Thursday, December 31, 2009

Louisiana Braces for Major Job Cuts

BATON ROUGE, LA -- About 450 workers at the state Department of Health and Hospitals will lose their jobs because of budget cuts, the head of the agency announced Wednesday.
“The next 24 months are going to be very difficult,” DHH Secretary Alan Levine said during a news conference in downtown Baton Rouge.
Most of the layoffs are in the Office of Citizens with Developmental Disabilities, which will lose more than 400 positions.Overall, DHH is eliminating 445 filled positions and 416 vacant positions.
The job loss within the Office of Citizens with Developmental Disabilities is high because the state is moving residents from state-run group homes into private facilities, eliminating the need for employees, Levine said.

Connecticut Law Will Force Insurers To Cover Autism Treatment

HARTFORD, CT -- The McDonalds had only four months to go before the crushing economics of covering treatments for their autism spectrum son was all on them.
“But thank God, come January, we’ll have no worries,” said Michelle McDonald, 39, as she joined others in Hartford Wednesday to talk about an insurance fix that mandates coverage for medical needs of these children.
The law, which was championed by state Sen. Martin Looney, D-New Haven, state Sen. Joseph Crisco, D-Woodbridge, and state House Speaker Christopher Donovan, D-Meriden, applies to private insurance plans and is effective as of Friday.
Connecticut is only the 11th state to mandate this coverage from private insurers.

Researchers Identify Autism Clusters In California

Researchers at UC Davis have identified 10 locations in California where the incidence of autism is higher than surrounding areas in the same region.
Most of the areas, or clusters, are in places where parents have higher-than-average levels of education.
The clusters are found primarily in the high-population areas of Southern California and, to a lesser extent, in the San Francisco Bay Area. The researchers said that, while children born within the clusters during the study period were more likely to be diagnosed with autism, the majority of the state's children with autism were born in adjacent areas outside the clusters.
For the rigorous study, published online today in the journal Autism Research, scientists examined nearly all of the approximately 2.5 million births recorded in California from 1996 through 2000. About 10,000 children born during that five-year period were later diagnosed with an autism, according to the state Department of Developmental Services.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Technology Can Help Police Find Missing People With Disabilities

SCHAUMBURG, IL. -- Safely recovering a missing person with autism or Alzheimer's today is usually dependent on either good luck or the kindness of strangers.
But new technology is beginning to help police make it a more methodical process.
Employing the same radio-frequency tracking equipment used to study wildlife behavior, a downstate Illinois company is making the finding of lost special-needs people a quicker and easier task.
Schaumburg police will be the next of only a few Chicago-area departments taking advantage of the innovations of Murphysboro-based Care Trak International.
The average time it takes the devices to find a missing person is 30 minutes, Nebl said.
Though the tracking equipment has only a 1-mile range, the people it's intended to track are very rarely farther away than that before their caregivers know they're gone.

Texas Study Finds Lower Autism Rate Among Hispanics

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) -- Hispanic kids are less likely than their non-Hispanic white counterparts to be diagnosed with autism, and socioeconomic factors don't seem to explain the difference, according to a new study in Texas schoolchildren.
"These findings raise questions: Is autism under diagnosed among Hispanics? Are there protective factors associated with Hispanic ethnicity?" Dr. Raymond F. Palmer of the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio and his colleagues write in the American Journal of Public Health.
Other research has shown a lower risk of autism among Hispanic individuals, while one study found that Hispanics with autism were typically diagnosed later than autistic children of other ethnic backgrounds. Autism could be under diagnosed among Hispanics, Palmer and his team note, given that these children are less likely to have health insurance and more likely to have trouble accessing medical care.

Judge Backs Couples Lawsuit For Independent Living

RALEIGH, N.C. -- A federal judge Monday prohibited the state and a local mental health management office from cutting services to two Wilson-area people with mental illness and developmental disabilities until they get a full hearing on their lawsuit seeking to continue independent living.
U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle said it's likely that two residents identified in the lawsuit as Marlo M., 39, and Durwood W., 49, would suffer irreparable harm if a local mental health office went through with a money-saving plan to move them from their apartments.
Their lawyers contend the two would end up in institutions, though a lawyer for the local mental health office disagreed with that conclusion.

