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Friday, January 30, 2015

Archived Webinar - The New Science of Learning: Effective Approaches for Older Students with Autism and Attention Disorders

Change agents -- leaders in special education-- are transforming ways to help older students cope with ASD, attention deficits and related problem behavior that interferes with learning. What does the latest brain research suggest about how we can individualize services, help these students pay closer attention to oral instruction, develop self-regulation skills, complete assignments on time and meet their educational goals?

Join us as a leading expert in brain science provides insight and practical advice about results-oriented practices for educating middle and high school students who have been diagnosed with these disorders.

After this webinar, participants will be able to: Know how to apply new research on the neuroscience of autism spectrum and attention disorders in older students Understand how instructional and technological interventions can maximize auditory attention in the classroom and drive better results. Be able to implement instructional tools and methods to enhance self-regulation skills and decrease behavioral management issues in the classroom

See webinar here:


Study: Some kids with autism show improvement by age 6

More than 10 percent of preschool-age children diagnosed with autism saw some improvement in their symptoms by age 6 and 20 percent of the children made some gains in everyday functioning, a new study found. Canadian researchers followed 421 children from diagnosis (between ages 2 and 4) until age 6, collecting information at four points in time to see how their symptoms and their ability to adapt to daily life fared. "Between 11 and 20 percent did remarkably well," said study leader Dr. Peter Szatmari, chief of the Child and Youth Mental Health Collaborative at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. However, improvement in symptom severity wasn't necessarily tied to gains in everyday functioning, Szatmari said. Eleven percent of the children experienced some improvement in symptoms. About 20 percent improved in what experts call "adaptive functioning" -- meaning how they function in daily life. These weren't necessarily the same children, he said. "You can have a child over time who learns to talk, socialize and interact, but still has symptoms like flapping, rocking and repetitive speech," Szatmari said. "Or you can have kids who aren't able to talk and interact, but their symptoms like flapping reduce remarkably over time." The interplay between these two areas -- symptom severity and ability to function -- is a mystery, and should be the topic of more research, Szatmari said. One take-home point of the research, Szatmari said, is that there's a need to address both symptoms and everyday functioning in children with autism spectrum disorder. "If it were my kid, I would want adaptive functioning to improve and [feel] symptoms are less important," he said. "Adaptive functioning determines your place in the world."

 Read more here. 

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Take It From Temple: 5 Tips for Working with Children with Autism

Our newest eBook summarizes Dr. Temple Grandin’s most practical advice for educators and parents. Based on “The Autistic Brain,” Dr. Grandin’s webinar with us earlier this year, this eBook provides: Realistic tips and specific tactics from an expert to help children with autism reach their potential An overview of the different types of thinkers and their affinities Additional videos and resources to help you learn more.

 Download the free ebook here. 

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

UM researchers develop programs to help Montanans cope with disorder

Less than a decade ago, autism wasn’t on many people’s radar. The 1988 movie “Rainman” was popular culture’s primary reference for it, which isn’t a bad thing: Dustin Hoffman’s Ray put a sympathetic face on the disorder, but autism didn’t yet resonate with people on a daily basis. Back then it was diagnosed at about 1 in 10,000 children. Now it’s 1 in 68.With the growing need for services, three educators at the University of Montana have spearheaded and implemented programs and projects, including the Children’s Autism Waiver, that aim for autism intervention from infancy through adulthood. By applying cutting-edge research and interdisciplinary approaches, the educators hope to make real-world impacts on Montana communities, as well as provide practical experience for UM students in the field.And, already, they’re seeing promising results.

 Read more here. 

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Identification Cards

For students who are non-verbal or have limited communication, carrying or wearing identification can be quite useful if they wander or become lost. Below are some identification resources. A suggested measurable annual goal for this might be: CONDITION: When asked, ("Are you lost? Do you have any identification?") by a stranger* BEHAVIOR: the student will show her identification to the stranger* CRITERION: without prompting CONSISTENCY: nine of ten times." * It can be easy for the student to learn this with familiar staff but the true test is to do it with someone unknown. Set up a situation where the student is "lost" in the school setting with no familiar staff visible to her then use your SRO or ask a staff person whom the student is not familiar to ask the questions in the goal and see if the student meets the goal. Resources:

 Medical ID Bracelets that don't look so medical.


