Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Autism Speaks and BBDO Take Different Approach to Autism Awareness

As Autism Awareness Month comes to a close, BBDO New York has unveiled an interesting, ambitious project in which it got three clients—Band-Aid, Campbell's Soup and AT&T—to produce 15-second product ads that subtly combine into one PSA about the importance of early diagnosis.

The series, which aired Monday morning during CNN's New Day, opens with a 15-second spot for Autism Speaks—showing a family with their son at the doctor and then at home. "Learn the early signs of autism today. Because an early diagnosis can make a lifetime of difference," says a voiceover.

Study Links Autism and Gastro Issues

What many parents of children with autism have long suspected -- that autism and gastrointestinal complaints often go together -- is now supported by a new study.
The study, a review of medical research, found that children with autism are more than four times as likely as their typically developing peers to have digestive difficulties such as abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Busting Autism's Myths with a Camera

From across the pond.
Since her young son was diagnosed as autistic, Sara Dunn has been attempting to help "challenge the myths surrounding autism" with a camera.
The photographer has been documenting her experiences with her son and other families affected by autism through photography.Ms Dunn, 27, from Chester, stays with families for 48 hours to take images and wants to stage a public exhibition of her work, Admiring Autism.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Amid Parents' Fear Bullying, an Effort to Toughen Up Children with Autism

Ellen Murray cheats at games. She swindles, hoodwinks and tricks the kids she is playing with. And then she has to explain to them what just happened.“They will always let me take their turn, again and again,” said Murray. “And we have to teach them to stand up for themselves.”Murray is a clinical manager at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders in Alexandria. She works with children who have been diagnosed with autism, and the number one concern that parents want her to address is that their vulnerable, trusting children will be taken advantage of.

FDA Considers Banning Shock Devices to Modify Behavior

The Food and Drug Administration is considering banning devices used to administer electric shocks to children and adults with developmental disabilities in an effort to modify their behavior.In a 126-page report issued this week, the federal agency said it is currently reviewing what are known as electrical stimulation devices and could move to bar their continued use.

NY City Council Seeks Medical Registry

The City Council is pushing for the creation of a medical registry for people with developmental disabilities along with access to GPS tracking devices in the wake of 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo’s death.
The package of legislation, spearheaded by Council members Ruben Wills (D-Queens) and Vanessa Gibson (D-Bronx) calls for a new voluntary database controlled by the NYPD so that parents can register children with disabilities at their local precincts.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Benefits of Hiring Workers with Autism

The Israeli Defense Force’s Satellite Intelligence Unit 9900 assigns autistic soldiers to monitor electronic combat maps for even the minutest changes. Their rare ability to focus for hours on end provides better results than non-autistic soldiers.Software powerhouse SAP is actively searching for people with autism for jobs that require high attention to detail such as software testing. It hopes to have people with autism make up one percent of their workforce by 2020.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Web-Based ABA Trainings Could Help Parents in Rural Areas, Study Finds

Using web-based technology to teach parents the strategies of applied behavior analysis could offer big gains for kids with autism, new research suggests.In a small study of rural parents who participated in a series of online tutorials and videoconferencing sessions, researchers found that they could help moms and dads substantially increase their knowledge of ABA and apply the techniques without forcing the families to make long drives to a clinic.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Parents Fear the Future

 — Rafael Angevine can spend hours taking pictures.
 “I just do it for myself," he said. "I don’t try to set up a scene or anything. I just take pictures.”
Rafael was diagnosed with autism when he was 26. His mother, Noelie, says his father encouraged their son to pursue his passion for photography.

Car Wash Provides Opportunity to Work

At the Rising Tide Car Wash in Parkland, Fla., most of the employees have one thing in common: they've been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.As young adults they began to age out of the school system, with employment options in short supply. That’s why John D’Eri co-founded Rising Tide Car Wash: to give his son, and others on the autism spectrum, a place to earn a paycheck -- and build a community.

Monday, April 21, 2014

NIH Seeks Input on DSM Autism Update

Nearly a year after new diagnostic criteria for autism took effect, the National Institutes of Health is asking everyone from families to health experts to weigh in on the changes.The NIH has issued a request for information urging stakeholders to speak up about implications they are seeing stemming from the revised Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Maryland Case Highlights Struggle for Friendship Amid Abuse

Such a disturbing story that it can't be ignored.
He grew frightened when his schoolmate put the knife to his throat, while his 15-year-old girlfriend shot video with her cellphone.“I thought she was going to cut me. I was like, ‘Please stop,’ ” said the 16-year-old autistic boy, whose alleged abuse by two girls from his Southern Maryland high school made headlines around the world. The case triggered outrage in the teens’ rural community and consternation among advocates for children with disabilities.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Judge Dismisses Couple's Lawsuit

A federal judge has thrown out the lawsuit of an intellectually disabled couple against two Long Island group homes that refused to let them live together as man and wife at their facilities.

