Friday, June 30, 2017

A Parent’s Guide to Research, a basic primer on autism research

The guide includes information about how to:
  • Find information about autism
  • Distinguish between research-based and non-research-based information
  • Become savvy consumers of information by giving parents the tools to identify reputable research
  • Evaluate research studies using a guiding uniform framework
  • Interpret and apply findings to individual situations and needs

'The Prevalence of Autism (including Aspergers Syndrome) in School Age Children in Northern Ireland 2017'

These figures have been extracted from the Northern Ireland School Census collected by the Department of Education.

  • The estimated prevalence of autism within the school aged population in Northern Ireland has increased by 1.3 percentage points from 1.2% in 2008/09 to 2.5% in 2016/17.
  • There is a significant difference in the estimated prevalence rates of autism between the genders, with males four times more likely to be identified with autism than females, in line with international findings.
  • The Northern Ireland urban population has a statistically significant higher prevalence rate than the rural population.
  • The estimated prevalence of autism has increased across all school years, between 2009/10 and 2016/17, with the greatest increase in the number of children identified with autism occurring in the oldest (Year 12 – Aged 16 years old) group of children.

Everything Worth Knowing About ... Autism Spectrum Disorder

Read a good short article here in Discover magazine. 

When is Tourette Syndrome Actually Autism?

More than one in five children with Tourette syndrome also tests positive for autism, a new study shows.
But it's unlikely that so many children actually have both disorders. What's more probable is that Tourette's symptoms often mimic or seem quite similar to those of autism, the researchers noted.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

An Open Letter to Parents of Students With Disabilities About to Enter College

First, colleges and universities provide services and support to Students With Disabilities under very different laws than those that governed services in the K-12 system. As a parent, I have no rights under Section 504/ADA in speaking for my SWD who is in college.

The services and support available to SWD are sometimes very different than what was provided in high school, and the college is under no obligation to continue the services given in high school or to adhere to the recommendations of an outside diagnostician. The college will make its own determination of what services and support to offer, based on the documentation of disability and their interview with your SWD. There are no IEP’s in college, there is no place to sign off with my parental approval. Indeed, the college doesn’t legally have to care whether I am satisfied or not. My daughter is responsible for her own destiny now. 

  1. An old adage maintains:
    There are only two things a parent can give to a child... One is roots. The other is wings.

    It is time for our kids to solo.

    Read more here - including some good tips for parents.  

MonTECH Survey

MonTECH is conducting our annual survey. The survey is intended to help us shape our program into a better service for Montanans. Surveys returned by July 10th will have a chance to win one of two $50 Amazon gift cards. 
For those who have used MonTECH for themselves or a family member:
For professionals who have used MonTECH for a patient/client/student:

Autism Talk - A Visual Communication Tool

The AutismTalk App gives law enforcement, firefighters, and EMS personnel that extra tool needed in responding to a call or an emergency situation regarding an individual with autism.

The AutismTalk App is a Picture symbol supported communication and interactive app which allows 1st responders to be able to start communicating quickly and providing help to someone who is nonverbal that has autism or other special needs.

Every 1st responder from law-enforcement to firefighters and EMS personnel will come in contact with someone on the autism spectrum at least once in their career. By 1st responders having the AutismTalk app it will allow them to communicate quickly with someone who is nonverbal or has difficulty speaking and with 50% of individuals on the autism spectrum being non-verbal and the other 20% becoming non-verbal when they are stressed, afraid, hurt or injured the AutismTalk app is a must have for all 1st responders.

The AutismTalk app was designed by a former law-enforcement officer who also has a child on the autism spectrum.

Feature Highlights:

-separate easy to use picture Communication boards and interactive categories for law enforcement, firefighters, and EMS.

-interactive body models where an individual can tap on and show a first responder exactly where they are hurt or injured.

-interactive police sketch tool where an individual can pick from different facial features (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, etc), different hairstyles, different body types and size to give law-enforcement a description of the perpetrator that hurt them.

- interactive universal pain chart

Autism genetics: The movie

A two-minute explanation of how genes are being examined for the cause(s) of autism.

From Spectrum. 

