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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Differently abled: Local schools find gifts in autistic students

Karol Sigda is as bright as he is troubled. He knows nearly every dinosaur and the era they came from, but gets so frustrated by handwriting that he struggles to complete book reports. The 8-year-old Berwyn resident already has developed plots for three more “Star Wars” sequels, but sometimes lacks the social skills to effectively communicate with his classmates and teachers. Sigda has Asperger syndrome, a high-functioning diagnosis within the autism spectrum of disorders.From an education standpoint, Sigda is problematic. He’s years ahead of his classmates in many ways, but still occasionally throws tantrums or just shuts down if he feels bored. Rather than put Sigda and other children like him in special education classes, Havlicek Elementary School Principal Nancy Akin decided to try something new. Sigda and two other autistic third-grade boys were placed in a gifted program known simply as AIMS at the beginning of the most recent school year.

Click here for the full article.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Detecting, Studying, and Treating Autism Early: The One-Year Well-BabyCheck-Up Approach

Objectives To determine the feasibility of implementing a broadband screen at the 1-year check-up to detect cases of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), language delay (LD), and developmental delay (DD). Study design The Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales Developmental Profile Infant-Toddler Checklist was distributed at every 1-year pediatric check-up; 137 pediatricians and 225 infants participated. Screens were scored immediately, and failures referred for further evaluation. Results Pediatricians screened 10 479 infants at the 1-year check-up; 184 infants who failed the screen were evaluated and tracked. To date, 32 infants received a provisional or final diagnosis of ASD, 56 of LD, nine of DD, and 36 of “other.” Five infants who initially tested positive for ASD no longer met criteria at follow-up. The remainder of the sample was false positive results. Positive predictive value was estimated to be .75. Conclusions The 1-Year Well-Baby Check-Up Approach shows promise as a simple mechanism to detect cases of ASD, LD, and DD at 1 year. This procedure offers an alternative to the baby sibling design as a mechanism to study autism prospectively, the results of which will enrich our understanding of autism at an early age.

 Source

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Archived Webinars from the National Autism Resource and InformationCenter

Click here to access the webinars.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

A Conversation with Tony Atwood

Professor Tony Attwood is one of the world's leading experts on autism spectrum disorders. People with Asperger's can converse and live in the world but they see it through different eyes; much of what the rest of us see as normal behaviour is sometimes bewildering to them. Tony has done more than anyone to take us to the truth of what Asperger's really is. He's currently conducting research - Encouraging Friendship Skills in Children with Asperger's Syndrome - at the University of Queensland. Tony is Chairperson of Minds and Hearts, the Brisbane clinic set up to meet the enormous need for specialist services for people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. ============= You can either listen to each Conversations interview by clicking on the audio or you can download each interview as an mp3

Click here to listen to or download the interview.

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Lupron therapy for autism at center of embattled doctor's case

Since Sam Wessels was diagnosed with autism at age 2, doctors have offered his mother a litany of drugs for the boy from Prozac and Ritalin to Metadate CD and Strattera, commonly used to treat ADHD. Other "alternative" medicine pitches have included special diets and even nicotine."This is the best you can do?" Sam's mother Lin Wessels wondered.Wessels, like many parents, has waded through a lot of legitimate — but much more illegitimate — research on therapies in the struggle with autism, which affects 1 in 110 children and has no cure. She eventually came to embrace a drug, Lupron, prescribed by a Maryland doctor who now faces disciplinary action related to his autism treatments.Beginning Friday, an administrative law judge will hear an appeal from her doctor, Mark Geier, whose license was suspended in April by the Maryland Board of Physicians for putting autistic children at risk. The panel charged Geier, who runs a chain of clinics, with misrepresenting his credentials and misdiagnosing too many autistic children with "precocious," or early, puberty and prescribing Lupron

.Click here to read the full article.

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Who Will Care For Dana?

In many ways, Dana Eisman, 20, of Potomac, Md., is like any other young adult. She rocks out to Train, adores Glee, and eats pizza every week. And this June, like many of her peers, she’ll leave school and join the real world.But for Dana—and her parents, Beth, who works in a doctor’s office, and Rob, a business owner—that prospect is terrifying. “I want to celebrate,” Beth says, “but what I feel is a knife in my heart.”That’s because Dana is autistic. She can’t hold a conversation, make eye contact, verbalize her thoughts, cross the street alone, or control herself when she’s upset. Starting when she was 4—thanks to a federal law that guarantees disabled children an appropriate education—she has spent her weekdays at Ivymount, a private school for special-needs students that she loves and that has been paid for by the state and county. But because Dana turns 21 this week, that support will dry up when the school year ends, leaving her parents to agonize about the quality of life their daughter is facing. Living with Autism See Dana's Family Photos Meet 6 More Families Struggling with Autism Read about New Proposed Legislation in Congress Read Interview with 'Wretches & Jabberers' Filmmakers In the next 15 years, an estimated 500,000 autistic children like Dana will graduate out of school systems in the U.S. and into the unknown. Meaningful programs for them are scarce, and funding even scarcer. “We’re at the moment of truth to address the numbers of children aging into adulthood,” says autism activist Linda Walder Fiddle. “Their lives are hanging over a cliff, and we must not let them fall.”