Art Helps People With Disabilities Convey What It's Like

CHICAGO -- Louis DeMarco has trouble organizing his memories. He gets distracted by mirrors. So he corrals his mind by painting cloud charts -- grids of bright puffs that are labeled and ranked according to color. Or he sketches the landscape of Loudemar, a fantasyland he's created.
DeMarco, 24, of Chicago, also paints portraits, some of friends, some of himself. And he plays music -- bass, keyboard, guitar -- to express his thoughts in a manner that can be difficult when brain and lips don't connect properly.
He has autism, which encumbers his communication but fuels his creativity.
"Those on the autism spectrum tend to be prolific," said Rob Lentz, co-founder and program director of Project Onward , an art studio and gallery that supports the creative growth of visual artists with mental and developmental disabilities. "And they thrive on routine."

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Special-Needs Hockey Team Forms

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Special-needs children often spend a good part of their childhoods on the sidelines, with few opportunities for regular physical exercise and the socialization that it brings.
But local hockey parent and coach Paul Hopgood is hoping to change that
with a newly formed special hockey team, the Cat5 Canes West.
"There's some kind of connection between skating and these kids," he said. "They like it."
Playing on a team offers experiences that can't be duplicated at home or at school, he said.
Children learn to work with each other toward a common goal, take direction from coaches and to win and lose gracefully.

'Love Hormone' May Reduce Autism Symptoms

NEW YORK (UPI) -- The "love hormone," released at childbirth and during sex, is being used in a U.S. trial of young adults with autism spectrum disorders, researchers say.
Dr. Eric Hollander, the center's advisory board chairman and chairman of the psychiatry at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, says giving oxytocin may improve social functioning and repetitive behaviors -- irrespective of the age of the patient.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Military Helps Families Care for Children with Special Needs

When her husband, a Marine Corps colonel, was transferred last summer from the Pentagon to a base in southern California, Karen Driscoll was forced to confront her autistic child's new school district and the intricacies of federal special education law.
The Poway Unified School District near San Diego offered Driscoll's 11-year-old, Paul, the support of an aide for 10 hours a week -- fewer than half the 21 hours Fairfax County had provided and said he deserved under federal law.
"They slashed his services in half and said, 'We believe this is comparable,' " Driscoll said.
Until recently, Driscoll would have had to fight the school district alone. But under a new Marine Corps initiative, she had reinforcements: a caseworker and a special education attorney, provided by the military, to accompany her to meetings with school officials and, if need be, to court.
That initiative is part of a larger military effort, led by the Marines and the Army, to address the medical, educational and emotional challenges faced by special-needs families.
The Defense Department says that about 220,000 active-duty and reserve service members have dependents with special needs, but only 90,000 are enrolled in the military's main program to serve them.

A Choir for People With Developmental Disabilities

GREEN BAY, WI -- Throughout his music career, Michael Barber has tried to get his singers to smile.
The simple act improves not only how they look, Barber says, but more importantly how they sound.
And while Barber used to have limited success in achieving this happy-faced goal, his most recent endeavor has made it a whole lot easier.
Earlier this year, Barber started a singing group for adults with mental disabilities. After observing the ease with which his singers grinned, the group name — the Smiling Voices — seemed obvious.

Maryland Service System At Breaking Point

An incredibly thoughtful piece on a bleak situation in Maryland for people with developmental disabilities.

Because of chronic under-funding, thousands of families in Maryland are on waiting lists for services for their child with a developmental disabilities, and even those deemed to be in a state of crisis can be forced to wait years for services. Those who are in need of small breaks, like respite care to allow them to take a few hours off to attend to their own needs, can wind up waiting forever. Family members who care for relatives with developmental disabilities find themselves unable to work because they can't leave their charges alone. Others suffer physical consequences themselves from having to cope with homes that are not handicapped accessible. Some of the develomentally disabled regress - losing skills like walking and speech - because their families cannot afford therapy.
Despite major unmet needs, the state has been forced to cut funding for community support services for the developmentally disabled in the last year.
Maryland, despite its wealth, has lagged for years in services for its most vulnerable residents and those who give over their lives to care for them. The system is fast approaching a breaking point, but the state, caregivers and advocates should use that crisis as an opportunity to make sure Maryland lives up to the promise that all its citizens can live a life of freedom and dignity.

YAI Network Addresses Rise In Autism Among Latinos

With the CDC's recent report on the increase in autism, one of the alarming statistics was the dramatic rise in the diagnosis among Latino children. Dr. Charles Cartwright, Director of the YAI Autism Center, and Dr. Brigida Hernandez, Director of Research for the YAI Network, were guests on WABC-TV's "Tiempo" on Sunday. The interview is broken into two parts - here is part two.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Can You Teach Empathy To Children

Another fine piece on Lisa Belkin's Motherlode Blog at The New York Times. In a time when not-for-profits really can use assistance, committed volunteers really do make a difference.

