Archive for July, 2011

Wandering Common & Scary; Research & Guidance Needed

July 26, 2011 35 comments

The first major study on runaway behavior among children with autism confirms that it is both common and extremely stressful for families. Yet relatively few families are receiving professional help or guidance. These insights are among the preliminary results of the IAN Research Report: Elopement and Wandering, a project of the Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Interactive Autism Network (IAN) funded by Autism Speaks, the Autism Science Foundation, and the Autism Research Institute. For more, see our news report on the Autism Speaks Science page. And please leave us a comment about your experience.

Autism in the News – 07.26.11

Proposed charter school would help those with autism, cognitive disorders (The Gainesville Sun)
A 19-year-old in Jimmie Hackley’s group home can’t recite his ABCs despite being enrolled in county public schools, Hackley said. “That, to me, is absurd,” Hackley said. “He can’t count to 10, but he can learn.” Read more.

Ozzy Osbourne Buys $10,000 Rescue Dog for Sharon at Charity Event (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Rocker Ozzy Osbourne has a soft side which he demonstrated on Saturday in Los Angeles at the Design Care event hosted by the HollyRod Foundation. Ozzy saw his wife admiring a rescue dog, more specifically a Yorkshire terrier, which was being auctioned off to benefit Holly Robinson Peete’s foundation which focus on helping families cope with autism and Parkinson’s disease. Read more.

A New Twist On An Old Hobby (Highland Park Patch)
When I was a kid, I loved collecting baseball cards. Back then, my friends and I would stop by a little mom and pop candy store as we walked home from school to pick up a pack of cards. Read more.

Lose the Training Wheels bike camp starts (Charleston, S.C.)
The Down Syndrome Association of the Lowcountry(DSAL) is pleased to bring the Lose the Training Wheels (LTTW) bike camp back to the Lowcountry for the second time. Read more.

Staten Island mother battles for a cure for autism (Staten Island, N.Y.)
When a mother sees her child sick or in pain, her maternal instincts take over. She will do anything and everything in her power to heal whatever ails her offspring, no matter how enormous the sacrifices or logic-defying the path. Read more.

Categories: Autism in the News Tags: ,

How to Integrate Your Child in the Community

July 25, 2011 23 comments

Every family has concerns and questions about how to successfully include a family member with autism in their community. Martin, a parent of a child with autism, and an attorney will join us on July 26, 2011 Facebook Q and A to share her own experiences and answer questions about how to step up to community inclusion!

We want to take some of your preliminary questions now! Ask away!

News Coverage of Bangladesh Autism Conference

July 25, 2011 3 comments

Autism Speaks participated in the launch of GAPH-Bangladesh and co-hosted a conference — “Autism Spectrum Disorders and Developmental Disabilities in Bangladesh and South Asia” — together with the Bangladesh government, the Centre for Neurodevelopment & Autism in Children (Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University), the World Health Organization (WHO), and WHO’s South East Asian Regional Office (SEARO). Andy Shih, Ph.D., vice president of scientific affairs for Autism Speaks, provides more background in ‘Autism Speaks Goes to Bangladesh.’

Here is the official press release, International Conference Launches Revolutionary South Asia Autism Network.

Several news outlets provided coverage of the “Autism Spectrum Disorders and Developmental Disabilities in Bangladesh and South Asia” Conference. Here are some major headlines:

Sonia Gandhi for South Asian partnership on autism (The Hindu)
Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi on Monday praised Bangladesh’s “path breaking innovations” in micro-finance, education, women’s empowerment and public health as she underlined the need for a partnership in South Asia to provide affordable services to millions of autistic children. Read more.

Meeting on autism begins in Dhaka (BBC)
A two-day international conference on autism has begun in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka. Experts and policy makers from around the globe will focus on promoting awareness on autism in Bangladesh and other South Asian countries. Read more.

