What in the World is Going On June, 2012 Edition

June 15th is the deadline to add your comments regarding the inclusion of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) in the next DSM-V manual due out in 2013. The SPD Foundation has a very helpful section on their website to help parents and professionals post their comments and gives suggestions of what they should post. It is not recommended to talk about funding issues as that will not be a deciding factor for DSM-V inclusion. The American Psychiatric Association is looking for family experiences and input.

The National Center for Learning Disabilities in the US is offering a free downloadable book to help parents with the EIP process. Although this is a US document, there are aspects that apply to any child on an EIP. You’ll find out what an IEP consists of, how it’s developed to meet a child’s needs, and how it helps teachers, parents, school administrators, related services personnel, and (when appropriate) students work together to improve educational results for children with disabilities. The IEP Meeting Planner will help parents get the most out of IEP meetings and special education services for their children.

There has been new research conducted in the field over the past few years on the identification of mutations in synaptic proteins (proteins critical for nervous system signaling) which are found in some autism patients. These mutations support the idea that there is a genetic basis for some patients who have ASD. New research published by a group at Ulm University, Germany shows for the first time a possible mechanism for how these mutations may alter social interaction and communication.

Using mice that were bred for mutations in synaptic proteins linked to autism, these researchers painstakingly documented their behavior. They found that mice with these mutations were hyperactive and showed classic ASD symptoms such as repetitive grooming and abnormal vocal and social behavior through a distinct physiological mechanism. To read an interview with the first author of this new research, Michael Schmeisser, click here.

Preliminary results from an ongoing, large-scale study by Yale School of Medicine researchers shows that oxytocin – a naturally occurring substance produced in the brain and throughout the body – increased brain function in regions that are known to process social information in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). “Our findings provide the first, critical steps toward devising more effective treatments for the core social deficits in autism, which may involve a combination of clinical interventions with an administration of oxytocin,” said Ilanit Gordon, member of the Yale Child Study Center research team. “Such a treatment approach will fundamentally improve our understanding of autism and its treatment.”

The team found that oxytocin increased activations in brain regions known to process social information. Gordon said these brain activations were linked to tasks involving multiple social information processing routes, such as seeing, hearing, and processing information relevant to understanding other people. To read this article in its entirety, click here.

The Association for Positive Behavior Support (APBS) is an international organization dedicated to promoting research-based strategies that combine applied behavior analysis and biomedical science with person-centered values and systems change to increase quality of life and decrease problem behaviors. Individuals of all ages can benefit from positive behavior support in a variety of settings such as school, home, and community. The APBS has an excellent website that is divided into the categories of community agencies, early childhood, higher education, families, schools and districts, and statewide leadership. There is also an autism-specific section.

iAutism is a website dedicated to the use of cell phones and touch-type devices like the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, or their Android equivalents, to enhance learning, communication and provide entertainment for people with ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorders) or other special needs. The purpose of iAutism is to collect information related to the use of visual and tactile technology for people with ASD and other special needs. They have app lists, reviews, tutorials, a blog, and links. This site is also available in Spanish.

Peter Vermeulen has a new book out this month entitled Autism As Context Blindness. According to Peter Vermeulen, treatment of autism is still too focused on behavior and minimally focused on observation or determining the way of thinking that leads to the behavior. In this groundbreaking book, inspired by the ideas of Uta Frith, the internationally known psychologist and a pioneer in theory of mind as it relates to autism, Vermeulen explains in everyday terms how the autistic brain functions with a particular emphasis on the apparent lack of sensitivity to and awareness of the context in which things happen. Full of examples, often humorous, the book goes on to examine “context” as it relates to observation, social interactions, communication and knowledge. The book concludes with a major section on how to reduce context blindness in these various areas, vital for successful functioning.

Carol Gray has written a new children’s book entitled The Last Bedtime Story that We Read Each Night. Short, sweet, reassuring, and to-the-point, this instant classic helps children go to sleep quickly and calmly. According to parents, this book has ended bedtime arguments after just one night! When parents clearly and warmly state that this is The Last Bedtime Story, children relax their bodies and minds as it is being read to them. They know there are no more stories to be begged for. Carol carefully wrote this book so it can be read in less than one minute.

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

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