Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Wide awake: Why children with autism struggle with sleep

Half of children who have autism have trouble falling or staying asleep, which may make their symptoms worse. Scientists are just beginning to explore what goes wrong in the midnight hour.

Read more here at Spectrum. 


Tool Kit: Sleep Strategies for Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Guide for Parents!

Many teens with ASD have difficulty with sleep, which can affect their daytime functioning, as well as that of their families. This tool kit is designed to provide parents with strategies to improve sleep in their teens affected by ASD and helps tackle the problems of falling asleep and staying asleep through the night. Autism Speaks has a good resource: 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Hiding in plain sight: Is popular image of autism as a male-dominated condition hurting girls?

The problem is that research has emerged that questions whether these sex differences are all genetically based. Could it be that some of the differences reflect how the condition expresses itself in males and females? Could it be that we may be misdiagnosing some cases of autistic girls who are hiding, painfully in some cases, in plain sight?

One of the leading theories is that girls are protected from genetic disorders because of their extra X chromosome. The best evidence for this came in a 2014 study published in American Journal of Human Genetics in which researchers reported that girls with neurodevelopmental disorders actually have more genetic abnormalities—mutations and deletions of genetic material–than similar boys, but the conditions do not show up as readily. What this data seem to suggest is that the genetic threshold for ASD may be lower for boys than girls. 

Take, for example, a 2012 study in the UK of 15,000 twins which compared symptoms to clinical diagnosis. The researchers found that for a girl to receive an actual autism diagnosis they needed to exhibit more behavioral problems, or significant intellectual disability or both to be diagnosed. More mild cases in girls were being ignored or given other labels (e.g. ADHD).
Another large study from 2013 in the Netherlands found that girls with milder symptoms (i.e. Asperger’s syndrome) were diagnosed, on average, two years later than boys with similar severity.

Archived Webinar - Teens and Screens: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

In this webinar, Cheryl Cohen, MS, director of online and community programs at the Interactive Autism Network, will discuss:
  • The latest research, including her own, on how teens with ASD use technology in their day-to-day lives
  • What barriers teens with autism encounter using the Web
  • Parents’ concerns about online safety and screen time
  • Technology careers for individuals with autism

Special Diets, Supplements for Autism Still a Question Mark

Parents of children with autism often try diet changes or supplements to ease symptoms of the disorder, but a new review concludes there's no solid evidence that any work.
After analyzing 19 clinical trials, researchers found little proof that dietary tactics -- from gluten-free foods to fish oil supplements -- helped children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).
Some studies showed positive effects, while others found nothing, the researchers said. Overall, the trials were too small and short-term to draw conclusions one way or the other.

Sensory Therapies For Autism: How Much Sense Do They Make?

If you've spent money and time for your autistic child to receive therapies targeting "sensory integration" or other sensory-related methods and wondered if they do anything, here is your answer: No. Or probably not. Or who knows?
In other words, the evidence base for these therapies is fragile or nonexistent, at least according to a systematic review just published in Pediatrics, covering the findings of 24 studies. The review, by Vanderbilt researcher Amy S. Wietlauf and colleagues, focused on massage, sensory integration approaches, environmental enrichment, and auditory enrichment, tossing in the available few studies of music therapy and weighted blankets for good measure. That list likely sounds familiar to parents of autistic children.
According to the authors, the available evidence for the effectiveness of any of these interventions is limited, and even for those that seem to have an effect, how long the effect lasts is simply unknown. The longest term they could drum up was 6 months.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Survey to Understand the Connections Between Autism, Stress, and Health


Dear parents,

We are writing to invite you to participate in a new survey to understand the connections between autism, stress, and health.  Data collected from this survey will be used for an NSF-funded dissertation project at the University of Colorado that will be published in the scientific literature. 

The first 400 participants to complete this survey will receive a $20 Amazon.com gift card.  All participants will also be entered into a lottery to win one of three $200 Amazon.com gift cards.  The survey should take approximately half an hour to complete.  All responses will remain confidential and no identifying information will be used in published reports.

