Friday, February 26, 2010

Do Fertility Treatments Raise Autism Risk?

BOSTON -- Doctors at 15 autism treatment centers nationwide have collected data that show an association between autism and children conceived through in vitro fertilization, WCVB-TV in Boston reported.
More than 1,400 families of autistic children completed medical questionnaires that asked, among other things, if their child was conceived with assisted reproductive technology, or ART. IVF is the most common type.
Twelve percent of those questioned said yes, a number Dr. Patricia Davis said is 10 times the most recent national average published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, Davis cautions, "I don't want to leave anyone with the impression that we think IVF causes autism. That's not the case. It just leads to so many more questions."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

US opens Canton school inquiry

The US Department of Justice has opened an investigation into whether a special needs school in Canton violates federal disability laws by disciplining students with electrical skin shocks.
In a September 2009 letter, the groups said the facility’s use of “painful and dehumanizing behavioral techniques violates all principles of human rights.’’ They seek to end the school’s use of shock therapy, something that several state inquiries have so far failed to do.
Many parents who have children at the Rotenberg center have supported the school, saying it accepted their children when other institutions turned them away or that the shocks are a better alternative to heavy sedation administered at some facilities.
But advocates for the disabled have been sharply critical, spurring a number of efforts to close the school.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Google execs convicted in Italy for Down's video

MILAN (Reuters) - A Milan court convicted three Google Inc executives on Wednesday for violating the privacy of an Italian boy with Down's syndrome by letting a video of him being bullied be posted on the site in 2006.
The complaint was brought by an Italian advocacy group for people with Down's syndrome, Vivi Down, and the boy's father, after four classmates at a Turin school uploaded a clip to Google Video showing them bullying the boy.
"A company's rights cannot prevail over a person's dignity. This sentence sends a clear signal," public prosecutor Alfredo Robledo told reporters outside the Milan courthouse. Down's syndrome is the most common genetic cause of mental retardation, occurring in about 1 out of 700 live births.
The video was filmed with a mobile phone and posted on the site in September 2006.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How Words Can Demean a Person

From "The Record" of New Jersey, a wonderful perspective about the use of the R-word by Barbara Coppens, president of the New Jersey Statewide Self-Advocacy Network.

Using, or criticizing others who use the words "retard" or "retarded" (a.k.a. the R-word) has become a nationwide hot topic, ignited by Ben Stiller’s film, "Tropic Thunder" in the summer of 2008 and fanned most recently by a Valentine’s Day episode of "Family Guy" on Fox Television.
As a person who lives with an intellectual disability, I’m hopeful about the R-word’s newly-found status as a big story, because it is serving to shine a light into the shadows that I and so many of my friends with intellectual and other developmental disabilities have lived in for so long; shadows of shame, stigma and aching humiliation.Come on, you say, can one lousy word do all that… really?
Yes. I’m telling you that it does. And there should be no need for any more explanation than that.

Dolphin Therapy Booming Despite Amid Criticism

If you have a child with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome or autism -- and you have a week or two and a few thousand dollars to spare -- a growing and controversial group of global entrepreneurs claims it can your child feel better by putting him or her in close contact with dolphins.
The strategy is known as dolphin-assisted therapy, and the basic idea is that even brief exposure to these charismatic creatures -- swimming around with them, petting and kissing them, watching them do tricks and hearing their clicking calls in tanks, lagoons or the open ocean -- is so uniquely rewarding that it produces benefits all by itself and/or jump-starts a patient's receptiveness to more-conventional therapy.
The dolphin-therapy business has been booming, fueled in part by the rapid growth in diagnoses of childhood mental disorders such as autism. The practice, however, is fiercely criticized by researchers and marine mammal conservationists. These critics charge that it is no more effective and considerably more expensive than skillful conventional treatment, while potentially harmful to the humans and the animals.

