Autism is among the common mental disorders that are encountered at the global scale. (approximately 60 cases per 10,000 people) (Brentani et al., 2013). This means that the risk of an individual born with Autism can be considerably high, making it unreasonable to ignore this health issue. In general, autism is associated with the violation of the development of the brain, with the person experiencing problems when trying to interact and communicate with others throughout their life as this disorder cannot be treated (Bauer, 2016). As a result, it becomes much more difficult for a patient to turn into a productive member of the society when growing up; meaning that the treatment must focus on the improvement of the quality of their life and functional independence. In turn, the possession of knowledge through the action of care, becomes quite important for both family members, and healthcare professionals.
The specific needs of patients diagnosed with autism can present numerous challenges to caregivers. This fact has resulted in the emergence of numerous support groups that often interact with the target population through the Internet, namely websites. These include such resources like “Autism Society” and “Interacting with Autism”, with both having their strong and weak points. The positive sides of Autism Society include a wide range of topics that may be useful for caregivers (general information on autism, legal issues, family life, and many others), which make it adaptable. Moreover, it contains a section designed for the Spanish-speaking population, thus targeting a diverse population of the country (Autism Society, 2018). At the same time, the large volumes of text and the lack of pictures and graphs to supplement it can make the materials difficult to comprehend, or overwhelming; especially when the user does not have enough time to read them thoroughly. As a result, the usefulness of Autism Society for caregivers, especially the ones that are not proficient in medical sciences, can be questionable.
However, the other website, titled “Interacting with Autism” , utilizes a different approach to the supply of support, presenting most of the useful information in the form of videos, which makes it easier for caregivers to comprehend (Interacting with Autism, 2018). In this regard, it is more user-friendly than Autism Society. However, in comparison to the latter, the focus on video files can present problems for the people that do not speak English fluently since all the videos are presented in this language and do not contain subtitles.
Both websites are influenced by evidence-based practice to a certain extent. It is particularly noticeable in the case of Autism Society, which cooperates with organizations such as the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (Autism Society, 2018). This collaboration can potentially provide the website with the additional relevant information on the disorder that can be used to develop the most effective guidelines for caregivers of all types. Interacting with Autism contains the data on such methods of treatment which involves the available services of occupational therapy and applied behavior analysis. As a result, the recommendations it provides are backed by evidence and, therefore, remain viable.
At the same time, despite the high usefulness of the reviewed resources, it is possible to provide several recommendations for the improvement of their effectiveness from the perspective of individuals seeking support. For Autism Society, it is recommended to alter the text data with pictures, graphs, tables, and videos as it will improve its comprehensiveness and usefulness for a wide range of people. For Interacting with Autism, it is advisable to introduce the sections that target non-English speakers, as well as translate some of the most viewed videos to Spanish (or, at least, add Spanish transcriptions to those) to increase the potential audience of the website. By doing so, both reviewed support groups will be able to provide assistance to an increased number of caregivers, ultimately helping to improve the quality of life of numerous American citizens diagnosed with autism.
Autism Society (2018). Home. Retrieved from https://www.autism-society.org Bauer, L. R. (2016). Autism spectrum disorders: Five things you should know about autism treatment. Universal Journal of Psychology, 4(3), 139-141. Brentani, H., de Paula, C. S., Bordini, D., Rolim, D., Sato, F., Portolese, J., … McCracken, J. T. (2013). Autism spectrum disorders: An overview on diagnosis and treatment. Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria, 35, 62-72. Interacting with Autism (2018). Home. Retrieved from https://www.interactingwithautism.com
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