Parents of kids with autism spectrum disorders are pressed enough without flying to conferences for info and support. Now they can go online instead. Web site, launched this spring, offers free video broadcasts and occasional live broadcasts on autism, Asperger's syndrome and related disorders.

THE BACKGROUND is funded by the nonprofit Dan Marino Foundation, which subsidizes several special-needs programs for children. The former Miami Dolphins quarterback's son Mike was diagnosed with autism as a toddler. Today, at 16, the student-athlete no longer displays any symptoms, says multimedia director Doug Bartel.

WHAT'S GOOD shows run smoothly, and the lectures are high-caliber. When my cable link went out, I tried dial-up and found that, while my connection wasn't fast enough for the video, I could still listen to the shows. Speakers include neurologists, psychologists, special ed teachers and individuals with autism.


I found myself getting fidgety, trying to watch streaming video on my laptop for an hour or more at a time. It'd be nice if the videos had counters on them, so you could, say, watch half today and pick up at the same point tomorrow.


Material on the site ranges from info on diagnosis and therapies to a student rock opera about autism. Coming soon, says Bartel, are a how-to video series (including potty training, discipline, diet and education plans), research updates and a guide for teachers of autistic students.