Monday, February 22, 2010

‘Family Guy,’ Palin and the Limits of Laughter

“Family Guy,” the Fox animated comedy series, is either irreverent or crass, depending on your tolerance for unmannerly humor. Viewers come for its pop-cultural free associations and flatulence gags, not necessarily to debate pressing issues of the day.
So it is probably the last program that anyone expected to serve as a catalyst for a continuing fight about the depiction of disabled people on television, and whether they are fair game to participate in and be the subjects of satire. It is a dispute that has drawn in Sarah Palin, the former Republican governor of Alaska and 2008 vice-presidential candidate, who has a son with Down syndrome, and a “Family Guy” voice actress who, like the character she portrayed on the show, also has that disability. Though the two women would seem to be coming from similar perspectives, they have ended up as far apart as possible.

Police Officers Trained on Interacting With People On the Spectrum

Bravo to Boardman's Police for having the vision to educate its department about people with autism. Hopefully this can serve as a model for other communities.

BOARDMAN, Ohio — Family members or caregivers of people with autism can help educate police in the best ways to interact with those who have the disorder.
Detective Michelle Glaros, who is trained in crisis intervention, recently attended training for law-enforcement officers in dealing with autistic people. The session’s instructor is an officer whose son is autistic.

Museum Opens Its Arms To Children With Autism

CHERRY HILL, N.J. — Kim Marple knew just how to gauge how much fun her 6-year-old had Sunday evening at the Garden State Discovery Museum.
"I'm going to have to carry him out of here kicking and screaming," said Marple, of West Deptford, a mother of three children with autism spectrum disorders. "If he has a meltdown on a typical day it might be a tragedy for us and everyone else. Here, if he melts, he just blends in. He can be himself."
Marple and her children Kendall, 4, Owen, 6, and Hunter, 9, were among dozens of families Sunday attending Open Arms night at the museum, a free evening of play and fellowship for children with autism and their families.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Fire Safety Report For Group Homes Released

WELLS, N.Y. - A panel that convened after a fatal fire in Wells last year to address safety policies at the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities has presented OMRDD with 16 recommendations for improving safety at group homes across the state.
The panel, made of officials from a variety of fire safety and developmental disability organizations, was created by OMRDD to evaluate its safety procedures and recommend changes. OMRDD has accepted all the changes, according to a news release from the office.
The recommendations focus on evacuation procedures and proper training for home staff. They include conducting more fire drills that are supervised, adopting more rigorous evacuation plans, improving staff training and increasing managerial oversight.
At the YAI National Institute for People with Disabilities in New York City, Senior Director of Education Perry Samowitz said he is supportive of the job OMRDD is doing to address fire-safety concerns. An official with YAI NIPD participated in the panel.
"They're doing it the right way. They've pulled together committees of people who are not just in the business of helping people with disabilities, but also of fire experts," he said. "They're making a strong effort to improve their system."

States Consider Medicaid Cuts As Use Grows

WASHINGTON — Facing relentless fiscal pressure and exploding demand for government health care, virtually every state is making or considering substantial cuts in Medicaid, even as Democrats push to add 15 million people to the rolls.
Because they are temporarily barred from reducing eligibility, states have been left to cut “optional benefits,” like dental and vision care, and reduce payments to doctors and other health care providers.
In some states, governors are trying to avoid the deepest cuts by pushing for increases in tobacco taxes or new levies on hospitals and doctors, but many of those proposals are running into election-year trouble in conservative legislatures.
The Medicaid program already pays doctors and hospitals at levels well below those of Medicare and private insurance, and often below actual costs. Large numbers of doctors, therefore, do not accept Medicaid patients, and cuts may further discourage participation in the program, which primarily serves low-income children, disabled adults and nursing home residents.

