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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Life skills/Transition Assessment tools for students

Suggestions from one of the Montana Autism Education Project consultants: I use several assessments to help our students narrow the career search and build on their existing skills. I start with a Casey Life Skills and I do one each year to help write or update my IEP goals by the end of the school and helps me assess their progress from year to year. I also use an assessment called Careers for Me II, that is both in booklet form and on the computer- it comes in three different levels and it works get even for the non-verbal students on the spectrum. At the end of this career interest Assessment, I have students produce a brief power point or flip chart on a career of their choice based on the questions they have to complete at the end of the assessment- which I then have them put into their vocational portfolio. Once they have completed a few of the career inventories, we sit down and go over their strengths , soft skills (work skills) they may already have, as well as settings and locations (inside work vs. outside) once we have compiled a list of these things we begin to look at jobs that match up- MCIS is a great site to use to give them a reality check on some of their ideas (start with the Interest Profile under assessments). I also refer often to Developing Talents, by Temple Grandin. Once you have them thinking about work or schooling after high school, I give them the BESI (Barriers to Employment Success Inventory) as well as opportunities to work in the school work study program so that we can then use work assessments and employer comment to give them real life application and also adds to their resumes. The work study evaluations (one per quarter) can then be attached to the IEP as well. I have done this with both low functioning students and my highest functioning students- with great results. Parents who say they can’t get their kids to think about what they are doing the next day begin to talk about next year, when I am a senior, and then when I graduate…

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Friday, December 27, 2013

Autism Ability To Remember Faces Tied To Oxytocin Love' Gene

Knowing how to recognize a face is essential to every friendship and familybond that a person will make. But if it is so vital, why do some people excel at it, while others struggle to remember acquaintances? New autismresearch points to a single gene mutation as the major culprit behind facial forgetfulness. The aberrant gene in question was the oxytocin receptor, a protein that coats certain brain cells and is designed to respond to oxytocin, the love hormone.

 Read more here. 

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Cognition and behavior: Sticky gaze may be early autism sign

Babies later diagnosed with autism tend to stare at objects after picking them up at much later ages than controls do, according to a study published in Behavioral Brain Research1. This delay may contribute to problems with joint attention — the tendency to seek out and follow others’ gaze — in autism, the researchers say. Babies who pick up an object continue to look at it for about a second afterwards, a behavior researchers call ‘sticky attention.’ At 1 year of age, however, they tend to look away as they touch the object, or immediately before. This may allow them to switch their focus to another object or person in the room. Studies have shown that babies later diagnosed with autism still show sticky attention at about 12 months of age2. The new study follows the development of sticky attention over time in babies at risk for autism and controls.

 Read more here. 

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Autism brains are overly connected, studies find

Three studies published over the past two months have found significant evidence that children and adolescents with autism have brains that are overly connected compared with the brains of controls1,2,3. The findings complicate the theory that autism is fundamentally characterized by weakly connected brain regions. Connectivity is a measure of how tightly synchronized two or more brain areas are. When two brain areas increase or decrease their activity at approximately the same time, the regions are considered to be strongly synchronized, or hyperconnected. For two decades, some scientists have theorized that altered or impaired brain connectivity underlies autism. Brain imaging studies initially revealed reduced brain connectivity in people with autism4,5,6. "I think it’s a very nice opportunity for the field, but also the general public, to become aware that network connectivity and abnormalities of network connectivity are really more complicated than just underconnectivity,” says Ralph-Axel Müller, professor of psychology at San Diego State University and lead investigator of one of the new studies. “Now we’re getting findings that are much more nuanced.”

 Read more here. 

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Is SSRI use during pregnancy an autism risk factor?

A few recent studies have suggested that using SSRI’s during pregnancy might increase the risk of a child later being diagnosed autistic. SSRI’s are commonly used to treat depression. Earlier this year a team from Bristol studied the question and concluded: In utero exposure to both SSRIs and non-selective monoamine reuptake inhibitors (tricyclic antidepressants) was associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorders, particularly without intellectual disability. Whether this association is causal or reflects the risk of autism with severe depression during pregnancy requires further research. However, assuming causality, antidepressant use during pregnancy is unlikely to have contributed significantly towards the dramatic increase in observed prevalence of autism spectrum disorders as it explained less than 1% of cases. In other words, mothers taking SSRI’s may have more autistic children (50% increased risk) but that could be due to the underlying condition (depression) rather than the SSRI use.

 Read more here. 

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Exploring anxiety symptoms in a large-scale twin study of children with autism spectrum disorders, their co-twins and controls.

Abstract BACKGROUND: Although many children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) experience difficulties with anxiety,the manifestation of these difficulties remains unresolved. The current study assessed anxiety in a large population based twin sample, aged 10–15 years. Phenotypic analyses were used to explore anxiety symptoms in children with ASDs, their unaffected co-twins and a control sample. METHODS: Participants included 146 families from the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) where one or both children had a suspected ASD. Eighty control families were also included. The Revised Child Anxiety and Depression scale (Chorpita, Yim, Moffitt, Umemoto & Francis, 2000) was completed (self- and parent-report), along with diagnostic and cognitive tests. Children were categorized into four groups (a) ASD (b) Broader Autism Phenotype (BAP: mainly co-twins of children with ASDs, with high subclinical autistic traits) (c) unaffected co-twins (with neither ASDs nor BAP) (d) controls. RESULTS: Children in the ASD and BAP groups scored significantly higher than controls for all parent-rated (although not child-rated) anxiety subscales.There were no significant differences between the ASD and BAP groups for any of the parent-rated anxiety subscales. Compared with controls, unaffected co-twins showed significantly heightened Social Anxiety, Generalized Anxiety,and Panic symptoms. Significant associations were observed between certain anxiety subscales and both IQ and ASD symptoms. For example, greater parent-rated Social Anxiety was associated with higher IQ and increased social and communicative impairments. Significant interrater correlations were observed for anxiety reports in children with ASDs (r = .27–.54; p < .01), their unaffected co-twins (r = .32–.63; p < .01) and controls (r = .23–.43; p < .01)suggesting that children in this sample with and without ASD symptoms were able to report on their anxiety symptoms with some accuracy. CONCLUSIONS: These findings support previous reports of heightened anxiety in children with ASDs, at least on parent-reported measures. Unaffected co-twins of children with ASDs also showed increased anxiety, generating questions about the potential etiological overlap between ASDs and anxiety. Progress in this area now depends on more refined anxiety measurement in ASDs and continued investigation of interrater differences.

 Source. 

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Hospital-Diagnosed Maternal Infections Linked to Increased Autism Risk

Hospital-diagnosed maternal bacterial infections during pregnancy were associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorders in children, according to a Kaiser Permanente study published Dec. 23 in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. The research contributes new evidence to a body of scientific literature on the role of infection in autism risk and points to areas for further examination. -

 See more at: 

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

What you shouldn't say to an autistic child:

What you shouldn't say to an autistic child: Stranger coming up and saying "I have seen Rain Man". Wait, what? Not all children are like a blockbuster sensation... "Are you actually autistic or do you just have Asperger's Syndrome?" What are they thinking? Last I checked, Asperger's was most definitely on the spectrum and has now been absorbed into Autism Spectrum Disorder within the new DSM-V. "You must be very high functioning." I believe that is meant as a compliment, actually. This stranger needs to be educated on the fact that autistic children do not need to be very high-functioning to be smartest in their class. "Why are you doing that?" or "That looks so weird!" are probably some of the most ignorant statements autistic children hear. They feel like it, they enjoy it, they find it quite normal for themselves? Many reasons pop up which are exactly what a regular child would say. Everyone is different. People need to learn how to accept that. Stranger pointing to a body language book and saying, "I think this book can really help you..." Seriously? Maybe the stranger does not realize that autistic individuals perceive faces and body language differently and might not notice certain subtle messages sent through non-verbal means. "You are autistic? I am so sorry! That makes me so sad." That statement leaves me flabbergasted, let alone an autistic child. I'm pretty sure I can think of quite a few obscene responses to this one. It is quite sad that the individual has no clue what autism is all about. Quite a few geniuses out there are actually autistic savants. Anyone from Beethoven to Einstein to Bill Gates is believed to be an autistic savant, and always for a reason. "But you look so normal." "I never would have guessed." "But there is nothing wrong with you." Last I checked, autistic children were not aliens. They look quite normal, mostly act like the average population and have few behavioral signs for the most part that gives away their disorder. So no, there is nothing wrong with them, simply something different. Certain professionals staring at you with a fake smile and saying, "you cannot expect us to accommodate ALL of your needs." Wait, what? So you are allowed to pick and choose what needs you accommodate? I might need dim lights and few sensory distractions. My normal functioning friend might need a wheelchair to get into the building. Will you only accommodate one of us because that one has a physical disability? "You are autistic? Give me a hug, it is going to be okay..." and then, "what do you mean you do not want a hug?" First, you did not just find out I have cancer. Of course, I am okay. I was born with a disability or ability, depending on how you define it, that makes me stand out from the rest. That makes me special. Special people do not receive hugs from average people. Or maybe it is because I do not like hugs. Not everyone does, it is not just a trait reserved for autistic children. Strangers mentioning a study they read that might or might not be true about the cause for autism. Parents might want to know what caused it and children might sequester themselves in libraries or in front of a computer searching for it, but hearing a stranger say it is like a slap in the face. No one knows what causes autism. There is no cure for autism. It is not fun hearing a stranger who is not your psychotherapist psychoanalyze your situation. Strangers asking if you have tried this or that to cure the autism. Once again, there is no cure.There are only techniques one can use to lessen the meltdowns, help the children integrate into society and get a good night's sleep. Anyone but one's parents and therapists suggesting they try something new is generally unwelcome. Point is, what is being advised to do has probably already been tried ten times over. "Stop making excuses to be rude to people." Each case is different and they might not realize they are being rude in the first place. "But, you have a job!" Yes, autistic people can work. They may have a selected pool to choose from, wider or narrower depending on the individual, but they can create a career. Autistic children are just like the average normal functioning child. They have feelings, they like friends and they want to be loved just like anyone. They may need certain accommodations, likeweighted blankets in school and at home, but to have autism simply means one is different and not less; it is about time the world learned to accept that simple fact.

