Friday, January 29, 2010

Incorporating Humor In Ad Campaign To Hire People With Disabilities

A national effort to encourage businesses to employ workers with disabilities is not your father’s hire the handicapped campaign.
A print ad from a new campaign using comical labels, intended to encourage employers to ignore labels when hiring people with disabilities.
One difference is that the new ads are paid rather than pro bono, with an estimated budget of $4 million for the first two quarters of 2010. The ads will appear on television, in print, online and outdoors; there is also a sponsorship deal with NPR.
The ads are being financed largely by agencies in 30 states that provide employment services as well as health and human services to their citizens who are disabled.
Typically, ads that seek to make a case for employing people with disabilities run as public service announcements. That makes them dependent on the kindness of media outlets to place them prominently on television, in print or online.
“We’ll never have enough money to oversaturate the media,” said Barbara Otto, executive director at Health and Disability Advocates in Chicago, which is overseeing the campaign, “but we wanted to do something different, something that didn’t look like a P.S.A.”

Teaching Independence

CHICO, CA -- Nancy Avram has to be creative and helpful, every day. She never imagined it's what she'd be doing for a living.
As recreation specialist at Do-It Leisure in Chico, Avram helps people with developmental disabilities learn to live on their own.
It's everything from learning how to pay bills, to parenting skills, to making friends. It's problem solving, and I totally love it, Avram said. I'm making a difference in their lives, and I'm important to them.

Student With Autism Captures Geography Bee

BEACH PARK, IL. -- Eleven-year-old Aaron Cvengros of Winthrop Harbor is autistic. But that didn't stop the Our Lady of Humility School fifth-grader from becoming the first student there to win an academic competition with the use of a letter board.
Aaron won the National Geographic Geography Bee on Jan. 22, participated in by other fourth- through-eighth-grade OLH students. The contest is designed to help spark interest in the subject.
Denise Lamm, Aaron's assistant who helps him in the classroom, said the boy used the regular letter board for the geography bee, using Rapid Prompting Method by pointing to each stenciled letter with a pencil to spell out his answers. "He used the stencil so the judges could see his choice," said Lamm. In class he sometimes uses a laminated board.

U.K. Panel Makes Right Call

Interesting item from Forbes' health care blog by Dr. Steven Salzberg, Director of the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology and the Horvitz Professor of Computer Science at the University of Maryland, College Park.

It's about time.
It took nearly three years, but the U.K.'s General Medical Council finally issued a ruling about Andrew Wakefield's 1998 study that claimed a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. They ruled that he had acted "dishonestly and irresponsibly" in his research, and further that he didn't have the qualifications to be carrying out some of the experiments on children that he subjected them to.
He also filed for a patent on a "safer" vaccine that he was hoping to sell after he discredited the MMR vaccine. The GMC found all these behaviors amounted to "serious professional misconduct."
What's so awful about Wakefield's behavior is that it has directly contributed to a decline in vaccination rates, first in the U.K. and then in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Panel Rules Doctor Who Linked MMR and Autism Acted Unethically

LONDON -- The doctor who first suggested a link between MMR vaccinations and autism acted unethically, the official medical regulator has found.
Dr Andrew Wakefield's 1998 Lancet study caused vaccination rates to plummet, resulting in a rise in measles - but the findings were later discredited.
The General Medical Council ruled he had acted "dishonestly and irresponsibly" in doing his research.
Afterward, Dr Wakefield said the claims were "unfounded and unjust".

Idaho Parent Fear Proposed Service Hike

SPIRIT LAKE, Idaho — When Gerald Kalar sees his son competing for the Timberlake wrestling team, he knows he has the Katie Beckett program to thank.
The Idaho Medicaid program has helped pay for 11 years of doctors, psychologists and therapists for Dylan, now 15, to cope with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and Static Encephalopathy, a development disability affecting memory and impulse control.
"Right now he's standing better than he ever has, and it's got to be because of the services and the professionals who have always worked with him," Gerald said.
That's why the Spirit Lake father got nervous when he heard the state Legislature is on the brink of requiring cost sharing for the Katie Beckett program.
Last week the Senate Health and Welfare Committee approved a new rule for Medicaid coverage that would require some families to pay a premium for disabled children's services.

