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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Minds on the spectrum: Q and A with the author of Aspergirls

Autism Girls on the Spectrum: Q&A with the Author of Aspergirls Is Asperger syndrome really less common in girls and women, or are females just better than males at masking autistic symptoms? 

Rudy Simone, a San Francisco singer, writer and stand-up comic, didn’t learn that she was on the autism spectrum until her mid-40s. Simone has Asperger syndrome — a high-functioning form of autism that leads to social problems but no intellectual disabilities — which, like all forms of autism, appear much more commonly in boys than in girls. Ten times more men are believed to reside on the spectrum than women. But some experts think the real prevalence of Asperger’s in girls may be much higher than believed, because girls tend to be far better than boys at concealing its symptoms, masking social problems and hiding the repetitive behaviors often associated with autism. So, many women go undiagnosed until middle age, along the way given other labels and therapies that do not address their real issues. 

To help make up for the lack of resources available to girls with Asperger’s and their families, Simone wrote Aspergirls: Empowering Females with Asperger Syndrome. 

Healthland spoke with her recently

Ms. Simone presented in the follow Montana cities in 2012. 


April 25: Billings
Apri 26: Helena
April 27: Missoula
April 28: Kalispell

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Los Angeles Times: Discovering Autism

The Los Angeles Times produced a series of articles called “Discovering Autism”. The series is in four parts and represents was researched for years. The articles are: Autism boom: an epidemic of disease or of discovery?Autism rates have increased twentyfold in a generation, stirring parents’ deepest fears and prompting a search for answers. But what if the upsurge is not what it appears to be? Warrior parents fare best in securing autism servicesPublic spending on children with autism in California varies greatly by race and class. A major reason: Not all families have the means to battle for coveted assistance. Families cling to hope of autism ‘recovery’An autism treatment called applied behavior analysis, orABA, has wide support and has grown into a profitable business. It has its limits, though, and there are gaps in the science. Autism hidden in plain sightAs more children are diagnosed with autism, researchers are trying to find unrecognized cases of the disorder in adults.

Click here to read more

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Top Ten Autism Research Achievements of 2011

The young but burgeoning field of autism research continued its exponential rate of discovery in 2011—fueled in no small part by the joint commitment by government health agencies and private organizations to support this vital work. Our Top Ten Autism Research Achievements of the year include game-changing discoveries in how frequently autism recurs in families and the extent to which “environmental,” or non-genetic, influences increase the risk of autism in those who are genetically predisposed to this developmental disorder. Autism research also went global as never before in 2011, beginning with a study in South Korea that used community screening to discover a far higher prevalence of autism—1 in 38 schoolchildren—than standard surveys of medical records would have revealed. Meanwhile, the increased pace of genetic discoveries moved autism research into the realm of translational research—with basic science advancing to a level that makes rational drug design possible. Research also delivered immediate benefits with evidence that adequate folic acid around the time of conception may lower autism risk and the validation of a method for screening at one year that may enable earlier intervention to improve children’s outcomes. As never before, our list of the year’s Top Ten Autism Research Achievements only scratches the surface of a tremendously exciting year of discovery. We hope you’ll enjoy. Table of Contents (Order does not imply relative importance.) It's More than Just Genes...Population Screening Reveals Dramatically Higher Autism Rates...Baby Siblings at Risk...De Novo Genetic Changes Provide New Clues for Autism...Different Forms of Autism Share Striking Brain Similarities...Prenatal Vitamins Before and After Conception May Decrease Autism Risk...Gene Knockout Mouse May Offer Leap Forward in Autism Animal Models...Tweaking Electrical Activity in the Brain Impairs & Restores Mouse Social Behaviors...More Evidence Linking Immune System to Some Forms of Autism...Earlier Autism Screening Shows Promise... Shows Promise...

 Click here for a PDF of the Top Ten Autism Research Achievements of 2011 

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THe A-Word

Meet Cheryl, Mike, and their son Jack Riley, who was diagnosed with autism on November 2, 2010. Here, they speak about accepting autism.This is part of a series of videos about this family and their autism journey.

 Click here to watch the video.

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Educators help teens with autism prepare for the future.

In order to help students inside and outside the classroom and to help them prepare for college, educators in the program rely on several techniques to help students socialize. The students meet with special services educators during the first and last periods of every school day, when they check-in with a teacher who also serves as a case manager. Often, the students rate their mornings, afternoons and weekends on a scale of “dreadful” to “perfect.” Previously, the special services department met with students in one classroom period, but the tutorial program added the end-of-the-day period in order to help students wrap up their days, Myerberg said. The checking-in and –out times are crucial because it can help teachers and the students prepare for the days ahead and help students process the events of a full school day, said Rebecca Garcia, special services teacher. Having two classroom periods has helped special services faculty expand skills sets students continually develop, Myerberg said. During the two classroom periods, teachers, a social worker, occupational therapist and speech pathologist work with students to expand their social and emotional skills, develop stress management techniques, increase self and environmental awareness, help students recognize their strengths and areas for improvement, and identify a social support system, according to the program’s curriculum. The special service educators also help the students work on time-management and organization, break down large assignments and plan for life beyond high school, Myerberg said.

Click here to read the full article.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

More Evidence that Melatonin Eases Autism-Associated Insomnia

When taken regularly, a nightly dose of melatonin helps children with autism and insomnia fall asleep, according to a pilot study published today. The 24 children, ages 3 to 9, who completed the 14-week treatment, differed somewhat in the dose they required. Yet in all cases, a nightly regimen of melatonin (1 – 6 mg) helped with sleep onset within a week’s time. The group data indicated that benefits generally lasted for the length of the study, with no significant side effects. Parents also reported improvements in their children’s daytime behavior and reductions in their own stress levels.

Click here to read more.

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Autism Safety Project

Safety is a critical part of all of our lives, whether we are at home or out in the community, alone or with loved ones. Being aware of our surroundings and taking precautions to stay safe is even more important for individuals with autism and their families. The Autism Safety Project is designed to provide families affected by autism with tips, information, expert advice and resources so that everyone in our community can stay out of harm's way. The safety portal is broken down into sections to provide comprehensive and effective information regarding safety in all areas of our lives: Safety in the CommunitySafety in the HomeSexual AbuseInformation for First RespondersSafety

Resources Link here:

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Differentiating Between Real Science and Fake Science

Pseudosciences are usually pretty easily identified by their emphasis on confirmation over refutation, on physically impossible claims, and on terms charged with emotion or false "sciencey-ness," which is kind of like "truthiness" minus Stephen Colbert. Sometimes, what peddlers of pseudoscience say may have a kernel of real truth that makes it seem plausible. But even that kernel is typically at most a half truth, and often, it's that other half they're leaving out that makes what they're selling pointless and ineffectual. If we could hand out cheat sheets for people of sound mind to use when considering a product, book, therapy, or remedy, the following would constitute the top-10 questions you should always ask yourself -- and answer -- before shelling out the benjamins for anything, whether it's anti-aging cream, a diet fad program, books purporting to tell you secrets your doctor won't, or jewelry items containing magnets:

 Click here to read more.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Autism researchers make exciting strides

Teaching young children with autism to imitate others may improve a broader range of social skills, according to a new study by a Michigan State University scholar. The findings come at a pivotal time in autism research. In the past several years, researchers have begun to detect behaviors and symptoms of autism that could make earlier diagnosis and even intervention like this possible, said Brooke Ingersoll, MSU assistant professor of psychology. “It’s pretty exciting,” Ingersoll said. “I think we, as a field, are getting a much better idea of what autism looks like in infants and toddlers than we did even five years ago.” In the current study, Ingersoll found that toddlers and preschoolers with autism who were taught imitation skills made more attempts to draw the examiner’s attention to an object through gestures and eye contact, a key area of deficit in autism.

 Link to full article.

