Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Challenge of Driving With Asperger's

“Driving is a social act,’’ says Dr. Jamie Dow, the medical adviser for safety issues for Quebec’s government-run auto insurance and licensing agency. “It involves obeying rules and cooperating with other drivers.’’ For young people with Asperger’s, both parts of that equation can pose problems. Obeying rules is generally a good thing, but can be taken too far if rules are applied inflexibly or without taking into context into account. For example, does a “Stop at White Line’’ sign mean that the line is where you should stop only if you need to stop — or that you should stop every time you come to it? And cooperating with other drivers involves perhaps the hardest task for people with Asperger’s: reading nonverbal social cues. On the road, that happens through the “gestures’’ drivers make through the motion of their cars — by changing lanes boldly or hesitantly, for instance. Those motions amount to signals flashed from driver to driver so routinely that most people are hardly aware of the messages being sent about intention or mood.

 Click here to read more.


Autistic children subject to more bullying

Children with autism spectrum disorder are bullied three times more frequently than their siblings who did not have autism, U.S. researchers found. Dr. Paul Law, director of the Interactive Autism Network Project at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, said the study found 63 percent of children with autism spectrum disorder have been bullied at some point in their lives -- and are sometimes intentionally "triggered" into meltdowns or aggressive outbursts by peers.

Read more:


How will DSM 5 affect autism rates?

n January, at a meeting of the Icelandic Medical Association, Yale researcher, Dr Fred Volkmar gave a presentation of data from a study looking at the implications of changes to autism diagnostic criteria in DSM 5. His conclusion was that many people who are currently diagnosed with autism, Asperger's, or PDD-NOS would not meet the new proposed criteria for autism spectrum disorder in DSM 5.Volkmar's remarks were picked up by the New York Times, who ran with the lede: "Proposed changes in the definition of autism would sharply reduce the skyrocketing rate at which the disorder is diagnosed and might make it harder for many people who would no longer meet the criteria to get health, educational and social services" Not surprisingly, the article caused much consternation in autism circles. But because the study itself hadn't been published, members of the DSM 5 Neurodevelopmental Work Group, charged with implementing these changes, were unable to pass comment.

 Click here to read the full article. 


Thursday, March 22, 2012

People With Autism Possess Greater Ability to Process Information,Study Suggests

People with autism have a greater than normal capacity for processing information even from rapid presentations and are better able to detect information defined as 'critical', according to a study published March 22 in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology. The research may help to explain the apparently higher than average prevalence of people with autism spectrum disorders in the IT industry.
 Click here to read more.


Autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Although the DSM-5 proposed revisions to the diagnosis of autism have precipitated intense controversy about the suggested elimination of the diagnoses of Asperger's Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder, my concern is about the refusal of the DSM diagnostic classification committee to permit a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in a child diagnosed with autistic disorder. As stated in DSM IV, "Symptoms of overactivity and inattention are frequent in Autistic Disorder, but a diagnosis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is not made if Autistic Disorder is present." (p.74, DSM IV, copyright 2000, text revision.) DSM 5 proposes to retain this rule.

 Click here to read more. 


The Cause of Stimming: What's your stim?

Everyone has a stim I play with my hair while chatting with a friend. Maybe you bite your nails when you’re nervous or bored. You may tap your fingers or pencil on a desk while you’re thinking. I once knew someone who chewed on sticks of cinnamon bark, and I’ve noticed some who move their eyes in an unusual way. I can recognize certain people from far away just by their distinctive movements. We all know someone who has an annoying stim like cracking their knuckles every 5 minutes or repeating a phrase over and over; or a socially unacceptable stim such as nose-picking or biting oneself.
 Click here to read ways to deal with stimming.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

2012-2013 NDCPD training needs assessment

Note - We have sponsored a number of these webinars in the past. Please complete the survey. Each year the North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities conducts an annual training survey to help plan webinars (conference calls supported with an online PowerPoint presentation). We include previous participants in our planning. We would like to know what you identify as priorities for training for people who support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in schools, at home, and in community-based support settings. Please share your recommendations by completing the survey. Please forward this email to colleagues, family members, and others who may participate in future NDCPD sponsored webinars. Please note: If you received the 2012-2013 NDCPD training survey in a previous email, I apologize for the duplication. Please do not complete the survey a second time.
 Click on this link to access the survey:


Monday, March 19, 2012

Mothers of autistic children earn 56% less income, study says

When a child in the family has autism, parents and siblings often devote extra time and financial resources to ensure the best possible outcomes for the child's future. A new study puts a number on the financial toll the disorder takes on families each year. On average, family earnings when a child has autism are 28 percent lower than those of a child without a health limitation, the study found - nearly $18,000 less money for the family per year.

 Click here to read more. 


Friday, March 16, 2012

Autism and the Circle of Friends

We began by failing our son, TH. We failed to be vigilant enough about his reputation. We were lax in monitoring the growing perception of him as a bully, while simultaneously, he was on the receiving end of bullying all day, every day. His reputation as a bully spread beyond the school walls and playground boundaries, leaking into our neighborhood, speeding through wires and wireless, the talk of the bus stops. His size, his odd behaviors, his loud and unexpected non-sequiturs, and his violations of personal space drove the rumors on. When we learned all of this, we were devastated. Then, we heard about the Circle of Friends (COF) program.The basic principle of this program is that placing knowledge in the hands of others also means giving them understanding and compassion. For us, that meant that somehow, we had to get across to our son’s classmates, and by extension their parents, as much information about our son as possible. We had to reconstruct people’s attitudes about TH, and in this case, because we’d let it go so long, we had to do it across all classrooms in his grade

 Click here to read more. 


"Approaching Autism Theatrically"

Until Stephen Volan was diagnosed in 2002 with Asperger's Syndrome at the age of 37, he had no way to address his difficulties navigating the minefields of society and the workplace. Holding jobs, maintaining close relationships, or reading faces and body language were all exercises in paralysis-inducing doubt and frustration. Long before ""the autism spectrum"" was as widely discussed as it is today, he had unwittingly begun overcoming its handicaps thanks to a serendipitous theater class at Second City in Chicago. In it he learned to rely on a skill he knew how to use without hesitation: being playful.

Click here to watch the video. 


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

7 Things You Don't Know About A Special Needs Parent

Raising a child with any disorder, condition or special need, is both a blessing and a challenge. A challenge for the obvious reasons, and a blessing because you don't know the depths of victory and joy until you see your child overcoming some of those challenges (sometimes while smiling like a goofy bear). Chances are that you know a special needs parent, or you may be one yourself. As a special needs parent, I often don't share my feelings on this aspect of my life, even with my closest friends, so I decided to compile a list here with the goal of building understanding (I was largely inspired by this beautiful post, authored by another parent to a child with a chromosomal disorder). I don't claim to speak for every special needs parent out there, but from the ones I know, some of these are pretty universal.

 Click here to read the list. 


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Understanding and Interacting with People with IntellectualDisabilities: A Guide for Law Enforcement - Multiple Locations -Multiple Dates

 This training is for active law enforcement personnel. Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities as well as mental illness have characteristics that result in puzzling and easily misunderstood behaviors that pose myriad difficulties for the criminal justice system. Join us for a 6-hour Workshop designed to provide the participant with skills to interact with individuals with intellectual disabilities. Participants will learn effective techniques to identify and interact with individuals with intellectual limitations to achieve desired outcomes and acquire skills for questioning and de-escalating agitated individuals with intellectual disabilities. Upon completion of this training, you will: Utilize techniques to assist in identifying individuals with intellectual disabilities; Understand the major characteristics of people with intellectual disabilities and how those characteristics result in challenges to personnel throughout the criminal justice system; Learn skills to effectively interact with and/or detain individuals with intellectual disabilities; Recognize typical responses of individuals with intellectual disabilities and how such responses can be easily misinterpreted; Learn effective methods of interacting with people with intellectual disabilities who are victims of crime; Understand unique characteristics of autism and effective techniques for interacting with individuals on the autism spectrum. When/Where: May 14, 2012 Crowne Plaza Billings, Conference Room 5 27 North 27th StreetBillings MT 59101 May 17, 2012 Frances Mahon Deaconess HospitalLarge Cooference Room621 St. SouthGlasgow, MT 59230 May 18, 2012 Best Western Great Northern Hotel1345 lst StreetHavre, MT 59501 Sept. 10, 2012 Business Development Center305 W. Mercury, 2nd FloorButte, Montana 59701 Sept. 11, 2012 Montana Club, 6th Floor Ballroom24 W. 6th AvenueHelena, MT 59601 Sept. 12, 2012 Salish Kootenai College Theatre58138 Highway 93Pablo, MT 59855 Sept. 14, 2012 Cascade County Regional Jail3800 Ulm N. Frontage RoadGreat Falls, MT 59404
Click here to download brochure for full details 


