What In The World Is Going On In Autism

All the blog posts based on Maureen Bennie’s monthly blog for the Autism Calgary Association. News, research, events relating to autism and ASD

What in the World Is Going On, November 2012 Edition

Temple Grandin, the most famous person in the world with autism, recently had a brain scan done. She has exceptional nonverbal intelligence and spatial memory. Temple’s brain had a host of structural and functional differences compared with the brains of the control group in this comparison study.

Temple was 63 at the time of the brain scan. Her brain volume was found to be significantly larger than that of three neurotypical controls matched on age, sex and handedness. Some children with autism have abnormally large brains, though researchers are still working out how head and brain size changes across development. It was interesting to find that many of Temple’s strengths like memory and visual perception correlate with her brain differences.

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What in the World is Going On October 2012 Edition

Confused about interventions for autism, what options are out there, and how effective they are? Autism Research reviews a different treatment, therapy or intervention each month. September’s review was on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. The review is offered in a basic, intermediate and advanced version. They are also open to suggestions for what to review in the upcoming months. The latest autism research is also posted on this site.

Issues around schooling have been at the forefront for parents with the start of new school year. Time featured a great article on why kids with autism are a target for school bullies. A new study revealed that 46% of autistic children in middle and high school told their parents they were victimized at school within the previous year, compared with just over 10% of children in the general population. What makes them easy targets is they have trouble recognizing social cues, which makes them awkward around others. They also often engage in repetitive behaviors and tend to be hypersensitive to environmental stimuli, all of which makes children with the disorder ripe targets for bullies who zero in on differences and enjoy aggravating their victims.

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What in the World Is Going On, September 2012 Edition

The start of a new school year is on most people’s minds these days. Everyone wants to start the year off right. Teachers may find the School Community Toolkit a helpful resource to learn more about autism, inclusion, educating classmates, the rights of students with autism, instructional methods in teaching students, assistive technologies, therapies used, and ideas for a team approach. There is also an All About Me form for parents and caregivers to use about introducing their child to school staff. Another great All About Me form to be used for school or community activities can be found here.

There was a great UK blog post this past month from Carole Rutherford on classroom sensory scripts. This covers physical aspects of the classroom, a new teacher, unfamiliar fixtures and fittings in the new classroom, and much more. “Going into a new classroom with a new teacher can be difficult for every child. But when you add all of the sensory scripting that a child with autism has to add to the things they are expected to learn each day, it is not surprising that many of our children suffer from anxiety and stress on a daily basis, day in and day out.”

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What in the World Is Going On August 2012 Edition

Kids Cooperate out of Connecticut, US has developed a new way of using innovative technology to build social skills for teens with ASD. e-Hangouts brings teens together in safe, facilitated friendship circles to socialize and support each other. Using Google’s secure video conferencing technology, groups of 9 peers and a facilitator meet for 30 minute sessions to check in, play games, and hangout in a way that builds confidence, develops social skills, and scaffolds the development of real friendship.

Groups are available to teenagers ages 13-15, 16-18, and 18 and over. Members are placed according to their developmental needs and interests. e-Hangouts are best suited to those with high functioning autism, Asperger Syndrome, ADHD or are shy. Teens learn how to sustain relationships, build resiliency, read social cues and much more!

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What in the World is Going On – July 2012 Edition

Wandering can be a potentially dangerous behavior for those with ASD. Dennis Debbault, host of the Autism Risk Management website, has provided 8 helpful tips to keep your wanderer safe.

The UK’s Daily Mail newspaper recently ran an excellent article about undiagnosed husbands with Asperger Syndrome. Martial arts teacher Sandra Beale-Ellis was doing some Asperger Syndrome research for one of her recently diagnosed students. When she began reading, she realized her husband Joe fit the diagnosis. Joe, who is the founder of Kent Karate Schools, owns hundreds of salt shakers he has been collecting since he was ten, which sit in neat rows in their house. He is also obsessed with castles and runs an online tearoom review site.

After two years of persuasion by Sandra, Joe saw a psychologist and after a three-hour interview, he was diagnosed with mild Asperger’s. This late diagnosis points to a bigger issue – there is a lack of understanding among GPs in spotting autism, meaning a third of adults with undiagnosed autism go on to develop severe mental health problems. Read more about Sandra’s story here.

