About Us / Contact Information
Email: The Webmaster
What We're About
MarylandAutism.org is a resource for both autistics and their parents. The main purpose of this site is to connect autistics with resources that will help them achieve their dreams and live the live they desire to live. While we fully support efforts to guide behavior, develop independence, and overcome relational deficiencies, this site is not about turning autistics into "normal" children or raising money to find a cure.
Our goal is really to answer initial questions, provide a handy spot for state resources and ASD-related events, as well as directing individuals to state/county services that can help them. We also want to serve as a link to webpages by autistics themselves, such as personal blogs or research pages.
How You Can Help
The best way to help is by supporting the organizations linked on this site, sending us links to more resources and personal webpages of autistics, and by forwarding the information to anyone you know of who is affected by ASD in some form or fashion.
Also, the team that originally started this site were military and all have now moved out of the Maryland area, so we are looking to add some MD locals to our leadership. If you are interested in joining the team, do let us know.
Finally, we would love it if you could help us cover the costs of the site. Our hosing is provided free of charge by Jasper Web Hosting (a company no longer accepting new clients), but we still have design and maintenance costs. Click here to donate
How We Got Started
They say autistics are way too honest, and this part of the site might support that theory. This site was started by Janie Wiggins for, in her words "purely selfish reasons." As she wrote on the original About Us page: "I didn't realize that my family had been affected by ASDs (Autism Spectrum Disorders). Instead, I did it because I was selling Discovery Toys at the time, and they began a special Autism Awareness Drive. Maryland didn't have a state Autism reference page, and I figured creating such a website was one of the easiest ways to help (and make a little money in the process)." Janie linked the new site with her online shop, Precious and Pleasant Boutique and then waited for the money to roll in. "In my (unsuccessful) attempts to profit from this campaign," she says, "I began talking to people who struggle with ASDs on a daily basis. Not just the parents- but the individuals themselves! Unless you are familiar with the Spectrum, you probably don't know how hard some things can be- even if the affected family member is considered "high functioning." Through this, my eyes came open!"
While not diagnosed with ASD herself, Janie discovered that she, and her son, had many autistic traits.
She continues: "I suspect that were I a child today, the doctors would have rushed to diagnose me with Asperger's Syndrome (AS), sometimes called 'high-functioning' Autism. I soon discovered that many of the 'coping methods' that brought me to my current level of social, professional, and spiritual fulfillment are the same techniques encouraged in local AS support groups. Years after giving up trying to be 'normal,' I discovered a group of people who were 'just like me.' "
She then goes on to warn about relying on diagnosis: "No, I am not autistic, but having worked with those on the Spectrum for a few years, I've seen the dangers of diagnosis. Many autistics can learn to enjoy life, though it's sometimes very tough to try fitting in to a world that hss illogical rules. I'm not personally convinced that diagnosis helps as much as knowing one is different and taking steps to achieve your goals in light of those differences. Whether or not one actually labeled 'autistic' does not change anything, unless they need the diagnosis to access necessary state/county resources and medical support… what matters to me is having a wonderful life, great job, amazing kid, etc. I find, not just with autism but with MANY medical conditions, that people tend to lose hope and not TRY to overcome their difficulties. To them, diagnosis means "I can't." That's not true! Often with patient instruction and enough motivation they can overcome enough of their challenges to be happy. "
"With the right knowledge, proper support, and a little understanding, many children affected by ASDs can lead successful and fulfilling lives. Whatever 'fulfilling' means to the ASD-affected individual, they should be afforded the opportunity to pursue it, even what makes them happy is not perceived as being 'normal.' As long as it's legal, of course! And I intend to help, in whatever way I can. I really believe many autistic children can grow up into content and productive adults, if a) they want to (which helps them be willing to put forth the effort) and b) someone is patient enough to show them the way."
Webmaster's Note: I'm closing down Jasper Web Services to focus on more enjoyable ventures. But don't worry- I will continue to provide MarylandAutism.org with free hosting and design services, and we will continue to cover the phone number 888-274-8353. Of course, donations are always welcome!