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Friday, February 28, 2014

Genes May Give Girls Developmental Edge

New research adds to the theory that girls are more naturally protected than boys from developing autism and other developmental disorders. While a small number of genetic mutations seem to be enough to manifest symptoms in boys, a new study published Thursday in the American Journal of Human Genetics suggests that far more extreme genetic anomalies must be present in girls to warrant a diagnosis. The finding could help explain why autism is nearly five times more common in boys. “This is the first study that convincingly demonstrates a difference at the molecular level between boys and girls referred to the clinic for a developmental disability,” said Sébastien Jacquemont of the University Hospital of Lausanne in Switzerland, the study’s lead author. “The study suggests that there is a different level of robustness in brain development, and females seem to have a clear advantage.”

 Read more here. 

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My lessons in autism

“James is so lucky to have you for a mother!” I’ve heard it so many times, I should have T-shirts printed. When you develop a professional specialty over 15 years, study with experts, become one yourself, and then give birth to a person who might have been referred to you, people think you have an insider’s advantage. So James is lucky, my clients are lucky. It’s been hard to resist seeing myself as unlucky. If I were a villain, it would be sweet justice. But I’m not. I’m a child psychologist specializing in autism spectrum disorders, and it turns out that the first of my two children fits those diagnostic criteria. My professional training has saved me some time and spared me some uncertainty. But what makes for a good psychologist doesn’t make for such a good mother, and vice versa. So, my dirty little secret is that James and my clients aren’t so lucky after all.

 Read more here.

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Sunday, February 23, 2014

My Story: Being Diagnosed with Autism as an Adult

My whole life I thought there was something wrong with me. My diagnosis changed those thoughts. When I learned about my diagnosis I knew nothing was wrong with me…I knew that I had something very special about me and my life was about to change. It was April 3, 2013, two weeks after my 34th birthday, when I heard the words: “you’re on the spectrum.”

 Read more here. 

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Autism on the Seas

Autism on the Seas has been in collaboration with Royal Caribbean International since 2007 in developing cruise vacation services to accommodate adults and families living with children with Special Needs, including, but not limited to, Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Down Syndrome, Tourette Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and all Cognitive, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. These services quickly expanded to other cruise lines. We provide Cruises with our Staff (selected from regular cruises throughout the year) that assist adults and families in accommodating the typical cruise services, as well as providing specialized Respite and Private Activities/Sessions that allow our guests the use of the ships entertainment venues in an accommodated and assisted manner. Our professional Staff (educated, experienced, background checked and sanctioned by the cruise lines) accompanies you on your cruise to provide these amazing vacation and travel experiences onboard Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Disney and Carnival Cruise Lines. We also provide a "Cruise Assistance Package" (Cruises without our Staff) on all of the major Cruise Lines to help accommodate guests who wish to cruise on their own.

 Read more here. 

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Does Autism Make Moms Parent Differently?

A new study suggests that moms of kids with autism address their children’s behavior differently than parents of kids without the developmental disorder. Researchers found that mothers with children on the spectrum were less likely to set rules or use discipline, but more frequently imposed so-called positive parenting, encouraging good behavior rather than focusing on the bad. The findings come from a study published in the March issue of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders which is believed to be among the first to look at parenting behavior among moms of individuals with autism.

 Read more here. 

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Friday, February 21, 2014

On Autism, Environmental Toxicants, And Bias

. . . "As the authors of this review duly note but never quantify in a clear way (the reader must dig through thousands of words to pin down numbers), most of these investigations of chemical environmental factors and autism suffer limitations that include their retrospective nature, their reliance on parent memory (as opposed to data collected in real-time), and the lack of confirmation of ASD diagnoses. For example, for pesticides (which in some cases already have been banned or are being phased out; some of these studies are almost 40 years old), three prospective reports relied on parent-completed behavior checklists that aren’t autism specific. One of these studies identified a “trend” to a relationship between checklist scores and pesticide exposure, but using another developmental index, found improved scores with pesticide exposure. The air pollution findings are similarly contradictory between studies (e.g., one finds an ozone correlation; another does not; ditto for particulates smaller than 2.5 microns)." We all bring bias to what we do. Avoiding this bias in science requires vigilance. Scientists have guidelines to follow for systematic reviews that aid in that vigilance, guidelines that get a mention in the Rossignol review but largely go unused, except for inclusion of a PRISMA flowchart. There’s a reason the Institute of Medicine, in its standards for systematic reviews for therapeutic medical and surgical interventions, states that these standards for authorship on a systematic review require each team member to disclose potential COI and professional or intellectual bias; exclude individuals with a clear financial conflict; and exclude individuals whose professional or intellectual bias would diminish the credibility of the review in the eyes of the intended users. Not heeding such advice combined with an unscientific focus on a simplistic measure like “92%” does no favors for autism research. I’m sure that won’t stop the “92%” soundbite from making the rounds in certain circles and feeding the alt-med cottage industry around autism.

 Read more here.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

'Baby-sitters Club' author Ann M. Martin talks tackling autism in newnovel, 'Rain Reign'

There’s much more to Ann M. Martin than the bestselling Baby-sitters Club books. An extraordinarily prolific author, she’s penned over a dozen novels for young readers over the past 10 years — though perhaps none as topical as her latest, Rain Reign. The story follows 11-year-old Rose Howard, a bright fifth grader who’s obsessed with homonyms, rule-following, and her dog Rain — her only true friend, since Rose’s high-functioning autism makes it difficult for her to relate to other people. When a devastating superstorm hits Rose’s hometown and Rain goes missing, she goes on a quest to find her companion — and ends up uncovering secrets that will change her world forever. Get a first glimpse at the novel’s cover above, and read on to see what Martin has to say about her inspiration for the book, its connection to her own dearly departed dog — and where she thinks one unforgettable Baby-sitters Club character may have ended up.

