Autism Speaks, the advocacy and awareness group, said it plans to unveil a free "video glossary" on its website early in 2007 to help parents understand the early warning signs of autism and the terms that doctors, educators and other professionals may use to describe what's going on with their children. A statement from Autism Speaks says the group plans to stock 125 video clips. Some of the clips will show examples of child development concepts like joint attention, which is what young children start to do when they want to engage another person's attention to share enjoyment of something. (This quick definition of joint attention comes from a longer document published on a website for an Autism Society of America conference in 2005.) Many kids with autism, parents know, have to learn how to experience and initiate this kind of shared enjoyment, a sense that comes naturally to typically developing babies and toddlers starting at 9 to 15 months.
Autism Speaks plans to make clips available showing examples of children with autism and their behavior, set up so that viewers can compare the behaviors to typical children. Some clips also will show different types of therapies that are available to help children with autism.
This video glossary is designed for parents who are new to the autism spectrum diagnosis and who are bombarded with information and need to start making decisions about what services to seek. It could also come in handy for parents who are having trouble conveying to others in the family that something different is going on with a child who recently received a diagnosis.
Autism Speaks is collaborating with First Signs, a group that advocates early identification and intervention for children with developmental delays, and Florida State University's First Words Project, an early intervention speech and language program.