British Doctor Resigns As Head of Austin Autism Center

AUSTIN, Tex. -- Facing the possible loss of his medical license in England, Dr. Andrew Wakefield has stepped down as executive director of the Thoughtful House Center for Children, an autism education and treatment center for children that he helped found here in 2005.
Last month, a panel of the General Medical Council, which regulates doctors in the U.K., found that Wakefield was dishonest and irresponsible in conducting research on children in England a dozen years ago.
Wakefield's 1998 work, published in The Lancet, a prestigious British medical journal, fueled a worldwide scare over vaccines and autism. The Lancet retracted the study earlier this month.
Thoughtful House would not answer questions about Wakefield's departure. By Thursday morning, he was removed from the center's staff list, and the center issued a statement when asked whether Wakefield had resigned.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

H1N1 Hits Children With Neuromuscular Disorders Hard

WORCESTER, Mass. -- Despite his cerebral palsy, Derek Collette never lagged very far behind.
He rode the school bus with other special-needs children, hustled to class on crutches and got decent grades for a child with a learning disability, if not on par with those of an average 13-year-old.
Then, in May, the first wave of swine flu hit Forest Grove Middle School here.
It swept Derek under. Doctors say the H1N1 influenza virus somehow inflamed the nerves in his spine, crippling him.
Derek's plight may be extreme, but it isn't unique. He is one of thousands of children and adolescents with neuromuscular disorders, asthma and other conditions who are suffering consequences of H1N1 that will linger long after the 2009/2010 swine flu pandemic ends.

Opinion: Budget Crisis Threatens People With Disabilities

Check out this opinion piece by Gary Blumental, President and CEO of the Massachusetts Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers, from The Daily News Tribune. Seems like a similar column could be written for virtually every state.

The nation's economic collapse has been painful for all Americans, but for people with disabilities, unable to survive without some level of government assistance, the last 18 months have been catastrophic.
Though the people of the commonwealth have been legendary in their compassion and support for people with disabilities, the disabled have been stung by loss of employment and of their homes. As state revenues have receded back to 2006 levels, programs that helped people with disabilities earn the dignity of a paycheck have been slashed by millions of dollars, leaving people without jobs or forcing them back to the dependence and charity of others instead of being empowered wage earners.
The commonwealth's FY 2011 budget, as recommended by Gov. Deval Patrick, contains especially tragic consequences for people with developmental disabilities. Unless restored by the Massachusetts Legislature, more than 1,600 people and their families will lose service on July 10.
Cuts for people with developmental disabilities include:
- 300 people losing their homes and residential supports;
- 35 group homes being shuttered;
- 450 people losing their jobs and employment training;
- 1,000 families losing individual, family and respite services;
- 400 families losing minimal help for their disabled child to keep the child in the home and out of a costly out-of-home placement.

Missouri Autism Center Thanks Sen. Bond for Funds

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Columbia's Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders hosted an event to thank Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., on Wednesday.
Bond secured $750,000 in federal funding to aid construction of an expansion to the facility
, along with improvements such as video and audio equipment.
The center, founded in 2005, provides diagnosis, therapy and treatment to more than 2,000 families with children with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.
Executive Director Jim Poehling said that along with an expanded facility, the funds will allow for more faculty and better training of new therapists. The money will also go to a room that will utilize audio and video equipment so therapists can better observe the children.

Virginia Senate Passes Autism Coverage

RICHMOND, Va. -- Legislation that would compel insurers to pay for expensive but effective treatments for children with autism won overwhelming passage Tuesday in the state Senate despite opposition from mighty insurance and business lobbies.
On a 27-13 vote, Sen. Janet Howell's bill advances to the House, where a companion measure died on a tie vote in a subcommittee two weeks earlier.
The bill would mandate coverage by certain employee health plans for applied behavior analysis, the treatment that psychiatric and medical officials say is the most effective and promising for children with autism. Insurers say ABA is an educational service, not a medical one that should be covered.
Howell's bill restricts coverage to children from age 2 years through 6, and limits annual insurance outlays for ABA to $35,000. Because of the record $4 billion gap facing the next state budget, it exempts state employees from required coverage until 2015.
"This bill is so limited, and it breaks my heart it's so limited," Howell said. "But it's a small step, a baby step, for children with autism spectrum disorder and their families."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Housing for Adults With Autism Poses Challenge