Eastern District Judge Leonard Wexler rejected a claim that the Independent Group Home Living Program in Manorville and Maryhaven Center of Hope, Inc., based in Port Jefferson Station, had not made reasonable accommodations for Paul Forziano and Hava Samuels.
In Forziano v. Independent Group Home Living, 13-cv-00370, Wexler, sitting in Central Islip, wrote that the couple and their parents failed to establish disability-based discrimination claims, observing they "all arise out of defendants' purported refusal to accommodate the couple's desire to cohabitate as a married couple in either Independent Group Home Living or Maryhaven. Such alleged discrimination is based not on the couple's disabilities, but rather on their status as a married couple."

Friday, April 18, 2014

Home Videos to Help Detect Autism

While scientists are still trying to unravel the complex genetic and environmental causes of autism, one thing is clear: Getting a diagnosis can often be a lengthy and frustrating process. But simple home videos could make diagnosing autism easier, resulting in earlier treatment, new research suggests.
Researchers at Stanford University and Harvard University wanted to determine whether a common autism clinical evaluation tool could be used looking at home videos of children, explains senior author Dennis Wall, Ph.D, associate professor of pediatrics in systems medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Best States for Disability Services Ranked

An annual ranking of states offering the best services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities reveals a familiar but evolving landscape.The analysis of disability services in all 50 states and the District of Columbia being released Thursday by United Cerebral Palsy finds top performers spanning the map. In previous years, the best services were largely clustered in the Northeast and West.Arizona claimed the number one slot in the ranking for the third year in a row. Also rounding out the 10 best on this year’s list are Michigan, Hawaii, Georgia, New York, South Carolina, Maine, Massachusetts, Ohio and Missouri.

Friday, April 11, 2014

At What Age Is Accurate Autism Diagnosis Possible?

Rates of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are not creeping up so much as leaping up. New numbers just released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that one in 68 children now has a diagnosis of ASD—a 30 percent increase in just two years. In 2002, about one in 150 children was considered autistic and in 1991 the figure was one in 500.
A clinician observes a child with his
mother at the Marcus Autism Center.
The staggering increase in cases of ASD should raise more suspicion in the medical community about its misdiagnosis and overdiagnosis than it does. Promoting early screening for autism is imperative. But, is it possible that the younger in age a child is when professionals screen for ASD—especially its milder cases—the greater the risk that a slow-to-mature child will be misperceived as autistic, thus driving the numbers up?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Opinion: Seeking Better Explanation for the Surge in Autism

The latest numbers from the Center for Disease Control showing a steep rise in the number of children with autism are so off the charts that it’s hard not to come to one of two conclusions: There’s something wrong in the way that we measure the data or there’s something extraordinary going on. 1 in 68 American children now has autism, up from 1 in 88 children just two years ago, an increase of 30 percent. A decade ago, one in 166 children were diagnosed as having autism. In 1975, it was 1 in 5000. Plot this as a graph using CDC data and you get a hockey stick curve showing exponential growth in autism over just the past decade.If you accept the first conclusion – that we’re simply not measuring autism correctly – there’s actually a fair amount of evidence to suggest that as much as 53 percent of the variation in data can be explained away by factors such as better diagnosis, better detection and better awareness. And it’s true that the very definition of “autism” continues to change to include a much wider description of symptoms along a spectrum, so it’s only natural to expect an increase in the number of cases if we’re making it easier to define people as having autism. There’s even a growing consensus in the scientific community that the current numbers are “no cause for alarm” and may actually underestimate the incidence of autism in the population, due to problems in collecting information in more rural areas and among some demographic groups. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The True Impact of DOJ-R.I. Settlement

PROVIDENCE, R.I.  — After a federal investigation found disabled Rhode Islanders were working long hours for criminally low wages, a new settlement aims to get better jobs for those individuals.The Target 12 Investigators unveiled last year that the Birch Vocational School and a sheltered workshop called Training Thru Placement, or TTP, was being investigated for violating the rights of those with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

A Lesson in Autism

Last year, the Beckers celebrated Autism Awareness Month by decorating their home in blue lights.
They have known since he was in preschool that their son Sam has autism spectrum disorder.
“I’m like Dopey,” Sam’s mother, Molly Becker, said, remembering what her son once said while watching Snow White. “I’m happy and I’m quiet and I’m different.”
But it wasn’t until last year that Sam acknowledged and accepted his disorder.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Focus on Health Care Needs Lacking

"You can't compete if your feet hurt, if your teeth hurt or if your ears ache."This quote from a Special Olympics athlete correctly sums up the motivation behind the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Program.