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Research identifies key autism intervention window

The behaviour of pre-school children with autism improves the most in the first six months of early intervention, research at RMIT University has shown. Dr Helen Chau investigated early intervention in pre-school children with autism or developmental delay as part of her PhD research at RMIT, comparing the effectiveness of intensive, one-on-one therapy sessions with more traditional centre-based early intervention approaches. Examining the impact of generic centre-based programs, autism-specific centre-based programs and home-based applied behaviour analysis (ABA) programs, Dr Chau found most behaviour improvement occurred in the first six months, irrespective of the early intervention approach taken. “Children who attended either home-based or centre-based early intervention for six months demonstrated a larger reduction of autism-related behaviours than in the following six months,” she said. “The different approaches both had benefits - centre-based programs tended to improve social competence, while home-based programs improved self-help skills. “While more hours of intervention per week was generally associated with more effective developmental outcomes, it was not clear from my research that the home-based programs led to substantially better outcomes for children with autism, compared with centre-based intervention.”

 Click here to read the full story.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Autism Speaks Releases ATN Visual Supports Guide

Autism Speaks Releases ATN Visual Supports Guide Pictures, photographs and other visual supports can greatly improve communication for children, adolescents and adults who struggle with understanding or using language. Today, Autism Speaks is pleased to introduce Visual Supports and Autism Spectrum Disorders, a guide for parents, teachers and medical professionals. This easy-to-use guide is for you if… √ You are a parent, caregiver or professional who is looking for visual tools to help someone with autism communicate.√ You have heard that visual supports may help your child, student or patient and want to know more about them. The guide is particularly helpful for those who have autism and … √ are non-verbal,√ have difficulty understanding social cues,√ have trouble following spoken instructions, or√ are anxious or act out when presented with surprising or unfamiliar situations.

See more here:

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Unraveling an epidemic

Autism rates have increased twentyfold in a generation, stirring parents' deepest fears and prompting a search for answers. But what if the upsurge is not what it appears to be?

 Click here to read the article.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Living Life With Autism II: Perspectives

“Today people approach autism like some new thing that’s totally unprecedented that we can get rid of. It’s not new or novel, nor a public health epidemic. We are focusing too much on causation and cure. Of the $314,000,000 spent on autism research in the country, less than 1% goes to researching needs of autistic adults. We as a community have a problem with the focus being on the cure. The solutions offered are not in line with what we need and want."

 Click here to read more.

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Autism May Involve Disordered White Matter in The Brain

It's still unclear what's different in the brains of people with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), but evidence from genetic and cell studies points to abnormalities in how brain cells (neurons) connect to each other. A study at Children's Hospital Boston now provides visual evidence associating autism with a disorganized structure of brain connections, as well as defects in myelin -- the fatty, insulating coating that helps nerve fibers conduct signals and that makes up the brain's white matter. Researchers led by Mustafa Sahin, MD, PhD, of the Department of Neurology, Simon Warfield, PhD, director of the Computational Radiology Laboratory, and first author Jurriaan Peters, MD, of both departments at Children's, used advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to image the brains of 40 patients (infants to age 25) with tuberous sclerosis complex and 29 age-matched, healthy controls. Tuberous sclerosis is a rare genetic condition often associated with cognitive and behavioral deficits, including ASDs about 50 percent of the time. "Patients with tuberous sclerosis can be diagnosed at birth or potentially before birth, because of cardiac tumors that are visible on ultrasound, giving us the opportunity to understand the circuitry of the brain at an early age," explains Sahin. "Our ultimate goal is to use imaging in infancy to find which tuberous sclerosis patients are at high risk for autism so we can intervene early. This may have implications for autism in patients without tuberous sclerosis as well." The team used a relatively new MRI technique called Diffusion Tensor Imaging to trace the pathways of nerve fibers by measuring the diffusion of water in the brain. In the January issue of the journal Academic Radiology, they report findings in the corpus callosum, the brain's largest white-matter structure that acts as a highway transferring signals between the left and right cerebral hemispheres. Of the 40 patients with tuberous sclerosis, 24 had clinically significant developmental delays or intellectual disability, and 12 had ASDs. ASDs were diagnosed clinically by a pediatric neurologist, and, in most cases, by the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS).

See more here:

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Looking Normal Is Not Functioning

Link

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Prozac May Lessen Autism Symptom in Adults

The antidepressant Prozac appears to be useful for treating a defining symptom of autism spectrum disorder -- repetitive, compulsive behavior. In a newly published study involving autistic adults, half of those who took Prozac (fluoxetine) experienced meaningful declines in repetitive behaviors. Earlier studies by the same researchers showed the antidepressant to be effective for reducing repetitive behaviors in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), although a study from another research team failed to show an effect with the antidepressant Celexa (citalopram)

.Click here to read more.

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Antipsychotics Linked To Increased Diabetes Risk

Children taking medication commonly prescribed to treat symptoms of autism and other developmental disabilities may be at increased risk for diabetes, according to a new study. Researchers found that kids and teens taking so-called second-generation antipsychotics like Risperdal, Abilify and Seroquel were four times more likely to develop diabetes than those who were not taking the drugs. And the condition came on fast, with an increased rate of occurrence appearing within one year of a child starting the drugs.
 Click here to read more.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Do Parents of Children With Autism File More Lawsuits?








As the number of children diagnosed with autism has increased over the last few years, new research finds these students are disproportionately involved in lawsuits about whether they are getting a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive setting as required by federal law.


A new study by Lehigh University education and law professor Perry A. Zirkel, recently published in the Journal of Special Education Leadership explores this issue.


Professor Zirkel found that children with autism were involved in nearly a third of a comprehensive sample of published court decisions concerning the basic tenets of federal special education law. He also found that when comparing this litigation percentage with the percentage of students with autism from 1993 to 2006, the ratio was approximately 10 to 1. In other words, Zirkel writes, "special education court cases are over 10 times more likely to concern a child with autism than the proportion of these children in the special education population."


Does that mean children with autism are more often being denied services they're entitled to compared with other children with disabilities? Not necessarily, though it's hard to say for sure.
Click here to read more, the study is attached.

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Montana CARD Autism Conference Educates Parents, Professionals

MISSOULA, Mont. -- The Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD), held a conference in Missoula, Saturday. The goal of the conference was to educate people about autism and programs that can help people, especially children, recover from the disorder. The focus on Applied Behavior Analysis, encourages good behavior and discourages bad behavior. Event organizers say the hope attendees understand the misconceptions of the behavior and learn how to treat autism. "We are actually doing a conference for parents, and professionals and students on effective treatment for individuals with autism. Specifically what we're doing is training them on applied behavior analysis or ABA, which is one of the most popular and effective interventions for children with autism," said Autism Expert, Sienna Greener-Wooten. Source

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The brilliance beneath her monster

Rudy's discovery began when she was researching the habits of her partner at the time who had been misdiagnosed with ADHD. After finishing her research, she wrote her first book 22 things a woman must know if she loves a man with Asperger's. "I wrote it in about three days," she reveals with a laugh. "I had a lot to get off my chest." The book was instantly picked up, became a best seller and is being translated into several languages. Whilst researching her second book, Asperger's on the job, Rudy began to see parallels between the responses her interviewees were providing and her own life.

Click here to read more.

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Researchers find troubling link between low birth weight and autism

Low birth weight babies, infants born weighing between one and five pounds, can face a host of long-term health and developmental issues, including illness, infection and, according to a study from the School of Nursing, an increased risk for autism.

Click here to read more.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Finding Not Even Wrongland

Let me offer you this quote from Collins' book: "Autists are the ultimate square pegs, and the problem with pounding a square peg into a round hole is not that the hammering is hard work. It's that you're destroying the peg."This is where I see my place in the autism community. I'm not running for office. I'm not pushing legislation. I don't fundraise for causes. I'm not forming organizations and I'm not fighting legal battles. All those things are necessary and important, but that's not what *I* do. I talk. I talk and I write and I try to win people over with honey and words.I'm trying to help find more square holes and I am trying to get to the round holes and make them at least trapezoidal before my kids and your kids get hammered into them. I want to spread awareness of both autistic kids and autistic adults. I want this to be a world where it is okay to be a square peg without having to pretend to be round.I don't want to change Jack. I want to change the world.

