Friday, September 30, 2011

Who Should Lead Autism Rights Movement?

SILVER SPRING, Md. — In a world that isn't all that friendly to the autism community, it seems that parents of children with autism and autistic adults would be natural allies in the movement for disability and autistic rights. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
All too often, self-advocates*—individuals with autism themselves—feel that parents of children with autism don't want to hear what they have to say. "There is a saying amongst developmentally disabled activists," writes one such activist in a recent blog post. "It goes like this: 'Some parents just want disabled children to speak and disabled adults to shut up.'"
These are harsh words, but they are at the heart of a conflict that recently came to a head over this very issue: When it comes to the developmental disability rights movement, who should be leading the way?

Researchers Identify Drug to Help Social Functioning in Individuals with Autism

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- U.S. researchers say propranolol -- a drug used to treat high blood pressure, control heart rate and reduce test anxiety -- may help people with autism.
David Beversdorf of the University of Missouri found the drug is beneficial for improving language development and social communication in people with autism.

Ready and Willing to Work

BRANSON, Mo. -- A non-profit organization is expanding in an effort to give job opportunities to more adults with developmental disabilities. Tantone Industries in Branson is adding a thrift store to the long list of services it offers to businesses in the area.
Many adults with developmental disabilities are on a waiting list. They are waiting to work. The general manager of Tantone, Sarah Baty, hopes a new thrift store and attracting more businesses to contract with will create more jobs.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Autism Fears Still Hang Over Vaccines

Even before Rep. Michele Bachmann made waves by questioning the safety of vaccines against cervical cancer, there was plenty of resistance to routine immunization.
As parents fret, vaccination rates for kids have dipped. Childhood vaccination rates against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), for instance, fell almost 3 percentage points to 90.6 percent in 2009 from the year before, according to data from private insurers.
During the first half of August, we asked people across the country for their views on vaccines in the latest NPR-Thomson Reuters Health Poll.

Opinion: Brown Should Reject Autism-Linked Education Bill

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Hundreds of pieces of legislation are sitting on Governor Jerry Brown's desk awaiting his proverbial "thumbs up" or "thumbs down." Gov. Brown has already warned that many of these bills will be vetoed, saying that there will be "plenty of veto blues."
One bill that regretfully deserves a veto is Senate Bill 946 (Steinberg). It would impose a costly new mandate for private health insurance to pay for educational non-medical services for children with autism, while exempting the public health programs -- Medi-Cal and Healthy Families -- from the requirement to cover the same therapy.

Part 2: The Brain of People with ASD

In last weeks blog I talked about the characteristics of the right and left sides of the brain and how they do not dance together in people with autism/ASD. I gave you twenty signs that I see (and there are more) that indicate how Mr. Left Brain and Mrs. Right Brain dance alone. Because there is no cure for autism, we are not going to teach Mr. Left Brain and Mrs. Right Brain to dance the Viennese waltz. There are many strategies that Speech Language Pathologists bring to the table to assist high functioning children and adults with autism that can help mesh the two sides of the brain.
None of these are accomplished short term. Repeat, repeat, repeat across ages and environments and with a variety of stimuli.

Fewer Characters with Disabilities on TV

According to the annual "Where We Are on TV" study by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, issued Wednesday to coincide with National Disability Employment Awareness Month, five of 647 regular characters on broadcast networks have a disability.
That's one less character than last year. All told, less than 1 percent of on scripted shows on ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox and NBC feature regular characters with disabilities.

Learning Life Skills Through Farming

OLD AGOURA, Calif. -- A new nonprofit organization is teaching organic gardening, animal husbandry, cooking and other practical skills to young adults diagnosed with autism and developmental disabilities.
Agoura Hills residents Sheila and Steve Mayfield launched Farming Independence last January from their home in Old Agoura.
Sheila Mayfield said she was moved to start the organization when she learned about the increase in the numbers of people diagnosed with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Case Workers as Autism's First Responders

I will never forget the first time a case worker from the Regional Center of the East Bay came to visit.
Her name was Iris.
Matthew was 3 years old, and while he hadn't yet been diagnosed with autism, his I.Q. scores were low, so he qualified for a range of services, including as remedial preschool(now called early intervention) and speech therapy.
I told the case worker that I didn't believe that Matthew would need services for long. I was determined to fix him.
"That's great," said Iris, "but let me tell you how we can help."

Diet for Autism: What Works?

SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Up to half of children with autism are placed on special diets by their parents to improve symptoms, despite conflicting evidence that they work.
Now, a small new study of the popular gluten-free/casein-free diet, or GFCF diet, suggests it does not work, says Patricia Stewart, RD, PhD, of the University of Rochester. She presented the findings here at the American Dietetic Association's Food Conference Expo in San Diego.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Parental Stress Spreads to Children

Science cannot explain the rise of autism, obesity or attention deficit disorders, but one doctor has a theory: parental stress.
"The more stressed parents are, the more developmental problems you will find in kids," said Dr. Gabor Mate, a Canadian physician.
He can't prove it, but nothing else makes sense, Mate said.

Farewell to's Autism Site

So sorry to see Lisa Jo Rudy --'s autism writer -- farewell column, but we'll still be able to follow her at Authentic Inclusion and on a new site Autism After 16.

Well, it's been about five and a half years.
When I started on this site, my son was just a little guy.
At that time, I wanted to know all about autism spectrum disorders. And over the years, I have learned! The wealth of information I collected - all I ever wanted to know, and more! - will still be here, on these web pages, for a while to come. That's because any site guide starting out today to cover topics in autism would have to start almost from scratch in just a year and a half, when the new diagnostic manual is published. At that time, much of what I've written about - Asperger syndrome, PDD-NOS, speech issues related to autism and more - will simply be... obsolete.

California Sued Over Budget Cuts

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Two disability advocate groups have filed in federal court a suit against the California Department of Health Care Services, claiming the state had violated federal law.
The suit contends California is failing to adequately fund services needed by people with developmental disabilities by ignoring federal mandates despite taking federal funding.