Autism Training for Florida Firemen

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — With the number of people identified as having autism growing, a Fire District firefighter is training others in his agency in recognizing and interacting better with those with the developmental disability.Firefighter/paramedic Pete Villasuso, 39, whose son was diagnosed in 2012, said that he, another firefighter who has a child with autism and two other fire district members attended training in Fort Lauderdale in February and are educating co-workers. They'll be the first countywide fire rescue agency on the Treasure Coast with such specialized training.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Editorial: Intensify Efforts to Combat Autism

The rate for childhood autism in the U.S. has risen to a stunning one in 68, according to statistics released last week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In New Jersey the rate is even higher — one in 45. And the rate is four times higher among boys than girls.
What’s going on here? Why has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) become a worldwide pandemic? Why is the incidence growing? In 1980, only three out of 10,000 children were diagnosed with the condition. While heightened awareness and earlier diagnosis may account for some of the rise in autism cases, experts agree that is only a part of the reason.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Couple Fights Attempt to Move Daughter

WOODBRIDGE, N.J. — Frances and Thomas Kauffman can’t understand why there seems to be a rush to relocate their daughter, Theresa, from the Woodbridge Developmental Center.
Theresa has lived there for 32 years, and the facility isn’t scheduled to close until the end the year. But the state says it’s ready to move her to the Vineland Developmental Center.
The Middlesex County couple have taken their fight to court. An application for permission to file a motion for appeal on an emergency basis was granted Wednesday, and papers by the couple and state must be filed by the end of the week.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Finding Jobs for Adults with Autism

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week that one in every 68 U.S. children has autism. Paul Wehman, a teacher and researcher at Virginia Commonwealth University, argues that we must begin to plan for their futures as adults.
Sean was born at Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond, Va., and spent many weeks of his young life in the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit. Today, 20 years later, he is a handsome young man with a brilliant smile, and he is back in the same pediatric intensive care unit. Now, however, he is serving a 10-week internship stocking nursing stations, sanitizing supplies and verifying patient information on charts.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Finding Services for Adults with Autism

An incredible amount of progress has been made in raising awareness for children with autism — but once these children grow up, it’s a whole other story.
According to parents, after high school graduation, options become scarce. While there are programs out there that help individuals lead productive and rewarding lives, there are too few available to meet the population’s need.

Making Sense of Diagnostic Tools

As anyone who has struggled to get clear answers for their child knows, there is no single medical test to detect autism. And because autism spectrum disorders are so complex and varied, they often require a team of physicians or psychiatrists to diagnose them -- a process that can extend months or years after a parent first spots red flags.Since 2007, the American Academy of Pediatrics has called for all children to be screened for autism at 18 and 24 months, using tools such as the Modified Checklist of Autism in Toddlers, or "M-CHAT" -- a simple questionnaire that asks parents about their children's playtime behavior, responses to social cues and motor skills. The test has been studied for well over a decade and has been shown to be very effective in signaling which children should have further observation and evaluation.But, as the Academy itself states outright, none of the screening tools currently available are perfect, and newer tools are under development so that children can be diagnosed more efficiently, and with greater accuracy. 

Nets' Williams Plans Autism-Friendly Game

NEW YORK  — D.J. Williams' biggest issue with NBA games is he'd rather be playing with dad than watching him.
"He wants me the whole game, so he just wants to get out on the court," said his father, Brooklyn Nets guard Deron Williams.For many more autistic children, there are other challenges at the arena.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Editorial: Troubling Statistics in NJ as Autism Awareness Month Begins

As Autism Awareness Month begins today, new information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention definitively show the issue merits much more attention. The rate has more than doubled since a 2002 CDC survey.
As Kathleen O’Brien reported last week in The Star-Ledger, one in 68 children is
now diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder nationally — with boys nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism.