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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Mobile Devices to Support Transition for People with ASD - ArchivedWebinars

See more here. 

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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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Autism Study Links Bowel Symptoms and Rigid, Repetitive Behaviors

Specifically, they looked at children who experience severe constipation that alternates with periods of diarrhea or stool leakage – a pattern often seen by gastroenterologists who care for patients with autism. The investigators found that children with these GI symptoms were more likely to have difficulties with repetitive or compulsive behaviors, as reported by their parents. This was in comparison to children with autism but no chronic constipation. “Our findings add support to the conclusion that children with both autism and GI disturbances are at greater risk for severely disruptive, autism-related behaviors,” says study co-author Pat Levitt, of Children's Hospital Los Angeles. The study also involved investigators at Vanderbilt University Medical School and Nationwide Children’s Hospital. All three medical centers are part of the AS-ATN.

 Read more here. 

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Studies Suggest Female Brain Has Inherent Protection from Autism

It is well-known that autism affects boys more often than girls. The current ratio is 4 to 1, and is even as high as 8 to 1 at the higher end of the spectrum. While the reason for this gender inequality is currently unknown, scientists are searching for a reason why females are less likely to be diagnosed with the disorder. A recent study at Yale University suggests that the female brain may somehow be inherently protected from developing autism. Researcher Stephen Sanders and his team observed variations in genes and mutations between male and female subjects. They found that girls actually had substantially more high-risk genetic mutations associated with autism than boys, yet they were less likely to develop autistic behaviors. These results imply that female brains may have more inherent protection against developing the disorder than male brains.

 Read more here. 

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Top Ways Schools Provide Autism Inclusion

Learning can be difficult, especially for those with disabilities, but autism memoir author Monica Holloway, of Cowboy & Wills [Simon & Schuster], overcame this adversity with her son with the help of autism-friendly schools, programs and educators. Says Holloway, "My family and I have witnessed how schools have evolved over time, offering much more teacher-specific autism education and training, presenting learning materials in ways that our kids can process information and attending to sensory needs of our kids. It is very encouraging to see inclusion for our kids continue to emerge over time." Qualities that Holloway has found in autism-friendly schools include: Enthusiasm about autism. Trained, professional educators and staff understand the characteristics of autism and enjoy pursuing strategies to help kids reach the best success. Inclusion. Inclusion and socialization of those with special needs can promote good understanding and acceptance for all involved. All children in the academic setting acquire new and desired qualities through inclusion, not just the child with special needs. Personalization. No two children are the same. Schools with special education programs know that each child learns differently, with his or her own individual needs, strengths and challenges. Team approach. Parents and professionals work together towards goals and have open lines of communication, including collaboratively sharing progress at home and in school. Routine. Knowing that many children with autism need or like to follow a routine, many special education programs establish clear timelines for students' activities and transitions.

 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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Gene Change Plus Prenatal Exposure to Pollution Ups Autism Risk

Recent studies have suggested that exposure to high levels of pollution during pregnancy increases children’s risk of autism. A new study shows this risk is higher if a child has a particular gene variation. The research is among the first to show evidence of gene-environment interactions in autism. The study, published in the journal Epidemiology, was led by Heather Volk and Daniel Campbell of the University of Southern California. Autism Speaks is currently funding an expansion of their research.

 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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New Study Highlights the Importance of Social Interaction for AutisticChildren

Peer solicitation -- a child inviting another to play -- can improve reciprocal social interaction among children with autism, according to a Vanderbilt University study released today in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. Researchers studied playground interactions between children with autism and typically developing peers and found the two groups play similarly when engaged in independent play with kids they just met. While the children with autism initiated and engaged in less play overall than typically developing children, the researchers found that other children can facilitate and increase interactions by simple requests. These findings highlight the pivotal role that peers have in social interaction, noting that it only takes a single child to prompt other children -- with or without autism -- to interact.

 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, December 6, 2013

Friends: Connecting People with Disabilities and Community Members

This new manual provides concrete, "how-to" strategies for supporting relationships between people with disabilities and other community members. It describes why such friendships are important to people with disabilities and why it is important to promote community belonging and membership. The manual includes specific activities to guide users in creating a plan for connecting people. It is designed for agency staff, but can be used by parents, support coordinators, teachers, people with disabilities, and others to support community relationships. .

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

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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Thursday, November 28, 2013

The 2013 Updated DSM-V Changes on Autism Made Simple

Reading up on the new DSM-V might confuse many parents of autistic children. As such, this article is meant to simplify some of the important changes that were made in the latest DSM-V update in May 2013, pertaining to the diagnosis of autism in children and adults. The full DSM-V Autism diagnostic criteria can be found on the Autism Speaks website catering to the community at large with factual and relevant information concerning the disorder.

 What are the changes?

 (Doug - A Note in this article states that those with a diagnosis of PDD-NOS must be re-evaluated. This is not correct.)

