Ashtabula Boys Residential Facility

Signature Health Thursday unveiled its new residential facility for boys placed outside their homes by the county Children Services Board, dubbed “Paul’s House.”

The about 5,500-square foot, two-floor building along Park Avenue houses 16 beds (some bedrooms have two), at least four full bathrooms, a full kitchen and cafeteria, interconnected fire alarms and security cameras. A decorative wrought iron fence is planned for the perimeter.

It also features plenty of amenities: televisions in a media room and the great room; a basement exercise room currently with a small basketball arcade, two cycling machines and one treadmill, and table tennis and cornhole setups. A full-sized basketball hoop is planned to go up behind the facility.

Signature Health CEO Jonathan Lee and Tania Burnett, Ashtabula County Children Services Board executive director, both said it was important for the facility to feel less like a box of cold cinder blocks and more like a home.

“We wanted to have something that was going to be rugged and sturdy,” Lee said. “We wanted it to feel like somebody’s house and kind of function that way.”

Burnett added, “No kid should feel like they’re in an institutional setting.”

The Park Avenue facility was the former SR Snodgrass building, and Lee said much of its framework still remains. Accounting office space was easily repurposed into bedrooms with closets or armories added.

He said the top floor’s main area was “gutted,” and two bathrooms moved back to make more space for the great room. Top floor renovations included all new tiling and carpet.

Its pending residential facility license allows the home to house boys ages 8 to 21 — and they can choose to stay after they’ve “aged out” of the county system at 18.

Signature Health already has preliminary site inspection approval, and is awaiting final word from the state Department of Job and Family Services, which should arrive in the next three to four weeks, Lee said.

“We have kids who have had to go out of our county because we haven’t had a place like this,” Burnett said, and the board already has a handful of boys in its custody ready to move in when the facility opens, expected to be later this month.

Paul’s House will be staffed around the clock by 15 to 20

"Signature Health employees," said Brenda Buchanan, Signature Health’s director of child residential services. "It’s not a locked facility, but Lee said care was given to designing it securely, such as open line-of-sight for its staffers."

The basement also has several conference rooms for social workers to meet with residents.

“Typically, when we have kids in group homes, they’ve gone through some sort of trauma,” Burnett said. “They can get their therapy (at the home). If they had a therapist in the county, they can continue with that same therapist because now they’re staying in our county.”

Children services workers can also host group sessions with residents to serve behavioral health needs, and life skills training for boys age 15 and older, who could soon age out of the system and need to become independent.

Burnett said it’s about having a “continuity of care,” as well as helping kids return to their homes sooner.

“Visitation is really difficult when kids are an hour away (at residential facilities outside the county),” she said. “We want them to be able to visit their families, we want our case workers to be able to visit them more often.”

Lee said the board has already asked Signature Health to back a similar residential home for girls. He added it would follow the same model as Paul’s House — not a “giant place where you have tons of kids,” one with a domestic feel.

The home takes its namesake from Paul Brickman, the company’s director of marketing, who has worked to help youth for the last 40 years, Lee said.

Brickman, a former juvenile probation officer in Lake County, was one of the founders of the Glenbeigh drug and alcohol treatment facility in Rock Creek and trained social workers nationwide.

“Some of the teachers and social workers that he trained were the people who got me to treatment,” Lee told those gathered for the ribbon cutting. “In a very real way, I dedicate my 28 years of sobriety to him and his work.”

It was a pleasant surprise for Brickman, a 20-year Signature Health employee, who was joined by his family.

“I am really proud to have my name on this house,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to do this another 20 years. This is going to be a wonderful place.”


Jonathan's Journal 06-05-16

Jonathan's Journal
Signature Health, Inc. Newsletter
In This Issue
Change to Non Profit
Paul's House
Thought For The Week
Join Our List

Join Our Mailing List
Issue: # 4

June 5th, 2016

SH is Officially a Non-Profit !

