do not doubt yourself!’”

 

Stephanie DeLussey – Mrs. D’s Corner

Mrs. D’s Corner is a website created by Stephanie DeLussey. On this website, Stephanie writes blog posts and provides resources for teaching Special Education. In her blog posts, she shares knowledge that she has gained from her experience as a Special Education teacher on topics such as disability awareness, parent communication, data collection, schedules, and more. Stephanie says:

My biggest piece of advice for special needs families is for them to 1. Become involved in the community where they live, and 2. For parents to become involved in their child’s education with information from outside of the school district. Do your homework, study up on the laws and what rights you and your child have under IDEA. In my experience, most families don’t know how much power they hold over school districts when it comes to asking for and getting the services their child needs to succeed.”

 

When raising a child with autism, it’s important to remember that many other parents are experiencing the same challenges. Thankfully, the autism community is full of parents and professionals who are happy to help others along the way in their own journeys with ASD.

 

For autism tips, check out our Autism Travel Guide.

There is a recent and growing need for qualified professionals in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA therapy, the leading treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), helps children on the Spectrum improve in many areas of development, including communication, social skills, and day-to-day living skills.

The ABA field is led by Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) who are responsible for creating all of the individualized treatment plans and supervising one-on-one therapy sessions with Registered Behavior Technicians (RBTs).

For students seeking a career as a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), below are the top 50 colleges (in no particular order) that offer fully web-based ABA or autism-related programs in the United States.

Auburn University

Auburn University’s distinguished degrees and teacher certification programs, such as the Graduate Certificate in Intervention for Students with Autism and Developmental Disabilities, have earned Auburn University a spot in the top 25 percent of all Schools of Education in the United States, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University provides their students with a variety of education programs, including those in the special education field. ASU offers programs like the BACB-approved graduate certificate in ABA, as well as a M.Ed program with an emphasis in ABA. These programs equip graduates to feel comfortable with a diverse range of client populations.

Northern Arizona University

Northern Arizona University solidified a spot on our list by offering its Positive Behavior Support, Graduate Certificate program to aspiring BCBAs.  This 100% electronic program allows students to engage in group work that involves communicating via video chat with classmates during real-time situations.

The University Of Arizona

The University of Arizona has a fast-track web-based BCBA course sequence for Behavior Analysts who are looking to make a quicker transition into the field. The program can be finished in a short time of 16 months, allowing students to work through the program while actively holding a job.

The University of Arkansas

The University of Arkansas offers a flexible learning environment for the Master’s in Special Education with Graduate Certificates in both Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). The ABA program’s recognized faculty is one of the most noteworthy factors of their online program.

Brandman University

Brandman University offers a remote based Master’s in Special Education program with an emphasis in ABA. The university provides students with the tools they need complete the course in accelerated eight week sessions. BU also facilitates bi-weekly webinars for students to participate in trainings and communicate with other students and instructors.

California State University

California State University offers a BACB-accredited program for BCBA candidates through their ABA Certificate of Advanced Study. CSU also helps students by staying flexible with through their quick-paced program and lower financial costs.  

National University

National University’s Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis is recognized for equipping students with the ability to offer behavior management techniques and strategies in a variety of settings, including schools, hospitals, mental health agencies, businesses, and group homes.

University of Colorado

The University of Colorado has a known history of accommodating the needs of students who are already in the workforce. The University of Colorado’s 100% electronic Applied Behavior Analysis course sequences help best prepare students to sit for the national Board Certified Behavioral Analyst exam.

University of Northern Colorado

The University of Northern Colorado’s BACB-verified online courses are available for those seeking a career in ABA. UNC’s flexible program permits students to complete their BCBA course sequence simultaneously with a master’s degree. The expert faculty and impressive UNC resources exemplify the university’s dedication to its web-based program.  

Western Connecticut State University

Western Connecticut State University is an institution dedicated to higher standards of education and research. WCSU provides high-quality behavior analytic instruction to practitioners, earning its online ABA program a spot on this list.

Florida Institute of Technology

Florida Institute of Technology offers students much more flexibility than the average ABA program with the opportunity to enroll in FIT’s online program multiple times throughout the year – the new course sequences for the program start every three months. This allows students interested in a BCBA certification, particularly those who are already in the workforce, to plan enrollment around their busy lives.

Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University operates through the Southern Regional Education Board’s Electronic Campus, which facilitates an advanced coursework program to help students qualify for BCBA certification while they work. The flexible learning program  makes it easy for students to access all resources and materials needed to complete all courses 100% electronically.

University of West Florida

The University of West Florida stands out for their remote flexibility, offering five different start dates per year. This allows students to kick off the program at their utmost convenience. UWF offers a BACB-Accredited program for BCBA candidates, with an optional Master of Arts in Exceptional Student Education.  

Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Chicago School of Professional Psychology makes it extremely simple for students to access their computer-based work through a program called Global Student Dashboard. Global Student Dashboard allows students to access their assignments and interact with fellow peers in the class, as well as the professor.

Southern Illinois University

Southern Illinois University’s BACB-approved course sequence is comprised of a total of 18 credit-hours, which can be completed entirely online. SIU’s program effectively prepares students who already hold a master’s degree or higher, in an approved field of study, to earn their BCBA credentials.

