Thursday, August 29, 2013

.Potential Autism Trigger Found in Brain Growth Enzymes

Some cases of autism may be related to damage in a key set of enzymes that are critical during brain growth and development, possibly helping narrow the search for causes of the condition, researchers said. The enzymes known as topoisomerases work like scissors and glue when brain cells known as neurons are being copied or expressed, said Mark Zylka, an associate professor in the Neuroscience Center at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill. When studies linked mutations in the enzymes to some patients with autism last year, the researchers sought to determine what exact effect they had on the brain. The study found the enzymes are essential for the proper functioning of some extremely long genes, including dozens of those that have gone awry in patients with autism, Zylka said. The researchers inhibited the enzymes with a generic cancer medicine and found they effectively silenced about 50 genes linked to autism, according to the study published today in the journal Nature. “Our study shows the magnitude of what can happen if topoisomerases are impaired,” Zylka said. “We think there are probably other drugs or chemicals in the environment that can have this same effect. We believe this is just the tip of the iceberg. We are doing additional research to see if other compounds like this exist, and we have hints there are others.”

 Read more here. 

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Back to School with iPads: 5 Steps for the First 5 Days



School is just about to start, or has already started, and you have been armed with iPads for this year. Whether your students will be 1:1 or you have access to a handful of shared devices, the expectation now exists that these tools will be put to good use. So now what? How do you get started? What can you do in the first five days of school to get going on the right foot?

1. Set Clear Expectations


Students will be excited about using iPads from the beginning. As teachers, a goal should be to make sure that students understand how these new devices fit into your classroom curriculum and culture.






Read more here. 

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Transition Planning for Students with ASD in Public Schools

You can view the archived webinar here. 

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More Links Seen Between Autism, ADHD

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

 Read more here. 

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Monday, August 26, 2013


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Autism, Denmark and again no link with vaccines.

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

 Read more here. 

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Autism: 5 Essentials for Starting the School Year and Tech Tools forMaking it Happen

The webinar is Tuesday, August 27 at 4 pm ET. There isn’t much time, so you need to register right away.
 Just click on this link to register and get the details.  

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FDA Warns Against Alternative Autism Therapy

The Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers that a therapy often marketed for treating autism, cerebral palsy and other conditions is unproven and may “endanger their health.” Federal regulators said Thursday that contrary to many claims on the Internet, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is not clinically proven to cure or effectively treat the developmental disorders and many other conditions. “Patients may incorrectly believe that these devices have been proven safe and effective for uses not cleared by the FDA, which may cause them to delay or forgo proven medical therapies,” said Nayan Patel, a biomedical engineer at the FDA’s anesthesiology devices branch. “In doing so, they may experience a lack of improvement and/or worsening of their existing conditions.”

 Read more here. 

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Dear New York Times: Cancer And Autism Are Not Parallels

Perhaps you saw the headline. God knows, it was eye catching enough: “Autism’s Unexpected Link to Cancer Gene.” (Update, 8/12/13, 5 pm ET: the headline has now been changed to read, “Autism’s Unexpected Link,” although the URL retains the original.) That headline and the utterly confusing story that follows it both fail to emphasize two very important clarifications: First, the gene in question isn’t just a “cancer gene.” It’s a gene that regulates the cell cycle, and changes in these genes can and do have effects that aren’t confined to cancer. Calling it a “cancer” gene in this context is inflammatory, at best.

 Read more here. 

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

1 Autistic Child in Family Hikes Risk for More

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

 Click here to read more. 

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The Comprehensive Autism Planning System (CAPS)

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

Details 

View Seminar

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Low Thyroxine levels in expectant mums linked to Autism

A large scale study published on August 13 in the Annals of Neurology , demonstrated that mothers with low levels of the chemical Thyroxine in their system during pregnancy were almost four times more likely to have children with Autism or an ASD diagnosis. Thyroid hormone T4 is responsible for regulating the metabolism in the body. A lack of this hormone, or Hypothyroidism (underactive Thyroid) is caused by a lack of Iodine in the diet, and can cause metabolism to reduce dramatically causing weight gain, lethargy and circulatory problems. T4 deficiency is more pronounced during pregnancy, when the body makes higher demands on diet. Researchers from the Houston Methodist Neurological Institute and Erasmus Medical Centre tested 4,000 Dutch mothers and their children. Previous smaller scale research in this field has tenuously hinted at a link. The research demonstrated that the lower the levels of the hormone T4 in the mother’s system, the more pronounced the symptoms of Autism were likely to be in the child.

 Read more here. 

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Preventing Wandering: Resources for Parents and First Responders

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

 Read more here. 

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

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

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

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Autistic women have more masculine brains

Autistic women have more masculine brains, a Cambridge study has claimed. In one of the largest brain imaging studies yet to look at differences between autistic males and females, experts at Cambridge University’s Autism Research Centre have discovered the anatomy of the brain of an autism sufferer depends significantly on his or her gender. Among the findings of the study was that women who have the condition demonstrate “neuroanatomical ‘masculinization’”, which means their brains have similar traits to men’s brains.

 Read more here. 

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Friday, August 9, 2013

Study Supports View that Asperger Syndrome Is Distinct Form of Autism

New research documents differences as well as similarities in the brain activity of children with Asperger syndrome and those with other types of autism. The studyappears this week in the open-access journal BMC Medicine. The findings may have implications on how best to help those with Asperger syndrome as compared to others on the autism spectrum, the researchers suggest. They also raise concerns with the recent decision to fold different subtypes of autism – including Asperger syndrome – into one unified diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). "This study offers new evidence suggesting that biological differences may be used alongside behavioral observations to define subsets of individuals living on the autism spectrum," comments Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Robert Ring. "However, it’s important to point out the preliminary nature of these findings. It’s too early in this specific research story to draw concrete conclusions."
 Read more here. 

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

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

 Read more here.

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

See the list here. 

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Employment Specialists Share Tips for Talking to Businesses

Read the very good article here. 

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

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

 View power Point Slides here:

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Monday, August 5, 2013

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

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

 Watch the video here. 

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Friday, August 2, 2013

Autism symptoms not explained by impaired attention

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

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