News, travel, and entertainment that highlights autistic individuals and disability support services












    • NAA Awarded DoJ Grant for its ‘Big Red Safety Box’ Program
      by Wendy Fournier on November 3, 2020 at 5:07 pm

      News ReleaseFor Immediate Release November 3, 2020 Contacts:Lori McIlwain (919) 741-1646Wendy Fournier (401) 835-5828Portsmouth, RI – The National Autism Association announced today that it has been awarded a $130,000 Department of Justice (DoJ) grant under the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) for its Big Red Safety Box program. The program provides free safety boxes to U.S. families within the autism community in an effort to prevent wandering/elopement behaviors. Wandering or “bolting” incidents have led to massive searches and countless tragedies across the country. In October, three wandering-related drowning deaths occurred in the autism community, including a four-year-old boy in Ohio, and five-year-old boy in Florida. A Pediatrics study in 2012 found that 49% of children with autism attempt to wander/elope from a safe environment. A 2017 study conducted by the National Autism Association found that nearly a third of reported missing person cases over a six-year timeframe ended in death or required some level of medical attention. The group also found that roughly 70% of wandering-related deaths are caused by accidental drowning. To help combat wandering-related tragedies, NAA developed the Big Red Safety Box Program in 2011. The boxes ship free-of-charge to families in need of wandering-prevention tools.  “Our program provides the critical support families need to protect their children with autism,” says NAA Executive Director Krystal Higgins. “With this grant support from DoJ, we will be able to help thousands of additional families in the U.S. Each box contains door alarms, a personalized wearable ID, safety decals, emotional regulation tools, visual prompts, emergency forms, social stories, a safety checklist and more. Each child or adult diagnosed with autism in the U.S. qualifies to receive a Big Red Safety Box. Caregivers can at apply at Because search cases often lead to encounters with police, the group has also developed its Meet the Police initiative, which provides guidance on how to introduce children and adults with autism to members of local law enforcement. About National Autism Association (NAA):The National Autism Association is a nonprofit organization focused on addressing urgent issues in the autism community, including wandering/elopement, suicidality, bullying, restraint/seclusion, abuse, mistreatment, and discrimination. To combat autism-related wandering deaths, the group has provided over 55,000 Big Red Safety Boxes and Big Red Safety Teacher Toolkits to families and teachers across the U.S., as well as ongoing training for first responders and services professionals. -30-

    • Trick or Treat! Blue Buckets for Halloween
      by Wendy Fournier on September 23, 2020 at 4:47 pm

      Some kids can't say "Trick or Treat" or "thank you". They may not be able to make eye contact, and could also have sensory issues that prevent them from wearing an elaborate costume.

    • Autism Now Affects 1 in 54 Children in the U.S.
      by Lori McIlwain on March 26, 2020 at 6:50 pm

      Autism Now Affects 1 in 54 Children in the U.S. Today the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has released its newest findings from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network, an ongoing surveillance system that provides estimates on the prevalence of autism. According to its findings published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 1 in 54 children in the U.S. have an autism diagnosis, a nearly 10% increase from its 2018 report. The findings are based on a 2016 data review of health and educational records for 8-year-olds living in 11 communities across the United States. Specifically, the newest findings show:Autism now affects 1 in 54 children in the U.S with estimates ranging from 1 in 76 in Colorado to 1 in 32 in New Jersey The rate increased nearly 10 percent from 2014 Of the 1 in 54 diagnosed with autism, a third are classified as having an intellectual disability While children can be diagnosed with autism at age 2, the median age in children at time of diagnosis was over 4 years old No difference was found in rates between black and white children, but a gap remains in prevalence among Hispanic children The findings echoed numerous studies that indicate autism affects boys 4 times more often than girls, though this is based on standard diagnostic criteria that has not yet adjusted for the unique traits in femalesAt the National Autism Association, we represent those with autism who face significant communication challenges, intellectual disabilities, aggressive and high-risk behaviors, and comorbid medical conditions that threaten their daily lives. The ongoing increase in numbers underscores the need for stronger research, services, and preparations for the influx of adults who will need employment, residential support, and quality services across their lifespan. Autism prevalence is still on the rise and remains an urgent public health concern in need of a comprehensive federal plan.

    • Just Because Your Child Isn’t Interested in Your Holiday Traditions NOW Doesn’t Mean He Never Will Be!
      by Julie Hornok on December 23, 2019 at 2:57 pm

      See this beautiful girl putting up our Christmas tree?!?! This is the same girl who left her presents unwrapped and untouched under the tree on Christmas morning. This is the same girl who refused to sing Christmas carols. This is the same girl who melted down or hid in her room at our big family gatherings. This is the same girl who didn’t understand Santa. Her excitement for Christmas didn’t change overnight. Progress is made with small steps over a long period of time. -We put present opening in her therapy goals. We wrapped up her favorite toys and taught her the joy of ripping off paper to find something you love beneath the paper. -We sang her favorite Dora the Explorer theme song together in addition Christmas songs to make sure she knew her interests were important too. -We bought/made ornaments of the things she loved, so she would play with them and eventually place them on the tree. -We shared the story of the birth of Jesus using a manger scene she could play with and took her to a live manger scene where she could pet the animals. -We watched videos about Santa. We did this over and over, year after year, and guess what?! Each year, she seemed to understand a little more. Then she began to participate, and then these traditions began to bring her joy. Now, she is the one who insists we put the tree up on Thanksgiving Day while playing Christmas music. She is the one who takes more time than anyone I know to come up with thoughtful gifts for family and friends. She is the one who wraps ALL of my presents. She is the one who wants to read the Christmas story before we open presents. Just because your child shows no interest in your holiday family traditions now, doesn’t mean he won’t forever. Start now. Start slow. Build every year. Integrate his current interests. Make him feel loved and seen and important in the midst of “your stuff.”I was once told that anything you want to accomplish with a child with autism, you should start FIVE years in advance because our kids learn though repetition. I have found this to be true for my daughter, and holiday fun is no exception. ***Julie Hornok is an award-winning author, inspirational speaker, and advocate for autism. She started the non-profit, United in Autism, to bring hope to autism moms through emotional support events. Her first book, United in Autism: Finding Strength Inside the Spectrum (foreword by Temple Grandin) is available at or Amazon. Join her United in Autism Facebook Community for daily support.