Ball State University

Ball State University offers a BACB-Accredited program for BCBA candidates with its Master of Arts with an emphasis in Autism. BSU was the first university in the state of Indiana to offer online ABA Master’s programs. This program is perfect for people seeking employment with children or adults with Autism.

Purdue University Global

Purdue University Global gives students the option of zero on-campus requirements and many different start dates, allowing them to begin an ABA program when it’s most convenient. Each student is offered personalized support by career services, an online library, and many social networking communities to keep in touch with classmates and stay up-to-date on new trends in the ABA field as a whole.

University of Kansas

Impressively, the University of Kansas is the second most research-productive university in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis. KU offers a Master of Arts or a Doctorate of Philosophy in behavioral psychology, which are BACB-accredited programs for aspiring BCBAs.

Nicholls State University

Nicholls State requires students to complete a field-based research seminar, which demonstrates firsthand how to work with and evaluate student learning environments. NSU offers computer-based programs for its M.Ed of Curriculum and Instruction, High Incidence Disabilities with an ABA option.

University of Southern Maine

University of Southern Maine offers a BACB-accredited ABA program through their Master of Science in Educational Psychology. USM’s program is known for its flexibility, with the program being 100% electronic so students are able to attend classes and complete coursework remotely.

Endicott College

Endicott College offers a diverse array of options for students seeking a career in ABA. All of Endicott’s programs are 100% electronic and do not have a residency requirement. The 36-credit online program makes it easier for those who are already working professionals to earn their degree. They also offer a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio, enabling faculty members to really focus on their students.

Northeastern University

The BCBA exam pass rate for Northern University is at an extremely high rate of 83 percent, recieving world-wide recognition and attention. Northeastern University offers a flexible learning environment that is BACB-Accredited for BCBA candidates.

University of Wisconsin Whitewater

The University of Wisconsin Whitewater offers an online ABA graduate certificate that can be taken as a post graduate program, or may be applied toward a Master’s in Special Education. The university’s dedication to online learning is evident through their thorough and challenging modules that concentrate on evidence-based interventions.

West Virginia University

West Virginia University, one of the top 100 public universities in the U.S. according to U.S. News and World Report, offers a BCBA Course Sequence for post-graduate students or for students earning a graduate degree. WVU allows students in these programs to engage in live sessions through the university’s web-based learning platform.

University of Texas at Austin

With the growing need for ABA therapy in Texas, UT Austin is helping to foster new generations of BCBA supervisors with its online program that emphasizes ABA and Special Education. UT Austin also made it easy to enroll in their certificate program by not requiring any entrance exams.

Texas A&M University

A&M’s Department of Educational Psychology, also known as EPSY, has one of the nation’s largest outputs of special and bilingual education teachers in the state of Texas. The university offers up to 21 practicums each semester for students participating in online ABA courses.

Simmons College

With Simmons College’s online courses, students are able to earn their degrees in as short as 19 months with class sizes as small as 15 students. Simmons’ flexible learning environment has also proved to earn a BCBA exam pass rate of 83%, which is impressively the same rate of on-campus students

Drexel University

Drexel University’s ABA courses include traditional coursework, research, and some hands-on experience. Students also have the opportunity to accumulate their practicum hours required in order to sit for the national exam.

Cairn University

For those looking for a biblically-centered learning environment, Cairn University provides just that. Cairn University’s Online MS in Special Education (ABA) was the first Christian university program worldwide that was verified to meet the eligibility requirements to take the BCBA exam. Cairn also offers a 50% tuition discount for educators working in Christian schools.

St. Cloud State University

St. Cloud State University is one of the most affordable web-based ABA programs, with tuition as low as $12,000 for out-of-state applicants. The university offers students the opportunity to learn from PhD-level instructors. Not only is St. Cloud affordable, it is also ranked by the U.S. News and World Report as 35th in top public schools. Admission into the ABA program requires a bachelor’s degree and a minimum GPA of 2.75.

University Of Southern Maine

Another very affordable online program, the University of Southern Maine offers a rigorous ABA track to prepare students for the BCBA exam. Their programs include a Master of Science in Educational Psychology with a concentration in Applied Behavioral Analysis, as well as a Certificate in Applied Behavioral Analysis.

University of Massachusetts Lowell

The University of Massachusetts Lowell offers courses taught by world-wide expert behavior analysts who work at some of the most renowned autism treatment and research facilities. Such experienced faculty ensures a highly credible learning experience for students.

Michigan State University

Michigan State University’s Graduate Certificate Program in Applied Behavior Analysis equips students with the skills and knowledge needed to design, implement, and supervise ABA therapy sessions. MSU has provided post-secondary education for 60+ years and is one of the leading universities in the United States.

Capella University

Capella University provides students with several remote learning opportunities. This includes the university’s Masters of Science in Psychology with ABA specialization, which meets all of the requirements in order to sit for the BCBA exam. Some benefits of participating in Capella’s program include access to their career center for post-graduate job opportunities, as well as employer, association, and military discounts.

Southeast Missouri State University

Southeast Missouri State is a recognized leader for their online education programs. SMSU’s Masters of Arts in ABA is a 100% web-based program that allows students to complete their supervision through the required fieldwork.

Webster University

Webster University is known for its distinguished faculty and globally-minded curriculum. The university does an outstanding job at preparing students for practicing behavior analysis in different scenarios such as schools, residential centers, and community agencies.