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Autism Often Accompanied By mixing Of The Senses'

Many with autism also experience a condition that causes unusual sensory triggers, a new study indicates, such that hearing music or seeing a color may conjure a taste or a smell. The condition known as synaesthesia involves people experiencing a “mixing of the senses.” Researchers report that it’s nearly three times as common in people with autism compared to those without. The finding — which the study authors said came as a surprise — offers new clues to understanding the biology of autism and the experiences of many with the developmental disorder. “I have studied both autism and synaesthesia for over 25 years and I had assumed that one had nothing to do with the other,” said Simon Baron-Cohen of the University of Cambridge, who led the study published Wednesday in the journal Molecular Autism. “These findings will re-focus research to examine common factors that drive brain development in these traditionally very separate conditions.”

 Read more here. 

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Large Study Supports GI Link to Problem Behaviors in Kids with Autism

A large new study on a diverse group of children supports earlier evidence that children with autism experience high rates of GI distress. The findings also linked this distress to more frequent behavior problems such as social withdrawal, irritability and hyperactivity. The study, funded in part by Autism Speaks, appears in this month’s Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. “This study brings forward evidence that adds further support to what parents have been telling the scientific community for years," says Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Rob Ring. “Gastrointestinal dysfunction in autism is real.” Last year, Autism Speaks-Autism Treatment Network helped develop the firsttreatment guidelines for managing GI disorders in children with autism. At medical conferences and community meetings, its clinicians have been urging doctors to look for and treat underlying medical conditions – including GI distress – that may be contributing to autism-related behaviors. This is especially important before considering any behavior-modifying medications, says Autism Speaks Vice President for Medical Research Paul Wang. “Whenever medical issues are exacerbating behavioral problems, treatment should be directed at the underlying root causes, rather than using psychoactive medications as Band-Aids,” he says. “Doctors taking care of these children should proactively evaluate them for these problems, especially since many of these young patients can’t communicate the pain and distress they feel.”

 Read more here. 

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Study Suggests Community Colleges Provide Advantages for Young Adultswith Autism

New research finds community colleges may play a particularly important role in fostering transition into productive lives for individuals on the autism spectrum. The findings appear this week in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. About one-third of all young adults with autism attend college in the years right after high school. The study analyzed attendance and graduation information on nearly 200 of them, using the National Longitudinal Transition Study for 2001 to 2009. Of those who had graduated or were still in college when the study ended, 81 percent had spent at least some time in a 2-year community college. What’s more, nearly half of students with autism who majored in science, technology, engineering or math in community college successfully transitioned to a four-year university. This was true of around a quarter of the students with autism who were majoring in non-science/tech fields. College students with autism who went straight into a 4-year college from high school did less well. Less than 20 percent had graduated or were on track to graduate when the study ended. The findings provide strong evidence that community colleges are an important pathway for many students with autism, says co-author Paul Shattuck. Dr. Shattuck studies life-course outcomes at Drexel University’s AJ Drexel Autism Center, in Philadelphia.

 Read more here. 

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Educating Chidren About Autism in an Inclusive Classroom

See the training manual here. 

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Employment Webinar

You are invited to join employment service provider colleagues in Colorado for a free event on Tuesday, 11/19/13 hosted as part of their membership in the State Employment Leadership Network (SELN)! The event is geared toward increasing competencies related to employer engagement. Event title: Building Strong Relationships with the Business Community We’ll focus on: · Marketing concepts · Developing a pitch · Building and sustaining a long-term relationship · The phases of employer engagement · Adding value to your organization’s bottom-line Two sessions are planned: 1. Tuesday, November 19, 2013 Target audience: Employment Service Providers- Agency directors, supervisory and management staff 2. Thursday, December 5, 2013 Target audience: Employment Service Providers- Frontline staff Additional details, presenter bio and registration links can be found in the attached flyer.

See more here:

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Resources for Educating Students about Peers with ASD

These are some online resources we pulled together for a teacher. Montana Autism Education Project staff are also available to provide trainings to general education teachers and peers. Contact Doug Doty at ddoty@mt.gov if you are interested in scheduling a training. a. AutismVision: Creating Classroom Connections for Children with Autism These are a series of videos + a presenter packet for explaining different types of autism to students of different ages. b. Some Extremely Reasonable Suggestions for “Typical” Parents, Family, and Teachers on Behalf of Kids With Asperger’s Syndrome c. How to Talk to an “Aspi” – Asperger’s, Autism, Labels, Stereotypes and Strategies d. What it's like to walk down a street when you have autism or an ASD e. Understanding Autism: A Guide for Secondary School Teachers f. The School Community g. Educating Children About Autism In An Inclusive Classroom

See here: 

 Some extremely reasonable Suggestions for "Typical " Parenting

How to talk to an "Aspi"-Asperger's, Autism. Stereotypes and strategies 

Video. What's it like to walk down the street with autism

Understanding Autism: A guide for secondary teachers

The school community

Educating children about Autism in an Inclusive Classroom:

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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

Iodine deficiency in mothers of children with autism and their offspring

A recent paper by Rasha Hamza and colleagues* adds to the discussion in this area, observing that within a small cohort of mothers of children with autism and their offspring, over half of study participants were iodine deficient. Based on an analysis of Egyptian participants, findings for children with autism and their mothers found that 54% and 58% respectfully were deficient in iodine and further, levels of iodine were negatively associated with severity of autism in children as measured by the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS). The levels of deficiency reported contrasted with no cases of iodine deficiency reported for a control group also studied at the same time.