 Source

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Autism Patients Carry Common Sequence Variations In Gene, Study

A recent study reveals that autism patients are more likely to carry specific sequence variations of a particular gene. Interestingly, the same gene is also linked to empathy quotient in the general public, the researchers claim. The variations in the gene are possible indicators of Asperger Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder.

 Read more here. 

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Sensory Integration: Changing the Brain through Play

This month, researchers with Philadelphia’s Farber Institute of Neuroscience published a ground-breaking study in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. This study is among the first scientifically rigorous clinical trials to assess the effectiveness of occupational therapy using sensory integration (OT-SI) for improving the ability of children with autism to participate meaningfully in daily life. [Read our news story on this study’s findings here.] The new study is important because it used a randomized, controlled trial to assess OT-SI intervention while assuring that it was delivered in a way that met all the characteristics of sensory integration intervention. It showed that children who received OT-SI in addition to their other autism treatments achieved greater improvements in their ability to function in daily life than did children who received the same standard autism treatments without OT-SI. As the autism community knows well, many individuals with autism have difficulty processing and integrating sensory information. These sensitivities can create great barriers to participating in daily life for those with autism and their families. As a result, interventions that address sensory difficulties are among the most requested by parents of children with autism. Unfortunately, OT-SI – which can change brain function – is sometimes confused with other sensory-based strategies that help calm individuals but don’t have long term effects. Examples of the latter include weighted blankets and compression vests. OT-SI has also remained poorly understood, in part, I think, because it looks like mere play. To the uninformed onlooker, it can be hard to see the serious neuroscience beneath the play. I’d like to use a classic scenario to illustrate.

 Read more here. 

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Autism highest among Minneapolis' Somali and white children, U studyfinds

The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder is the same among Somali and white children living in Minneapolis, but Somali children tend to develop a more severe form of the developmental disorder, according to a new report released Monday by University of Minnesota researchers. The study's data revealed that 1 in 32 Somali and 1 in 36 white children aged 7 to 9 were identified with autism in 2010 — numbers that are statistically indistinguishable, according to the researchers. Both Somali and white children in Minneapolis were, however, more likely to have been identified with autism than their non-Somali black or Hispanic peers. The data showed that the prevalence of autism was 1 in 62 among the city’s black children and 1 in 80 among its Hispanic children in 2010. Overall, 1 in 48 Minneapolis children were identified with autism in 2010. That number is fairly close to the national parent-reported prevalence of 1 in 50 that was reported in March 2013 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But it is much higher than the CDC's more official 1 in 88 estimate, which is based on 2008 data from 14 communities across the United States. (That estimate is expected to be updated in 2014.)

 Read more here.

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Could a Tiny Worm Help Treat Autism?

Adults with autism who were intentionally infected with a parasitic intestinal worm experienced an improvement in their behavior, researchers say. After swallowing whipworm eggs for 12 weeks, people with autism became more adaptable and less likely to engage in repetitive actions, said study lead author Dr. Eric Hollander, director of the Autism and Obsessive Compulsive Spectrum Program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. Use of the worms relates to the "hygiene hypothesis," which holds that some autoimmune disorders might be caused by a lack of microbes or parasites present in the body during earlier, less hygienic times, Hollander said. These bugs might help regulate the immune response in the human body. "We found these individuals had less discomfort associated with a deviation in their expectations," Hollander said. "They were less likely to have a temper tantrum or act out." The whipworm study is one of two novel projects Hollander is scheduled to present Thursday at the annual meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology in Hollywood, Fla. The other therapy -- hot baths for children with autism -- also was found to improve symptoms, Hollander said.

 Read more here. 

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

An Intervention for Sensory Difficulties in Children with Autism: ARandomized Trial

Abstract This study evaluated a manualized intervention for sensory difficulties for children with autism, ages 4–8 years, using a randomized trial design. Diagnosis of autism was confirmed using gold standard measures. Results show that the children in the treatment group (n = 17) who received 30 sessions of the occupational therapy intervention scored significantly higher (p = 0.003, d = 1.2) on Goal Attainment Scales (primary outcome), and also scored significantly better on measures of caregiver assistance in self-care (p = 0.008 d = 0.9) and socialization (p = 0.04, d = 0.7) than the Usual Care control group (n = 15). The study shows high rigor in its measurement of treatment fidelity and use of a manualized protocol, and provides support for the use of this intervention for children with autism. Findings are discussed in terms of their implications for practice and future research.

 Read more here. 

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Friday, November 29, 2013

Minimally verbal schoolchildren with autism gained spoken languagefaster when play-based therapy included speech-generating devices

Sixty children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) participated in the study. They ranged in age from 5 to 8 years and used fewer than 20 words at the start of therapy. The researchers measured their word use before, midway-through and after the six-month study. All the children participated in a play-based intervention that encouraged engagement with the therapist and the use of spoken language. To start, they received two, hour-long sessions per week. To measure the additional benefit of a speech-generating device, the researchers used it with half the children from the very start of therapy. (Speech-generating devices come in many forms, including iPads with special apps.) At the 3 month mark, the researchers measured the children’s progress. Those who were gaining language skills continued on course. The researchers added the communication device to the therapy of children who were responding slowly without it. Those who were progressing slowly even with the device received an extra hour of therapy per week.

 Read more here.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Educating Chidren About Autism in an Inclusive Classroom

See the training manual here. 

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Jittery limb movements may predict autism subgroups

Tiny fluctuations in the limb movements of children with autism can predict the severity of their condition and track their response to treatments, according to two unpublished studies presented at the 2013 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego. Individuals with autism often have motor problems, ranging from clumsiness and imbalance to wobbly handwriting. But these symptoms historically have been neglected in scientific research. “In autism, movement hasn’t been put in the forefront because [people with the disorder] move: They can point, they can reach, they can grasp,” says Elizabeth Torres, assistant professor of psychology at Rutgers University in New Jersey, who led the new studies. But zooming in on the tiny changes in those motions reveals distinctive patterns, she says. “It’s actually a very rich signal that we can use to diagnose and treat.”

 Read more here.

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Bedroom TV, Video Games Linked to Less Sleep in Boys With Autism

Exposure to television and video games could play a role in the sleep problems of children with autism, new research suggests. Boys with the neurodevelopmental disorder who have TVs and game consoles in their bedrooms get less sleep than other boys with equal screen access, the study authors found. "If parents of children with autism are noticing that their child struggles with sleep, they might consider monitoring -- and perhaps limiting -- pre-bedtime exposure" to video games and TV.

 Read the rest of some seriously obvious research here. 

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Friday, November 15, 2013

RNA bits vary in social, auditory brain areas in autism

People with autism show differences from controls in the levels of microRNAs, small noncoding bits of RNA, in the social and sound-processing parts of the brain. Unpublished results from the postmortem study were presented Wednesday at the 2013 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego. MicroRNAs, or miRNAs, bind to messenger RNAs, which code for protein, and flag them for degradation. Each miRNA can interfere with the production of several proteins. For example, a 2011 study linked the lack of miR-125a to denser dendritic spines, the signal-receiving branches of neurons, and to higher levels of postsynaptic density-95, a protein associated with autism. Postmortem brain studies have shown that some miRNAs are expressed differently in the brains of people with autism.