Fighting to Preserve Medicaid Funding

AKRON, Ohio - Jessica Norwood hasn't let disabilities take away her ability to live a full, productive life.
Norwood, 28, of Stow, Ohio, has severe breathing problems, visual perception processing issues and mild hearing loss in one ear as a result of being born four months premature.
She relies on a personal aide she receives through the state-run Medicaid program to drive her places, tend to her home and help her complete her studies at Kent State University.
She also works full time as an office aide at two early childhood development centers affiliated with the Summit County Developmental Disabilities Board.
Without the help she gets from Medicaid, she said, "I wouldn't be able to live independently on my own."

Connecticut Exams Cost of Care

HARTFORD, Conn. -- State legislators are deep into a controversial study: Can the private sector provide cheaper and even better care for the intellectually disabled than a government institution?
The answer is increasingly clear. But it's also very complicated — and may provide a true test of whether Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's vision of cutting spending but preserving services actually can work.
It's far less expensive to use private nonprofit organizations to care for our neediest citizens. An ongoing study by the General Assembly's Program Review and Investigation Committee again confirms this: It costs about $321,983 per client at the Southbury Training School — home to more than 400 — while private groups provide the same care at about $168,786 annually.

Closing of Illinois Center Progresses

JACKSONVILLE, Ill. -- The process to close the Jacksonville Developmental Center is starting to gather momentum while a major union is amping up its efforts to fight it.
The next step in the process is for the Illinois Commission on Governmental Forecasting and Accountability to hold a public meeting after receiving a recommendation for closure from the Department of Human Services.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Doctors Link Lyme Disease and Autism

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Although the mystery of autism continues to puzzle the medical community, some doctors are finding a link between autism and Lyme disease, which is called “Lyme-Induced Autism,” FOX40 Sacramento reported.
Mary Hendricks, 19, was diagnosed with a severe case of autism at the age of 2, but also showed symptoms of digestive problems, skin infections and pain.
After 17 years of constant doctors’ visits to diagnose the problem, a specialist told Mary’s mother, Tina, that the key to diagnosing her daughter would be to diagnose her first.
In the past, Tina had suffered from colitis, fibromyalgia and flu-like symptoms.
Doctors ordered a Lyme disease test, which came back positive. Then, the same test showed that Mary also suffered from Lyme disease. After receiving the results, Tina recalled that before getting pregnant with Mary, she had two ticks removed from her skin and hadn’t thought about it since.

Where Special Ed Classes Span 6 Grades

HAMPTON, Va. — Before school began earlier this month, Sadie Boone stopped by Langley Elementary to visit her son's classroom.
She was shocked that her 8-year-old, who has autism, was in a classroom with students ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade.
Boone is one of at least three Hampton parents who have filed complaints with the state's education department. They are decrying the district's decision to place children with special needs in classrooms spanning six grade levels without parent notification or input.

Special Needs Adult School Covers Basics

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - Grayson Izumi's Room A-5 is a busy classroom these days.
Inside, every day, students in Izumi's class for adults with special needs learn how to get through life.
Here, cerebral palsy, autism, Down's syndrome and other developmental disabilities take a back seat to Izumi's ability to keep students focused on a range of skills, from learning how to keep a checkbook to the importance of a canned food drive.

Senate Passes Autism Bill

A bill to reauthorize autism-related research and screening programs passed the Senate on Monday night by unanimous consent, ending concerns that programs might expire at the end of the month.
Under the legislation, the package is authorized to continue for three years. Money to pay for the programs has yet to be approved, but legislators have asked for $693 million. President Obama has said he will sign the bill.

Grant Seeks to Increase Autism Awareness Among Minority Communities

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Jonathan Jackson was diagnosed with autism before his third birthday.
"He had no language," said his mom, Candace Jackson. "Now, he has a full vocabulary and friends and social skills."
Jackson credits her son's success to an early diagnosis and early intervention, but all too often children, especially minority children, are misdiagnosed. "They're diagnosed anywhere from a year and a half to two years behind the general population," said Georgia Backus, the Director of the Rich Center for Autism. "Those two years are critical in their lives."
That's why the Rich Center is using a $95,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control to create an outreach program in the tri-county area. The goal is to raise awareness about autism among minority communities.

Emergency Rule Cuts Off Autism Treatment

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- An important therapy treatment for kids living with autism has been cut off due to an emergency rule passed by a state board.
The West Virginia Board of Examiners of Psychologists passed a rule in May that was enacted in July, requiring all behavior analysts to be supervised by a licensed psychologist at all times.
For many years, these analysts have provided a treatment called applied behavior analysis, or ABA therapy, to people with autism. One of those licensed analysts, Jill Scrabro-McLaury, is suing the board. She filed a lawsuit Friday in Kanawha County Circuit Court.

Washington State Encouraging Vaccinations

The vast majority of parents get their kids vaccinated, but a persistent minority decline to do so.
Their reasons vary: Some continue to worry about a link with autism even though research supporting a connection has been completely discredited. Others are concerned about side effects, or they say they don't believe that the diseases the vaccines prevent are really all that serious.
Persuading recalcitrant parents is a problem that public health advocates
continue to wrestle with.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Early Intervention Campaign Launched

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- District officials have unveiled a new initiatve that focuses on signs of developmental disabilities and delays in children from birth to age three.
The Strong Start campaign was launched Sept. 26 and its theme, "Don't Wait and Wonder," encourages parents and other caregivers with concerns about a child's development to sign up for a no-cost evaluation.
Officials for Strong Start, formerly known as the DC Early Intervention Program, will also be able to determine families'eligibility for services.

N.J. Summitt to Focus on Declining Quality of Life of Residents with Disabilities

Came across this opinion piece by Dr. Salvatore Pizzuro, a Disability Policy Specialist, holds a doctorate in Developmental Disabilities from Columbia University and an advanced degree in Disability Law from New York Law School.

The status of New Jerseyians with disabilities has diminished over recent years, rather than improved. Children and adults with special needs have taken a step back in employment, housing, health care, transportation and community acquiescence.
The general public is overwhelmed with trying to deal with the issues of meeting property tax requirements, escalating college tuition for their children, disappearing jobs, lower salaries, ever-increasing health care costs, and a cut back in public services.
At the same time, local, county and state agencies are finding it more difficult to provide services that, until a few years ago, the public took for granted.
An attempt will be made to at least create an ongoing dialogue among lawmakers, policy makers, public and private agencies and people with special needs, via a statewide summit and conference in East Rutherford on Oct. 3, 2011.