Several of Arizona's leading real-estate groups have tackled a growing national housing problem in a new report, "Opening Doors: A Discussion of Residential Options for Adults Living With Autism and Related Disorders."
During the next 15 years, more than 500,000 children with autism disorders will become adults. Now, most adults with autism live with their aging parents, who won't outlive their children. Autistic adults currently have few options for housing away from their families.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Political Points That Jab Like a Knife In the Heart

AUSTIN -- In 2008, DreamWorks released "Tropic Thunder" starring Ben Stiller. Repeated use of the word "retard" provoked outrage and protests from the community of people who have intellectual disabilities, and those of us who are their families, friends and co-workers.
I led one of those protests because you cannot imagine the hurt caused by that word if you don't know — or care about —people with intellectual disabilities. A year and a half later, that word still permeates our culture on TV, radio and the movies. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel used it to denigrate those who disagree with the administration on health care. Rush Limbaugh jumped on the bandwagon, saying "Our political correct society is acting like some giant insult's taken place by calling a bunch of people who are retards, retards." He called Emanuel's meeting with advocates for those with intellectual disabilities a "retard summit at the White House." Sarah Palin, mother of a child with Down syndrome, denounced the use of the word both times, but called only for Emanuel's resignation.
The only thing missing in this tempest is understanding that people with intellectual disabilities merit respect. They have feelings. We should be able to muster a modicum of civility toward them.

Hormone-Infused Nasal Spray Found To Help People With Autism

A nasal spray containing a hormone that is known to make women more maternal and men less shy apparently can help those with autism make eye contact and interact better with others, according to a provocative study released Monday.
The study, involving 13 adults with either a high-functioning form of autism or Asperger syndrome, a mild form of the disorder, found that when the subjects inhaled the hormone oxytocin, they scored significantly better on a test that involved recognizing faces and performed much better in a game that involved tossing a ball with others.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Finding Calm and Balance Through Yoga

DALLAS -- Six-year-old Alexander Mitchell of Dallas has trouble keeping up with other kids.
As a child with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Alexander struggles to control body movements and use appropriate social interactions.
But he's flourishing in Lynne Silberman's yoga program for special-needs kids, says his mother, Kellie Baker-Mitchell.
"It has a calming effect," says Baker-Mitchell as Alexander settles happily in class, giggling with his friend Sarah Grace Salaiz, 8, of Dallas, who has Down syndrome. "When he has a meltdown at home, we do the breathing exercises."
Silberman, 25, who has worked with special-needs kids since she was 16, believes that yoga is uniquely suited for connecting with these children. One of just a handful of practitioners in the Dallas-Fort Worth area licensed by the Florida-based group Yoga for the Special Child, she sees it as a way of improving attention span, balance and strength as well as confidence and self-control.
All kids need exercise, Silberman notes. But too often, kids with special needs are rejected from organized sports or recess play for not being coordinated, focused or fast enough. In her class, they all feel like winners as they improve their skills.

Temple Grandin Relates Animals to Autism

EURGENE, OR. -- Temple Grandin didn’t speak until she was three years old. When she was diagnosed with autism in 1950, her mother engaged Grandin in activities such as speech therapy and games to stimulate her mind.
Today, Grandin is a leading animal science expert and an icon for individuals with autism. Tuesday night she visited the University to present the lecture “My Experience with Autism and Animals.” During the two-and-a-half hour program, Grandin spoke about a variety of subjects, ranging from her experiences with autism to human slaughter methods, and drew a sizeable crowd.
Grandin is considered a role model because of the challenges she has overcome and how much she has accomplished. Despite her diagnoses, she went on to earn her doctorate in animal sciences and write several books, and is now a professor at Colorado State University.
Grandin’s visit to the University coincided with the release of HBO’s biographical film “Temple Grandin,” which stars Claire Danes as Grandin.
“She’s an incredible actress,” Grandin said. “It’s almost like she became me.”

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Op-Ed: Disorder Out of Chaos

Great op-ed from today's edition of The New York Times by Roy Richard Grinker, a professor of anthropology at George Washington University, is the author of “Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism.”