A new chapter has begun for Signature Health!  You may not have noticed but a fundamental structural change occurred this past week.  We finally completed our most grueling stage of transformation and we are now on file with the Secretary of State as a non-profit organization. 

I know many of our team members have been waiting with anticipation for this change so they can now qualify for student loan forgiveness by working for a non-profit.  The community has been waiting as well.  I had the chance to tell a few key community leaders and we have already received best wishes and congratulations from those that learned that this phase of our transformation is complete. 

Now that we have come out of the cocoon it is time to spread and dry out our wings.  Next we must apply for 501(c)(3) recognition from the IRS. This is the final phase of the transformation.  I really have no idea how long the next phase will take because it is really up to the IRS.  We will have our application submitted within the next six weeks.  I am told the IRS review will likely take six months.  Fortunately, once they grant our 501(c)(3) recognition it should be retroactive to our conversion on June 1st, 2016

Although this has been a long arduous process it was critical to our long term success.  Signature is now positioned to become and FQHC, take advantage of grant opportunities, and we are ready for broader partnerships and affiliations. 
Child Group Home Dedicated to Paul Brickman!

On Thursday, June 2nd, 2016 we held a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony for our new child group home in Ashtabula.  We dedicated the facility in honor of Paul Brickman for his 40 years of devoted service to helping kids. We named the facility  "Paul's House". Paul's career started as  juvenile probation officer, then a founder of Glenbeigh Hospital.  Later he was a national trainer for educators on substance abuse prevention.  Now of course he is a Founder, Board Member and Director of Marketing for Signature Health.  It is extremely conservative to say that Paul has positively influenced the lives of tens of thousands of kids and I am looking forward to working with Paul for the next 20 years to help even more kids and families.

If you didn't see it there was a really nice article in the Star Beacon on Friday. You can find the article here .
Thought For The Week

Not failure, but low aim, is crime. -J.R. Lowell

Make it a Great Week!  

Go CAVS - We are all in!


Signature Health, Inc., 38882 Mentor Avenue, Willoughby, OH 44094

Wellness Group

Signature Health Clients Only

Walking to a 
Healthy You

Tuesday, June 14
1:30 - 2:45 p.m.
Great Lakes Mall, Mentor

Please meet in front of Sears (inside the mall) at 1:30 pm wearing tennis shoes 
and with a bottle of water. 
We will start walking at 1:45 pm.

Remember to eat a healthy breakfast and lunch before coming!

RSVP by calling Kelly at 440-953-9999   Ext. 145 


Tuesday, June 21
1:30 - 3:00 p.m.
Room 113

A healthy snack will be provided.

No referral needed. Just show up ready to learn and focus on a healthy lifestyle!

Pet Therapy/
Stress Management

Tuesday, June 28
1:30 - 3:00 p.m.
Room 113

If you are allergic to dogs, this may not be the best group for you.

No referral needed. Just show up ready to learn and focus on a healthy lifestyle!

Children Services

 In April, Signature Health in Ashtabula held a luncheon for Ashtabula County Children Services. April is child abuse Prevention Month, and Signature Health recognized those groups and individuals who have gone above and beyond for the children in the county. Take a look at the event here!

Wellness Program

Signature Health in WILLOUGHBY has a new Wellness Program that focuses on wellness education and promotion to help provide holistic care to every client. Mental health and physical health impact each other, so it is important to be aware and make healthy choices to successfully achieve a state of well-being. Individual appointments as well as group educational and support classes are available.

Some topics that are covered are:
- Managing health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma, COPD, and high cholesterol 
- Lifestyle changes such as healthy nutrition on a budget, weight management, physical activity, healthy sleep habits, and stress management
- Smoking cessation
- Increased access to health screenings
- Walking group for fitness
And more!

Same day appointments are available on a first come, first served basis.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact Kelly at 440-953-9999, Ext. 145. Clients can also ask for a referral from another staff member, and they will be contacted.