Preparing Child with Autism for Sacraments

The Rizzo family of Marlton, N.J., had to work harder than most to prepare their daughter Danielle for first Communion. Dave and Mercedes knew Danielle would never quite understand the sacrament the way other children did because she has autism.
“It was very important to us that she made her sacraments around the same age as the other children,” said Mercedes. “At the same time, it was important that she was really ready.”
The only available catechetical materials were very verbal and included complex concepts that could never properly be conveyed to someone with autism. “They weren’t geared towards children like Danielle who are not verbal,” explained Dave. “She required something very concrete like she used in other areas of learning. Children with autism and similar disabilities are very pictoral in the way they think. Their understanding is visual, not language-based.”

Editorial: Promoting Full Access to Society

In 1998, the Syracuse Developmental Center closed its doors amid a national movement to shift people with disabilities from institutional settings into the community. Thirteen years later, that transition is still under way: The West Seneca Developmental Center near Buffalo in July became the seventh residential development center the state has closed, and four more are targeted for closure by 2014.
The end to “warehousing” people with disabilities reflects a welcome growth in the inclusion of people of different abilities. Derogatory labels are now unacceptable, and people are quick to criticize the unenlightened few who occasionally utter the “R-word.”

Cross-Country Team Embraces Teen

HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Megan Douglas is chatting with her daughter Grace's cross-country coach in the coach's classroom when Grace impatiently bursts back into the room.
"Did you run hard?" Douglas asks with a smile as Grace, a gangly 13-year-old with curly brown hair in a disheveled brown ponytail, intently studies her hands and her black-painted fingernails. Grace isn't interested in talking about her running. Practice ended half an hour ago, and after an hour-plus of running hard, she's hungry.
"Yes," she says, her words coming with difficulty but her tone dismissive. "Can I get a snack?"
Grace, a seventh-grader at Hannibal Middle School. is running this year for the school's cross-country team. She's also living with autism.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Keeping Faith and Raising 2 Sons with ASD

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- As I knocked on the door of Alexis Dunbar’s Oakley house, a voice inside shouted, “Come in, I’m just doing my hair.”
Alexis emerged from the bathroom with lovely auburn hair, snug blue jeans and a huge grin.
“You want some coffee?” she asked, rushing around the house to locate photos of her family. “I’ll put a pot on for later.”
I’m here because Mark Knight at Jiffy Lube on Hendersonville Road said she was just about the best mother he’d ever met.
Both her sons are autistic and never make less than an A or B. One of them (Christian, 15) hasn’t missed a day of school in seven years.“She’s awesome,” Mark said. “She spends so much time with her kids and went to school for months to study about autism.”

Autism's Back-to-School Anxiety

As the school year gets under way, incoming students are adjusting to a new schedule and new teachers, navigating their classes and peer groups, and generally struggling to figure themselves out. But for children on the autism spectrum, the return to the classroom can be much more complex. What are some of the unique challenges that kids with autism face during back-to-school season?
As a former college professor and the mother of a 12-year-old boy on the autism spectrum, I can attest that the transition from carefree summer to the bustle and busyness of back-to-school season can be a particularly tough time. These are harrying days for all kids, but for those on the spectrum, the challenges are more intense and different in kind. Children with autism typically struggle with novelty, and a new school year can bring an overwhelming flood of novelty—new teachers and classmates, a new physical space to become acclimated to, a new schedule and routine, new demands and expectations both academically and behaviorally.

Parents Fear Health Law Overhaul Could Derail Autism Coverage

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Autism treatment advocates have won one legislative battle after another since 2007, most recently in California, which sent a bill to the governor this month mandating that insurers cover the disorder. Now more than half the states have such requirements, but that success could be in jeopardy as federal officials set new national standards for health coverage.
Insurers and employers argue that the laws increase health costs because treatment is often expensive and lasts years. But the advocates have prevailed by using federal data showing a growing number of children with the disorder, compelling stories about middle-class families struggling to afford treatment and testimony from celebrity parents of children with autism, including former pro football stars Dan Marino and Doug Flutie.
However, a provision in the 2010 health overhaul law gives the federal government authority to define “benefits” that will be offered on the health insurance exchanges, or marketplaces, to individuals and small businesses starting in 2014. If states mandate a benefit, but it isn’t on the federal list, the states would be responsible for the cost of the coverage.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ohio Group Home Forced to Close

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- The embattled and financially troubled House of Hope group home for mentally disabled adults has closed and is giving up its Ohio Department of Health group-home license.
Charlene Crissman, administrator of the group home at 115 Illinois Ave., said the home is relinquishing its license and will not reopen under the current management.
We don’t have the financial means” to reopen, Crissman said, adding that 17 employees, including herself, have been laid off because of Thursday’s closing, which follows this week’s relocation of all 42 residents.

Crowning Homecoming King with Autism

SAINT LOUIS PARK, Minn. -- The Orioles of St. Louis Park High did not fare well on the football field Friday night, losing their homecoming game to Spring Lake Park. But this week the student body scored a different kind of victory, when it was time to elect a king.
They crowned Jake Hamilton, a special needs student, as homecoming king of the high school in this Minneapolis suburb.
"I didn't want him to get his hopes up too high, but Jake was convinced he was going to get it," Jacob's mother Susan Hamilton told KARE. "And I said, 'Okay, well, whatever happens happens. That's great!"

Connecticut Girl with Down Syndrome Appears in Video to Raise Awareness

GREENWICH, Conn. -- Growing up with Down syndrome can be a heartbreaking experience for families, whose lives are sometimes marked with frustration and limitations.
That's not the face 2-year-old Nina Cevallos and her Greenwich family choose to put on it.
The smiling face of Nina, who has Down syndrome, will be one of more than 200 photographs featured in a video that will play in New York's Times Square on Saturday morning. The video, which will play on the MTV plasma screen, is part of an effort to celebrate people of all ages from around the world with the syndrome living their lives and doing the things they love.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Spreading Message of Hope to Parents

If there is one message Lisa Dosa of Thorold could share to other parents at home raising an autistic child, it's to never give up hope.
Despite the challenges that come with Dosa and her husband Angelo raising their six-year-old autistic son Jonathan, the experience has only strengthened them as individuals. And in spirit of Autism Awareness Month approaching in October, Dosa wants families where autism is present to know there is reason to always have faith.
"For us, most days are good," Dosa said. "But there are moments when things can be tougher."