Recognise gifted kids as persons: Sonia (
The first-ever international conference on autism in the region has kicked off amid tight security and with high hopes of generating ‘greater awareness’ on the plight of the ‘gifted’ children. Read more.

Sri Lanka’s First Lady speaks at the autism conference in Bangladesh  (ColomboPage)
Sri Lanka’s First Lady Shiranthi Rajapaksa addressed the two-day international conference on autism that began today at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in Dhaka to seek ways to enhance autism related services in Bangladesh as well as in the South Asian region. Read more.

Meet’ll promote autism cause, says Saima (
As Dhaka is ready to host the region’s first-ever international conference on autism on July 25 and 26, the child psychologist who envisaged the high-profile meet regards it as a ‘way forward for autism awareness’.  Read more.

Better care for autistic children (The Financial Express)
Autism is a disease specially noted in children that afflicts sufferers with varying degrees of mental impairment. Cases of autism are not uniformly the same. Some autistic children are seen to have reasonable intelligence to produce even average results in examination. But others are seen to be performing too poorly in academics from their mental handicaps. One similarity seen among autistic children in their varying degrees of mental capacities is the inability to communicate or form relationship with others. Read more.

Autism in the News – 07.25.11

July 25, 2011 1 comment

Army Spc. Jameson Lindskog, 23, Pleasanton; among 6 killed in Afghan firefight (Los Angeles Times)
Like many people exhibiting traits of the mild form of autism known as Asperger’s syndrome, Jameson Lindskog often saw the world in black and white. Read more.

Sonia Gandhi for South Asian partnership on autism (The Hindu)
Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi on Monday praised Bangladesh’s “path breaking innovations” in micro-finance, education, women’s empowerment and public health as she underlined the need for a partnership in South Asia to provide affordable services to millions of autistic children. Read more.

Marion woman recognized for work with kids with autism (Marion, Ohio)
A local teacher’s efforts to educate autistic children has earned her national recognition. Michelle Wagner, who teaches at Marca Schools’ Marie English Early Childhood Center, is a recipient of the Carol Gray Award. Read more. 

McDonald’s manager fired after striking customer (Marietta, Ga.)
Marietta Police say a manager of the McDonald’s restaurant on Bells Ferry Road is accused of slapping a mother after she brought her autistic twin sons and a service dog inside the restaurant. Read more.

Mahopac teacher cleared of mistreating autistic students (Mahopac, N.Y.)
A Philipstown justice has dismissed all remaining charges against a Mahopac special education teacher accused in a highly publicized 2007 case of harming her disabled students while questioning the investigative techniques of the Carmel police detective in charge. Read more.

Categories: Autism in the News Tags: ,

On Being: Autism and Humanity with Paul Collins and Jennifer Elder

Being: Autism and Humanity with Paul Collins and Jennifer Elder

(photo of Krista Tippett courtesy On Being/American Public Media)

Earlier this week, NPR host Krista Tippett interviewed writer Jennifer Elder and literary historian Paul Collins, who have grappled with autism since the diagnosis of their son, Morgan, in 2002. Paul has traced autism hidden between the lines of history. Jennifer has written and illustrated books for children with autism. In this podcast, they look beyond controversies over causes and cures and explore what autism reveals about humanity and their families. They discuss research that raises questions about the remarkable abilities associated with autism and the high prevalence of autism among families of scientists, mathematicians, and artists. We’d love to hear your thoughts. 

Calling All Cravers!

July 22, 2011 3 comments

Calling all Cravers!  White Castle will begin selling puzzle pieces for $1.00 to benefit Autism Speaks in all of their restaurant locations beginning Sunday, July 24 through Saturday, August 20.  Restaurants are located in the following states/regions:  Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Detroit, Indianapolis, Louisville, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Northeast Ohio, Nashville, New Jersey, New York and St. Louis.

