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About Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a group of complex neurological developmental disabilities that are characterized by impairments in  communication, social interaction, and patterns of interests and behavior. Significant deficits in language and socialization may place individuals with autism at risk for developing severe behavior problems such as tantrums, aggression, and self-injury.  Symptoms of autism may range from mild to severe.  Current statistics show, according to the National Institute of Health, autism occurring in 1:150 births. Autism affects boys four times more than girls.

Every individual with autism faces unique challenges; and every family affected by autism needs reliable support and expert guidance.  With intensive behavioral, community-based instruction, individuals with autism and their families can meet autism’s challenges.  With appropriate transition planning, adults with autism can achieve a quality of life and be embraced by their communities as productive, socially-connected and personally-fulfilled members of society.

Much information exiss regarding treatment, intervention, and other resources when it comes to young children with autism.  The unique needs of transition-age children (14 through 21)  and those of adults are only now beginning to come to the attention of systems and professionals.  MECA and PAAL are proud to be leaders in this very specialized area of services and needs.  Our hope is that as exixting systems begin to replicate the philosophies and innovations pioneered by PAAL and ACE, older individuals with autism will enjoy the same chances for a better life currently provided to young children.  “Education is the key.”

For additional information and resources, contact:

Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis (ABA) international is a non-profit professional membership organization with the mission to develop, enhance and support the growth and vitality of behavior analysis through research, education and practice.  The principals of Applied Behavior Analysis is a primary effective instructional modality utilized to effect positive behavior change in individuals with ASD.  The Association also has a special interest group dedicated to ABA in autism.

The Organization for Autism Research

The Organization for Autism Research (OAR) is a national non-profit organization with the mission to fund research validating science-based treatments for the challenges of autism.  OAR’s primary purpose is to fund applied research which can provide information to help families find much needed answers to immediate and urgent questions to meet the challenges of autism today.  OAR also produces and provides to families a variety of informational guides that are timely, useful and cost-efficient.

PA Bureau of Autism Affairs

The PA Bureau of Autism Affairs is a government division of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare and is responsible for the provision of services, other than services mandated by federal laws governing free and appropriate education, to individuals with autism.  The Bureau of Autism Affairs is responsible administration, supervision and implementation of the Adult Community Autism Program (ACAP); the Autism Services, Education, Research, and Training Regional Centers (ASERT) and the Autism Waiver.  The Bureau also provides a variety of training opportunities.

Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network

A division of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education, the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (Pattan) is a wealth of information regarding practical educational interventions for school-age individuals with autism.  Pattan also hosts a variety of free live and web-cast training.

Autism TV

This site provides links to websites offering a variety video and audio files on autism.


Wrightslaw provides accurate, reliable information about special education law, and advocacy for children with disabilities. The site offers thousands of articles, cases and free resources on a wide variety of topics.

Rejoicing Spirits

The rejoicing Spirits ministry reaches out to enrich the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities along with their families, friends and other supportive community members.  The ministry shares the Rejoicing Spirits model of religious inclusion with disability and faith-based organizations.

Faith Inclusion Network for Disabilities

The Faith Inclusion Network for Disabilities is dedicated to nurturing the spirit of inclusion.  The organization is dedicated to educating and empowering individuals with disabilities, as well as those with whom they share their lives.  FIND supports faith communities in welcoming, including and valuing the gifts of individuals with Disabilities.

Autism and Faith:  A Journey into Community

The Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities – (732) 235-9300

This informative booklet contains practical tips and resources to assist families and congregations in developing, supporting and maintaining inclusive faith practices for individuals with autism in their particular faith communities.  Each chapter within this book is authored by nationally renowned autism experts and divinity scholars and ministers.

Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT)

Our mission is to share accurate, scientifically sound information about autism and treatments for autism because we believe individuals with autism and their families deserve nothing less.

ASAT is a not-for-profit organization of parents and professionals committed to improving the education, treatment, and care of people with autism. Since autism was first identified, there has been a long history of failed treatments and fads, levied on vulnerable individuals as well as on their families. From the scandal of the “refrigerator mother” theory, to the ongoing parade of “miracle cures” and “magical breakthroughs”, history has been dominated by improbable theories about causation and treatments. Many of these treatments have been too quickly adopted by professionals, too readily sensationalized by the media, and too hastily embraced by hopeful consumers – well before supporting evidence or reasonable probability existed for their effectiveness or safety. Since ASAT was established in 1998, it has been our goal to work toward adopting higher standards of accountability for the care, education and treatment of all individuals with autism.

For us, PAAL has given life back to Josh. He is productive and proud of his accomplishments.  PAAL invests the community  and is dedicated to helping each student, individually; reach their maximum potential and more.

– Michelle Hallman & Daniel Dahms