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Archive for August, 2011

This Saturday on Autism America Radio 9-3-11!

August 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Special guests actor Ed Asner and Lisa Carling from the Theater Development Fund!

Join hosts Matthew Asner and Andrea Nittoli for two hours of talk and interviews Saturdays 3-5PM on KTLK 1150 in Los Angeles.

Want to participate? Call in studio 877-827-1150!

Listen online here and as podcast on iTunes! You can also visit Autism America Radio on Facebook!

Joe Mama of 98.1 WOGL Teams Up with Philadelphia Walk

August 31, 2011 Leave a comment

The Philadelphia Walk Now for Autism Speaks is just around the corner on Saturday, September 24th at Citizens Bank Park.  Joe Mama, a well-loved dj on Philly’s 98.1 WOGL, has recently joined our efforts in honor of his son, David, who has autism.  He brought his entire family into the studio to record this PSA to help promote the walk and we just love how it turned out!

Click here to listen to the PSA!

Countdown to CARA: Step One on Sept. 7

August 31, 2011 1 comment

With just a month to go, time is running short for Congress to renew the landmark Combating Autism Act of 2006. A critical first step arrives Wednesday September 7 when the U.S. Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee takes up S.1094, the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011(CARA.)

It is essential that a sufficient number of committee members attend the September 7 meeting and then vote to send the CARA bill on to the full Senate for a floor vote. Visit our CARA Champions page here to:
1) find out if your Senator is a member of the HELP Committee
2) make sure they have RSVP’d to attend this critical hearing and
3) find out how to encourage them to RSVP if they have not.

Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives must also vote its version of the CARA bill (HR.2005) out of the Energy & Commerce Committee and on to a floor vote. Once these steps are taken, the House and the Senate must agree on a final version of the CARA bill before it can be sent to President Obama for his signature. This is a lot of work! And it all has to get done by September 30!

Why is this so important? The enactment of the Combating Autism Act (CAA) in 2006 was an historic moment for our community as it has guided the federal government’s response to the staggering rise in autism across the United States. Because of the CAA, Congress was able to invest nearly $1 billion in federal resources through 2011 on biomedical and treatment research on autism. The law required the federal government to develop a strategic plan to expand and better coordinate the nation’s support for persons with autism and their families. Important research findings have resulted and critical studies are underway. Promising new interventions are making a difference in our children’s lives. For more CAA success stories, click here.

The CARA bill is sponsored in the Senate (S.1094) by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Michael Enzi (R-WY,) and in the U.S. House of Representatives (HR.2005) by Congressmen Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA.) CARA would continue the work started under the CAA for another three years and authorize Congress to dedicate another $693 million exclusively to autism research and treatment. To date, 23 other Senators and 61 House members have signed on as cosponsors, and President Obama has promised to sign a reauthorization bill this year.

Visit our CARA Action Center to find if your Senators and Representative are cosponsors. If they are not cosponsors, find out how you can get them to sign on.

Since the original Combating Autism Act was approved in 2006 with near-unanimous support in Congress and signed into law by then President George W. Bush, the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) has risen to 1 in 110 American children – including 1 in 70 boys. An estimated 1.5 million individuals in the U.S. are affected by autism, and government statistics suggest the prevalence rate is increasing 10-17 percent annually. America clearly must step up its response to autism. The responsibility lies with Congress and the answer is passing CARA.

Autism in the News – 08.31.11

August 31, 2011 1 comment

Kids of older dads face risk of autism (The Times of India)
It is well known that a woman’s chances of giving birth to a child with Down Syndrome increase with age. However, a new study has suggested that men should also consider their biological clocks when planning a family.  Read more.

Naperville father takes on Ironman for sons with autism (Naperville, Ill.)
Families impacted by autism know that each day brings new challenges to endure. Naperville resident Howard Weiss knows this as well as anyone. Weiss has two sons with autism disorders. Read more.

Morgan Autism Center: It’s much more than a school (San Francisco Chronicle)
The center has been serving the greater San Francisco Bay area as a leading provider of individualized educational services for people with autism since 1969. Read more.

Police handcuff enraged autistic boy, 9 (Canada)
Toronto police are defending two officers’ decision to briefly handcuff a 9-year-old autistic boy who was on a rampage at a daycare center. Read more.