 Wrist bands and Safety Alert cards

 Examples of identification cards you can create + another one. 

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Archived Webinar - Sexual Boundary Violations by Individuals with IntellectualDisability: A Statewide Screening Program

New Mexico has established a one of a kind, Medicaid funded, statewide system for screening and providing interdisciplinary teams with technical assistance regarding matters of sexual boundary violations in persons with intellectual disability. This process – known as Preliminary Risk Screening (PRS) combines actuarial and dynamic data to help explore concerns about individual safety in the community and at their residences.

 View the recording here. 


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Visual Supports Ease Medical Visits for Kids with Autism

What are you going to do to me?” “When can I go home?” When a child with autism arrives for an appointment at our clinic, these are some of the important questions we try to answer visually.

 Read more here. 

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Archived Webinar - Setting Up For Success: Best Practices for the Instructional Environment

he places in which we live, eat, work, and especially in which we learn matter--they shape us, and we shape them. With limited resources in schools and spaces we don't always get to choose, creating a classroom environment that is conducive to learning can be a challenge for any teacher.

In this FREE webinar Rethink's Jennifer Wilkens, MA, BCBA, offers best practices for setting up an instructional environment that is safe, fun, and optimal for student success.

 Watch the video here.

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Friday, January 9, 2015

Newly identified molecular network in brain implicated in autism

Autism may be caused by a dysfunctional corpus callosum, resulting in poor communication between brain hemispheres, a new study suggests. A defect in communication between the two halves of the brain may be responsible for some cases of autism, according to a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine
. They came to their conclusions by analyzing what's called the human interactome — a vast network of interacting proteins - and by sequencing genomes and analyzing gene expression patterns in individuals with autism. The study offers a possible explanation as to why the communication center of the brain, called the corpus callosum, is often abnormally small in people with the condition.

 Read more here. 

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Facial measurements resurface in search for autism clues

Genetic disorders are often written in the face. People with Down syndrome, caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21, tend to have flattened noses, eyes that slant upward and small ears. People with the rare Marfan syndrome often have long, thin faces with deep-set eyes and small lower jaws. Even some children with autism — a heterogeneous disorder with myriad susceptibility genes — have unusual facial features, or dysmorphology. In fact, in his original description of autism in 1943, Leo Kanner noted that some boys with the disorder have distinctive, “beautiful” faces. These subtle features may hold clues about the origins of autism. But quantifying them using traditional tools, such as tape measures and calipers, is both labor-intensive and error-prone — particularly when studying children. Many scientists are uncomfortable with or downright skeptical of the practice, given its similarity to the notorious pseudoscience of phrenology, which attempts to predict a person’s character from the shape of his or her skull. Now a group of dysmorphologists, armed with faster, more accurate and less invasive measurement systems, is reviving this once-tedious trade. In a study published 29 October in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, they identified three distinct patterns of facial structures among 62 boys with autism1. One of these patterns tracks with low intelligence and language impairment.

 Read more here. 


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Monday, January 5, 2015

Half of All Children Will Be Autistic by 2025.

The current article spreading fears about glyphosate cites the work of Stephanie Seneff, making a clear argument from authority: For over three decades, Stephanie Seneff, PhD, has researched biology and technology, over the years publishing over 170 scholarly peer-reviewed articles. In recent years she has concentrated on the relationship between nutrition and health, tackling such topics as Alzheimer’s, autism, and cardiovascular diseases, as well as the impact of nutritional deficiencies and environmental toxins on human health. Seneff, however, has not actually performed any research into glyphosate. She is “a Senior Research Scientist at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.” She is also an anti-GMO activist. That does not mean she is wrong – it just means it is misleading to cite her as a researcher and authority. She has published only speculations and gives many presentations, but has not created any new data. The dramatic claim she is currently making, the one prompting many scary headlines, is that “Half of All Children Will Be Autistic by 2025.” This is not based on any new research. It is simply a na├»ve extrapolation of current trends indefinitely into the future – which is always dubious. Seneff is also naively equating correlation with causation. Here is her big evidence:

 Read more here. 


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