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.


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.


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. 


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.


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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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