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The Autism Program's November Newsletter

Our friends just call us TAP.  We focus on facilitating collaborations between agencies, schools, and individuals that enhance the community’s capacity and quality of services for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and their families.  Find more information about TAP on our website or follow us:

Supporting Siblings

At the C-U Autism Network conference several parents asked about how they can best support all the children in their family. They were afraid that their children without autism don't get enough attention. In a touching moment, Eustacia Cutler, Temple Grandin's mother said, "I don't think I did a very good job of that." As parents, we often feel like we're not doing enough and that we're letting our children down. Some siblings feel angry and confused by their parent's attention and patience for the child with autism. Other siblings are our best teachers of how we should accept and support children on the spectrum. Most siblings have a little bit a both. Here are some of our favorite resources and strategies for reminding each of our kiddos that they are different, not less.
New at TAP!

PEERS Program in Full Swing

If you were at the CU Autism Network conference you got to see a little of Joan Gorsuch.  She is leading our teen group using the PEERS program. Having one or two close friends can buffer the impact of stressful life events, build self-esteem, increase independence, and reduce depression and anxiety. Our PEERS program has three groups: one for youth on the spectrum, one for their siblings, and one for their parents. According to PEERS, "Research shows that parental support, instruction, and supervision all have significant effects upon their child’s friendships.  By learning to be effective social coaches, aiding in homework completion, providing opportunities for peer interaction, and giving guidance on interpersonal problem-solving, parents contribute to their children's successful completion of our program, as well as future social successes." We have been having so much fun with this program and are excited to continue it next semester!
Community Calendar: Don't Miss a Thing! Activities in the C-U Area this Month

Sensory Friendly Hours at the Children's Museum

November 6th, 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Visit Children's Museum of Illinois at a time when the exhibits are turned down and the crowd is controlled. These hours are a perfect time to visit the Museum as a family with your child with sensory processing disorder, autism, or other special needs. Go online at to find our Social Story and learn about new accommodations at Children's Museum of Illinois.

Autism Eats

November 15th, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM, Springfield
Autism Eats provides autism-friendly non-judgemental environments for families who hare similar joys and challenges. Find more information or purchase tickets here

Free Admission to the Chicago Toy and Game Fair

November 19th - 20th at Navy Peer
Receive free admission and early access to the largest toy and game fair in the U.S. Register or find out more information here.

How Parents Shape Autism Research

Spectrum (a website providing news and expert opinion on autism research) recently did an overview of how parents have jump-started autism research and set the research agenda.  They focus specifically on the MIND Institute at the University of California- Davis. The Director of the MIND Institute, Leonard Abbeduto, recently came to the University of Illinois to talk about his research using distance learning technology to support parents as therapists for language intervention for the Annual Goldstick Family Lecture in the Study of Communication Disorders.  Dr. Abbeduto discussed strategies like giving children extra time to respond and setting up the environment to elicit communication. Similar research is being done right here at UIUC by Dr. Headda Meadan and the i-PiCS team (Internet-based Parent-implemented Communication Strategies).    
Area Resources

Prairie Wind Speech Therapy

Prairie Wind was started by two Speech and Language Pathologists: Tracy Gunderson and Cheryl Yepez. They provide play groups, assessment and therapy for individuals who use augmentative and alternative communication, bilingual therapy (in Spanish), treatment for receptive and expressive language difficulties, speech development, therapies for delayed communication, and provide home school resources.

For more information on community resources, please see our website.

Seeking 2 - 5 Year Olds with Mild to Moderate Intellectual Disability

This project examines when children begin to understand the intentional actions of others. For example, you are trying to open a jar of spaghetti sauce, but are unable to open it. At what age does your child understand that you are trying to open the jar? The study takes about 1 hour and takes place in your home at your convenience. Your child will receive a small toy. For more information or to participate contact 217-265-8049 or email

You can find more studies looking for participants here
Area Support Groups

Which one is for you?

C-U Autism Network - November 3rd 6:30 - 8:00
Laura DeThorne will be presenting on "Using Shared Interests to Make Friends." This group meets at the YMCA and childcare is available. For more information see their website or Facebook page

CU Able - November 10th at 6:30 PM
This group is intended for parents of children with disabilities. Child care is available. For more information contact their Facebook group.

Adults on the Spectrum - Nov. 12th at 1:00 PM
This group is intended for adults who identify as having high functioning autism or being high functioning autistic.  It meets at TAP. For more information contact their Facebook page.

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The Autism Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign · Doris Kelley Christopher Hall · 904 West Nevada · Urbana, Illinois 61801 · USA

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