Cleveland Clinic Finds Brain Connection To Autism

CLEVELAND -- Science has long known that Autism is some type of developmental disorder in the brain but there's never been a definitive answer for its cause.
Now a Cleveland Clinic researcher released a study that may provide one.

Doctor Who Suggested MMR-Autism Link To Face Charges

Don't usually post content from abroad but thougth this would be of interest. Stay tuned.
LONDON -- The doctor at the center of the MMR controversy is due to learn whether he could face sanctions.
Dr Andrew Wakefield will hear from experts at the General Medical Council (GMC), which has been investigating allegations of serious professional misconduct.
In the late 1990s, Dr Wakefield and two other doctors said they believed they had uncovered a link between the MMR jab, bowel disease and autism. The research, published in the highly respected medical journal The Lancet, caused a large drop in the number of children given the triple jab for measles, mumps and rubella.
Verdicts on the "facts" to the case will be delivered at the disciplinary hearing in central London.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Missouri Senate Passes Autism Bill

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. — Parents of children with autism are one step closer to guaranteed insurance coverage for their children.
Missouri Senate committee members unanimously voted Tuesday to pass a bill that would mandate insurance coverage for treatment of autism and related disorders.
Sen. Scott Rupp, R-Wentzville, sponsored the bill, which would allow people younger than 21 under certain conditions up to $72,000 in coverage per year.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Students With Autism Find Success in Business

BIRMINGHAM, MI -- The enticing aroma of baking biscuits envelopes the room, but workers at a nearby table remain focused on the task at hand: making more biscuits.
There's Alex, who kneads the dough standing up, pushing the light-brown mixture of flour and oil around the bowl. Josh sits, grasping the handles of a rolling pin, transforming a lump into a pancake. And finally, Evan pushes a dog-bone shaped biscuit cutter deep into the dough, pulling out tiny shapes for baking.
The well-tuned trio is part of a student-run business at Seaholm High School designed for students with autism.
Their product is "Puppy Love" biscuits and natural treats for canines in peanut butter and beef flavors.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Acting Class Gives Children on Spectrum Chance to Shine

RICHLAND, WA. -- Any drama buff will tell you acting is therapy.
It brings about a temporary escape from reality that can be as much fun as it is therapeutic, especially for kids with special needs.
With that in mind, the Academy of Children's Theatre here has organized a workshop called Spectrum on Stage, which gives students with autism the chance to shine in a theater setting.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dealing With Financial Burden of Autism

When Jeff Sell’s twin sons were determined to have autism 13 years ago, he, like so many other parents in the same situation, found himself with a million questions: Will my children be able to function? What are the best treatments and where do I find them? How will this affect the rest of my family?
besides those monumental worries, Mr. Sell kept asking himself another fundamental question as he began the long string of doctor and therapist visits with his sons: “How in the world am I going to pay for all this?”

Kansas Family Awaits Help

Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson says the state faces its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression -- and it's not over. While residents wait to see how the state legislature deal with the problem, the journalists at the Kansas Health Institute are doing some great reporting on how state budget cuts are likely to hurt real people. Here's one of Dave Ranney's stories.

OLATHE, KS. -- About five years ago, Leslie Debrabander invited a woman from Johnson County Developmental Services to her home to talk about the possibility of getting services for her daughter.
Abby Debrabander, then age 5, has multiple physical and developmental disabilities.
"We talked about Abby and the services she would need and what was available," Debrabander said. "When we were through I asked her when she thought we'd get started and she said it would probably be seven or seven and a half years. I couldn't believe it."