 Read more here. 

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Gender Differences in the Relationship Between Social Communication andEmotion Recognition

Objective To investigate the association between autistic traits and emotion recognition in a large community sample of children using facial and social motion cues, additionally stratifying by gender. Method A general population sample of 3,666 children from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) were assessed on their ability to correctly recognize emotions using the faces subtest of the Diagnostic Analysis of Non-Verbal Accuracy, and the Emotional Triangles Task, a novel test assessing recognition of emotion from social motion cues. Children with autistic-like social communication difficulties, as assessed by the Social Communication Disorders Checklist, were compared with children without such difficulties. Results Autistic-like social communication difficulties were associated with poorer recognition of emotion from social motion cues in both genders, but were associated with poorer facial emotion recognition in boys only (odds ratio = 1.9, 95% CI = 1.4, 2.6, p = .0001). This finding must be considered in light of lower power to detect differences in girls. Conclusions In this community sample of children, greater deficits in social communication skills are associated with poorer discrimination of emotions, implying there may be an underlying continuum of liability to the association between these characteristics. As a similar degree of association was observed in both genders on a novel test of social motion cues, the relatively good performance of girls on the more familiar task of facial emotion discrimination may be due to compensatory mechanisms. Our study might indicate the existence of a cognitive process by which girls with underlying autistic traits can compensate for their covert deficits in emotion recognition, although this would require further investigation.

 Source.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Archived Webcast - Autism and Bullying

Many parents of children with autism are well aware that their children are bullied at school, but more recent research suggests the problem is pervasive. One study found that 46% of middle and high school students with ASD have been bullied. By comparison, in the general adolescent population, an estimated 10% of children have been bullied. Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) experience difficulties in communication, interaction and imagination, and often find the social world difficult and confusing. Students with ASD struggle with social norms and relating to peers. This leads to children with ASD being picked on, tormented, and bullied. Research in public schools comparing kids with ASD to their peers finds that children with ASD are more likely to be rejected by their peers, receive less social support from their friends and classmates, spend more time alone at recess and lunch times, chat and play less with others, are verbally abused more often, are more likely to react aggressively and are three more times likely to be bullied. This webcast will discuss the ways bullying happens (from teasing to cyberbullying) and what can be done to help our children cope with bullying as well as strategies to address bullying.

 View the webinar here (brief registration required.)

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Vision, motor areas of the brain out of sync in autism

Parts of the brain that process vision and control movements are poorly connected in children with autism, according to results presented Saturday at the 2013 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego. In addition to the social deficits that are a core feature of autism, children with the disorder often have clumsy movements. Studies have also found that people with autism have trouble imitating others. The new study uncovers patterns of brain activity suggesting all three of these deficits may be related.

 Read more here. 

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Sample IEP Data Matrix

See it here.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Experts Disagree on Autism Diagnosis Explosion'

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the official estimate is that 1 in 88 children in the United States has an autism diagnosis. This is higher than their estimate from 2006 of 1 in 110 children with autism, and a surprising jump from the 1 in 10,000 rate from decades ago. But this estimate pales in comparison to a 2011 study in which researchers from Yale and George Washington Universities looked at autism rates in a suburb of Seoul, South Korea. After looking at thousands of children, they found that 2.65 percent of them had autism – a whopping 1 in 38 children, many of which had not been officially diagnosed. However, a 2011 study from Britain found that diagnosis has stayed fairly steady over the last several decades – 1 in 100. Nancy Minshew of the University of Pittsburgh says that, as she sorts through the evidence, she feels that the rates have actually remained rather steady. However, she believes that maybe there are more diagnoses being made, simply because we are a little more sensitive to what it means to be autistic.

 Read more here. 

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Are Autism, Gut, GFCF Diet, And Anxiety Connected?

A persistent question in the world of autism is whether or not autistic people have a greater tendency than nonautistic people to have sensitivities to wheat and milk proteins. Research results are mixed, but anecdotally, many parents of autistic children report improvements when they remove wheat and/or dairy from their child’s diet. Excluding the latter might be particularly risky,according to a new study. Many autistic people have very specific food preferences, and autistics tend to be low on vitamin D and calcium, so cutting a major dietary source of these nutrients requires care and caution. But what about wheat and autism? Another recent, very large analysis found a complex relationship between autism and wheat sensitivity. Most headlines stated simply that the study authors found no link between autism and celiac disease. The reality is more complex and opens up an issue that I’ve not seen anyone address yet for autistic people.

 Read more here. 

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

12 Autism Resources for those who Speak Spanish

We know there are a good amount of resources available in the U.S. for English speakers, but, of course, Autism is not just limited to those who speak English, so, the resources should not be limited either. About 36 million people living in the United States use Spanish as their first language. We gathered together a list of the best Special Needs Resources available in Spanish. Please pass these along to anyone who many benefit from such resources. 1. Autismo Diario Autismo Diaro is a non-profit publication whose purpose is to disseminate as much information about Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity (ADHD”) . Most of their content is provided by national and international media agencies. Subjects include: news, general information, education, therapy options, opinions, and more. You can also find Autismo Diaro on Facebook and Twitter.Website: autismodiario.org

 Read more suggestions here. 

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

An In-Depth Guide: How to Transition Young Children with Autism

Young children with Autism respond well to structured routines and familiar surroundings. But life has a way of throwing unexpected curve balls, and people need to adapt. Psychologists call this resiliency; the ability to “go with the flow” when things don’t go your way. Resiliency is honed in neurotypical children through their development of play and self regulation skills, as well as a sense of humor. Neurotypical children learn to be resilient when they find ways to self soothe, manage stress, and see the humor in unwanted and/or unanticipated situations. The experiences, paired with the vocabulary associated with that event, are stored in their “memory banks” i.e. episodic memory, for later recall and problem solving as needed. For children with autism more work is needed to make he or she more comfortable with transitions.

 Here are some important transition teaching tips for for young children with autism. 

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Autistic Kids Focus More on Right Than Left Eye

In face recognition, children withautism focus on the face about as long as their peers, but tend to look at the right eye rather than the left. The new research also shows that children with an autism spectrum disorder tend to focus just below the eyes, instead of at the pupils. Research has shown that children with autism have trouble recognizing others’ emotions and faces. They tend to gaze at faces differently than non-autistic children — such as preferring to look at the mouth instead of the eyes. This may help explain why they miss social cues and may have difficulty interacting with others. Read more here.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Study - Yawning Not Contagious for Children with Autism



Children with autism apparently don稚 respond to social yawning, however, prompting some researchers to blame their well-chronicled struggle with empathy.

A new Japanese study suggests that, instead, children with the disorder miss facial cues, such as closed eyes, that make yawning contagious. The study was published 22 July in Autism Research and Treatment.

The researchers say children with autism miss those cues because they avoid looking at people痴 faces. But that may not entirely explain it. For example, a small 2009 study found that typically developing children yawn even when they致e only heard another person do so, but children with autism do not.
Catching cues:
In the new study, the researchers set up two experiments to determine whether children with autism look at others・faces enough to catch a social yawn.

Read more here.


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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Cashing In On Fears Of Autism: Scientists Claim They Can PredictWhether A Mom Will Have A Child With Autism

Very recently, scientists at the UC Davis Mind Institute published a study that described 7 antibodies found in the blood of some mothers of autistic children, and much less often found in mothers of normally developing children. They suggested that these antibodies somehow got into the brains of developing fetuses, causing autism in the children. They even gave a name to this form of autism: maternal autoantibody-related, or MAR autism. If true, this study suggests that a test for these antibodies might predict whether or not a child will have autism. The study seems plausible, and it was published in a respectable journal called Translational Psychiatry. Unfortunately, though, the study and the way it has been promoted are plagued with problems. Is this a test that mothers should take? In a word, no.

 Read more here.

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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 see more. 

