Monday, April 30, 2012

Desperately Seeking Autism Genes

Autism is incredibly frustrating from a genetic point of view. Every study clearly shows that genetics plays an important role in this disease. But when these studies try to find a cause, they keep coming up short. And this isn’t because scientists aren’t trying hard. They are. In most of the recent studies they are comparing thousands of people’s DNA at millions of different spots. If there was a simple explanation, they would have found it. One thing they have managed to find from all of these studies is that a minority of cases result frombrand new mutations that most likely happen in either the sperm or the egg before fertilization. While these are not going to be that useful as a diagnostic test, they may prove useful as a way of figuring out which genes to focus on. And maybe even for coming up with new ways to treat autism.

 Click here to read more. 

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Five Things The Autism Experts Said My Son Would Never Do - slideshow

When my son Charlie was diagnosed in July of 1999, the world was all unknowns and not only because we didn’t know why Charlie was autistic, what the best way to teach him was, or why he screamed bloody murder when we tried to get him to stop looking at a spot of red paint on a neighborhood play structure. What experts, psychologists and too many books and websites told us to expect was all “nots” and “nevers”: Charlie would “never” be able to do X, Y and Z (go to college, get married, cross the street by himself). He would “always” need A and B (everything to be the same, one-on-one support in classrooms) and forever be a toddler trapped in a maturing body. Thirteen years later, with Charlie (who is moderately to severely autistic) a few weeks shy of turning 15 years old and nearing 6 feet tall (still a bit shorter than my husband, Jim), I think I can say that we’ve moved far beyond those “expert” predictions. It is the case that Charlie is not going to college and that romantic relationships are not likely for him, due to the extent of his intellectual disabilities. But he is no two-year-old in a tall and lanky frame, but a teenager in all regards. He doesn’t lead a typical teenager’s life; he attends a county autism center where his curriculum is focused on learning skills of daily living and vocational training. He will not be able to live on his own. He still has “behavior storms” because he can’t otherwise communicate what he feels and thinks. Charlie has come a very long way from the woebegone toddler he once was, clinging to a stuffed Barney and not responding to any of the attempts of a room of specialists to interact with him. Here are five things “those in the know” told us he would never do that Charlie, with all the odds against him, has achieved.

Read more: 

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

PCB Exposure May Increase Risk of Autism

Dr. Pamela Lein, a developmental neurobiologist and professor of molecular biosciences in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, said PCBs can cause a disruption of nerve connections in the brain among children. “Impaired neuronal connectivity is a common feature of a number of conditions, including autism spectrum disorders.” However, the PCBs alone are not believed to cause autism, but serve as an environmental trigger among genetically susceptible children. Two related studies published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, present findings that underscore the developing brain’s vulnerability to environmental exposures and demonstrate how PCBs could add to autism risk. “We don’t think PCB exposure causes autism,” Lein said, “but it may increase the likelihood of autism in children whose genetic makeup already compromises the processes by which neurons form connections.”

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Free Webinar - Teaching Functional Skills to Students with Disabilities

Functional programming is the practice of creating goals and educational programs to help the student learn skills and behaviors. Educators use functional programming to help students become participating members of their community after they graduate from school. This webinar will review how to prioritize goals and collaborate with parents and team members to make a plan of action. Topics include: Age appropriateness Work behaviors and skills Functional communication training Leisure skills Community-based instruction Functional academics This webinar will benefit special educators, therapists, paraprofessionals, parents and other support staff. Register for: Teaching Functional Skills presented by Amy Wiech, M.Ed.May 15, 2012 3pm PST May 17, 2012 12pm PST Click here to register. 

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Two Day Basic PECS Workshop at the MSUB Summer Institute June 2012

CSPD?

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Urine test detected some autism

A simple urine test identified one-third of the children with autism spectrum disorder in a new study, and researchers say that could lead to earlier diagnoses. Furthermore, this kind of work could lead to better-tailored treatments for a subset of children with elevated levels of certain compounds in their urine, said James Woods, a researcher at the University of Washington who worked with Battelle researchers on the project. “If it can detect increased risk of autism at age 1, that would be fantastic,” he said. “It’s the only biomarker (test) I’m aware of that could be done noninvasively and fairly inexpensively. Woods said the urine test — which looks for elevated levels of compounds called porphyrins — costs $50 to $100. He said the cost would come down if the test were used frequently to screen babies. Woods said everybody has the compounds in their urine, but some of the children in the study had clearly elevated levels. The study included only boys, who are much more likely to have autism than girls, but the test likely would work for both genders based on other research, Woods said.

