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Helping Others Through COVID-19: Strategies to Use at Home

Coming to a Lanterman Support Group Near You

Everything has changed so suddenly. For persons with developmental disabilities, sudden, unexpected changes can create added hurdles that may be more difficult to overcome. As you provide support to someone in your family in coping with COVID-19, there are simple but effective strategies to help you and your family member adjust to the changes together, until such time as our communities are safer again.

Simple evidence-based strategies such as visual supports, picture scheduling, prompting and reinforcement, task analyses, shaping and chaining, and self-management are key tools for supporting someone with a disability to learn new routines and “rules of the road”. Teaching strategies to support understanding of the pandemic, promote expression, develop coping mechanisms, and maintain social interaction are discussed as important supports for someone with a disability.

As schools and day programs reopen in new and different formats, the importance of hand hygiene, wearing masks and maintaining social distancing become key. Choosing the safest way to travel or to shop for groceries requires forethought, preparation and practice.

A simple overview training of helpful techniques is coming to a Lanterman support group near you. Please connect with the Koch-Young Resource Center family support group coordinators Evie Jung (ejung@lanterman.org) or Joe Perales (jperales@lanterman.org) to learn more. 

Available for download:

Supporting Individuals with Autism through Uncertain Times.1 Resources for supporting individuals  with autism during COVID-19 “Stay Home-Stay Safe” Guidance - The seven support strategies in this booklet are designed to meet the unique needs of children and young adults with autism during this period of uncertainty, including examples and ready-made resources to promote understanding of the virus, learn strategies to develop and maintain structured routines, practice coping skills, and self-manage personal care activities, exercise routines, and school connections while engaging in social distancing. (Available also in Arabic, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin and Spanish)

1. Hume, K., Waters, V., Sam, A., Steinbrenner, J., Perkins, Y., Dees, B., Tomaszewski, B., Rentschler, L., Szendrey, S., McIntyre, N., White, M., Nowell, S., & Odom, S. (2020). Supporting individuals with autism through uncertain times. Chapel Hill, NC: School of Education and Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Retrieved from: https://afirm.fpg.unc.edu/supporting-individuals-autism-through-uncertain-times

Supporting Adults with Autism through Uncertain Times: Companion Guide.2 This guide was developed as a response to self-advocates and family members seeking resources for adults. It is intended to centralize many different adult-specific resources and can serve as a supplement or companion guide to the Supporting Individuals with Autism through Uncertain Times toolkit, which was developed for families of children and youth with autism. This is an excellent resource ARFs, ILS/SLS, day programs, and any other agencies providing adult services to individuals with ASD.

The materials are divided into four topic areas: COVID-19 Resources, Daily Living Resources, Social Connectedness Resources, and Mental Health Resources. Each section contains developed materials and links to websites for other materials that may be useful.

2. Sam, A., Dees, B., Waters, V., Hume, K., Steinbrenner, J., Tomaszewski, B., Perkins, Y., White, M., Rentschler, L., McIntyre, N., Szendrey, S., Nowell, S., & Odom, S. (2020). Supporting adults with autism through uncertain times: Companion guide. Chapel Hill, NC: School of Education and Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Retrieved from: https://afirm.fpg.unc.edu/supporting-individuals-autism-through-uncertain-times


What is meant by Evidence Based Practice in Autism?

Effective intervention in autism is based in understanding the importance of Evidence Based Practices.  Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) is an approach to treatment across many professional disciplines that seeks to blend together research findings and best available evidence with professional judgement in support of the values and preferences of client and families. In autism, time is precious, and parents need to know which approaches hold most promise for their circumstances.

Evidence based practices rely on interventions, services, or other practices for which there is scientifically-based research that demonstrates its effectiveness. Systematic, objective procedures are used to provide reliable interventions and learning activities that are proven effective to address specific goals in everyday situations. Strategies to address communication, self-care skills, play skills, cognitive development, motor skills, and a variety of other developmental goals are available for use by parents and service providers to address significant needs of people with autism and other developmental disabilities through a variety of resources.

Information regarding evidence based treatments that have been demonstrated effective for persons with autism and related disorders has been extensively reviewed and categorized in terms of the strength of the science supporting particular approaches (NCAEP, 20201; National Standards Project, 20152; NSPD, 20143). Step-by-step training in specific evidence based practices has been developed through the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders and is available online at project AFIRM (Autism Focused Intervention Resources & Modules).

