ACT Today! Awareness Program
Committed to educating the public about the need for early and intensive interventions for children with autism, ACT Today! board members, staff, and volunteers participate in community resource fairs, provide direct assistance to families, and speak to other public service groups in an effort to educate others about the disorder and the great need for all-inclusive care. April is Autism Awareness Month and April 2nd is internationally recognized as World Autism Awareness Day as designated by the United Nations General Assembly as established beginning in 2008. Many organizations and businesses worldwide implement awareness programs and highlight the need for assistance. ACT Today! is no different. They host the ONEHOPE ACT Today for Military Families 5k/10k Run/Walk & Family Festival held annually in San Diego to raise awareness and provide grants for military families impacted by autism.
Maintaining the health and safety of children impacted by autism is of the utmost importance at ACT Today!. Children suffering from severe cases of autism require quality of life supports to keep them healthy and safe. For example, children with severe cases of autism have been known to bang their heads against walls or windows and are highly likely to run into the street. In fact, running away or "eloping" is so common that there is now a clinical diagnosis for it. Safety is often as simple as a protective helmet, a GPS tracking device, or installing special safety fences to keep children protected in their environment. For struggling families, these items are out of reach. The Safety Today! Program provides the simple equipment that will keep these children safe. For many children, it means they can once again play in the backyard, without fear of harm coming to them.
Applied Behavioral Analysis
Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy is recognized to be the most effective treatment for autism spectrum disorders. This therapy applies the principles, procedures and technology of learning and motivation from Behavior Analysis. Many decades of research have validated treatments based on ABA, and it is the most universally recommended treatment for autism. It is prohibitively expensive for most families as an annual course of treatment can range to $65,000 and not all health insurance providers will cover this treatment. Even co-pays can cost up to $5,000. ACT Today! defrays this cost for those participating in this program.
Assistive Technologies Program
Children with autism are significantly delayed or deficient in the development of language. It is estimated that 30% of individuals with autism will never develop the ability to speak. However, thousands of apps now available to iPad users can help children with autism learn basic skills. A child with autism who does not have the ability to speak can use the device itself to communicate his or her needs and feelings, find a voice, and become a member of a community at last. Our Assistive Technologies Program gives iPads to disadvantaged children with autism, so they may have another avenue toward reaching their full potential.
Medical Help Today!
Many children with autism have underlying biomedical conditions that require specialized medical care and treatment. Diagnostic tests and many biomedical tests are not covered by health insurance despite the fact that they can greatly improve the health of the child. ACT Today!'s Medical Help Today! Program provides access to vital care and treatments that can dramatically improve the quality of life for a child with autism and his/her family.
Special Needs Summer School
Summer is a time of lazy days for children, but for a child with autism, a special needs summer program is necessary to keep him or her from regressing - losing gains he has made over the year. Budget cuts have significantly reduced services available to low-income families of children with special needs. As a result, vital summer programs are limited, and prohibitively expensive for many families. Our Special Needs Summer School Program allows these children to attend the programs that will ensure that summer is not a time for losing valuable skills. And allow them to have some summer fun!
Social Skills Learning Program
Maintaining eye contact or simply saying "hello" to a peer can be a challenge for a child impacted by autism. Social skills classes teach these children to master the skills most children take for granted: cooperation, empathy, conflict resolution, managing emotions, and listening. These skills are important for life, essential for the development of children with autism, and classes are often not covered by traditional insurance plans. We developed the Social Skills Learning Program to help disadvantaged families send their children to these local, specialized classes, enabling them to better communicate with their families and peers, building friendships and self-esteem.
ACT Today! Español
In December 2011, the CDC announced that the Latino population in the United States experienced the largest jump in autism rates in the two previous years than in any other group. In response to this alarming statistic and the dramatic need to educate the Latino population about effective treatments for autism, ACT Today! Español was formed. This program is dedicated to enhancing autism awareness, promoting the benefits of early interventions, and to providing access to effective therapies to the Latino population. In 2014, ACT Today! Español hosted its inaugural Autismo y Familia Conference in Los Angeles, CA.