The genetics of autism

Autism is a complex condition, with a wide range of features that vary in their severity. Autism’s genetic roots are equally complex. The condition runs in families, but most of the relevant mutations identified so far arose spontaneously in the sperm or egg or after fertilization.
In the past 10 years, scientists have identified some 65 genes tied to autism, and the list continues to grow. Many of these genes play key roles in the brain. Some scientists say the time has come to stop searching for autism genes and focus instead on understanding their function.
Some research teams are expanding their search to mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited from mothers, and to the ‘dark genome’ — the 98 percent that doesn’t contain genes. Elements buried within the dark genome regulate the expression of genes. Environmental factors and experiences can also alter gene expression by changing the patterns of chemical tags on DNA.
Genetic variants that are common in the general population may work together in groups to increase the risk of autism. To find these variants, researchers must gather DNA from tens of thousands of people with autism — a feat made possible by the participation of families in autism studies and groups. Advocacy groups that unite people with the same rare mutations are helping to reveal how autism’s genetic heterogeneity gives rise to its wide spectrum of features.
You can hear more about gene discovery in autism in our Spectrum Stories podcast. Articles from our archives round out this special report on the genetics of autism.
Courtesy of Spectrum - a fine source for news about autism research. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

The struggle to socialize for families with autism

Many children with autism engage in repetitive behaviors — often called stimming — such as flapping their hands, banging their head, repeating a word or phrase, or repeatedly touching a part of their body. It helps them stay calm in stressful situations. For Oliver, it’s looking at kids out of the corner of his eye and brushing up against them. 
To neurotypical kids and parents, the behaviors can seem strange or even aggressive. 
“Sometimes that would scare the kid so they would go to the parent … and it could turn into an altercation because they don’t understand that he’s autistic,” Carner said. “Because usually with a lot of people it’s judge first, ask questions later.
Tips for parents 
If parents are nervous about taking their child out, OHSU’s Zuckerman recommends they put together a story board where they lay out pictures and tell a story about what’s going to happen. They could even go to the place and take pictures beforehand. 
“They can rehearse it virtually before they actually do it, so that way when the child gets there, they’re not surprised by what it’s like,” she said, adding it’s a good idea to bring the story board along.

Fever During Pregnancy May Increase Autism Odds

Expectant mothers who have a fever during pregnancy are significantly more likely to have a child with autism, new research suggests.
The odds of a child developing autism increased 34 percent in women who came down with a fever at any time during pregnancy. The risk was greatest during the second trimester when a 40 percent bump was observed.
Researchers looked at data on 95,754 kids born in Norway between 1999 and 2009. About 16 percent of mothers reported having a fever at some point during pregnancy and nearly 600 of the children were ultimately diagnosed with autism.
The risk for autism appeared to increase with the frequency of fevers. Women who experienced fevers three or more times after their 12th week of pregnancy had a 300 percent higher chance of having a child with autism, the study found.

Doctors twice as likely to miss girls as boys on autism screen

Pediatricians are failing to identify 80 percent of toddlers who need an evaluation for autism, and are missing nearly twice as many girls as boys. The unpublished results were presented Friday at the 2017 International Meeting for Autism Research in San Francisco, California.
The results are based on the screening of 3,171 toddlers, about half of them girls, using the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) screening tool.
Parents filled out the M-CHAT in 2014 and 2015 after bringing their toddlers to Children’s Mercy Kansas City hospital for well-child visits. Using the completed questionnaires, doctors deemed only 92 of the children as needing an evaluation for autism. But after rescoring these forms, the researchers found that 467 children met the criteria.


Sometimes, algorithms pick up on early signs of disease that humans wouldn't even know to look for. Last week, researchers at the University of North Carolina and Washington University reported an AI that can identify autistic infants long before they present behavioral symptoms. It's a thrilling opportunity: Early detection gives autism neuroscience a big leg up, as researchers try to understand what goes wrong during development. But now clinicians and researchers have to figure out what they’ll do with that information—is it just a research tool, or will they one day begin diagnosing and treating autism before symptoms start? Especially when it comes to infants, it won't be easy to entrust medical care to a computer-generated guess.
In this study, researchers scanned the brains of 59 6 month-olds whose older siblings were already diagnosed with autism. By age two, 11 of those infants had received a diagnosis of autism. By training a machine learning algorithm on their behavior and earlier MRI data, the scientists built a model that predicted 9 of those 11 autism cases, with no false positives. The AI predicted autism around a year before the earliest age—around 14 months—that clinicians diagnose it based on behavior.