 Read more here. 

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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

Concern to Action Tool Kit

If you have a concern about how your child is communicating, interacting or behaving, you are probably wondering what to do next. The First Concern to Action Tool Kit can help you sort that out. The purpose of this tool kit is to provide you with specific resources and tools to help guide you on the journey from your first concern to action. The kit is also available in Spanish. The kit was developed to provide families of children under the age of five with: An overview of early child development; Guidance on what to do if you have a concern about your child's development; Information about obtaining an evaluation for your child's development and treatment options, if needed.

 Download the First Concern to Action Tool Kit or order a free hard copy here! 

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Autism and AAC: Five Things I Wish I Had Known

In the title of this post I’ve linked autism and AAC for a specific reason. A lot of the points here are equally applicable to people who have a different disability but my argument in this particular post is for ALL autistic people to have access to AAC, regardless of whether they can speak. Communication (not speech) must be priority number one When I think about autism “therapies”, a lot of them are focused on trying to force autistic children to become more typical – extinguishing problem behaviours and trying to ‘teach’ social skills, for example. In my opinion, any strategy that does not prioritize communication skills is not only bound to fail but it is also doing a huge disservice to the autistic person. How can an autistic child socialize with his peers if he can’t communicate with them? Why are we spending so much time suppressing behaviours instead of giving a child the means to tell us how she feels? Here’s an excerpt from a draft IEP that a parent shared with me:

 Read more here. 

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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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How Can I Develop Smart IEP Goals?

How Can I Develop SMART IEP Goals for Behavior Problems?

See here:

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Breastfeeding may prevent autism risk in kids

A new study has proposed that protein called insulin-like growth factor (IGF), which is delivered via breastfeeding, could help predict an infant's propensity to later develop autism. "By assessing our own research, along with dozens of other relevant studies, there is a strong case to be made that IGF - known to be deeply involved in the normal growth and development of babies' brain cells - also serves a biomarker for autism," said Dr. Steinman. "This leads to two conclusions. First, we need to more deeply assess this hypothesis by conducting umbilical cord blood tests that measure neonatal levels of this growth factor, and then match those results against future autism occurrence in the maturing child. "Second, those who embrace the hypothesis that IGF is indeed an autism biomarker should advocate and encourage breastfeeding as a highly accessible means of supplementing an infant's natural levels of the protein." If a newborn's innate supply of IGF were found to be low, Steinman said, the infant could receive supplemental amounts of the protein - via breastfeeding or through other relatively simple means - that could then contribute to more-effective brain function as the baby develops into an active child. The study is published in journal Medical Hypotheses.

 Source. 

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Limitations Apparent in Applied Behavior Analysis Research

We at Autism Daily Newscast were not surprised at the strong reaction to the recent BBC4 documentary ‘Autism: Challenging Behaviour’ that aired earlier this week. We had been reviewing various conversations on ABA in Facebook groups and other chats. We assigned one of our journalists to report on the current state of ABA in the USA. This is the first in a series of three which will cover the following topics. 1. A brief research review that shows the research on ABA therapy does involve flawed research designs2. Staffing issues and inconsistent regulation of ABA providers in the United States and efforts to improve consistency.3. Difficulties in insurance coverage in the US for ABA therapy even under the new Affordable Care Act regulations

 Read Part 1 here. 

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More neural connections, not fewer, seen in studies

The brains of children with autism have a higher-than-normal number of connections, and this may be a reason for these kids' social difficulties, according to two new studies. These findings challenge the current belief that the brains of autistic children have fewer neural connections than the brains of typically developing children. The findings could lead to new ways to detect autism early and new treatment methods, said the authors of the studies, which were published in the Nov. 7 issue of the journal Cell Reports. "Our study addresses one of the hottest open questions in autism research," Kaustubh Supekar, of the Stanford University School of Medicine, said in a journal news release. Using a large database of pediatric brain imaging, Supekar and colleague Vinod Menon found that the brains of children with autism are "hyper-connected," and that those with the highest number of connections have the most severe social impairments. In the second study, Ralph-Axel Muller and colleagues at San Diego State University discovered hyper-connectivity in the brains of teens with autism, particularly in the regions that control vision. They also found that the severity of autism symptoms was associated with the number of neural connections. "Our findings support the special status of the visual system in children with heavier symptom load," Muller said in the news release.

Causes.

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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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What Happens When a Child With Autism Refuses Most Foods?