 Click here to read more. 

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Why Autistic Children Are Bullied More -- And Bully In Return

Almost two-thirds of autistic children had been bullied at some point in their lives, and they were three times more likely than neurotypical kids to be bullied in the past three months. This was even true for home-schooled autistic children, who were sometimes educated at home precisely because of the bullying issue. “After a horrible year in 3rd grade,” said one mother, “where he was clinically diagnosed as depressed (he has always been anxious), I pulled my son out of public school and am homeschooling him this year. He is doing much, much better without the constant name calling and being singled out for his ‘weird’ behaviors!” The three most common types of bullying were verbal, or, in other words, psychological in nature: “being teased, picked on, or made fun of” (73%); “being ignored or left out of things on purpose” (51%), and “being called bad names” (47%). But almost a third of autistic children also experienced physical bullying – being shoved, pushed, slapped, hit, or kicked.

 Click here to read more.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Autism Apps - Comic Strip CS

And so sometimes your son's home program supervisor says, "but isn't there an even simpler app for making social stories and scripts, you know, like a comic strip?"A ten-second iTunes search and voila: Comic Strip - CS! For only 99 cents, even!The ice cream story above took less than five minutes to make on the iPad once we'd taken the pictures, as the interface is extremely simple and straightforward. The options aren't extensive, and I wish some of them were more flexible (scaling thought bubble and font size, flipping speech balloons), but hey -- the app cost 99 cents.
Click here to read more. 

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Children With Autism Are Often Targeted By Bullies

Lots of kids get bullied. But kids with autism are especially vulnerable. A new survey by the Interactive Autism Network found that nearly two-thirds of children with autism spectrum disorders have been bullied at some point. And it found that these kids are three times as likely as typical kids to have been bullied in the past month. The survey of parents of more than 1,100 children with autism found that bullies often pick on kids like Abby Mahoney, who is 13 and has Asperger's syndrome. Click here to listen to the story. 

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Report: Benefit Of Autism Drugs Overstated

A new analysis is calling into question the merits of antidepressants for those with autism after finding that studies supporting use of the drugs are far more likely than others to be published. The report released online Monday in the journal Pediatrics is based on an analysis of 10 studies looking at the use of antidepressants like Prozac, Luvox and Celexa in people with autism. Half of the studies examined were published in research journals while the other half were completed but never disseminated publicly. Overall, the research team from the University of Michigan and Yale University found that all of the published studies indicated that the medications had benefits for those with autism, while just one of the unpublished studies came to that conclusion. “There was significant evidence of publication bias in all analyses,” the researchers wrote. “After adjusting for publication bias in the literature, the effect of SRI medications in ASD was no longer significant.” Antidepressants are often prescribed to individuals with autism in order to mitigate repetitive behaviors like hoarding, compulsive touching or self-injury. However, the analysis suggests that the benefits of such medications may be overstated since many studies remain unpublished. “Further research is needed to find effective treatments for children with ASDs,” the researchers wrote. “Identifying effective treatments for these patients will be difficult if partial and selective publication of clinical trials persists.”
 Source.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

CDC Releases Flawed Study on ASD Incidence

Two weeks ago the Center for Disease Control published what I know to be an extremely flawed survey suggesting that Utah has the highest incidence of childhood Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the country. No explanation was provided for this incidence report. Incidence was reported for surveyed states only and ranged from 1 in about 50 children in Utah to 1 in about 250 children in Alabama. However, if you carefully read the CDC's report, consider the number of errors in their survey and the methodology used to create these estimates, it is quickly apparent that this expensive survey adds very little to our knowledge of the true incidence and prevalence of ASD in America.

 Click here to read more. 

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

First PAK Meeting - Butte - May 5, 2012

What is Parents Advocating for Kids (PAK):The purpose of Montana PAK is to develop a monthly forum for parents to collaborate and receive information about special education advocacy and the federal/state laws that protect their children. In addition, PAK aims to provide a public medium to discuss educational concerns and to raise awareness about the scope of services, as well as local resources, which are available for children. The meeting is open and free to the public. The two hours will be divided into portions dedicated to open discussion and a presentation on legal rights in special education. RSVPs are not required to attend the meeting, but mandatory if child care is needed. 

