Thank you so much for volunteering with the Organization for Autism Research! We rely on our dedicated volunteers like you to help spread the word about our resources during Autism Awareness/Acceptance Month and beyond. We really appreciate your help in distributing our resources!

Background

The Organization for Autism Research, better known as OAR, is an organization founded and led by parents and grandparents of autistic children. Our mission is to apply research to the challenges of autism; we strive to use science to address the everyday social, educational, and treatment concerns of autistic individuals, parents, autism professionals, and caregivers.

As a part of this mission, OAR creates and distributes useful, high-quality, evidence-based resources to as many members of the autism community as possible. That’s where you come in! By reaching out to members of your community who could benefit from these resources, you are directly helping families in the community navigate their journey through autism. Many families with autistic children, especially those whose children have just been diagnosed, find themselves facing many challenging situations and having to make very important decisions every day. Your outreach equips these families with resources that address these everyday questions and challenges, reduce stress, and help ensure the best possible outcomes for their children. Additionally, many general education teachers need more information on how they can support autistic students in the classroom. Your outreach to schools helps inform and empower teachers so that they can confidently address the needs of their autistic students, build a welcoming classroom environment, and reduce instances of bullying through peer education.

 

FAST FACTS ABOUT OAR’S RESOURCES:

Since 2002, we have:

  • Published ten guides in the Life Journey through Autism series: A Parent’s Guide to Research, An Educator’s Guide to Autism, An Educator’s Guide to Asperger Syndrome, A Guide for Transition to Adulthood, A Parent’s Guide to Assessment, A Guide for Military Families, Navigating the Special Education System, and A Guide to Safety
  • Created Operation Autism, a website that provides military families impacted by autism with information 24/7
  • Introduced the “Autism in the School House” program built around the Kit for Kids Peer Education Initiative and Understanding Autism, a “Curriculum-in-a-Box” containing resource guides and a curriculum that gives middle and high school teachers a basic understanding of autism and best practices for teaching students with autism
  • Taught more than 135,000 students in grades K-8 about their peers with autism through the Kit for Kids Peer Education Initiative
  • Created and delivered three new resources related to siblings of individuals with autism, one for parents, one for teen siblings, and a fun workbook for younger siblings
  • Created Finding Your Way: A College Guide for Self-Advocates along with its microsite, College Central
  • Created Sex Ed. for Self-Advocates, an online sexuality and sex education resource written specifically for people on the autism spectrum age 15 and up

Resources

OAR publishes a variety of different resources; a short description of many of our resources can be found below.  More information can be found on the resources page of our website.

Resources for families
Resources for educators
  • An Educator’s Guide to Autism: This resource provides parents, teachers and education professionals with a plan for teaching an autistic child in the general elementary classroom setting.
  • An Educator’s Guide to ASD (Level 1 Supports): This guide serves as a primer for general education teachers to support their students who have Level 1 ASD, as introduced in DSM-5 and defined as a mild form of autism that requires support.
  • Curriculum in a Box (teacher training and development): An autism resource for teachers that provides school districts, schools, and teachers with the foundational knowledge and effective classroom strategies they need to be better able to teach autistic students.
  • Kit for Kids Program: Our Kit for Kids program is designed to teach elementary and middle school students about their autistic peers.  The classroom set includes a poster, 20 student booklets, and other helpful resources.
  • Autism Tuned In: This online extension of the Kit for Kids program reframes the conversation about autism in a positive way to help promote inclusion.  The online e-learning space not only enhances the learning experience with color and movement, but is also more easily accessed and shared.
  • Understanding Asperger Syndrome: A Professor’s Guide: This video on Asperger Syndrome and Adulthood focuses on educating professors, teaching assistants, and others on what it means to be a college student on the spectrum and how they might best be able to help them succeed.
  • Finding Your Way: A College Guide for Students on the Spectrum:  This guide is intended to help autistic college students become better prepared for college life and academics.

Outreach Strategies

  • Review the resources and decide which ones you are interested in distributing.

    All of our resources are available for free download on our website here: https://researchautism.org/resources/. If you are interested in distributing physical copies of the resources, you can order them in our online store.

    Select the resources you feel most passionate about distributing and the resources that you know you’ll be able to distribute based on your area’s need. For example, if you live near elementary and secondary schools, it would be effective to focus on distributing school resources, such as the Kit for Kids program, the Educator Guides, and the Curriculum in a Box program.  If you have connections with local autism centers or support groups, you can focus on distributing parent and family resources like A Parent’s Guide to Research and the Siblings Guides.