From Sibling, to Doctor, to Parent

TOLEDO, Ohio -- Growing up with a younger brother who has Down syndrome inspired Dr. Eileen Quinn to become a developmental-behavioral pediatrician.
"He's just one of my favorite people, and I felt like I wanted to work with people with disabilities," Dr. Quinn said of her 48-year-old brother, Dan Quinn, who lives in the Detroit area. "It's important for them to get optimal medical care."
So Dr. Quinn was prepared when she and her husband, Dr. Peter Smythe, found out their fourth daughter was going to be born with Down syndrome. Sara's birth seven weeks early with a heart defect was unexpected, but otherwise Dr. Quinn was ready.
"I was the most perfect parent to have a child with Down syndrome, there's no question about it," said Dr. Quinn, a University of Toledo medical school faculty member who works at Mercy Children's Hospital.

Student Finds Musical Inspiration

FENTON, Michigan — On stage, Savannah Damoth is openly expressive. She smiles, talks loudly and sings with emotion.
Offstage, the 17-year-old Fenton High School junior retreats, standing alone focused intently on her fellow actors as they say their lines, dance and sing. She holds her hands and twitches her thumbs.
Savannah isn’t just shy. She also has a mild form of autism.

Organizing Brain of Individuals with ASD

Everybody's brains are different and certainly, the autistic brain connects in an unorthodox manner. Autism is not curable, but there are many language strategies the speech language pathologist can do to assist in organizing the brains of people with autism.
It is my theory that people with autism do not cross hemispheres of the brain, from left to right. This doesn't mean that people with autism don't use both hemispheres, but they can't connect the hemispheres so that they interact the way most brains do in typical developing peers. This can be seen especially in verbal children and adults with autism.

Federal Autism Funding Awaits Senate OK

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Money is tight in federal Washington these days, to say the least. But autism funding will remain at its current levels for the next three years if the Senate approves a bill that passed in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
The $693 million in the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act will fund research into the causes and treatment of autism and other developmental disabilities, said Scott Badesch, president and COO of the Autism Society in Bethesda. It will also help pay to train medical professionals to recognize and properly diagnose autism early, and teach them how to work with these children and their families, he said.

New Initiative Is a Labor of Love

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Living Resources, a private nonprofit organization that serves individuals with disabilities in Albany, welcomed two representatives from China on Thursday as a part of its new initiative to help agencies abroad implement programs modeled after its own.
Organized through the New York State Small Business Development Center, the initiative was launched late last year with a visit to China by CEO Fred Erlich.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Learning to Be More Self-Sufficient

, Wis. — Before getting help from Independent Disability Services, Lori and Steve Gates needed assistance buying personal supplies.
Now, they shop on their own.
Before, Lori needed somebody to go with her to doctor appointments.
Now, Lori goes to most appointments by herself.
Steve, 54, lost his vision when he was 8 and has cognitive disabilities. He works part-time assembling pens at the Industry for the Blind.
Lori, 52, is deaf in her right ear, wears a hearing aid in her left ear and has cerebral palsy and mild cognitive disabilities. She works part-time at McDonald's.
They've been married 12 years and are among those with developmental disabilities who would struggle living independently without drop-in support, said Valerie Mason, coordinator of the Independent Disability Services Independent Living Program.

Taking Stress Out of Medical Procedures

The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center has joined with Autism Speaks to create a resource for physicians and parents of children with autism to better prepare for blood draws and other routine medical procedures.
This new toolkit, called “Taking the Work Out of Blood Work: Helping Your Child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder A Parent’s Guide,” and the companion: “Taking the Work Out of Blood Work: Helping Your Patient with an Autism Spectrum Disorder – A Provider’s Guide,” was created to help families and health care providers make necessary medical procedures less stressful.

Advocates Protest Obama Proposed Cuts

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Hundreds of disability-rights advocates congregated on the West Lawn of the Capitol on Wednesday to protest billions of dollars in proposed cuts to Medicaid.
States are cutting Medicaid, and federal cuts on top of state cuts would be ... catastrophic,” said protester Jessica Sadowsky of Maryland.
President Obama proposed a major debt-reduction plan earlier this week designed to cut more than $3 trillion over the next decade. An estimated $580 billion would be saved through cuts to entitlement programs.

R.I. Agencies Sue to Block Rate Reduction

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — At least eight agencies that provide services to people with autism, cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities have filed a lawsuit in federal court to stop a rate change included in the current state budget.
They join other social-services advocates that are pursuing legal actions this month to block key provisions of the $7.7-billion budget that are set to take effect Oct. 1.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Actor's Film Debut as a Farm Boy with Asperger's and a Killer Fast Ball

Luke Schroder, son of Golden Globe winner and veteran actor Ricky Schroder, makes his acting debut opposite Dean Cain (Superman) in A Mile in His Shoes. The 18-year-old makes his entrance into the entertainment business with a leading role as a young farm boy with Asperger’s Syndrome and a killer fast ball. His down to earth and laid back attitude, not to mention his boyish good looks, makes him easy on the eyes and heart.’s Amanda Thambounaris spoke with Luke recently about his challenging role, family, and celebrity crush.

Agency Aids Military Children with Autism

Autism affects 1 in 70 children of military service members.
Children like 7-year-old Skye Hule. She is the light of her mom and dad's life. She was diagnosed with autism and epilepsy while her mom was already facing a huge challenge.
“At that time my husband was deployed in Afghanistan,” says Sonya Hule.
Hule had to break the news over the phone that his baby girl was totally different than when he had left.

Adults with Autism Thrive as Software Testers

Just a great story and would be amazing if other companies would see this as a model. Bravo Aspiritech!