All Signature Health clients are eligible to participate.

Jonathan's Journal 04-10-16

Jonathan's Journal
Signature Health, Inc. Newsletter
In This Issue
Naming Contest
BH Redesign
Thought For The Week
Join Our List

Join Our Mailing List
Issue: # 3

April 10th, 2016

A Rose By Any Other Name!

We Need Help Now!

Well, the saws have been cutting and the hammers have been pounding away, and we are almost done with remodeling our child group home facility in Ashtabula. There's only one problem... 

So, I am announcing a naming contest with a $500.00 prize!

Please send Brenda your name suggestions 

If we use your name suggestion as the final name, you win the prize! 
You do not need to be a current employee to enter the contest.  We are happy to take entries from all readers of the journal!  There is no limit to the number of entries, but this is like the lottery so if multiple people send the winning suggestion, you gotta split the prize.

Make sure you email your entries so Brenda can keep track of who sent which names. If you tell her verbally etc, that doesn't count.

Entry Deadline is Friday 4-22-16 at 5:00 pm.

Remember this is a group home for adolescent males!  Name suggestions will be vetted by our youth panel in addition to the senior leadership team, so don't bother sending something lame.
 BH Redesign Update-Spend Down Eliminated

This week the local area was rocked with the news that the 160 year old child agency Beechbrook would be eliminating 40% of its workforce in a dramatic restructuring.

I am certain that one of the major considerations they evaluated when making their decision was the BH Redesign work that continues in Columbus.

A few months ago I wrote that the BH Redesign work undertaken by the Ohio Department of Medicaid and the Ohio Department of Mental Health Services is like the switch between ICD-9 and ICD-10 because many of the current billing codes will now have more than one possible replacement code (and associated rate).

In addition to adding many many more codes, the State of Ohio is changing its eligibility system which will eliminate the Medicaid Spend Down Program effective 7-1-16.  Patients who previously accessed Medicaid benefits will now either have to qualify under a new 1915i waiver program or they will be deemed ineligible.  The 1915i waiver is far too complicated to explain in this journal but more information can be found here.

I have been honored to be one of 50 stakeholders asked to provide feedback to the State Department on their change efforts. Although at first it seemed that our advocacy had not yielded much change in the Department's approach, most recently we have seen encouraging signs of progress on both the approach and the proposed reimbursement rates. That said we still have a long way to go.
Thought For The Week

Fear less, hope more, eat less, chew more, whine less, breathe more, talk less, say more, hate less, love more, and good things will be yours. 

-Swedish Proverb

Make it a Great Week !  


Signature Health, Inc., 38882 Mentor Avenue, Willoughby, OH 44094

Ashtabula County Prevention Coalition

Local agencies have worked hard to obtain grants and other sources of funding to provide our communities with a safe way to dispose of their unused medication.
Returning your unwanted medicines to a take-back program is the safest and most environmentally protective way to dispose of unused medication.

4817 State Rd. Suite 203
Ashtabula, Oh 44004
Phone: (440)992-3121
Fax: (440)992-2761

This Brochure was developed, in part, under
Grant # SPO 20528 from the Office of Nation Drug Control Policy and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The views, opinions, and content of this publication are those of the authors and contributors, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions and policies of ONDCP, SAMHSA, or HHS, and should not be construed as such.