So this new information is problematic to use: How can clinicians create an intervention for an infant who mightdevelop autism? All of the researchers interviewed for this story agree that early detection and intervention for autism is better. But current autism therapies for babies and toddlers focus on their specific behavioral deficits—teaching children to communicate needs, to play with toys, and to have positive interactions with caregivers. How do you design a treatment when you don't know what those specific deficits will be?

The Autistic Gardener - A BBC Show

You can watch the episode here. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Archived Webinar - Food in Schools: Navigating the school environment for a child with food allergies or restrictions.

Archived Webinar - Social Media and ASD

Archived Webinar - ASD & Technology

Join us for a discussion on the current state of research regarding ASD and technology and apps that are recommended for use by people with ASD.

Archived Webinar - Diagnosis of Autism in Adults

Archived Webinar - Nutritional Strategies for Addressing Constipation

View the archived webinar here. 

Wyoming Autism Spectrum Disorder Summit

See the full brochure here.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Help4Aspergers/IAS Professional Training Course


The course contains the following modules:

1. Understanding Aspergers/ Aspergirls – a necessary primer about Aspergers in general / tailored towards females, depending on the student’s needs.

Learning objectives: 1. Understand why (female) AS is important yet often difficult to detect and diagnosis. 2. How strengths can mask challenges, emotional difficulties, selective mutism.  3. How AS manifests differently at different ages…and much more.

Provided: A 90-minute webinar/skype session with Rudy Simone, included in the cost of course.

2. AS and Employment – Finding and keeping gainful employment is necessary for almost all people to lead healthy productive, and independent lives. The lack of this has serious consequences and can result in poor mental and physical health, shortened life span, the inability to keep a family and more.

Learning objectives: 1. Understand what people on the spectrum want and need from their employment. 2.  Learn how to use obsessions as a key to finding the perfect job. 3. Manage more adeptly, the interview process, disclosure and more.

Provided: A 90-minute webinar/skype session with Rudy Simone, included in the cost of course.

3. Friendships and Socializing for Females on the Spectrum – Social relationships are much more complicated for women and girls so this module is directed at females only, although of course some of the information is universal.

Learning objectives: 1. Understand and recognize different kinds of friendships and socializing styles of the Aspergirl. 2. Help the Aspergirl establish and maintain friendships.  3. Understand the importance of self-advocacy in work and life relationships.

Provided: A 90-minute webinar/skype session with Rudy Simone, included in the cost of course.

4. Managing Sensory Issues and Avoiding Meltdowns  — Sensory issues are a huge part of life on the spectrum, even if this is not understood or communicated by the spectrum individual themselves.

Learning objectives: 1. Learn to spot triggers and manage before meltdown. 2. Understand soothing behaviors, how to replace not repress. 3. Learn a multitude of body/mind/environment strategies to minimize impact of stressors

Provided: A 90-minute webinar/skype session with Rudy Simone, included in the cost of course.

The following options are also available (learning objectives provided upon request):
5. Creativity, Asperger’s and Identity
6. Sex, love, dating and marriage on the spectrum
7. Disclosure and educating others about the autism spectrum
8. Ritual and Routine, Logical and Literal Thinking, Bluntness, Empathy, and Being Misunderstood
The total cost for the course is $450 /and $75 for each option

Learn more here.

Friday, June 2, 2017

One Page Profiles -

You can find a variety of template profiles here. These could be good to share with peers or staff.

Exposure to specific toxins and nutrients during late pregnancy and early life correlate with autism risk

Using tooth-matrix biomarkers, which measure the uptake of multiple elements at a fine temporal resolution during early development, and a well-characterized sample of twins, we observed significant differences between ASD cases and non-ASD controls during specific pre- and postnatal periods. In ASD cases, higher lead levels were observed over the prenatal period and first 5 months postnatally. 

Levels of essential elements were diminished in cases at specific developmental windows. Zinc levels were lower in cases during the third trimester, while manganese levels were consistently lower in cases both pre- and postnatally, and this deficiency was highest 4 months after birth. Differences between cases and controls were also evident for multiple other elements examined in our exploratory analysis, including tin, strontium and chromium. 

Read more here.