Tuesday, January 31, 2012

By the Numbers: Autism Is Not a Math Problem

There are 2,027 ways to be diagnosed with autism in DSM-IV and only 11 ways in DSM-5, but the numbers alone are misleading. Scientific American wanted to explore this gaping discrepancy further, so we asked astronomer and Hubble Fellow Joshua Peek of Columbia University to code a computer program that would calculate the total possible ways to get a diagnosis of autistic disorder in DSM-IV and the total possible ways to get a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder in DSM-5. You can do the math by hand, too, if you like: It all comes down to factorials. The DSM-IV criteria are a set of 12 items in three groups from which you must choose 6, with at least two items from group one and at least one item each from groups two and three. The DSM-5 criteria are a set of seven items in two groups from which you must choose five, including all three items in group one and at least two of the four items in group two. Peek's program crunched the numbers: there are 2027 different ways to be diagnosed with autism in DSM-IV and 11 ways to be diagnosed with autism in DSM-5.

 Click here to read more. 


Saturday, January 28, 2012

New Study of Autism Caregivers and Adults with Autism

PHILADELPHIA –Results were released yesterday from the Pennsylvania Autism Needs Assessment, which includes feedback from 3,500 Pennsylvania caregivers and adults with autism, making it the largest study of its kind in the nation. Among the findings, the study shows that training in social skills has been identified as the most common unmet need for both children and adults with autism. The study also found that more than two-thirds of adults with autism are unemployed or underemployed. “The results of the needs assessment provide the most comprehensive and specific information to date about where Pennsylvania has been successful and where we still need work in helping people with autism and their families,” said David Mandell, ScD, associate director, Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research. “My hope is that these results will be an important driver of new policy and innovative practices for years to come.”

 Link to article Link to study 


Friday, January 27, 2012

The Autism Society Comments on the Proposed DSM-5 Revisions

January 20, 2012By Autism SocietyChanging the definition of autism does not change the need for help. As the nation’s largest grassroots autism organization, the Autism Society’s foremost concern is that individuals with autism have access to the resources and services they need. As it exists today, the autism spectrum is vast. We are concerned that individuals who could lose the autism diagnosis may not fall under another classification, and would lose access to the appropriate services. With these changes, it is equally important that those who diagnose autism spectrum disorders have the training and information needed to diagnose appropriately. At this time, it is unknown exactly what impact the DSM-5 revisions will have on individuals living with autism. But, before any final decision is made, the Autism Society feels there needs to be an in-depth assessment on the impact the changes would have on individuals receiving services today and in the future. Of particular concern is the impact changes could have on lower income families, those who could not afford life-changing therapies and other services if not for an autism diagnosis. As a key aspect of the Autism Society’s strategic plan, the organization is focusing on ensuring all individuals showing the signs of autism are assessed and with an appropriate diagnosis by age 3, which makes way for appropriate early intervention services to begin. Early action drastically change outcomes and improves lives. Our major push in the next several years will be ensuring the information is accessible so that appropriate diagnoses are being made. As these changes affect the entire autism community, we are reaching out to other autism organizations to approach the American Psychiatric Association with one voice. The Autism Society will continue to share its thoughts and feelings about keeping the community inclusive as more information about the revisions is known. In the meantime, we strongly encourage people to get involved in the discussion.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Talking things through in their head may aid children with autism

Talking to yourself in your head may not be such a bizarre pastime. It may actually be an important developmental tool.

A new study out of Durham University in England suggests that helping children with autism to ?alk things through in their head?could eventually help them to perform more complicated tasks ?eventually helping them to lead more independent lives.

The researchers observed a group of high-functioning adults with ASD and a comparison control group (neurotypical subjects) as both groups completed a task known as the Tower of London. The test ?which is also a popular mathematical puzzle ?consists of five colored discs that are arranged on three pegs. The object of the puzzle is to transform one arrangement of the disks between the pegs, one disk at a time.

In order to complete the task in as few moves as possible, a fair amount of planning is needed.

After working on the puzzles under normal conditions, both groups were asked to solve it again as they repeated a certain word out loud ?either ?uesday?or ?hursday.?Repeating words or phrases over and over is a way to suppress inner speech that helps people to plan.

?he neurotypical subjects took many more moves to complete this task when we interrupted their verbal thinking, whereas the participants with autism weren? affected at all with this interruption,?Williams said. ?o it ultimately suggests they weren? using verbal thinking in the first place.?lt;/p>

Read more: 


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Study links autism, intestinal bacteria levels

Dr. Brent Williams, an associate research scientist from the Mailman School of Public Health, headed the study, which examined gastrointestinal disturbances in children with autism. Researchers discovered that children diagnosed with autism that suffer from gastrointestinal disturbances have heightened levels of Sutterella, a type of intestinal bacteria. After examining intestinal biopsies from his patients, Williams found that Sutterella bacteria existed in more than half of the children who had been diagnosed with autism. In comparison, Sutterella was not found in any normally developing children that also had gastrointestinal, or GI, disturbances.

 Article here:


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Free Video Library

The ATS Video Library offers free video examples of evidence-based autism interventions in action. Gain a better understanding of how to manage behavior and learn about the different teaching methods used to support children on the spectrum.