Montana State University

Montana State University offers a Master of Science in Special Education Advanced Studies with an ABA emphasis. Graduates of this remote learning program have a high rate of employment and job offers. MSU also serves students with faculty who have a wide range of experience in the Special Education field, including those with their BCBA certification.

Arcadia University

With a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio, Arcadia faculty members are able to give students a highly individualized educational experience. This 36-credit online program gives students the option to choose elective coursework that focuses on ASD, as well as emotional and behavioral disorders.

Kaplan University

Kaplan University, which was acquired by Purdue University to create Purdue University Global, now offers more than 180 remote-based programs. With Kaplan’s program, students will develop the skills they need to cultivate effective intervention strategies for their future clientele. Kaplan also offers multiple start dates that allow flexibility for those seeking higher education while still working.

Pennsylvania State University

Students are able to choose from three different focus areas when earning their online degree at Penn State. The focus areas include Academic and Behavioral Supports, Applied Behavioral Analysis, or Autism. Full time students are able to finish the program in about one year, while part time students are able to complete it in two years.

Central Methodist University

CMU’s online ABA program provides students with the opportunity to gain knowledge in behavior assessment, behavior change procedures, research and data analysis methods, and verbal behavioral analysis. Through CMU’s computer-based program, students will be prepared to sit for the national Board Certified Behavioral Analyst exam.

Ashford University

Ashford University Makes it easy for those balancing work, school, and life by offering one course at a time that lasts 5 weeks. Ashford also makes it easy for transferring students, allowing up to 90 transfer credits. Some courses include Applied Behavioral Sciences, as well as statistics for the behavioral and social sciences.

University of North Texas

With enrollment offered every term, UNT’s BACB-approved program provides students with top notch courses like Techniques in Applied Behavioral Analysis and Ethical Issues in the Science and Practice of Behavior Analysis. UNT also offers 24/7 access to their online courses.

Oregon Institute of Technology

Oregon Tech’s Applied Psychology Program highlights core curriculum such as Developmental, Abnormal, Social, Cognitive, and Behavior Modification. Through Oregon Tech’s web-based program, students will meet the American Psychological Association Standards.

Troy University

Troy University’s courses provide students with the ability to earn a bachelor’s in psychology with no on-campus requirements, while also minoring in Applied Behavior Analysis. Those participating in Troy’s courses have the option to participate in the classroom, online, or a combination of the two.

St. Joseph’s College

St. Joseph’s College’s online courses are made up of 29 credit hours that include courses like advanced research methods in autism and assessment of Autism Spectrum Disorder. St. Joseph also offers an optional 6 credit supervised practicum for students who are eager to gain additional experience.

Pepperdine University

Pepperdine’s School of Education and Psychology offers an online Master of Science program for students interested in becoming a BCBA. The online courses allows students to prepare for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst exam and become Behavior Analysts. Although these courses are online, students will receive the same curriculum and experience as students taking courses on campus. The online program offers students easy access online course work, face-to-face classes via webchat, and local clinical experiences.

University of Cincinnati

The University of Cincinnati makes it easy for students to earn their Behavior Analysis Graduate Certificate with their 100% web-based program. Students can earn their certificate in as little as 1-2 years, while the masters program can be completed in 20 months.

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What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior in both boys and girls. The signs of ASD often include delays in social interactions, repetitive or self-injurious behaviors, and sensory sensitivities.  Many individuals with ASD also struggle with verbal or non-verbal communication.

What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

Sensory Processing Disorder, or SPD, describes a brain condition characterized by individuals having trouble organizing and responding to information delivered through the senses. For instance, certain noises, sights, textures, tastes, and smells might cause a “sensory overload.”

Signs of Sensory Processing Disorder

  • Stimulation from loud noises or overactive scenery
  • Intolerance to textures or favoring certain textures over others
  • Food aversions
  • Extreme responses to colors
  • Difficulty with fine motor skills
  • Easily distracted or has trouble focusing on a single task
  • Withdrawal from light
  • Dislike for teeth-brushing, nail cutting, hair washing
  • Fearful of crowds
  • Child is is unaware of of being touched or bumped unless done with extreme force
  • Difficulties calming oneself

Articles and Scientific Research on SPD and Autism

  1. In Chantal Sicile-Kira’s article, What is Sensory Processing Disorder and How is is Related to Autism?, Chantal defines SPD and the relationship between SPD and ASD. She also discusses the day-to-day struggles that many people with Sensory Processing Disorder deal with on a regular basis.

  2. A recent study conducted at the University of California San Francisco explains some of the notable differences between SPD and Autism Spectrum Disorder. While there are some overlaps between the two, the study outlines how the brain wiring is different in those with ASD than those with Sensory Processing Disorder.

  3. A research study done in 2009 delves into the social and emotional aspects associated with Sensory Processing Disorder. Researchers found those with SPD experience higher levels of anxiety, depression, and social withdrawal than those without SPD.

  4. A study conducted over the last decade explains the psychological and behavioral differences between those on the autism spectrum and those with Sensory Processing Disorder. The researchers compare and contrast the striking similarities between the two disorders, as well as the features which make them two separate disorders.

Types of SPD

There are three kinds of Sensory Processing Disorders: over-responsive, under-responsive, and seeking/craving.