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

iPads in the Classroom, Transforming Learning Experiences - Billings -Sept. 25-26, 2013

Register for this event What:We have all heard the hype about iPads and how this mobile device will change the way that we use technology, but what does that mean for education? If you are looking for an interactive, hands-on workshop that will help you realize the power of this device and how it can be used in a K-12 classroom, then this is the one for you. This workshop is designed to introduce educators to using the iPad as a tool to enhance their teaching and thus improve student learning. This course looks at iPad basic operations as well as advance configurations and use as a teaching tool integrated into existing content. During this workshop you will have the opportunity to discover the countless ways you can use this device to change the way you "do" education. This workshop will assist you in learning the basics of working with your iPad, how to research apps to determine which ones are right for your classroom, and introduce the many accessories that can be added to your iPad to extend its functionality. This workshop is for the beginner to the old pro.When:September 25-26, 2013Where:Montana State University College of Education, Room 1221500 University Dr. Billings, MT 59101Cost:Free of charge

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Young Adults With Autism Less Likely to Have Jobs, Live Independently

Young adults with autism are less likely to find work or live on their own than their peers with other kinds of disabilities, two new studies show. The studies detailed the fates of a national sample of 20-somethings who had received special-education services in high school. The first study focused on employment. Researchers found that only about half of those with autism had ever held a job since high school, and only about a third were currently working. Even worse, young adults on the autism spectrum were less likely to be getting a paycheck than people the same age who had other kinds of disabilities. More than 80 percent of those with speech and language difficulties reported having at least one job, for example, while 62 percent of those with intellectual disabilities had ever been employed. When kids with autism did find work, they made less money. On average, young adults with autism earned $8.10 an hour, while those with other kinds of impairments -- including low IQs, learning disabilities, and trouble speaking and communicating -- were paid between $11 and $12 an hour. The second study focused on living arrangements. Researchers found that only 17 percent of young adults with autism, who were between 21 and 25 years old, had ever lived on their own.

 Read more here. 

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Focused iPad Summit in Kalispell, October 2013

Us, not CSPD.

Barb

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

PECS Level 2 - Great Falls - October 2013

      This training is partially funded through the Montana Autism Education Project.

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Friday, September 6, 2013

10 Weirdest Things Linked To Autism

I write about autism a lot. Much of what I write has to do with autism-related research, and I keep tabs on what comes down the pipeline every day–because a new autism finding turns up every day. Some of it seems pretty reasonable, but a few things I’ve seen linked to autism–always a mathematical relationship, never a causative one–just leave a reader thinking, “Eh?,” possibly with a little stereotypical head-scratching added in. Or maybe the occasional throwing of items within reach. Over the years, I’ve accumulated quite a list. Here are the 10 weirdest–and in some cases, most dangerous–factors I’ve seen linked to autism. 1. No worms. Without question, my all-time favorite autism-linked factor has to be “an absence of worms.” It’s a wriggly hypothesis that lacks even a correlation to drive it, but it sure did get a lot of attention. I can confirm anecdatally that I’ve never heard of an autistic person who had worms, but I also haven’t known non-autistic people who have, either.

 Read more here. 

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Training in Autism Friendly Protocols Help to Improve ER Care

“So often practitioners misconstrue behavior of patients with autism and do not realize the behaviors they exhibit are not maladaptive but rather those that characterize the condition, and this leads to poor outcomes,” says Dr. Arvind Venkat, vice chair of the department of emergency medicine at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh and co-author of the “Assess Communicate Treat for Autism (ACT)” training manual along with Joann Migyanka, a former teacher of children with autism and associate professor of special education at Indiana University and now autism consultant; Jeffrey Fratangeli, director of program evaluation and accreditation in the College of Education and Educational Technology at IUP; and Susan Glor-Scheib, professor in IUP’s special education and clinical services department. “It’s time for those of us in the general health care system to get prepared,” says Venkat, noting that ACT recommends care delivery that will result in the best experience and outcome for the patient and his/her family members.

 Read more here. 

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

It's An Autism ThingŠLet Me Help You Understand

A good autism blog from a dad. Who is also a comic.

see here:

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

archived Webinar - Transition Planning for Students with ASD in Public Schools

You can view the archived webinar here. 

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More Links Seen Between Autism, ADHD

Kids with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are 20 times more likely to exhibit some traits of autism than children without ADHD, according to a new study. One of every five ADHD kids in the study exhibited signs of autism such as slow language development, difficulty interacting with others and problems with emotional control, said study co-author Dr. Joseph Biederman, director of the pediatric psychopharmacology unit at Massachusetts General Hospital. These kids also showed problems with "executive function," or the ability to plan, organize and conceptualize future action, said Biederman, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Fewer than 1 percent of kids in the non-ADHD comparison group exhibited any traits linked to autism, according to the study appearing in the September issue of Pediatrics. "These children are not having the full diagnosis of autism, but they have symptoms of autism," Biederman said. "It may be important to screen children with ADHD for autistic traits because they may need more support, particularly in the educational and interpersonal domains."

 Read more here. 

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Autism, Denmark and again no link with vaccines.

Although the results from our comparison of recurrence in full- and half-siblings support the role of genetics in ASDs, the significant recurrence in maternal half-siblings may support the idea of a contributing role of factors associated with pregnancy and the maternal intrauterine environment. Finally, the lack of a time trend in the relative recurrence risk in our data suggests that the likely combination of genetic and environmental factors contributes to the risk for ASD recurrence in siblings or that the risk for recurrence because of such factors has not been affected by the rise in the ASD prevalence. The current Denmark study included individuals diagnosed until the end of 2010. I.e. there were 10 more years of followup. In those 10 years a lot more people were diagnosed. Where there were 956 diagnosed with autism by 2000 (for birth years 1971 to 2000), 2321 were diagnosed by 2010. That’s an increase of 240%. And the new study focused on birth years 1980 to 1999. I.e. the entire 1970′s birth cohort is not included in this count, and they still found over twice as many autistics. Where were they in 2000, when the previous study was performed? Living in Denmark, not identified as autistic. And, those numbers were for childhood autism. For ASD, the increase is even larger. 10,377 Danes had an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis (for birth years 1980-1999) in the new study (the previous study included none). That’s a whopping 1080% increase. Again, there are a few reasons for this (including the increased awareness above), but here’s what “expanding the definition” does to autism. Those increases would be an “epidemic” to some if it weren’t for the fact that those autistic Danes were there all along. They just weren’t diagnosed in 2000.

 Read more here. 

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

1 Autistic Child in Family Hikes Risk for More

Younger siblings of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) had a greater risk of being affected with an ASD themselves, a Danish study affirmed. Compared with children who came from families unaffected by ASDs, those with an older sibling with an ASD were nearly seven times more likely to be diagnosed with an ASD.

 Click here to read more. 

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The Comprehensive Autism Planning System (CAPS)

This is a series of recorded seminars from the Virginia Commonwealth University Autism Center for Excellence. They do require some demographic information and an email address to register but they are good people and won't spam you. Case studies are also included to help educators understand how CAPS can be implemented for students with ASD. CAPS is a comprehensive, yet easy-to-use system that provides a framework to help educators implement an instructional program for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The CAPS model breaks the student's program into core components and helps educators determine when to target critical goals, including those related to communication and social skills; identify the structure, supports, and instructional strategies required; as well as delineate the data collection to be used to ensure students are progressing. The Comprehensive Autism Planning System (CAPS) Title Presenter(s) Details The Comprehensive Autism Planning System: What is it and How is it Used? Dawn Hendricks Selena Layden Details The Comprehensive Autism Planning System: Purpose and Overview Shawn Henry Details The Comprehensive Autism Planning System: The Essential Elements Amy Bixler Coffin Brenda Smith Myles Details The Comprehensive Autism Planning System: A Case Study Amy Bixler Coffin Brenda Smith Myles Details The Comprehensive Autism Planning System: A General Education Case Study Dawn Hendricks Selena Layden Noel Woolard

Details 

View Seminar

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Preventing Wandering: Resources for Parents and First Responders

Amid a frightening number of wandering cases of children with autism this summer – many of them fatal – Autism Speaks wants to remind families of the resources available and the advice to follow to keep your children safe. 6 Tips to Help Prevent Wandering and Wandering-Related TragediesA Digital Guide for Caregivers: Learning to Prevent WanderingA Digital Resource for First Responders: Finding a Missing Child with AutismAWAAREAutism Safety ProjectAutism Safety Resources and ProductsTips from Our Community

 Read more here. 