 Click here to read the full story.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Smurks iPad App

Give your iPhone and iPad some emotion What started as a social networking app has become a powerful new tool to help kids and adults with Autistic Spectrum Disorders and other special needs. The animated face of Smurks® works by being the first full graphic index of human emotions. So it lets you connect with unprecedented range and sensitivity, whether in a text or email, or across the more serious emotional divide caused by autism, stroke or psychological withdrawal. If you are a therapist, educator, parent or caregiver — or simply someone who loves to share their feelings with friends — we invite you to download Smurks from the App Store onto your favorite device and email us. your stories of how Smurks wurks for you.
 Link

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Scientists Increasingly Link Vehicle Exhaust With Brain-Cell Damage,Higher Rates of Autism .

Congested cities are fast becoming test tubes for scientists studying the impact of traffic fumes on the brain. As roadways choke on traffic, researchers suspect that the tailpipe exhaust from cars and trucks—especially tiny carbon particles already implicated in heart disease, cancer and respiratory ailments—may also injure brain cells and synapses key to learning and memory. Columbia University's Frederica Perera discusses the link between exposure to pollutants in the womb and mental impacts in children. Plus, how New York City - one of the most congested cities in the U.S. - is improving traffic flow. New public-health studies and laboratory experiments suggest that, at every stage of life, traffic fumes exact a measurable toll on mental capacity, intelligence and emotional stability. "There are more and more scientists trying to find whether and why exposure to traffic exhaust can damage the human brain," says medical epidemiologist Jiu-Chiuan Chen at the University of Southern California who is analyzing the effects of traffic pollution on the brain health of 7,500 women in 22 states. "The human data are very new." So far, the evidence is largely circumstantial but worrisome, researchers say. And no one is certain yet of the consequences for brain biology or behavior. "There is real cause for concern," says neurochemist Annette Kirshner at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at Research Triangle Park in North Carolina. "But we ought to proceed with caution."

 Click here to read the full article.

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Finding Balance - Obesity and Children with Special Needs. A Report

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children with disabilities are 38% more likely to be obese than their counterparts. “As a community, we must recognize the special dangers obesity presents to our children,” says Sheryl Young, CEO, AbilityPath.org, an online resource and social community for parents and professionals serving the needs of adults and children with disabilities and the organization sponsoring this report. “This is an epidemic in our own homes and we can and must find solutions.”
See attached PDF: 

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Autism's early child

Michael Edge was one of the first children to be diagnosed as autistic, at a time when few in Britain had heard of the disorder. His mother was told to lock him away in an institution. Christopher Stevens, whose own son is autistic, traces Michael's remarkable and poignant life.
 Click here to read the full story.

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Sibling Risk of Autism

Until recently, the risk of recurrence of ASD was estimated to be between 3% and 10% for children with a sibling diagnosed with any type of autism. Most of these studies were small and affected by selection bias or reporting limitations. A new longitudinal study published by Pediatrics is the largest study of this type to date and used a long follow-up period and prospective investigation techniques to mitigate these limitations. For the study, the investigators enrolled 664 infants who had at least one sibling diagnosed with ASD. Six percent of the infants had more than one affected sibling. Eighty-four percent of the siblings were male. The average age of the infants at the time of enrollment was 8 months. Slightly more than half (56%) the infants were male and 40% of the infants were third-born or later in their respective families. The study reported that nearly 19% of infants with a sibling with ASD will also be diagnosed with ASD by age 36 months, an estimate that is much higher than previously believed. Male infants were nearly 3 times as likely to develop ASD as females. Infants with multiple affected siblings were more than twice as likely to develop ASD compared to those with only one affected sibling. The risks were not affected by age at enrollment, gender or functioning level of the older sibling, or other demographic factors. The authors conclude that these higher-than-expected rates of recurrence have implications for infant screening and genetic counseling. Pediatricians, the authors assert, should be more vigilant about screening for ASD in children with affected older siblings, and parents with children already diagnosed with ASD should be advised of the risk of recurrence if planning on having more children. However, a clear gene-based link to autism is likely a long way from being identified.
 Source

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Free Webinar - iPad Extras: Mounts, Switches and Other Peripherals

Wondering what mounts, switches, and other peripherals to get for your iPads? Jennifer was too. She'll share with you what she bought, what she didn't, what she liked, and what she's learned through this process. There will be an interactive discussion section; please share peripherals you have or have heard about, so we can all learn from each other. Learning Objectives: Gain an understanding of peripherals available for the iPad Learn the pros and cons and the varied uses of these peripherals Understand different considerations to make informed purchasing decisions

You can find the archived webinar on this page. 

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The Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Toddlers: A PopulationStudy of 2-Year-Old Swedish Children.

Abstract Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is more common than previously believed. ASD is increasingly diagnosed at very young ages. We report estimated ASD prevalence rates from a population study of 2-year-old children conducted in 2010 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Screening for ASD had been introduced at all child health centers at child age 21/2 years. All children with suspected ASD were referred for evaluation to one center, serving the whole city of Gothenburg. The prevalence for all 2-year-olds referred in 2010 and diagnosed with ASD was 0.80%. Corresponding rates for 2-year-olds referred to the center in 2000 and 2005 (when no population screening occurred) were 0.18 and 0.04%. Results suggest that early screening contributes to a large increase in diagnosed ASD cases.
 Source

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Scientists and autism: When geeks meet

Psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen thinks scientists and engineers could be more likely to have a child with autism. Some researchers say the proof isn't there. In the opening scene of The Social Network, Jesse Eisenberg portrays a cold Mark Zuckerberg getting dumped by his girlfriend, who is exasperated by the future Facebook founder's socially oblivious and obsessive personality. Eisenberg's Zuckerberg is the stereotypical Silicon Valley geek — brilliant with technology, pathologically bereft of social graces. Or, in the parlance of the Valley: 'on the spectrum'. Few scientists think that the leaders of the tech world actually have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which can range from the profound social, language and behavioural problems that are characteristic of autistic disorder, to the milder Asperger's syndrome. But according to an idea that is creeping into the popular psyche, they and many others in professions such as science and engineering may display some of the characteristics of autism, and have an increased risk of having children with the full-blown disorder.

 Click here to read more.

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Monday, October 31, 2011

Handbook Offers College Advice For Students With Autism

A new guide released this week offers a step-by-step look at college life for those with autism — offering tips on everything from classroom accommodations to dealing with roommates — and it’s written by adults with the developmental disorder. At over 100 pages, the handbook produced by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network is said to be the first-of-its-kind to be geared toward individuals with autism rather than parents or professionals. It’s punctuated by first person accounts and frank talk, offering young people with autism a look at the changes they can expect when transitioning to college both socially and academically. The guide also touches on topics like self-advocacy, independent living and basics like maintaining good eating and sleeping habits.

 Click here to read more and download the guide.

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Friday, October 28, 2011

A Parent's Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder

This guide is intended to help parents understand what autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is, recognize common signs and symptoms, and find the resources they need. It’s important to remember that help is available.
 Click here to download the free guide.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

An Alien in the Playground

Josh never understood the games other children played. They didn’t make sense to him. He preferred walking all alone following the lines designed on playgrounds. He started to be seen as a ‘weird boy’ and became quickly a target for school bullies. Year after year while he was increasingly overwhelmed by school rules and sensory overload, the bullying got worse and school became like a living nightmare or in the Josh’s words ‘a full-blown phobia’. With Josh's testimony we gain a precious insight into the world of Asperger’s syndrome discovering how some pupils can struggle at school and consequently suffer from profound emotional distress.

 Click here to watch the film. 

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Autistic children have distinct facial features, study suggests

We may be a step closer in understanding what causes autism, say University of Missouri researchers after finding differences between the facial characteristics of children who have autism and those who don’t. Kristina Aldridge, lead author and assistant professor of anatomy at the University of Missouri, began looking at facial characteristics of autistic children after another researcher, Judith Miles, professor emerita in the School of Medicine and the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, mentioned, “There is just something about their faces. They arebeautiful, but there is just something about them.” “Children with other disorders such as Down syndrome and fetal alcohol syndrome have very distinct facial features. Autism is much less striking,” she says. “You can’t pick them out in a crowd of kids, but you can pick them out mathematically.”

 Click here to read more.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Smartphones, iPads and Tablet PCs as Cognitive-Behavioral Aids in Autism

November 8, 1022 1:30 Description: Smartphones, PDAs, iPads, and tablet computers can be powerful tools for managing cognitive-behavioral challenges experienced by people with autism. They can be easily customized to support just-in-time activity cueing, task-sequencing, wayfinding, communication assistance and behavioral coaching, among other uses. This presentation examines consumer platforms, applications and strategies for implementing individualized cognitive-behavioral suites, providing real life case studies, practical examples and outcome measures to assure success. .

More here:

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Talking About Sex With Young Adults With Autism

The morning of May 22, 2006, I set my alarm for 4 a.m. I wanted to be the first one to wish Matthew a happy birthday. He was in a college program at Camphill Soltane near Philadelphia. Matthew answered the house telephone on the first ring.He knew I would call.“Matthew!” I said. “You’re 20! Can you believe it?”“Yes,” he responded flatly. “But Mom? I have something very important to ask you. I’ve been thinking about Amy. Can we go see her?”

 Click here to read more.

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Dolphin Therapy -- Psycho-Babble Meets Bad Science

The astronomer Carl Sagan wrote, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." Prager's claims about dolphin magic are certainly extraordinary, but does the actual evidence rise to an equally extraordinary level?

 Click here to read the full article.

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Preemies At Greater Risk For Autism, Study Finds

Autism is five times more common in children born at low birthweight, researchers said Monday, a finding that could help explain increased rates of the developmental disorder. In a study of over 600 children born in New Jersey between 1984 and 1987 who weighed less than 2,000 grams — or about 4 pounds, 6 ounces — researchers found an autism occurrence rate of 5 percent. That’s significantly higher than the 1 percent prevalence rate that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports for all children. While previous studies have suggested that low birthweight children were flagged more often in autism screenings, the study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics is the first to assess whether or not such children are actually diagnosed at higher rates.

 Click here to read more.

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Drug used for heart, blood-pressure patients might help in autism

A study at the University of Missouri shows a drug used to treat high blood pressure, control heart rate and to reduce test anxiety might improve language and social skills in patients with autism. Researchers say propanolol might also reduce difficulty with repetitive behaviors and eye contact … it might just come down to reducing stress, it might have to do with navigating the hard-wired functions in the brain. “We can clearly say [the drug] has the potential to benefit language and may help people with autism fucntion appropriately in social situations…” said David Beversdorf, associate professor and chair at the Thomspon Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. “Enhancing both language and social function is significant because those are two fo the three main features of autism. Clinical trials will assess the drug’s effect on all three features, including repetitive behavior.”
 Click here to read the full article.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Autism Caused By Depression of Mothers?

There’s a new theory for the autism epidemic that hearkens back to the “refrigerator mother” theory that autism is caused by cold, withholding mothers. The Albany Times Union reports that Dr. Gabor Mate believes that parental stress, especially the mother’s, causes developmental disabilities. The author of four books that explore the connection of mind, body and stress, Mate asserts that, " The electrical circuitry of a child’s brain is programmed by the mother’s emotional state."Research does, in fact suggest that childhood trauma influences a child’s developmental success, affecting both their mental and physical outcomes well into adulthood. Careful not to fault individual parenting, Mate points to the modern society’s family structure of overworked parents and overbooked kids as an indication that the “it takes a village to raise a child” model is extinct, leaving troubled kids who are then medicated when they have problems. The doctor goes on to offer tips about effective parenting, like “Don’t parent when you are feeling hostile. Wait for your heart to open up” and “Catch your children ‘being good’ and give them positive attention.” It’s a bit disingenuous to not blame poor parenting, then proceed to give parenting tips that are less than a revelation.Dr. Mate concedes that he has no proof for his theory of rising autism (ADD and obesity as well), “but nothing else makes sense”.With all due respect, many other things make sense as factors in the rise of autism — environment toxins triggering genetic propensities for instance. I guess in this case, a mother’s depression would count as an environmental toxin, but it’s hard to swallow the notion that alone causes autism. I know plenty of parents, myself included, who have sacrificed a great deal to be present for our children and the kids were still on the spectrum. Were we too stressed out, too depressed in the midst of our efforts? Geez, we’re all just doing the best we can. Dr. Mate could make his useful points without going overboard. Parents are going to end up depressed because they’re depressed, thinking they are putting their child at risk for autism. Dr. Mate could well end up inducing the stress he claims to want to alleviate.

 Source

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

IQ Testing Underestimates Autism Spectrum Intelligence

A new study finds that traditional intelligence testing may be underestimating the capabilities of individuals displaying an autismspectrum disorder. Traditionally, autism spectrum disorders, including Asperger’s syndrome, have generally been associated with uneven intellectual profiles and impairment. However, a new study of Asperger individuals published in the online journal PLoS ONE, suggests specialized testing are needed for this special population. Researchers discovered Asperger’s individuals’ scores are much higher when they are evaluated by a test called Raven’s Progressive Matrices, which encompasses reasoning, novel problem-solving abilities, and high-level abstraction. By comparison, scores for non-Asperger’s individuals are much more consistent across different tests. Interestingly, Asperger participants’ performance on Raven’s Matrices was associated with their strongest peaks of performance on the traditional Wechsler.

 Click here to read the full article

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Friday, September 30, 2011

Adaptive First Eucharist Preparation Kit

Click here for more information. “The Adaptive First Eucharist Kit is a wonderful tool that fits well with the Flutie Foundation’s mission to improve the quality of life for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. It encourages attendance and participation in church, which is important to so many families affected by autism. Children with autism are much more successful when they have the proper support and tools in an educational setting. The kit is a valuable tool that provides a child with autism an opportunity for a successful First Holy Communion.” —Lisa Borges, Executive director, The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism, Inc

Link:

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dressing autism in a banana suit does no one any favors

Stafford County teen Bryan Thompson — Colonial Forge High School’s very own “Banana Man” — is free. The 14-year-old gained infamy after school officials suspended him for 10 days forrunning around the field at halftime during a school football game while wearing a banana suit. The principal recommended that Thompson be expelled. Thompson returned to school Sept. 26 after his 10-day suspension was shortened to five days. Banana Man’s 15 minutes, it would seem, are up. The question is: How much damage did those 15 minutes cause? “Autistic ‘banana man’ becomes cause célèbre” screams one blogger’s headline. “Autistic student cuffed & suspended for harmless ‘banana man’ stunt” shouts another. Business Insider proclaimed “Autistic high schooler suspended 10 days for ‘Banana Man’ halftime stunt.” Thompson’s behavior might have been harmless, but the coverage has been another story, because it unnecessarily evoked autism for a stunt that any class clown could have pulled. Did the family play the autism card to try to get school officials to lighten his punishment? Did the media trumpet that aspect of Thompson to make him a more sympathetic character or to call Colonial Forge school officials on what many thought was a gross overreaction to a benign disruption? It doesn’t really matter now. What matters is that at a time when advocates for children with autism are fighting for greater resources and trying to educate the public about a condition that affects 1 in every 110 children (1 in 70 boys), the headlines are pointing the public toward misleading perceptions of what autism really is. The autism spectrum is vast, but public perception of children with autism should not be of a boy gleefully traipsing around a football field in a banana suit. If anything, the more accurate perception should be of a child sitting in a cafeteria, alone and overwhelmed, wanting desperately to connect to one of the groups of friends around him, but almost always on the social outskirts.

 Click here to read the full article.

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Infants at risk for autism could benefit from motor training

In a new study published in the journal Developmental Science, researchers from Vanderbilt University and the Kennedy Krieger Institute found that early motor experiences can shape infants’ preferences for objects and faces. The study findings demonstrate that providing infants with “sticky mittens” to manipulate toys increases their subsequent interest in faces, suggesting advanced social development. This study supports a growing body of evidence that early motor development and self-produced motor experiences contribute to infants’ understanding of the social world around them. Conversely, this implies that when motor skills are delayed or impaired – as in autism – future social interactions and development could be negatively impacted.