Last week the Centers for Disease Control released new data showing that autism is diagnosed more frequently than had been thought — affecting 1 in every 110 children and 1 in every 70 boys.
Next week, high-school seniors will be scrambling to finish up the last of their college applications, chock full of evidence that they are good citizens who give back to their communities.
That makes this a particularly good time to listen to Liane Kupferberg Carter, founder of the Alternative Sports League in her neighborhood (a place for disabled children to participate on teams) and mother of Mickey, a teen with autism. In an essay in The Huffington Post, she wonders what all these college hopefuls with their do-good resumes are actually learning.

Children With Autism Try Their Hand at Sailing

DESTIN, Fla. — Six-year-old Steven Myatt’s captain’s hat hid his eyes as he looked up while steering the sailboat around the harbor.
Steven’s autism normally causes him to fidget, scream, leave his mother’s side and sometimes take off his clothes. But he sat calmly on the boat Wednesday. He took directions from the captain and sat beside his shell-shocked mother.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mom's Turning Baking Into Business

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It was just past noon on Monday. Lynn Yeager and Janice Copley were inside their small store on San Jose Boulevard, but Cookie Momsters wasn’t really open for business. It was a baking day.
The door was open though, and Yanira Ferrer walked in with her son, Jose. They’d just moved up from Orlando and Ferrer was looking for cookies and other goodies that 12-year-old Jose could eat. He’s autistic and more and more these days, a gluten-free, casein-free diet is recommended for people with autism.
Of course, that’s how Cookie Momsters got started in the first place. What began as simply a mom trying to find something her child would and should eat has grown into a statewide business.
Yeager’s son Jacob, now 6, is autistic, and she started reading that gluten (the protein in wheat, rye and barley) and casein (a protein in cow’s milk) could cause a lot of problems for children with autism and other issues.

Building Skills and Confidence

RINGWOOD, IL - The old Lydia went to the doctor a lot.
She was born with Down syndrome and a major heart defect.
At 6 months old, she had open-heart surgery.
At age 4, she got a pacemaker.
Outside of hospitals and doctors’ offices, she struggled to “find her voice,” said her mother, Laura Barten.
That is, until this year. Age 9 has been different.

Parents Say High School Is Failing In Special Education

GREENWICH, CT. -- Citing years of frustration without any improvement, parents of special education students took their concerns directly to the Board of Education last week and once again called for a task force to evaluate deficiencies for their kids at the high school.
While parents soundly praised the education their children have received from the elementary and middle schools, they cited continuing problems at Greenwich High School where parents claim there is a drop off in quality services. Parents have called for a task force for years to get at what they feel is systemically wrong with the high school education their children receive.
Parent Lynn Arazini said her son, who has autism, had “regressed dramatically” since entering the high school. A teacher in the school system for more than 20 years, Ms. Arazini said she had seen quality education for her son and other special education students, but that changed at the high school.
“Not every GHS teacher has failed my son, but even the best teachers cannot give him what he needs due to the systemic problems,” Ms. Arazini said, citing lack of consistent staffing, paraprofessional training and community-based life skills programs.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Schools Shortchange Students With Special Needs

NEW YORK, N.Y. -- The city has cheated some special needs kids out of valuable time in school, pulling them from class early to catch their ride home.
Across the city, the Daily News found scores of students boarding school buses as much as 40 minutes before the official end of the day.
"It's not right. They're not helping the kids learn more or get better in school," said Jacqueline Peralta, 35, mother of two students, Luis Diaz, 16, and Carla Diaz, 14, who attend Public School 79 in East Harlem because they use wheelchairs and have learning disabilities.

Holidays Can Be Overwhelming For Children With Autism

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Kate Skinner glows with pride when talking about her 10-year-old son, Mathieu, an aspiring filmmaker and inventor who can't wait for Christmas.
Skinner recounts her son busting out with phrases like "'Mom, I love you so much, I'm so glad it's Christmas,'" she said. Or, "I'm going to make you something for Christmas, I don't know what it is yet.'"
Mathieu has autism and can become overwhelmed during the holidays.
"Everything is different, the schedule changes, the expectations change," Skinner said. "There are new bright shiny things in the house that weren't there before."
The things so many people enjoy about the holidays - vacations, holiday treats, seeing friends and family - can be stressful for kids on the autism spectrum because their normal routine is disrupted, according to Michael Marcin, MD, a psychiatrist specializing in autism spectrum disorders.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Chili Recipe Leads to Job

A great story from the Republican Herald in Potsville, Pa.