Who are PAK Meetings for: Parents, guardians or family members of a child who is receiving special education services; Parents of a child who is struggling in school due to behavioral or emotional issues or who just seems to have a hard time learning; Parents, guardians or family members who suspect their child might have a learning disability or other condition that is causing him or her to have difficulty in school; Parents, guardians or family members who wish to improve their understanding of special education so they may better advocate at IEP meetings. 

For more information or to RSVP:Contact PLUK at 406-255-0540 or email info@pluk.org.

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Coffee Night/Parent Support Group for Parents of Children with Autism -Billings - April 18, 2012

What:Join us for this informal monthly gathering where parents can meet, learn from and support one another and participate in discussions or presentations of interest to the group. When:Wednesday, April 18, 20126:30 - 7:30 p.m. Where:Off the Leaf (in the conference room)819 Grand AveBillings, MT Contact:If you have any questions about our parent support group, please contact Kelly Melius at 657-9728

More here:

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What you need to know about Echolalia

One day I was hanging out with some friends and we were all swapping funny autism stories. I shared my story with the punchline, “And that’s why delayed echolalia is a mom’s best friend!” But there was one person who didn’t laugh. She looked confused. She asked, “What’s Echolalia?”

 Click here to read more. 

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Monday, April 16, 2012

Special Education Students a Focus in "Bully"

Two students with Asperger syndrome—an autism spectrum disorder that can make it tough to interact in social sitatuations—are featured heavily in "Bully," the new education shock-you-mentary, opening in wide release Friday. The film opens with the grieving parents of Tyler Long, a 17-year-old with Asperger's syndrome who committed suicide. And it closely follows Alex Libby, another student with Asperger's who was repeatedly harassed by his fellow students at a Sioux City, Iowa, middle school. The movie, which also includes a 16-year-old transgender student, among others, was meant to open the public's eye to the problem of bullying in general. Although the filmmakers give a lot of background information on both Tyler and Alex, including showing home-movies of both of them at young ages, the film itself makes no mention of their disabilities. That was a deliberate choice, said Cynthia Lowen, a writer and producer on the film.

 Click here to read more. 

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Webinar - Evidence-Based Practices and the National Standards Project.April 20, 2012 12pm-1pm PST

Join ATS for this month's free webinar presented Hanna C. Rue Ph.D., BCBA-D of the National Autism Center. Hanna will be presenting on Evidence-Based Practices and the National Standards Project.This intermediate level webinar will cover methods used to identify evidence-based practices for the treatment of autism spectrum disorders as defined by the National Standards Project. This is a one-day webinar, so be sure you register today!

 Click here to register.

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Study Links Autism to High Fructose Corn Syrup

A new study released this past week has once again linked the consumption of processed foods to health complications, giving food safety advocates even more cause for concern. The April 10th publication of the Clinical Epigenetics Journal reported a link between high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and autism in the United States. According to the study, the rise in autism rates "is not related to mercury exposure from fish, coal-fired power plants, thimerosal, or dental amalgam but instead to the consumption of HFCS.” The study, led by former FDA toxicologist and whistleblower Renee Dufault, found that a deficiency of zinc, triggered by the consumption of HFCS and other processed foods, interferes with the body’s ability to eliminate toxins such as mercury and pesticides.

 Click here to read more. 

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Can Autism Really Be Diagnosed in Minutes?

A Harvard researcher says he's achieved exceptional accuracy in identifying autism by using just seven online questions and an evaluation of a short home video of the child, instead of conventional, face-to-face exams that can take hours

.Read more:

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Webinar on Behavior April 17th

Problem Behavior Often children with autism learn alternative behaviors to get what they want; unfortunately, this sometimes includes problem behaviors such as hitting, biting, non-compliance, and self-injurious behavior. However, any behavior that disrupts learning and affects progress is considered problematic. This 60-minute content rich webinar aims at: Identifying underlying functions of your child's problem behavior; Identifying strategies that may help prevent some common problem behavior;and Answering your questions regarding general behavior concerns

 Click here to register.

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Autism Awareness Video: Diagnostic Criteria for Autism

On March 29, 2012, the centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 1 in 88 children in the US has an autism spectrum disorder. Chances are you or someone you know has been touched by autism in a very personal way. April is Autism Awareness Month. As part of our continuing effort to promote global awareness for autism, we are making our Training Video "An Introduction to Autism" available for family members, friends, educators and anyone who is interested in learning more about autism and the things they can do to screen young children for autism. In the first of this 3 part installment, we look at the Diagnostic Criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorders.

