HOUSTON, Sept. 9, 2005Connections Center, a leading provider of services for individuals with relationship disorders such as autism, is offering respite care at its Houston location for children on the Autism Spectrum who have been displaced by Hurricane Katrina. Meanwhile, recognizing that some autistic children have been separated from their families, Connections Center is spreading the word about the signs of autism for shelter workers who may not know what to look for.

“Individuals on the Autism Spectrum often have difficulty dealing with dynamic environments and change, so being uprooted from their homes and thrust into uncertainty is especially stressful for them,” said Dr. Steve Gutstein, co-director of Connections Center. “For at least a few hours a day, we can offer a safe place where the special needs of these children can be cared for while their families work to get back on their feet.”

Due to space limitations, Connections Center can accommodate up to four children at a time. Therefore, families seeking assistance from Connections Center should call Melanie Smith at 713-838-1362 ext. 107 to make reservations for their child.

Some of the signs of autism include the following: the child does not respond to his or her name, the child cannot explain what he or she wants, the child does not speak, the child seems to hear sometimes, but not others, the child doesn’t follow directions, the child doesn’t point or wave bye-bye, the child throws intense or violent tantrums, the child has unusual movement patterns, the child is hyperactive, uncooperative, or oppositional.

There are no official estimates of how many autistic children have been displaced by Katrina. According to the most recent Louisiana Public Schools Autism Prevalence Report compiled by FightingAutism, 1,924 Louisiana residents between ages three and 22 had been diagnosed with autism in 2003, the most recent year for which numbers are available. That was up more than 50 percent from 1,266 cases reported in 2000.

About Connections Center
Established in 1995, the Connections Center for Family and Personal Development, based in Houston, is a multi-disciplinary program to develop innovative evaluation and intervention programs for people with relationship disorders. Led by Drs. Steve Gutstein and Rachelle K. Sheely, the Connections Center staff provides a full range of evaluation and treatment services, including RDI. They provide education and training to families and professionals worldwide. More information is available at www.rdiconnect.com.