  1. Over-Responsive SPD:

It’s common for individuals with over-responsive SPD to feel a constant overload of information, which leads to experiencing some senses too intensely. Children with over-responsive SPD tend to become overstimulated and hypersensitive to sensory input, while a typical sensory system would not be affected in such a way. With a sensitive sensory system, a child can often be fearful of, bothered by, or completely avoidant of certain types of sensory experiences such as texture, noise, lighting, taste, and smell. This kind of sensory sensitivity is seen in many children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

2. Under Responsive SPD:

In contrast to those with over responsive SPD, under-responsive SPD is when the sensory system doesn’t detect and respond to certain stimuli in the way a sensory system would typically react. Children with under-responsive SPD may often appear withdrawn or uninterested in engaging with others. They tend to not respond to pain or extreme temperatures in the way one might typically respond.

3. Seeking/Craving SPD:

The third kind of SPD is seeking/craving, which occurs when the sensory system drives an individual to constantly seek out sensory stimulation in many different forms. This can look like touching, bouncing, moving, jumping – however they can gain the sensory input they are seeking.

8 Sensory Toys and Activities Recommended by Autism Experts

Each child with Autism Spectrum Disorder and SPD may have unique preferences on toys and activities that accommodate sensory issues. Below are some toys that Action Behavior Centersexperienced team of Board Certified Behavioral Analysts (BCBAs) recommend for children with autism and sensory issues.

For tactile activities:

1. Kinetic sand

2. DIY Slime

3. Water bead

4. Play-Doh

5. Shaving cream

For visual activities:

6. Blowing bubbles

7. Surfloor

8. DIY glitter jar


The Main Neurological Differences Between SPD and ASD

Although there are many features of Sensory Processing Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder that go hand-in-hand, it’s important to note the fundamental differences between the two.

  • In a study that evaluated 16 boys with SPD, 15 boys with ASD, and 23 typically developing boys, researchers found that children with SPD, but not autism, displayed impairments in the parts of the brain that link visual, auditory, and tactile sensory processing systems.

  • Both Sensory Processing Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder involve deficiencies regarding basic sensory information, but only children with ASD have been shown to lack connections in the brain related to processing facial emotion and memory.

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder, while Sensory Processing Disorder affects the nervous system.

  • A recent study at the University of California San Francisco has found that “children with sensory processing disorders have decreased structural brain connections in specific sensory regions different than those in autism, further establishing SPD as a clinically important neurodevelopmental disorder.”

Statistics and National Resources

  • A research study done in 2009 by members of the Sensory Processing Disorder Scientific Work Group indicates that 1 in 6 children experience sensory symptoms.

  • As high as 95% of children on the autism spectrum reportedly experience sensory difficulties according, to a study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders in 2007.

  • Autism is about 4.5 more common in males – data shows that 1 in 42 boys have autism compared to 1 in 189 girls.

  • According to Sensory Processing in Autism: A Review of Neurophysiologic Findings, it is highly common for children on the autism spectrum to display “atypical behavioral responses to sensory information. Over 96% of children with ASD report hyper and hypo-sensitivities in multiple domains.”
  1. STAR Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder

  2. University of California San Francisco – UCSF Autism and SPD Study

  3. National Autism Resources – Sensory Toys

  4. CDC – Autism

  5. CDC – Autism Treatment

  6. WebMD – Sensory Processing Disorder

  7. Sensory Processing in Children With and Without Autism

  8. Sensory Processing and Behavioral Responsiveness

  9. National Institutes of Mental Health: Autism Spectrum Disorder

  10. NIMH: Autism Fact Sheet
  11. SPD Checklist
  12. PubMed: Autism Spectrum Disorder

Traveling can be a challenge in some way or another for all families – particularly so for families with a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Unfamiliar places, frequent transitions, large crowds and loud noises are just a few things parents try to avoid when planning a vacation for a child with special needs.  

To help families best prepare for vacations, we created an Autism Travel Guide, packed with travel preparation tips, road trip tips, flying tips, and the most autism-friendly vacation destinations in the United States.

6 Travel Preparation Tips

When traveling with children who have ASD, it is important to consider how each child might react in new situations. It is important to include and prepare everyone in the family so that everyone can enjoy the vacation.

  1. Role Playing.
    An effective way to help children on the spectrum feel more comfortable on a trip is to role play what the trip might look like. Role-playing in advance allows kids to understand what to expect while on the upcoming vacation rather than being entirely overwhelmed by the new experiences.
  2. Pack the right gear.
    Make sure your child has access to preferred comfort items. Some useful items to consider bringing are:
  • Noise cancelling headphones
  • Sunglasses
  • Weighted blanket
  • Sensory toys
  • Forms of identification
  • Favorite toy/blanket
  1. Create an itinerary.
    By creating an itinerary and discussing it in advance, you minimize the surprises that might occur while on vacation.
  2. Create a visual calendar.
    These vacation-prep calendars should display how long the trip will last, along with main events and activities. This is an efficient tool to help children on the spectrum truly visualize and understand what the trip will entail.
  3. Collect photos of the places you will go.
    Another helpful way to make sure children are comfortable in new surroundings is to collect photos of all vacation destinations. Grabbing photos off the Internet of hotels or accommodations, as well as any planned events and day trips, is a huge help in reducing the anxiety that children on the spectrum might feel in an unfamiliar environment.
  4. Involvement.
    Make sure to involve your child in the planning of your trip, whether it is researching your destination together or picking out a new swimsuit. The more involvement before the trip, the better!