 Read the interview here. 

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Social Communication Disorder: Parents Seek Guidance

What is SCD?SCD is a new diagnosis in the 5th edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). As the name implies, SCD involves difficulties in social communication. Social communication includes adapting how you speak and otherwise communicate to fit a social situation. For example, we expect children to talk politely to a teacher. We expect conversation between friends to have a more casual style. Related expectations include speaking more quietly in a classroom than on the playground. Individuals with SCD have difficulty understanding and following such social-communication “rules.” Typically they also struggle with rules of conversation such as taking turns. They may have problems understanding the underlying meaning conveyed by tone. For example, being able to tell whether someone is being genuine or sarcastic. As you can imagine, this type of disability can make it difficult for a person to make “small talk” or otherwise communicate comfortably in new situations. Clearly, many individuals with autism share these difficulties. But to receive a diagnosis of ASD under DSM-5, one must also have the repetitive behaviors and/or restricted interests typical of autism. (You can read the full DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for SCD and ASD here.) Who would receive this diagnosis?Good question. As mentioned above, individuals should receive this diagnosis if they have disabilities in the area of social communication without repetitive behaviors and/or restricted interests. Because SCD is a new diagnosis, we don’t know with certainty who is actually receiving this diagnosis at this time. However, we have a strong indication from a new study, funded in part by Autism Speaks. The researchers used DSM-5 criteria for ASD and SCD to re-evaluate a large group of school children previously assigned to an autism subtype under DSM-IV. They found that 22 percent of the children previously diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) would now receive a diagnosis of SCD. Six percent of those previously diagnosed with Asperger disorder would now receive a diagnosis of SCD. What therapies would help?Because SCD is a new diagnosis, we lack established guidelines for treatment. Therapies that focus on improving social communication should help. And many therapies for autism focus on improving social communication. So it’s likely that individuals with SCD would benefit from these programs. They include speech and language therapy, Applied Behavioral Analysis, Pivotal Response Training, Early Start Denver Model, social skills groups, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Most important of all: Treatment should address the unique needs of the individual, as established by a thorough evaluation. If you or your loved one has a diagnosis of SCD, we’d like to hear about your experiences getting the care you need. We invite you to take our DSM-5 Survey for Families and Professionals. It’s anonymous with the option of providing contact information if you’re willing to provide further information. Thanks so much for reaching out with your questions.

 Source 

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Yale Autism Seminar - Video

The Yale Seminar on Autism and Related Disorders is the United States' first undergraduate course of its kind. The goal of this series is to make all of the lecture content and supporting materials available online for free for anyone who desires to learn about Autism Spectrum Disorders. The class consists of a weekly seminar on diagnosis and assessment, etiology and treatment of children, adolescents and adults with autism and related disorders of socialization. This collection contains the full video of the course.

 Go here to access the videos in iTunes. 

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Autism Costs Average $17,000 Yearly for Each Child, Study Finds

The cost of services for children with autism averages more than $17,000 per child each year -- with school systems footing much of the bill, a new U.S. study estimates. Researchers found that compared to kids without autism, those with the disorder had higher costs for doctor visits and prescriptions -- an extra $3,000 a year, on average. But the biggest expenses were outside the medical realm. "Non-health care" services averaged $14,000 per child, and special education at school accounted for more than 60 percent of those costs. Past studies into the costs of autism have mainly focused on health care, said Tara Lavelle, a researcher at RAND Corp. in Arlington, Va., who led the new study published online Feb. 10 and in the March print issue of Pediatrics. These findings, she said, give a more comprehensive view. Her team estimates that services for children with autism cost the United States $11.5 billion in 2011 alone. And the dollar estimates from this study cover only children with autism -- not adults, noted Rosanoff, who was not involved in the research.

 Read more here. 

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Restaurant manager pens letter to autistic girl's mum

"TO the woman and child who sat at table 9, I did not introduce myself to you. My name is Tony Posnanski. I have been a restaurant manager for fifteen years now. My day consists of making sure my restaurant runs well. That could mean washing dishes, cooking and sometimes even serving tables. I have also dealt with every guest complaint you can imagine. A few weeks back you came into my restaurant. I was very busy that night. I was running around helping the kitchen cook food. I was asked to talk to a table close to yours. I did and they said your child was being very loud. I heard some yelling while I was talking to that table. I heard a very loud beep from a young girl. I started to walk to your table. You knew what I was going to ask. You saw the table I just spoke to pointing at you. I got to your table and you looked at me. You wanted the first word. You said … "Do you know what it is like to have a child with autism?" You were not rude when you asked the question. In fact, you were quite sincere. Your daughter could not have been more than five years old. She was beautiful and looked scared that I was at the table. She looked like she thought she was in trouble.

Read more here. 

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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Autistic Brains Create 42 Percent More Information During Rest

A new study published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroinformatics shows that autistic brains can create 42 percent more information on average while at rest. The research, performed by Case Western Reserve University and University of Toronto neuroscientists, could explain an autistic child’s detachment from his/her environment. “Our results suggest that autistic children are not interested in social interactions because their brains generate more information at rest, which we interpret as more introspection in line with early descriptions of the disorder,” Roberto Fernández Galán, PhD, senior author and associate professor of neurosciences at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, said in a statement. Researchers used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to record brain activity of autistic children, revealing that their brains at rest generate more information than non-autistic children. They also quantified interactions between brain regions and determined the inputs to the brain in the resting state allowed them to interpret the children’s introspection level. The team believes this finding could explain an autistic child’s lack of interest in external stimuli, such as interactions with other people.

Read more at  

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