Please consider participating if you meet the following criteria:

1)      You are the parent or legal guardian of a child diagnosed with autism.

2)      Your child with autism is between the ages of 6 and 17.

To participate in this survey, click on the link provided here: https://cuboulder.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cGDwkfwGt4UJHJr

If you have any questions, please contact Bethany Rigles at bethany.rigles@colorado.edu.

 
Thank you for your help with this important project!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Virtual reality yields clues to social difficulties in autism

Take the Sally-Anne task, which is widely used in studies of autism to test ‘theory of mind,’ the ability to understand other people’s beliefs, intentions and emotions. The participant watches an interaction between two dolls and is asked to predict the behavior of one of the dolls based on an understanding of what the doll ‘believes.’
When children with autism answer incorrectly, the assumption is that they have failed to read the doll’s mental state and that similar failures explain their difficulties interacting with other people. However, many adults with autism pass this test, and even others that are more challenging, yet still experience severe social difficulties.
These observations clearly demonstrate that traditional tests of social cognition fail to capture key aspects of social interactions, particularly in adults, that are essential to understanding autism.
We need tests that allow us to precisely measure behavior in complex, reciprocal social interactions. To achieve this goal, we and others are investigating the use of virtual-reality technology as a tool for research and, potentially, therapy.

Eye contact is aversive for some adults with autism

One clue that a child may have autism is that she does not make eye contact with others. This feature appears in the first six months of life, leading some researchers to consider differences in gaze pattern a potential early marker for autism.
One theory holds that people with autism perceive eye contact during social interactions as unimportant: In other words, they are indifferent to it. Alternatively, they may avoid eye contact because it is uncomfortable or aversive.
Many autism therapies encourage children and adults to make eye contact. To determine whether this is the right approach, it is important to understand whether clinicians are teaching people with autism to pay attention to something that doesn’t interest them or forcing them to do something that makes them uncomfortable.

In Treating Autism, Drugs Often Overshadow Behavior Therapy

Many kids with autism are taking antipsychotics without participating in behavior therapy, new research suggests, despite evidence that medication is most helpful when paired with therapy.

Read more here. 

Archived Webinar - Handheld Technology Supports and Transition to Employment

Finding a job is hard enough, but what happens once you have one? Young adults with disabilities often have difficulty with learning job responsibilities and expectations. However, that ubiquitous smartphone can be used to support work skills! Join us to learn how handheld technology can help when navigating the transition to employment.


Watch the video here. 

Kids Like You And Me: Busting Myths About Autism

"The myth is that autistic kids sometimes don't feel emotion, and that is just not true at all. I can say from personal experience that autistic kids have emotions," says Logan, who joins Annie to clear up some misconceptions you might have about autism.
Learn about autism from Logan and his mom Lisa on this episode of "Kids Like You And Me."

Treating children with electroconvulsive therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy - in which a small electric current is passed through the brain causing a seizure - is now used much less often than it was in the middle of the last century. But controversially it is now being used in the US and some other countries as a treatment for children who exhibit severe, self-injuring behaviour.

Read more here. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Parent reports of autism features vary by country

Parents in the United States tend to rate their children’s autism features as more severe than do parents in four other countries, according to a new survey1. The work is one of the first attempts to zero in on how parents from different cultures perceive the condition.

The test also revealed subtle differences in what parents from different countries say about their children’s repetitive behaviors and restricted interests.

Parents in Poland were most likely to report that their children have restricted interests, and U.S. parents were most apt to identify their children’s repetitive movements. Parents in Greece were most liable to say their children have unusual routines and rituals.

Read more here at Spectrum.

Meet the Police Toolkit

Meet The Police program is a free, downloadable toolkit for parents or caregivers who are concerned about their loved one's safety in the community. The purpose of this program is to help enhance the quality of interactions between individuals with autism and members of law enforcement.
This item is provided by National Autism Association at no charge.