Interview with Shannon Des Roches Rosa

"I have just reviewed Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism and was truly amazed how the people responsible for gathering this collection of over fifty essays made it all happen. Shannon Des Roches Rosa is one of the five editors and also one of the contributors of Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism. She is a founding editor and frequent contributor to The Thinking Person’s Guide site and has also worked on three other books. We are pleased to welcome her to our Author Interview Series."

 Click here to read the interview.


Involving Siblings in the Transition Process for Young Adults with Disabilities

Transition is an important and busy time in a young adult’s life. Having the support of a sibling can make all the difference. This presentation will discuss the important roles that siblings can play in helping their brothers and sisters be successful during the transition process from school to adult life. Join us for tips on how siblings can provide support and guidance in the areas of community living, employment, decision making and advocacy! Date: Tue, Mar 13, 2012 Time: 12:00 PM MDT Duration: 1 hour

 Click here for registration. 


Monday, March 12, 2012

Building Capacity for Decision Making in People with Intellectual andDevelopmental Disabilities

Directing one’s life is essential for experiencing self determination. People providing support have many questions about capacity and consent for people with intellectual and developmental disability and few resources to rely on. This presentation will outline the issues, and share resources developed by an with special focus on how to support people of all different abilities to find decision making solutions that support maximum autonomy, preserve civil rights and while providing people with support for decision making.

 Click here to view an archived recording of the webinar.


Got [Camel] Milk?

Nomads in Algeria have long said, “Water is the soul, milk is the life.” They may be proved right by emerging reports that camel milk, the drink of nomadic peoples from Mongolia to India, may have a healing effect on various diseases. Now parents from around the world, as I did in 2007, are also reporting reduced autism symptoms and increased skills in their ASD children. Better sleep, increased motor planning abilities and spatial awareness, more eye contact, better language and lessened gastrointestinal problems are now celebrated in global internet posts. Does the milk, lovingly called “absolutely exquisite… quite weird stuff” by longtime West African camel dairy owner Nancy Abeiderrahmane, deserve the praise bubbling from a global bucket of researchers and consumers? And is there an autism connection? I’ve researched the milk since summer 2005…

 Here’s the story:


Depression Common in Young Adults with Asperger's

Swedish researchers found that almost 70 percent of young Swedes with Asperger’s syndrome in a new study have suffered from depression. Tove Lugnegård, a researcher and doctoral student at the University of Gothenburg, discovered that mood disorders and anxiety disorders are very common among young adults with Asperger syndrome. Around 70 percent of the young adults with Asperger’s syndrome in the study reported at least one previous episode of depression, and up to 50 percent had had repeated episodes — a remarkable result given that the mean age of the group was just 27 years. “The results mean that it’s important that psychiatric care staff keep an eye open for the symptoms of depression in young adults with autism spectrum disorders,” said Lugnegård. “This goes for both clinics that carry out assessments for autism spectrum disorders, and for general psychiatric care. “Depression and anxiety can be more difficult to detect in people with autism spectrum because their facial expressions and body language are often not as easy to read, and because they may have difficulties in describing emotions. It’s also important to find out more about how to prevent depression among people with autism spectrum.”

 Click here to read more. 