  • Compile a list of organizations to contact.

    We recommend reaching out to organizations such as:

    • Elementary, middle, and high schools
      • Principals, guidance counselors, special education coordinators and teachers, parent resource centers, librarians
    • Colleges
      • Offices of Disability Supports; Autism Support Programs; Transition programs; student Autism Awareness and Acceptance clubs
    • Public libraries
    • Autism organizations, resource centers, and support groups
    • Police and fire departments (for the Safety Guide)
  • Order resources for distribution from OAR’s online store.

    Order 10 hard copies of each of the resources you are interested in distributing. If you need to place a larger order, email to discuss a custom quantity.

    Please note that materials will take 3-4 weeks to arrive, so make sure to plan in advance for this interval while communicating with interested parties and to share digital materials prior to their arrival.

  • Reach out to people online using outreach materials we’ve prepared for you.

    Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we are advising our Autism Materials Distributors to reach out through social media, email, and phone rather than in person, and direct contacts to the download links for our resources and our online store.

    Tip: Try to make a connection by speaking from your own personal experience. Explain why you are volunteering for OAR and why you believe in OAR’s resources.  If you can, talk about how OAR’s resources have helped you or people you know.

    In the next two sections, there are some template emails and social media posts that you can modify as needed and send out to gauge interest in our resources. Feel free to work from these templates or write your own!

  • Deliver the resources in person to any interested organizations.

    If you’d like, you can fill out the distribution cover letter below and deliver it with these resources as well.

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, make sure to coordinate with the organization to arrange a contact-less delivery. It can be helpful to exchange cell phone numbers with your point of contact to ensure that they know when the materials have arrived.

  • Follow up.

    If you haven’t heard back from an organization that you emailed or called, follow up with them after 1-2 weeks. It may also be effective to try contacting them another way – some organizations are more responsive by email than by phone, or vice versa.

    If you do not receive a response to your follow-up, you can assume that the organization is not interested.

  • Track your volunteer hours.

    1. Log into the OAR website, www.researchautism.org
    2. Click the “What would you like to do?” menu.
    3. Select My Projects > Timesheets > New Time Sheet.
    4. Enter Project, Week, and Hours. Both preparation and direct volunteer time are accepted as volunteer hours.
    5. Click “Save and Submit for Approval.”
    6. Email Margaret at to let her know you have submitted your timesheet so she can review and approve it.

     

Sample Emails

Below are some template emails that you can modify as needed and send out to gauge interest in our resources. Feel free to work from these templates or write your own!

Jump to:

 

Educational resources

Hello,

My name is [your name], and I am a volunteer with the Organization for Autism Research (OAR).  OAR is a nonprofit organization that develops high-quality, research-based resources to support members of the autism community, including teachers, parents, siblings, and autistic individuals.  I care deeply about this cause because [share your motivation for volunteering], and have found OAR’s resources helpful.

As April National Autism Awareness Month approaches, I wanted to reach out to let you know about OAR’s free resources for teachers, including the Kit for Kids peer education program and the Curriculum in a Box professional development program.  The Kit for Kids program aims to promote understanding and reduce instances of bullying by educating non-autistic students about autism, while the Curriculum in a Box program equips teachers with the tools they need to support autistic students in the classroom.

All of OAR’s resources are available for free download on OAR’s website or in hard copy in their online store.  For more information about OAR resources for educators specifically, you can visit this page.

Please let me know if you are interested or if you have placed an order online!  If I don’t hear back from you, I will follow up next week.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or reach out to OAR directly at (703)243-9762 or programs@researchautism.org.

Sincerely,

[Signature]

 

 

Family resources

Hello,

My name is [your name], and I am a volunteer with the Organization for Autism Research (OAR).  OAR is a nonprofit organization that develops high-quality, research-based resources to support members of the autism community, including teachers, parents, siblings, and autistic individuals.  I care deeply about this cause because [share your motivation for volunteering], and have found OAR’s resources helpful.

As April National Autism Awareness Month approaches, I wanted to reach out to let you know about OAR’s free resources for families, including A Parent’s Guide to Research, A Guide to Safety, and Navigating the Special Education System.  These guides contain a tremendous amount of helpful information for parents, and equip them with the tools and information they need to be confident and effective advocates for their children.

You can order OAR’s resources for free in their online store.  While you wait for the hard copy to arrive, you can also download all of OAR’s resources for free on their website!

