Monday, January 27, 2014

Newer gene test better at spotting autism

U.S. researchers looking for genetic changes linked to autism reported on Monday an advanced gene test that searches for deleted or extra DNA in chromosomes worked three times better than standard tests.They said the test, known as a chromosomal microarray analysis or CMA, should be used in the first round of testing done to look for a genetic cause for a child's autism.Autism is a mysterious condition that affects as many as one in 110 U.S. children. The so-called spectrum ranges from mild Asperger's syndrome to severe mental retardation and social disability, and there is no cure or widely accepted good treatment.Standard genetic tests to look for chromosomal abnormalities and testing for Fragile X, the single largest known genetic cause of autism, often fail to detect anything, even though genes are responsible for up to 15 percent of autism cases.The newer chromosomal microarray analysis test is far more sensitive. It searches the whole genome for places where chromosomes have been added, are missing or are in the wrong place. But because it is not recommended for the first round of testing, some insurance companies do not cover it."What we're hoping is to provide evidence to make it harder for insurance companies to say we don't want to pay for this," Dr. David Miller of Children's Hospital Boston, who worked on the study published in the journal Pediatrics, said in a telephone interview.

 Read more here. 


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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Skill lag and loss common in children with autism

There are numerous reports of children with autism learning how to do something, such as wave goodbye, and then losing that skill abruptly weeks or months later. But there is little information about the exact age at which a new skill develops or disappears. That may be because children with the disorderlose skills in no particular order, according to a study published 25 November in Development and Psychopathology. The study asked parents of 244 children to recall whether and at what age their children gained or lost 15 interactive skills, including saying their first words and playing peek-a-boo. Children with autism or autism-like traits are more likely than controls to have delays in skill development and tend to lose at least one skill as they go from infancy through early childhood, reports the study. Consequently, skill acquisition and loss in these children may best be viewed as a continuous process that begins with developmental delays and ends with disappearing skills, the researchers say.

 Read more here.

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Employment May Improve Symptoms for Adults with Autism

he study from Vanderbilt University and University of Wisconsin-Madison followed 153 adults with autism, with an average age of 30 years old. Data was collected at two different time periods, with a 5.5 year separation. Results showed that the adults who had greater vocational independence and engagement demonstrated improvements in their symptoms, including restricted interests, repetitive behaviors, communication impairments, and difficulties with social interaction. Lead researcher Julie Lounds Taylor, Phd., assistant professor of Pediatrics and Special Education and Vanderbilt Kennedy investigator, says, “We found that if you put the person with autism in a more independent vocational placement, this led to measureable improvements in their behaviors and daily living skills overall. One core value in the disability community and at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center is placing people with disabilities in the most inclusive environments possible.“In addition, this study gives us evidence that increasing the level of independence in an employment or vocational setting can lead to improvements in autism symptoms and other associated behaviors.” This study offers preliminary evidence that employment may be therapeutic for adults with autism. Many work environments offer opportunities for individuals to participate in social and cognitive challenges, which can build skills, create connections with others, and enhance self-esteem.
 Read more here. 

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A Teen's Guide To Autism

This awesome documentary was created by an 8th grader who has worked with many children on the sprectrum. She was inspired by them and wanted to try and educate people who often misunderstand the disorder.

 Watch the video here. 

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Adults with autism can't discern false emotions

Most people’s outward reaction to disappointment is to hide it: They may put on a brave face after losing a game, perhaps, or give a polite smile when opening a bad gift. Adults with autism usually understand in theory when and why others may feign emotions, but they don’t recognize those expressions in real-life situations, reports a study published 4 December in Autism Research. This inability to guess what triggered someone’s subtle expression can lead to social missteps — congratulating instead of consoling a disappointed friend, for example. Studies using photographs of exaggerated expressions, such as surprise or sadness, suggest that people with autism havedifficulty interpreting emotions. The new study instead tested for subtle cues that may be more indicative of real-life interactions. In the study, 16 high-functioning adults with autism and 19 controls watched short film clips of university students’ faces as they received surprise gifts that were out of view of the camera. The participants then had to judge which gifts had produced the students’ expressions. The clips showed spontaneous reactions to the presents — usually happiness for a box of chocolates, feigned happiness for an unattractive handmade card and confusion about whether a wad of Monopoly money was a stand-in for the real thing. The researchers also used an eye-tracker to determine whether eye contact helps people understand emotional cues. Overall, the autism group made fewer correct guesses than the control group did. They performed as well as controls in identifying confusion in those who had received Monopoly money, but struggled to distinguish between responses to the chocolate and the handmade card. The adults with autism tended to mistake feigned happiness for real happiness, and incorrectly guessed that those who had received the handmade card had been given chocolate. Interestingly, although decreased eye contact in autism is cited as a factor in poor emotional recognition, the autism group did not look less at the students’ eyes than the controls did. Other factors, such as the ability to pick up on body language or the tone of a person's voice, may explain their difficulties in identifying subtle emotions, the researchers say. Read more here. 