  • 1. National Clearinghouse on Autism Evidence and Practice (2020). Evidence-based practices for children, youth, and young adults with Autism. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute.
  • 2. National Autism Center. (2015). Findings and conclusions: National standards project, phase 2. Randolph, MA: Author
  • 3. Wong, C., Odom, S. L., Hume, K. A., Cox, C. W., Fettig, A., Kurcharczyk, S., et al. (2014). Evidence-based practices for children, youth, and young adults with autism spectrum disorder: A comprehensive review. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Supporting Adults with Autism through Uncertain Times: Companion Guide

This guide was developed as a response to many self-advocates and family members who reached out to our team to develop resources for adults. It is intended to centralize many different adult-specific resources and can serve as a supplement or companion guide to the Supporting Individuals with Autism through Uncertain Times toolkit, which was developed for families of children and youth with autism. This is an excellent resource ARFs, ILS/SLS, day programs, and any other agencies providing adult services to individuals with ASD.

The materials are divided into four topic areas: COVID-19 Resources, Daily Living Resources, Social Connectedness Resources, and Mental Health Resources. Each section contains developed materials and links to Web site for other materials that may be useful.

Sam, A., Dees, B., Waters, V., Hume, K., Steinbrenner, J., Tomaszewski, B., Perkins, Y., White, M., Rentschler, L., McIntyre, N., Szendrey, S., Nowell, S., & Odom, S. (2020). Supporting adults with autism through uncertain times: Companion guide. Chapel Hill, NC: School of Education and Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Retrieved from: https://afirm.fpg.unc.edu/supporting-individuals-autism-through-uncertain-times

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Supporting Individuals with Autism through Uncertain Times

Resources for supporting individuals with autism during COVID-19 “Stay Home-Stay Safe” Guidance

All children and young adults require support from caregivers during times of stress and uncertainty, such as those we are facing now with the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The seven support strategies in this booklet are designed to meet the unique needs of children and young adults with autism during this period of uncertainty, including examples and ready-made resources to promote understanding of the virus, learn strategies to develop and maintain structured routines, practice coping skills, and self-manage personal care activities, exercise routines, and school connections while engaging in social distancing. (Also available in Arabic, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin  and Spanish)

Hume, K., Waters, V., Sam, A., Steinbrenner, J., Perkins, Y., Dees, B., Tomaszewski, B., Rentschler, L., Szendrey, S., McIntyre, N., White, M., Nowell, S., & Odom, S. (2020). Supporting individuals with autism through uncertain times. Chapel Hill, NC: School of Education and Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Retrieved from: https://afirm.fpg.unc.edu/supporting-individuals-autism-through-uncertain-times

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Importance of Early Identification and Intervention

April is National Autism Awareness Month

Early identification and intervention is a key to improving outcomes for people with ASD for a number of reasons.  Early intervention is important because intervention is likely to be more effective when it is provided earlier rather than later in life.   A child’s ability to learn is greatest during their first three years of life.  Over time, it becomes harder to learn and make change. High quality early intervention can change a child’s developmental path and improve outcomes for both the child and their family.1

The Center for Disease Control’s Learn the Signs - Act Early (also in Spanish) campaign aims to improve early identification of children with autism and other developmental disabilities so children and families can get the services and support they need.  Parents can follow their child’s development using developmental tracking tools (available in English, Spanish, Korean, and Chinese) through the Learn the Signs Act Early program and obtain early guidance for information, intervention and support should concerns arise.

At Lanterman Regional Center, the Early Start (also in Spanish) program serves children from birth to 3 who are born with, or at risk for, developmental delay or disability. We know that the earlier an infant or toddler with special needs receives appropriate services, the more successful we can be in minimizing or preventing future disabilities. For this reason, our Early Intervention unit works with families to access services and supports that help identify and treat developmental concerns including signs of autism as early as possible in the life of the child.

1.      The Importance of Early Intervention for Infants and Toddler with Disabilities and their Families.  National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center, July 2011. 


February is Children’s Dental Health Month

National Children's Dental Health Month is brought to you by the ADA. This month-long national health observance brings together thousands of dedicated professionals, healthcare providers, and educators to promote the benefits of good oral health to children, their caregivers, teachers and many others.

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What is Autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.

A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately:  autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. These conditions are considered to represent a spectrum of symptomology and severity that together are now called autism spectrum disorder.1 Diagnostic information on ASD is also available in Spanish.

Autism Fact Sheets: Features of autism can sometimes be observed in children even younger than 18 months of age. First signs may appear as differences in the social, emotional or communication development of their child. When these concerns occur along with frequent repetitive behaviors or difficulties in adjusting to environmental changes, it may be wise to consult further with a pediatrician, neurologist or psychologist. Autism fact sheets summarizing early signs are available in English and thirteen other languages including Arabic, Armenian, Chinese, Farsi, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese.2

1. National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8/27/2019
2. Adapted from CDC by the University of Southern California University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, May 2011.