7 Road Trip Tips

Road trips are a fun way to bond with your family and give children an opportunity to experience different places; however, they can also come with another set of challenges. With the help of the autism experts on our clinical team, we have compiled a variety of tips to help reduce some of that overwhelming road trip stress.

1. Start with small trips. Before leaving for an extended amount of time, try working your way up to a longer trip by taking a few day trips.

2. Map your route and mark off where you will stop ahead of time to avoid any surprises.

3. Assign Seating. If you have a car full of kids that tend to disagree on where to sit, try assigning seats to avoid any uncertainty, while still keeping in mind the needs of each child.

4. Snacks. Snacks are key in making sure everyone stays happy on the road. Make sure to pack plenty of snacks that you know your child likes. Also, bring along water or any other favorite drinks to keep everyone hydrated.

5. Entertainment. Most road trips tend to take up a good chunk of time, so it’s critical to have a variety of entertainment options for the ride. It’s always easy to pop in a few DVD’s, but if you are looking for something other than a movie, below is a list of items to consider packing for your road trip:

  • Coloring books
  • Playlist of songs you know your child likes to sing along to
  • Your child’s favorite books
  • iPad with some favorite games
  • Fidget spinner
  • Sensory bracelets/squeezable items
  • Card games
  • Silly puddy
  • Chewy sensory necklace
  • Stuffed animals and pillows

5. Take Frequent Breaks.  It is important to take frequent breaks for everyone involved in a road trip. Try planning your break around areas where your child can learn something new or run around to release some of that energy from sitting in the car, but more importantly, make sure there is a restroom!

6. Leave in the evening. If possible, try planning your road trip around an evening departure time – that way, most of the trip is spent with the children sleeping and limited traffic jams.

5 Flying Tips

Flying with a child on the Autism Spectrum may initially seem like a tall order, but planning ahead with these flying tips will help ensure the smoothest ride possible.

  1. Plan ahead

Call the airport prior to booking the trip to see if they provide assistance for kids with special needs. Some airports provide possible walkthroughs or special boarding accommodations.

2. Book a direct flight

Limit layovers to reduce the amount of transitions in getting on and off an airplane. This also helps dial back the amount of time spent around large crowds with loud sounds.

3. Seat selection

If possible, choose a seat closest to the front of the plane to reduce the time spent getting on and off the place. Also, consider which seating arrangement will be most comforting for your child – aisle seats offer easy bathroom breaks, middle seats can offer a seat in between two familiar faces when traveling in groups, and window seats offer spectacular views that children might enjoy.

4. Bulk row seating can offer extra space to make sure no other passengers are affected by any stimming activities. It’s also best to avoid the seats closest to the restrooms with the most passenger traffic.

5. TSA Pre-Check

Kids ages 12 and under who have a parent or guardian with TSA Pre-Check are able to accompany them through the TSA Pre-Check line. This limits the amount of undressing and helps families get through those large security lines quicker.

14 Top Autism-Friendly Vacation Destinations in the United States

It’s always challenging to pick a vacation destination that pleases all family members – especially when trying to select a place with limited crowds and an understanding staff. Below is a list of some different autism-friendly places to vacation with your family.

California

  • Shared Adventures–  Located in Santa Cruz, California, Shared Adventures offers an array of summer programs for special needs children and adults. Some of their programs include assisted kayaking, canoe rides, and scuba diving.

Colorado

  • Crested Butte Mountain Resort in the Rocky Mountains- The resort has trained staff who work with the Adaptive Sports Center. These experts have decades of experience working with children on the Autism Spectrum, allowing families to enjoy activities like skiing, snowboarding, hiking, water sports, and more.

Florida

  • Tradewinds Island Resorts in St. Petersburg Beach- Staff has been trained specifically to work with kids with special needs, and each visit is customized to the specific needs of each family.
  • Crowne Plaza in Tampa- Staff members undergo a special training to work with children with special needs, including ASD. There are many sensory friendly activities to do as a family.
  • Disney World– For some families, Disney World could be a challenging vacation destination if their child has difficulties with large crowds and noises. However, Disney World does offer a special pass for kids who have special needs – the Disney Disability Access (DAS) program. This pass allows families  to skip those long wait times via fast access lanes.

Massachusetts

  • Edaville Family Theme Park– Located in Carver, Massachusetts (about an hour outside of Boston), Edaville Family Theme Park offers an extremely inviting atmosphere for kiddos in the autism community. The railroad-themed park is equipped with a quiet room, fidget spinners, weighted blankets, and sensory toys to accommodate the needs of all guests.

New York

  • American Museum of Natural HistoryThe museum offers ‘Discovery Quad Tours’ for families with children on the autism spectrum. Tours are available on select Saturday mornings before the museum is open to the public. Registration is required, so be sure to call ahead of time.

Pennsylvania

  • Elmwood Park Zoo– In early May 2018, Elmwood Park Zoo became the first zoo in the world to become a Certified Autism Center. With trained staff, Elmwood Park Zoo has become an autism friendly destination year round as opposed to offering autism-friendly options here and there.

