Thursday, October 29, 2009

Stop Stereotyping Kids With Special Needs

Interesting item by Ellen Seidman on Huffington Post.

Last month, Katherine Heigl and Josh Kelley adopted a baby girl from Korea; a new bunch of photos of the proud mama and Naleigh recently came out. Practically every article on them, if not every headline, mentions that the child has "special needs." The couple hasn't elaborated--why should they?--and of course, everyone's eager to know.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Like a Skyline Etched in His Head

NEW YORK -- In a helicopter above the city on Friday, Stephen Wiltshire of London looked down at the streets and sprawl of New York. He flew for 20 minutes. Since then, working only from the memory of that sight, he has been sketching and drawing a mighty panorama of the city, rendering the city’s 305 square miles along an arc of paper that is 19 feet long. He is working publicly in a gallery at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.
Mr. Wiltshire sees and draws. It is how he connects. Until age 5, he had never uttered a word. One day, his kindergarten class at a school for autistic children in London went on a field trip.
When they came back, he spoke.
“He said, ‘Paper,’ ” his sister, Annette Wiltshire, said. “The teacher asked him to say it again. He said it. Then they asked him to say something else, and he said, ‘Pen.’ ”
With pen and paper in hand, he drew what he had seen that day.

Ruling Deals a Blow to Autism Treatment Denials

LOS ANGELES -- A tactic used by insurance companies to deny expensive behavioral therapy to autistic children has been deemed illegal by a Los Angeles judge.
In a preliminary ruling, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James C. Chalfant found that Kaiser Permanente's refusal to pay for a child's autism treatment because the provider was not licensed by the state runs counter to California's Mental Health Parity Act. That act requires insurers to cover care for mental and behavioral problems at the same levels they do for physical illnesses.

Growing Autism Population Requires Increase in Services

Thought we'd share a piece about the increasing number of children being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders and how this is impacting the YAI Network.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Hearings Sought on Hawaii Plan For Furlough Fridays

HONOLULU -- A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of special education students was amended Sunday to require the state to hold public hearings on the plan to furlough teachers on 17 Fridays.
In addition, the families of special education students are asking the U.S. Department of Education to intervene so the students won't lose any more days of education.
The state's furlough plan affects 170,000 children in public schools. The furloughs are an attempt by the state to save money and help close the budget deficit.
The state's furlough plan did not provide for any alternatives for special education students

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Overflow Crowd Protests Service Cuts in Maryland

From Maryland, a scene that I'm afraid will be played out more and more.

Pam Matheson spoke at a community rally Thursday night from her wheelchair, her 39-year-old adopted son at her side in his wheelchair.
“Matthew has wanted all his life to be a regular guy,” she told several legislators and more than 250 people who had crammed into Ellicott City Assembly of God Church to protest state budget cuts to developmental disabilities programs.
Matthew, who doesn't speak and weighs only 53 pounds, sat placidly beside her.
He hated being at Rosewood [Center] and they've closed it, but now they're decimating community services,” she said, referring to the $30 million in cuts made since July 1.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Doctors May Drop Parents Who Won't Vaccinate Children

When Cathlene Echan walked into her pediatrician's office two weeks after giving birth, she was nervous about discussing her recent decision not to vaccinate her second baby.
"The doctor said it was too much of a liability to have us as patients," said Echan, a 28-year-old stay at home mom. Echan's oldest child, Josiah, now 5, had just been diagnosed with autism around the same time her second son Torren, now 2, was born.
Echan's situation is a growing problem for parents and pediatricians alike. Despite adamant statements from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Centers of Disease Control that vaccines have no link to autism, an anti-vaccination movement is growing online, from parent to parent, and through activist celebrities, such as actress Jenny McCarthy.
Now, more and more doctors are feeling compelled to say "no" back to these parents. The issue was raised Wednesday at the annual American Academy of Pediatrics meeting in Washington, D.C.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Woman Thrives In Her 'Dream Job'

ST. LOUIS -- A Cardinals tote bag sits at Libby Waddell's feet as she pulls a sticker off a large roll and places it on one of the hundreds of bottles of antiseptic spray. The bag holds some of her favorite things, including a crumpled picture of her and her co-workers.
The picture was taken three years ago, when she first worked at the warehouse as part of a summer program for high school graduates with disabilities. Waddell, who has Down syndrome, adored the job, where she labeled medical supplies. She begged the manager to let her stay.
Manager Jan O'Connell, long an advocate for hiring the disabled at St. John's Mercy Medical Center, also didn't want Waddell to leave.
"It worked so well," O'Connell said. "I thought, we need to make this a permanent thing."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

