Community Resources for Adults with Autism

Feeling like a part of the community can be especially important for the livelihood and independence of adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 5,437,988 (2.21%) adults in the United States have ASD. As these adults age, factors associated with growing older and remaining active in the community may become increasingly challenging. 

This is why the organization Autism Speaks has compiled a list of resources to help those diagnosed and their families to better ensure their safety in the community. The organization shares simple experiences and activities that take place in the community. The activities are grouped into separate sections in order to focus specifically on safety in each of these components of our daily lives.

Creating Safety Plans for Individuals with Autism: When it comes to identifying safety risks and preventing emergencies for an individual with autism, loved ones and families are the best advocates, and the people most likely responsible for taking the necessary steps to develop a safety plan. It is critical to take the time to evaluate what a family member needs to be safe and protected at home, at school and in his or her community. Top safety risks for adults with autism include:

  • Wandering from or leaving safe spaces
  • Pica
  • Drowning
  • Household toxins 
  • Misunderstanding related to communication difficulty

Asking for Help: When adults with autism are out in the community, it is critical that they know what to do in certain situations that may arise. This may often require asking for help. Knowing how to ask for help safely and in a timely manner will help ensure the safety of your loved one. It is beneficial to teach those with ASD these steps on what to do if they get lost: 

  • Here are the big three: STAY CALM, STAY PUT, MAKE NOISE.
  • Do not panic.
  • Stop where you are and try to remember your route.
  • Rethink your steps.
  • Do you remember any of the buildings, signs, houses?
  • If available, use your cellphone to call 911 or home.
  • Have identification available.
  • Consider an Introduction Card (e.g., My name is David and I have autism).
  • Look for a police car or a law enforcement officer.
  • Ensure the cellphone has the GPS mechanism activated.
  • If you are lost in a mall or shopping center, look for security or ask a clerk for help.
  • Ensure you have a small LED flashlight available at all times while traveling/walking.
  • Learn the positioning of the sun to determine approximate time/direction.

Using Public Restrooms: As using a public restroom is a different experience than using the bathroom at home, teaching adults with ASD the proper skills and etiquette is imperative. Autism Speaks shares that ​​the social rules in public men’s restrooms include avoiding eye contact, choosing a urinal or stall as far away from the other person as possible, and looking straight ahead or up and down when using a urinal or stall. Typically, men are also expected to wash up and walk out of the restroom without engaging in conversations. Alternatively, in a women’s public restroom, conversation is normal and eye contact is typically acceptable.

Using cellphones: People with autism can use cellphones as a way to communicate and help keep themselves safe while out in the community. Certain tips can help teach people with ASD to use a cellphone safely. For example, tips include being as discreet as possible when using your cellphone in public, and not using a Bluetooth device or auxiliary speaker system if possible. They should also be taught not to give out personal information over the phone and if they do not recognize the caller, to hang up.

More About Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions across the spectrum and throughout the life span for the needs of individuals with autism and their families through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. Autism Speaks enhances lives today and is accelerating a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow.

More Autism Safety Community Resources


Free American Institute of Stress Podcast: ‘Finding Contentment’

“Finding Contentment” is a free podcast series developed by the American Institute of Stress (AIS) in March 2020. The goal of this podcast is to bring new information about stress and stress management techniques to listeners. While the podcast focuses on stress and stress-related issues, it also features interviews with healthcare practitioners, stress experts, and professionals with expertise in stress research and management. Stress is a personalized issue, and the AIS and podcast host and AIS Executive Director Will Heckman hope to help others find their own way to contentment.

With over 30 podcast episodes available to stream, the AIS sets out to address a variety of topics that influence stress and the ability to manage stress. For example, early episodes discussed what stress is, the coronavirus and stress and how to manage the stress of working from home. As the pandemic continued, topics expanded upon “how to survive the stress of social distancing,” “how to survive the stress of a pandemic,” “stress and online learning” and how to “reduce the new stress of working from home.”

Aside from COVID-19 stress-related topics, Heckman and guests converse about more general areas of stress, like its effect on children, the art of stress-free living and the impact of stress on a diet. There are also tips on ways for listeners to proactively work toward eliminating stress in their lives, including through yoga, the Nuuaria Method, walking shelter dogs, improving sleep and more. To give greater insight into the structure of the podcast, here is additional information highlighting three recent episodes:

Six Ways to Get Your Mind ‘Unstuck’”: In this episode, Dr. Robert Carter discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed lives in a multitude of ways. After such a long period of being stuck inside, limiting exposure to friends and family, missing milestones in our lives, such as funerals, weddings, and births, along with juggling obligations at home and at work, is it any surprise that many people are dealing with overwhelming stress, frustration, anger, and more? Listen as speakers discuss the options and choices we can all make to get “unstuck.”

