Monthly Archives: November 2008
By Carin Yavorcik, from ASA News
President-elect Barack Obama has tapped two experts to conduct an audit of current disability policy, both of whom worked on the campaign. Examining the National Council on Disability/Access Board Review will be:
Kareem Dale, managing partner of The Dale Law Group and adjunct professor at Northwestern University School of Law. Prior to founding The Dale Law Group, Dale spent eight years in the litigation department of a major law firm, where his practice focused on products liability, personal injury, mass tort litigation, contract disputes and other general commercial litigation.
Marilyn Golden, policy analyst at the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), who has been closely involved with the Americans With Disabilities Act throughout all the stages of its proposal and passage. As an ADA trainer, she has directed and led numerous in-depth programs on the ADA, which have given thousands of people comprehensive knowledge on how to make this law a reality. She is the principal author of the DREDF publication The ADA, an Implementation Guide (the “Bluebook”).
A first-time diagnosis of autism in a child can be an overwhelming and stressful time for parents and families. My Next Steps: A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Autism DVD serves as a roadmap for parents dealing with this challenging period and seeks to provide answers to the many questions that arise during the journey from autism diagnosis to treatment.
The DVD was developed by Raphael Bernier, Ph.D.; Jamie Winter, Ph.D.; and Jennifer Varley, M.S., at the University of Washington Autism Center and contains over 2.5 hours of content. Through interviews with experts and treatment providers, “My Next Steps” familiarizes parents with topics that are crucial in providing the best support for their child. Further insight is provided through the wisdom and validation of parents who have children with autism. The DVD is divided into two parts: Part 1: “What is Autism?” and Part 2: “What Can I Do?”
“My Next Steps” is available to families receiving a diagnosis of autism, and more information, including the freely downloadable film chapters, can be found at the Washington Autism Center Web site. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to order your free DVD.
HOUSTON, Texas: Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston have embarked on one of the first double-blind, clinical studies to determine whether gluten and dairy products play a role in autistic behaviour, as parents have anecdotally claimed.
The pilot study is one of seven current studies on autism in the Department of Paediatrics and the Department of Psychiatry and BehavioUral Sciences at The University of Texas Medical School. “There’s a lot of misinformation, so that’s why this study is so important,” said Dr Fernando Navarro, assistant professor of paediatrics at the medical school and lead investigator of the study. “Hundreds and hundreds of parents think this works but we need serious evidence.”
By Tara Parker-Pope
A legal battle in New York City highlights the healing power of dogs for children with autism and Asperger’s syndrome. Manhattan federal prosecutors have accused the owners of an Upper East Side residence of discriminating against 11-year-old Aaron Schein by preventing him from having a dog, The New York Daily News reports. Aaron has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, often considered a high-functioning form of autism, and his doctors believe a service dog will relieve anxiety and help him cope with the disorder. People with Asperger’s usually have average or above-average intelligence, but they lack the intuitive ability to read social cues and find it difficult to make friends and form relationships.
According to the newspaper, a lawsuit claims the building owners violated the Fair Housing Act by imposing unreasonable demands on Aaron’s parents before allowing a dog. “It is not right or legal for landlords to dictate the unreasonable terms and conditions by which persons with disabilities should live their lives,” said Kim Kendrick, an assistant secretary for the federal Housing and Urban Development Department, to the newspaper. After Aaron’s parents asked the co-op board to make an exception to the building’s strict no-pets rule, the building placed stringent conditions on the family. Among the restrictions reportedly imposed by the building: the dog couldn’t be left alone for more than two hours, it would have to be taken in and out of the building on a service elevator, monitoring of dog walkers who might take it for a stroll, and $1 million in liability insurance for any injury or property damage caused by the dog. A company-hired doctor reportedly agreed the dog was medically necessary. The family is asking a judge to allow them to bring the dog home and award monetary damages because Aaron was discriminated against under the Americans With Disabilities Act, The Daily News reports.
To learn more about the role dogs can play in helping children with autism and Asperger’s, go to the Web sites of 4 Paws for Ability and Autism Service Dogs of America. This YouTube video highlights the story of one family who opted for a service dog for their child with autism.
The Scotchplains Library in New Jersey added this video to help employees serve individuals with autism. The video is long but a great resource for those unfamiliar with how to interact with people with autism. The video focuses on what you need to know about ASD and offers specific techniques for interacting with this growing population.
Members of the New Jersey Center for Outreach and Services for the Autism Community (COSAC) were present in Trenton as Gov. Jon Corzine signed a bill requiring the Department of Health and Senior Services and the Department of Human Services to develop an autism, intellectual and developmental disability course and curriculum for first responders, including emergency medical technicians, police officers and firefighters.
A review of: S. Ozonoff, S. Macari, G. S. Young, S. Goldring, M. Thompson, S. J. Rogers (2008). Atypical object exploration at 12 months of age is associated with autism in a prospective sample Autism, 12 (5), 457-472 DOI: 10.1177/1362361308096402
A number of research programs are currently examining very early signs of autism. Researchers believe that if they are able to identify behaviors or symptoms that reliably predict the development of autism, these kids could receive early intervention and we may be able to better understand how autism emerges during key developmental periods. I have reviewed some of these studies (see for example this review of a study of infancy motor asymmetry and autism). The current study comes to us from the MIND institute at the University of California at Davis. The researchers wanted to examine atypical use of objects during infancy (12 month of age) and explore whether object use during this time predicted the development of autism 1 to 2 years later.
By Jeremy Singer-Vine
from The Wall Street Journal, October 27, 2008
With the number of autistic children growing, researchers are targeting new technologies to help detect the disorder at ever-younger ages in hopes of reversing some of autism’s worst symptoms. Most autistic children currently aren’t diagnosed until they are about 4 years old, using conventional detection methods of observing behavior. Although specialists are able to identify the condition starting at about 30 months, most parents don’t seek evaluations that early because they don’t notice anything unusual about their children, or don’t know what symptoms to look for. Now, scientists are using new techniques to study children as young as a few months old for signs of possible autism and to flag them for more extensive analysis.
Researchers have found a gene called CNTNAP2 that is linked to specific language impairment (SLI). Because the genetic region coincides with one associated with language delays in children with autism, the researchers said the findings could represent a crucial genetic link between the two disorders. Developmental speech and language disorders are highly heritable and this study yields new insights into the causes of such impairments, and eventually, researchers hope, improved diagnosis and treatment.