 Click here to read more.

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Teaching Teachers about Autism

This morning, I read an article online at Education Week titled, "Where Are the Autism Teaching Competencies?" (1) This commentary calls attention to the fact that only a few states have set forth autism competencies for teachers. What is most interesting is that a few states, both Virginia and California, have successfully this accomplished this task. Yet the majority of states haven't figured create or adapt currently existing autism teaching competencies. Why are Competencies Important?A parent or non-teacher may ask, "What does it specifically mean to me that my state has no autism teaching competencies? Why is this so important?" Simply put, it is important for schools to understand and utilize best practices when teaching children with autism. With no specific state autism teaching competencies, schools and teachers are left on their own to decide what is best practice and evidence based - if they are even looking at this issue at all.

 Click here to read the full story.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

D҄uck Duck Goose' Apps for Children with Autism

Alvin and Bridget rushed over to their daily schedules early one morning. Bridget liked schedules without surprises. She had just finished circle time and was ready to begin language arts. Unlike Alvin, Bridget did not speak much. Now Alvin spoke some words but he was mostly echo-laic. Neither child had a very long attention span. Over time, they were gradually staying on tasks longer. During the last few weeks, the teacher had been using the iPad to help draw out the children’s interests. At the beginning of the school year, Bridget and Alvin had played on the iPad with two Apps called Miss Spider’s Tea Party and the Monster at the End of the Book (www.callaway.com). The stories’ interactions, simplicity of words and eye catching art kept their attention. However, like any young child, Alvin and Bridget needed lots of different activities to keep their interests perked. So over one weekend, the teacher explored some new websites suggested by her daughter who was a speech pathologist. The teacher discovered www.duckduckgoosedesigns.com.

 Click here to read more.

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Learning to understand non-genius autistic people

And I am quite familiar with autism, as my youngest brother, Jonah, is on the autistic spectrum. There was a point in my life when I had to explain what autism was nearly every time I spoke about him. But I rarely have to do that anymore. As soon as I mention his diagnosis, acquaintances sigh with recognition, as if they know what that means. And, no doubt, they know more than they once did: autism awareness has never been higher, with one in 110 children born now diagnosed. But I wish I were still given the chance to explain. Too frequently, they follow-up with statements about his intellectual gifts — “Oh, he must be really smart then.” — a sign of the influence of the stories about those with high-functioning autism. I usually laugh, and respond, “ah, yes, he is smart.” But I don’t mean ‘smart’ in any way that society currently values. At nearly 16-years old, Jonah can’t count change or multiply. He has favorite books, but he flips through them too frantically to actually absorb the text. I swell with triumph whenever we have a conversation that lasts longer than 30 seconds, an actual exchange rather than repetitions of his favorite topics, which include pasta shapes, wheeled vehicles, and what we’re having for dinner that night. What I see as his ‘smartness’ is his view of the world, little influenced by the social and societal pressures that feed my own insecurities.

 Click here to read the full article.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Religious Belief Systems of Persons with High Functioning Autism




Abstract

The cognitive science of religion is a new field which explains religious belief as emerging from normal cognitive processes such as inferring others' mental states, agency detection and imposing patterns on noise. This paper investigates the proposal that individual differences in belief will reflect cognitive processing styles, with high functioning autism being an extreme style that will predispose towards nonbelief (atheism and agnosticism). This view was supported by content analysis of discussion forums about religion on an autism website (covering 192 unique posters), and by a survey that included 61 persons with HFA. Persons with autistic spectrum disorder were much more likely than those in our neurotypical comparison group to identify as atheist or agnostic, and, if religious, were more likely to construct their own religious belief system. Nonbelief was also higher in those who were attracted to systemizing activities, as measured by the Systemizing Quotient.



Click here to read the article.

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Lessons from the MMR scare


Please join BMJ Editor Fiona Godlee for a discussion of the stunning investigation she published earlier this year that revealed the MMR scare was based not on bad science but on deliberate fraud. The three-part series was produced by journalist Brian Deer, who spent seven years investigating Andrew Wakefields infamous study linking the MMR vaccine with autism, discovering Wakefield had been paid by a lawyer to influence his results and had blatantly manipulated the study data.

In an editorial accompanying Deerӳ report, Godlee and colleagues noted, Science is based on trust. Without trust, research cannot function and evidence based medicine becomes a folly. Journal editors, peer reviewers, readers, and critics have all based their responses to Wakefield's small case series on the assumption that the facts had at least been honestly documented. Such a breach of trust is deeply shocking. And even though almost certainly rare on this scale, it raises important questions about how this could happen, what could have been done to uncover it earlier, what further inquiry is now needed, and what can be done to prevent something like this happening again.Ԡ



Click here to watch the video.

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Films About Autism

Autism Speaks provides a short list of films about or related to autism.

 Link

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Researchers find no link between income, autism

A new study found no association between how much Utah families earn and their children’s risk of being diagnosed with intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorders. That finding, published Thursday in the journal Autism Research, contradicts earlier studies that suggested links between autism and higher income, and between intellectual disabilities and lower income. Judith Pinborough-Zimmerman, assistant research professor at the University of Utah Department of Psychiatry, and colleagues used census data to analyze 26,108 8-year-olds born in Salt Lake, Davis and Utah counties in 1994. They examined the gender and ethnicity of the children, the age and education levels of the parents, and how household income changed over eight years, comparing families who had a child with autism or an intellectual disability to the general population. They found “no clear association” between income and the risk for autism or intellectual disabilities. They looked at a range of demographic factors and found: • Children with ASD but not intellectual disabilities were significantly more likely to be male and to have mothers of white, non-Hispanic ethnicity. • Children with both ASD and intellectual disabilities also were more likely to be male, but were more likely to have mothers older than 34 years of age.

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Where Are the Autism Teaching Competencies?

States are no strangers to classroom standards. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, signed into law in 2002, the federal government required states to create teacher standards and place highly qualified teachers in every classroom. Nearly a decade later, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers spearheaded the initiative to create common-core standards to “allow teachers to be better equipped to know exactly what they need to help students learn and establish individualized benchmarks for them.”

Today, all but four states have adopted the common standards to improve math and English/language arts skills. We like both initiatives. Setting the bar high is a good thing for all involved. We are, however, disappointed to see so few standards set for teaching competencies for those working in special education classrooms, and, more specifically, for those teaching children on the autism spectrum.

 In 2010, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that an average of one in 110 children in the United States has an autism spectrum disorder. According to the group Autism Speaks, government figures also estimate autism diagnoses are increasing 10 percent to 17 percent annually. Even with these alarming numbers, only a handful of states have adopted autism competencies that provide training for educators. We believe the need for standardized competencies is urgent. Here’s why:

 Click here to read the story.

 (NOTE: Although the article raises some very good points, note that because of the author's affiliation this could be considered an advertorial.)

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Autistic and Seeking a Place in an Adult World

For weeks, Justin Canha, a high school student with autism, a love of cartoons and a gift for drawing, had rehearsed for the job interview at a local animation studio. As planned, he arrived that morning with a portfolio of his comic strips and charcoal sketches, some of which were sold through a Chelsea gallery. Kate Stanton-Paule, the teacher who had set up the meeting, accompanied him. But his first words upon entering the office were, like most things involving Justin, not in the script. “Hello, everybody,” he announced, loud enough to be heard behind the company president’s door. “This is going to be my new job, and you are going to be my new friends.” As the employees exchanged nervous glances that morning in January 2010, Ms. Stanton-Paule, the coordinator of a new kind of “transition to adulthood” program for special education students at Montclair High School, wondered if they were all in over their heads.

 Click here for the full article. 

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

On Raising an Autistic Child.

Parenting is challenging at the best of times, but occasionally something comes along that’s a whole lot bigger than the sitter getting sick or baby refusing to sleep. Tom Fields-Meyer’s middle son, Ezra, was two-and-a-half years old when a preschool teacher dropped the hint there might be something wrong. The eventual diagnosis? Autism. At the time, neither dad nor mom knew much about neurological disorders, although it was clear says Fields-Meyer, that their son, now age 15, was “a bit unusual.” But the diagnosis set the stage for development, discovery and ultimately acceptance. The Juggle asked 48-year-old Fields-Meyer–whose book, “Following Ezra,” comes out Tuesday–to share some highs and lows of raising an autistic son alongside two other sons:
 Click here to read more.

