How the New Autism Safety Project can Affect You and Your Family

Personal Safety is a primary concern for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), as well as for those around them, whether family, friends, or the general public.
In New Jersey, Capitol Care integrates safety in its residential care programs. It advises families affected by Autism to incorporate it into their own daily activities to ensure that everyone remains safe. Below are some safety tips that can be used by those providing care to persons with Autism:

Safety in the Community
For those families who care for a member with Autism at home, going out into the community can sometimes be challenging. Behaviors accepted at home may not be generally accepted in public and may bring about unwanted and unanticipated results. Family members are the best advocates to prepare themselves and the individual with Autism for forays into the community. Those that work with the person with Autism, such as school personnel, daycare providers, neighbors, caretakers, and extended family, should gather to discuss possible scenarios and plan appropriate actions. Some resources, such as the Autism Safety Project, will directly address strategies to help individuals with Autism get transportation, ask for help, use public restrooms, interact with Law Enforcement, deal with cellphones and money, play in the neighborhood, and avoid victimization.
Safety in the home
Accidental injury in the home is potential for everyone. The Autism Safety Project offers a workbook and video designed for parents, older teens and young adults called Safe Signals. It focuses on burn and fire safety and incorporates the use of vinyl clings to reinforce safety messages in every room of the house.
Sexual Abuse
The prevalence of sexual abuse and violence among young persons with disabilities is higher than among those without disabilities, making those with ASD an especially vulnerable population. Some expert advice would include:
• Talking about sexuality with family members
• Preventing sexual abuse
• Recognizing the warning signals of sexual abuse
• Getting help for victims
Information for First Responders
Educating family members to respond productively to various events involving those with ASD is the first step. The second step is to educate those who might respond to an incident involving the family. These might include fire fighters, Law Enforcement, 911 call centers, emergency medical personnel, search and rescue personnel, judicial system employees, and teachers and administrators. Working with people with Autism is not necessarily an issue addressed in their professional training so it is a good idea for families to proactively provide training resources for those who might come in contact with the family during an emergency.

For more information about safety suggestions and tips for families of persons with Autism NJ contact, Capitol Care, Inc. would be able to point you towards the best resource.

New Proposed Updates to the Definition of Autism

An estimated million plus adults and children have been diagnosed with autism or a similar disorder. The proposed definition adjustments are slated to consolidate three different disorder diagnoses under the same category: Autism spectrum disorder – which would eliminate both:
• P.D.D.-N.O.S. (Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified); and
• Asperger syndrome from the D.S.M. manual.
The panel is faced with the challenge of where to draw the distinction between abnormal and merely unusual behavior. The decisions made will impact not only the people evaluated by the new definition, but a great number of social, medical and other health professionals.
Under the current autism definition criterion, qualification for a diagnosis requires that an individual exhibits at least 6 of the listed behavior criteria. The new autism definition requires an addition of 5 more aspects:
• At least 6 or more of the 12 listed behaviors;
• At least 3 communication and social interaction deficits; and
• A minimum of 2 repetitive behaviors.
There is concern by social activists that the new autism definition, which proposes far narrower parameters, will drastically affect how those struggling with symptoms will receive, without undue discrimination:
• Education
• Services
• Treatment; and
• Social service benefits they require.
In fact, some doctors believe that new changes could severely curtail the autism definition such that it will ultimately end the surge of diagnoses.

Experts at the Psychiatric Association have reportedly expressed that they strongly disagree about how the proposed changes will impact society. Those organizations serving persons with Autism have been advised, through the panel’s previous projections, that the definition changes would actually cause far fewer people to be excluded. This contention, however, has not yet been confirmed.
It has been 17 years since a major revision has been done on the manual that drives the treatment, insurance and research decisions of mental illness. Providers have learned that most experts believe the autism definition revision may greatly narrow the criterion for what constitutes autism.
While the new analysis is preliminary, many autism providers believe that the new proposed adjustments to the official meaning of autism could drastically affect the rate at which, and ultimately the number, of people who are diagnosed with the disease.

The new autism definition could incite some heated discussions, as millions of people receiving state-funded services could find themselves affected by new decisions as to eligibility. Proposed changes could exclude those diagnosed in the higher functioning category.

Disagreement about the actual effect after the new definition is finalized is expected to increase scrutiny of the psychiatric association panel’s proposed adjustments to the D.S.M. Autism NJ providers have learned that the revisions are slated to be completed and finalized by December of 2012, and published in the spring of 2013, according to a spokesperson for the University of Pittsburgh.

Capitol Care, Inc. in NJ and Capitol Care South in AL are agency's that provide Autism NJ and Autism AL services to those with Autism and their families. Capitol Care, Inc. and Capitol Care South are a distinguished name in behavioral health programs and services.