Here are other articles from the series:
Waiting Lists For State Services Expected to Grow

Parents Await Help For 'Differently-Abled' Son

Thursday, January 21, 2010

California Budget Cuts Leave Major Gaps

PALM SPRINGS, CA. -- California has made drastic cuts to close its budget gap. The area hardest hit is the population that relies on Medi-Cal the most — the developmentally disabled.The Inland Regional Center reports that there are 23,600 in its state program. In June 2009, the California-Health and Human Services Agency, Department of Health Care Services announced it would no longer pay for the following services:
Dental services
Speech therapy services
Podiatric services
Audiology services
Chiropractic services
Optometric services
Psychology services
Without these vital services, our adults and children with special needs face a major problem.

Michigan To Open Its First High School for Students with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Ann Arbor will be the location of the first private high school in Michigan offering college-prep curriculum for students who have high-functioning autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.
Veritas Christi High School will open in September, said founder Richard Nye.
And while the goal is to establish a rigorous education environment for a specific group of teens, “we really want it to be inclusive,” Nye said. “We’re not limiting it to those two groups.”

As Autism Cases Rise, So Do Costs

Nice work by WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh - taking a look at the state's rise in autism and the costs that keep on rising. Be sure to check out the video as well as the print story.
PITTSBURGH -- Some 25,000 people in Pennsylvania have an autism diagnosis. As WTAE-TV continues its look at autism, on Wednesday Channel 4 Action News anchor Michelle Wright focused on how much money the state is dedicating to helping those individuals.
Wright reported that the cost for each person with autism is $3.2 million over a lifetime.
Parents Of Autistic Children Demand Answers About Waiting List
Research has proven that the earlier the treatment starts, the better the result. But the treatment can be expensive and overwhelming.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

NY Governor Proposes Early Intervention Fee For Children With Autism

ALBANY — Gov. David A. Paterson proposed on Tuesday what would be the largest cut to school aid in more than two decades and nearly $1 billion in new or increased taxes and fees as he unveiled his budget, a plan that is likely to be the first chapter in a prolonged battle with the Legislature.
Searching for new sources of tax revenue amid a fiscal crisis, the governor proposed charging fees to many families that enroll in an early intervention program for children with autism, attention deficit disorder and other special needs, and delaying one of his signature achievements — a plan to increase monthly welfare allowances.

Big Differences Remain in Missouri Autism Coverage Bill

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. -- Despite nearly a year of negotiations, big differences remain between insurers and advocates for autistic children who are urging Missouri to mandate coverage of a costly but promising behavioral therapy.
House and Senate committees each heard testimony Tuesday on proposals that would require insurers for small and mid-sized employers to offer policies covering the diagnosis and treatment of autistic children.
At issue is how much coverage should be offered — and how long it should last — for those seeking "applied behavioral analysis," an intensive therapy that some parents say produces dramatic improvements in their autistic children.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Project Trains Parents To Connect With Children Through Play

DETROIT -- As her son Richard lies on the floor, Holly Carter plays patty-cake with his feet.
When the 4-year-old swiftly crawls across the floor, she's right with him. He leaps up and darts across the room; Carter is by his side. Although it looks like she's performing some sort of maniacal mirroring marathon, playing this intensely is not all for fun and games. Richard is autistic, and doesn't speak.
Their activity is part of a three-year research study of the Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters (known as the P.L.A.Y. Project) home consulting model, a parent-training program that addresses the need for intense early intervention for young children with autism. Parents commit to playing with their child 20-25 hours a week with consulting from a play therapist. The goal of the project, supported with a $1.85 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, is to see whether this type of intensive play can help children with autism come out of their shells.

For Adults With Disabilities, Many Friends

QUINCY, MASS. -- The hall was basic, unadorned, in need of a makeover. Not like a hotel with plush chairs and soft lights. Not like a meeting room where business people gather.
It was the people who brought beauty into this place, men and women in thick parkas coming in from the cold, cheeks red, eyes bright, turning away from the parent who drove them and turning toward their friends.
This was a meeting of Friendship Club, and it was all about talking and playing games and cooking and sharing a meal and reconnecting.
The members of Friendship Club are adults with developmental disabilities. This makes them different. But what makes them typical is everything else. They laugh. They cry. They love the Patriots. And they want what everyone wants: to be liked. To be needed. To belong.