 Click here to watch the video. 

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A summary of the CDC autism prevalence report

Some qoutes from the article: Overall, the prevalence was 1 in 88 (11.3 per 1,000). This continues the upward trend in prevalence estimates from the CDC. This varied a great deal state-to-state. Alabama had the lowest estimated prevalence at 4.1 per 1,000. Utah the highest at 21.2 per 1,000. Or, there is about a five fold variation in autism prevalence estimates, state-to-state. As with previous CDC reports, a large fraction of the children identified were not classified as autistic previously. In 2002, as many as 40% in some states were not classified as autistic before their records were reviewed. In general, over time the fraction previously unidentified has gone down. This would be consistent with schools and medical personnel getting better over time with identification of autism. In Utah, for an extreme example, over 70% of those identified as autistic have IQ scores above 85. The CDC report reads: When data from these seven sites were combined, 38% of children with ASDs were classified in the range of intellectual disability (i.e., IQ >70 or an examiner’s statement of intellectual disability), 24% in the borderline range (IQ 71–85), and 38% had IQ scores >85 or an examiner’s statement of average or above-average intellectual ability.

 Click here to read the full article. 

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Autistic kids born preterm, post-term have more severe symptoms

Additionally, autistic children who were born either preterm or post-term are more likely to self-injure themselves compared with autistic children born on time, revealed the study by Tammy Movsas of MSU's Department of Epidemiology. Though the study did not uncover why there is an increase in autistic symptoms, the reasons may be tied to some of the underlying causes of why a child is born preterm (prior to 37 weeks) or post-term (after 42 weeks) in the first place. The research appears online in the Journal of Autism and Development Disorders. Movsas, a postdoctoral epidemiology fellow in MSU's College of Human Medicine, said the study reveals there are many different manifestations of autism spectrum disorder, a collection of developmental disorders including both autism and Asperger syndrome. It also shows the length of the mother's pregnancy is one factor affecting the severity of the disorder. While previous research has linked premature birth to higher rates of autism, this is one of the first studies to look at the severity of the disease among autistic children who had been born early, on time and late.

 Click here to read more. 

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Utah shows highest rate of autism in new study

In Utah, 1 in 47 children has autism, the highest rate among 14 communities nationwide, according to a newly released study. The results from 2008 data, released Thursday, found autism rates jumped 157 percent in Utah from 2002 to 2008. Meanwhile, the prevalence of autism increased 78 percent nationwide over the same time period, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study. Nationally, an estimated 1 in 88 U.S. children has autism, an all-time high, the study found. The findings were released Thursday during a briefing at Valley Mental Health's Carmen B. Pingree Center. According to the study, the disorder occurs in Utah boys at a rate of nearly three times that of Utah girls. The study also found significantly higher autism rates among white Utah children when compared to non-white children, among whom the rate is 1 in 154. For white children, the rate is 1 in 25.

 Click here to read more. 

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The financial toll of autism

Raising an autistic child can take a tremendous financial toll, even when insurance helps cover some of the costs. Kim and David Picciano's three-year old son, Colton, was diagnosed with autism eight months ago and they pay roughly $1,000 out of pocket each month for all of his therapies. "It's not all covered... we have co-pays," said Kim. "Right now, I've been fighting with insurance since August to get him occupational therapy." The cost of providing care for a person with autism in the U.S. is an estimated $1.4 million over their lifetime, according to a study funded by advocacy group Autism Speaks. For those with autism who are impacted with intellectual disabilities (with an IQ of 70 or less) -- nearly half of the autistic population -- the cost jumps to $2.3 million.

 Click here to read more. 

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Study Sheds Light On Why Some With Autism Blossom

Most children with autism see improvements as they grow up, but new research suggests that a select group is experiencing more dramatic progress than others. In a study of nearly 7,000 California children with autism, researchers found that about 1 in 10 kids displayed rapid improvement over just a couple of childhood years. The so-called “bloomers” were able to transition from being severely affected by autism to high functioning, researchers at Columbia University reported online Monday in the journal Pediatrics. Significantly, those behind the study said children were more likely to bloom if they did not have intellectual disability and if their moms were more educated individuals from non-minority backgrounds.

 Click here to read more.

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