Download the free toolkit here.

Advanced Treatment Concepts and Anxiety and ASD: The Psychological Equivalent of Fever

August 10th, Billings

Advanced Treatment Concepts: The purpose of this presentation is to convey the generic power of behavior analysis by describing an array of behavior analytic treatment concepts, all of which are readily applicable to the behavior problems of persons on the spectrum and, indeed, to the behavior problems of all persons.


Anxiety and ASD: The Psychological Equivalent of Fever
This talk will discuss anxiety in straightforward terms; illuminate the extent to which it affects virtually everyone to a certain degree and the extent to which it affects persons with ASD even more. It will also discuss treatment both in terms of experimental study and clinical application. Finally, because the research on treatment of anxiety in persons with ASD is so limited, the talk will extrapolate from the abundant literature on treatment of anxiety in typically developing persons.


Read more and register here.

My brother’s sister

My middle brother, Jacob, was diagnosed when we returned to the US from a year-long family sabbatical during his third-grade year. My parents gave me and my youngest brother, Daniel, who had just finished first grade, a small paperback book to read (Can I tell you about Asperger Syndrome?: A guide for friends and family). It was their way of explaining why Jacob suddenly had so many doctor’s appointments and pills. I don’t remember reading the illustrated paperback, but I do remember much of what it taught me. Asperger’s syndrome is a disorder on the autism spectrum although it is no longer separately diagnosed. People with Asperger’s, while often especially talented in specific areas, struggle to interpret social signals.

Although I knew this growing up, it didn’t stop me from being sarcastic, which often confused  Jacob (although now he’s learned to be sarcastic too). Aspies, or people with Asperger’s, often feel uncomfortable making eye contact with people, and can have sensory issues, which, in Jacob’s case, means that he is overwhelmed by large groups of people and loud, noisy places. Often Aspies’ arm, hand, and shoulder muscles are weaker. After his diagnosis, Jacob had to do strengthening exercises for his fingers and arms: writing with a vibrating pen, army crawling, playing with putty. Aspies also sometimes forget that others might not always share their special interests. I remember three-year-old Jacob talking for hours to no one in particular about trains. At age six, every conversation had to be about unicycles, his newfound passion. Now sixteen, he talks nonstop about rowing when given even the slightest opportunity.

But while the book does describe many of Jacob’s peculiarities, it doesn’t mention his tantrums. “You are acting like a two-year-old” is my mom’s favorite phrase when Jacob has a tantrum. When a five-year-old throws a tantrum, you assume they are just being a kid. When a third-grader throws tantrums while spending a year in a foreign country, you assume it is the bullying and the culture shock. When a fourth-grader throws tantrums at home, you get a diagnosis—Asperger’s. But the label doesn’t make it any better. When a 6’2” fifteen-year-old who’s been trained as a rower for three years throws a tantrum, it’s scary. You prepare for the bruises.

Read more here.

Archived Webinar - Nutrition Interventions to Improve Sleep in Your Household

Sleep - that elusive achievement. Ask any parent what it is they would give anything for more of and chances are one of the top three answers would be sleep! If you need more of it in your household, join us for a discussion on nutrition interventions and strategies to help the increase the Zzzzz's in your home. Presented by Kelly Barnhill, MBA, CN, CCN, Director of Clinical Services, The Johnson Center for Child Health & Development Note: Part 2 of this series will be presented on June 1st and will cover Behavioral Strategies for Improving Sleep.


Watch the video here. 

Helping Children Become Active Learners Using the DIR/Floortime Model

Bozeman

June 26th, 2017


Children diagnosed with Autism and related disorders have challenges that impact self-regulation, communication, social-emotional development, learning and the development of functional skills.  This presentation will introduce key principles of the DIR/Floortime model that can help children become active learners though a better understanding of how biologically based individual differences in communication, motor planning, and sensory processing, impact the learning process. 
 
