What in the World is Going On March 2013 Edition

It has long been thought that music therapy has a positive effect on children with autism. Pertanika Journal highlighted a study where improvements were seen, particularly in inattentive behaviours over a ten month period, in 41 children with autism. Music and movement therapy has been used to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals of all ages. The researchers hope that their research will help children and young adults with autism to modify behaviour. To read the article, click here.

Interdisciplinary researchers from the University of Missouri presented a paper at the 2012 International Communication Association conference, highlighting their findings about families with ASD children regard dog ownership as having a positive impact on their households. Rebecca Johnson, director of the MU Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction (ReCHAI) and professor in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing and College of Veterinary Medicine, says these findings further indicate the positive effects animal interactions can have on children with autism.

“MU researchers analyzed word clusters such as “family” “pet” and “love” from thousands of Internet forum and social media posts by members of families with ASD children. Based on the researchers’ analysis of these word groups, they concluded that dogs trained to be service or therapy animals can help children with autism in their social and school lives as well as improve the overall quality of life for all family members. Gretchen Carlisle, a former doctoral student in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing, says while dogs can have a positive impact on families, it is important to adequately match dogs with families based on their specific needs.” To read more on this and social media mapping methods, clickhere. If you want to see service dogs in action, have a look at this recent Rick Mercer Report segment.

Picky eating is a constant worry for parents of children with ASD. How do you introduce new foods and expand a limited diet? Does your child eat enough? Are they lacking nutrients? Janice O’Leary shares some advice on developing an eating plan for picky eaters. She also talks about Nova Scotia’s Jean Nicol and her Eating Game.

February was Jewish Disability Awareness Month. A mom, Liane Kupferburg, did a great blog post entitled Ten Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Parenting a Child with Special Needs. Her son, now 20, was diagnosed with autism and epilepsy. Liane says,”When my son was initially diagnosed with autism and epilepsy years ago, I didn’t know anyone else with a child like him. That was back in the dark ages, before the internet. There were no websites or blogs to turn to for information and support. There was so much I didn’t know, and so much I was desperate to learn; I could have used advice from a seasoned tribal elder.” Now Liane is passing on her wisdom to other parents. Her tips are well stated and not the least bit sentimental.

And more blogging from moms, Jennifer Sager wrote about the 10 biggest myths around autism. She also opened up the floor for comments about what autism myths bother you.

As our children age and become adults, they are finding it difficult to find their place in the world because of a lack of supports and services. This fantastic article in Chicago magazine highlights the growing problem of adults on the spectrum in crisis. Parents tell their stories and what we learn is, we are all facing the same concerns no matter where we live in North America. The number of adults needing support is on the rise; how will we meet this challenge as a society?

I have to highlight another blog post by the prolific writer Judy Endow. This was from back in October 2012, but it really made me laugh. If anyone thinks people with ASD don’t have a sense of humour, this will dispel that myth. In this post, Judy talks about life after 50 on the spectrum. “Being over 50 has some advantages.  One advantage is that I no longer feel the need to inhibit my natural reactions when with good friends. It is quite liberating to be old enough to feel I no longer need to do this. It has greatly decreased my anxiety.  Besides, I know when I am with my friends they will tell me when I am going too far.  Brenda will say, ‘Judy, you need to inhibit,’ at which point I do and we go on enjoying our time together.”

There is a new movie out with an autism theme called Fly Away. A powerful film directed by Emmy Award® winner Janet Grillo (Autism: The Musical), Fly Away narrates the story of Jeanne and her autistic teenage daughter, Mandy. Jeanne has cared for Mandy since the day she was born, growing closer every day to a child who is charmingly offbeat one moment and nearly impossible to manage the next. In the dog park, Jeanne encounters Tom, an easygoing and accepting neighbor who sparks a romantic interest, but she finds juggling Mandy’s care and her own career leaves little room for a new man. As the pressures of work and her child’s needs increase, she must decide whether or not to enroll Mandy in a therapeutic residential facility. Over the course of a few weeks, Jeanne is confronted with the most difficult decision a parent can make: to let go, allowing her child to grow, but also grow apart; or to hold on tight and fall together. Could be a good film!

A new DVD has just been released by Coulter Video on a topic that is not often addressed – Managing Puberty, Social Challenges and (Almost) Everything for Girls. This DVD for girls nearing or going through puberty focuses on building girls’ knowledge, confidence and self-esteem. While appropriate for any girl, it’s designed to be especially helpful for young women diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, high functioning autism, or who are naturally shy. The program is divided into chapters, so parents and professionals can choose which subjects to share with girls based on their stages of development.

Fans of the Tasks Galore books will be pleased to hear they have a new book out this week called Tasks Galore: Literature Based Thematic Units. This exciting two-book set includes a resource book full of hundreds of ideas, teacher tips, and photos of tasks and the accompanying storybook, I’m Hungry, I’m Hungry, What Shall I Do?

Using this adorable 8 ½ x 11” board book as a guide for creating literature-based thematic units, the authors have designed hands-on activities for use with young learners and students with special needs.  The strategies employed encourage responsiveness to literature while enhancing vocabulary and language.

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

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