Fact:  Throwing medicines in the garbage is not safe - especially for narcotics and other highly addictive and dangerous drugs - because the drugs can be found and used by others, even if they are mixed with undesirable materials like coffee grounds or kitty litter. Prescription drug abuse is the fastest-growing drug problem in the county. Prevent drug theft and abuse by using a medicine take-back program to dispose of your unwanted medicines.  
Fact:  Crushing pills to disguise them before disposal is difficult and dangerous and puts the handler at risk of exposure to the drug through skin contact or by breathing in the dust.  Many medications are designed to release in the body over time, and crushing pills can release a dangerously high dose. The pill dust may endanger other family members and pets in the home, and some medications can be especially harmful to children and women of childbearing age.
Fact:  Throwing unwanted medicines in the household trash does not ensure that curious kids can’t get at them. There’s an epidemic of accidental poisonings from medicines in our homes - and children are the most common victims. Also, pets and animals are not deterred by kitty litter or other substances when getting into the trash and can potentially ingest the unused medicines.  Human medications are the leading cause of pet poisonings, most often from trash-related toxic exposures.
Fact:  Modern landfills are well-designed, safe, and handle standard household waste well.  However, medicines are a special type of hazardous chemical that we need to keep out of our solid waste system and landfills to prevent harm to people and the environment.  Drugs can be very toxic for people and wildlife, even in low doses.

Items placed in the Drop-Boxes should have their labels removed or blackened out with permanent marker.
Medications should be placed inside a closed container or baggie, (preferably the original container) and then placed inside the drop-box.

Andover Village Hall
134 Maple Street
Andover, Oh 44003
Open Monday- Friday 8am-4:30pm
(drop box is located inside)
Ashtabula City Police Department
110 W. 44th St. #1
Ashtabula, Oh 44004
OPEN 24/7
(drop box is located inside)
Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Office
25 West Jefferson Street
Jefferson, Oh 44047
Open Monday-Friday 8am-4:30pm
(drop box is located inside)
Conneaut Police Department
294 Main Street
Conneaut, Oh 44030
OPEN 24/7
(drop box is located inside)
Northwest Ambulance District
1480 South Broadway
Geneva, Oh 44041
OPEN 24/7
(drop box is located outside)
Orwell Village Hall
179 W. Main St.
Orwell, Oh 44076
OPEN Tuesdays & Thursdays from 9am-3pm
(drop box is located inside)

Medication Safety

As we age and have more medical needs it is common to find ourselves easily overwhelmed with past and present medications. Here are some steps we can take to make it safer and less confusing.

- Keep all the current medications in the same place and out of children's/ pet’s reach. Remove the discontinued medications, as soon as possible, this way you won't keep taking something you no longer need.
- It might be helpful to use a shoe box or plastic container to keep the bottles together and easier to move around.
- Don't keep medications in bathroom cabinets, this is most likely the only place in your house where visitors can go, be by themselves, with a closed door! 
- If you fill weekly pill boxes, do it over a baking sheet or something else that has a rim because it will help prevent the pills from rolling on the floor.
- Sometimes when we get into a routine it may happen that we do things out of habit. At some point we may wonder if we took a medication or not. Make a calendar part of your routine - put a check mark on the day as soon as you took your medications, if you take medications three times a day you will have three check marks.
-Discard old medications by taking them to the police station or sheriff’s department collection boxes- see attached list
- Remove your name from the pill bottles before you discard them. Some pharmacies like our Signature Health Pharmacy have medication collection containers for customer use. 
- If you are diabetic and you use syringes you can dispose of them in an empty, plastic laundry detergent container. Make sure you close the lid. If collected this way the used needles can be thrown in the garbage. 
- Take a medication list or the medication bottles with you to all doctors’ appointments. 
- Use one pharmacy as much as possible.
- Communicate, if you have any questions about your medications, what they are for, side effects, what to do and not to do.  Reach out to your pharmacist or doctor's office. 
- Call for refills about 7 days before you run out of medications. This will give some time for the communication between your doctor- pharmacy the insurance company and you.