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

This Just In: Autism Is Caused by [Fill in the Blank]

Parents are bombarded with stories about autism research. Headlines and somber-voiced announcers declare that new research has found that autism is linked to a smorgasbord of things: mom's age, dad's age, grandfather's age, living near freeways, living near farms, prenatal stress, premature birth, fertility treatments, obese mothers, flu during pregnancy, having babies too closely together, and so on. How do we make sense of this?
 More here:

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Friday, August 9, 2013

Autism breakthrough as 'genetic signature' in babies as young as a yearfound; blood test in the works

A GENETIC "signature" of autism in babies as young as 12 months has been identified for the first time, an international conference is to be told. A simple blood test is now being developed and may be available in one to two years, Professor Eric Courchesne will tell the Asia Pacific Autism conference in Adelaide today. "This discovery really changes the landscape of our understanding of causes and effective treatments," says the director of the Autism Centre of Excellence at the University of California in San Diego. "This is going to lead to much better treatments at a much earlier stage and a large percentage of children having an excellent outcome." He said the several gene networks that are a common thread in autism have been identified for the first time. "During the fourth, fifth and sixth months of pregnancy, they disrupt the production of brain cells, producing too many or in some cases too few, and how the cells are organised and connected," he said. "We've also identified four gene networks that are a 'biological signature' of autism in babies as young as 12 months. "A blood screening test is being developed.

 Read more here.

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101 Noteworthy Sites on Asperger's and the Autism Spectrum Disorder

See the list here. 

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Archived Webinars - scroll towards the bottom of the web page to view.

You can find the webinars below and many more on this page. “Meeting, Making, and Keeping Friends and Connections” A presentation provided by Andee Joyce of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN). View this webinar on-demand. View PowerPoint Slides for this webinar. “Bullying: What to Know and How to Help Prevent It!” A presentation from Autism NOW’s Co-Director, Amy Goodman. View this webinar on-demand. View PowerPoint Slides for this webinar. “Apps for Autism: The Apps That Can Make A Difference And Why” A presentation on helpful iPad apps, provided by Shannon Des Roches Rosa and Corina Becker. View webinar on-demand. View PowerPoint Slides for this webinar.
View webinars here:

 View power Point Slides here:

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Monday, August 5, 2013

How to Flirt and Get a Date! - Autism Talk TV 20

In this episode of Autism Talk TV, I discuss flirting and dating with Dr. Liz Laugeson from UCLA's PEERS Program. This is the first episode of our social skills series we filmed at The Help Group. And the best part about this episode is that I demonstrate asking out a REAL girl! Liz first walks me through the process of flirting which involves making eye contact, smiling, and then looking away right when the other person smiles and notices you. Next we go over asking a girl or guy out on a date which involves finding a common interest and suggesting something that relates to that common interest. There's more to it but you'll have to watch to find out all the tips and tricks relating to body language, eye-contact, and what to say!

 Watch the video here. 

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Friday, August 2, 2013

Autism symptoms not explained by impaired attention

Autism is marked by several core features — impairments in social functioning, difficulty communicating, and a restriction of interests. Though researchers have attempted to pinpoint factors that might account for all three of these characteristics, the underlying causes are still unclear. Now, a new study suggests that two key attentional abilities — moving attention fluidly and orienting to social information — can be checked off the list, as neither seems to account for the diversity of symptoms we find in people with autism. "This is not to say that every aspect of attention is fine in all children with autism — children with autism very often have attentional disorders as well," explain psychological scientists and lead researchers Jason Fischer and Kami Koldewyn of MIT. "However, our study suggests that attention impairments are not a key component of autism itself."
 Read more here. 

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Autism Link to Mercury in Fish Not Supported

Mercury in fish does not appear to contribute to autism, researchers reported. The finding comes from analysis of a large cohort of mothers and children in the Seychelles, an Indian Ocean nation where residents consume about 10 times the amount of ocean fish as people in the U.S., according to Edwin van Wijngaarden, PhD, of the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, NY, and colleagues. But despite prenatal methylmercury levels that were approximately 10 times those of mothers in the U. S., there was no association between methylmercury and their children's scores on autism screening tests, van Wijngaarden and colleagues reported online in Epidemiology.

 Read more here. 

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Gait analysis of teenagers and young adults diagnosed with autism and severe verbal communication disorders.

Both movement differences and disorders are common within autism spectrum disorders (ASD). These differences have wide and heterogeneous variability among different ages and sub-groups all diagnosed with ASD. Gait was studied in a more homogeneously identified group of nine teenagers and young adults who scored as "severe" in both measures of verbal communication and overall rating of Autism on the Childhood Autism Rating Scales (CARS). The ASD individuals were compared to a group of typically developing university undergraduates of similar ages. All participants walked a distance of 6-meters across a GAITRite (GR) electronic walkway for six trials. The ASD and comparison groups differed widely on many spatiotemporal aspects of gait including: step and stride length, foot positioning, cadence, velocity, step time, gait cycle time, swing time, stance time, and single and double support time. Moreover, the two groups differed in the percentage of the total gait cycle in each of these phases. The qualitative rating of "Body Use" on the CARS also indicated severe levels of unusual body movement for all of the ASD participants. These findings demonstrate that older teens and young adults with "severe" forms of Verbal Communication Impairments and Autism differ widely in their gait from typically developing individuals. The differences found in the current investigation are far more pronounced compared to previous findings with younger and/or less severely involved individuals diagnosed with ASD as compared to typically developing controls. As such, these data may be a useful anchor-point in understanding the trajectory of development of gait specifically and motor functions generally.

 Source

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

Bringing the Early Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorders Into Focus

To improve recognition of the early signs of ASD among pediatricians, parents, and early intervention providers, autism researcher Dr. Rebecca Landa of Kennedy Krieger Institute has developed a free 9-minute video tutorial on ASD behavioral signs in one-year-olds. The tutorial consists of six video clips comparing toddlers who show no signs of ASD to toddlers who show early signs of ASD. Each video is presented with voice-over explaining how the specific behaviors exhibited by the child, as they occur on screen, are either indicative of ASD or typical child development.

 View the video here. 

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How to Teach Children to Swim With Autism

The following tips may help your Autistic Spectrum child learn to swim.The steps outlined in this article are aimed at assisting you to help your autistic spectrum child learn to swim. Autism can cause children to fear or dislike water, so additional effort is required to ease the anxiety over above that experienced by children in general.

see more here:

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Unique Brain Pattern Could Predict Autism in Youngest Children

Genetic changes are almost certainly behind many cases of autism, and the latest research suggests that some of those alterations may be contributing to more densely connected networks of brain nerves. A highly interconnected brain could mean that signals zooming from sensory nerves to other networks become too overwhelming to parse apart and process, which researchers believe is a hallmark of the autistic brain. And in a study published in JAMA Psychiatry, Stanford University researchers report that this pattern of hyperconnectivity in some brain areas could provide a fingerprint for autism that helps doctors to recognize the condition at its earliest stages

.Read more:

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Monday, June 24, 2013

A recorded archive of the LEAD Center webinar "Promoting Employment -Introduction to Customized Employment and Customized Self-Employment"is now available.










View the archive on YouTube

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Camel milk works ҷonders' with autistics

Camel milk, the white gold of the desert, has been shown to alleviate allergies and boost the immune system — but now Dubai scientists have conducted research showing it can improve the condition of autistic persons. In preliminary research published by a group of seven scientists from Dubai in the Journal of Camel Practice and Research, subjects with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) drank 500 millilitres of camel milk each day over eight weeks — leading to improved behaviour, alertness, social interaction and less hyperactivity. “(The parents) loved it! Imagine their kids were more alert, had better sleep patterns, bowel movements — all this was improved,” said lead researcher Renate Wernery, from Dubai’s Central Veterinary Research Laboratory.

 Read more here. 

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Just In: Aspergers Prevalence Predicted To Fall To Zero

Today, I was one of four people speaking on Forum with Michael Krasny, on KQED (Northern California Public Radio; listen here). The big news and the show’s focus is that Aspergers (and the less-mentioned, PDD-NOS [pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified) will no longer be diagnostic entities in the DSM-V, the guide clinicians theoretically use to diagnose these developmental conditions. As the show’s site says: The American Psychiatric Association voted this weekend to remove the diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome from the so-called bible of psychiatry, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders. People with Asperger’s will now more likely be diagnosed as having autism spectrum disorder. The APA says the change will lead to more accurate diagnoses for people with autism — but critics say removing the diagnosis may result in fewer people getting the services and care they need.

 Read more here. 

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Why Kids With Autism May Avoid Eye Contact

Children with autism often have difficulty making eye contact, and now a new study suggests this may be due in part to how their brains process visual information, rather than being purely a social deficit. In the study, children with autism showed activity over a larger area of the brain's cortex when an image was placed in the periphery of their visual field, compared with when the image was placed in the center of their visual field. The opposite was true in children who did not have the disorder. When a child with autism avoids eye contact, "we are very much inclined to interpret this as a social deficit," said study researcher John Foxe, a neuroscientist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. "But it may be a much more fundamental issue," stemming from a reduced ability early in life to control the muscles that govern eye movements, he said.

Read more here.