Student Wins Fight to Live in Dorm

After a two-year legal battle, a man with learning disabilities is finally being allowed to live on his college campus.
Micah Fialka-Feldman and many advocates hope his case in Michigan also prompts colleges nationwide to provide the same kind of support to students with intellectual challenges as they do for students with physical problems.
"We need to stop putting artificial barriers in front of people who want to learn and to start seeing the 'ability' in disability," said Margo Izzo, assistant director of Ohio State University's Nisonger Center, which provides assistance to people with disabilities.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Bistro Provides Nurturing and Challenging Workplace

BELLEFONTAINE, Ohio -- Tracy McPherson spent 24 years as a project manager at Honda of America before quitting two years ago to earn a master's degree in marketing. She invested her life's savings in Chattan Loch, the restaurant and pub she opened last week in a renovated warehouse.
She hired 16 adults with developmental disabilities and hand-picked several more employees from Logan County's welfare rolls.
Here, the atmosphere is as much about nurturing the human spirit and feeding the human soul as it is about serving soups and salads.

Families of Children With Autism Sue Over Therapy Cut

LOS ANGELES -- Families of autistic children in eastern Los Angeles County filed a class-action lawsuit Thursday against the nonprofit agency that provides them with state-funded services, alleging that it had illegally discontinued their therapy for the disorder.
The agency, the Eastern Los Angeles County Regional Center, informed more than 100 families late last summer that the therapy — known as the DIR model, or “developmental, individual difference, relationship-based” — was being eliminated for their children because of state budget cuts.
The therapy is the basis for a popular treatment known as Floortime, in which a therapist follows a child’s lead during play activities to build communication and social interaction skills.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Should Down Syndrome Be Cured?

From Lisa Belkin's New York Times' parenting blog - Motherlode.

The guest post here on Friday — about the birth of Cash Van Rowe during a blizzard, and the jolting news that he had Down syndrome — led many of you to leave comments for his parents, assuring them that the road ahead was a journey they would cherish.
But what if Cash’s Down syndrome could be cured — or, more precisely, be mitigated?
News out of Stanford University late last year hinted that this might one day be possible. Researchers from its medical school and the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital explored why children born with Down syndrome do not start life developmentally delayed but rather fall behind as they get older. By using mice that were genetically engineered to mimic Down syndrome, they found that neural memory deficits prevent such children from collecting learned experiences, and that they could improve memory and cognition by medically boosting norepinephrine signaling in the brain.
The study (which was published in the November issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine) and the accompanying announcement by Stanford hinted at an eventual cure

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

N.Y. State Autism Council Proposed

ALBANY, N.Y. -- State Sen. Roy McDonald, R-Saratoga, has introduced legislation to create a statewide council on autism that would develop a policy to address the needs of the growing autism population in New York. It would also establish regional centers to assist families and autistic individuals with services and treatment.
"It's time for New York state to become a leader in addressing the needs of families affected by autism and similar type disabilities," said McDonald, who has two grandsons who are autistic.

Maryland Families Struggle After Cuts

Be sure to watch the video that accompanies this piece.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (CNN) -- While many children her age are learning to print their letters, Karson Brewster is struggling to master a baby's belly crawl.
The curly-haired 4-year-old with wire-rimmed glasses is as small as a toddler, and she cannot speak or sit up by herself. Karson suffers from a rare chromosomal defect called distal 18q-, which can cause intellectual disabilities and developmental delays.
She often suffers complications from the disease, and she visits one of her 22 doctors two to three times a week.
Without the help of family and financial aid from the state of Maryland to cover medical expenses, Karson's mother, Michelle, said her family probably would be homeless.
But now state budget cuts mean most of that funding -- which the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration provides -- has dried up. Instead of receiving $2,500 from the DDA, this year the Brewsters will have to make do with $300.