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. -- The software testers at Aspiritech are a collection of characters. Katie Levin talks nonstop. Brian Tozzo hates driving. Jamie Specht is bothered by bright lights, vacuum cleaners and the feel of carpeting against her skin. Rider Hallenstein draws cartoons of himself as a DeLorean sports car. Rick Alexander finds it unnerving to sit near other people.
This is the unusual workforce of a U.S. startup that specializes in finding software bugs by harnessing the talents of young adults with autism.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Mother, Who Always Put Her Children First, Now Battling Breast Cancer

ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill. -- For the past 18 years, Joan Evans has put her four kids first. She’s there in the morning to watch her 12-year-old autistic son, Brett, wait for the school bus at the end of the driveway. She’s there during the day to attend school meetings for her 18-year-old triplets who all have cerebral palsy, including brothers Bradley and Grant. She’s there at night to occasionally sleep in the living room next to her third triplet, Meredith, who stays in a wheelchair.
But after being diagnosed with advanced (stage three) breast cancer this summer, Joan, of Elk Grove Village, is coming to terms with the fact that now she must put herself first
"I have a hard time asking for help, so that’s probably what’s hardest for me,” she said, her voice filled with concern. “I’m glad that somebody saw we needed it because I wasn’t going to go ask.”

N. Carolina Mental Health Agencies Merge

In order to comply with changing state Medicaid requirements, two regional mental health agencies – including the one serving Southeastern North Carolina – have announced their decision to merge, effective July 1.
The announcement is the latest step in a long application process for Wilmington-based Southeastern Center for Mental Health, Developmental Disability and Substance Abuse Services, or SEC, and the Jacksonville-based Onslow Carteret Behvaior Healthcare Services, or OCBHS. Boards for the two organizations voted to merge at a Sept. 14 meeting, but discussions about the agreement have gone on for months.
The formation of a single regional mental health-care entity is necessary due to a change in state rules that requires a population of at least 500,000 to administer mental health, developmental disability and substance abuse care.

'She Represents Everything That We Are'

ELON, N.C. — As Abbey Martin walked toward the football field at Western Alamance High School on Monday, other students called out her name in greeting.
“This is typical,” Cyndi Bryant, who teaches Martin and other special-needs students, said about the friendly exchanges. “Every single one of them knows her.”
Martin has Down syndrome and spends a lot of her time at school with other special-needs students. But those students get to mix with other students as much as possible, taking classes such as dance and physical education together.
Bryant’s statement about how well-known Martin is on campus is easy to believe, especially after what happened at Western on Friday night. Martin was crowned homecoming queen based on the results of vote of the student body.

From Internships to Work Force

MASON CITY, Iowa -- It's a light atmosphere in the Sterile Processing department at Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa.
AnnaLisa Sampson's on the job.
"Whatever's over here, I do," the bubbly 20-year-old from Mason City said Friday as she pushed a big instrument cart into a cart washer, and handwiped pre-sterilized, recyclable containers.
"I love it," she said. "It gets me busy. Something to do."

Need for Autism Teaching Competencies

States are no strangers to classroom standards. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, signed into law in 2002, the federal government required states to create teacher standards and place highly qualified teachers in every classroom.
Nearly a decade later, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers spearheaded the initiative to create common-core standards to “allow teachers to be better equipped to know exactly what they need to help students learn and establish individualized benchmarks for them.” Today, all but four states have adopted the common standards to improve math and English/language arts skills.
We like both initiatives. Setting the bar high is a good thing for all involved. We are, however, disappointed to see so few standards set for teaching competencies for those working in special education classrooms, and, more specifically, for those teaching children on the autism spectrum.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Special Ed Advocates Hope American Jobs Act Will Preserve Critical Resources

Special education advocates are pushing for the passage of the American Jobs Act that President Obama recently announced. If passed, $30 billion will be dedicated to educators throughout the U.S. and help maintain education for students with disabilities. $30 billion will save an estimated 280,000 jobs and help state and local efforts to retain, hire, and rehire staff.
With the current economic downturn, schools have been forced to do layoffs and resort to large class sizes. A national survey by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) recently showed that special education administrators felt a strain on services provided to students with disabilities. Tighter budgets, less resources, and more students make it hard for administrators and teachers to meet all the priorities of students with disabilities.

R.I. Budget Cuts Loom Over Providers

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Agencies that provide services to people with autism, cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities say that state budget cuts affecting their programs will result in layoffs and significant pay and benefit reductions to their staff, and may not even comply with federal law, if they go into effect as planned on Oct. 1.
This month, the state notified the non-government agencies that serve developmentally disabled people that their reimbursement rates will be cut by an average of about 11 percent to comply with the state budget that took effect July 1.

Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Worsen Quality of Life for People with Autism

NEW YORK -- Research supported by the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network (ATN), demonstrating that symptoms of attention deficit and hyperactivity worsen quality of life for individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), was presented Sunday at the Society for Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas. Researchers Parul Vora, M.D., developmental-behavioral pediatric fellowat Nationwide Children's and Darryn Sikora, Ph.D., Director of the Autism Program at Oregon Health Sciences University, used data exclusively from the ATN Registry to examine whether the presence of symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) might have additional impact on the adaptive functioning and quality of life of children and adolescents with ASD. After reviewing measures of attention and hyperactivity, and measures of quality of life, for over 2,000 children and adolescents with ASD, they found that over half of this group had symptoms of either attention or hyperactivity problems. More than a third had significant symptoms of both.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Couple Celebrates 25 Years Together

FREDERICK, Md. -- The bride wore white, and her groom was all smiles as she walked down the aisle Saturday, escorted by her father. The couple exchanged rings and vows of commitment, and enjoyed their first dance.
However, the couple, Jeanne Waters and Charles Wisner of Frederick, are not your average bride and groom. They both have Down syndrome, and because of their developmental disabilities are unable to marry legally.
But on Saturday, they were joined together in a commitment ceremony held at the Scott Key Center, where they met and became boyfriend and girlfriend 25 years ago. The center is a division of the Frederick County Health Department that provides jobs for people with developmental disabilities.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Autistic and Seeking a Place in Adult World

MONTCLAIR, N.J. — For weeks, Justin Canha, a high school student with autism, a love of cartoons and a gift for drawing, had rehearsed for the job interview at a local animation studio.
As planned, he arrived that morning with a portfolio of his comic strips and charcoal sketches, some of which were sold through a Chelsea gallery. Kate Stanton-Paule, the teacher who had set up the meeting, accompanied him. But his first words upon entering the office were, like most things involving Justin, not in the script.
“Hello, everybody,” he announced, loud enough to be heard behind the company president’s door. “This is going to be my new job, and you are going to be my new friends.”
As the employees exchanged nervous glances that morning in January 2010, Ms. Stanton-Paule, the coordinator of a new kind of “transition to adulthood” program for special education students at Montclair High School, wondered if they were all in over their heads.