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Friday, March 2, 2012

Webcast - Effectively supporting employees with autism spectrumdisorders

Effectively supporting employees with autism spectrum disorders March 8, 2012, 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. CST Dear Colleague, Please join us for a webcast hosted by SEDL's Vocational Rehabilitation Service Models for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) project: TITLE: The Groden Network of Programs: Effectively supporting employees with autism spectrum disorders. PRESENTERs:Mike Smith, Director of Vocational Services, The Groden NetworkRick Spencer, Vocational Supervisor, The Cove Center DATE: Thursday, March 8, 2012 TIME: The hour-long webcast will begin at 10 a.m. Mountain. REGISTER:(no fee to participate): About the Webcast Employment rates for people with disabilities are declining: people with ASD are among the least likely to be employed. SEDL and partners on the National Advisory Panel of the Vocational Rehabilitation Service Models for Individuals with ASD project have identified programs that help increase competitive, long-term employment for people with ASD. The Vocational Services Department of the Groden Network of Programs, provided 10,500 hours of job coaching in 2011 to over 100 people with ASD. To hear about the approaches to get employers on board with the program’s mission of helping people with ASD become productive members of their communities and the instruction of "soft skills" necessary for long-term job placement, please registerfor the webcast. This webcast is approved for one hour of CRCC continuing education credit. After completing the evaluation, your certificate will be sent to you. Before the Webcast Test your computer before the webcast: If you have a question, please send e-mail before or during the webcast: NOTE:If you are not able to participate at this time, please visit the VR Autism webcast page to view the archive a few days after the live event.
See here:


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Adolescence and Autism

Adolescence and Autism Autism College is taking enrollments now for a course on "Adolescence on the Autism Spectrum." This course will be held on Tuesdays March 5, 13, and 20, from 6:00pm - 8:00pm PST (9:00pm - 11:00pm EST). Are you a parent(or educator)of a pre-teen or teen? Do you wonder about how and when to explain puberty to your growing child? Are you at a loss about what to explain about the birds and the bees? Are you wondering what an ITP is and how to best prepare your child or student for adult life? Then this interactive series on Adolescence is for you. Based on the award-winning book, more recent information, and Chantal Sicile-Kira's popular national presentations, the fee for this interactive series is $99 and includes: Small group: enrollment will be limited, providing more time and opportunity to ask questions and discuss concerns. The basics on what you need to know when your child or student (of different ability levels) is a pre-teen or teenager Resources for more information on various topics Opportunity for the participants to write in or call in their questions to Chantal. 6 hours of training : 2 hours a week over a three-week period (that's about $15 an hour for expert advice) PowerPoints provided before the webinars to help with note taking. A Certificate of Attendance will be provided at the end for those who attend all three sessions. Bonus: In addition, those who sign up will receive transcriptions of all three webinars.

 For more information,go here.  


Soft Skills to Pay the Bills נMastering Soft Skills for WorkplaceSuccess

"Skills to Pay the Bills: Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success," is a curriculum developed by ODEP focused on teaching "soft" or workforce readiness skills to youth, including youth with disabilities. Created for youth development professionals as an introduction to workplace interpersonal and professional skills, the curriculum is targeted for youth ages 14 to 21 in both in-school and out-of-school environments. The basic structure of the program is comprised of modular, hands-on, engaging activities that focus on six key skill areas: communication, enthusiasm and attitude, teamwork, networking, problem solving and critical thinking, and professionalism.

 Click here to read more and download the curriculum. 


Replay of Autism Safety Conference Webinars March 10.

Replay of Autism Safety Conference Webinars March 10. Due to popular demand, the Autism Safety and Crisis Prevention interactive conference on, is being replayed for free on Saturday, March 10th, from 8:00am to 5:00pm PST (11:00am to 8:00pm EST). in partnership with the National Autism Association (NAA) presented a series of free webinars on Autism Safety and Crisis Prevention. This online conference was sponsored in part by The Social Express.Due to requests from those who could not attend, it is being replayed. (Note that listeners will not be able to send in questions to be replied as for the live event). Transcripts of the conference may be pre-ordered here. A portion of the profits will be donated to the National Autism Association for their Safety Programs. 
Please go here for complete schedule