Spring 2013
In This Issue
GAN's Mission
Support Autism Research
Plan Adult Resources
Summer Outings

Comments? Tips? Suggestions?
To send in comments, suggested topics for our next newsletter, or grandparent tips, please email us.

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Welcome to Our New International Members!

GAN members are a vital resource for autism 

... and each other!


The Grandparent Autism Network is an all-volunteer, international nonprofit organization that supports grandparents of children with autism and their families.  GAN's mission is to promote awareness and understanding of autism and to enhance the resources essential to community responsiveness.  


The Board of Directors is pleased to extend membership to grandparents internationally. The rate of autism is rapidly increasing everywhere and we look forward to giving support to grandparents who share our desire to make life better for their families.

GAN's current focus is on the development of lifetime supports for people with autism.  Our eNewsletters address issues that universally impact grandparents and we encourage our members to develop new resources in other communities. 


All of GAN's programs and projects can be replicated, however, GAN's name and logo are trademarked and may not be used without permission.


We know that the best recommendations come from our members and we welcome your feedback and suggestions about how we can increase support for you and your family.
Help to Solve the Puzzle of Autism:
Support Research!


Support New Online Autism Research Studies 


GAN encourages family participation in research studies to accelerate breakthroughs in understanding the causes, diagnosis and treatment of autism. Today, families can support research by simply going online.


Visit the Interagency Autism Network (IAN) website at http://www.ianproject.org/ at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. IAN uses the database of registered families to quickly connect researchers to people who meet study criteria. When families qualify, IAN first requests their permission prior to releasing their contact information to researchers. 


Dr. Simon Baron Cohen, the highly respected Professor at Cambridge University, is currently conducting an Internet based study to determine if there is a link between what parents studied in college and how their children are developing. Parents may enter the information anonymously or they can register to be notified about the research results and to participate in additional studies. This simple 10 minute survey can be completed anytime at http://gp.cambridgepsychology.com/

before the study ends in July. 

Information about additional research studies is available at www.faninfo.org. Please share this with your families.
Help Plan For Adult Resources Now

It is estimated that 90% of autism resources in the U.S. are allocated for children under the age of ten years old.  Early diagnosis and therapies have been helpful for young children, however, when they enter their teen years, new concerns emerge about their quality of life in adulthood.   


Autism experts predict that a virtual "tsunami" of young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders will soon overwhelm the existing resources as they seek medical care, post secondary education, employment, transportation, housing and recreation. In order to help to avert this crisis in the Orange County CA community, GAN is collaborating with other organizations to address these issues now.  The following suggestions may help you to advocate for the development of additional adult supports in your community:


  1. Identify government agencies and nonprofit organizations in your region that focus on providing programs and services for people with developmental disabilities.  In the U.S., visit the Autism Speaks website here to locate autism resources in your community. There may already be task forces or projects underway in which you can participate.


   2. Ask autism professionals and family support groups where the gaps and barriers are in current autism services and programs. Recruit other people who will work with you to develop new resources to meet those needs.


   3. Contact local and national elected officials to encourage their sponsorship of legislation and funding for lifetime resources.    Autism Votes has information about current legislative actions in the U.S. and you can advocate online and in other ways.  Some adult resources, like housing, will take years to develop.  
Act now to ensure the best quality of life for your grandchildren in adulthood.
Are You Ready for Summer at 
Camp Grandma and Grandpa?

It's time to plan ahead for the summer months with our grandchildren. If you are in the same city or intend to have your grandchild visit this summer, look for entertainment options for "special needs children." Children with autism do not like surprises and you can begin to prepare them now for your time together. Here are some suggestions:

  • Call ahead to local amusement parks to see if you can get special needs passes for your family when you visit. You may need to provide a letter from school or medical sources to document that your request is valid. Typically, you will get priority in accessing the park. Send a brochure or photos of the park to your grandchildren several weeks in advance of your visit there so they will be more comfortable in that environment when you arrive.
  • If you plan to travel together with public transportation like busses, trains or airplanes, it's a good idea to take very short excursions first so that they will be familiar with the sounds, vibrations and crowds before being challenged by a longer trip.
  • Contact local parks and recreation centers or use 
    Google to learn about enrollment opportunities for special needs summer programs, camps and sports activities.  You will likely find swimming classes and sports Challenger or Spirit teams that are appropriate.
  • Make a list of household chores that grandchildren can assist in or accomplish alone and have rewards to give them when the tasks are complete. Make the jobs age and skill appropriate. They can help by setting the table, washing dishes, using the washing machine and dryer, folding clean laundry and putting it away, or helping you to find groceries when you shop. All of the above may challenge your patience but ultimately you will be giving them a jumpstart for gaining independent living skills.
  • Prepare a private, quiet space in your home where your grandchild can go to relax. Supply the area with some favorite activities.  
  • Additional tips and suggestions for outings with your grandchildren can be found on the GAN website here

The board of directors of the Grandparent Autism Network and I invite you to share this newsletter with your family and friends.  Help our members to be ... a vital resource for autism ... and each other!
 Warm regards,
Bonnie Gillman
Executive Director
Grandparent Autism Network