White Castle team members raised $500,000 for Autism Speaks in 2011 so be sure to visit your local Castle often to purchase a puzzle piece.  The best way to support the campaign is to provide your feedback to White Castle thanking them for their support of our urgent mission.  You can do this via the White Castle Facebook page, 800 number (1-800-THE CRAVE) or through the White Castle website.  You can also call your local Castle directly, their number is located at the bottom of your register receipt.

We need your help!  White Castle is celebrating their 90th anniversary this year and Autism Speaks is invited to join the party!  We are looking to recognize White Castle in a big way!  As you enjoy your meal at White Castle please take a photo of you and your family at the Castle purchasing a puzzle piece.  Email your photo to and be sure to include the restaurant location.

Thank you in advance for your support of this campaign!  Crave on!

Autism in the News – 07.22.11

July 22, 2011 1 comment

Language software promises to help children with autism (Smart Planet)
Oakland, Calif.-based firm Scientific Learning on Friday announced the launch of new software it says can help improve language and communication skills in children with autism. Read more.

Dog works with autistic kids, ‘Annie’ (News-Press)
She’s been onstage only two weeks, but already Bella acts like a diva. Minutes before showtime, the dog starts barking outside her handler’s dressing room at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre. Read more.

Thoughts and strategies: taking a child with autism to a restaurant (Autism Support Network)
One of the harder things about having a child with Autism is dealing with the public. Whether it’s having to explain to other people, dealing with the judging stares or just giving up on the public entirely (no more eating out)… it’s a very hard situation to have to face. Read more.

Kids with Autism Enjoy Local Summer Camp (Las Cruces, N.M.)
Summer camps provide wonderful memories for the children who get to experience them, but not all receive the opportunity to attend camp. New Mexico State University helped combat this problem in June with Camp New Amigos, a summer camp for children with autism. Read more.

A helping hand for people with autism in the workforce (Singapore)
Where employers once shunned from hiring people with autism, there is now unprecedented interest in hiring these workers and the need to support such employers who might not know where to begin. Read  more.

Categories: Autism in the News Tags: ,

Authentic Inclusion: A Prize-Winner with Autism

July 22, 2011 9 comments

This is a blog post by autism expert Lisa Jo Rudy of Lisa Jo Rudy is a professional writer, researcher and consultant, and the mother of a 14-year-old boy with an autism spectrum disorder. Lisa is the author of Get out, Explore, and Have Fun! How Families of Children with Autism or Asperger Syndrome Can Get the Most out of Community Activities, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Every summer, there’s a terrific county fair in our town.  4-H members bring their sheep, chickens and pigs for judging…  moms present their jams and pickles…  and kids submit their drawings, paintings, photos, K’nex structures and lego buildings to see what kind of prize they can win.

Of course, 4-H gives every submission some kind of prize.  But this year was a bit special in our family.  Our daughter, Sara, won “Best of Show” at the pet competition, for her presentation of her friendly rat, Reepicheep.

And Tom, our son, also won a Best in Show prize.  Tom’s was for an elaborate lego structure he’d created entirely on his own, all by himself, in his bedroom.

4-H actually asks each family whether the child entering the competition has any special needs.  In the past, we’d said yes.  This year, though, we went with “no.”

Our son, Tom, is nearly fifteen.  Diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) at age three, he is squarely on the autism spectrum.  While Tom is verbal and engaged with the world, he thinks, speaks and interacts differently from  his peers.  Typical classrooms are very difficult for him, as are friendships and casual chats.

But for Tom, creating unique structures with legos is a no-brainer.  He can build almost any lego structure he sees – and he seems to be able to figure out just how to create anything he can dream up.  The piece he submitted to the fair was very special: a café, complete with kitchen, tables, food, a stage, and a full-scale jazz band with piano and horns!

The truth is that Tom does have special needs under many circumstances.  But at the fair, his submission wasn’t just “good enough,” or  “adapted.”  It was, quite simply, the best in its class.

Where does your child shine?  What abilities does he have that make him not just “includable,” but outstanding?