An Auburn, Pa., woman's chili recipe has stirred up a job for her.
The 3Cs Family Restaurant, Port Clinton, Pa., was impressed enough with Christine Elliott, 19, that it gave her a position on its staff - provided she bring her recipe with her.
Elliott, who has Down syndrome, has been working two days a week for two months at the eatery, learning everything she can about the restaurant business, while at the same time prepping the ingredients for her spicy chili, which took first place at the 2006 Schuylkill County Fair.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sharp Rise in Autism, But Causes Are Unclear

Dr. Philip H. Levy, CEO & President of the YAI Network was quoted in today's edition of The Wall Street Journal, commenting on the new CDC autism prevalence study. Check it out.

About one in every 110 U.S. children has been diagnosed with an autism disorder, according to a new government study, a significant increase from recent years.
The rise was driven partly by better detection of the brain disorder, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. But the study also said the possibility that children face an increased risk of developing autism symptoms "cannot be ruled out."
The CDC data showed a 57% rise in autism spectrum disorders in 2006 over a 2002 study that found autism in one in every 150 U.S. children.
Boys were diagnosed with autism four to five times more often than girls, according to the latest report, which concluded that autism-spectrum disorders should be considered an "urgent public health concern." Overall, about 1% of 8-year-olds are estimated to have an autism-spectrum disorder, according to the study.
Dr. Philip H. Levy, CEO and President of YAI Network, a New York-based nonprofit that serves people with disabilities, including autism disorders, said the report confirmed that autism is "a continuing national health crisis." He added that some societal factors were helping to increase the risk of diagnosis. "With fathers in particular, there's a stronger correlation that has been made between older fathers and autistic children," Dr. Levy said.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Funding Cuts Threaten North Carolina Group Home

UNAKA, N.C. – Eight men and women sit in a large, cheerful room, decorated for Christmas with gas logs aglow in the fireplace.
It appears to be a large family or gathering of friends, passing a late afternoon in a homey atmosphere. But this home is in danger of being closed, and the occupants would have to find other housing. The home is Autumn Halls of Unaka and it houses 12 developmentally or learning disabled residents, said Shelly Debty, who owns and operates the home along with her father, Will Hayes.
The state, in a severe budget crunch, has cut funding to group homes across the state. Autumn Halls, like many other homes for developmentally disabled, is having to cut spending to scrimp by. Some are in danger of closing, Debty said.

Waitlist Frustrates Maryland Families

ANNAPOLIS, MD. - It's just after 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning at the home of Donald and Diane Creed, and they're a little surprised that their daughter Larissa Creed isn't awake yet.
After a few minutes, Donald Creed strides down the hallway of their homey, ranch-style house on a leaf-strewn street in Rockville. He gets to his daughter's bedroom and greets her in a cheerful, high-pitched tone: "Hi! How are you?" and then, "Let's turn off your noise machine."
Larissa Creed is a 24-year-old woman with severe developmental disabilities. She lives with her parents, who are both in their 60s and work full time. And she is one of thousands in Maryland with developmental disabilities who are waiting for badly needed services.
Approximately 19,000 developmentally disabled children and adults deemed eligible for services from the Developmental Disabilities Administration are currently on a waiting list.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"When I'm working, I'm In a Real Happy Mood"

EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Jim Seibert loved his job at a local restaurant. He worked his way up from rolling flatware and napkins to ushering diners to their tables and telling them the day's lunch specials.
Then the restaurant closed last month.
"When I'm working, I'm in a real happy mood," said Seibert, 49, of Evansville. "Also, when I'm not working, every day is a dull day."
Employers increasingly see the value of hiring the disabled, say staff members at ARC, which serves developmentally disabled children and adults in Southwestern Indiana.
Rudy Winderlich is manager of ARC's Community Job Link program, which helps clients such as Seibert find jobs and offers them support services.
"The economy," he said, "has really hurt us, just like everybody else. The majority of clients we work with are looking for entry-level positions. Usually they are the first ones to be let go."
When ARC clients search for work these days, "they're competing with 70, 80, 100 people," he said.