Misconnections in Developing Brain Linked to Autism

A new study adds to growing evidence that autism is caused by a miswiring of connections in a child's developing brain, resulting in impaired information flow.
According to researchers at Children's Hospital Boston, it may be possible to one day treat the problem with drugs that target the molecular pathways that cause the miswiring.
The study authors looked at a rare disorder called tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), which causes benign tumors throughout the body, including the brain. Many people with TSC have epilepsy and intellectual disabilities, and about 25 percent to 50 percent of TSC patients have autism spectrum disorders.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Autism's Image Is Changing

If only the media would recognize that autism just doesn't affect children. Adults with autism are out there in the community. And, they need the supports and programs, just like children. Check out this item for San Diego News Network's health blog.

The image of autism is changing.
Autism is no longer depicted by the adorable curly haired toddler sitting quietly in the corner, stacking blocks in perfect order, while his peers engage with each other in a whirlwind of interaction and activity.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) newest numbers released in December reflect one in 110 children have been diagnosed with autism, including one in 70 boys. The figures also represent a startling 57 percent increase in the rate of diagnosis from a four-year study (conducted from 2002 to 2006), and a whopping 600 percent increase in the rate of diagnosis in the past 20 years.
Individuals with autism are growing up. The number of autistic children expected to need extensive adult services by 2023 - more than 380,000 people - is roughly equal to the population of Minneapolis. And, the bill for autistic children entering adulthood over the next 15 years is an estimated $27 billion annually in current, non-inflation-adjusted dollars by the end of that period.
This country urgently needs to focus on adult autism, new models of care, community infusion, real jobs (the unemployment rate is well over 90 percent for this population) and, most certainly, new ways to manage funding. Its time to embrace the challenge.

Teen With Autism Hopes To Find His Voice

MIAMI -- Raquel Ferreiro has a simple wish for her 13-year-old son Anthony: ``I want him to someday talk too much.''
But for what most parents may take for granted, Ferreiro can only hope. Anthony has severe autism, and not only has problems communicating but also has problems making eye contact.
Anthony has a very limited vocabulary -- he uses some words for food, but struggles to be understood and gets angry when he can't get his message across.
His social worker Isabel Castano, a support coordinator for Unike Support Services who nominated Anthony for Wish Book, wants to buy him a device that can be used for teaching and also records audio. Anthony could use it as a tool to communicate.
``He can improve his social skills, which is not only important for him but for the family,'' Castano said. ``He's going to learn more words and most likely decrease his aggressive behaviors.''
The device, called ``Cheap Talk 8 -- 1-Level Communicators Direct,'' costs about $200. That's out of reach for Anthony's parents -- his father Armando works two jobs, as a valet and security guard, and his mother works part-time as a security guard. Their jobs don't have health insurance to help cover the costs, and the Medicaid benefits they receive to help with Anthony's care don't apply to such devices.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Special Olympics Cuts Competition

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Tommy Sliva takes great pride in his Special Olympics medals because they show he can ski better than many of his friends without special needs.
But the 19-year-old with Down Syndrome won't get to compete in the giant slalom at the Indiana winter games this year because they have been canceled.
"He was very sad. He said, 'Why, Mom?' Of course, he doesn't understand all of the financial situation," said Veronika Sliva, of Indianapolis.
It's been a rough two years for the Special Olympics, which endured the death of founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver in August and has seen sponsorship money dry up because of the poor economy. The Washington-based parent organization lost tens of millions of dollars when the stock market tanked in 2008. And many state affiliates have had to cut costs by trimming staff, canceling entire competitions or eliminating certain events.