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What in the World is Going On June, 2012 Edition

Transition planning is a process that should start in the early years of middle school and continue through the first few years following graduation from high school. The Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence (OCALI) has created the Transition to Adulthood guides and will assist the individual with ASD and his or her team in reviewing the issues of adulthood related to employment, postsecondary education and adult living during these years. Implications for the individual with ASD to consider are highlighted throughout the guides. Identification of resources and many active links to important information are provided. These are guides are available for free download.

Summer is just around the corner and with that comes outdoor activities. If you’re looking for an alternative to a traditional bicycle, have a look at the Buddy Bike. This a great option for people that can’t sit unsupervised on the back of a tandem bike. The smaller rider sits in the front seat while the rear rider controls the steering. It is shorter in length than a typical tandem and has a lower front seat so both riders can safely enjoy the view. It can support up to 380 pounds.

 

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What in the World is Going On, May 2012 Edition

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) released their autism prevalence numbers on March 29th. The new statistic for autism diagnosis is 1 in 88 the USA. This is a significant increase from the last report of 1 in 110. These numbers will more than likely shift again once the new DSM V is released in 2013. Since the release of these numbers, the media has responded with reports of possible causes for autism. The public wants answers as to why autism occurs, but nothing definitive has been discovered yet. To read the CDC’s report in its entirety, click here.

Dennis P. Wall, one of the lead researchers on the project at Harvard Medical School, is part of a team developing a new web-based diagnostic procedure to identify autism more quickly; an advance that they hope will allow clinicians to provide better care to their patients.

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What in the World is Going On, April Edition

The 5th annual Autism Awareness Day, declared by the United Nations, is on Monday, April 2nd. This UN resolution is one of only 3 official health-specific United Nation days. The idea is to bring world attention to autism and encourage Member States to take measures to raise awareness about autism throughout society, and to encourage early diagnosis and early intervention. By bringing together autism organizations all around the world, a voice will be given to the millions of individuals worldwide who are undiagnosed, misunderstood and looking for help.

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What in the World is Going On, February Edition

Every month I do a blog post for the Autism Calgary Association about what in the world is going on in the field of autism. Here is the February post.

The University of Ulster in Northern Ireland has launched a new Master’s Degree program that will expand and enhance the management of Sensory Processing Disorder by occupational therapists and other allied health practitioners. The new Master of Science in Sensory Integration degree is based  on a series of modules conducted in partnership with the not-for-profit educational organization, Sensory Integration Network (UK and Ireland).

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What in the World Is Going On, January Edition

I recently became a guest blogger on the Autism Calgary website. I am writing a monthly blog called What in the World is Going On? which features the latest news in the field of autism. Here is my second post for the month of January that I’d like to share with our Autism Awareness Centre readers.

As we welcome in the New Year, let’s have a look back at the Autism Speaks Top Ten Autism Research Achievements of 2011 released this list last month. Some highlights include genetics, prenatal vitamins, brain discoveries, and earlier autism screening.

The University of British Columbia has launched a pilot program for people with intellectual disabilities age 18 and up. The Canadian Inclusive Lives Learning Initiative (CILLI) 8 month web-based program gives participants the opportunity to learn about decision-making, employment, financial literacy, legal matters and how to access outside resources. The program is a combination of on-line learning modules and telephone sessions with facilitators. People with intellectual disabilities can enroll in the course on their own or with a family member or friend. Each month, participants log onto a website to complete a learning module on a topic. In addition, participants receive telephone calls from an expert on that month’s topic and a program co-ordinator who helps them incorporate what they’ve learned into their life plan.

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What in the World Is Going On – December Edition

I recently became a guest blogger on the Autism Calgary website. I will be writing a monthly blog called What in the World is Going On? which will feature the latest news in the field of autism. I will share my first post here with our Autism Awareness Centre readers.

National Autism Strategies play a big role in both Europe and the UK as a way of providing a framework for effective autism treatment, support and services. National standards raise the level of services, service delivery, best practice standards, and quality of care for people with ASD.

On November 2, 2011, Scotland announced its Autism Strategy. In addition to £10 million funding to help and support people with autism and their families, announced earlier this year, the Strategy for Autism commits to a further £3.4 million investment. It is estimated that 50,000 people in Scotland are affected by autism.

England passed their Adult Autism Strategy back in March 2010. The Strategy made recommendations for central Government as well as for local authorities, the National Health Service and Jobcentre Plus, focusing on five key areas. To read more about the Strategy, click here.

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