The life-threatening health problems that a 9-year-old boy with autism faced recently shed light on an issue that is rarely discussed. Many children with autism or other developmental disorders tend to eat an extremely narrow range of foods, and this may put them at risk for serious health problems, said Dr. Melody Duvall, lead author of the case report, which was published online Nov. 4 in the journal Pediatrics. "It was then that the physicians asked about the boy's diet. His mother told them that he would only eat chicken nuggets, crackers, cookies and water. He refused milk, juice, vegetables and fruits, and would not take any form of vitamin." What is it about autism that often makes children resistant to eating a normal and varied diet? One expert had some theories.

 Read more about eating problems here.

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5 Things You Should Know About Families Dealing With Disability

Disability is part of my family's daily life and it has been since my oldest daughter was born with a chromosomal abnormality over seven years ago. My daughter's genetic disorder resulted in a variety of disabilities, both cognitive and physical, that impact nearly every aspect of our lives. Usually we go along with our routine, but sometimes I am struck by how little others know about disability and what life is like for us. I have been reminded of this recently and wanted to share five things I wish everyone knew about disability. 1. We really, really dislike the word "retarded." Please stop using it. Now.

 Read more here. 

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Sample IEP Data Matrix

See it here.

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Attention to eyes is present but in decline in 2ֶ-month-old infantslater diagnosed with autism

Deficits in eye contact have been a hallmark of autism1, 2 since the condition’s initial description3. They are cited widely as a diagnostic feature4 and figure prominently in clinical instruments5; however, the early onset of these deficits has not been known. Here we show in a prospective longitudinal study that infants later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) exhibit mean decline in eye fixation from 2 to 6 months of age, a pattern not observed in infants who do not develop ASD. These observations mark the earliest known indicators of social disability in infancy, but also falsify a prior hypothesis: in the first months of life, this basic mechanism of social adaptive action—eye looking—is not immediately diminished in infants later diagnosed with ASD; instead, eye looking appears to begin at normative levels prior to decline. The timing of decline highlights a narrow developmental window and reveals the early derailment of processes that would otherwise have a key role in canalizing typical social development. Finally, the observation of this decline in eye fixation—rather than outright absence—offers a promising opportunity for early intervention that could build on the apparent preservation of mechanisms subserving reflexive initial orientation towards the eyes.

 Read more here. 

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Social skills in autistics boosted after magnetic brain wave treatment

Results of the first clinical trial using magnetic wave stimulation autistic people, show an encouraging boost in the development of social interactive skills after treatment. The study conducted by the Monash University in Melbourne Australia involved boosting brain waves in the frontal cortex using rTMS, or repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation. Strong magnetic pulses were passed to the frontal cortex of the recipients brains. This part of the brain is proven to be under active in people with autism and ASDs. Recepients received treatments for up to ten minutes per day over a period of ten days. The team carried out a randomised, double-blind clinical trial – the first of its kind – involving 28 adults diagnosed with either high-functioning autism or Asperger’s syndrome.

 Read more 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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Nearly Two-Thirds Of Kids With Autism On Meds

Despite limited evidence supporting the practice, researchers say nearly two-thirds of children with autism are taking at least one psychotropic drug. In a review of medical and pharmacy claims data for 33,565 kids with autism between 2001 and 2009, researchers found that 64 percent of children on the spectrum were prescribed at least one psychotropic medication. What’s more, the study published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics, found that 35 percent of kids with the developmental disorder were given two or more types of drugs simultaneously and 15 percent were taking at least three.

 Read more here. 

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No, the thimerosal in the flu vaccine does not explain why autism ratesdid not go down

Surprisingly enough, there are still people promoting the idea that the rise in autism diagnoses observed over the last decades was caused by thimerosal in vaccines. The original argument was this–vaccines were added to the vaccine schedule in the 1990′s and with them the infant exposure to thimerosal increased. Concurrent with this rise in infant thimerosal exposure was a rise in autism diagnoses. Add to this a poorly concocted argument that autism resembles mercury intoxication and you have the basis for the mercury hypothesis. Thimerosal was phased out of infant vaccines over 10 years ago. Thus, if the thimerosal hypothesis were true, reported autism rates should be declining by now.

 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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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Autism Risk in Super Early Arrivals

One of the challenges of looking for the causes of autism is that some findings are misleading. Just because something is related to autism doesn't it mean it caused it. Such is the dilemma in the findings of a recent study looking at autism risk and babies born early. Researchers found that the earlier babies were born before they were full term, the more likely it was that they were later diagnosed with autism. However, it is not clear that being born early caused the developmental disorder.

 Read more or watch a video 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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101 Ways to Teach Social Skills

101 WAYS TO TEACH CHILDREN SOCIAL SKILLS A READY-TO-USE, REPRODUCIBLE ACTIVITY BOOK
(attached) 

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Study Finds Autism Prevalence Has Leveled Off in United Kingdom

After spiking in the 1990s, the reported prevalence of autism leveled off in the UK after 2003, while continuing to rise in the US A new study finds that the reported prevalence of autism has leveled off in the United Kingdom since 2004, after skyrocketing five-fold in the 1990s as it did in the United States. This contrasts with a 78 percent increase in autism’s estimated prevalence in the United States between 2002 and 2008.

 Read more here. 