Building Confidence with Tae Kwon Do

SPARTA, N.J. — Nicholas’ mother wrote in her e-mail to Bari Bristow the School Psychologist for Special Education Services at Helen Morgan School, “What am I supposed to do when this is over? Nicholas absolutely loves it! Maybe we can get the parents together and form a class even if we use my house for the session ... it is so worth it.”
She was referring to the Tae Kwon Do classes, Kicks For Autism, a weekly class held at the school. Nicholas and nine other kids from the Special Education Program look forward to this after-school extra curricular activity. It is a program of personalized classes with a 2:1 student teacher ratio.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Special Education Funds Redirected

Was stunned to read this in The Wall Street Journal this morning. Doesn't make any sense at all. Diverting funds from special education to non-special education program is simply going to cost society even more!

Florida's Broward County Public Schools saved as many as 900 jobs this school year. Nevada's Clark County School District just added more math and tutoring programs. And in Connecticut's Bloomfield Public Schools, eight elementary- and middle-school teachers were spared from layoffs.
These cash-strapped districts covered the costs using a boost in funding intended for special education, drawing an outcry from parents and advocates of special-needs children.
A provision in federal law allows some school districts to spend millions of dollars of special-education money elsewhere, and a government report indicates many more districts plan to take advantage of the provision.

Charter Schools and Special Education

Interesting opinion piece in today's New York Daily News by Marcus Winters, a Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
NEW YORK -- In a new report, the United Federation of Teachers has committed to a fresh line of attack against charter schools: Charters aren't enrolling enough special education students. The teachers union doesn't want the state Legislature to lift its cap on the number of charter schools until - among a whole raft of other "reforms" - they enroll their fair share of disabled kids.
It's true that a lower proportion of charter school students are in special education relative to the surrounding public schools. However, the reasons for the special education gap are nuanced and are not primarily driven by the charters' bad behavior. In fact, the lower percentages of special education students in charters may actually be a sign of what they're doing right.

Missed Vaccines Weaken 'Herd Immunity' In Children

Brendalee Flint did everything she could to keep her baby safe. She nourished her with breast milk; she gave her all the routine vaccines.
By 15 months old, Flint's daughter, Julieanna Metcalf, was walking, exploring and even saying her first few words. Then one day in the bath, while fighting what seemed like an ordinary stomach bug, Julieanna became so weak and floppy that she couldn't hold up her head.
Flint rushed the baby to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with meningitis, a swelling of the lining of the brain, caused by a severe case of Hib, or Haemophilus influenzae type b.
Parents who have never seen their children gasp for breath no longer fear these diseases and, in some cases, are delaying or skipping immunizations, says Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Many parents who reject vaccines do so because of the mistaken notions that they cause autism or overwhelm the immune system, Offit says.
That worries moms such as Flint, who learned that her daughter has a rare immune deficiency only after she contracted Hib. Because Julieanna doesn't respond to vaccines, she depends on other parents to keep germs out of circulation by vaccinating their kids, a phenomenon called "herd immunity."
"I just want everybody to know what can happen if you don't vaccinate your baby," Flint says. "It's not just your kid. When you get your child vaccinated, it helps to protect the other kids who don't have the ability to protect themselves."

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Some Welcome Closure of Kansas Institution

Wow, The Topeka-Capital Journal has struck a nerve with today's story about the possible closing of the Kansas Neurological Institute. Check out some of the comments. In New York State, most folks welcomed the movement back in the 1970s that allowed people with developmental disabilities to leave institutions and reside in community-based residences. While I the community for these individuals? Perhaps Gov. Parkinson should and the lawmakers should pay a visit to NYS and see how this works.understand that some of these folks, if KNI closes, will move back with their families, isn't this ultimately going to lead to a fuller, more integrated life in