Please let me know if you are interested or if you have placed an order online!  If I don’t hear back from you, I will follow up next week.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or reach out to OAR directly at (703)243-9762 or programs@researchautism.org.

Sincerely,

[Signature]

 

Safety resources

Hello,

My name is [your name], and I am a volunteer with the Organization for Autism Research (OAR).  OAR is a nonprofit organization that develops high-quality, research-based resources to support members of the autism community, including teachers, parents, siblings, and autistic individuals.  I care deeply about this cause because [share your motivation for volunteering], and have found OAR’s resources helpful.

As April National Autism Awareness Month approaches, I wanted to reach out to let you know about OAR’s Guide to Safety.  This guide educates parents about how to prevent and mitigate emergency events, safety threats that may affect their child in the future, and how to teach safety habits that will build a foundation for safety in adulthood.  The guide is also an excellent tool for developing first responder training programs.

A Guide to Safety is available for free download on OAR’s website or in hard copy in their online store.

Please let me know if you are interested or if you have placed an order online!  If I don’t hear back from you, I will follow up next week.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or reach out to OAR directly at (703)243-9762 or programs@researchautism.org.

Sincerely,

[Signature]

 

 

College resources

Hello,

My name is [your name], and I am a volunteer with the Organization for Autism Research (OAR).  OAR is a nonprofit organization that develops high-quality, research-based resources to support members of the autism community, including teachers, parents, siblings, and autistic individuals.  I care deeply about this cause because [share your motivation for volunteering], and have found OAR’s resources helpful because [if you can, share an example of how OAR’s resources have helped you or something that you appreciate about OAR’s resources].

As National Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month approaches in April, I wanted to reach out to let you know about OAR’s College Guide for Students on the Spectrum.  This guide addresses challenges that are both universal and unique to students on the college autism spectrum by providing information, guidance, and resources that address them. 

The college guide can be used to generate group discussion, or as a quick reference tool for students with autism. OAR provides a bulk set of paperback college guides at no cost for pilot autism programs.

If this interests you, please feel free to preview the guide on OAR’s website and order paperback copies through their online store.

Please let me know if you are interested or if you have placed an order online!  If I don’t hear back from you, I will follow up next week.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or reach out to OAR directly at (703)243-9762 or programs@researchautism.org.

Sincerely,

[Signature]

 

 

Educational resources – in-person distribution

Hello,

My name is [your name], and I am a volunteer with the Organization for Autism Research (OAR).  OAR is a nonprofit organization that develops high-quality, research-based resources to support members of the autism community, including teachers, parents, siblings, and autistic individuals.  I care deeply about this cause because [share your motivation for volunteering], and have found OAR’s resources helpful.

As April National Autism Awareness Month approaches, I wanted to reach out to let you know about OAR’s free resources for teachers, including the Kit for Kids peer education program and the Curriculum in a Box professional development program.  The Kit for Kids program aims to promote understanding and reduce instances of bullying by educating non-autistic students about autism, while the Curriculum in a Box program equips teachers with the tools they need to support autistic students in the classroom.

I am currently distributing these resources to schools across our community.  If you are interested in receiving any free resources, I can deliver [number] copies of the Kit for Kids and Curriculum in a Box kits to [name of the school] [timeframe, e.g., “any time next week”].

If you would like to access any of these resources online, all of OAR’s resources are available for free download on their website.  For more information about OAR resources for educators specifically, you can visit this page.

Please let me know if you are interested in receiving these resources!  If I don’t hear back from you, I will follow up next week.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or reach out to OAR directly at (703)243-9762 or programs@researchautism.org.

Sincerely,

[Signature]

 

 

Family resources – in-person distribution

Hello,

My name is [your name], and I am a volunteer with the Organization for Autism Research (OAR).  OAR is a nonprofit organization that develops high-quality, research-based resources to support members of the autism community, including teachers, parents, siblings, and autistic individuals.  I care deeply about this cause because [share your motivation for volunteering], and have found OAR’s resources helpful.

As April National Autism Awareness Month approaches, I wanted to reach out to let you know about OAR’s free resources for families, including A Parent’s Guide to Research, A Guide to Safety, and Navigating the Special Education System.  These guides contain a tremendous amount of helpful information for parents, and equip them with the tools and information they need to be confident and effective advocates for their children.

I am currently distributing these resources to organizations like yours in the community.  If you are interested in receiving any free resources, I can deliver [number] copies of each of these guides to [name of the organization] [timeframe, e.g., “any time next week”].