CDC Study Expected to Show Autism Rate at 1 in 100

With the latest autism rate figures due out tomorrow from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network and the Centers for Disease Control, thought this piece from Age of Autism would be of interest. Like to hear your thoughts.

ATLANTA - Researchers report that autism has risen to an epidemic rate of 1 in 100 children in a study to be released on Friday by the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network office of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This rate represents a 50% increase between the two birth cohort years of 1994 and 1996 and mirrors a recent study released by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which found a rate of 1 in 91 children, 1 in 58 boys.
In 2007, the ADDM released a similar study conducted in 2002 examining children born in 1994 that found the autism rate to be 1 in 150. In the study to be released Friday, the CDC looked at children born in 1996 (8 years old in 2004) and determined that there was a substantial increase of 50% between those two birth years.
This study and other recently published research clearly indicate that autism cannot solely be caused by genetic differences because it is impossible for genetic diseases to increase at such astronomical rates. It also cannot be explained by better diagnosing, changes in diagnostic criteria or migration patterns. It is clearly triggered by the environment. It’s well past time that CDC and NIH treat the autism epidemic with the national emergency status it deserves and act with crisis level response.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Overcoming Autism: A Mother's Story

At the age of 18 months, Roman Scott was diagnosed with a form of autism. By age 4, he no longer tested on the autism spectrum.
Although there is no cure for autism, and references in medical literature to "overcoming" autism symptoms are few and far between, Roman's mom, Elizabeth Scott, and his pediatrician, Dr. Jacquelynn Longshaw, believed that through much patience and training, Roman could overcome the odds.
"The whole thing was difficult because I was so afraid," Scott said today on "Good Morning America." "I was terrified of losing my son."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

'A Place That Taught Me to Finally Be Happy With Myself'

Interesting piece by Mike Elk on Huffington Post.

Today as I leave for Brazil, I go back to a place and a people that literally saved my life.
Without Brazil, I wonder how I would even be alive today. Brazil was the place that taught me to finally be happy with myself despite my numerous defects.
As a teenager, when I was diagnosed with an autism spectrum condition known as Asperger's Syndrome, it seemed like a death sentence.

Single Mom Seeks Help for Son with Autism

FLATBUSH, N.Y. -- This cartoonist needs some special care.
Amoako Buachie, 18, a gifted autistic artist, suffers from a severe sleeping disorder that causes him to throw tantrums in the middle of the night - a condition that is tearing his family apart.
"I don't know what starts it, but he'll be stomping his feet, throwing himself down, yelling, running up and down the hallway, and the whole building shakes," said Amoako's mother, Akosua Mainu, 46, who came to Brooklyn from Ghana 15 years ago.
"He's a very sweet young man, but I want to try and get a residential setting for him."
Waiting lists for city-area residential homes are between five and seven years long, and a private facility is too expensive for the single mother of two, who cleans houses for a living.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Women With Disabilities To Lose Residential Facility

EAST LYME, CT. — A residential facility for young women with disabilities in Niantic is closing Friday, citing a lack of funding and the inability to meet the criteria to receive money from the state Department of Developmental Disabilities.
The closing of North Washington House, operated by Lighthouse Voc-ed Center on North Washington Avenue, displaces five women. The future of a second facility, Beckwith House on Beckwith Street in Niantic, is also in question.
Diane Martin, a Waterford resident, said her daughter, Elaine, who is 22, has been at Beckwith House for one-and-a-half years. She said Elaine has become more independent and mature since living there.
"The girls are closer than most sisters. It's just amazing to see them together," Martin said. "It's a wonderful program, that's why us parents are so upset. It's like taking a very close family and scattering them."

In Autism, Medication Is Not Only Answer

Interesting op-ed from The Boston Globe by Dr. Claudia M. Gold, a pediatrician in Great Barrington.