WASHINGTON,D.C. -- If you ask my daughter, Isabel, what autism means to her, she won’t say that it is a condition marked by impaired social communication and repetitive behaviors. She will say that her autism makes her a good artist, helps her to relate to animals and gives her perfect pitch.
The stigma of autism is fading fast. One reason is that we now understand that autism is a spectrum with an enormous range. Some people with autism are nonverbal with profound cognitive disabilities, while others are accomplished professionals.
Many people with milder symptoms of autism have, for the past 20 years or so, received a diagnosis of Asperger’s disorder. Some autistic adults call themselves “Aspies” to celebrate their talents and differences. And many parents have embraced the label because they have found it less stigmatizing, and so it has eased their sense of loss.
But a culturally meaningful distinction isn’t always a scientifically valid one. People who now have a diagnosis of Asperger’s can be just as socially impaired as those with autism. So Asperger’s should not be a synonym for “high functioning.” Likewise, people with autism who are described as “low functioning,” including those without language, can have the kinds of intelligence and hidden abilities that are associated with Asperger’s — in art, music and engineering, for example — and can communicate if given assistance.

Op-Ed: Preserve Washington State's Residential Centers

An interesting op-ed from Olympia Newswire, as Washington state grapples with its budget and considers closing two residential care facilities serving more than 400 residents with developmental disabilities. Be sure to check out the comments on the original story, as well.

I am the sister of developmentally disabled (dd) 63 year old twin brothers who reside at Rainier School. I also volunteer once per month there as a DJ and have a dance for any residents that can/would like to participate. Some of the comments on Rosette Royale’s story for the Olympia Newswire, "Parents, Elected Officials Seek Ways to Save Residential Care Facility," deny some very important realities about the ongoing need for residential health centers (RHCs) in Washington state.

Asperger's Officially Placed Inside Autism Spectrum

Asperger's syndrome is really just a form of autism and does not merit a separate diagnosis, according to a panel of researchers assembled by the American Psychiatric Association.
Even though many researchers already refer to Asperger's as high-functioning autism, it hasn't been listed under the autism category in the official diagnostic guide of mental disorders, called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, or DSM. The DSM serves as a guide for mental health professionals and government agencies.
But a new draft fifth edition released Wednesday moves Asperger's officially into the autism category, provoking a wide range of responses among people with Asperger's — some of whom say they do not want to be labeled as autistic.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Autism Speaks Identifies Top 10 Studies of 2009

NEW YORK -- Autism Speaks, the world's largest autism science and advocacy organization has released its annual list of the 10 most significant research achievements to have impacted autism during the previous year. Every year, Autism Speaks documents the progress made toward its mission to discover the causes and treatment for autism spectrum disorders, and compiles a list of the 10 most significant research achievements to have impacted autism during the previous year. The 2009 list contains important results from clinical and epidemiological research together with advances in gene discovery and effective treatments which will combine to shape the future of autism research for 2010 and beyond."

Both Parents' Age Linked to Autism

Older mothers are more likely than younger ones to have a child with autism, and older fathers significantly contribute to the risk of the disorder when their partners are under 30, researchers are reporting.
In a study published online on Monday in the journal Autism Research, the researchers analyzed almost five million births in California during the 1990s, and 12,159 cases of autism diagnosed in those children — a sample large enough to examine how the risk of autism was affected when one parent was a specific age and the other was the same age or considerably older or younger.
Previous research found that the risk of autism grew with the age of the father. The new study suggested that when the father was over 40 and the mother under 30, the increased risk was especially pronounced — 59 percent greater than for younger men.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Story of Obama Aide's Remarks Takes On Life of Its Own

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has long been known for his foul mouth and ferocious temper. But one particularly inelegant remark he made last fall resurfaced with a vengeance recently and may yet turn out to be the most contentious of his career.
Emanuel is reported to have told several liberal groups their idea was "f---ing retarded," during a political strategy meeting in August.
The groups wanted to air attack ads against Democratic lawmakers who were unsupportive of President Obama's health care reform initiative, which was already facing tough opposition from town hall protesters and Republicans.
The Wall Street Journal's Peter Wallsten broke the news of this incident last week in a story about Emanuel's escalating conflicts with the progressive factions that make up Obama's base. Now the story has taken on a life of its own, provoking a controversy across the political spectrum about the use of the "R-word."

