Monday, January 21, 2013

6 Lessons Learned Transitioning to High School

I’ve talked to my son extensively about high school…what things work, what things don’t. My son is very knowledgeable about what he needs to learn. It wasn’t always this way, not by any stretch of the imagination, but slowly through middle school and now in high school, he is very vocal about hisautism, how it affects him and how he learns best. He actively participated in his IEP meeting last month, demonstrating maturity and self-advocacy skills that brought tears to my eyes. The minute walked into the room, he announced to everyone, including the vice principal, our advocate and the special ed supervisor that he was “staying for the entire meeting”. No one told him otherwise, but I suppose in his way he was asserting his right to meaningfully participate and express his needs When thinking about the transition, my son and I came up with a list of “lessons learned” to date, regarding high school and autism. All autistic kids are different; so our experience doesn’t match everyone else’s. That being said, here are some areas to think about with regards to transitioning to high school:
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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Autism Linked to Air Pollution In Preschool Children

Two years ago, Heather Volk, Ph.D., an assistant professor of research at the University of Southern California, and her colleagues found a provocative association between living near a freeway and autism. This association implied that traffic air pollution might be a culprit in autism. They decided to conduct another study to test the hypothesis. The cohort included 279 preschool children with autism and 145 preschool children with typical development (controls). In addition to vehicle-emission rates, the researchers used local meteorological data, traffic volume, and road geometry to construct mathematical models of traffic-related air pollution in the areas where the subjects lived. The researchers then used the models as well as the addresses of the subjects to see whether they could find any links between traffic air pollution and autism. They could. The children residing in areas with the highest levels of traffic air pollution were three times more likely to have autism than were the children residing in areas with the lowest levels. Moreover, the children with autism were twice as likely as controls to have been exposed to high levels of traffic air pollution during their mothers’ pregnancy and three times as likely as controls to have been exposed to high levels of traffic air pollution during the first year of life. Some specific traffic air pollutants—nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter—were likewise associated with autism during pregnancy and the first year of life. Finally, the findings remained solid even when demographic and socioeconomic factors as well as maternal smoking during pregnancy were considered.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New Gene Variants Linked to Autism

In one of the largest-ever studies of genetics and autism, researchers have identified 24 new gene variants associated with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The work also confirms that 31 variants previously linked to the developmental disorder may serve as useful genetic markers for identifying those with the condition. Understanding autism’s genetic roots is a priority, researchers say, since it may lead to earlier diagnosis and behavioral intervention, which can improve patient outcomes.

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iPad Summits in Billings and eastern Montana 2013

iPad Summit - Billings/Glendive - Feb. 20, Mar. 21, Apr. 16,17, 2013


Saturday, January 12, 2013

What is Discrete Trial Training? Is it the same approach as ABA?

There tends to be a lot of confusion between terms Discrete Trial Training (DTT) and Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). Often times when people talk about ABA programs for children with autism, they are actually referring to DTT. DTT is one of several types of teaching strategies that fall under the umbrella of ABA. So let’s tease the two apart.

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

How My Autistic Son Got Lost in the Public School System

Teachers do the best they can, but they're not psychologists—and parents can't expect them to be.

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Mouse Behavior From Autism Studies Not Reproducible

Today, we have an excellent example of why we should keep calm and carry on when it comes to mouse studies. At SFARI, a website for an autism research organization, Emily Singer writes that research groups cannot reproduce the reported “social deficit” behaviors in a mouse strain that’s intended to model autism in humans: A 2008 study from Nils Brose’s lab at the Max Planck Institute in Göttingen, Germany, first suggested that mice lacking NLGN4 have a number of autism-like social deficits. The lab published similar findings from the mice in a paper in November. But in September, two independent groups reported that the same strain of mice, bred from animals furnished by the Brose lab, do not show any social deficits.

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