If you would like to access any of these resources, all of OAR’s resources are available for free download on their website.

Please let me know if you are interested in receiving these resources!  If I don’t hear back from you, I will follow up next week.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or reach out to OAR directly at (703)243-9762 or programs@researchautism.org.

Sincerely,

[Signature]

 

 

Distribution cover letter

Download as a word document

 

[Date]
[Address]

 

Dear [name],

 

It is my pleasure to deliver these resources to you from the Organization for Autism Research (OAR).  OAR is a nonprofit organization that develops high-quality, research-based resources to support members of the autism community, including teachers, parents, siblings, and autistic individuals.  OAR is founded and led by parents and grandparents of autistic children, and our mission is to apply research to the challenges of autism.  I hope you find these materials useful for your needs and those of the autistic person or people in your life.

As you read these resources, you may find references to other publications in our Life Journey Through Autism series.  I encourage you to explore these resources and hope that they allow you to more easily navigate and understand your areas of interest.  In addition, if you are satisfied with these materials and would like to order more, please access OAR’s website at www.researchautism.org.

After you have a chance to use these materials, please help OAR by providing your feedback on improving their resources.  Please e-mail any feedback to or call 703-243-3466.

Thank you for all you’re doing to share these resources in your community.

 

Sincerely,

[Signature]

Using Social Media

OAR social media accounts

@AutismOAR

Organization for Autism Research

@organizationforautismresearch

Whenever you make a post, make sure to tag us so we can easily share it and so other users can easily find our pages!

 

Hashtags
Adding hashtags to your social media posts will help them reach more people.  Here are some of the most popular autism-related hashtags:

  • #autism
  • #AutismAwareness
  • #AutismAcceptance
  • #AutismAdvocacy
  • #AutismCommunity
  • #asd
  • #AutismAdvocate
  • #AutismFamily
  • #AutismLife
  • #AutismLove
  • #AutismParents
  • #AutismSupport

 

Additionally, if you are posting about our educational resources, here are some education-related hashtags you can use:

  • #Teacher
  • #Teachers
  • #TeachersofInstagram
  • #TeacherTraining
  • #TeacherGift
  • #TeacherAppreciation
  • #SpEd
  • #SpEdTeacher

 

 

 

 

Comments and replies

If you get questions on social media that you’re not sure how to answer, feel free to tag us in the comments or send the post in question to .

 

Example posts:

I am a volunteer for the Organization for Autism Research, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting #autistic people and the autism community.  This cause is important to me because [share your motivation for volunteering], and I highly recommend OAR’s resources for anyone with similar experiences.  Download or order OAR’s free resources here: https://researchautism.org/resources/ #AutismAwareness #AutismAcceptance

 

OAR’s educator resources help teachers educate their students about #autism and support #autistic students in the classroom. View all of OAR’s resources here: https://researchautism.org/resources/  #AutismAwareness #AutismAcceptance

 

The Organization for Autism Research provides free guidebooks and training videos to help teachers and their #autistic students thrive in the gen ed. classroom. Download and share these free #autism resources with a fellow teacher: https://researchautism.org/resources/ #Autism #AutismAwareness #Teacher #SpecialEducation

 

OAR’s Kit for Kids Peer Education program is full of fun, engaging activities to help teach non-autistic kids about their #autistic peers. Learn more about the program here: https://researchautism.org/resources/kit-for-kids/

 

It is vital that non-autistic students learn to understand and support their #autistic peers.  [If you can, share your experience with autism awareness and acceptance].  OAR’s peer education and educator training materials empower teachers to spread #AutismAwareness and #AutismAcceptance in the general education classroom.  Download these resources for free here: https://researchautism.org/resources/kit-for-kids/

 

It can be difficult to find and interpret accurate scientific research that is relevant to your #autistic child and their needs.  OAR’s Parent’s Guide to Research equips parents with the knowledge and skills that they need to be able to meet this unique challenge.  Download this guide here: https://researchautism.org/resources/a-parents-guide-to-research/ #Autism #AutismAwareness #AutismAdvocate #AutismFamily

 

The process of getting an #autism diagnosis for your child can be confusing and overwhelming.  The Organization for Autism Research’s Parent’s Guide to Assessment helps parents better understand this process and use the information they gain to improve services and information for their children.  Download the full guide here: https://researchautism.org/resources/a-parents-guide-to-assessment/

 

Graphics

Below are the links to some graphics on canva.com, a free graphic design website.  You can use canva.com to edit and customize these graphics, or you can post them unedited.