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Sight, Sound Out of Sync in Kids With Autism, Study Finds

Doctors and parents have long struggled to understand the strange sensory tricks autism can play on a child's mind. Ordinary noises -- screeching car alarms, knocking radiator pipes, even the whirr of a fan -- can be intolerable to children with the neurodevelopmental disorder. Now, a new study involving 64 children offers fresh clues about why sounds may unnerve kids with autism. The study, published Jan. 14 in the Journal of Neuroscience, found that children with autism experience delays when their brains attempt to process information received by their eyes and their ears at the same time. As a result, they have trouble matching sounds, especially speech, to their sources. "They're perceiving the world in a really interesting and fragmented way, where the visual signal and auditory signal are sort of mismatched in time relative to one another," said study author Mark Wallace, director of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute in Nashville, Tenn. Wallace said it would be like watching a badly dubbed foreign film. "And if you think about it, that can have all kinds of consequences for the language abilities of these children and even their social interactions," he said.

 Read more here. 

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Friday, January 24, 2014

New Diagnosis Rules Could Lead to Drop in Autism Numbers

Stricter new criteria for autism may change how frequently the condition is diagnosed, a new study suggests. The study estimates that if the new diagnostic guidelines had been in place in 2008, they would have lowered the prevalence of the disorder in a nationally representative database to one in 100 children.

 Read more here. 

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Archived Webinars on ASD and Employment

Using iPads to Promote Access and Learning for Students with ASD Date: 5/14/2013Presenter: Teresa LyonsRegister Online The Social Side of ASD Date: 3/12/2013Presenter: Amanda ArmstrongRegister Online Autism Spectrum Disorder & Employment Date: 7/8/2009Presenter: Peter GerhardtView Webcast

 See more here. 

The social side of ASD: 

ASD and Employment: 

View webcast here

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

15 Recommendations on Brushing an Autistic Child's Teeth

Take things slow; there is no need to rush through the process. There are no horsemen chasing you and an autistic child often requires more time than a typical child when learning to deal with something that might be bothering them terribly. Talk the child through it. Left, then right, over and over until it becomes routine. Count the strokes. When you give a definite amount to go for, there is a goal set. The child knows ho much longer he must endure it, making it easier to go through with it. He also knows exactly when to switch sides, go up and down or back and forth. Give the child as much control as you can. When they get to decide times when to brush teeth, how many strokes to do, what toothbrush to use, what toothpaste to use, what stool to stand on, etc., things will be easier on both of you. Let the child do most of the brushing. No matter how terribly it works out, it empowers the child and lets him or her feel capable. You can always go over it afterwards. If the brush is a problem, opt out and go for a toothette with a sponge at the end instead of bristles

 Read more here. 

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PECS: The Language of Emotions Billings March 2014

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PECS - Teaching Critical Communication Skills Billings, March 5 2014

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Autism Symptoms May Get Better With A Job

More independent work environments may lead to reductions in autism symptoms and improve daily living in adults with the disorder, according to a Vanderbilt study released in theJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. The study examined 153 adults with autism and found that greater vocational independence and engagement led to improvements in core features of autism, other problem behaviors and ability to take care of oneself. “We found that if you put the person with autism in a more independent vocational placement, this led to measurable improvements in their behaviors and daily living skills overall,” said lead author Julie Lounds Taylor, Ph.D., assistant professor of Pediatrics and Special Education and Vanderbilt Kennedy Center investigator

.Read more  

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Clinical research: Extra X increases risk of autism

Men who have an extra X chromosome have an elevated risk of developing autism, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, according to a study published in the January issue of the Journal of Psychiatric Research1. The results provide further support for a connection between autism and the X chromosome. Several X chromosome genes — including the genes that lead to fragile X syndrome and Rett syndrome, along with NLGN3 and NLGN4 — are linked to autism. Mutations in X chromosome genes may explain the higher prevalence of autism in males than in females.

 Read more here.

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Special Needs Registration - Great Falls

Sgt. John SchafferGreat Falls Police Department112 1st Street SouthPO Box 5021Great Falls, MT 59403 March 25th, 2011 Dear Parents,As a fellow parent of a child with special needs we all have concerns about how ourloved one will function in a real world setting. The Great Falls Public Schools does agreat job of teaching our children the life skills needed to live as independently and asintegrated as possible. As a police officer, we come in contact with persons with special needs all the time.People with autism, like my daughter, are 7 times more likely to have contact with lawenforcement. Police officers receive ongoing training on how to interact with people withspecial needs in order to increase the likelihood of a positive outcome, but we need yourhelp. You are the best source of information when it comes to your child or loved one. Youknow their likes and dislikes, their triggers or sensory issues, as well as de-escalationtechniques. These are the things that we would like to know, should we come in contactwith your family member. Attached you will find a form that we would like you to fill out. It is completely voluntary.The information on this form, including the photo, will be submitted to the GFPDdatabase. When a police officer has contact with the person listed on the form, our 911Center can provide us with the information needed to successfully interact andcommunicate with your loved one, as well as your contact information. The informationwill be kept confidential. Thank you for your interest in this program. If you have any questions please feel free tocontact me at the Great Falls Police Department. My phone number is (406) 771-1180 Sincerely, Sgt. John Schaffer

 Click here to view the form. 

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