Friday, April 26, 2013

Group for Teenage Boys - Kalispell

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

Read here:


Thursday, April 25, 2013

10 Steps to Help your Teen with Autism Navigate Dating

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

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

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

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

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

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


Autism Journal Podcast on Adult Outcomes

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

 free download here.


How iPads & Tablets Can Support Autistic Learning & Play

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


Friday, April 19, 2013

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

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

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

View it here.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

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

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

 Click here to watch the webinar. 


Monday, April 15, 2013

5 Steps to Separate Science from Hype, No PhD Required

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

Learn more here. 


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

Watch it here. 


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

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

Register here. 


Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Top Five Autism Books for Parents and Educators

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

 Here are a few books about autism that I recommend


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

In autism, age at diagnosis depends on specific symptoms

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

 Read more here. 


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Autism risk not increased by Too Many Too Soon

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

 Read more here.


My 20 Faces Of Autism

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

 Click here to see more.