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Girls with autism face adjustments in middle school

As Maggie grew older, her parents Rick and Laura suspected more and more that their daughter had autism. They knew that boys usually were diagnosed with autism more frequently than girls were. In fact, boys have 4 to 5 times more of a chance to be identified with autism than girls do. For girls, current statistics indicate that 1 in 315 have autism. In Maggie’s case, her cousin had been diagnosed with autism as a toddler. The question for her family was whether Maggie had autism, too. Like Maggie, some girls who are socially awkward may initially learn how to "fit in" with their peers. Later on, as social nuances become more difficult to understand, high functioning girls with autism have increasing difficulties relating to the classmates.

 Click here to read more.

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Friday, September 2, 2011

ASD Outcomes in Adulthood

Below is a presentation given at the last IACC (Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee) meeting. Prof. Shattuck has done some excellent work in recent years. He’s one of the people looking into the areas I find critical and underserved. If you want to hear about research which can have a real impact on the life of this generation of autistic youth, you should set aside the time to listen to this talk. Prof. Shattuck is looking at the critical transition from school to adulthood. How well are autistic students making that transition (largely, not so well as it turns out). What are the factors that help make that transition successful? If we don’t look into these questions today the problems will only continue unresolved.
 Click here to watch the video.

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Autism Talk TV - Ep. 16 - What's the Deal With Women, Fatherhood, andExecutive Functioning?

Click here to watch the video.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

FYI - Complaint for Student with Autism.










Click here to read more.

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What Does It Mean To Have Asperger Syndrome?

What is this Asperger's Syndrome, anyway? As I alluded to in my previous post, Neurological Disorder or Natural Diversity?, after many years of knowing that I was different, I finally learned why when I read Wired Magazine (The Geek Syndrome), which described an autism spectrum disorder called Asperger's Syndrome. The more I read the descriptions of these people, the more I saw myself.The clincher came when, at the end, they provided a copy of Simon Baron-Cohen’s Autism Quotient Test, a questionnaire designed to indicate the presence of autistic traits. I took it on the spot and scored very high – and I realized I was onto something, and I began to learn about Asperger’s and what it meant to my life So, overall, what does it mean to have Asperger’s? How does it affect how a person interacts with the world? What are the challenges?

 Click here to read more.

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What it's like to walk down a street when you have autism or an ASD

Click here to watch the video.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

PECS Training in Havre and Great Falls September 19-20, 2011

August 18-19 in Havre. 
September 19-20 in Great Falls. 

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Helping Students with Autism Successfully Transition into a New SchoolYear

Click here to read more. Question: How can I help my child with autism successfully transition into a new school year? Answer: By Shannon Kay, Ph.D., BCBA-D The beginning of a new school year can be an exciting time for students. Typically developing students may be nervous on the first day of school, but after riding the bus in a new outfit and finding out their new teacher’s name, anxiety usually turns into excitement. Students with autism and other developmental disabilities can also have successful back-to-school experiences, but for them a pleasant transition usually requires extensive planning on the part of an educational team and family members.

More here:

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IOM says vaccines cause few side effects

After a close review of more than 1,000 research studies, a federal panel of experts has concluded that vaccines cause very few side effects, and found no evidence that vaccines cause autism or type 1 diabetes. The report, issued on Thursday by the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academies of Sciences, is the first comprehensive report on vaccine side effects since 1994.

 Click here to read the full article.

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Brief Report: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) in Children with AutismSpectrum Disorder: A Clinical Trial.

Brief Report: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Clinical Trial. Bent S, Bertoglio K, Ashwood P, Nemeth E, Hendren RL. Source Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA, Stephen.Bent@ucsf.edu. Abstract We sought to determine whether HBOT leads to parental reported behavioral changes and alterations in cytokines in children with ASD. Ten children completed 80 sessions of HBOT and all improved by 2 points on the clinician-rated CGI-I scale (much improved) as well as several parent-completed measures of behavior. The lack of a control group limits the ability to determine if improvements were related to HBOT. Enrolled children did not exhibit abnormal cytokine levels at baseline and no significant changes in mean cytokine levels were observed. Although this study was limited by the small sample size and by the variable nature of cytokines, we found no evidence that HBOT affects cytokine levels or that cytokine levels were associated with behavioral changes.

 Link

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Virtual Education Targets Rise of Autism

When bullying in her teenage daughter’s Maryland public school became too intense, Ruth Zanoni decided to try home-schooling, using online education as a supplement. Ms. Zanoni’s daughter, now 14, has Asperger syndrome, often described as a high-functioning form of autism. She was academically advanced in some subjects, such as writing and literature, but was sometimes overwhelmed by sensory stimulus. And her lack of social skills made her a target for bullying. At home in Howard County, Ms. Zanoni’s daughter did well pursuing math through videos from Khan Academy, a not-for-profit provider of online educational videos and activities, and working on her social skills using an online role-playing game, but she faltered taking French and then Italian online. Ms. Zanoni said she had to work hard to keep her daughter on task online and felt she needed additional face-to-face support. Ms. Zanoni eventually found a private school that specialized in working with students like her daughter. “There’s a huge value to online education [for students with autism], but it depends on how it’s introduced and the nature of the person,” Ms. Zanoni said.

 Click here to read more.

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Nonprofit school will focus on student farming

Sherry Lewis-Peterson has already begun to till the soil that will eventually grow her dream of teaching a traditional education in a farm-like setting. She wants the Farming for the Future Academy to find its home in Columbia Falls where it can act as a haven for students with special needs, such as autism, Asberger's syndrome or Tourette's disorder.

 Click here to read more.

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Are You All Alone with Adult Autism?

This morning, a friend directed my attention to a short video on the PBS site which features two families with adults on the autism spectrum. The families were very similar. Both were white and middle class (one family looked to be wealthier than the other, but neither seemed rich or poor). Both families consisted of a mother and father in their later years (retirement age) with an autistic son in his twenties. Both young men were verbal and responsive, but both were significantly challenged with what appeared, at least on the surface, to be intellectual and cognitive challenges as well as an overwhelming need for sameness and routine. In both cases, the end of school services had signaled the end of therapies, and the end of many opportunities. One young man, however, spent the day in a sheltered workshop; the other worked in a grocery store with a full time job coach. Each seemed very comfortable with his work setting. In other words, both had significant, daylong, supported situations in which they were gainfully employed outside of the home. And in both cases the supported situation appeared to be funded by some kind of federal or state program (they were not private settings). The parents' worry, therefore, was not so much "how can we cope with this situation." The worry was "what happens when we die?"

 Click here to continue reading.

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Peter Bell on handling the upcoming needs of autistic adults

In a single generation, autism has become one of the most common developmental disabilities, affecting an estimated 1.5 million Americans. With so many children diagnosed in the 1990s, over the next decade, hundreds of thousands of them will reach adulthood. How do we handle the upcoming needs of the adult autism community? On August 3, Congress will begin considering the renewal of the Combating Autism Act of 2006. Signed into law by President George W. Bush, it authorized nearly $1 billion for combating autism spectrum disorders through public awareness and enhanced federal support for research and treatment. And there’s a lot that we can do from a private sector standpoint as well. To talk about the steps autism advocates recommend, Alison Stewart spoke with Peter Bell, executive vice-president of Autism Speaks, and the father of a teenage son with autism

 Click here to watch the video.