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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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Training Program Helps Students With Autism Land Jobs

For the Virginia study, a control group of high-school seniors with autism remained in their regular schools, receiving their usual individualized education programs, while a treatment group spent the year in an intensive, custom-designed study and job-training program at a suburban hospital. The two hospitals participating in the study were Bon Secours St. Mary's Hospital in Henrico County, Va., and Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital in Midlothian, Va. Enlarge Image Jennifer T. McDonough Damien Jenerette became a pharmacy technician at Bon Secours St. Mary's Hospital. At the beginning and end of each school day, the treatment group met in on-site classrooms where they learned job skills, as well as practical skills such as getting to and from work, navigating the hospital, asking for help, and accepting input from supervisors and co-workers. In between, the students rotated through a series of three internships, honing their skills and testing out which jobs best fit their strengths and personality. Upon graduation, 87% of the treatment group landed hospital jobs such as pharmacy assistant and teacher's aide that paid above the minimum wage. Just 6% of the control group found jobs.

 Read more here. 

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Being single with autism: It's complicated

In fact, there are widespread misconceptions that people with ASDs lack empathy and engagement, and don’t want any sort of meaningful connection. In reality, people on the spectrum covet intimacy as much as anyone; they just lack the tools to find it. And with scarce funding for autism primarily geared toward children, the tools themselves are also hard to find. The latest statistics reflect that problem. According to a groundbreaking report published this year by Toronto’s Redpath Centre, people with ASDs are disproportionately single compared with the rest of the population. Only 32.1 per cent of those surveyed indicated they ever had a partner, while 9 per cent stated they were currently married. In the general population, meanwhile, about half of all adults are married.

 Read more here. 

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Friday, October 11, 2013

Autism More Common In Kids With Cerebral Palsy




Autism More Common In Kids With Cerebral Palsy


By
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As the prevalence of cerebral palsy remains largely steady, new findings from researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that kids with the developmental disorder are at higher risk of having autism too.

Roughly 1 in 323 American 8-year-olds have cerebral palsy, according to findings reported this week. Of them, nearly 7 percent are also diagnosed with autism. That’s significantly higher than the 1 percent of all American kids estimated to be on the spectrum.

The figures published this week in the journal Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology come from the latest national effort to track the number of children with cerebral palsy. Such surveillance is conducted every other year much like the more commonly reported tracking of autism prevalence.

For the study, the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network looked at data on 147,112 children who were age 8 in 2008. All of the kids lived near Atlanta, St. Louis, southeastern Wisconsin or in the northern and central parts of Alabama.

Cerebral palsy is more common in boys than girls and occurs more frequently in black children than in white or Hispanic kids, researchers found. Of those with the condition, more than three-quarters had spastic cerebral palsy and epilepsy occurred in about 40 percent of the kids.

Meanwhile, the study found that nearly 60 percent of children with cerebral palsy were able to walk independently and roughly 11 percent could walk using a hand-held mobility device. The remainder had limited or no walking ability.

Overall, the researchers said that the prevalence of cerebral palsy has remained “relatively constant” since 1996.

While it is unclear why kids with cerebral palsy were more likely to also have autism, the researchers said it may indicate that there are common risk factors for the two conditions.

Source

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Friday, October 4, 2013

Where Are All The Older Autistic People?

Folks who adhere to the “autism epidemic” as a new phenomenon confined only to our youngest generation are fond of asserting that no older autistic people exist. Typically, their evidence for the claim comes only from their personal experience, as they ask, “Where are all the older autistic people? I can’t find them!” Their comments conjure an image of their wandering the town square, tapping people on the shoulder, and asking them, “Are you autistic?” as a form of data gathering. In spite of the inability of some to find autistic people in their 50s, 60s, and older, investigations performed in a more methodical manner have identified where the older autistic people are. These studies also underscore the fact that frequently, diagnoses of “mental retardation” in previous generations–labels that sometimes led to institutionalization–would be autism diagnoses today.

 Read more here. 

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Healthy Bodies, A Guide for Puberty for Children with Disabilities

Puberty is a time of change for children, and often a time of challenge for parents looking for the "right" way to talk about the upcoming changes. It can be even more of a challenge for parents of children with developmental or physical disabilities. The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Disabilities has created two toolkits, one for boys, and one for girls, that provide factual information about puberty. Topics include encouraging good hygiene, appropriate behavior, and how to deal with the body changes. The toolkits also suggest ways to approach these important conversations, especially with children with disabilities. Each toolkit also includes a separate appendix that includes visual aids to help teach body parts, and social story images to help your child learn what appropriate behaviors are and where they are appropriate. Parents can decide what information and guidelines they share with their children.
 Both toolkits and the accompanying appendices can be downloaded for free here: http://kc.vanderbilt.edu/healthybodies

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Easing Separation Anxiety in a 4 Year Old with Autism

“When my aunt is at work, I take care of my 4-year-old cousin who has autism. Her doctor says that developmentally she’s like an 18 month old. I’m writing because she has really bad separation anxiety. Every few minutes she asks when her mommy is coming. Do you have any suggestions on how I can help her feel more comfortable?” This week’s “Got Questions?” answer is from child psychologist Michelle Spader, of Ohio’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital, a member of the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network. Thanks for your question. It’s helpful to know that your cousin is developmentally like an 18 to 24 month old. Children at this stage often have separation anxiety. So your cousin seems to be going through something that’s both common and normal. Sometimes separation anxiety eases over time. Meanwhile, here are some suggestions to help her through the day:

 Click here to read more. 