American Institute of Stress

How To Stop Feeling So Stressed”: In this episode, speakers talk with Dr. Margie Warrell about why things feel more stressful now. Increasingly more people have been bringing work laptops and projects home with them at the end of the day. All too many of them are familiar with the drill of checking emails before bed and looking at the news at all hours due to smartphones and social media. All of these things and a lot of others have just added to our feelings of being stressed. Listen to guests’ insights to learn how to stop feeling so stressed.

Why the goal of “reducing stress” often doesn’t work”: This episode talks with Tanya Peterson about why the goal of “reducing stress” often doesn’t work. What does it look like to eliminate stress in your life? No, it doesn’t look like a made-for-television movie. No, it doesn’t look like something only people with extra time and money can do. It looks like everyday life — but without any self-created stress triggers. Everyone needs to develop a way to identify stressors, and then have the tools to manage that stress. 

More About the American Institute of Stress

The American Institute of Stress (AIS) is a nonprofit organization, headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas which imparts factual information on stress reduction, stress in the workplace, stress related to military service and the health consequences of chronic, unmanaged stress. AIS was founded in New York in 1978, at the request of Dr. Hans Selye, the “father” of the stress concept, to serve as a clearinghouse of all stress-related information.

The Institute is dedicated to advancing our understanding of the role of stress in health and illness, the nature and importance of mind/body relationships and how to use the organization’s vast innate potential for self-healing. The paramount goal at AIS is to provide a clearinghouse of stress-related information to the general public, physicians and other health professionals interested in exploring the numerous and varied effects of stress on the health and quality of life.

Listen to “Finding Contentment”


AlzAuthors Shines Light on Dementia

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 6.2 million Americans aged 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2021. To help share Alzheimer’s and dementia stories and light the way for others, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit AlzAuthors was founded. The organization’s goal is to make a difference in the lives of those on their own journey with the disease.

Together, all AlzAuthors strive to eliminate the stigma surrounding the disease that affects an estimated 47 million people worldwide. To do this, AlzAuthors shares the written stories to serve as caregiver handbooks, guides through the disease process or a catalyst for muchneeded conversations. The organization also features a new author each week and receives requests for inclusion from over 300 writers globally.

Whether someone is a caregiver, family member or living with dementia themselves, they can find help and guidance from decades of caregiving within AlzAuthors’ memoirs, caregiver guides, novels, children’s books and blogs. There are numerous encouraging, real-life experiences behind these works. Furthermore, AlzAuthors invites others who have personal stories relating to Alzheimer’s or dementia to join in sharing their stories. The organization believes authors are bonded in a number of ways, including that:

  • We know the pain of being forgotten.
  • We have all witnessed decline.
  • We have provided countless hours of caregiving.
  • We know many others have experienced the same.
  • Now, more than ever, we believe in the power of sharing our stories.

In addition to the website, AlzAuthors now offers the AlzAuthors Bookstore. This is a vast, go-to collection of top books for individuals, assisted living facilities, doctor’s offices and other businesses offering eldercare services. As an Amazon affiliate, a small percentage of proceeds earned from bookstore sales contributes to the cost of maintaining the AlzAuthors website.

Hosted by the Whole Care Network, AlzAuthors shares the “Untangling Alzheimer’s and Dementia: An AlzAuthors Podcast as well. This podcast is another way the organization supports dementia journeys. Each episode features an AlzAuthors’ author who shares their personal story to help listeners learn about and cope with an Alzheimer’s disease or dementia diagnosis.

“We’ve curated hundreds of powerful and profound stories, spanning all disease types and stages through a variety of genres. You can read these stories on our blog, but if time is short and listening is your pleasure, follow the podcast to hear the author tell their story in more detail,” said podcast producer, editor, host and AlzAuthors cofounder, Marianne Sciucco.

History of AlzAuthors

In June 2015, Sciucco and fellow authors Jean Lee and Vicki Tapia became friends through social media after reading each other’s books. Recognizing the power of collaboration, the three women wrote blog posts about Alzheimer’s, dementia and caregiving for different caregiver websites. While they began promoting their books together, they found that three voices could increase impact.