Floortime offers interactive techniques that can be used to help children learn to attend and self regulate, to become engaged and reciprocal in interactions with others, and to begin to understand social problem solving.  These early functional emotional developmental capacities are necessary to engage in active, adaptive learning. 
 
This workshop will demonstrate intervention principles and technique that can help teachers, para-professionals, therapists, and parents prepare the child for learning and address challenges such as avoidance, shut downs, and meltdowns. Participants will learn how to interpret the child’s behavioral cues and to use developmentally targeted interaction techniques to address the child’s functional challenges.


Course #8789

6 OPI Renewal Units will be available

IAN Survey Results Viewer - Select Survey

IAN’s Survey Results Viewer allows you to view the results of the surveys that families completed as participants in IAN Research. To view the results of a survey, select that survey form the list that follows. A new page will display with choices that allow you to narrow the results by such factors as age, sex, and ASD diagnosis.
 
Note that this Viewer works best on a desktop or laptop computer. You may experience some difficulties if you use a tablet or mobile device.

Understanding Research: An Autism Researcher Answers Your Questions

Consumers and patients are bombarded with information about medical research and autism treatments almost daily. Often these articles and social media posts include terms that can mean many different things. J. Kiely Law, research director and co-founder of the Interactive Autism Network (IAN), answers some common questions about what research really is – and isn't. Dr. Law is a physician, a researcher, and the mother of a young adult with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Interactive Autism Network: The terms "evidence-based medicine and treatment" or "science-based medicine" are used a lot. What do they mean?
Dr. Law: It means that an idea or treatment has been scientifically tested and, based on those test results, the idea is valid or, in the case of a treatment, the treatment works. The more times the test is repeated with the same result, the more evidence there is that the idea or treatment is valid. For example, cars go through a series of tests to make sure they are safe, and medical science does the same thing. Science uses a specific way of testing an idea, called a hypothesis. This way of testing is called the scientific method, and its purpose is to remove anything from the test that could bias or invalidate the results.

IAN: Sometimes providers or businesses publish patient testimonials about how a therapy or product works to treat autism. Is that similar to research?

Read more here.

2017 Northern Plains Law Conference on Students with Disabilities


Billings

Tuesday, October 3, 2017 and Wednesday, October 4, 2017
 

The Northern Plains Law Conference on Students with Disabilities will cover special education legal issues, including the latest information from due process hearings, circuit court cases, OSEP/OCR guidance letters, and basic IDEA procedural requirements.


This conference is designed for general/special education staff, administrators, state/school district attorneys, state education agency staff, related services staff, parents, and other stakeholders.


We will also be holding a Pre-Conference, which is open to school district attorneys, special education directors, dispute resolution contractors and SEA staff.  If you are eligible, we invite you to visit the registration site and join us.




Thursday, May 11, 2017

Parents Turn To Cannabis To Treat ASD, Even As Doctors Urge Caution

“There is every reason to exercise extreme caution with this drug,” said physician Emanuel DiCicco-Bloom, a neuroscience professor at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School of Rutgers University who studies autism and has followed what little research exists.
DiCicco-Bloom, like others in the field, said he is concerned about the potential for harm from long-term exposure to cannabis, especially for children whose brains are still developing. He believes further study is needed.
So does Charles Pollack, director of the Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp at Thomas Jefferson University.
“The thing that worries me is we have no data,” Pollack said.

What makes a gene an autism candidate? Not everyone agrees

Novelty is a slippery concept in genetics: Literally, it simply means that a gene’s connection to a certain condition has never previously been noted. But many researchers say that being first to implicate a gene isn’t enough. Genes also must pass a stringent statistical bar to become candidates, or they remain merely curiosities.
In autism, this issue has come to the fore in the past few months.

Researchers have ditched the autism-vaccine theory. Here’s what they think actually causes it.

Genes and the microbiome are some of the most promising leads.