Written by Mihaela Burtea

Ashtabula Pharmacy

Pharmacy Hours 
Monday: 8:30am - 8:00pm
Tuesday: 8:30am - 8:00pm
Wednesday:      8:30am - 8:00pm
Thursday: 8:30am - 8:00pm
Friday: 8:30am - 4:30pm
Closed Saturday and Sunday

Phone: 440-261-9200
Fax: 440-261-9201 

Garfield Pharmacy

Pharmacy Hours 
Monday: 8:30am - 6:30pm
Tuesday: 8:30am - 6:30pm
Wednesday:      8:30am - 6:30pm
Thursday: 8:30am - 6:30pm
Friday: 8:30am - 4:00pm
Closed Saturday and Sunday

Phone: 216-395-1060 ext 156
Fax: 216-395-1050 

Willoughby Pharmacy

Pharmacy Hours 
Monday: 8:30am - 8:00pm
Tuesday: 8:30am - 8:00pm
Wednesday: 8:30am - 8:00pm
Thursday: 8:30am - 8:00pm
Friday: 8:30am - 5:00pm
Closed Saturday and Sunday

Phone: 440.954.3333 - 866.953.7300
Fax: 440.954.9501

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects a person’s ability to socialize and communicate with others. ASD can also result in restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities. The term “spectrum” refers to the wide range of symptoms, skills and levels of impairment or disability that people with ASD can display. Some people are mildly impaired by their symptoms, while others are severely disabled.

The prevalence rate for ASD is 1 in 68 children and rising. Boys are 4 times more likely than girls to develop autism. ASD crosses racial, ethnic and social backgrounds equally. Awareness of this disorder and improved screening methods have contributed to the increase in diagnoses in recent years.


Symptoms of autism start to appear during the first three years of life. Typically, developing infants are social by nature. They gaze at faces, turn toward voices, grasp a finger and even smile by 2-3 months of age. Most children who develop autism have difficulty engaging in everyday human interactions.

Not everyone will experience symptoms with the same severity, but all people with ASD will have symptoms that affect social interactions and relationships. ASD also causes difficulties with verbal and nonverbal communication and preoccupation with certain activities. Along with different interests, autistic children generally have different ways of interacting with others. Parents are often the first to notice that their child is showing unusual behaviors. These behaviors include failing to make eye contact, not responding to his or her name or playing with toys in unusual, repetitive ways.

Symptoms of autism can include:

  • Delay in language development, such as not responding to their own name or speaking only in single words, if at all.
  • Repetitive and routine behaviors, such as walking in a specific pattern or insisting on eating the same meal every day.
  • Difficulty making eye contact, such as focusing on a person’s mouth when that person is speaking instead of their eyes, as is usual in most young children.
  • Sensory problems, such as experiencing pain from certain sounds, like a ringing telephone or not reacting to intense cold or pain, certain sights, sounds, smells, textures and tastes.
  • Difficulty interpreting facial expressions, such as misreading or not noticing subtle facial cues, like a smile, wink or grimace, that could help understand the nuances of social communication.
  • Problems with expressing emotions, such as facial expressions, movements, tone of voice and gestures that are often vague or do not match what is said or felt.
  • Fixation on parts of objects, such as focusing on a rotating wheel instead of playing with peers.
  • Absence of pretend play, such as taking a long time to line up toys in a certain way, rather than playing with them.
  • Difficulty interacting with peers, because they have a difficult time understanding that others have different information, feelings and goals.
  • Self-harm behavior, such as hitting his head against a wall as a way of expressing disapproval.
  • Sleep problems, such as falling asleep or staying asleep.

Symptoms of autism fall on a continuum. This means that the learning, thinking and problem-solving abilities of children with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some children with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives. With a thorough evaluation, doctors can make a diagnosis to help find the best treatment plan for the child.


Scientists have not discovered a single cause of autism. They believe several factors may contribute to this developmental disorder.

  • Genetics. If 1 child in a family has ASD, another sibling is more likely to develop it too. Likewise, identical twins are highly likely to both develop autism if it is present. Relatives of children with autism show minor signs of communication difficulties. Scans reveal that people on the autism spectrum have certain abnormalities of the brain's structure and chemical function.
  • Environment. Scientists are currently researching many environmental factors that are thought to play a role in contributing to ASD. Many prenatal factors may contribute to a child’s development, such as a mother’s health. Other postnatal factors may affect development as well. Despite many claims that have been highlighted by the media, strong evidence has been shown that vaccines do not cause autism.


