HANS was founded in 2002 by a physician and nurse, Paul and Linda Lee, parents of a child severely affected with autism since birth. Their son, nicknamed Tiger, because he had growled from shortly after his birth, was diagnosed with classic autism a few months after his second birthday.
Despite over 40 years combined mainstream medical experience they discovered that they had not received any training that could have helped them to recognize their son’s autism.
As a result, HANS was founded to address this knowledge gap and materials were developed collaboratively with both medical and educational experts. HANS has focused on creating user-friendly materials, preferably with an
“at-a-glance”message, such as the CHAT Screening Poster.
The CHAT Screening Poster with its emphasis on pointing was developed collaboratively with Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, and is based on the validated CHAT Screening Tool. The poster provides Primary-Care providers with observable, objective data: i.e. the vital importance of pointing in toddlers as an indication of social reciprocity, a skill that can often be absent in autism.
The ability of an 18 month old to point becomes an easily observable, objective measure that a physician can use to assess a toddler. The absence of pointing in an 18 month old then raises a red flag that will alert the physician that this child may need further evaluation and referrals as necessary, to rule out autism, or other conditions.
The accompanying CHAT DVD Tutorial demonstrates for physicians how to perform the CHAT screening in an office setting and features Dr. Mary Lynne O’Brien, Developmental Pediatrician with over 25 years’ experience diagnosing autism.
The HANS Autism Physician Handbook was created to enable providers to recognize and hence diagnose autism more easily, thus leading to earlier interventions. It contains over 100 illustrations that depict the “behavioral symptoms” of autism, following along the DSM criteria. It also includes the topics of sensory issues, co-morbidities, the impact on the family, potential referrals, the importance of Early Intervention, how to manage these children in an office setting, and includes a Parent Resource Guide that can be copied and given to families.
Hard copies of these materials have been widely distributed throughout the US to around 30,000 physicians (at no charge to them). The materials are also available from the HANS website as printable downloads, again at no charge.
The HANS Autism Physician Handbook has received widespread international interest and to date has beentranslated into 17 languages worldwide, with many more in the process of being translated. Thousands of these completed translations have been distributed throughout individual countriesby government and non-government agencies. The materials are easily translated since pictures generally tell the same story across all borders.
HANS working collaboratively with Dr. David Willis, Developmental Pediatrician, Chairman of the Oregon Pediatric Society, created a tutorial DVD for primary care physicians: An Introduction to Autism to enable them to recognize and diagnose autism more easily and/or refer as needed.
HANS has created pictorial story books to help prepare children with autism for Going to see the Doctor and Going to have blood drawn. These booklets follow a social story format and break these procedures down into individual steps. They can also be accessed online in a read-along/ listen-to format.
About Linda Lee, RN, BSN, Executive Director/Co-Founder:
HANS, Help Autism Now Society
Linda is originally from N. Ireland and was recruited to work as an ER nurse in New York when she was 27. She has over 20
years nursing experience, her initial training in Belfast, N. Ireland. She has managed ERs in Manhattan, NY, and Boston. Since her son’s diagnosis she has devoted her time to working in the autism world.
As Co-Founder and Executive Director of HANS since 2002, Linda has worked closely with the board to determine the overall direction of the organization. The majority of the HANS’ board members also have children or siblings with special needs, thus enabling them to know personally how disability can so profoundly impact families. Board members are represented from the fields of medicine, education, law, banking, and business. (Sadly, Paul Lee, co-founder passed away in 2010)
Linda has worked collaboratively with experts in the educational and medical fields since the onset of HANS, and has
been responsible for all aspects of the creation, development, production and distribution of all HANS’ materials: creating books, videos, brochures, calendars, website, etc. Currently she is actively involved in the ever-growing translation process of the HANS materials with countries worldwide.
Member of Oregon Autism Commission: Sub-Committee for Autism Screening; for 4 years; charter to determine screening and identification policies for the State of Oregon. HANS collaboratively with the Oregon Autism Commission funded creation and distribution statewide of 21,000 bilingual Autism Screening Posters.
Currently Linda is working on creating the new Wandering Database with the Police Department in Belfast, Maine, with the goal of enabling officers to more easily and rapidly identify kids with autism, and others with cognitive issues such as Alzheimer’s, that can cause them to wander and become lost. This database will enable officers from their cruisers to identify someone by their photograph and will provide caregiver contact info, triggers and calmers. Linda, working with other community partners including schools, Special Education, and Early Intervention, nursing homes, and the local hospital, created the Wandering Brochure and Wandering Intake form for this project. Linda is actively involved with Chief Mc Fadden of the Belfast Police Department, Maine in sharing this information and materials with other communities who wish to create the same program.
Autism Presentations: Linda has been active for many years in giving autism presentations to physicians and other medical professionals, educators, parents, foster parents and civic groups. She is often asked to present on: The Early Recognition of Autism, The Impact of Autism on the Family, and How Professionals can better manage the Child and Family. She has presented locally and nationally at multiple universities and health centers, including: OHSU, Oregon Health Science University, Emmanuel Hospital, Willamette University, University of Washington; Seattle, Western Oregon University, Portland State University, Salem Hospital, Salem Keizer Elementary Schools and Willamette Educational Services; Early Intervention.
Linda has written and been awarded grants by: Spirit Mountain Community Fund, City of Salem, Pioneer Trust Bank, KeyBank, Autism Research Institute, Autism Society of Oregon, NW Autism Foundation.
Linda’s other roles include:
Works one-on-one with parents who have been referred by physicians and educators, to assist parents as they face challenging situations with their child with autism. Linda is often contacted now by parents from other countries for advice on their child.
Served as member of State appointed Children’s Advisory Group through Oregon Developmental Disabilities Services.
Member of Advisory Boards: Portland State University; Autism program. Advisory board of Autism Oregon and GEM, George E Miller Children’s Center, Salem, OR
Linda is the author of the book Autism: Living with My Brother Tiger, with foreword by Dr. Margaret Bauman, Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. The book is written through the eyes of Tiger’s older sibling as to how his life was affected by the birth of a brother with autism.
Over 2,000 of these books have been given to Salem / Keizer pre-school and elementary educational staffs, who work with children, or siblings of children with autism. Schools also use these books to teach understanding of differences to typical children. Click here for PDF.
Linda can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Phone: (207) 505-0307 (Eastern time zone)