If your child has been diagnosed with autism, you may have already heard of Defeat Autism Now (DAN). Contrary to many traditional health care experts, DAN is an organization that believes autism is treatable and reaches out to parents with afflicted children through a network of DAN specialists, newsletters and research databases.
Origins of Defeat Autism Now
The mother organization is Autism Research Institute (ARI), which was founded in 1967 by Dr. Bernard Rimland as a network for doctors and active parents tired of the defeatist attitude towards autism that was common in those days.
Dr. Rimland, himself a father of an autistic child, went on to write the award-winning book Infantile Autism, earned international recognition for his ground-breaking work in the field, and later provided advice for Rainman, a big budget Hollywood movie starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman that centered on a character inspired by autistic savants and a man named Kim Peek.
Today, DAN spans the globe with doctors, nutritionists and other medical specialists adhering to the DAN principles and attending regular conferences for learning and sharing the latest research.
The DAN Mission
Defeat Autism Now has a simple but ambitious mission statement that guides the organization's efforts:
Defeat Autism Now! is dedicated to the exploration, evaluation, and dissemination of scientifically documented biomedical interventions for individuals within the autism spectrum, through the collaborative efforts of clinicians, researchers, and parents.
To accomplish these goals, DAN sends out a quarterly newsletter called Autism Research Review International, which tackles both the biomedical and the educational angle for working with autistic people. A one-year subscription is $18 ($20 outside the US).
Furthermore, DAN hosts the largest case study database of autism cases in the world, featuring some 40,000 detailed case histories from over 60 countries. Needless to say, this global sharing of facts and data can be a gold mine for doctors and parents alike in figuring out how to approach their child.
DAN also offers a number of physical conferences, panels and scientific presentations on various aspects of autism. In addition to archived recordings of the in-person conferences, you can find many archived webcasts on the DAN website on treatments and new research.
Also, bear in mind that DAN is a non-profit organization that depends on donations to stay effective and affordable to its members. If you have benefited from DAN's efforts and can afford it, please make a donation so that other parents can enjoy the same help.
How to Get in Touch with DAN
To get in touch with the DAN organization directly, you can submit your questions or concerns by email on the site. They are more than happy to help you with travel and hotel accommodations for their conferences.
While not directly related to DAN itself, many DAN specialists and activist parents have formed local groups to work with the issues on a more grassroot level, forming support structures, study circles and socializing initiatives to meet the needs of its members.
Simply put, DAN is a great resource for parents battling autism. Sign up, read the articles, tune into the webcasts, browse their bookstore, and determine whether this type of treatment is right for your family.