What in the World Is Going On August 2012 Edition

The UC Davis MIND Institute and the University of Washington, Seattle, have received Autism Speaks grants to extend their groundbreaking research into novel, high-impact treatments for very young children. Sally J. Rogers, UC Davis professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, has received a $765,937 three-year grant to try and lower the age of autism diagnosis and expand the delivery of high-quality interventions.

The funding supports a new study focused on enhancing the effects of parent-implemented interventions for the very youngest children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), toddlers aged 12-30 months. The goal is to increase children’s learning rates, facilitate their development of language and social skills, and to make sure parents have the resources to improve the outcome for children affected by autism.

“We know that parent-implemented interventions are a part of the most successful interventions for early ASD,” Rogers said. “But we have much to learn about the impact that parent interventions can have on their own. This study’s proposed intervention methods have great relevance to autism in low-resource communities across the world, where there may be no one but parents available to help their children.” To read more, click here.

Goldsmiths, University of London, and London South Bank University, UK have launched a research project to study the experiences of receiving and communicating a diagnosis of autism from the perspectives of adults, parents and practitioners. They are currently looking for adults with ASD, parents of individuals with ASD, and practitioners involved in diagnosing ASD to take part in a short survey about their experiences. . If you would like to learn more about the study or participate in it, click here.

New research led by a medical geneticist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine shows an increased risk of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) among individuals whose parents or siblings have been diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

“The results were very consistent in large samples from several different countries and lead us to believe that autism and schizophrenia are more similar than we had thought,” said Patrick F. Sullivan, MD, FRANZCP, professor in the department of genetics and director of psychiatric genomics at UNC.

The findings suggest that ASD, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder share etiologic risk factors,” the authors state. “We suggest that future research could usefully attempt to discern risk factors common to these disorders.” To read more, click here.

Looking for great apps for teens? Have a look at the Speech Therapy for Autism blog. This excellent blog reviews all kinds of apps for different ages and tells how to use them and with whom. To find out more about the 6 Great Apps for Teens, click here.

To find more great apps for younger children, visit the Speech Pathology Apps website. This mission statement of this website is to facilitate in learning, reading, and speech pathology through the use of apps for all children, as well as to give the provider and parents more information in which to help them choose the most appropriate apps and materials. They also have an excellent blog.

Hannah Brown’s blog in the Huffington Post, An Autism Mom on Having It All, received a lot of attention and comments this past month. She struck a chord with mothers of children with autism who can’t have it all because of the restrictions a life around autism can bring.

Hannah stated, “When your child has serious difficulties in life, you are forced to confront reality in ways that others aren’t. Some women talk about “the glass ceiling” holding them back, and I am sure it exists. But I’m fighting the autism ceiling, and from where I sit (usually in a waiting room, working on my laptop), it seems obvious that I will never be compensated financially or professionally for the thousands of hours I’ve spent over the last decade taking my son to treatments that have helped him communicate better. Would I be in a different and better place in my career if I had not taken this time to do what was best for him? Yes, certainly. Am I shedding tears over it? No. First of all, I don’t have time. Secondly, that’s how it goes. I feel lucky every day that my son gets therapy that helps him (and that he enjoys). Not every parent of a child with autism can say that. I’ve invested in him rather than in my career. The rewards I’ve gotten are that I’ve seen his life become easier. He can express himself much better now, and learn more.”

Michelle Garcia Winner has done it again over at Think Social Publishing – this time with a new game exploring social skill development. Should I or Shouldn’t I? What Would Others Think? game encourages players to think about their own behavior choices and then compares how their perceptions match (or don’t) those of the other players. It revolves around the idea of perspective taking – being able to think about others, their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and how this interrelationship plays out in social situations. The game is based on the Social Thinking concepts and vocabulary introduced by Michelle Garcia Winner and outlined in her many books and articles on the topic.The game is suitable for ages 12 – 18 and involves 1 – 6 players.

Too often, we only hear about the problematic side of autism. This article celebrates the swimming achievements of Texas 6th grader Anthony Walker. Thirteen year old Anthony, who has high functioning autism, didn’t begin to communicate verbally until he was six and didn’t begin swimming until he was nine, but his prowess in the pool is turning heads.

Anthony’s mother, Sharon Wellman said, “He wasn’t able to compete in any other sports because he just didn’t understand them, but he’s done great as a swimmer and I think at the least he’s going to be a very good high school swimmer.”

Anthony has made the All-Stars by winning the 50-yard breaststroke, placing second in the 50-yard freestyle and finishing third in the 50-yard butterfly. He also placed third in the boys 100-yard individual medley and anchored the CAT medley team’s second-place finish.

These are the highlights of what in the world is going on in autism for August 2012.

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