More here: 


Webinar - How To Develop An Effective Behavior Plan

Upcoming Webinar - Free and Open to All! Join us for our ongoing series of exclusive webinars! Learn more about a wide range of autism-related topics, connect with experts, and exchange ideas with parents and educators just like you. Up Next: Developing an Effective Behavior Plan January 25th, 6pm EST / 5pm CST With Ally Kelly, M.Ed District Trainer - Rethink Autism In this webinar, we will discuss the importance of: Determining the function of a behavior to plan an intervention Using proactive strategies to address a variety of behaviors Ongoing data analysis to monitor progress of an intervention Register now: Wednesday January 25th at 6 PM EST / 5 PM CST

See more here:


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Urinal Etiquette

(I am at a conference and we are talking about the hidden curriculum. Part of that is teaching important male skills that women may be unfamiliar with. )

 Take the test.


70 Ways To Use An iPad In The Classroom

Click here to read.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Added - Treatment section of the ASD Video Glossary

Autism Speaks is pleased to announce the launch of the Treatment section of the ASD Video Glossary. The treatments presented here include some of the more commonly used interventions for children on the autism spectrum: behavioral interventions, developmental interventions, structured teaching and supports, clinical therapies, and toddler treatment models. We have chosen to focus on treatments that can be represented and understood in video format. There are many other treatments available and families are encouraged to speak with their professional team members to choose the treatments that best address the individual needs of their child. The treatments represented in the Glossary may not be appropriate for all children. While there are no conclusive studies showing that one approach is better than another, some approaches have been researched more than others and many approaches incorporate similar strategies. Parents and professionals are encouraged to look at all approaches and choose treatment strategies that best fit the needs of the child and family. This glossary of treatments is not all inclusive– there are plenty more treatments that are offered. Further, we do not endorse or recommend any treatment or program. We simply offer this Glossary of video clips and invite you to explore the different options. Additionally, we encourage you to download the two-page PDF treatment descriptions where you will see a list of the top research references that support each of the treatments.

 Click here to read more.


Cartoon improves empathetic skills of children with autism

Researchers have discovered that empathy can be taught to children by using a specially designed cartoon. The Transporters, a DVD created to help youngsters with autism and Asperger Syndrome to recognise emotions, was played to children with autism aged from four to seven years, every day for four weeks. The children's emotional vocabulary and recognition was gauged before and after the study, and they were found to have improved in all areas.The study, published by the British Psychological Society in the British Journal of Educational Psychology's Education Neuroscience monograph, was conducted by a team of psychologists including Professor Simon Baron-Cohen and Dr Emma Ashwin from the University of Cambridge, and Dr Ofer Golan, now at Bar-Ilan University.The Transporters series stars eight toy vehicles with actors' faces displaying emotions. The cast consists of two trams, two cable cars, a chain ferry, a coach, a funicular railway, and a tractor, all of which move on either tracks or cables. Children with autism prefer such vehicles to planes or cars that can move freely.

The Transporters


Autism Blogs Directory

Community over Cacophony!


Portrait of an artist with Asperger's Syndrome

Medical advances mean increasing numbers of children are being diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism. But what about the middle-aged men and women who grew up never knowing of the condition, but yetstill felt different to everyone else? Visual artist Michael Madore was diagnosed with Asperger's only a decade ago, and says his unconventional work and creativity helped him to cope both before and after he received the news

 Click here to watch the video.


Friday, January 6, 2012


Although study results vary, research has found that as many as one percent of all US children have an ASD. How are all those children stricken? What actually causes autism? A quick Web search for “autism” reveals an array of answers, only some of which are supported by scientific research. An advertisement at the top of my search results on Google led me to an official-looking website arguing forcefully that autism is caused by minute quantities of thimerosal found in some vaccines, despite the fact that no reputable study has ever shown a causal link between vaccines and autism. The site contended that studies disputing the relationship between autism and vaccines containing thimerosal were poorly constructed. It also cited Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 study on the correlation between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. But Wakefield’s study involved just 12 children, was later retracted, was complicated by conflicts of interest, and may have been fraudulent. Yet after all that, the site offered no hard evidence supporting a causal link between vaccinations and autism! Even if the Wakefield study wasn’t seriously flawed, it could never have shown that vaccines cause autism. So what do larger, rigorously constructed studies have to say about the roots of ASD? Click here to read more.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Respite Care May Be More Beneficial Than Autism Therapy

A little money spent on temporary relief for caregivers goes a long way toward keeping kids and young adults with autism out of psychiatric hospitals, a new study suggests. For every $1,000 states spent on respite services in the previous 60 days, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found an 8 percent drop in the odds of hospitalization. Meanwhile, the level of therapeutic services — including speech, occupational, behavioral and other therapies — provided to an individual with autism did not impact the likelihood that they would end up in a psychiatric hospital. The findings, published this month in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, come from a study of records for over 28,000 kids with autism ages 5 to 21 who were enrolled in Medicaid in 2004. During the research period, 675 of the children spent time at a psychiatric hospital for issues related to their autism diagnosis. “Raising a child with ASD is fraught with challenges and can place considerable stress on families. In many cases, hospitalization may result as much from the stress the child’s behavior places on the family as from the behavior,” wrote David Mandell of the University of Pennsylvania and his colleagues in the study. Identifying ways to reduce psychiatric hospitalizations among those with autism is important, the authors indicate, because previous research has found that those with the disorder are far more likely to be hospitalized than their peers with other psychiatric or developmental conditions. Currently, respite care is not offered to Medicaid recipients in every state, something that the study authors say ought to be reconsidered given the positive results shown in their research. Mandell and his colleagues said they found it “puzzling” that therapeutic services did not also mitigate the odds of hospitalization. “The lack of association between therapeutic services and hospitalization raises concerns regarding the effectiveness of these services,” they wrote.