What in the World Is Going On, September 2012 Edition

One more thing to be aware of as the school year starts is bullying. The National Autistic Society in the UK has information on what bullying is, prevalence of bullying and autism, and the signs. Although this is not a solutions piece, it’s still good to be aware of the indicators.

The Hong Kong Standard posted an article on why sleep disturbances occur in people with ASD. “We found that the worse the disorder of autism, the worse the sleep disturbance. These children also had less deep sleep [or rapid eye movement],” said Sylvia Doo, who heads the Child Development and Assessment Centre at the private St Paul’s Hospital in Causeway Bay. This new centre, which opened on June 1st, aims to promote parenting skills to help children with all sorts of behavioral problems.

Lack of sleep affects the entire family and can impact quality of life. Autistic children do not respond to stimuli such as day and night and follow their own patterns of behavior. Because of this, these children have poor quality sleep and wake frequently. Parents are urged to seek medical help if persistent sleep problems persist.

Meltdowns are another top concern for individuals with ASD. The Autism File polled their readership and compiled their answers about calming strategies into 10 Great Calming Tips to Help with Meltdowns.

Steve Summers, an adult with Asperger Syndrome, wrote a great blog post entitled 10 Tips on How to Communicate with Autistic People. Steve provides excellent insights into working with those on the spectrum such as don’t expect eye contact, don’t get offended by communication style, and be aware that people with autism takes things literally.

The recent big buzz article is the New York Times opinion piece called An Immune Disorder at the Root of Autism. Writer Moises Velasquez-Manoff has stirred some controversy and reaction to his piece. The crux of the article is “at least a subset of autism — perhaps one-third, and very likely more — looks like a type of inflammatory disease. And it begins in the womb.”

Writer and scientist Emily Willingham posted a strong response to the article stating that the piece is “packed with overstatements and over interpretations and lacks much-needed modulation and qualification. More than that, it promises a “preventative” for autism that is, pardon me, off the hook (worm). Although I understand that someone who has written a book may well have expertise in a specific subject area, a fund of knowledge does not give them carte blanche to bring their bias without scientific counterpoint to the editorial pages of the New York Times.” If you like a good debate, read both pieces. Ms. Willingham reminds us that we can’t accept something as truth just because it is published.

A recently published study from France found that for individuals with autism, bringing a new dog or cat into the household can lead to significant social improvements. “This study reveals that in individuals with autism, pet arrival in the family setting may bring about changes in specific aspects of their socio-emotional development,” wrote the study’s lead author, Marine Grandgeorge of the Centre Hospitalier Régional Universitaire de Brest in France, and her colleagues. “To our knowledge, this is the first study showing an association between pet arrival and changes in prosocial behaviors.” Read more here.

The Autcast is a blogazine for the Asperger Syndrome and autism community. Written by Bryce Landon, self-diagnosed with autism, his posts are thought provoking and explore the issues of the day. He also has a great Facebook page. Both are really worth following.

Karla’s ASD page on Facebook is also worth “liking” if you want to be kept in the loop of the latest ASD debates. Karla Fischer is a 49 year old Senior Program Manager/Engineering Manager with autism. Her philosophy is not about fighting autism, but working with it. Great daily posts that will make you think twice about what you read in mainstream media.

Fans of the Superflex program will be excited to hear there is a new book out in the series called Social Town Citizens Discover 82 New Unthinkables for Superflex® to Outsmart! This is a compilation work that introduces 82 new Unthinkables and 14 new Thinkables submitted by Social Town citizens of all ages. Unthinkables and Thinkables are grouped by theme/category for easy reference by student or adult, and each entry includes the character’s power, related information about its characteristics, and strategies to defeat the Unthinkable or bolster a Thinkable’s help. Five teaching handouts, all characters, and expanded teaching materials are contained on the CD included with the book. Recommended for 3rd to 5th graders.

Nancy Mucklow’s new book Grandparent’s Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorders: Making the Most of Time at Nana’s House is a wonderful resource for grandparents. This book serves as a practical guide to turning grandparents’ concern, confusion and initial sadness for their grandchild with ASD into a relationship of acceptance, confidence and realistic expectations. Full of intriguing and thought-provoking anecdotes and rules of thumb, Grandparent’s Guide to ASD includes tried-and-true recommendations on how to deal with sensory issues, new and unfamiliar environments, dietary considerations, emotional meltdowns, communication, selecting the right toys, participating in school and family events… and much more.

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

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