Home > Got Questions?, Science, Uncategorized > Your Questions Answered: ATN Toolkits

Your Questions Answered: ATN Toolkits

Earlier week, Autism Speaks launched two new medical toolkits from its Autism Treatment Network (ATN). (Here’s our related news announcement.) Today, ATN Program Director Nancy Jones, PhD, answers your questions about these important new resources for parents and healthcare providers.

I have heard about the new toolkits but am not sure what they are exactly. How are the medical toolkits different from educational tools like the School Community Toolkit?

Autism Speaks is dedicated to developing resources to help families and individuals with ASD with daily living and healthcare. It does this through various programs including our Family Services department and our Autism Treatment Network (ATN).

All our “toolkits” and “tools” are free resources that families and medical professionals can download from the Autism Speaks website. Each provides information designed to empower families and individuals on the autism spectrum. The many toolkits now available through the Family Services section of the Autism Speaks website are designed to help families and individuals on the autism spectrum manage many of the challenges of daily life. For example, our 100-Day Toolkit guides families through the first hundred days after a child receives a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Because of the ATN’s mission—to improve the health and medical care of individuals with autism and their families—the ATN is focused on developing toolkits that focus on health-related issues. This week and over the coming months, the ATN is rolling out a series of these medical toolkits. Our just released medication decision did—“Should My Child Take Medicine for Challenging Behavior?—is an interactive toolkit with questions and worksheets that help families work with their doctor to make decisions that reflect the family’s goals and values for their child.

We’ve also released two versions of our “Taking the Work Out of Blood Work” toolkit—one for parents and one for healthcare providers. Both are filled with information and techniques for managing blood work, including printable materials that can help you prepare your child for a less-stressful, even stress-free, visit. Over the next few months, the ATN will be rolling out more toolkits for parents and healthcare providers. Look for them on the ATN’s “Tools You Can Use” page at the Autism Speaks website. Development of these tools was supported in part by a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and was made possible through the Combating Autism Act (CAA).  Please consider supporting the act’s renewal by visiting our

Combating Autism Reauthorization Act Action Center.

How do you select what topics you will develop a toolkit for?  

There are a number of ways that we get ideas for our toolkits. The primary way is direct input from the families and individuals we serve. In addition, ATN clinicians present ideas for topics based on their interactions with families in their clinics and the medical needs they observe. Our aim is that all toolkits respond directly to the needs of our community.

Will these tools be available in other languages?

Yes, most of our tools will become available in languages beyond English, starting with Spanish and French. These versions will come out in the months after each English version is released. Being able to translate these tools is one of the benefits of our HRSA funding. The 100-Day Toolkit is already available in Spanish; call 888-AUTISM2 (888-288-4762) to request a copy from an Autism Response Team coordinator.

If you have suggestions for healthcare tools families need, send us a message at atn@autismspeaks.org. Have more questions about resources? Our Autism Speaks Family Services Team can help! Contact the Autism Response Team (ART) at 888-AUTISM2 (288-4762) or email familyservices@autismspeaks.org.

  1. September 16, 2011 at 9:48 am

    i need information in spanish because i need help

  2. Jan
    September 16, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    I went to a conference at Vanderbilt and received the same information ten years ago. Please consider including health information from a medical point of view rather than a psychological viewpoint.
    Please consider the following:

    Show and compare the symptoms of allergies, inflammation, infection, and toxins so parents will not confuse medical symptoms with autism spectrum disorder symptoms.

    In our case our psychologist told us our child had lack of eye contact.
    Our opthamologist diagnosed farsightedness, convergency problems and ocular motor dysfunction which was resolved with vision exercises and glasses.
    Our ENT removed infection by the removal of part of the ethmoid bone to allow normal drainage and an ethmoidectomy. He can see clearly now without the pain.

    Our psychologist and teachers told us our child had lack of attention.
    Our ENT told us with a CT scan that our child had a severe infection and blockage in the sinus area. Our son received treatment and relief from sinus inflammation/ infection, the removal of the ethmoid bone and and the sphenoidectomy, ethmoidectomy, tonsillectomy, and the removal of impacted wisdom teeth. Our child can hear clearly and pay attention without the pain.

    Our psychologist told us our child would never use language.
    Our dentist treated the jaw and neck pain (TMJ or Temporomandibular joint disorder).
    Our ENT performed a tonsillectomy,
    Our oral surgeon removed four impacted wisdom teeth.
    Our physical therapist improved the muscle coordination with physical therapy. Our child can speak without the pain.

    After the removal of infection in the sinus area, our child also regained balance and is loosing his atypical gait. Most importantly, our child can breathe like a typical child. Breathing has enabled sleep, healthy development, and rest instead of stress.

    In our case, we wasted so much time with the psychological medicine and this process delayed meaningful medical treatment available to treat the underlying issues and treat the pain. I wish the Vanderbilt psychologist had sent us to the medical doctors before she offered “medicine” to treat unexplained causes and symptoms. Serotonin syndrome is an example of how dangerous the majority of these “medicines” are especially since the interaction of more than one “medicine” has yet to be researched.

    Give parents the tools on how to evaluate behaviors. Illustrate how atypical behaviors compensate for underlying medical issues that can cause pain and numbness. Pain produces behaviors that are recognized as ASD behaviors by psychologists. The difference between medicine that alleviates pain is so much different that the medicine that inhibits behavior and development. Parents should be aware of the other possibilities available.

    Please reconsider this “medicine” tool. There is no data that shows the effectiveness or longevity of the “medicines”. It seems more like a psychological excuse to prescribe “medicine” to alleviate negative behaviors rather than treat the underlying issues of what causes autistic behaviors. I also notice that you give no tools for healthier alternatives, only “medicine”. Why not give the tools for a spectrum of medical help instead of only what anti-behavioral “medicine” can offer?

    • brian kerwin
      October 20, 2011 at 2:17 pm

      This is a great note. It is the difference between treating a symptom(medical) or comdemming a sick child/adult who presents with autism to behavorial theraphy or drugs that will often times worsen the condition. I do not see any reply. Brian kerwin

  3. ryan
    November 25, 2011 at 8:48 am

    really nice artical

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