South Carolina

  • Surfside Beach– In 2016, Surfside Beach in South Carolina signed a proclamation to make the area the first autism-friendly travel destination. The beach offers events ranging from sensory-friendly movies to fishing lessons, as well as group events at restaurants.

Tennessee

  • Dollywood– Dollywood is dedicated to providing all guests with an enjoyable and inclusive environment. The theme park offers ride accessibility and park accessibility guides to help families plan their trips. The theme park also created a social story of what to expect when visiting, as well as a calming room to help guests get an escape from any sensory overload.

Texas

  • Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio, Texas- Morgan’s Wonderland is a safe waterpark that was built specifically for kids with all different kinds of special needs, including autism. The water park holds special events throughout the year starting after Memorial Day.
  • Lost Pines Spa and Resort– This resort, located in Austin, Texas, is the perfect quiet getaway for a family vacation. The resort has special accommodations for guests with special needs, and offers a variety of fun activities, including a lazy river, evening campfires, daily games, and more.

Utah

  • Splore– Located in the greater Salt Lake City area, as well as the Moab and Canyonlands area, Splore offers a wide variety of adaptive adventure programs, like canoeing, climbing, and snowshoeing. Splore also offers adaptive outdoor sports and education programs.

Virginia

  • Great Wolf Lodge– Located in Williamsburg, the Great Wolf Lodge is an inexpensive way to please everyone on the family vacation. There are tons of free sensory-friendly activities, along with plenty of food options that are sure to make everyone in the family happy. There are Great Wolf Lodge locations all over the United States in case a different location is more convenient for your family.

At the end of the day, you know your child better than anyone, so you may find that some of these tips might need to be modified. Try them out in your own way to see what works for you and your family. Most importantly, have fun!

National Resources on Autism

CDC: New Autism Data

CDC: Autism Facts

CDC: Research

CDC: Autism Spectrum Disorder

Tips for Holiday Travel

National Institutes of Mental Health: ASD

The Autism Society

Autism Society: Travel Tips

 

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18 Autism-Friendly Things to Do in Houston

News, scientific research, and education on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are constantly evolving. Online autism blogs are a perfect venue for staying up-to-date on all things autism.

The online autism community continues to flourish as more parents, teachers, and autism therapists create blogs to share their experiences. Many individuals who are on the autism spectrum themselves have also taken to the Internet to share their journeys with others.

Action Behavior Centers, a chain of Texas-based therapy providers for young children on the Spectrum, actively tries to raise autism awareness and educate both local and online communities on ASD.

After spending some time over the last year connecting with people from all over the world in the autism community, the ABC team has put together a list of some of the top influencers in the online autism world (in no particular order).

Top 35 Autism Blogs in 2018: 

The Autism Dad

People often think of parent blogs being dominated by the moms out there, but Rob Gorski, father of three boys with autism and other special needs, runs one of the most honest and heartening autism blogs on our list. Rob shares his experiences – the good, the bad, and the ugly – with raising his three boys as he figures out how “to do a job that sometimes requires superhuman abilities.” With over three million website visits from readers all over the world, The Autism Dad is well-respected in the autism community.

Autism Mom

Elizabeth Barnes, mom to the Navigator (the online alias for her son who is on the autism spectrum), left her full-time travel job to make sure she could provide her son with the support he needs. Her Autism Mom blog features articles with a variety of tips, resources, and personal experiences to help others along on their own journeys with ASD.

Autism Tank

Autism Tank is a blog run by Hailey, a teacher and Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) with years of experience working with kids with special needs. She posts lessons, resources, and tools to help educate others on autism and how to help kids with autism succeed.

30 Days of Autism

Leah Kelley is affected by autism in both her family life and career. As a K-12 Inclusion Resource Teacher and a mother with a son on the Autism Spectrum, she is a major advocate of autism acceptance and actively speaks at educational seminars and conferences. 30 Days of Autism offers many valuable resources, poems, and personal experiences with ASD.

Finding Cooper’s Voice

Finding Cooper’s Voice, run by Cooper’s mom, Kate Swenson, details the journey of parenting a young child with severe, nonverbal autism. Kate has a knack for creating content that truly speaks to people, with multiple viral videos and posts – one even crowning her the winner of a Jimmy Kimmel video challenge. Check out Finding Cooper’s Voice for an honest picture of what it’s like to raise a child with autism, joys and heartbreaks included.

Autism with a Side of Fries

Eileen Shaklee’s Autism with a Side of Fries blog has garnered nearly 800 followers and over two million page views. “Autism is a trip I didn’t plan on, but I sure do love my tour guide,” she writes of her son. Eileen writes with a laid-back, relatable voice (expect jokes and curse words from time to time). She keeps it real.

Just a Lil Blog

Jim Walter, one of the rarer dad bloggers out there, shares “the true life adventures of an autistic little girl, and her big sister.” Jim makes his Just a Lil Blog fun and humorous with the unique addition of creating his own Memes! Our personal favorite is The Pizza Spectrum Meme. Check them all out here.

Embracing the Spectrum

Run by husband-wife team Teresa and “The Manager,” Embracing the Spectrum covers the day-to-day achievements and struggles of those affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder. “From my perspective, a child’s diagnosis of autism does not necessitate devastating thoughts, nor does it negate a child’s potential,” Teresa writes. The blog welcomes contributions from guest bloggers to compile tips and experiences from all over.