The strongest evidence of a cause: genetics

Autism spectrum disorder is a collection of close to 1,000 different conditions, with symptoms ranging from delayed speech development to asocial behavior and repetitive movements. 
But “of all the causes of autism, the thing we know with the greatest certainty is that it’s a very genetic disorder,” said UCSF geneticist and autism researcher Stephan Sanders. “If you look at a child with autism, then look at their siblings, you’ll find the rate of autism is 10 times higher in those siblings than in the general population. This has been looked at in populations of millions.”

Exposure to infections and certain medicines during pregnancy may be linked to autism 

Not everyone with those genetic mutations has autism — and that’s because researchers believe it’s not mutations alone that cause the disorder.
In many cases, you need that underlying genetic predisposition or mutation to collide with a range of potential environmental triggers. And finding those environmental risk factors is where things get murky pretty quickly. 
Researchers have proposed dozens of potential environmental contributors to autism — including air pollution, pesticides, antidepressants, and viruses. And few of them have very robust science behind them, in large part because it’s much trickier to confirm the environmental causes of a disease.

Why Do Girls Show Signs of Autism Later Than Boys?

Autistic traits for the same group of children and adolescents was measured at ages 7, 10, 13, and 16. 
Boys who showed high levels of autistic traits at age 7 tended to remain consistent over time, demonstrating similar traits at older ages.
Girls, on the other hand, showed a marked increase in levels of autistic social difficulties between the ages of 10 and 16.
Mandy said the findings were surprising, as previous medical wisdom stated that girls and women with autistic traits tended to “camouflage” them as they got older.
“If anything, I expected to see a decline in autistic symptoms in girls over time,” he said. “What’s very interesting is that there was one person who suggested the opposite, and that was Hans Asperger himself. There’s this rather intriguing sentence from this paper he wrote in the 1940s, where he’s wondering why we never see girls with what he would call ‘autistic psychopathologies.’ And he said, ‘Well, maybe it’s because these traits don’t show onset until adolescence with females.’ And nobody tested that idea. So it’s intriguing that that would be what we appear to have found on this occasion.”

Archived Webinars from the National Autism Association

WebiNAAr Recordings
NAA’s WebiNAArs are recorded and archived on our website.
For free access to all recorded webiNAArs, please register here.
Recorded WebiNAArs:
Vision Therapy’s Role in Attention, Stimming, Toe-Walking and other Visual-Motor AbilitiesPresented by:  Larah Alami, OD FAAO & Barbara Kotsamanidis-Burg
Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and Neuro-Modulation: The Potential of Cannabinoids in Treating AutismPresented by: Dr. Ronald Aung-Din
Wandering: How Affordable Smart-Home Technology Can Help Keep Our Kids SafePresented by: Holly Mero-Bench & Kevin Meacham of Vivint Gives Back
The Many and Varied Uses of SymbolsPresented by:  Anne Johnson-Oliss, M. Ed
Solutions to Help Children Self-Regulate: The Science Behind Deep Pressure Therapy
Presented by:  Lisa Fraser, CEO of Snug Vest
Bridging The Gap: A Guide for Autism Families to Establish Relationships with their Police Department
Presented by: Jerry Turning, Police Captain and Autism Dad
At Home with Autism:  Your Blueprint to a More Peaceful Home
Presented by:  Janeen Herskovitz
Haircuts, and Doctors, and Dentists, OH MY!
Presented by:  Colleen Spano, Founder & President of Sunshine Behavior Consulting
Ready, Set, Potty!Presented by:  Brenda Batts, Ph.D., Director of Focus on the Future Training Center
I Want to be Treated Like a Girlfriend Again . . and Other Thoughts of Long Ago
Presented by:  Mary Romaniec, Author, Advocate, Mom
Learn to Thrive, Not Just Survive:  Stress Reduction for Special Parents
Presented by:  Siobhán Wilcox, Stress Management Consultant, Author
A Street-Wise Approach to the IEP Process:  You are your child’s CEO
Presented by:  Mary Romaniec, Author, Advocate, Mom
Preventing Restraint and Seclusion in Schools – What Can Parents and Advocates Do?
Presented by: Barb Trader
Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum – the Basics
Presented by: Chantal Sicile-Kira
The Role of Enzymes in Autism, Gut Health and Food IntolerancesPresented by: Dr. Devin Houston
Autism & Wandering for First RespondersPresented by:  Lori McIlwain
Sexual Education for Kids on the Autism Spectrum
Presented by:  Brodie Simmons
Natural nutritional immunotherapy: An integrated protocol for the treatment of autism spectrum disordersPresented by: Marco Ruggiero, M.D., Ph.D
Income Tax Planning for Families with Children with Special NeedsPresented by: Michael Beloff, CFP®
Oxalates: An Important Etiological Factor in the Diagnosis and Treatment of AutismPresented by: William Shaw, Ph.D.
How Hyperbaric Therapies Can Help Improve Inflammatory and Autistic ConditionsPresented by: David Dornfeld, DO
Seizures in Autism Spectrum DisorderPresented by: Richard E. Frye, M.D., Ph.D
PANDAS/PANS in AutismPresented by: Scott Smith, P.A.
Using Diet & Nutrition to Help Your Child
Presented by: Julie Matthews, Certified Nutrition Consultant
Autism-Related Wandering: Keeping Our Kids Safe
Presented by: Wendy Fournier, NAA President