From Haircuts to Movies, Businesses Reach Out to Autism Families

A growing number of businesses are learning to make special accommodations for parents of children with autism. A joint effort between the support and awareness group Autism Speaks, the salon chain Snip-Its and Melmark New England is proving to be a godsend for many families. Working together, the organizations developed a guide to help professionals and parents avoid some of the problems that arise when an autistic child gets a haircut.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Teacher Brings Music to Special Education Students

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- When Donald DeVito arrived at the Sidney Lanier Center School, music classes were held in a portable with only seven instruments.
Today, the disabled students at the school take music classes in a large, colorful room filled with instruments, uniforms and music.
About one-third of DeVito's 60 students are unable to speak, and the others have disabilities like autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. They use music to express themselves, he said.
"Music really helps students to transcend their challenges through creative self-expression," he said. "I believe that there is really only one ability needed to participate in music education, and that is the ability to feel. As long as the music can reach you through an effective response, then everything else is just accommodation."

Local Businesses Benefit From Hiring People With Disabilities

LANCASTER, Ohio -- There is a large dedicated and hard-working local labor force, which county officials say is underutilized.
Many local business owners have chosen to hire workers with disabilities; a move that has benefits for the workers and the companies.

Mercury Levels Not Higher in Children With Autism

The blood levels of mercury are similar in children who are developing normally and children with autism, researchers reported Monday, and do not appear to be contributing to developmental problems.
The study, reported in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, is part of a dedicated effort by scientists to identify and study possible causes of autism, both environmental and genetic. The study participants are children between ages 24 months and 60 months who are diagnosed with autism as well as children with other developmental disabilities, and children who are developing normally.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cheerleaders With Special Needs

Wonderful story from ABC World News With Charles Gibson. Their Person of the Week segments are truly inspiring and this one is definitely worth checking out.

Watch the cheerleaders at Pleasant Valley High School in Bettendorf, Iowa, and you may want to stand up and cheer yourself. They don't always execute perfect routines; in fact, they may miss steps or clap off beat once in a while. But their fun is contagious.
These cheerleaders are like no others. In the Spring of 2008, cheerleaders Sarah Cronk and Sarah Herr got the idea to expand their varsity squad.
"I got really inspired when I went to a Special Olympics program where they had a bunch of cheerleaders come and we helped them with the clinic and everything," said Herr. "I was like, I want to spend more time with these great athletes."

Outings Tailored For Children With Autism

BALTIMORE -- Like most 15-year-olds, Eric Kane loves watching movies, sometimes as many as three a night.
Yet they're almost always DVDs. Seeing the latest blockbusters on the big screen in a darkened theater wasn't always easy for the autistic teenager.
"He would start making noises when he would get overwhelmed, and it bothered the people around us," said Kane's tutor, Kelly Slaski.
But Sunday, Kane and about a dozen other autistic children took in a screening of "Where the Wild Things Are" at AMC Loews Theatre in White Marsh. Some of them squirmed in their seats; others stood and made noises along with the movie. And no one seemed to mind.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Filling the Autism Void

Interesting guest column by Doug Flutie in the Boston Globe

Massachusetts may have the best health care in the country, but it doesn’t cover the treatment for the fastest-growing health threat to children - autism.
Autism affects brain function and impairs communication, social interaction, and sensory modulation skills. The most recent statistics show that 1 in 91 children has autism, with the incidence four times as high in boys.
More than 500 babies born this year in Massachusetts will soon be diagnosed with autism. What their parents will learn first - what my wife, Laurie, and I have learned from our son Dougie - is that while the hopes and dreams for their child may change, they will also intensify.
Parents will learn that, with early intervention, children with autism can make significant strides - a fact backed up by extensive studies. They’ll find that their pediatricians and neurologists will prescribe intense one-on-one speech, occupational, physical, and behavioral therapies. And then they’ll be dismayed to discover that, though they’ve always paid their health care premiums, their health plans will not cover these services.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Is Autism Genetic? Researchers Zero In On Answers