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Autism Awareness Training for First Responders

Firefighters and EMTs are trained to handle emergencies. When the world changes around them, they modify training to meet these changes. Now there is a new type of training that needs to be addressed—training for an autism emergency. Autism is one of the fastest growing disabilities in the world and it is not going away. It affects over 400,000 individuals from ages 3 to 22 in the United States, an increase of over 2039% since 1992. 1 out of every 100 children is born with some level of autism and this figure continues to grow every year. If we are not aware of this disorder and the vast spectrum of symptoms it encompasses, we will not be ready to handle the emergency effectively. A simple uneducated or untrained mistake can result in the loss of a fellow firefighter or even the individual. We can't afford mistakes like this, especially when the training is now available. Individuals with autism are so unique and their actions so unpredictable that it's not only for their safety, but the firefighter and EMTs as well. If you walked into a fire and went to grab the individual, and he or she acted out not in fear of you, but in fear of being touched, you can get hurt as a result. There is no room for mistakes in the field. Everyone's safety is important. Learning how to effectively interact with an individual with autism is the one training we can't afford to overlook. Knowing what to do and how to approach individuals with autism is the first step in effectively handling any emergency situation.

 Click here to read more and take the pre-test.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Newsletter - Science in Autism Treatment

Click here to download and subscribe to the newsletter.

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Preliminary Reports from the Children's Autism Waiver

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services approved Montana’s new autism home and community-based services waiver for children (Children's Autism Waiver) to become effective January 1, 2009. The new waiver will initially serve about 40- 45 children diagnosed with autism who are at least 15 months through age four when enrolled into the waiver. Enrollment will be limited to a maximum three-year period at an average cost of $40,000 per year per child. Services include 20-25 hours per week of intensive in-home habilitation training by a children’s autism trainer, respite, waiver-funded children’s case management, adaptive equipment/environmental modification, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, transportation, individual goods and services, and program design and monitoring for children. Attached are the Preliminary Report on Child Outcomes in Montana’s Childhood Autism Waiver and the Executive Summary. "These data underscore the projections that agencies are making that between 10% and 20% of the children who have participated in the CAW will be able to attend general education services without support.

"Click here for more information. 

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Monday, August 1, 2011

New CMU brain imaging research reveals why autistic individuals confuse pronouns

PITTSBURGH—Autism is a mysterious developmental disease because it often leaves complex abilities intact while impairing seemingly elementary ones. For example, it is well documented that autistic children often have difficulty correctly using pronouns, sometimes referring to themselves as "you" instead of "I." A new brain imaging study published in the journal "Brain" by scientists at Carnegie Mellon University provides an explanation as to why autistic individuals' use of the wrong pronoun is more than simply a word choice problem. Marcel Just, Akiki Mizuno and their collaborators at CMU's Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging (CCBI) found that errors in choosing a self-referring pronoun reflect a disordered neural representation of the self, a function processed by at least two brain areas — one frontal and one posterior. "The psychology of self — the thought of one's own identity — is especially important in social interaction, a facet of behavior that is usually disrupted in autism," said Just, a leading cognitive neuroscientist and the D.O. Hebb Professor of Psychology at CMU who directs the CCBI. "Most children don't need to receive any instruction in which pronoun to use. It just comes naturally, unless a child has autism." For the study, the research team used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to compare the brain activation pattern and the synchronization of activation across brain areas in young adults with high-functioning autism with control participants during a language task that required rapid pronoun comprehension. The results revealed a significantly diminished synchronization in autism between a frontal area (the right anterior insula) and a posterior area (precuneus) during pronoun use in the autism group. The participants with autism also were slower and less accurate in their behavioral processing of the pronouns. In particular, the synchronization was lower in autistic participants' brains between the right anterior insula and precuneus when answering a question that contained the pronoun "you," querying something about the participant's view. "Shifting from one pronoun to another, depending on who the speaker is, constitutes a challenge not just for children with autism but also for adults with high-functioning autism, particularly when referring to one's self," Just said. "The functional collaboration of two brain areas may play a critical role for perspective shifting by supporting an attention shift between oneself and others. "Pronoun reversals also characterize an atypical understanding of the social world in autism. The ability to flexibly shift viewpoints is vital to social communication, so the autistic impairment affects not just language but social communication," Just added. Autism was documented for the first time in 1943, in a landmark article by Dr. Leo Kanner of Johns Hopkins University. In that first article, Kanner noted the puzzling misuse of pronouns by children with the disorder. "When he [the child] wanted his mother to pull his shoe off, he said: 'Pull off your shoe.'" Kanner added that, "Personal pronouns are repeated [by the child with autism] just as heard, with no change to suit the altered situation." Because his mother referred to him as "you," so did the child. Just's previous brain imaging research in autism has shown that other facets of thinking that are disrupted in autism, such as social difficulties and language impairments, also may be attributed to a reduced communication bandwidth between the frontal and posterior parts of the brain. He refers to this as the "Theory of Frontal-Posterior Underconnectivity." In each of these types of thinking, the processing is done by a set of different brain regions that includes key frontal regions, and the lower frontal-posterior bandwidth limits how well the frontal regions can contribute to the brain's networked computations. The brain's communication network is its white matter, the 45 percent of the brain that consists of myelinated (insulated) axons that carry information between brain regions. An emerging view is that the white matter is compromised in autism, specifically in the frontal-posterior tracts. In a groundbreaking study published in 2009, Just and his colleagues showed for the first time that compromised white matter in children with reading difficulties could be repaired with extensive behavioral therapy. Their imaging study showed that the brain locations that had been abnormal prior to the remedial training improved to normal levels after the training, and the reading performance in individual children improved by an amount that corresponded to the amount of white matter change. Ongoing research at the CCBI is assessing the white matter in detail, measuring its integrity and topology, trying to pinpoint the difference in the autistic brain's networks. "This new understanding of what causes pronoun confusion in autism helps make sense of the larger problems of autism as well as the idiosyncrasies," Just said. "Moreover, it points to new types of therapies that may help rehab the white matter in autism." ### In addition to Just and Mizuno, a psychology doctoral candidate and first author of the study, the research team included CMU's Yanni Liu, a postdoctoral associate, and Timothy A. Keller, a senior research psychologist; Duquesne University's Diane L. Williams, an assistant professor of speech-language pathology; and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine's Nancy J. Minshew, a professor of psychiatry and neurology. This research was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Autism Speaks Foundation. To read a preprint of the article that will appear in "Brain,"
For more information click here:

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Monday, July 25, 2011

National Professional Development Center On Autism Spectrum Disorders






Click here to read more.Evidence-Based Practice Briefs
Evidence-based practice (EBP) briefs have been developed for all 24 identified evidence-based practices. Select a practice below to access the overview of the practice and downloadable PDF files for the EBP brief and the individual components. An evidence-based practice brief consists of the following core components:


EBP BRIEF COMPONENTS
Overview:
A general description of the practice and how it can be used with learners with autism spectrum disorders.
Step-by-Step Directions for Implementation:
Explicit step-by-step directions detailing exactly how to implement a practice, based on the research articles identified in the evidence base.
Implementation Checklist:
The implementation checklist offers a way to document the degree to which practitioners are following the step-by-step directions for implementation, which are based on the research articles identified in the evidence base.
Evidence Base:
The list of references that demonstrate that the practice is efficacious and meets the National Professional Development Center's criteria for being identified as an evidence-based practice.
Some practices include supplemental materials such as data collection sheets.
see updated website: 
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Autism Conference - Billings August 2011?

This conference will provide information and hands-on training in the latest technology being used to enhance communication and social skills for individuals living with autism. This conference is for everyone who loves and works with children and adults with autism every day. This year we will highlight Communication and iOS devices - iPads, iPods and iPhones. Today’s technological advances offer highly interactive tools that can be used to help build communication skills. During our event you will learn how to choose applications appropriate for your needs, whether you are a parent, educator or practitioner. Through demonstration and actual hands-on training you will be introduced to a variety of applications that use interactive text, illustrations, painting, animation, voice recording, stories, songs and speech/language based activities that may be helpful in developing communication abilities of children and adults on the Autism spectrum. Practitioners can use these devices to help people with cognitive-behavioral needs through applications that target social skills and executive functioning like planning, organization, attention and memory. We will also benefit from meeting and hearing from people of all ages who are navigating through life on the spectrum. Their stories will inspire, educate and bring us closer as a group as we take action to improve the lives of individuals with autism. 