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Surgery To Stop Autistic Boy's Screaming Tic Raises Ethical Questions

What would you do if your child couldn’t stop screaming? The parents of a 16-year-old boy with autism are breathing a little easier after a vocal cord surgery virtually eliminated his tendency to scream nearly 2,000 times a day. But the idea of separating a child’s vocal cords to quiet him can be troubling, to say the least. Some autism rights advocates are furious, calling ittantamount to torture. Seth Dailey, a surgeon at the University of Wisconsin Hospital, performed the operation on Kade Hanegraaf in 2011. The operation, called a thyroplasty, involves spreading the vocal cords apart and inserting a mesh shim to keep them from touching during a spasm. The result is a larger gap between the vocal cords, resulting in a softer voice. But many activists, including autistic adults, are troubled by a lack of information on whether or not Kade gave consent for the operation. It’s hard not to cringe at a procedure that resembles the “debarking” operationsometimes performed on dogs. And the framing of Kade’s story in the media has largely ignored his own bodily autonomy. Autistic writer Lydia Brownpointed out on her blog that neither the Wisconsin State Journal article nor the research paper address the question of whether the tic was harmful to thepatient himself, not just his parents.

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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Monday, September 23, 2013

Autism Speaks Took Kits - All In One Place

100 Day Kit Download the 100 Day Kit here! The Autism Speaks 100 Day Kit and the Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Tool Kit were created specifically for newly diagnosed families to make the best possible use of the 100 days following their child's More... Advocacy Tool Kit The Advocacy Tool Kit aims to help both individuals on the spectrum and their families develop and use critical advocacy skills in order to achieve the best possible outcomes. The goal of this tool kit is to provide a basic knowledge of More... Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Tool Kit Download the AS/HFA Kit for free! You can also view a PDF of each section by clicking on the links below. Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Tool Kit Sections Introduction, Symptoms and Causes List of Strengths and Challenges Executive More... ATN/AIR-P An Introduction to Behavioral Health Treatments Behavioral challenges are a common problem for children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Many children with ASD have challenges managing certain behaviors such as aggression or not following directions in addition to experiencing limitations in More... ATN/AIR-P Autism and Medication: Safe and Careful Use More than half of children with autism take medicine at some point during their childhood. Deciding to use medicine to treat children with autism is a difficult decision for most families. The Autism and Medication: Safe and Careful Use tool kit was More... ATN/AIR-P Blood Draw Tool Kit Blood Draw Tool Kit for Parents Has your child with ASD had a negative experience during a doctor’s visit that has left him or her feeling anxious? Does the prospect of having your child’s blood drawn make you anxious as well? Perhaps this More... ATN/AIR-P Dental Professionals' Tool Kit Many children experience a great deal of anxiety when visiting the dental practitioner’s office, especially those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Feelings of anxiety may be caused by a number of factors including a fear of the unknown, difficulties More... ATN/AIR-P Guide for Managing Constipation in Children Many children have constipation. Children with autism might have more problems with constipation than other children. Difficulty with things like sitting on the toilet and eating different foods can make treating constipation challenging. The Guide for More... ATN/AIR-P Medication Decision Aid Many families of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are faced with the option of using medicines to help treat their child’s challenging behaviors. This is a tough ATN/AIR-P Parent's Guide to Applied medical decision and there is no one right answer. Though many children More... Behavior Analysis This tool kit is an informational guide to Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). It is designed to provide you with a better understanding of ABA, how your child can benefit, and where/how you can seek ABA services. ABA is a set of principles that form the basis More... ATN/AIR-P Parent's Guide to Toilet Training in Autism Each child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is different. But children with ASD have some common problems that can make toileting training hard for them. Knowing about these problems can help you come up with different ways to meet your child’s More... ATN/AIR-P Sleep Tool Kit-Parent Booklet and Quick Tips Many children with ASD have difficulty with sleep. This can be stressful for children and their families. This informational booklet is designed to provide parents with strategies to improve sleep in their child affected by autism spectrum disorders (ASD). More... ATN/AIR-P Visual Supports and Autism Spectrum Disorder The Visual Supports and Autism Spectrum Disorder tool kit provides a step-by-step, easy-to-understand introduction to visual supports and the ways that parents and other caregivers can begin using them. The pamphlet provides practical examples of how to begin More... Challenging Behaviors Tool Kit Sometimes the difficulties of autism can lead to behaviors that are quite challenging for us to understand and address. Most individuals with autism will display challenging behaviors of some sort at some point in their lives. Autism Speaks has created this More... Dental Tool Kit Download the Dental Tool Kit here! Oral health is a very important component of healthy daily living. But for some children with autism, oral health habits can be challenging. Autism Speaks has teamed up with Colgate and Philips-Sonicare to create a dental More... Employment Tool Kit Autism Speaks would like to help you with your employment search by giving you tools and tips while you look for a job. As an adult on the autism spectrum, you have strengths and abilities that employers are just beginning to understand. We have written More... Family Support Tool Kits Family members and friends of individuals with autism are presented with many joys and many challenges throughout their lives. Learning that a family member or friend is affected by autism is a powerful moment. People respond with a wide array of More... Housing and Residential Supports New! Click on the image below for more information! As part of the transition from childhood to adult life, planning inevitably includes housing decisions. Finding and securing housing and residential supports for adults with autism spectrum More... Individualized Education Program (IEP) Guide and Other Resources Download the IEP Guide here! Individualized Education Program (IEP): Summary, Process and Practical Tips from Goodwin Procter LLP After months of research, a team of lawyers at Goodwin Procter LLP has generously put together a helpful guide to help More... Manual de los 100 Días Manual de 100 Días de Autism Speaks fue diseñado exclusivamente para familias que recientemente fueron evaluadas, para hacer el mejor uso de los 100 días después del diagnoses de autismo. El manual contiene informacíon y More...e to Autism Drug Research Purpose of this guide The decision to become a Participant's Guide to Autism  participant in drug research is an important one, all the more so if you are making this decision for your child or other dependent. It is an option that is becoming increasingly available to individuals and More... Postsecondary Educational Opportunities Guide The Postsecondary Educational Opportunities Guide is designed to help you and your family explore the different opportunities and learning environments after leaving high school. With only about one third of youth with autism attending college in young More... School Community Tool Kit A tool kit to assist members of the school community in understanding and supporting students with autism. The purpose of this kit is to provide helpful information about students with autism and tools and strategies to achieve positive interactions and More... Talking to Parents About Autism Kit Today, 1 in 88 American children is diagnosed with autism. As an early childhood educator, you may be the first to notice when a child is not meeting typical developmental milestones. When this happens, you need to talk to the parents and urge them to have More... Tips for Successful Haircuts Haircuts can sometimes be difficult for people with autism. The challenges can range from sensory issues to anxiety about what will happen during the haircutting process. Autism Speaks has partnered with Snip-its and Melmark New England to develop a More... Transition Tool Kit Download the Transition Tool Kit here! The Autism Speaks Transition Tool Kit was created to serve as a guide to assist families on the journey from adolescence to adulthood. Anyone can download the Transition Tool Kit for free!

