What in the World is Going On – July 2012 Edition

Paul Shattock, lead researcher from the University of Sunderland in the UK, examined the prevalence and correlates of postsecondary education and employment among youth with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The results of their study showed that youth with an ASD have poor postsecondary employment and education outcomes, especially in the first 2 years after high school. Those from lower-income families and those with greater functional impairments are at heightened risk for poor outcomes. They concluded that further research is needed to understand how transition planning before leaving high school can facilitate a better connection to productive postsecondary activities. To read the full text version of this abstract, click here.

The International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR) took place in mid-May in Toronto, ON this year. The latest research from all over the world was presented over the course of 3 days. Some topics covered included brain function, genetics, epidemiology, interventions, treatments, services and cognition and behavior. To view the program and abstracts, click here. To read more reports from that meeting in layman’s terms, have a look at the IMFAR page at Autism Speaks.

And speaking of Autism Speaks, they have 3 new free publications for parents available for download on Applied Behavior Analysis, Toilet Training, and An Introduction to Behavioral Health Treatments. All 3 tool kits are from the Autism Treatment Network through its participation as the HRSA-funded Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health (AIR-P).

A new study shows that one in three children who have an older sibling with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) fall into a group characterized by higher levels of autism-related behaviors or lower levels of developmental progress. While younger siblings may not exhibit enough traits to receive an autism diagnosis, they show lower levels of verbal and nonverbal functioning and higher levels of autism-related problems. Overall, the research says the majority of high-risk siblings are developing typically at three years of age, but the development of a substantial minority is affected by subtler forms of ASD-related problems or lower levels of developmental functioning. It’s something for parents to be aware of.

Australian special educator and author Sue Larkey created a list of the top 11 time wasters in the classroom and solutions for each of them. Many activities that students do as part of school routines that come very easily to most students may be barriers to inclusion for students with ASD or ADHD. Sue lists adaptions that can get students on task quicker and engaging in learning. Sue says, “If students struggle with tasks it is worth considering short cuts, structures and systems to avoid them. They are often tasks that cause anxiety, frustration and stress too.” To see her solutions for time wasters, click here.

More news this month on the benefits of using social media with people on the spectrum. The Globe and Mail ran this front page article on June 20th . Social media works for children with ASD because they can work at their own pace, it’s predictable and is primarily visual rather than oral. They can try things repeatedly in order to master the task. Children love watching themselves on video and can learn from it too. There is a whole new field of study evolving around video self-modelling and its benefits for those on the spectrum.

Everyday transitions can present challenges for those on the spectrum. A newly published book, Helping Children with Autism Spectrum Conditions through Everyday Transitions – Small Changes – Big Challenges, looks at the small transitions in everyday life that can be a big deal for a child with autism and offers simple and effective strategies to make change less of a daily challenge.

Explaining why seemingly minor changes to routines can be emotionally distressing for children with autism, this book teaches parents practical solutions for coping with common transitions including switching from a weekday to weekend schedule, the changing of the seasons, and sleeping in a different bed when on a holiday. With insights from the authors’ personal experiences and helpful scripts, signs and sketches to use along the way, this book shows that with planning and preparation parents can reduce the stress surrounding change for their child and the whole family.

Temple Grandin, the most famous women in the world with autism, is both a role model and advocate. There is a new biography out for a young readership entitled Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World. This book is a great for self-esteem for those on the spectrum as well as for their peers and siblings to read so that they can see what can be accomplished by people with an ASD. This book is a must-have for any school library or resource centre.

Canadian mother Estee Klar writes a thoughtful blog called the Joy of Autism which looks at the positive side of autism. She also started the Autism Acceptance Project. They are in the process of revamping their website. Their monthly newsletter is excellent as well.

No Sterotypes Here is another great blog written by Corina Lynn Becker. She is a fantasy writer, web comic artist, English Major, and Neurodiversity ADHD/autistic person in Southeast Ontario, devoted to promoting autism acceptance. I particularly liked her post on crisis help lines and how they don’t meet the needs of the nonverbal or non-English speaking population. She is deep thinker exploring the issues of those on the spectrum and the challenges they face.

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

 

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