Tom Loewy: The Warrior Mom doesn’t give up (Galesburg.com)
“Everyday People” — Warrior Mom set a red plastic tray down in front of her father, hustled to pour him some coffee and grab her own iced tea, returned to the table and promptly knocked a pepper shaker to the floor. Read more.


Categories: Autism in the News Tags: ,

Making Friends and Influencing NTs. . . An interview with Liz Laugeson

August 31, 2011 1 comment

This is a post by Alex Plank, founder of Wrong Planet

I sat down with Liz Laugeson of UCLA’s PEERS program to talk about how to make friends. Making friends can be hard for individuals with Autism / Asperger’s because we have a hard time figuring out social cues.

A lot of the social skills training I’ve run across focus on concrete skills like introducing yourself. These skills are great in theory but autistics like myself often struggle with figuring out what actually works in practice. The PEERS program, however, seems to be based in real life application of social skills.

I’m sure you’re going to enjoy my interview with Liz!

Autism in the News – 08.30.11

August 30, 2011 1 comment

Autism experts study in vitro fertilization (Montreal Gazette)
In vitro fertilization, which Quebec provides free to infertile couples, may be another link in the spike in autism, a mysterious neurological disorder that affects cognition, communication and behaviour of toddlers and children. Read more.

College Options For Autistic Students and Students with Disabilities (Care 2 Make a Difference)
Colleges recently reported to the U.S. Department of Education that, among students with disabilities, 31 percent have some kind of learning disability. Starting in January, the  Sage Colleges in Albany, NY, will be offering a new all-online bachelor’s degree program, the Achieve Degree, designed specifically for students on the autism spectrum and for students with learning disabilities. Read more.

Autism lobbyists say ‘Kennett-style gag’ fine (Australia)
AN autism lobby group in Melbourne’s west says an alleged “gag order” placed on a special-school principal by the Liberal Party is “fair enough”. Education Minister Martin Dixon has been accused of applying a “Kennett-style gag” to Western Autistic School principal Val Gill. Read more.

Autism Legislation: What It Means for Your Child (Business West)
Imagine this: an issue so big that when the governor signs a much-anticipated bill into law so many parents and families want to view the historic event that the signing has to take place at Fenway Park in Boston, instead of the State House, to accommodate the crowd. Read more.

Support builds for autism group (New Zealand)
Support groups for parents whose children have autism disorders are sprouting up across the region since Autism Waikato went into recess. Read more.


Categories: Autism in the News Tags: ,

The BabySibs Consortium: Important Findings Ahead

August 30, 2011 12 comments


Posted by Alycia Halladay, PhD, director of research for environmental science, Autism Speaks

Last week, Autism Speaks High Risk Baby Siblings Research Consortium made the news with the findings that autism recurs in families much more frequently than had been realized.

Autism’s recurrence within families is of tremendous interest to both researchers and families, and our “High Risk Baby Siblings Research Consortium” continues to study this and other important questions regarding the risks, causes, prevention, and early treatment of autism.

So I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you more about this remarkable group of researchers and their ongoing research–made possible in no small part by your volunteer and donor support.

We support this research consortium in collaboration with the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). In 2003, Alice Kau, of NICHD, and our own VP of Scientific Affairs Andy Shih organized the consortium. I joined with a leadership role in 2005. Since then, the group has grown to include 25 leading autism researchers across 21 medical centers in the United States, Canada, Israel, and the United Kingdom.

They all share the goal of studying the earliest symptoms of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). They are able to do so because of the generous participation of families with infants and at least one older child on the autism spectrum. These families are so important to research because of the relatively high likelihood that autism will recur among younger siblings.

By following the development of these young children, our consortium researchers are able to do much more than give us more accurate information on recurrence rates.  For example, they are making exciting progress in increasing understanding of how and when autism signs and symptoms first appear. This includes insights into the pattern we call “regression,” which involves a loss of skills in an infant or toddler who appeared to be developing normally.  As a group, the consortium has published a number of articles to help guide pediatricians and other primary care doctors in how to approach children and families already affected by autism. Their research into early signs and symptoms, for example, has helped clinicians diagnose and provide treatment as early as 12 months of age.