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Archived Webinar - Patricia Wright on Inclusion: Promoting Success for Students with Disabilities

Including students in general education settings is a pivotal component of quality special education service delivery. An inclusive educational environment benefits student with and without disabilities through a shared educational experience and requires quality, ongoing training and implementation supports for educators and families. Successful inclusion requires planned, purposeful delivery. This webinar will discuss strategies that assist districts in meeting the expectation of least restrictive environment through educating students with disabilities in general education settings. Through effective inclusive practices outcomes for students with and without disabilities improve. Patricia Wright has spoken at several conferences in Montana and is knowledgeable speaker with practical suggestions.

 Watch the archived webinar here.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Social Skills Autopsies

A Social Autopsy is an innovative strategy wherein an adult assists a child to improve social skills by jointly analyzing social errors that a child makes and designing alternative strategies. Some basic information about social autopsies.

 Social Skills Autopsy Steps 1-5

Social autopsies info. 

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Autism Spectrum Disorders in Children - Bozeman

Save the Date: Autism Spectrum Disorders in Children "Connecting Communities with Hope" A Learning Seminar in Bozeman, MT When: Saturday, July 13, 2013 Where: Gran Tree Inn 1325 N 7th Avenue Bozeman, MT 59715 Time: 9:00 am - 4:30 pm Cost: $75: Professionals (includes CEU's)$50: Parents Scholarships may be available View Brief Conference Description ***Registration to open soon*** On July 13, 2013, ChildWise Institute will bring together local experts to Bozeman to present on issues pertaining to Autism Spectrum Disorders in Children. This learning seminar is designed to expand understanding and awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in children and develop competencies for parents, mental health professionals, teachers and healthcare providers. Participants will be able to better understand and treat children diagnosed with symptoms on the Autism Spectrum. Social, emotional, behavioral and medical factors affecting children with ASD will be discussed. In addition, this learning seminar will identify ways to collaborate and integrate services from multiple agencies. Information from experts will be presented from: Julia Turner, MMSc, RD, LN: Registered Dietitian, Licensed Nutritionist, "Brain Health Nutrition Expert" Shawna Heiser, M.S. BCBA: Professor of Psychology at MSU-Bozeman,"Behavioral/Autism Consultant" Jennifer Leight, PT, PhD, PCS: Clinical Psychologist, Licensed Physical Therapist, "ASD from a Neuropsychological/Developmental Perspective" Special Appearance by Miss Montana, Alexis Wineman Registration will be open soon for this exciting event. Future similar seminars focused on Autism Spectrum Disorders in Children will take place in Helena, Missoula, and Kalispell. If you have any questions, please contact Cathy Huntley, Conference Coordinator, at (406) 457-4816 or e-mail: cathy@childwise.org.
more here:

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Currently, there is insufficient evidence to support instituting a gluten-free diet as a treatment for autism.

Perhaps the most commonly cited alternative therapy approach for autism is the gluten free/casein free diet. The idea was promoted largely based on the “leaky gut” and “opiod excess” idea of autism. The basic idea was that the intestines of autistics are for some reason “leaky” and incompletely digested proteins from gluten (grains) and casein (milk) enter the bloodstream and act much like an opiod (drug) causing (somehow) autism. Multiple research teams have looked for evidence of these “opiods” without success. But the idea that eliminating gluten and/or casein as an autism treatment. Timothy Buie is perhaps one of the most respected gastroenterologists in the autism communities. He has recently written a literature review on the topic:The relationship of autism and gluten. Here is the abstract:

Read more here.

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Transcript of Live Chat Discussing Changes to the DSM-V

On Saturday, May 18, the American Psychiatric Association will release the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5). The new edition introduces fundamental changes in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Don't worry, we don't expect these changes to impact people already diagnosed. Mark your calendars and join us for a chat with Lisa Goring and Alycia Halladay on Monday, May 20 at 7pm EST to learn much more about this topic and to ask any questions you might have about the changes. You can also click here to read answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the new DSM-5.

 Click here to read the transcript. 

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

New Trends and Strategies for Children with Autism - Glendive - June11-14, 2013

The June 11-14, 2013 Institute in Glendive will include “New Trends and Strategies for Children with Autism” by Shauna Heiser.

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23 Ways To Communicate With A Non-Verbal Child

“Just because a person can’t speak doesn’t mean they have nothing to say.” A very important reminder from a parent of a non-verbal child. Communication is a basic human need, allowing people to connect with others, make decisions that affect their lives, express feelings and feel part of the community they live in. People with little or no speech still have the same communication needs as the rest of us. We may just have to work a bit harder to find a communication strategy that works. The following tips have been contributed to Netbuddy by parents of children and adults with special needs. We hope you will find them useful, and please do share your own! 1. Make it mean something Katie can clap her hands so we have taught her to clap when she wants to say yes. 2. Level it up Playing and talking are easier if you can see each other. Sit so you are at the same level. 3. Talk about it Eddy can’t speak and also has limited understanding but it is important to keep talking to him about what’s going on. 4. Eye contact I put stickers on my forehead as a target for my son to look at. This reminds him to look at people’s faces, so people feel more like he is engaging with them. 5. It has meaning – it’s just not obvious

 Read 16 more ways here.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tips on Reaching Out to an Autism Mom

f you were good friends and in contact often before the diagnosis, don’t change. Your friend may not have as much time to see you in person, but you can stay connected by phone. Perhaps they will need to see you more and need a shoulder to lean on more often. Stay connected by continuing to invite your friends or relatives who have a child with autism. It may not be as easy for them to get out, but invite them to your party. If they can't make it, they'll let you know. If they can, they'll be there. Find out a little bit about autism. Go to a few websites of reputable autism organizations to get some more information of what autism is all about. Listen more than you advise. It is tempting with all the autism news stories in the paper to share everything you hear but resist the urge. Your friend has probably heard it all. Instead, offer him an ear, as well as some practical help.

 Read more here. 

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Understanding Autism: A Video Guide for Secondary School Teachers

These Youtube videos, a key component of the “Autism in the Schoolhouse” initiative, are designed to provide general education teachers with strategies for supporting their middle and high school students with autism. Segment One: Characteristics (18:34)
Segment Two: Integrating Supports in the Classroom Segment Three: Practices for Challenging Behavior Segment Four: Effective Use of Teacher Supports 

See more here.

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Epilepsy And Autism May Be Linked, Researchers Say Read more athttp://www.medicaldaily.com/articles/15627/20130516/epilepsy-autism-brain-study-social-difficulties.htm#7vhDsX1vsks1Cc8S.99

For the first time ever, researchers believe there may be a link between the effects of epilepsy on the brain and some traits of autism, reports the Daily Mail. Adults with epilepsy demonstrate certain traits of autism and Asperger's syndrome, the paper says. Epileptic seizures disrupt the brain functions dealing with social interaction - including communication with others and repetitive interests - leading to some of the same social behaviors exhibited by people with autism spectrum disorders.

 Read more here. 

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Visual Schedules

Visual Schedules Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other developmental delays learn more easily, express more interest, have fewer behavior problems and demonstrate increasing independence within consistent routines.Visual schedules can assist students in understanding these routines, such as the transition routine. Visual schedules can supplement natural environmental cues so that students understand the sequence of events when it is time to transition to a new activity. Schedules can answer important questions such as: Where am I going?, For how long?, What do I do next?. It tells the student “what to do” by focusing the student’s attention on the necessary information needed to move through their day. Students should be provided with a visual schedule appropriate to their functioning level and should be expected to use their schedules independently. Learning to follow visual information independently teaches students to access important information for themselves, instead of relying on constant adult directions. This life skill can later translate into skills such as: following a GPS, written directions or a map, and signs at an airport or on the street. Whether beginning with object, photo, drawing or word schedules, visual schedules for transitions are easy to create and use within the school setting and more importantly, they work! Here are a few tips for creating and using visual schedules with students: 1. Use a "check schedule" icon as an easy and effective way to remind the student to check their schedule.

 Read more here. 