Alisa Rock, whose 10-year-old son Connor has autism, says parents of autistic children often align themselves with one of two camps: There are those who believe that genes cause the disorder, and those firmly convinced that environmental factors are to blame.
Many genes and mutations are likely involved in producing autism, researchers said.
So it would seem helpful that new research on autism has just discovered a possible genetic link -- an alteration near a gene called semaphorin 5A, which is thought to guide the growth of brain-cell extensions essential for neuron-to-neuron communication. But for some parents, including Rock, the research is just a stepping stone to answering the million-dollar question: What causes autism?
"The scientific consensus now is that we're not talking about a single disorder. We're talking about a collection of disorders that are probably related," says Andy Shih, the vice president of scientific affairs for Autism Speaks, a New York City-based organization that supports autism research and advocates for people with autism and their families. "The current thinking is that there could be as many as 100 genes or more involved in autism."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Helping Adults With Autism Find Work

Columbia, Mo. -- According to the Autism Society of America, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is the fastest growing developmental disability, with a 10 to 17 percent increase in the number of cases each year primarily among children. As these children with ASD become adults, they will face many challenges, including finding a job. A new guide from the University of Missouri will minimize this challenge by giving employment service professionals new information about helping adults with autism find jobs.
A few years ago, MU researcher Scott Standifer noticed a significant lack of information for counselors working with adults with autism. In an effort to give counselors the tools they need, Standifer wrote Adult Autism and Employment: A Guide for Vocational Rehabilitation Professionals.

Doors Open for All With Down Syndrome

Nice viewpoint piece in The Buffalo News by the mother of three sons with Down syndrome.

A spectacular movement has been taking place over the past few decades. This movement has pushed boundaries, changed minds and opened doors. The people who have benefited from these efforts have reached the bar of expectation and in many cases shattered it on their way up.
October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month and it is the perfect time for a new awareness of the astounding achievements of people who have Down syndrome. Today, 50 years after the extra chromosome responsible for Down syndrome was identified, our children’s potential is unlimited.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

In New Jersey, People With Disabilities Urged to Just Say Something

Nearly two decades after the passage of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), people of all ages with developmental disabilities in New Jersey continue to lack jobs, health care, housing, and access to public venues.
To address this, the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities (NJCDD) has launched, an online forum that squarely tackles the issues that people really care about.
"Too many people with developmental disabilities continue to live in outdated state institutions," said Dr. Alison Lozano, executive director of the Council. "Thousands more are waiting for housing. Many sit for years on state waiting lists for support services they are qualified to receive. The public needs to recognize that people with developmental disabilities are equal members of the community and need to be treated fairly."

Autism Group Just for Fathers

CINCINNATI -- On Monday night, the dads who gathered at the Mason sports bar were ready for some football. Oh, were they ready.
One said it had been three years since he had watched "Monday Night Football." Another said he hadn't allowed himself such an evening out in 13 years.
Besides a fondness for football, the men shared another bond: They are fathers of children with autism.

Student With Autism Saves Teacher

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A local 10-year-old boy is being hailed as a hero. He says he used what he learned in Cub Scouts to save his teacher's life. The amazing young man explained to Eyewitness News how he reacted in an unusual situation with maturity well beyond his years.
Kyle Forbes, 10, is no ordinary kid. Most everyone will agree upon that. But now he's being honored by his school and his Scout troop for springing into action Tuesday to save his teacher's life.
For Hyde Elementary School teacher Sheri Lowe, every day teaching art class now is a gift.

UC Denver Study on Autism Risk Factors

The University of Colorado Denver is taking part in nation's largest study of risk factors for autism, a multi-year study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Nobody really knows right now what the causes are. The more we know about the risk factors, the more we can know the causes," said Kristina Hightshoe, Coordinator of the Study to Explore Early Development. "We hope this is a breakthrough study."

Charter School Opens for South Florida Students With Autism

HIALEAH, Fla. -- Susan Leon spent years trying to find the right school for her autistic son, Reno.
The public schools didn't have the right tools to teach children with autism, she said. And the specialized private schools were too costly.
So Leon, a paralegal from Kendall, convened a group of parents and experts to create the region's first charter school exclusively for autistic children.
The South Florida Autism Charter School in Hialeah opened in August with 81 students from Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
``These kids can learn so much,'' said Leon, now the school's director of development. ``You just have to know how to teach them.''

Building a Career One Book at a Time

Another great story about the importance of National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

PENSACOLA, Fla. — Lyall Frazier's fascination with books and attention to detail have led him to a job he loves.
The Pensacola man, who has a developmental disability, has been working for the West Florida Public Library System for more than four years.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Commentary: Hiring People with Disabilities

In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, thought this item from the Federal Times might be of interest.