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

How do I explain my siblings behavior to my friends?

’ll never forget the day that my son John, who was 9 at the time, brought a friend from school over to work on a geography project. He was a little nervous, because this friend had not met Matthew. What if Matthew said or did something embarrassing? How would he explain autism? Just as the boys were finishing a snack and starting the project, Matthew got home from school. “Who are you?” he asked the boy in a close-talking kind of way, “What state were you born in and what airports have you been to?” *** I don’t remember how John handled that one, but now he’s twenty, and an expert on the topic of explaining autism to his friends. Here is his latest iteration of a relateable explanation. You can modify it for your age and stage:

 See more here. 

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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

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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Monday, September 9, 2013

Transition Focus Of New Documentary On PBS

A documentary following a special-education teacher as she prepares her students with autism to leave high school and enter adult life is set for its national television debut. The film “Best Kept Secret” examines the transition process through the eyes of teacher Janet Mino and her six students at John F. Kennedy High School in Newark, N.J. over the year-and-a-half prior to their graduation in the spring of 2012. Teaching at an inner-city public school where students’ options after aging out are limited, Mino is determined to find opportunities for her students to succeed in the community so that they don’t become homebound, institutionalized or homeless after graduating. Central to the story are Erik, the most high-functioning member of the class who dreams of working at Burger King; Quran whose father worries that the emphasis on education at school means he is not spending enough time learning basic life skills; and Robert who struggles with behavior and has a difficult home life leading him to miss class often.

 Read more here. 

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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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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Special Education Decisions related to Autism Spectrum Disorder

The Montana Office of Public Instruction publishes the results of state due process hearings and complaints. A growing number of decisions are for students with autism spectrum disorders. You can review past decisions here (not all decisions are related to autism spectrum disorders.) Below is a link to a decision directly related to autism. Issue 5: Did the District fail to consider the diagnosis of autism/Asperger’s in determining eligibility for special education services and err when it did not find Student eligible under the autism category?

 Read more here. 


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Sensory Overload

Some people with autism have difficulty processing intense, multiple sensory experiences at once. This animation gives the viewer a glimpse into sensory overload, and how often our sensory experiences intertwine in everyday life.

See video here:

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Few Young Adults With Autism Living Independently

Young adults with autism are more likely to live with their parents and least likely to live independently after leaving high school as compared to those with other types of disabilities, researchers say. Only about 17 percent of young adults on the spectrum ages 21 to 25 have ever lived independently. By comparison nearly 34 percent of their peers with intellectual disability have, researchers reported online recently in the journal Autism. Since leaving high school, the vast majority of young adults with autism — nearly 9 in 10 — have spent at least some time living with a parent or guardian, the study found. And most have never tried another living situation.