A Wish Comes True for 4-Year-Old

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- The local hospital marks the farthest distance Nathan Peele has ever been from home.
At 4 years old, he already has spent 287 days there, getting treatment for cerebral palsy.
But on Friday, Peele boarded an airplane with his family and headed to Orlando, Fla., thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and American Airlines.
Surrounded at the ticket counter by luggage, balloons and volunteers, he smiled. He finally was going somewhere other than the hospital or doctor's offices.

Decision Nears in Nebraska Center Probe

LINCOLN, Neb. — A decision is likely next week on possible abuse charges against suspended staff at the Beatrice State Developmental Center.
Gage County Attorney Roger Harris said Friday the Nebraska State Patrol has completed its investigation into allegations that staff abused or neglected developmentally disabled residents at the center. Harris declined to reveal the patrol's findings until he announces his decision, probably by the middle of next week.

Nursing Around the Clock

Caring for a child with a chronic illness is never easy. But when you’re a nurse, it means you’re never really off the clock. Your skills, knowledge and patience are needed on the job — and even more so at home.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution talked to three nurses to find out how they cope with the challenge of caring for patients and their own child with a chronic medical issue. We learned that clinical skills are an asset. Nurses are trained to assess situations, ask questions, seek solutions and make tough decisions. But when the patient lives in your home and in your heart, love is the glue that holds it altogether.

Study Finds No Income-Autism Link

A new study found no association between how much Utah families earn and their children’s risk of being diagnosed with intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorders.
That finding, published Thursday in the journal Autism Research, contradicts earlier studies that suggested links between autism and higher income, and between intellectual disabilities and lower income.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Drum-Based Therapy

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- TreVaughn Powell, 13, tapped out three beats on his drum, making the shape of a triangle.
Dina Selleck, 13, drew a square with her drum solo.
They were among the students at Potential Development Center demonstrating the Students Motivated by The Rhythmic Arts Project, or TRAP. The project, funded by the Youngstown Foundation’s Hine Memorial Fund, is a collaborative effort between Youngstown State University’s SMARTS and the CreativeBridge Coalition.
The 55 students at Potential Development are all on the autism spectrum.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Missouri Disabilities Board's Funds Slashed

JACKSON, Mo. -- After weeks of threatening to eliminate it for a year, the Cape Girardeau County Commission on Thursday cut a tax levy in half that funds the area's board for developmental disabilities.
On a 2-1 vote, the commission opted for a tax rate of .0385 cents per $100 assessed valuation, which will bring in about $435,000 over the next 12 months. The former rate of .077, which stood for years, had generated $870,000 annually for the board.

Gallery Provides Creative Outlet and Opportunity to Develop Life Skills

LEE, Mass. -- The folks behind the Lee campus of the College Internship Program are used to keeping a low profile, for their organization as well as their students -- young adults age 18 to 26 who are diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome or other "learning differences."
With the launch this summer of a gallery and cafe at a prominent storefront on Main Street, coupled with the ongoing soft opening of a performance space in a nearby converted church, the program now is embracing a more public profile.
"For 28 years we were on little side streets, and people would see the young adults in town, and there was always mystery surrounding who they were, what they were doing," said Francine Britton, leader of the CIP’s associated foundation and director of the newly opened Good Purpose Gallery. "We’re all in a little bit of culture shock because we went from being down side streets on second and third floors of buildings to being very public."
The layout of the new enterprise reflects this attitude of openness, itself an outgrowth of CIP’s efforts to integrate its students into the community for the purpose of helping them increase their social acumen and build other life skills.

For These Professionals, Recognition Time

In honor of all the Direct Support Professionals throughout the country, we salute you!

The family-based advocacy organization known today simply as “The Arc” was founded in 1950, provides assistance and support to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. For many people with disabilities to enjoy self-directed, fulfilled lives, they depend upon the assistance of others, referred to as Direct Support Professionals. (DSP)
One of the things that has always fascinated me is that a skilled DSP is expected to be a teacher, a nurse, a dietician, a social director and a therapist all rolled into one –for the bargain rate of $7.50 an hour.

Autism and Health

"Hello, this is Matthew calling," said the phone message "I want to talk to my mother about something. Tell my mother to call me back."
Matthew is 25 and lives in a supported living program with Camphill Communities California near Santa Cruz, California, less than a two hour drive from our home in Lafayette.
When I called Matthew, he sounded quiet--maybe a little homesick. He talked about Roy Orbison and David Lee Roth, and about the weather in Germany.
"Didn't you want to talk to me about something?" I asked.
"My stomach is a problem," he replied, "and I don't want to talk about it any more." After probing a little, I learned that Matthew had been in pain for a week with what turned out to be a flareup of colitis, a condition he has had since childhood. My mind raced.

Mother's Love Is Restaurant's Foundation

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio -- It may look and sound like your regular restaurant, but this one is not your average.
McKenzye's Eatery and Bakery is new to Bowling Green, but for owner Karen Huffman it's a vision she's finally getting to fulfill for her Autistic son.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Technology Helps Track Kids Who Wander

The successful search for a missing autistic boy in Southern California who was found safe and sound this week is a happy but humbling end to a common tale.
Eight-year-old Joshua Robb, who went missing from Twin Peaks elementary school Monday morning, weathered a night of lightning and heavy rain in the woods near the San Bernardino Mountains before he was found Tuesday afternoon. Joshua fled to the forest after squeezing between the bars of a metal playground fence. And it wasn't the first time.
"If it happens once, it will happen again unless you do something about it," said Dr. Max Wiznitzer, a neurologist specializing in autism at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, of the tendency for kids with autism to bolt or "elope."

