What in the World is Going On, February 2013 Edition - Autism Awareness
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What in the World is Going On, February 2013 Edition

The outcome of this research showed that not every person with autism will have each and every autism-related gene variant, but it’s likely that they will show some variation of the genetic changes identified in the study. Even though these findings are encouraging, we are still a long way off from diagnosing and predicting autism through these genetic markers. To read this article, click here.

The Daily Mail ran an article that children can outgrow autism. Experts studied 34 school-age children and young adults who had been diagnosed with autism early in life but now appeared to be functioning normal. The results of the study suggested that recovering children tended to have relatively milder social difficulties early in life, but they were likely to suffer more severe symptoms relating to communication and repetitive behaviour.

“The research team, led by Dr. Deborah Fein, from the University of Connecticut, compared the 34 ‘optimal outcome’ participants with the same number of normally functioning peers and 44 children and young adults affected by high-functioning autism. Each group was matched by age, sex, and non-verbal IQ. Optimal outcome individuals showed no signs of problems with language, face recognition, communication or social interaction despite their previous diagnosis of autism.”

Dr. Judith Gould, Director of the National Autistic Society’s Lorna Wing Centre for Autism, cautions that autism is a lifelong disability and that this study only looked at a small group of high functioning individuals. She advises not to jump to conclusions about the nature and complexity of autism or how long it will last. “This research acknowledges that a diagnosis of autism is not usually lost over time and it is important to recognize the support that people with autism need in order to live the lives of their choosing.”

You may not follow the Miss America pageant, but this year gave us something to celebrate. Alexis Wineman, Miss Montana, was the first person with autism to be in the pageant. She was also the youngest contestant ever at age 18. If Wineman won, she was planning to use her new fame to raise awareness of autism. She did not win, but just being in the pageant raised the profile of autism. Well done Alexis!

If you are a special educator, you’ll want to check out the Top Ten Most Viewed Guest Articles at Special Education Advisor. Some top highlights include meltdowns and ASD, the proposed changes to the DSM-V, sensory issues, and the misuse of para-professionals in the classroom. The Special Education Advisor also reviews apps, information on IEP’s, offers forums, groups and information on various special education topics. If you’ve written something you’d like to share, you can also submit articles for publication.

I thought this website was a great find on the topic of autism diagnosis and guidelines and tools used to diagnose. There is a list of published recommended guidelines for the diagnosis of autism from various organizations around the world. You can read about the recommended diagnostic pathway (the procedure for assessment and diagnosis), the services and care you can expect to receive from the professionals involved. It gives a framework for ‘best practice’ and even though these guidelines may not apply directly to Canada, they can be helpful in organizing your research.

I always enjoy reading Judy Endow’s monthly blog on judyendow.com.

Judy is an adult with autism, articulate, and very intelligent. This month she talks about high-functioning/low-functioning and feels she is a combination of both depending on the circumstances. She will make you re-think how you use this terminology to describe a person with autism. Thanks for continuing to challenge our thinking, Judy!

CBC Radio’s The Current ran a great program about the workplace and people with autism. Our own Maureen Jensen at Autism Calgary was interviewed for the program. There seems to be more awareness about the need for suitable employment for this population. The synopsis for this segment is – Jeff is a 19 year old high school grad who spends a whole lot of time playing video games in his mom’s basement. He is also autistic and that ease with the computer may be just the thing that will allow him to find meaningful work. Today we look at the employable side of Autism and the entrepreneurs changing the lives of autistic young people by recognizing their potential.

Video modeling takes visual learning to the next level by using new technologies to create an effective teaching tool. This new book, Video Modeling for Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, explains how professionals and parents can use innovative video modeling techniques to support the development of young children with autism spectrum disorders in school, home or community settings.

Offering practical step-by-step guidance, the book shows how to film and edit personalized videos that highlight the exact skill that is being taught. Whether the focus is increasing attention, peer interaction, getting dressed or creative play, these videos are easy to incorporate into daily routines. They allow the child to learn new skills quickly and with less hands-on adult support leading to greater independence. Three video modeling strategies are presented – Basic Video Modeling, Video Self-Modeling and Point-of-view Video Modeling – along with all the information needed for readers to start using the techniques for themselves. The research behind the approach is also discussed and each chapter includes detailed case studies that demonstrate the techniques in action.

Michelle Garcia Winner’s team over at Think Social Publishing have published another new great book called Movie Time Social Learning. This book takes an activity many students already love—watching movies—and uses it as a springboard to study the intricacies of social interaction, the depth and range of emotions we experience in our lives, and the social expression that drives our interactions. By hitting the pause button, we freeze social situations and give students the all-so-valuable extra time to read context, interpret thoughts, feelings and plans, make predictions about social behavior, and formulate narrative language to discuss social interactions.

Author Anna Vagin’s thirty years of experience and deep understanding of social learning shine through each page as she thoughtfully explains social concepts and provides detailed, fine-tuned lessons for seven different popular movies that students will recognize and love.

The book comes with a CD that includes all seven lesson plans as well as ready-to-print templates, handouts, and letters.

These are the highlights of what in the world is going on in autism for February 2013.

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