 Read more here. 

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Webinar - Home Sweet Home: Housing Options for Young Adults withDisabilities

Home Sweet Home: Housing Options for Young Adults with Disabilities. As a young person with a developmental disability transitioning from high school to your adult life, you've probably been thinking about where you want to live after you graduate. (In an apartment with friends? In a college dorm? In your own condo or house?) You can start planning NOW to create the future living situation you want. One of our presenters will describe how she made her housing dream come true. Our second presenter will introduce you to Montana options and resources that can help you achieve your housing goals, whatever they might be.Presenters:Sierra Lode learned to use augmentative/alternative communication at the age of three and that enabled her to be competitive in the educational setting despite her quadriplegia and inability to communicate verbally. Through her sheer tenacity she achieved an Associate of Arts Degree in 2012 from the University of Montana College of Technology at the age of 28. Sierra is an advocate for youth with disabilities, serving on the University of Montana Rural Institute Consumer Advisory Council. She was a delegate at the first Montana Youth Leadership Forum in 2000 and continued to support the Forum as a volunteer for the next 10 years. Sierra was appointed to the National Youth Leadership Network in 2002 in Washington, D.C., and appointed to the National Youth Leadership Network Advanced Institute in 2005. Sierra was awarded the 2005 Emerging Leader Award from the Montana Center on Disabilities at Montana State University. She works part-time as a peer advocate for Summit Independent Living Center in Missoula. Sierra has given numerous volunteer presentations advocating for youth with disabilities, and she is currently in the process of pursuing her career by developing a business plan that will put her "on the road" as a motivational speaker. In the spring of 2013, Sierra purchased her own home.Michael M. O'Neil is a Program Officer with A.W.A.R.E. Inc., Montana's leader in providing innovative community services for persons with disabilities. Michael has extensive experience in the development of affordable housing and community living opportunities and resources, particularly for people with disabilities. AWARE works to create community integrated housing opportunities for persons with disabilities across the age and ability spectrum addressing housing needs from homelessness to Olmstead housing and integrated community rental housing to expanding homeownership opportunities. They work to promote affordability and enhanced accessibility options in all housing options. AWARE has assisted over 130 individuals and families with disabilities to become homeowners. In his work, Michael strongly advocates the view that quality, safe, accessible and affordable housing is the fundamental foundation for establishing stable community living and a life of greater independence and dignity for all. Title: Home Sweet Home: Housing Options for Young Adults with Disabilities Date: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 Time: 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM MDT As a young person with a developmental disability transitioning from high school to your adult life, you've probably been thinking about where you want to live after you graduate. (In an apartment with friends? In a college dorm? In your own condo or house?) You can start planning NOW to create the future living situation you want. One of our presenters will describe how she made her housing dream come true. Our second presenter will introduce you to Montana options and resources that can help you achieve your housing goals, whatever they might be.Presenters:Sierra Lode learned to use augmentative/alternative communication at the age of three and that enabled her to be competitive in the educational setting despite her quadriplegia and inability to communicate verbally. Through her sheer tenacity she achieved an Associate of Arts Degree in 2012 from the University of Montana College of Technology at the age of 28. Sierra is an advocate for youth with disabilities, serving on the University of Montana Rural Institute Consumer Advisory Council. She was a delegate at the first Montana Youth Leadership Forum in 2000 and continued to support the Forum as a volunteer for the next 10 years. Sierra was appointed to the National Youth Leadership Network in 2002 in Washington, D.C., and appointed to the National Youth Leadership Network Advanced Institute in 2005. Sierra was awarded the 2005 Emerging Leader Award from the Montana Center on Disabilities at Montana State University. She works part-time as a peer advocate for Summit Independent Living Center in Missoula. Sierra has given numerous volunteer presentations advocating for youth with disabilities, and she is currently in the process of pursuing her career by developing a business plan that will put her "on the road" as a motivational speaker. In the spring of 2013, Sierra purchased her own home.Michael M. O'Neil is a Program Officer with A.W.A.R.E. Inc., Montana's leader in providing innovative community services for persons with disabilities. Michael has extensive experience in the development of affordable housing and community living opportunities and resources, particularly for people with disabilities. AWARE works to create community integrated housing opportunities for persons with disabilities across the age and ability spectrum addressing housing needs from homelessness to Olmstead housing and integrated community rental housing to expanding homeownership opportunities. They work to promote affordability and enhanced accessibility options in all housing options. AWARE has assisted over 130 individuals and families with disabilities to become homeowners. In his work, Michael strongly advocates the view that quality, safe, accessible and affordable housing is the fundamental foundation for establishing stable community living and a life of greater independence and dignity for all. Title: Home Sweet Home: Housing Options for Young Adults with Disabilities Date: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 Time: 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM MDT
 View archived webinar here:

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