There is a clear business case for the federal workforce, charged with the responsibility of public service, to reflect the diverse tapestry of America. People with disabilities are part of that tapestry and arguably constitute one of the most diverse groups in our society.
While society has made significant progress in bringing attention to the value of diversity in the workplace, regrettably, people with disabilities have high rates of unemployment. They often are forced to remain dependent on government disability benefits even though they may be willing and able to work.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The 'Cure' for Autism, and the Fight Over It

Really interesting read from John Elder Robin's Living with Asperger's blog on Psychology Today.
Our society is confronting many serious, chronic medical issues, including AIDS, diabetes, obesity, cancer, Alzheimer's, MS, heart disease, and autism. What do all those conditions have in common? Every one is something you live with for a long period of time; in some cases all your life. Furthermore, every one has one or more strong advocacy organizations who speak for people affected by the condition.
The "High Functioning" autistic group says, "We don't need to be cured. We just need tolerance and understanding."
The Highly Impaired group says, "Enough with the understanding! We need some cures, fast!"
Parents of affected kids say, "I want my kid to have a good life, whatever that means or takes."
Unfortunately, each person who's touched by autism thinks his autism experience is representative of everyone else's.
Autism, by virtue of its diversity, is totally different.

Special Athlete Helps His Team

BURLINGTON, Vt. -- Lisa Denatale and Steve Boutcher have spent the past 15 years advocating for their son Harrison, who has Down syndrome, to be included in the same activities as other children. Their approach has not only benefited Harrison, it also enriches the lives of teens and adults in the community.
Burlington High School cross-country running team coach Dan Hagan said Harrison Boutcher's participation in the sport has brought people together to support his success in competition.
"The only hurdle we have faced is the logistics of having a runner who needs more time to complete the workouts and races. The BHS community has really come together in providing that logistical support -- from the assistant principal who recruited her daughter to run as his aide in his first race, to the University of Vermont student intern who has volunteered to run with him at practice, to the special educators who help manage his schedule and early dismissal," Hagan said.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

David Kirby: Questioning Nonchalance About Autism Rate

It amazes me to see that the Obama Administration and mainstream media have been rather nonchalant about the startling news that 1-in-100 American children - and perhaps around 1-in-60 boys - have an autism spectrum disorder.
On Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told listeners on a conference call about an upcoming CDC study showing that the estimated rate of autism increased by about 50% among children living in study locations who were born in 1994, compared with those born in 1996.

H1N1 Striking Children With Disabilities Hard, CDC Says

The number of children who have died from the H1N1 virus is “increasing substantially,” health officials said Friday, and children with disabilities and underlying medical conditions appear to be hardest hit.
Already 76 children have died from H1N1, or swine flu, this year and the flu season is just beginning. Flu season traditionally lasts until May.
The number of deaths is especially striking given that fewer than 90 children died in each of the last three years from seasonal flu.
Most of the children who have died from the H1N1 flu strain had disabilities or underlying health conditions, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Researchers Discover Another Genetic Link to Autism

An international consortium of researchers, including three from the University of Utah, has discovered yet another genetic link to autism.
Studying the genes of more than 1,000 families -- including 150 from Utah -- who have more than one person with the disorder, the researchers found a region on chromosome 5 that is strongly associated with autism, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Nature .

When News Breaks on Autism, Who Gets It Out First?

When you report about health and science you bump into press embargoes almost every time you turn around. In exchange for advanced notice about some scientific development, reporters agree to hold off writing about the findings until the medical journal, government agency or academic outfit fires a starting gun for everyone.
But the system, which is supposed to lead to better reporting on complicated subjects, is under attack, as some within journalism question the relevance, value and fairness of embargoes in the Internet age.

Autism Tracking, Treatment Gain Support With New Registry

New Jersey families dealing with autism may soon see the benefits of a database designed to track cases and direct people with the disorder to health care and other services, officials said yesterday.
The New Jersey Autism Registry, which went live Oct. 1, is open to neurologists, psychiatrists and others who are required by law to report diagnoses of the neurological disorder.
The database is confidential and restricted to medical professionals. Staff members of more than 50 hospitals have received training to access the system.
The registry has several purposes: to identify possible geographical "hot spots," to guide families to promising treatments and to help the state plot where to direct resources for future cases. It is similar to the state's long-standing Special Child Health Services registries for Down syndrome, craniofacial anomalies, cardiovascular disorders and other defects.

Sherri Shepherd To Serve As Spokesperson For YAI Network

We don't do this too often, but we are thrilled that Sherri Shepherd has agreed to serve as spokesperson for the YAI Network. Just want to spread the news. She did a wonderful job on the Rachael Ray Show explaining why she is committed to our organization. Check it out.