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Debunking Dolphin Therapy For Autism

Near the top on the list of “therapies we consider ludicrous” for our 14-year-old autistic son Charlie is dolphin therapy. You will read different claims about “dolphin assisted therapy” and autism if you look on the Internet: Living From the Heart Dolphin Experience says that some quite high percentages of autistic children who receive dolphin therapy enjoy benefits lasting up to two years, though it should be noted that the benefits (longer attention spans, improved emotional control and improved speech communication skills) attributed to dolphin therapy are the same benefits that are often noted for other therapies for autistic children

.Read more: 

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Addressing the Behavior, Social, Sensory, and Self-Regulation Needs ofLearners With Autism Spectrum Disorders: Creating Successful Experiences

Grand Forks, North Dakota DAY ONE - August 8, 2011Planning for School and Life SuccessBrenda Smith Myles, Ph.D.Sessions on Day 1 will provide an overview of the latest research in ASD and how this information translates into evidence-based practices. Examples of social, communication,self-regulation, sensory, and academic interventions will be offered as well as how to create a comprehensive, yet manageable program for students with ASD in general and specialeducation classrooms.LEARNING OBJECTIVESAt the end of Day 1, participants will be able to:• Match evidence-based practices to the needs of students with ASD• Identify evidence-based social and communication supports for individuals with ASD• Identify evidence-based self-regulation and sensory supports for individuals with ASDDAY TWO - August 9, 2011Addressing the Behavior and Regulation Needs of Individuals With Autism Spectrum DisordersJudy Endow, MSWSessions on Day 2 will present interventions on how to outsmart the explosive behavior experienced by individuals with ASD. Specifically, attendees will learn what signs to look for and how to create and implement a plan to outsmart explosive behavior. In addition,attendees will learn to stabilize the learner with classic autism and teach the student toself-regulate.LEARNING OBJECTIVESAt the end of Day 2, participants will be able to:• Name academic modifications for students with ASD across settings• Develop a plan to assist students with ASD in outsmarting their explosive behavior• Identify and implement stabilization strategies to help individuals with ASD be ready to learn

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Birth Complications and Autism

July 11, 2011 The first scientific review of all research on birth-related risk factors for autism has clarified the conditions that may contribute to the development of this neurobiological disorder. The report appears in today’s issue of the journalPediatrics. Hannah Gardener and her colleagues at Harvard School of Public Health and Brown University reviewed the scientific literature for clinical studies on birth and newborn conditions that have been associated with autism. They identified 40 individual—and sometimes conflicting—studies suitable for “meta-analysis.” A powerful statistical technique, meta-analysis allows researchers to combine and compare findings across many scientific reports to clarify and strengthen their conclusions. In doing so, Gardener and her colleagues explored 60 different birth-related conditions suspected as increasing autism risk. These included complications such as prematurity, low birth weight, multiple birth, and birth injury, as well as broader factors such as season of birth. Specifically, the researchers identified the following complications and conditions as having the strongest association with increased risk that a child will develop autism:* abnormal birth presentations (e.g. breech),* umbilical-cord complications (e.g. cord wrapped around neck),* fetal distress,* birth injury or trauma,* multiple birth (twins, triplets, etc.),* maternal bleeding,* summer birth (possibly associated with pregnancy during winter flu season),* low birth weight or small for gestational age,* physical birth defects,* low 5-minute Apgar score (a rating of overall newborn health),* myconium aspiration,* feeding difficulties,* newborn anemia or hyperbilirubinemia.

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Why Autism Strikes More Boys Than Girls

Autism, a developmental disorder that causes deficits in social behavior and communication, affects four times as many boys as girls. Because of this extreme gender imbalance, some scientists posit that sex hormones may contribute to the disease. Now researchers have identified for the first time a gene that may help explain the gender discrepancy and underlie some common autism symptoms.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Webinar - iPads and High-End Communication Apps: A Comparative Overview

Description: You've heard of Proloquo2Go? How about TouchChat? Predictable? Any other high-end communication apps? What have you heard beyond the names? What would you like to know? Join us for a comparative demonstration and discussion of these three and other communication apps in the $150 - $300 range. If you have experience with any of these apps, please bring perspectives to share. If you have questions about any of these apps, or about iOS device communication apps in general, send them in beforehand to jen@cforat.org and we'll work to include them in the presentation. Learning Objectives: Gain an understanding of current accessible technologies avialable for people using an iPad or iTouch. Learn the features of Proloquo2Go, TouchChat, and Predictable. Understand different considerations to make informed purchasing decisions.

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Good Cop - An Encounter With New York's Finest

I could have kicked myself for not getting the name of the wonderful New York City police officer who pulled me over the other night. I'm a safe,driver for the most part, but Asperger's sometimes interfere with my perceptions whether I'm standing still or navigating a dark road. It was rainy, I was distracted, and if I can't even read body language... Well, I was as I so often am, stumped. Even at my best I'm sometimes unclear as to why people honk their horns at me, so when the cop driving behind me started waving his hands I didn't know if wanted me to get out of his way or whether he was trying to pull me over. Turns out it was the latter. I know this because he used his loudspeaker to announce to all of Soho that I was to put my car in Park immediately. You'd think the police lights, would have cued me in sooner, but the sensory overload just made me freeze, and we aspies don't pick up on subtle hints. Like sirens. Anyway, I figured he'd want to see my license, but I was too scared to move. Eventually however after he pounded on my passenger side window and I managed to lower it, I knew I needed some answer to a gruffly phrased "Is there a problem, Ma'am?" Very slowly, I handed him the emergency autism card I always carry and asked if he would be willing to look at it before we spoke any further

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The 10 Commandments of Parenting a Child with Autism

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When A Child With Autism Grieves

The grief of a child with autism, be it for a cherished pet, a grandparent or other close family member is very hard for a parent to experience. While most children openly cry and seek comfort for their loss, a child with autism will likely become more isolated than ever as they seek methods to block their intense and overpowering emotions. Dr. Tony Attwood advises that you will see an intensification of typical autistic behaviors that will last for many months as the child feverishly works to keep his or her emotions at bay. Attwood points out that a child with autism is thrown not only by the loss of the individual, but the careening emotions of everyone around him and the disruption of the world as he or she knows it.Modeling a child’s behavior and helping them appreciate why others are acting upset are essential. Explaining that “mommy is crying because she is very sad about grandpa dying and when people are sad they appreciate a hug," then praising the child when the hug is given goes a long way towards the child with autism navigating this new and treacherous terrain.Of course, every child is going to react to loss in their own unique way. And losses can be great or small. Social stories can help deal with a friend moving away, the end of a wonderful vacation and other pain that is inherent in being human. As parents, we can’t spare them as much as we’d like to and it’s difficult to even help them. I once read a poem by Kathy Pollitt in The New Yorker whose last line has stayed with me for years, “…my death is my own, it has nothing to do with you.”The same can be said for grief.
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What does bottle feeding have to do with autism?

As if there weren't already enough tension between bottle-feeding and breast-feeding moms, now a researcher at the State University of New York at Albany is courting controversy by suggesting that bottle-feeding is associated with an increased risk of autism. In actuality, it's not bottle-feeding per se that may be linked to autism, but the absence of breast-feeding, contends evolutionary psychologist Gordon Gallup in an article published in June in the journal Medical Hypotheses. Gallup didn't do his own research but based his theory on data from a January study in the journal Pediatrics

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Anti-Depressent use during pregnancy linked to higher risk of autism.

Children whose mothers use antidepressants during pregnancy may be more likely to develop autism than kids whose mothers do not, say researchers in California. In a study involving data on more than 1,800 children — fewer than 300 of whom had an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) — and their mothers, the scientists found that women who were prescribed drugs to treat depression in the year before giving birth were twice as likely to have children with an ASD, compared with women who did not take antidepressants. The risk was even greater for women who were prescribed the drugs in the first trimester: their children were nearly four times more likely to develop autism or a related disorder

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Hell No, We Don't Stay Home: Outings with Children with Autism

Shannon des Roches Rosa, who is, among other things, the iPad for autism queen, has also mastered the art of taking her three children, including her son Leo, who has autism, on excursions.

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