Even Temple Grandin Impressed With HBO Movie

The most impressive review of HBO's "Temple Grandin," which premieres Saturday, may have come from Temple Grandin herself.
A scientist and best-selling author with autism, the 62-year-old Grandin's a visual thinker - she titled one of her books "Thinking in Pictures" - and the details matter to her.
But so apparently do the emotions.
"It's like going in sort of a weird time machine, and just watching the trailer, I'm getting kind of choked up," Grandin said last month in Pasadena, Calif., when I asked her how difficult it had been to watch Claire Danes playing her younger, not yet so successful self on-screen."I whispered to Claire, I said, 'Can you believe that's really you?' She said it was kind of weird for her, too,' " Grandin said, adding that Danes "played me really, really accurate" as a student and young animal-behaviorist.

Retraction Won't End Vaccine-Autism Debate

COLUMBUS, OHIO -- Nobody knows for sure whether vaccination rates will go up, down or remain stable after the retraction of a hotly debated study linking the childhood measles-mumps-rubella vaccination to autism.
Although vocal, those opposed to vaccinating their children appear to be relatively small in number, and many observers are convinced that this week's news will have little influence over them.
Nobody knows for sure whether vaccination rates will go up, down or remain stable after the retraction of a hotly debated study linking the childhood measles-mumps-rubella vaccination to autism.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Arc Says Emanuel's Private Apology Not Enough

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has apologized – privately — for using the word “retarded” in a scolding of liberal activists last summer.
But now an advocacy group wants a public expression of regret.
“A private call does not seem to us to be what’s called for in this situation,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc. “Rather, there should be some kind of statement indicating that he understands what a sensitive issue this is for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

The False Prophets of Autism

When Dr. Andrew Wakefield — the British doctor who linked vaccines to autism — was found to be “dishonest,” “irresponsible” and acting “contrary to the clinical interests” of a child by a medical-misconduct panel last week, and when the respected medical journal The Lancet officially retracted its publication of Wakefield’s 1998 study yesterday, those were but the most recent controversial moments in the medical mystery that is autism.
Liane Carter has read all the news reports out of Britain with their mix of predictions that this is the end of Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s career as a researcher (he now runs an autism clinic in Austin). But some parents promise to follow him anywhere. To Carter, it all sounds numbingly familiar. In a guest blog today, she describes her frustration with those who prey on the desperation of parents with unfounded promises of an answer. Time spent on false hope, she writes, is time wasted on finding an actual cure.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Medical Journal Retracts Report Linking Vaccines and Autism

Twelve years after Dr. Andrew Wakefield published his research in the international medical journal the Lancet purporting that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine causes autism, the journal on Tuesday formally retracted the paper.
The action came less than a week after the U.K. General Medical Council's Fitness to Practice Panel concluded that Wakefield had provided false information in the report and acted with "callous disregard" for the children in the study. The council is now considering whether Wakefield is guilty of serious professional misconduct. A positive finding could cause him to lose his medical practice.
Wakefield's study, conducted on only 12 children, concluded that the MMR vaccine is a primary cause of autism. He subsequently said that he could not, in good conscience, recommend that parents have their children vaccinated.
His words and actions led to a sharp drop in vaccination rates in both Britain and the United States and a resurgence in measles.

Company Turns to Employees With Disabilities

Ontario, CA (PRWEB) -- Baby Trend, a leading manufacturer of baby products, recently reached its goal of producing a price competitive, superior diaper pail refill system for Walmart stores in the United States. In doing so, it has created hundreds of jobs for adults with developmental disabilities who are employed by Hillside Enterprises of Long Beach, California.
We appreciate the opportunity to work closely with Baby Trend in assembling this new product. I have witnessed first hand the positive impact this job has had on our clients who enjoy working on this job, finding it meaningful as they learn new skills and earn money for doing so,” says Richard O’Leary of Hillside Enterprises.