Shortly after, Shannon Wiersbitzky joined the women, and AlzAuthors organized the first “National Caregiver Appreciation Month” awareness campaign (now an annual event). In June 2016, the team decided to create a website to gather resources in a singular place where caregivers and those living with memory impairment could find solid support. 

They sought a place where authors could find the proper audience as well. Thus, they invited authors to write short posts about the story behind their stories and these writings became Within the first year, over 60 individuals became “AlzAuthors.”

Today, Kathryn Harrison and Ann Campanella, together with Sciucco, Lee and Tapia, manage this not-for-profit organization. They are assisted by Susan Landeis and Gincy Heins. Past team members, Wiersbitzky and Irene Olson, have left management but continue to be strong supporters and resources for AlzAuthors.

Learn More About AlzAuthors


Ways for Seniors to Prevent Against Osteoporosis

According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), Osteoporosis is bone disease occurs when the body loses too much bone, makes too little bone or both. As a result, bones become weak and may break from a fall or, in serious cases, from sneezing or minor bumps. Meaning “porous bone,” osteoporosis involves bones that have lost density or mass and contain abnormal tissue structure, resulting in their weakening and increasing the likelihood of breakage. While seniors and aging adults can talk to their physician about undergoing a bone density examination to determine if they have osteoporosis, there are several preventative measures that can be taken early on to avoid a later diagnosis.

Get Enough Calcium and Vitamin D

Calcium is a mineral that is necessary for life. In addition to building bones and keeping them healthy, calcium enables blood to clot, muscles to contract and hearts to beat. The NOF reports that about 99% of the calcium in the body is in bones and teeth. How much calcium the body requires is dependent on both age and gender:

Woman age 50 & younger: 1,000 mg daily

Women age 51 & older: 1,200 mg daily

Men age 70 & younger: 1,000 mg daily

Men age 71 & older: 1,200 mg daily

Vitamin D also plays an important role in protecting your bones, both by helping the body absorb calcium and by supporting muscles needed to avoid falls. Children need vitamin D to build strong bones, and adults need the vitamin to keep their bones healthy. When individuals don’t get enough vitamin D, they become more likely to break bones as they age. Vitamin D requirements are solely based on age:

Under 50: 400-800 international units (IU) daily

50 and older: 800-1,000 IU daily

For those in need of additional Vitamin D, sources include sunlight, food and supplements. First, skin makes vitamin D in reaction to sunlight and stores it in fat for later use. Vitamin D can be found in foods including wild-caught mackerel, salmon and tuna. Vitamin D is added to milk and other dairy products, orange juice, soy milk and fortified cereals as well. Alternatively, there are two types of vitamin D supplements: vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Always check with a physician before incorporating supplements into a nutritional plan.

Engage in Regular Exercise

The NOF explains that there are two types of osteoporosis exercises that are important for building and maintaining bone density: weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises. Weight-bearing exercises, which can be high-impact or low-impact, include activities where individuals move against gravity while staying upright.

High-impact weight-bearing exercises (dancing, hiking, tennis, etc.) help build bones and keep them strong, but can be dangerous for those who have broken a bone due to osteoporosis or are at risk of breaking a bone. Low-impact weight-bearing exercises (elliptical training, fast walking, stair step machines, etc.) can also help keep bones strong and are a safe alternative for those who cannot do high-impact exercises. 

Muscle strengthening exercises include activities where someone moves their body, a weight or some other resistance against gravity. They are also known as resistance exercises and include lifting weights, using elastic exercise bands, using weight machines and more.

Eat Foods That are Good for Bone Health

Those who eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of dairy, fish, fruits and vegetables should get enough of the nutrients they need every day. However, those looking to ensure they consume foods which support bone health should look primarily to fish, fruits, vegetables and fortified foods. For example, canned sardines and salmon (with bones) are an excellent source of calcium. Spinach, beet greens, okra, tomato products, artichokes, plantains, potatoes, sweet potatoes, collard greens and raisins contain magnesium, which also supports bone health. Further, fortified foods such as soy milk can contain both calcium and Vitamin D.

Avoid Smoking

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases reports that several research studies have identified smoking as a risk factor for osteoporosis and bone fracture. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking. In addition, studies on the effects of smoking suggest that smoking increases the risk of having a fracture. The habit has also been shown to have a negative impact on bone healing after fracture.

Ultimately, the NOF points out that individuals are never too young or old to begin improving the health of their bones. Although prevention should ideally begin in childhood, forming healthy habits later in life can still lead to greater bone health in the future. As the foundation states, “Now is the time to take action.”

Learn More About Osteoporosis Prevention