I Love ABA

I Love ABA is a blog full of anything and everything related to Applied Behavior Analysis: tips, lesson plans, free resources, an ABA glossary, and autism red flags. Tameika Meadows, the BCBA who started the blog back in 2011, strives to share the ins and outs of ABA in a way that is “non-intimidating and simple to grasp” for anyone willing to learn.

Spectrum Mum

All the way across the pond, English blogger Catie gives readers “A Glimpse Into Our Autism” with a series of blog posts and weekly photos. Catie’s blog covers many important areas in the special needs community, from tips on plane travel and holiday trips to explaining autism to siblings. She encourages her readers to tell their own stories “because your voice is important and your story is unique.”

Friendship Circle

Friendship Circle is a non-profit organization that provides support to over 3,000 individuals with special needs. The Friendship Circle editorial team maintains its blog with the added support of guest bloggers. From therapy tips and parenting tips to expert-recommended products, books, and lessons, Friendship Circle’s blog is an all-encompassing resource for families in the special needs community.

This Outnumbered Mama

Kaylene G., homeschooling mama to three kiddos (two with special needs) and another on the way, was completely overwhelmed when her children were first diagnosed with special needs. “I held onto the words of my favorite bloggers to get me through the major transitions and to feel like I wasn’t so alone,” she writes. “That’s why I started blogging.” On This Outnumbered Mama, she blogs about parenting, special needs, and homeschooling.

Atypical Familia

Lisa Quinones-Fontanez became a prominent blogger in the autism community with her award-winning blog, AutismWonderland. In 2014, she decided to start her current blog, Atypical Familia, since she no longer felt like “Alice” lost in Autism Wonderland. Autism is still a big part of her life, and she is working on a memoir to document her experience as an autism mom in the Bronx, New York.

Faith Hope Love Autism

Lisa Reyes created the Faith Hope Love Autism blog to offer the world writing from the perspective of someone actually on the autism spectrum – her son Philip. Philip writes about his life experiences, poetry, and answers questions submitted by readers. The blog offers a wonderful firsthand perspective of an individual on the spectrum.

Embracing Imperfect

Embracing Imperfect, owned by Gina Badalaty, takes readers through the ins and outs of raising girls with autism – a disorder that is much more prominent in males. In addition to parenting tips, autism resources, and advice on coping with an autism diagnosis, Embracing Imperfect offers content on healthy eating, family travel, and tech & play.

Autism Adventures

Melissa has taught moderate to severe special education classes for years. Her blog, Autism Adventures, outlines academics, behavior basics, communication, and all of the techniques she uses to be successful in her special needs classroom. One of our favorite posts is her Calm Down Kit, which helps kiddos work through their emotions on the more frustrating days.

Autism and Oughtisms

Way over in New Zealand, Linda, mother of two sons on the autism spectrum, runs the Autism and Oughtisms blog. Her message is simple – autism parents must let go of what they “ought” to do as parents and, instead, find what works for their child. Each child on the spectrum is unique, and there’s no “one size fits all” approach to parenting.

Stories About Autism

Meet James: autism blogger, business owner, and dad to Jude and Thomas. Part of why he started his blog was to become the best parent he could be, as well as wanting to help out others in the same boat and spread autism awareness. Stories About Autism is full of honesty and cute photos – what more could you want?

Awesomism Mom

Lynne, mom to Peyton, an 18-year-old on the spectrum, loves using her blog as an outlet to connect with other autism parents. Since Peyton is 18 years old, Lynne has worked through many of the struggles that parents to newly diagnosed children have millions of questions about. Amazingly, Lynne is also launching the Awesomism Quilt Tour to help spread the world about the high unemployment rate for autistic teens and adults.

Raising Autistic Kids

Writing under the pseudonym of Kate M., San Diego-based mom started the Raising Autistic Kids blog after leaving her corporate lifestyle to have more time to raise her son. On parenting, she writes “I’ve had twelve years of practice, I’m still a rookie mom because with ASD children, the milestones don’t apply.” Raising Autistic Kids is also sustained by plenty of volunteer guest bloggers.

The Autism Vault

The Autism Vault is a wonderful resource for teachers working with students with autism. Liz, a Special Education teacher and BCBA from New York City, helps readers understand ABA and how to run a successful special education classroom. Liz believes “any special education teacher can make a difference with a little ingenuity and behavioral science.”

The Art of Autism

The Art of Autism is a space for all individuals in the autism community to connect with others through art, poetry, writing, video content, and music. The organization’s vision is to “foster independence, self-esteem and artistic expression.” The Art of Autism certainly brings a bit of color and beauty to the online autism world.

The Mom Kind

Alicia Trautwein feels her life’s purpose is to bring awareness to autism and teach neurodiversity. She enlightens her readers about ASD and neurodiversity, with the added benefit of a free autism parenting resource library. Plus, if anyone’s looking for posts on recipes, homemaking, and saving money, Alicia’s got it covered.

The Journey Through Autism

The Journey Through Autism is one of the most special autism blogs on our list since it’s actually written from the perspective of someone on the autism spectrum. Teenager Ethan Hirschberg was diagnosed with high functioning Autism at the age of two, and says his diagnosis has not kept him from reaching his goals. Ethan aspires to go to an Ivy league college and dedicate his career to being a special education attorney or BCBA.