Even if it’s just for a moment, in one setting, with one group of people – how does your child with autism earn real, authentic admiration and respect?

Check out the piano and horn players in the top center, the patrons at their tables, and the waiters moving through the restaurant.  Not shown are the real, working electric lights!

Tom’s café won first prize and Best in Show at the county fair.  Look closely, and you’ll notice that we’ve written “no” under “special needs.”

Read more from Lisa Jo Rudy at Autism at  at or The Authentic Inclusion Site. Check out our interview with Lisa Jo Rudy on this month’s Community Connections page – Stepping Up to Summertime Fun!

Autism Speaks Goes to Bangladesh

July 21, 2011 14 comments

Posted by Andy Shih, Ph.D., vice president of scientific affairs for Autism Speaks

Saima Hossain almost always has a smile on her face. It’s there when she juggles the demands of her four adorable children. It was there when she confessed to being nervous before her speech at the United Nations. She even smiled when she asked me, half seriously, “What have you gotten me into?”

It seems the only time Saima doesn’t smile is when she is talking about autism. A licensed school psychologist, Saima knows that the daily struggle of those touched by autism is no laughing matter. When she talks about autism, she is thoughtful and knowledgeable, and her passion to make a difference is palpable. “I see this as my life’s work,” she told me.

 Saima Hossain addresses UN diplomats and guests on World Autism Awareness Day 2011

I first met Saima, the daughter of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, two years ago at a World Autism Awareness Day event that Autism Speaks hosted here in New York. I was impressed with her poise and passion even then. But I didn’t get a chance to speak with her at length until last September when Autism Speaks hosted its annual “World Focus on Autism” event to raise awareness among world leaders converging for the UN General Assembly.

We talked about the challenges that individuals and families affected by autism face in Bangladesh, a poor country of over 162 million people in Southeast Asia. Saima conveyed her deep desire to make a difference in the lives of Bangladeshi children as well as all children who struggle with autism. At the end of our long conversation, we agreed to explore bringing our Global Autism Public Health (GAPH) initiative to Southeast Asia.

I can tell you that our collaboration with Saima has already reaped great rewards for Autism Speaks and the families we serve. For example, with Saima’s help, Autism Speaks and Bangladesh’s Permanent Mission recently co-hosted a UN celebration of World Autism Awareness Day. The many world diplomats attending included UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. He and other influential guests expressed their solidarity with our cause and listened to a panel of experts and advocates (including Saima) who eloquently explained how international collaboration will speed the answers we need to help all who struggle with autism—including families here in North America.

Next week, I will travel to Dhaka, Bangladesh, with Dana Marnane, Autism Speaks’ vice president of awareness and events, and Michael Rosanoff, associate director of public health research. There we will participate in the launch of GAPH-Bangladesh and co-host a conference — “Autism Spectrum Disorders and Developmental Disabilities in Bangladesh and South Asia” — together with the Bangladesh government, the Centre for Neurodevelopment & Autism in Children (Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University), the World Health Organization (WHO), and WHO’s South East Asian Regional Office (SEARO).

Our goal is to boost regional awareness and advocacy for individuals and families touched by autism. We will be joined in this effort by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed and her ministers as well as regional dignitaries including Indian National Congress President Sonia Gandhi, the First Lady of Sri Lanka Madam Shiranthi Rajapaksa, and the Second Lady of the Maldives Madam Ilham Hussain — all of whom have expressed their desire to learn more about autism and explore how they can collaborate with each other and Autism Speaks.

Michael and I have been in daily contact with Saima in the past two weeks, and her team in Dhaka has been amazing. We’re awed to see this tremendous endeavor take shape, gain momentum, and become one of the region’s most anticipated events. We know this is the beginning of much hard work, even as it is giving us and the autism community of Bangladesh and South Asia a sense of pride and hope for tomorrow.

For news coverage of the ‘Autism Spectrum Disorders and Developmental Disabilities in Bangladesh and South Asia’ Conference, visit here.



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