NEW YORK, N.Y. (PRWEB) October 9, 2009 -- Sherri Shepherd, the actress, stand-up comedian and Emmy Award winning co-host of ABC-TV's "The View," has graciously agreed to serve as spokesperson for the YAI Network, a 52-year-old non-profit serving people of all ages with developmental and learning disabilities and delays and their families.
Shepherd, whose son Jeffrey attends a preschool, part of the YAI Network, for children with special needs, is passionate about spreading the word about the quality of the organization's services.
"Just to look at my son and see where he started when he came to YAI and where he is now, gives me a profound sense of gratitude," said Shepherd, who is donating her time to help the YAI Network. "I don't know what I would have done without YAI. The staff care; they love; they nurture and they want to keep building each child's potential."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Helping With Household Chores Can Boost Child's Confidence

Interesting item from Springfield, Mass. Curious to hear your thoughts.

It is important to include children with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities in all aspects of family life. Sometimes, however, finding ways to include them in household chores can be challenging for parents because these children may have fewer skills and more behavior problems than their typically developing peers.
Applied behavior analysis, or ABA, a methodology that includes teaching in small steps, using positive rewards and allowing for lots of practice, offers several effective teaching techniques.
With the help of discrete trial instruction, an ABA method that involves giving specific instructions, prompting, reinforcement and repetition, many children with ASD and other developmental disabilities can learn basic matching and sorting skills. Once a child has mastered basic matching skills, she can be taught to sort silverware, books and other shelved items, or put away groceries. All children can participate in family life at some level. Learning to do simple chores can increase children's daily living skills and give them skills that may someday be useful in vocational activities. Obtaining these skills will also give them a sense of satisfaction and pride as they become contributing members of the family.

Pets, People and Autism

From The New York Times' Consult blog, a piece that follows up on the Tuesday's Science Times article by reporter Carla Baranauckas about a major new effort to study the role that pets play in human health, “Exploring the Health Benefits of Pets.” This topic is generating quite a bit of interest in the autism community.

This week Dr. Melissa Nishawala, clinical director of the autism-spectrum service at the Child Study Center at New York University, joins the Consults blog to reader answer questions about pet therapy, companion animals and the treatment of autism.

Autism: What to Make of the New Data

For years the autism community's most powerful public-relations weapon has been a striking statistic: an estimated 1 in 150 children have the diagnosis. Now it appears that estimate is actually too small. According to two new studies, the number of kids diagnosed with autism or a related disorder in the U.S. is closer to 1in 100.
The new data has everyone who cares about autism abuzz. But, as with so many issues connected to the disorder, no one can quite agree on what it means.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Proportion of 8-Year-Olds Diagnosed With Autism Is Up 50% In 2 Years, CDC Says

CHICAGO -- About 1 in 100 of America's 8-year-olds have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers, who will be releasing details of their study later this year.
That's a 50 percent increase from two years ago, when the government estimated the rate at 1 in 150.
Dr. Ileana Arias, deputy director of the CDC, said the agency considers the disorder "a significant issue that needs immediate attention."
But the higher rate might not mean more kids have autism spectrum disorder, scientists cautioned.
"It is not clear more children are affected rather than just changes in our ability to detect," said Dr. Tom Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Autism Is More Widespread, U.S. Studies Show, But Why?

Two new government studies suggest autism spectrum disorders are becoming more common in children in the USA. However, researchers say, it is not clear how much of the increase is a result of more frequent and earlier diagnoses and how much is a result of a real rise in the conditions.
"The concern here is that buried in these numbers is a true increase," Tom Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, said Friday at a news conference. "We're not sure how big it is."
Insel noted that President Obama wants to increase spending on autism research by the National Institutes of Health by 16% — a bigger bump than in any other area of NIH research.