Bachmann Criticized for Use of 'R Word'

Presidential candidate Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) is catching flak from the disabilities community for using the word "retardation" just after upsetting medical experts with her comments about a childhood vaccine in Monday's debate.
In a follow-up interview Tuesday on TODAY, she told Matt Lauer that a mother came up to her in tears following the debate and told Bachmann that her daughter suffered from "mental retardation" after getting the HPV vaccine.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Working Overtime to Open New School

HALETHORPE, Md. -- When the Norbel School for special needs students closed in June, it left school admissions director Frank Pugliese, like the school's the teachers and staff, unemployed.
But Pugliese, who had been at the school for 15 years, didn't stop working.
In fact, the Catonsville resident said he spent more time working during the ensuing eight weeks to start a new school with several of his colleagues than he ever had in his 18-year teaching career.
The result of all that overtime opened its doors Aug. 29 on Maple Avenue in Halethorpe, the site of the Ascension School that was closed by the Archdiocese of Baltimore last spring.Like Norbel School, the new Compass Academy teaches children with learning differences, such as Attention Deficit Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, autism and Asperger's.

Legislators See Better Future for Nonprofits

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The worst may be over for local health and human service agencies after years of budget cutting and rising demand, with state lawmakers telling nonprofit leaders Tuesday to expect a much better budget picture in 2012.
That came as a relief to the 135 nonprofit leaders gathered for the Community Alliance of Sarasota County's first legislative breakfast. But some urged lawmakers to go further and accept federal funding that has been tied up in political fighting.

A Ministry of Love and Joy

ST. CHARLES, Mo. -- The Rev. Joan Jones is chaplain at Emmaus Homes in St. Charles. She began March 1, 1998, having moved from the east coast and parish ministry in churches in New York and Pennsylvania. “I was geared for the parish,” Jones said. “This was all new.”
Emmaus Homes
is a place of the spirit. Its stated mission is, in part, “to enhance the quality of life for adults of all beliefs who have cognitive, intellectual and other developmental disabilities.”

Fitness Program Helps Child with Autism

FARGO, ND -- Imagine being that parent: Getting stern looks and a shake of the head while in church, the supermarket, the move theatre. It is something children with autism and their families deal with daily, but one boy from Fargo who lives with autism, has found an outlet, and a hero.
Nate Hendrickson – TNT Instructor: “Ready?? Here it comes.”
At least twice a week 7 year-old Tate Johnson turns his early morning, into a learning and life changing day.
Nate: “Tater, nice work. You did it again.”
Here at TNT Gymnastics, Nate Hendrickson has become Tate's life leader and teacher.

Michigan's Special Educators Slow to Adopt Autism Strategies

DETROIT -- Many Michigan educators need to do a better job teaching children with autism, according to a study being presented today to the state board of education.
The Michigan State University study is the first of its kind to examine the extent to which the state's public school instructors know and use effective practices to educate students with autism.
The study of 194 Michigan educators found that many teachers have little to no experience working with autistic children. More than 40 percent are not applying the most effective teaching methods, according to researchers.

Researchers Find Mouse Mirroring Autism

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The first transgenic mouse model of a rare and severe type of autism is expected to improve understanding of the disorder and help researchers design more targeted treatments.

The mouse exhibits not only the repetitive physical behaviors, altered social behaviors, and impaired communication abilities associated with Timothy Syndrome (TS), a severe and rare form of autism, but also mirrors behaviors linked to autism spectrum disorder in general, a surprising and encouraging findings, researchers say.

“This animal and the syndrome that it is associated with provides one of the best chances to understand the underlying mechanisms of autism,” because the link between the two is very strong, says Randall Rasmusson, professor of physiology and biophysics at the University at Buffalo.

Opinion: Illinois Cuts Make No Sense

ROCKFORD, Ill. -- Illinois doesn’t spend enough money to help people with developmental disabilities, so Gov. Pat Quinn’s plan to spend even less makes no sense.
Last week Quinn announced plans to close seven state facilities — including Singer Mental Health Center in Rockford and Jack Mabley Development Center in Dixon — because he says there’s not enough money in the budget to keep them open. The move is expected to save $54.8 million.
State institutions are not the only entities to take a hit. Illinois has cut spending for community-based programs by $4 billion during the last 10 years — $76.3 million in the 2012 budget alone.
There’s no place for developmentally disabled people to go if they can’t access community programs, can’t live in institutions and can’t be taken care of by their relatives.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Closed Gulfport School Gets New Life

GULFPORT, Miss. -- When the doors closed at a historic Gulfport school, a window of opportunity opened. Back in May, the teachers, parents, and alumni from St. John Catholic Elementary said their painful goodbyes to a school that had been educating children for than a century. The Catholic Diocese of Biloxi closed the school because of a drop in attendance. Now St. John is again a place of learning.

Athlete with Autism Boots Obstacles

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama -- Joel Sheppard steps off his paces. First back, then to the side. Set, he sprints toward the football.
He doesn’t so much kick the ball as to attack it as he goes through workouts following a freshman practice at Huntsville High.
His whole goal in life is to kick a football as far as he can,’’ said David Sheppard, Joel’s father and a former running back for Grissom in the late 1970s and early ’80s.
Yeah, Sheppard has a jock’s goal. That might not seem like much of an ultimate achievement, if it weren’t for the fact that Sheppard is autistic.

A Home Just for Adults with Autism

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — Life is an onslaught of situations to control, Ed Gray knows, for a parent of a child with special needs.
Raising his son, Cody, required grappling with public schools to accommodate the boy's autism. Ed and his wife, Kathy, tailored activities to suit Cody's need for routine, and they didn't dare leave him without a sitter even in his teenage years.
"For years, we didn't go to movies or dinner," the Coeur d'Alene father remembered. "It was such a struggle."
So as Cody approached adulthood, a significant question loomed: What now?

Brewers Team Up with Miracle League

Milwaukee Brewers fans have had a lot to smile about this season as the team sits on the cusp of a playoff berth. Something the Brew Crew is doing on another baseball diamond is spreading joy to some very special baseball fans.

An effort between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Miracle League of Milwaukee has a few families excited. It's a multi-million dollar project that aims to give children with physical and developmental disabilities the chance to play the game they love.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Awaiting 'Tsunami' of Adults with Autism

SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. -- The Centers for Disease Control estimates that in the United States 730,000 individuals under the age of 21 have Autism Spectrum Disorder.
In just a few years, this wave of autistic children will be reaching adulthood.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Report Finds Disparities After High School

Six years after high school, students with disabilities are less likely to have gone on to postsecondary schools than their classmates without disabilities and less likely to be financially independent, but a little more likely to have children, according to a new report from the National Center for Special Education Research.
The report
found that 55 percent of young people with disabilities reported having continued on to postsecondary school since leaving high school, compared with 62 percent of their peers in the general population.
These and other conclusions were based on 10-year-long study of the characteristics, experiences, and outcomes of a nationally representative sample of youth with disabilities. The National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 focuses on students who were 13 to 16 years old and receiving special education services in grade 7 or above on Dec. 1, 2000.