Is Your Child Safe on the School Bus?

So what can we do to help ensure the safety of our kids?
  • Ask your child’s school to provide autism training to all bus drivers, monitors and aides.
  • If there are no cameras installed, talk to your school district: Abuse can still happen, but with cameras, it can be proven and addressed. Ask if there is a camera installed on your child’s bus, ask how long the recordings are archived and how you can request to review video if you have reason to suspect a problem.  Confirm that personnel background checks are done and ask if bus drivers and monitors receive specialized training prior to working with children with disabilities.
  • Introduce yourself to your child’s bus staff, relay any concerns they should be aware of regarding your child’s individual needs.  For example, “Please use an eyes on, hands off approach,” or “My child needs to be supervised, but does not like to be touched.”

Personal Emergency Profile Sheet


Click here to download from the National Autism Association





Survey Request

If you are a caregiver of a teen (ages 13-18) with ASD, I invite you and your teen to participate in an on-line research study of strengths and well-being in teens with ASD who primarily receive education in general and/or resource settings.

The online questionnaire (password: research) takes between 20 and 30 minutes total to complete. A caregiver completes the first part, and the teen completes the second part. Participants can enter to win one of eight $25 Amazon.com gift cards!

Survey Link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/thoughtsandfeelings
Password: research

--
Kathleen B. Franke, M.A.
School Psychology Doctoral Candidate
University of South Carolina
kfranke@email.sc.edu

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Cues Club - Helena

SUMMER SESSIONS
Is your child or teen …
            *Struggling in social situations?
*Having difficulty interacting with peers?
*Having trouble understanding and responding to non-verbal cues?

Catch the cues in our summer sessions!
Classes are offered for elementary, middle school, and high school individuals with solid cognitive and language skills who are struggling in social situations. Small groups rich in social learning (and fun!) help individuals learn how to be part of a group and share space with others.


June
8 classes over the following days:  June 14-16 and 19-23
                                             9-12 years           9:30-10:30
   9-12 years           10-:45-11:45

 July
Tuesdays and Thursdays over 4 weeks:  July 11-August 3
13-15 years       9:30-10:30
16-18 years     10:45-11:45

We strive to group children according to their social interaction style.  Class ages associated with the times above may vary depending on enrollment and each student’s individual communication style.

Location: 
South Hills Church of Christ- 2294 Deerfield Lane
Fee:  $200.00 (assistance available)

For additional details or to register contact Chris Caniglia at 461-2853

visit our website at cuesclub.org