There is no medical test that can determine the possibility of developing autism. Specialists make the diagnosis after screening for social deficits, communication problems, and repetitive or restricted behavior.

Diagnosing autism is often a 2-stage process. The first stage involves general developmental screening during well-child checkups with a pediatrician. Children who show some developmental problems are referred for more evaluation. The second stage involves a thorough evaluation by a team of doctors and other health professionals with a wide range of specialties. At this stage, a child may be diagnosed as having autism or another developmental disorder. Typically, children with ASD can be reliably diagnosed by age 2, though some may not be diagnosed until they are older.

Types of ASD Screening Instruments

Sometimes the doctor will ask parents questions about the child's symptoms to screen for autism. Other screening instruments combine information from parents with the doctor's own observations of the child. Examples of screening instruments for toddlers and preschoolers include:

  • Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) is a list of informative questions about a child where the answers can show whether he or she should be further evaluated by a specialist.
  • Screening Tool for Autism in Two-Year-Olds (STAT) is a set of tasks that children perform under supervision to assess key social and communicative behaviors, including imitation, play and directing attention.
  • Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ) is a series of questions parents answer to help specialists determine if further testing is needed for a child aged 4 years or older.
  • Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales (CSBS) uses parent interviews and direct observations of natural play to collect information on communication development, including gestures, facial expressions and play behaviors.

For more information on these screening tools, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Autism is treated and managed in several ways:

  • Education and development, including specialized classes and skills training, time with therapists and other specialists
  • Behavioral treatments, such as applied behavior analysis (ABA)
  • Medication for co-occurring symptoms, combined with therapy
  • Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), such as supplements and changes in diet

Though autism cannot be cured, it can be treated effectively.

Related Conditions

A child with autism may have more disorders. Some of those disorders are:

  • Intellectual disability. Many children with ASD have some degree of intellectual disability. When tested, some areas of ability may be normal, while others—especially cognitive (thinking) and language abilities—may be relatively weak.
  • Seizures. 1 in 4 children with autism has seizures, often starting either in early childhood or during the teen years. Seizures, caused by electrical activity in the brain, can result in a short-term loss of consciousness, convulsions and staring spells. An electroencephalogram (EEG), a nonsurgical test that records electrical activity in the brain, can help confirm whether a child is having seizures.
  • Fragile X syndrome. Fragile X syndrome is a genetic disorder. It is the most common form of inherited intellectual disability, causing symptoms like ASD. Around 1 in 3 children who have Fragile X syndrome also meet the diagnostic criteria for autism. About 1 in 25 children diagnosed with ASD have the mutation that causes Fragile X syndrome. Because this disorder is inherited, children with autism should be checked for Fragile X, especially if the parents want to have more children. For more information on Fragile X, see the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development website.
  • Tuberous sclerosis. Tuberous sclerosis is a rare genetic disorder that causes noncancerous tumors to grow in the brain and other vital organs. Tuberous sclerosis occurs in 1-4% of people with ASD. A genetic mutation causes the disorder, which has also been linked to intellectual disability, epilepsy and many other physical and mental health problems. There is no cure for tuberous sclerosis, but many symptoms can be treated.
  • Gastrointestinal problems. Some parents of children with autism report that their child has frequent gastrointestinal (GI) or digestion problemsincluding stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, acid reflux, vomiting or bloating. If a child has GI problems, a gastroenterologist can help find the cause and suggest appropriate treatment.
  • Co-occurring mental illnesses. Children with autism can also develop mental disorders such as anxiety disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or depression. Research shows that children with ASD are at higher risk for some mental disorders than children without autism. Managing these co-occurring conditions with medications or behavioral therapy, which teaches children how to control their behavior, can reduce symptoms that appear to worsen a child's  symptoms.
  • Rett syndrome. Rett syndrome is a developmental disorder that includes a regression in development. Unlike autism, Rett syndrome mostly affects girls. 1 of every 10,000-22,000 girls has Rett syndrome. Children with Rett syndrome develop normally for 6-18 months before regression and autism-like symptoms appear. However, after this period, most children with Rett syndrome improve their social communication skills, and autistic features are no longer a major area of concern.