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Girls With Autism May Need Different Treatments Than Boys

In the latest autism research, the first study compared visual scanning patterns in boys and girls with autism spectrum disorders. Scanning patterns were also collected for typically developing children. "We used eye-tracking technology while the participants in these studies watched videotapes of social scenes that presented naturalistic stimuli," said study co-author Ami Klin, director of the Marcus Autism Center, in Atlanta. The study, which was led by Klin's student, Jennifer Moriuchi, included 116 school-aged children with autism spectrum disorders. Eighty-one were boys and 35 were girls. The children with autism had varying degrees of social disability. The study also included 36 typically developing children. "On a surface level, it appears that boys and girls with autism appear to spend equal time learning from the eyes. They did look less than other children," Klin said. But, when the researchers correlated the youngsters' eye tracking with their level of disability, a much different picture emerged. "In boys, the more they looked at the eyes, the less socially disabled they are. In girls, the more they looked at the eyes, the more disabled they are," said Klin, chief of the division of autism and related disorders at Emory University School of Medicine and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. "What the study is suggesting is that we should not automatically assume that boys and girls learn about the world in the same way," Klin said, adding, "we have to take gender as a mediating factor." Dawson said "the study found that there are differences in the way girls and boys look at the eyes, so there may be differences in the way autism is manifested in girls than in boys." She noted that an important criterion right now for diagnosing autism is a lack of eye contact and using the eyes for social cues. The second study looked at the genetics involved in autism, and potential differences in boys and girls. Yale University researchers analyzed samples from 2,326 families. Included in those samples were those of 2,017 boys and 309 girls with an autism spectrum disorder. The Yale team found differences between the boys' and girls' genetic samples. "The fact that autism does affect boys so much more frequently has been staring us in the face for decades. There's been a hypothesis that there's something in the extra X chromosome that girls have that may be protective," Dawson explained. "The idea is that if you have this protective mechanism in place you may need more risk factors to overwhelm that protective effect and cause autism, and that's exactly what they found." "To develop autism in a girl requires more genetic mutations," Dawson said. The type of mutations they found are called "de novo" mutations, she added. This means that the genetic change occurs in the sperm or the egg. It isn't a gene that's passed down from the parents.

 Read more here. 

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Autism Conference - Billings August 2013

August 1-2, 2013 8:30am—4:00pm on the main campus at MSUB (in the Library)

 VIP Speaker, Dr. Peter Gerhardt Bridges to Adulthood: Preparing Individuals with Autism for Adult Lives of Competence, Dignity, and Community Inclusion Day 2: Breakout sessions for parents, educators, and other professionals.

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Babies born weighing more than 9lb 14oz or under 5lb 5oz have a higherof developing autism

Babies born either very small or very large have a higher risk of developing autism, according to the largest ever study into the issue. Researchers found that bigger babies - those born weighing over 9lb 14oz (4.5kg) - showed a higher incidence of autism, as did smaller infants who were born weighing less than 2.5kg or 5lb 5oz. It is the first time that a clear link has been made between babies who grow to above average size at birth and risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

.Read more:  

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Group for Teenage Boys - Kalispell

Group for Teenage Boys - Kalispell What:Teenage boys with Asperger Disorder, Pervasive Development Disorder or who otherwise have high functioning autism are encouraged to attend weekly social meetings in Kalispell. Facilitated by Cindy Grossman, the group is open to males 14-18 years of age or enrolled in high school. Some of the topics the group will explore are living with a social-cognitive disorder, employment, bullying, conflict resolution, dating & relationships, teen social skills and mental health issues. There is a maximum of 8 participants in the group and an interview is required with the teen and involved parents to evaluate motivation, willingness and appropriateness for the group. Where:Eastside Brick building 723 5th Avenue EastKalispell, MT 59901 Contact: Cindy Grossman (406) 752-1237 or email grossmancindy@yahoo.com

Read here:

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

10 Steps to Help your Teen with Autism Navigate Dating



What advice can you give parents on how we should talk about dating and intimacy with our teens who have autism?

Guest post by psychologist Lindsey Sterling, PhD, and doctoral student Siena Whitham - autism researchers and therapists with UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. During a now-completed Autism Speaks predoctoral fellowship, Dr. Sterling deepened understanding of the physiology of anxiety in adolescents with autism. Such research helps advance the development of tailored therapies.

We're so glad to address this question, given how many teens and parents express interest. For many teens with autism, the issues of dating and sexuality come up later than one might expect. But every teen is different. Some are eager as young teens, while others don't appear interested until much later. Regardless, the physical changes that accompany adolescence make these issues relevant for most families.

Of course, dating tends to be an exciting but challenging part of any teen's life. However, some difficulties tend to be particularly relevant for teens with autism. None are insurmountable. Just keep them in mind while helping your teen navigate the dating process.

First, remember that your teen's social maturity may not be in line with his or her physical maturity. In other words, many teens with autism feel the physical desire for sexuality before they have the social competence for successful dating. It helps to remember that most teens learn the social rules of dating while socializing with their friends. Many teens with autism simply don't have as many social opportunities for learning these rules.

Also remember that the social signals involved in dating and flirting can be complex, inconsistent and subtle. Interpreting them presents a challenge for most everyone. It can be particularly difficult when autism interferes with the ability to read and respond to social signals. This can produce confusion in your teen and discomfort and frustration for the other person. When social cues are missed, your teen's dates may feel that their messages or feelings aren't being heard or validated




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Autism Journal Podcast on Adult Outcomes

Autism: The International Journal of Research and Practice invites Autism Speaks families, researchers and supporters to hear its latest podcast: “Outcomes in adults with autism spectrum disorders: a historical perspective.” The podcast features Julie Lounds Taylor, Ph.D., a special-education researcher at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, one of 17 Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network (ATN) centers. Dr. Taylor is pursuing Autism Speaks-funded research on the factors that promote employment and independence in adults with autism. (Read about her study here.) In the podcast, Dr. Taylor discusses historical changes in how researchers and society have defined and supported successful outcomes for adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The review article she co-authored is available.

 free download here.


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How iPads & Tablets Can Support Autistic Learning & Play

These iPads have been around for almost three years now, which is rather mind-boggling. Even though tablets no longer attract sideshow-level reactions with every mention, they are still wonderful tools for many autistic kids and adults, and exciting new approaches and apps keep emerging. I teach autism and iPads workshops all over the country (including a class at San Jose's Morgan Autism Center on February 9th); the following is a general outline of what I'll discuss, and my current take on iPads and autism.Tablets: Tools, Not Miracles My initial response to seeing my autistic son kick butt using an iPad was elation, because he was instantly able to learn and entertain himself independently. However, tablets are not for everyone. Evaluate tablets and apps before buying. Tablets encourage presuming competence by enabling visual and alternative communication and learning. Competence expressed and recognized increases self-confidence. Benefits: Accessibility and Convenience No cursor analogy -- direct touch screen Fine motor ease -- stylus/mouse not required (and switch accessories now available) So very portable (but invest in a good case, if fragility is a concern) Can replace backpacks -- and cupboards -- of activities App content is not static, contents updates are often free Benefits: Learning So much more than an AAC device! (Non-dedicated device status can be an issue, less so with Guided Access) Screen is big enough to be digital parallel to paper or books Keyboard and screen are in same space, don't have to move eyes from screen to keyboard Apps are organized, accessible, predictable framework Apps break learning down into discrete chunks, topic areas Learn without needing to read, including read-aloud books Learn independently or with support (but always supervised) Incidental learning opportunities abound Benefits: Social and Play iPads are cool, they attract other kids – including siblings Can support social skills, formally and informally Custom story apps allow preparing for transitions, routines, meeting new people – or re-experiencing said scenarios Face-blindness (common in autism): labeling and other photo-content apps can enable associating names and characteristics with people Independent leisure time: Learning activities, games, videos Best Practices Evaluate thoroughly before buying: Tablets are expensive, apps are expensive Get professional evaluation for AAC apps Different systems work for different users If long-term AAC use is expected, do not want to re-learn communication system Get fully informed before upgrading, e.g., iOS 6 deleted YouTube app Overuse and Abuse? What about reports like “Autistic Kids Obsess Over Screen Technology”? Autistic adults say “Yes, we’re visual and very focused, why not explore how to harness these traits productively.” Savvy iPad-using autistic kids can be experts, help other kids, mentor them. Makes me laugh, for kids like Leo, for whom independent is good! Valid concern for kids who crave screen time (evaluate screen time-limiting apps like Screen Time). Autism, iPads, and Apps Resources• iPad Apps for Autism spreadsheet – a collaborative effort with an SLP (Jordan Sadler) and an autistic adult (Corina Becker): 
www.squidalicious.com/2011/01/ipad-apps-for-autism-spreadsheet-of.html• My iPad Resource page: www.squidalicious.com/p/ipads-and-autism.html• Autistic Adult App Project: autisticapp.blogspot.com• Eric Saliers, Speech Language Pathologist: ericsailers.com • GeekSLP TV 
www.youtube.com/user/GeekSlp?feature=watch• IEAR: I Educational Apps Review: www.iear.org • Moms With Apps: momswithapps.com• Jordan Sadler, SLP: www.jordansadler.net• Smart Apps for Kids: www.smartappsforkids.com • Surprisingly Educational Apps: list.ly/list/1Ge-surprisingly-educational-apps?feature=mylist• Tech in Special Ed: techinspecialed.com
More here:

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Archived Webinar - Prevalence, Characteristics, and Health Care of School-AgedChildren with a Parent-Reported History of Autism Spectrum Disorder-ALook at Recent National Survey Data.


