What in the World is Going On – October 2013 Edition

We’re now starting our second month of school with IEP meetings, extra-curricular activities and upcoming report cards. How is your child/student settling in? Parents want to know how each school day went, but asking a child with autism “How was your day?” is a very complex question and one that’s not easy to answer. Answering this question requires language processing, time sequencing, and emotional regulation (the school day is often filled with stressful moments).

Chris Abildgaard, director of the Social Learning Center, has written an article about the complexities of the question “How was your day” and provides 3 simple tips on how to learn about your child’s day and preventing their cognitive counter top from overflowing or collapsing

A new study released in September showed that toddlers and preschoolers with ASD who had better motor skills were also better at socializing and communicating. Published in the journal Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, this study adds to the growing evidence of the important link between autism and motor skill deficits.

Lead author Megan MacDonald, an assistant professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University, found that children who tested higher for motor skills were also better at “daily living skills,” such as talking, playing, walking, and requesting things from their parents. “We can teach motor skills and intervene at young ages,” MacDonald said. “Motor skills and autism have been separated for too long. This gives us another avenue to consider for early interventions.” To read more on this study, click here.

Scientists have found more similarities between ADHD and autism. It’s not unusual to have these two diagnoses together. The newest study on this topic has been released in the journal Pediatrics. Past studies have shown children with ADHD have strong genetic similarities to autistic children, especially in the way the neuropathways in a certain part of the brain is concerned. This part of the brain is usually responsible for identifying facial expressions and developing empathy.

Parents often wonder if their child with autism will be able to live independently one day. In a study published in the recent issue of the journal Autism, only about 17 percent of young adults on the spectrum ages 21 to 25 have ever lived independently as compared to 34 percent of those with intellectual disabilities.

“As the prevalence of ASDs continues to rise, so too does the number of young adults transitioning into adulthood,” wrote Kristy Anderson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her colleagues in their findings. “The evidence presented in this study suggests that the vast majority of this population will be residing in the parental or guardian home during the period of emerging adulthood.”

These findings suggest that further study is needed to evaluate how to improve transition planning to best meet the needs of those with autism.

JAMA Pediatrics published a study in August showing that children who have older siblings with autism are seven times more likely to receive autism diagnoses themselves. Traditionally, twins have been studied in order to establish a genetic link in autism, but twins are hard to come by. “Studying autism risk among siblings provides another way to assess the role that genes play in autism.” To read this excellent and informative article, click here.

Support groups can be very beneficial for parents. They are great forums to exchange information, gain insight, and be surrounded by like-minded people. Autism Calgary has a number of great support groups such as the Biomedical Group, Asperger Network and Parent Support. If you’re unsure about the benefits of joining a support group or what they are all about, read The 10 Reasons Special Needs Parents Should Join a Support Group.

Each month, I like to feature an article or blog post written by a person on the spectrum. I recently discovered the writings of Jackie McMillan, adult with autism. She wrote an article about why people with autism jump, flap and pace. She also has a 3 minute video talking about the subject. To read about her insight on this topic, click here.

My most popular Facebook post this past month was Judy Endow’s Don’t Define Me by My Deficits.  Judy says, “What doesn’t make sense is when we take these measures of shortcomings and use only these shortcomings to think about autistics. When this happens autistics are thought of only in terms of their deficits and difficulties. While being found lacking and having deficits and difficulties as measured against typically developing peers is of utmost importance in the diagnostic realm and in terms of getting educational, medical and support services, this is not the sum total of an autistic person.”  You can see Judy in person next month at Autism Awareness Centre’s conference in Calgary on November 15 &16th.

I just discovered great website about supportive technology in the classroom. Power Up What Works is a free, comprehensive guide to technology-enhanced teaching and learning in English Language Arts and Math (other topics too) to help struggling students meet the Common Core State Standards. Although a US based site, there is lots of applicable information for educators world-wide. The site features articles on internet safety for students with disabilities, how to make technology happen in a school, a blog and resources. This site is of a very high standard and quality – an excellent find!

The fall is a busy time in the book publishing world. There is a new children’s book out about OCD entitled Can I Tell You About OCD? A guide for friends, family and professionalsMeet Katie – a teenager with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Katie invites readers to learn about OCD from her perspective, helping them to understand what it is, how her obsessions and compulsions affect her daily life, and how people around her can help.

With illustrations throughout, this will be an ideal introduction to OCD for both young people and older readers. It shows family, friends and teachers how they can support someone with the condition and will be an excellent way to start a conversation about OCD, in the classroom or at home.

The Science of Making Friends: Helping Socially Challenged Teens and Young Adults  is a new book based on UCLA’s acclaimed PEERS program, the only research-based approach in the world to helping adolescents and young adults with autism make and keep friends.

This step-by-step guide helps parents, educators, and others to provide “social coaching” to teens and young adults on the spectrum. The book includes concrete rules and steps of social etiquette identified through research. Parents can use the book to assist in improving conversational skills, expanding social opportunities (including dating), identifying strategies for handling peer rejection, and developing and enhancing friendships. Lessons are taught using didactic teaching narratives, followed by key rules and steps. Also included is a bonus DVD with video demonstrations of the skills taught and a mobile application that helps teens and young adults use the strategies in real-world situations.

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

 

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  1. Tina Miles says:

    Hi Maureen,

    Someone else registered me for the conference and I just want to confirm with you that I am truly registered.

    Tina Miles

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