Links to additional coverage:

The Washington Post

ABC News

Los Angeles Times

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Judge May Reduce Federal Oversight of District's Special Education

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A U.S. District Court judge said Friday that he might reduce federal oversight of the District's special education system "in the next year" because officials have improved the speed at which complaints are resolved about educational services for students. But he said substantial concerns remain.
Judge Paul L. Friedman said the most recent evaluation of the special education program was "extremely thorough, and, in many aspects, it's a very positive evaluation." Still, Friedman said, the District schools and the state superintendent will have to improve more before he reduces federal oversight of the system.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Autism Rate Revised to 1 in 100 Children

Washington loves to dump its bad news on a Friday afternoon, and Friday it confirmed that one percent of American children (and by extension, perhaps 1-in-58 boys) - has an autism spectrum disorder.
On a hastily arranged telephone “visit” with US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and the autism community, the health chief announced that “the prevalence of autism might be even higher than previously thought.” But, she added, “We don’t know if it has gone up, and we are hoping to unlock these mysteries.”
The Secretary then declared autism “An urgent public health challenge,” declared that President Obama was “right to make it one of our top health priorities,” including research into “treatments and a cure” for the disorder, and promptly ended her visit.

For the First Time, a Census of Adults With Autism

Finally, someone is figuring out that autism doesn't just affect children. The YAI Network has been serving adults on the spectrum for decades. The media simply hasn't been interested in addressing the issue.

Among the many great mysteries of autism is this: Where are all the adults with the disorder? In California, for instance, about 80% of people identified as having an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are 18 or under. Studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) indicate that about 1 in 150 children in the U.S. have autism, but despite the fact that autism is by definition a lifelong condition, the agency doesn't have any numbers for adults. Neither has anyone else. Until now.
On Sept. 22, England's National Health Service (NHS) released the first study of autism in the general adult population. The findings confirm the intuitive assumption: that ASD is just as common in adults as it is in children. Researchers at the University of Leicester, working with the NHS Information Center found that roughly 1 in 100 adults are on the spectrum — the same rate found for children in England, Japan, Canada and, for that matter, New Jersey.
This finding would also appear to contradict the commonplace idea that autism rates have exploded in the two decades. Researchers found no significant differences in autism prevalence among people they surveyed in their 20s, 30s, 40s, right up through their 70s.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Teen With Autism Represents Class at Homecoming

BOULDER CITY, Nevada -- Thursday was a big day for Jordan Honey. The Boulder City High School freshman took the soccer field during a game for the first time since making the junior varsity team.
Following that, he climbed into the back of a convertible and rode in a parade from Boulder City High to the annual homecoming bonfire in a vacant lot next to the fire station, 1101 Elm St.
The 14-year-old autistic boy, who doctors said 10 years ago would be institutionalized by now, is a homecoming attendant, elected overwhelmingly to represent the freshman class in the parade, during halftime festivities at the football game Friday night and at the homecoming dance Saturday night. He will escort freshman homecoming princess Verli Doing.

Illinois Backs Allowing Autism Service Dog Into School

The Illinois attorney general is siding with a family currently fighting in court for their autistic son's right to bring his service dog to his neighborhood school.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed papers with the 5th District Appellate Court in Mount Vernon announcing her office's intention to file a brief in favor of Chris and Melissa Kalbfleisch. Madigan was granted a temporary extension Monday to file them. The Kalbfleisches, of Columbia, Ill., are arguing in court that their son, Carter, is entitled to bring the dog to their home school district under an existing Illinois law that permits service dogs to attend any school function.
The parents sued the Columbia Community School District after officials there barred Carter from bringing his newly acquired service dog to his special education pre-kindergarten class at the start of the school year. Carter had attended the same class last year without the service dog.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Letter to the Editor: Direct Care Staff Deserve Pay Hike

Bravo to upstate New advocates promoting higher wages for Direct Support Professionals. These are the folks whose passion and committment ensure that people with disabilities can lead dignified and productives lives in the community. Thanks to the Albany Times Union for keeping the dialogue going. Today's letter is from James Flanigan, Executive Director of the Rensselaer ARC, in Troy, N.Y.

Karen Nagy's Sept. 22 op-ed article gave readers an understanding of the staff salary issue from the perspective of a parent whose son depends on direct care staff in the state Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities system.

I would like to add some fiscal details to her case.

Autism's Genetic Roots Examined in New Government-Funded Study

Researchers at Harvard University and Children's Hospital Boston will sequence the genomes of at least 85 people diagnosed with autism in a bid to tease out the genetic basis for some cases of the neuropsychiatric disorder.
Funded by $4.5 million from the federal stimulus package, the study's broad outlines were unveiled Wednesday.
The study's first phase will focus on 85 autistic patients from the Middle East. All have a recessive form of autism, and all are linked by common ancestry. Studying this unique population, researchers have already narrowed the hunt for the common genetic mutation they share to an area that represents just 1% of their genome.
The Boston researchers hope to extend their genomic analyses beyond the 85 Middle Easterners to include American families as they refine their gene-hunting techniques.