The Rewards of Physical Therapy

Erin Leach remembers sitting in her advanced biology class during her senior year at Jefferson Township High School in Oak Ridge. "My classmates were bored," she recalls, "but all I could think about was how fascinating all this information was. I thought, ‘Wow, this is what your body is made of, and this is what makes it move." That interest led her to pursue a career in physical therapy, earning both master’s and doctor of physical therapy degrees from the University of Scranton. The Sparta resident, who grew up in Lake Hopatcong, worked in sports medicine and then tried a nursing home setting before moving on to work with children with developmental disabilities – first at Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey’s Horizon High School in Livingston and, since November 2008, at the Matheny Medical and Educational Center, a special hospital and educational facility here for children and adults with medically complex developmental disabilities.
"I’ve ended up enjoying Matheny more than anything else I’ve ever done," Leach says. "In a nursing home, you can improve somebody’s function pretty significantly, but here, with the kids, there is just so much more energy. I started to realize that what I do can really help them forever. With this population, even though the change doesn’t happen quickly, I always know I’m doing something with them they wouldn’t otherwise get the opportunity to do – like sitting up or standing up by themselves. I’ve learned to shift my focus and think more long-term. I can look back and say, ‘Wow, they’re doing this much better’ – even if it may just be the smallest little thing."

Illinois Braces for Closings and Layoffs

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Governor Pat Quinn said Thursday nearly 2,000 Illinois employees are losing their jobs. He's closing seven state facilities in mental health, developmental disabilities and corrections. Quinn is blaming lawmakers for cutting the budget more than $2 billion short.
"They've lined it out for each and every department and clearly it's insufficient in several major departments in our state in order to maintain existing facilities and existing personnel. So we have to take the action that we're taking today," said Governor Pat Quinn, D-IL.
The Jack Mabley Developmental Center in Dixon, IL is on the list. That means 163 employees will lose their jobs.
Families with a relative at the Mabley Center will be forced to find them new care. State advocates for people with disabilities said change will be difficult for the 91 adult residents living there and their care takers. But they said it's part of a nation–wide trend to move them away from state institutions.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Judge: Medicaid Patients Can Sue Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Medicaid-eligible patients with developmental disabilities may sue Florida for limiting their enrollment in the state's home and community-based care waiver program and putting them on a wait list, sometimes for years, a federal judge ruled in Tallahassee.
Home and community-based care has become a preferred alternative to long-term institutional care. Florida's Medicaid-funded waiver program allows developmentally disabled people to receive state services for less than the cost of institutional care, reintegrating patients with their communities and families.
The plaintiffs, on behalf of thousands of developmentally disabled Floridians eligible for Medicaid, accused Florida of mismanaging its Home and Community Based Services Waiver Program.

Autism, One Parent to Another

From Lisa Belkin's Motherlode blog at The New York Times.

Among the subjects I wrote about yesterday was a book, Following Ezra: What One Father Learned About Gumby, Otters, Autism, and Love from His Extraordinary Son. It is, as the title indicates, the story of one parent’s journey — and it brought a question in the comments from Mir Kamin, who also has a child with autism, and who wrote:
I’m reading “Following Ezra” right now, and I would love to see you do a follow-up with Tom Fields-Meyer (or maybe he’ll write something to share here?). Granted, I’m not done with it yet, but as much as I’m enjoying his book, I’m still bristling over the whole assertion that he never needed to mourn. If that’s really true — and if I get to the end of the book and he’s still never for one moment had a bit of grief over the cognitive dissonance between what he expected and what he got — then he’s a lot more self-actualized than I am, and I tip my hat to him. But as a fellow autism parent, I can’t help feeling that a piece of this story was brushed aside because it didn’t fit the feel-good theme.
I thought that was an excellent idea. So did Tom Fields-Meyer. I sent him the question, and here’s his reply:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Autism in African American Community

Six years ago Camille Proctor got a surprise. She was pregnant with her second child. At the time, her oldest was almost 20 and the rigors of mothering an infant were pleasant but distant memories. Still, she gave birth to a baby boy nine months later, and a little more than a year after that, Proctor noticed something else surprising about her son. She said she saw, “little nuisances that kind of told me that something may not be right.”
Proctor’s suspicions were confirmed when a developmental pediatrician diagnosed her son, Ari Joseph, as autistic. Proctor immediately went to work. She had worked successfully as a marketing professional in Michigan and then in Atlanta, GA., where she currently lives, but found a new calling as an autism advocate.

Study Identifies Two Types of Brain Development in Autism

A new study has discovered there are different biological types of autism, with genetics, the immune system and the environment all thought to be factors in causing the varied forms.
A study of 350 children in the US found two biologically different types of brain development in autism and concluded that there are likely to be more.

Mother's Care Sparks Business

CHICAGO --As an occupational therapist, Aviva Weiss often spotted shortcomings in toys aimed at special-needs kids. It wasn't until her own daughter was slow to develop that she did something about it, eventually building a thriving business.
"There's no reason why parents shouldn't have products that don't just help kids, but feel good, look good and are affordable," said Weiss, the 31-year-old founder of Fun and Function (, which sells everything from clothing to gym equipment and games for kids with developmental disabilities such as autism.

Research Shows Value of Family Pets

New research suggests pets can help people with a wide variety of issues, including kids with autism and ADD. The CDC reports 1 in 110 children have some form of autism. One obstacle many people with the disorder face is difficulty making emotional connections, but when animals are introduced something seems to click. Dogs have been trained fo

Ready and Willing to Work

WAHIAWA, Hawaii -- You can see from his face that Miles Hashimoto loves working, whether it's assembling mobile-phone kits or shredding documents.
Both jobs are at Goodwill Industries, and Hashimoto is no ordinary worker. Like an estimated 1.8 percent of Hawaii's population – about 24,500 people – Hashimoto was born with a developmental disability.