TOPEKA, KS. -- Russell Hall and his wife, Eva, are saving the state of Kansas money — about $100,000 a year.
Hall removed his 30-year-old daughter, Tabatha, from Topeka's Kansas Neurological Institute in 1991, and he and his wife have been caring for her in their home with the help of funds from a Home and Community-Based Services waiver for those with developmental disabilities.
The annual cost for housing and services at KNI is $148,526, while the average annual cost for a person on a HCBS waiver and living in the community is $35,663, according to the Disability Rights Center of Kansas.
"We're saving taxpayers money, but we're not getting that money," Hall said.
Where those savings are being directed has become a point of contention as Gov. Mark Parkinson and lawmakers consider closing KNI and sending its residents into the community to live.
Critics of the closure of KNI have expressed concern over moving people with profound disabilities into community-based housing programs. However, advocates say living in the community instead of in an institution increases opportunities and improves the quality of care for individuals.

Autism Group Urges More Diet Studies

Interesting report from ABC News this morning. But was I the only one annoyed by the report featuring Jenny McCarthy on ABC's World News with Diane Sawyer on Monday evening? Don't get me wrong, I think parents will do whatever it takes to help their child with autism, but why is she considered an expert, disputing a study in Pediatrics journal which found there was no link between diet and autistic behavior? Wouldn't it have been a stronger segment to have one of the authors of the study or a gastroenterologist who works with children and adults on the spectrum?

An autism support group has called for more research and more help treating the gastrointestinal issues of autistic children after an expert panel published a report saying there is currently no evidence that special diets help autistic behavior.
A panel of autism experts published a report Jan., 4, 2009, saying there is currently no evidence proving whether children with autism have more gastrointestinal problems than other children, or any evidence that the common casein-free gluten-free diets work.
For years, parent support networks and celebrity activists have endorsed restrictive diets to combat the so-called "leaky gut" symptoms and behavioral problems of children with autism.
But the expert panel came to a consensus statement that "available research data do not support the use of a casein-free diet, a gluten-free diet, or combined gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet as a primary treatment for individuals with autism spectrum disorders."

Monday, January 4, 2010

Retiring Pastor To Continue Working With People With Disabilities

CLARE, MI -- For more than 30 years, a local minister has been tending to the needs of persons with developmental disabilities.
Although he is officially retiring Jan. 18, the Rev. Ronald Vredeveld has no intention of leaving them behind.
"They will always be a part of my memory and my heart," he said. "I will continue caring for them in a variety of ways."
Vredeveld was drawn to the developmentally disabled after being assigned to a chaplain training program.
That's when he decided he wanted to continue in that capacity on a full-time basis.
"I had no idea what I was getting into," he said. "The rewards are so much more than I expected."

Autism Increase May Reflect Greater Awareness

When developmental and behavioral pediatrician Raun Melmed, MD, started in the field 25 years ago, autism was a relatively unusual diagnosis. Today, his Scottsdale, Ariz., practice sees two to three new cases of autism spectrum disorder each week.
Like many physicians, Dr. Melmed isn't sure what has driven that rate upward. But he thinks broadening the definition of autism "accounts for at least half of new cases identified, and maybe more."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the autism rate is going up markedly. From 2002 to 2006, the rate of autism spectrum disorders among 8-year-olds jumped 40%, from one in 154 to one in 110, according to a study released Dec. 18, 2009, in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Researchers offered no firm explanation for the upward trend, nor did they evaluate risk factors or causes. However, the CDC report pointed to a number of factors, including improved community awareness, the widening of diagnostic criteria to include milder presentations, and earlier identification.

Report: No Evidence Linking Autism and Digestive Problems

CHICAGO -- An expert panel says there's no rigorous evidence that digestive problems are more common in children with autism than in other children, or that special diets work, contrary to claims by celebrities and vaccine naysayers.
Painful digestive problems can trigger problem behavior in children with autism and should be treated medically, according to the panel's report, published in the January issue of Pediatrics and released today.
"There are a lot of barriers to medical care to children with autism," said the report's lead author, Dr. Timothy Buie of Harvard Medical School. "They can be destructive and unruly in the office, or they can't sit still. The nature of their condition often prevents them from getting standard medical care."