Friday, May 30, 2014

New Clues in Understanding Autism

Bronx researchers are thinking about autism in a new way.
Dr. John Greally and his colleagues at Albert Einstein College of Medicine have published a paper that details factors other than genetic mutations that might influence a diagnosis on autism spectrum disorder, or ASD.
What we know about autism so far, Dr. Greally said, is that genetic mutations can cause autism. DNA sequencing in recent years has made it possible for us to know this more in depth. But Dr. Greally and his team went one step further, looking at those genes' epigenetics, or their ability to switch on and off.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

High Court Rejects Florida's IQ Standard for Execution

WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court moved Tuesday to provide intellectually disabled defendants greater protection from execution, ruling that Florida can't set a simple IQ score of 70 as the cutoff from capital punishment.
Writing for a court that divided 5-4, Justice Anthony Kennedy said Florida's practice disregarded modern medical standards, which consider an IQ score an imprecise measurement that shouldn't be viewed in isolation when determining an individual's intellectual ability.

More Medicaid Funds Going to Community-Based Services

Spending on home and community-based services is on the rise as fewer dollars go to institutions, a new federal government report finds.
Nationally, Medicaid funding for long-term services and supports remained largely stagnant in 2012 but increasingly that money is being directed to services in the community.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mice with Mohawks Yield Autism Clues

It's not every day you see a mouse with a mohawk. But that's what researchers saw while studying mice that had a genetic mutation linked to autism.
The mohawks that the mice were sporting actually resulted from their "over-grooming" behavior, repeatedly licking each other's hair in the same direction.The behavior resembles the repetitive motions displayed by some people with autism, and the researchers say their experiments reveal a link between the genetic causes of autism and their effects on the brain, suggesting potential avenues for treating the disorder.

Couple Appealing Housing Case

Two people with mental disabilities who sued the state and their group homes for the right to live together after getting married are appealing after a federal judge threw out their case.
Paul and Hava Forziano and their parents filed suit in January 2013 in federal court in Central Islip after their group homes -- run by Independent Group Home Living Program and Maryhaven Center of Hope -- both refused to house the couple together after their April 2013 marriage.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Autism Is Growing Up

Editor's note: Francesca HappĂ© is president of the International Society for Autism Research, a professor of cognitive neuroscience, and director of the MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London. Opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

As the world's leading autism researchers and advocates gathered at the International Meeting for Autism Research last weekend to share the latest discoveries about autism spectrum disorder, a strong theme emerged: Autism is growing up.
When you think of autism, you probably think of young children. But children with autism grow up to be adults with autism, and eventually (God willing) elderly people with autism.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Virtual Interviewer Providing Guidance to Job Seekers with Autism

Knowing what an employer wants to hear can make all the difference during a job interview.For adults with an autism-spectrum disorder, those answers can be harder to come by. And without work, they face the prospect of a much less independent life.
But early evidence suggests some job-training programs geared for these individuals appear to improve interview skills and self-confidence.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Students with Disabilities Get Shortchanged in Chinese Schools

BEIJING — Mike, 13, lives on the outskirts of Beijing. He is gifted: He plays the piano by ear and, most afternoons, practices singing Italian opera. Yet Mike, whose family has requested that his Chinese name not be used, may never be able to go to university, or even high school, because he is almost completely blind.
Now in junior high, he has no special assistance in class and has to navigate the curriculum by himself. It takes him hours to take exams, trying to see the tests with what little vision he has in one eye. Because of his handicap, he receives no grades. With no grades, he is practically shut out from higher education.We are still trying to find a way for him,” said Mike’s mother, who requested anonymity to avoid further discrimination against her son. “Maybe he can go abroad or study art, but it seems there is no way for him to have access to higher education in China.”

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Bills Expand Coverage of ABA Therapy for Military Families

All retiree and active duty Tricare users with developmental disabilities will have access to a specific therapy under a pair of new bills introduced today in the House and Senate. The proposal expands coverage for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy to all users with developmental disabilities. Currently, the therapy is only readily available to active duty users diagnosed with autism.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A National Crisis: Lack of Choice and Approrpriate Care and Services

Across the country, tens of thousands of individuals with developmental disabilities, including autism, are suffering due to lack of access to appropriate care and services.The numbers representing present and future need are alarming.  Almost all states have waitlists for accessing adult support services, with more than 280,000 individuals with developmental disabilities, including autism, going without necessary care in 2013.  Almost 1 million  individuals with developmental disabilities, including autism, are still living with caregivers over the age of 60.  In the next decade, over 800,000 on the autism spectrum will transition to adulthood.So where do we go from here?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Autism Support Program Guided Students Through College

Like many college students, Max Skula and Merlin Moore, aren’t sure what their future holds when they graduate.  They hope to find jobs or maybe go to graduate school after earning some money. 
Merlin Moore, left, and Max Skula.
The two seniors – who will graduate from Rutgers May 18 – try not to think too far ahead, looking instead at how much they have progressed as college students and promising that they will stay in touch once they go their separate ways.This might not seem unusual. But Skula and Moore were diagnosed as children with what was once called Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild form of autism characterized by social awkwardness that affects a person’s ability to communicate effectively with others, and is now on the autism spectrum.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

'Forgetting Is Not an Option'

WILLOWBROOK -- The horrors endured at the former Willowbrook State School for developmentally disabled children and adults were remembered Wednesday afternoon at the College of Staten Island's 21st annual Willowbrook memorial lecture at the Center for the Arts Recital Hall.

The theme of this year's lecture was "Forgetting is Not an Option: Tragedies and Triumphs of American Deinstitutionalization."

A Mother's Decade-Long Journey for Son's Diagnosis

For more than a decade Natanya Dugall tried in vain to find a diagnosis for her son that would explain his vision, speech and movement impairments.Dugall had noticed something was wrong with her son Grayson the day after he was born. Grayson was so fussy even the nurses took notice and Dugall’s mother pointed out her son’s eyes were different sizes and asymmetrical.
“Truly within 24 hours being born we knew there was something wrong with the vision,” said Dugall. The kind of changes made to Grayson’s eyes made doctors suspect a genetic malfunction that could suggest other more serious syndromes.However, initial genetic testing turned up nothing. It would take more than a decade for new technology to develop so that Grayson could be diagnosed.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Soldier-Turned-Teacher Honored for Work in Special Education

To retired U.S. Army Sgt. Garry Lawson, drill sergeants and school teachers face four types of learners:The willing and able, the unwilling and able, the willing and unable, and the unwilling and unable.
The first group isn't necessarily easy. Advanced kids and advanced soldiers need attention to reach higher. And the last group isn't always a lost cause. They just need different incentives, as do those in the middle groups.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Bill Would Help Parents Save for Future of Children with Special Needs

When Michael Carney told his daughter Olivia about her meeting with U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, the red-headed 6-year-old with Down Syndrome said she'd need a new dress.
A new outfit was no problem, but for Olivia to have the fulfilling and independent life her parents envision, they will have to put money away to pay for her care as an adult.
Speaking Monday to parents and advocates of the intellectually and developmentally disabled, Casey said he's hopeful a measure to help families like the Carneys plan for the future will soon become law.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Environment Just As Important As Genetics in Finding Causes of Autism

A large study in Sweden has shown that genes are just as important as environmental factors in assessing the causes of autism.Researchers were surprised to discover that the inheritability of the neurodevelopmental disorder was about 50 percent -- much lower than previous studies that put it at 80-90 percent -- and that it was equal to environmental causes, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.