Treatment plans for autism are tailored to each person’s unique needs. These can consist of medications, therapy or both. Many therapists work closely with autistic children and adults, using a variety of therapies to help increase social and communication skills.


Educational and behavioral approaches are often a main feature of the overall treatment plan for children. Most health care professionals will implement an early intensive behavioral intervention, involving the child's entire family in education and training. In some early intervention programs, therapists come into the home to deliver services. Other programs deliver therapy in a specialized center, classroom or preschool. Types of therapy may include:

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). ABA is one of the most researched behavioral therapies for autism. It teaches children positive behavior while discouraging the negative. A child, for example, may be directed to hand his therapist a pencil. If he does, he will receive a reward, such as praise or a small toy. If he doesn't, he will receive a prompt, such as the therapist moving his hand to the pencil.

Floor time. This therapy targets speech, motor or cognitive skills through its focus on emotional development through interactive play between parents and children. Overall, it aims to help children learn a number of developmental skills, including interpersonal interaction, emotional thinking and advanced communication.

Education and development. Most children with autism respond well to highly structured, specialized treatment, especially in a school setting. Teachers and parents should discuss how to develop a plan that works best for the child's needs. Suggestions may include:

  • Smaller classes with individual time with teachers and therapists
  • Focusing on tasks that may be difficult for a few hours a day
  • Learning skills for adapting to new situations
  • Having structure and a schedule to reduce distractions


There are no FDA-approved medications for the core symptoms of autism. 2 antipsychotic medicines, aripipazole and resperiodone, have been approved for irritability associated with autism. Other off-label use of medications are best used in combination with psychotherapy and other interventions. They should target specific symptoms with an outcome to measure their effectiveness.

Complementary and Alternative Approaches

CAM, known as integrative medicine, looks at other factors that can have a positive influence on the symptoms of ASD.

  • Melatonin is a natural sleep supplement. Many people with autism have sleep disorders, and melatonin helps regulate sleep cycles. Sleep patterns are important to regulate to help with other symptoms like repetitive behavior. Visit Autism Speaks for more information on sleep and autism.
  • Nutritional Supplements, like multivitamins, can help replenish nutrients, especially when a person has an unbalanced diet. They can be good for overall health
  • Gluten and Casein-Free Diet has led some families to report that taking certain foods out of their children’s diet has helped with their behavior. Foods with wheat or dairy may irritate the GI tract, which in turn increases ASD symptoms.

Coping with autism isn’t easy. But if you or your child is struggling, there is help. NAMI and NAMI affiliates are there to provide you with support for you and your family and information about community resources.

Contact the NAMI Helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or if you have any questions about autism spectrum disorder or finding support and resources.

Helping Yourself

ASD often poses a challenge to a person's ability to interact in society. Lack of education and stigma leaves many people unable to understand that this is a medical disorder. Even for adults, the negative associations others make are more damaging than the symptoms themselves. Fortunately, there are options:

  • Connect with others. The Interactive Autism Network has an entire section dedicated to helping adults on the ASD spectrum find support and information on subjects ranging from housing services to romantic relationships.
  • Educate yourself. Autism Speaks is the biggest advocacy organization for ASD, and while many of its programs are for family members of those living with autism, its resources are extensive and useful for both family members and individuals.

If you live with a mental health condition, learn more about managing your mental health and finding the support you need.

Helping a Family Member or Friend

Find out more about taking care of your family member or friend and yourself.