In this webinar, Dr. Blumberg presents data from the recently released 2011-2012 National Survey of Children's Health and the 2011 Survey of Pathways to Diagnosis and Services to help participants better understand the rise in prevalence estimates of parent-reported autism spectrum disorder.



This is a really interesting webinar and he wonderfully shows some of the factors which may (or may not) have influenced the 1/5- prevalence estimate. He also gets into the sub-data, including gender. (Doug says)



View it here.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Archived Webinar - Autism 202- Addressing Challenging Behaviors Strategies for Families

Nancy Rosenberg, PhD, BCBA, a special educator and behavioral specialist from the University of Washington, presents a Positive Behavior Support approach to addressing challenging behaviors in children on the autism spectrum. Topics include the importance of understanding the function of a child's behavior, a toolkit of key strategies for preventing problem behaviors and techniques for teaching replacement behaviors.

 Click here to watch the webinar. 

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Monday, April 15, 2013

5 Steps to Separate Science from Hype, No PhD Required

3. Evaluate the data Once you find the data, it’s time to evaluate it. Check to see if the scientists behind the original claim, or another group of scientists, have repeated the experiments (and make sure the results were the same each time!). It’s also better if they analyzed hundreds or thousands of people (or monkeys, or cells, or anything else) instead of just two or three. Also keep an eye out for all the differences between two groups in a study, especially with humans. Things like income levels and access to health care can sometimes explain the reported results better than whatever the article is proposing. Think about it this way: if you were in charge of figuring out the height of the average American male, you would need to measure a bunch of people to get it right. If you only measured a few people, and they happened to be basketball players, you’d be way off. Also keep an eye out for misleading graphs. Graphs are great for communicating complicated information quickly, but they can also be misleading. Here are a few classic graphical tricks to watch out for:

Learn more here. 

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Social Story for Autistic Children: "Standing in Line at School"

Watch it here. 

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Archived Webinar - Prevalence, Characteristics, and Health Care of School-AgedChildren with a Parent-Reported History of Autism Spectrum

In this webinar, Dr. Stephen Blumberg, Acting Associate Director for Science for the Division of Health Interview Statistics at the National Center on Health Statistics, will present data from the recently released 2011-2012 National Survey of Children's Health and the 2011 Survey of Pathways to Diagnosis and Services to help participants better understand the rise in prevalence estimates of parent-reported autism spectrum disorder.

Register here. 

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Top Five Autism Books for Parents and Educators

Parenting or teaching a child with autism spectrum disorder is both challenging and rewarding. The adults in the lives of children with autism have to organize their home or classroom environment to make it a pleasant place where these kids can thrive. Caregivers have to understand the characteristics of kids on the spectrum and know what the children are trying to communicate by their unexpected or different behaviors. Knowing all this is a tall order and there is no better place to start than with a good book. We often hear that knowledge is power. That information is power. Good books can arm you with the strategies and information you need. Helen Exley said, “Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled “This could change your life.” Add a parent’s love and a teacher’s dedication to the mix and we have folks that truly can make all the difference in a child’s life!

 Here are a few books about autism that I recommend

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

In autism, age at diagnosis depends on specific symptoms

The age at which a child with autism is diagnosed is related to the particular suite of behavioral symptoms he or she exhibits, new research from UW-Madison shows. Certain diagnostic features, including poor nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors, were associated with earlier identification of an autism spectrum disorder, according to a study in the April issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Displaying more behavioral features was also associated with earlier diagnosis. One challenge is that autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are extremely diverse. According to the criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Edition — Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR), the standard handbook used for classification of psychiatric disorders, there are more than 600 different symptom combinations that meet the minimum criteria for diagnosing autistic disorder, one subtype of ASD. In the study population, the median age at diagnosis (the age by which half the children were diagnosed) was 8.2 years for children with only seven of the listed behavioral features but dropped to just 3.8 years for children with all 12 of the symptoms.

 Read more here. 

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Autism risk not increased by Too Many Too Soon

The idea that vaccines are a primary cause of autism has been around for some time. The idea took off in the 1990′s when Andrew Wakefield claimed that the MMR was causing autism, including suggesting that not only was MMR causing autism but was responsible for the rise in diagnoses observed. Later, the idea that the increase in thimerosal exposure in the pediatric vaccine schedule of the 1990′s in the US was proposed by some groups as causing the increase in diagnoses. Both ideas have since been shown to be invalid. As the evidence mounted that the idea that thimerosal and/or MMR caused an autism epidemic was false, the idea that the increase in vaccines themselves was causing autism. This idea was popularized by Jenny McCarthy of Generation Rescue in the slogan “too many too soon”. The study is in the journal Pediatrics (full version available free): Increasing Exposure to Antibody-Stimulating Proteins and Polysaccharidesin Vaccines Is Not Associated with Risk of Autism .

 Read more here.

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My 20 Faces Of Autism

April 2, 2013 is the sixth annual World Autism Awareness Day. To be aware of autism, you have to know what it looks like first. Here’s a hint: it’s a spectrum made of people. Here are my 20 faces of autism 5. Autism looks like the person who wears a shirt and tie while pitching a tent on a camping trip.

 Click here to see more. 

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Study: Women Abused As Kids More Likely To Have Children With Autism

Women who reported physical, emotional, or sexual abuse when they were young were more likely to have a child with autism compared to women who were not abused. The more severely the women were abused, the higher their chances of having a child with autism; compared to women who weren’t abused, those who endured the most serious mistreatment were 60% as likely to have an autistic child. Because it’s possible that a mother’s exposure to abuse as a child could also lead her to engage in behaviors associated with harming the fetus — such as smoking, drinking during pregnancy, using drugs, being overweight, having preterm labor or giving birth to a premature or low birth weight baby — the scientists also calculated how much these factors contributed to the risk of ASD in the next generation. To their surprise, these conditions explained only 7% of the heightened risk among the abused women. That meant that abuse was exerting more lasting effects on the women’s bodies that were translating into an increased risk of autism in their children.

Read more:

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

1 in 50 School Kids Has Autism, CDC Says

A government survey of parents says 1 in 50 U.S. schoolchildren has autism, surpassing another federal estimate for the disorder. Health officials say the new number doesn't mean autism is occurring more often. But it does suggest that doctors are diagnosing autism more frequently, especially in children with milder problems. The earlier government estimate of 1 in 88 comes from a study that many consider more rigorous. It looks at medical and school records instead of relying on parents. For decades, autism meant kids with severe language, intellectual and social impairments and unusual, repetitious behaviors. But the definition has gradually expanded and now includes milder, related conditions. The new estimate released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would mean at least 1 million children have autism. The number is important — government officials look at how common each illness or disorder is when weighing how to spend limited public health funds. It's also controversial.

 Read more here. 

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Anti-bullying Toolkit

Top Ten Facts Parents, Educators and Students Need to Know: 1. The Facts - Students with disabilities are much more likely to be bullied than their nondisabled peers.2. Bullying affects a student's ability to learn.3. The Definition - bullying based on a student's disability may be considered harassment.4. The Federal Laws - disability harassment is a civil rights issue.5. The State Laws - students with disabilities have legal rights when they are a target of bullying.6. The adult response is important.7. The Resources - students with disabilities have resources that are specifically designed for their situation.8. The Power of Bystanders - more than 50% of bullying situations stop when a peer intervenes.9. The importance of self-advocacy.10. You are not alone. Together with our partners, we just released a Special Needs Anti-Bullying Toolkit, full of resources and information specifically tailored to parents, educators, and students dealing with bullying and children with special needs.

Click here to read the Toolkit!

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The Effects of Birth Order and Birth Interval on the Phenotypic Expression of Autism Spectrum Disorder

The results indicated that females were more severely impacted by ASD than males, especially first affected siblings. When first and second affected siblings were compared, significant declines in nonverbal and verbal IQ scores were observed. In addition, SRS results demonstrated a significant increase in autism severity between first and second affected siblings consistent with an overall decline in function as indicated by the IQ data. These results remained significant after controlling for the age and sex of the siblings. Surprisingly, the SRS scores were found to only be significant when the age difference between siblings was less than 2 years. These results suggest that some cases of ASD are influenced by a dosage effect involving unknown epigenetic, environmental, and/or immunological factors.

 Read more here. 

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