Contemporary research integrating developmental psychology and neuroscience demonstrates that children with autism learn to regulate emotions in relationships. Intense experiences that are beyond the capacity of a child to self-regulate can be co-regulated with the help of people close to him.
A study published in the current issue of Pediatrics gives me hope. An intervention, the Early Start Denver Model, was offered in the homes of families, with parent, child, and therapist playing together. In the two-year study period, toddlers diagnosed with autism showed significant improvement in behavior, language, and IQ. The authors attribute the success of their intervention to the fact that it is “delivered within an affectively rich, relationship-focused context.’’
Some children severely affected by autism cannot function without medication. But because medication is the “standard of care’’ for treatment of ADHD, there is often an over-reliance on drugs, on the part of parents, teachers, and physicians, to treat complex problems. I worry that the same could become true for autism.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Field Trip Enhances Life Skills

NORTH AUGUSTA, GA. --- For a group of special education pupils at two elementary schools, a Christmas shopping trip Thursday was as much about learning as it was about fun.
The field trip gave the Mossy Creek and North Augusta elementary schools pupils a chance to practice social skills they would need later in life, said one teacher.
"It's exposure to the community and things they'll be doing when they grow up," said Kelley Kirkland, the special education teacher at North Augusta Elementary. "We start them on the process of exploring the community and the different things they can do like grocery shopping, buying presents and eating at restaurants."

Nonprofit That Hires People With Disabilities Set to Close

BELLINGHAM, WA. - A local nonprofit that provides jobs to adults with development disabilities will close Tuesday, Dec. 15.
The stress of the poor economy and tough competition has led to the closure of Current Industries, which provides manufacturing jobs for people with development disabilities. Executive Director John Butorac made the announcement to employees Thursday, Dec. 3, the day after the board of directors made the decision to close down.
The closure is a devastating blow for the nonprofit's approximately 40 employees, many of whom have developmental disabilities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the unemployment rate for people with developmental disabilities in Washington state was about 70 percent in 2006, and Butorac believes it's gotten higher since then.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Study Links Earlier the Intervention to Improved IQ in Children with Autism

A study released by the University of Washington Autism Center sets a new stage for early autism recognition, which can lead to higher IQs and increased social skills in autistic children.
While the UW Autism Center has worked on a variety of studies related to autism, the Early Start study is at the forefront due to its success in early intervention, with some of the toddlers in the study being as young as 18 months. The method, which was deemed the “Early Start Denver Model” (ESDM), was measured against a community-based autism program and, in the end, was found to improve children’s IQ scores by an average of 17.6 points, while the community intervention only improved by seven points.
If you reach a child before the two-and-a-half year mark that’s not adapting to the environment or picking up skills that typical kids should, you’re sort of preventing the predicted delay that they’d have,” said Milani Smith, director of Clinical Services at the UW Autism Center Clinical Program.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Special Santas for Children With Special Needs

SAN JOSE, CA. -- "Braving the mall" during the holiday season takes on a whole new meaning for parents of children with special needs. Navigating wheelchairs through the crowds or keeping autistic children patient in line for Santa can be excruciating.
That's why Parents Helping Parents organized a holiday open house Saturday at the Sobrato Center for Nonprofits here, where children didn't have to wait in line for Santa, and photographers were happy to retake photos until they got them right. Children received toys, danced to music, made craft projects, and occasionally struggled with their parents and siblings — all in a nonjudgmental environment.

House OKs Autism Bill in Ohio

COLUMBUS, OHIO -- Many health-insurance plans could no longer exclude coverage for autism or diabetes under bills that passed the Ohio House Tuesday over objections of most Republicans.
Though the rate of autism diagnoses make it the fastest-growing disability in the United States, and studies show success with early treatment, current Ohio law explicitly allows insurance companies to exclude coverage for children and adults with the disorder.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Setting Priorities for Young Adults on the Spectrum

Each year, tens of thousands of children diagnosed with autism, from mild to severe, enter adulthood and leave the safe confines of schools and their services behind.
Every day, their parents, such as Jennifer Smith-Currier of Gardner, Kan., worry what will become of them.
"It's like, where is the journey going?" said Smith-Currier, whose children Corinne, 16, and Cameron, 14, have autism. "When you have a typical child, there are goals: You go to high school; you go to college; you have a career and 2.5 children. My daughter is 16 with the mental capacity of a 12-year-old. Will my son ever get married? I don't know the answer. Will my daughter ever drive a car? I don't know the answer. Will she ever find love?
Smith-Currier joined about 65 other parents, counselors, developmental experts and many adults with autism recently to be part of a "National Town Hall" - meetings held simultaneously in 16 cities.

Cost of Raising a Child With Special Needs Varies from State to State

From Lisa Jo Rudy's autism blog at

Which state is best at providing for the needs of families with special needs children? A professor at Washington University in St. Louis has finally compiled the information that many families have been waiting for:
The study found that families with similar demographics and nature of their children's special needs have different out-of-pocket health expenditures depending on the state in which they live. Click here for the list.