The Sensory Spectrum

The Sensory Spectrum is the go-to place for all things related to the senses: sensory toys, books, fine and gross motor tools, auditory tools, and feeding tools. The mom behind the Sensory Spectrum, Jennifer, has two kiddos with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Exhausted from scouring the Internet for sensory resources, she decided to create an all-encompassing resource herself.

Running Through Water

Jaycee Kemp, social worker and mom of two sons with varying levels of developmental disability, maintains the Running Through Water blog. Jaycee takes her readers through the A-Zs of Autism – Coping and Haircuts to Pediatricians and Therapists. She also provides a list of personally recommended resources in the special needs community.

Full Spectrum Mama

Full Spectrum Mama is a colorful blog representing a “Colorful Family.” Full Spectrum Mama writes in a refreshingly honest style with beautiful rainbow illustrations that accompany her posts. It’s one of the most unique autism blogs on our list.

The Never-Empty Nest

Marguerite Elisofon doubles as an author and mom to Samantha, a young adult on the autism spectrum. Samantha’s diagnosis has not kept her from achieving great things – in fact, she earned a nomination for best actress at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. Marguerite publishes weekly blog posts, many of which zero in on the unique issues of adult women with autism.

Teach Love Autism

On Teach Love Autism, Jenn shares tips on creating schedules, work tasks, and anything that she’s had success with in her own classroom. She makes autism teaching products available for readers, including task cards, worksheets, and visual charts.

Bacon and Juiceboxes

Meet the “Bacon” family: Mr. Bacon (Jerry), Mrs. Bacon (Jo-Ann), Sister Bacon (Anna), and “the star of the show” – Eric. Mr. Bacon is a Police Captain and actively works to bridge the gap between police and individuals on the autism spectrum. In fact, Bacon and Juiceboxes hosts a free webinar on the 7 things first responders want people with ASD to know.

Autistic Not Weird

Chris Bonnello, also known as Captain Quirk, is a former primary school teacher turned to professional writer and speaker on autism issues. He’s on the spectrum himself, but wasn’t diagnosed with Asperger’s until the age of 25. He encourages everyone else on the spectrum to see themselves for their strengths rather than their weaknesses.

All About Boog

Amanda shares her experience of parenting “Boog,” her son who is on the autism spectrum. To those wondering what autism really means, she clarifies “It simply means he is a bright, loving, energetic little boy who happens to be on his own path when it comes to development.” She helps spread knowledge on ASD, language delays, therapies, and more.

The AWEnesty of Autism

PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified) is one of the diagnoses under the Autism Spectrum umbrella. Kate’s son Ryan was diagnosed with PDD-NOS at age 6, and Kate writes, “Most days I’m in awe of autism and the hold it has over the inner workings of my son’s mind.” Her blog shares the experiences of her family’s journey through the world of autism.

Dr. Mary Barbera’s Blog

Dr. Mary Barbera, a BCBA and mother to a son with autism, is a huge advocate of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy to help children on the spectrum reach their fullest potentials. Her blog is full of valuable information about ABA therapy, with the added personal touch of video blog lessons she creates herself.

Support for Special Needs

Julia Roberts and Dawn Friedman co-founded Support for Special Needs, which produces a wide variety of content on special needs, health, relationships, food, crafts, and DIY projects. Support for Special Needs acts as a medium for exchanging “wisdom and ideas among one of the most powerful group of people we know.”

 

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Action Behavior Centers

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Over the decades, ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy has proven itself as an effective treatment option for the severe developmental delays seen in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Moreover, the scientific research suggests that the earlier a child begins early intensive therapy with ABA, the more gains are made in critical areas like communication, social skills, and day-to-day living skills. In a study of over 1,400 children and adolescents with ASD, researchers from the University of Missouri found that children who received more intensive therapy at younger ages saw greater advancements in communication and social skills.

It’s important for children to receive the earliest possible therapy because these early experiences play a critical role in brain development. According to a report by the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (NECTAC), Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child says “high quality early intervention services can change a child’s developmental trajectory” and “intervention is likely to be more effective and less costly when it is provided earlier in life rather than later.”

Parents also play a key role in a child’s success rate. In fact, a recent 2017 study found that parents’ interactions with babies at high risk of autism may help to ease the severity of autism symptoms at age three.

In the preliminary part of the study, conducted back in 2015, parents received individualized training sessions on how to respond to their baby’s facial expressions and gestures. Then, the parents worked these teachings into their interactions with their 9-month old babies over the next five months.

At the end of the five months, researchers measured early autism signs using the Autism Observation Scale for Infants, as well as the quality of parent-child interactions. The data showed that babies in the treatment group showed fewer early signs of autism and better interactions with their parents.

The 2017 follow-up study assessed these same children, now at ages 2 and 3, with the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). Even years later, the quality of parent-child interactions was better among those who had received early parent training, and the toddlers showed less severe autism features.

 The researchers stress that larger studies are needed to confirm these results. However, they argue that “preemptive” therapy among infant populations can help parents address the early signs of autism and potentially ease the features of ASD during later development. This research solidifies just how important of a role parents play in the very early development of their child.