 Click here to read the full article.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sensory Stimulation and Children with Autism

Click here for the full article.

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Can An EEG Predict Autism Risk?

According to an article from WebMD.com, a new study from the researchers of BMC Medicine used a computer program to study and identify patterns in electrical brain activity, particularly the way nerve cells communicate, from the EEGs of 79 infants. Forty-six of the infants were considered at high risk for autism due to the diagnosis of the disorder in a sibling. Using the data from the computer program, the researchers were able to accurately identify 80% of the high risk infants.

 Click here for the full article.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Use of school recess time in the education and treatment of childrenwith autism spectrum disorders: A systematic review

"Use of school recess time in the education and treatment of children with autism spectrum disorders: A systematic review is, as you will see, a small study on what is a relatively unstudied area: recess as part of the educational day for autistic students. This caught my eye for a simple reason: I think a lot about recess. I think about special education kids, kids who are working really hard, who need the break that recess provides as much or more than anyone." Here is the abstract: School recess is an opportunity to include students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) with their typically developing peers and is a setting in which instruction can occur. However, the educational opportunities for children with ASD within recess are often overlooked and recess time is being reduced or eliminated in the United States. This review involved a systematic search and analysis of 15 studies that utilized recess to implement academic, social, or behavioral interventions for students with ASD. Each identified study that met pre-determined inclusion criteria was analyzed and summarized in terms of: (a) participant characteristics, (b) intervention procedures, (c) dependent variables, and (d) intervention outcomes. This review has three main aims: (a) to evaluate and synthesize the evidence-base, (b) to inform and guide teachers interested in utilizing recess time for educational purposes, and© to stimulate and guide future research in this area. Results demonstrate that recess time can indeed be used to teach target behaviors to students with ASD.

 Click here for the full article.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Canadian researchers question autism screening

Despite the apparent criticisms of screening in Monday's article, study author Dr. Jan Willem Gorter said he and his co-authors were not specifically referring to "the surveillance that is happening in doctors' offices" at 18 and 24 months. They were recommending against a population-wide screening program that would require screening every child at a certain age level for autism, he said. Nobody is conducting such a study at this time in the United States. Last month, the CDC told CNN it was considering a total population study of autism, but no such study is currently underway. He said he and his co-authors based their suggestions on what they learned from children with cerebral palsy, and that his ultimate goal is to "find the children who truly have autism and find ways to help them." Screening isn't the only issue touched on in Monday's paper. The article also finds "little support for the effectiveness for speech and language therapy for people with autism," argues that "applied behavior intervention did not significantly improve the cognitive outcomes of children" and says that "screening is pointless, and almost certainly unethical."

 Click here to read the full article.

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Religion and Autism

Below are two articles originally published in the Autism Society's magazine, the Autism Advocate, on the topic of autism and religion. The articles provided here relate specifically to the Christian and Jewish faiths, but many of the tips can and should be applied to all religions. The Christian Perspective The Jewish Perspective

 Click here to read the articles.

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Extra Gene Copies May Trigger Some Cases of Autism

Where do these new results leave us in terms of the root causes of autism? They certainly support the general idea that even sporadic cases of autism are caused by new mutations. But on their own, CNVs don’t seem to be occurring at a rate that is sufficient to account for all the sporadic cases of autism. There is the chance that many of the same genes we see within the CNVs, however, are damaged by smaller mutations, including single base changes, that can’t be detected by the techniques used in these studies. Identifying these sorts of mutations, however, will probably require whole-genome sequencing of thousands of individuals, so we’re unlikely to see it in the near future. The studies also leave open the possibility of environmental influences. Many mutations associated with autism show what’s called “variable penetrance,” meaning that they may affect some individuals severely, but leave others without any obvious or serious symptoms. The differences could be the product of environment, and will make identifying even inherited cases much more challenging. The second area where environment could come into play is the mutation rate itself. Many environmental factors can cause or promote the accumulation of DNA damage, which can produce the sorts of new mutations seen in these studies

.Click here to read the full article.

