What in the World is Going On in Autism - May 2014 Edition - Autism Awareness
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What in the World is Going On in Autism – May 2014 Edition

On April 3, 2014 Angie Robertson of Prince Rupert, BC took her own life and that of her severely autistic 16 year old son, Robert. She left a suicide note saying that she could no longer care for her son; BC Child and Family Services said they had no residential placement for her son.

Inclusion B.C. executive director Faith Bodnar said the ministry significantly reduced funds available to families with autistic children several years ago, and in isolated communities “accesses to resources can be much more limited.”

These circumstances of not enough services, lack of support for families and reduced funding as a child ages are all too common a story across Canada. Families are expected to care for their children into adulthood and that just isn’t a reality for many families who are tapped out. Challenging behaviors can put the entire family at risk, including the person with autism.

But, there is another side to this story reported on by the Province. One Alberta mother, Ms. Dulock, responded to this media story by saying we have missed the point and that point is a child was murdered by his parent. “Yes, members of the media, you told a story. And in doing so, whether intentionally or not, you propagated the same lie that you have been telling for hundreds of years: That disabled people’s right to life is solely dependent on whether or not abled people are willing to grant it.”

There are two sides to every story. We will never know the complete circumstances of what drove Angie to murder her own son and then take her own life. There is never a good enough reason to warrant taking another person’s life, but perhaps there is another issue here concerning mental health. Time may tell…

FIU Health in Florida is launching a new comprehensive health and behavior program for adults with autism called FIU EMBRACE. Adult with autism often experience disparities in key health indicators like obesity, mental health and access to health services.

Many physicians are hesitant to work with patients that have autism because they are unsure how to talk to and examine them. As a result, many adults with autism go long periods of time without a physical exam and sometimes doctors miss complications because patients cannot adequately communicate their symptoms.

FIU EMBRACE will offer patient care and laboratory services in the same examination room, minimizing the number of changes and transitions to ensure a more positive patient experience and improved health outcomes.

This program looks like a step in the right direction for better health care for adults with autism. To read more, click here.

Many parents love to shoot home movies of their children, but did you know that according to a new study from Harvard Medical School and the Stanford University School of Medicine short home movies may be sufficient to accurately spot children who have autism?

“For the study, researchers found 100 videos on YouTube, each of which were 10 minutes or less and showed kids ages 1 to 15 playing. Of the clips, 45 were identified by their creators as depicting children with autism, while the other films showed children without the condition.

A group of college students were then trained to assess the behavior of the children in the videos using a rating scale based on the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, which is often used to diagnose autism. Despite having limited training, the students were able to accurately distinguish videos portraying children with autism 97 percent of the time, the study found.” To read more about this, click here.

Pediatricians rely on parents to fill in questionnaires to help them reach an autism diagnosis but parents often have a bias about their child’s pending diagnosis. “A set of six questions about child development can identify parents who tend to overreport or underreport their child’s symptoms, according to a study published March 30th in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Administered alongside a commonly used autism screen for toddlers (M-CHAT), the questions help weed out these biases, improving the accuracy of the screen.”

“The researchers analyzed responses to a general questionnaire from parents of 235 children under 3 years of age, most of whom had been diagnosed with autism. They identified six questions that the majority of parents tend to answer in the same way, whether or not their child has been diagnosed with autism. The researchers designated any answer to one of these six questions that disagrees with the majority as a sign of misreporting.”

It is important to identify parents who misreport because this may help clinicians determine the most appropriate referral for a child at risk for autism. To read more about this, click here.

There have been numerous articles written about how beneficial a dog can be for a person with autism. Gretchen Carlisle, a research fellow at the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction (ReCHAI) in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, completed a study about the benefits of dog ownership for people with autism.

“Carlisle interviewed 70 parents of children with autism. Nearly two-thirds of the parents in the study owned dogs, and of those parents, 94 percent reported their children with autism were bonded to their dogs. Even in families without dogs, 70 percent of parents said their children with autism liked dogs. Many dog-owning parents said they specifically chose to get dogs because of the perceived benefits to their children with autism, Carlisle said.” To read more about Carlisle’s research, click here.

Each month I like to highlight a blog written by a person with ASD. This one will impress you – Ido in Autismland. It is written by a 17 year old non-verbal man. His post about professionals and judging by what you see externally is brilliant.

“Thousands of autistic people like me live life in isolation and loneliness, denied education, condemned to baby talk and high fives, and never able to express a thought. The price of assuming that nonverbal people with autism have impaired thinking is a high one to families and to people who live in solitary confinement within their own bodies. It is high time professionals rethought their theories.” Food for thought…

And on this theme, read Lauri Swann Hunt’s blog post Parents – Acceptance Starts at Home. “If any person indicates they have lower expectations, do not presume competence, uses functioning labels, does not value your child as a whole, complex, contributing member of society, it’s our job as parents to speak up and educate that person. It can be really hard to do if you don’t happen to have the type of personality that lends itself to confrontation, but it is necessary. If we allow someone to speak to or about our child in a way that is anything but respectful, we’re not setting the right example. If our children see us speaking up, it’s much easier for them to do the same.”

Have you ever been asked what autism is? I came across this article in the Huffington Post on the 34 thing a person with autism is and isn’t, totalling the number 68 which is the new CDC statistic on autism prevalence rates. There are some lovely quotes here.

Elizabeth Sautter’s new book Make Social Learning Stick! How to Guide and Nurture Social Competence Through Everyday Routines and Activities offers a “social learning diet” of concepts and actions that can be used in everyday life to increase verbal and nonverbal language, listening skills, understanding of hidden rules, perspective taking, executive functioning, and more.

The activities are recipes for social and emotional learning for which parents, teachers, and therapists typically already have the ingredients. With close to 200 fun and easy activities, including contributions from leading experts, this book offers numerous ways to embrace teachable moments throughout daily routines without having to do extra work! Events like getting ready for school, preparing dinner, going to the doctor, and celebrating Thanksgiving become opportunities for teaching and reinforcing expected social behavior.

Geared toward children in preschool through elementary school, the ideas are meant to inspire creativity that suits each specific child. Activities can be easily tailored to meet a child’s developmental level, needs, or challenges.

Attention fans of Superflex – the new Superflex Superdecks cards have just been published. These card games are created to invoke your own superflexible thinking as you teach students to be more superflexible social thinkers. It’s all about superflexibility! The game pack is a companion teaching tool to the popular Superflex Curriculum, which helps parents and professionals teach children ages 8 – 11 about social thinking, social regulation, and social problem solving.

These are the highlights of what in the world is going on in autism for May 2014.


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  1. elensincess says:

    Lack of services and supports is the main triggers  for these murder suicides. Lack of help. Lack of compassion. Agencies that say they are there to help but fight parents and force them to go before Judges to get basic common sense needed services. 

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