Autism, Cancer Push By Obama

WASHINGTON, D.C. Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama proposed increasing the National Institutes of Health budget by $1 billion, or 3.2 percent, in fiscal 2011, earmarking $6 billion for cancer research and $222 million for work in autism.
The proposed $32.1 billion budget for the year beginning Oct. 1 falls short of the $36 billion the federal agency was able to spend in fiscal 2010 because of money from the government’s economic stimulus effort.
The autism push will help define genetic and environmental factors contributing to the disorder.

Seeking Reasons For Autism's Rise in L.A.?

Why is a child born in northwest Los Angeles four times as likely to be diagnosed with autism as a child born elsewhere in California?
Medical experts have pondered for years why autism rates have soared nationwide, and why the disorder appears to be much more prevalent in certain communities than in others. Now, some recent studies that zero in on California may shed some light on these baffling questions.
Researchers from Columbia University, in a study published in the current Journal of Health & Place, identified an area including West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and some less posh neighborhoods that accounted for 3% of the state's new cases of autism every year from 1993 to 2001, even though it had only 1% of the population.

Monday, February 1, 2010

California Prepares To Close Large Institution

SACRAMENTO -- The Schwarzenegger administration plans to close one of California's last large institutional care centers for people with profound developmental disabilities.
The 82-year old Lanterman Developmental Center in Pomona, which houses 398 people with severe autism, cerebral palsy and other lifelong disabilities, could shut its doors within two years, said Terri Delgadillo, director of the state Department of Developmental Services.
The population of the 302-acre campus has dwindled from a peak of nearly 3,000 in the late 1960s, when a change in state law discouraged housing the developmentally disabled in large institutions. Since then the trend has been for the state to offer home-based services or to place people in group homes in their own communities.
The news came as a shock to residents' families.

Actress Stars as Autism Advocate Temple Grandin

From the opening scene of HBO’s new biographical film "Temple Grandin,” it’s clear that this will be no misty-eyed memoir.
In it, a slender figure in unflattering blue jeans and a sweetheart-of-the-rodeo button-down gazes at the viewer from inside a checkerboard room that first dwarfs and then crowds her.
"M’name is Temple GRAN-din,” the woman announces. "I’m not like other people. I think in pictures. And I connect them.”
And with that, Temple Grandin — or, in this case, the film version of the real Dr. Temple Grandin — trundles out of the room and into the story of her life, leaving her audience as discombobulated as she and her fellow autistics feel in a world filled with sights, sounds and circumstances they cannot comprehend.

Teen Doesn't Let Autism Deter Him From Goal

ELDERGSBURG, MD -- Among the flurry of long arms and legs punching, kicking and blocking during the Adult Black Belt class at United Hap Ki Do of Eldersburg, Bob Nobles stands at a noticeable height difference.
Though the thin, sprightly 14-year-old from New Windsor is at times quite literally half the size of his classmates, he is treated exactly the same as his older counterparts.
The class only meets for an hour each week, but the feelings of acceptance stay with him for much longer.
Diagnosed with autism at the age of 8, Bob has had a difficult time finding a place where he belongs among with people who understand him.

A Typical Day at the Movies

WAYNE, N.J. -- Zachary Pellegrini wisely wore his track pants to the movies. At a recent screening of "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel," the 7-year-old from Totowa popped up from his seat and squeezed past his dad's legs, to freedom — the theater's ramped aisles. Up and down he ran, pumping his arms, as his light-brown mop of hair bounced as the picture flickered.
No one in the audience complained or even paid much notice as Zachary burned off his popcorn.
Across the room, Owen Rogers, 6, wandered near the movie screen. His mom ran over to retrieve him — only after he had poked his head behind the curtains.
If this sounds like a moviegoing disaster, it's not.
It's a typical Saturday morning at AMC Loews in Wayne, which once a month has a sensory-friendly showing for autistic children. The sound levels are down and the lights are turned up, making the scene friendly for children who frequently experience sensitivity to loud noises, flashing lights and even certain smells.