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Project SKIP

Project SKIP is a practical, inexpensive process for screening children as young as two years for developmental delays and cognitive and mental health concerns – including autism spectrum disorders. Through its multi-layered approach, SKIP screens more comprehensively for issues, identifies why difficulties may be occurring, and provides the framework for designing effective, research-based interventions.

 Click here to read more.

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TV causes autism? I doubt it.

An article in Slate yesterday argued that TV watching causes autism. The Slate article is based on research done by Cornell economists Michael Waldman, Sean Nicholson, and Nodir Adilov. You can download the academic working paper here. The paper gives some theories why TV and autism might be linked, but the more interesting part of the paper is the data analysis. The researchers are trying to find a “natural experiment” that shifts around TV watching, but otherwise has no impact on whether a child is diagnosed as autistic. Rainfall is one of the things they use. In places where it rains a lot, kids watch more TV.

 Click here to read more.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How common is autism?

Earlier this month, a press release from Yale University announced: "Prevalence of Autism in South Korea Estimated at 1 in 38 Children". This estimate was considerably higher than recent UK studies (Baird et al, and Baron-Cohen et al). There are three possibilities: either children in South Korea are at unusually high risk of autism; previous studies have dramatically underestimated the prevalence of autism; or this new study gives an overestimate. The authors reject the first option and plump for the second. Their estimate, they maintain, is so high because they looked for children in mainstream schools, doing their own assessments of children detected on an initial screening questionnaire, rather than relying on existing diagnoses. Around two thirds of their cases of autism had not previously been diagnosed. This, they argue, is because an autism diagnosis is unpopular in South Korea since it is more likely to bring shame on the family than additional resources for the child (see my review of the senior author's book, Isabel's World). There is a problem, though. Asking how many children have autism is like asking how many children are intelligent. Everything hinges on definition, and the definition of autism is far from straightforward. Over the years, it has become increasingly clear that autism is not the all-or-none condition that Kanner had assumed.

Click here for full article.

A follow-up article on the flaws in the initial Korea study design. 

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Changing Attitudes Towards Repetitive Behaviors

Repetitive behaviors in those with autism have long been viewed as something to be eradicated. My own son’s problems in school began with his teacher’s intolerance for his incessant rocking and pencil tapping in class. These compulsions got him habitually thrown into the hall, and eventually out of school. But times are changing and so are attitude towards self stimulating or “stimming” activities.

 Click here for full article.

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Preparing for life after high school

McKenzie Tavary is on a mission to prove to the world that people with disabilities are smart. Although she doesn’t speak, “Mokn,” which she calls herself, communicates by typing on a computer and once wrote, “God put me on this Earth to be an Angel to show people how smart I am and other people with disabilities.” The world may soon find out. Tavary, 19, has been working for the past year since graduating from Capital High School to learn life skills. This fall she is set to start college at University of Montana–Helena, where she’ll be the first nonverbal student with autism to attend the two-year school

.Click here to read more.

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Effective Vocational Rehabilitation Programs for People with AutismSpectrum Disorders

June 21, 10 a.m. MST Dear Colleague, Please join us for a webcast hosted by SEDL's Vocational Rehabilitation Service Models for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders project. DATE:Tuesday, June 21, 2011:Effective Vocational Rehabilitation Programs for People with Autism Spectrum Disorders Featuring Job Path This is the first part of a three-part series of webcasts featuring effective vocational rehabilitation programs identified by the Project’s National Advisory Panel. Registration for this webcast is required. At a future date, you will receive registration emails for the upcoming webcasts in this series. The 30-minute webcast will begin at 12:00pm Eastern; 11:00am Central; 10:00am Mountain; 9:00am Pacific; 8:00am Alaska. REGISTER for Webcast(no fee to participate):http://survey.sedl.org/efm/wsb.dll/s/1gd7 About the Webcast Job Path has many merits that contribute to its effectiveness. With nine full-time employees, Job Path serves individuals with ASD by providing job readiness, finding appropriate employment, and providing long-term support services for program participants. Some accomplishments include: In 2009, Job Path served 41 consumers with ASD Placed over 90% of their program participants in jobs Demonstrated retention rates of over a year for 85% of their program participants Pay for consumers ranged between $7:15-$15.00 per hour About the Presenters Fredda Rosen is the Executive Director of Job Path, a not-for-profit agency that enables people with developmental disabilities to find employment, live in their own homes and become involved in community life. Rachel Pollock, Job Path’s Deputy Director, has been with the organization for more than ten years, managing program development and implementation and serving as general counsel. Aimee Althoff is the director of Job Path's employment services.
See more here:

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

2010 Autism Count by CSPD Region

The numbers are from the 2010 and 2009 child counts and include all students who have an identified disability of autism.
See more here:

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