Several of the Baby Sibling Consortium researchers also participate in another important Autism Speaks group, the Toddler Treatment Network. It has a deeper focus on early signs and symptoms, particularly as they relate to developing earlier interventions that may actually prevent the development of some or all autism symptoms.

Families with recurrent autism are crucially needed to help our researchers identify the genes and other influences that increase the risk that children will develop autism. By allowing our researchers to track progress beginning in pregnancy, for example, families provide insights into such risk factors as parental age at conception, and maternal infection and nutrition during pregnancy.

Our researchers are also tracking brain development and identifying so-called biomarkers (such as distinctive brainwave patterns) for earlier and more accurate diagnosis.  And, yes, this research can also help us look at whether certain patterns of vaccination make any difference in the risk of autism among children genetically predisposed to the disorder.

Taken together, a better understanding of early signs and symptoms has led to earlier, better accurate diagnoses of ASD along with important knowledge of what causes autism.  This research is not possible without the group working together, and without the valuable support of the National Institutes of Health, and most importantly, the families who donate their valuable time to this research.

Interested in learning more—and perhaps participating in the research?   Please check out our list of Baby Sibling Research Consortium researchers and contact one in your area.

Autism in the News – 08.29.11

August 29, 2011 2 comments

Tipton fights son’s autism (Long Beach, Calif.)
Jane Tipton’s gour children are her life, and there’s nothing the 43-year-old single mother wouldn’t do for them. Read more.

Temple Grandin: Awesome autistic, revered ‘rock star’ (The Inquirer)
First time he read the script of “Temple Grandin,” British documentarist and filmmaker Mick Jackson knew he wanted to do it, and do it right. Read more.

Autism research budget is embarrassingly small (MyCentralNewJersey.com)
It is the silent scourge that creates Grand Canyonesque shattering shock waves throughout countless American households. It is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication; and by restricted and repetitive behavior; whose signs surface before a child is 3 years old. It has no known cure for the childhood victims; it lashes out to create immense havoc both of the psychological and physical nature for their for parents; the identity of this monstrous affliction that steals childhoods is autism. Read more.

More than $10,000 raised for autism service dog (Canada)
The Grande Prairie Firefighters’ Association raised more than $10,000 as it rowed close to 1,000-kilometres for a cause. Read more.

Girls with autism face adjustments in middle school (The Brownsville Herald)
When Maggie was little, she was a very precocious child. The family attributed the girl’s trouble sitting still to her constant curiosity. As a student, Maggie always did average to above average work in school. However, as the girl grew older, her behavior and disposition began to change. Maggie’s parents started noticing that their daughter was no longer fitting in with other children her age.  Read more.

Categories: Autism in the News Tags: ,

Message from the Chief Science Officer regarding the Institute of Medicine’s report on Adverse Effects of Vaccines

August 26, 2011 58 comments

Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D., Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer

On Thursday, August 25, the Institute of Medicine’s Committee to Review Adverse Effects of Vaccines Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice released its report on the scientific evidence related to adverse effects of vaccines. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization which is part of the National Academy of Sciences. IOM members are scientific and medical experts who serve as pro bono as advisors to the U.S. Congress and other policy-makers. They are periodically asked to provide a review of the evidence on matters of public concern and welfare.

Among several other topics, the IOM committee specifically reviewed the evidence regarding whether the MMR vaccine or the DTaP vaccine is causally linked to autism. In addition to reviewing epidemiological evidence, they reviewed case studies and research on biological mechanisms that might explain a connection between a vaccine and an adverse outcome, such as autism. They specifically assessed the evidence that vaccines could alter neuronal development resulting in autism symptoms, arising from chronic encephalopathy, mitochondrial disorders or other underlying disorders. The committee reviewed 22 epidemiological studies that evaluated the connection between risk for autism and the MMR vaccine and concluded that the evidence does not support a causal link between the MMR vaccine and autism. The committee only found one study on the relationship between the DTaP vaccine and autism and concluded that the data were insufficient to assess an association.

The committee noted that reports of case studies linking the onset of autism to infectious diseases such as encephalitis and malaria suggest that infection or inflammation may underlie some cases of autism. Furthermore, evidence from postmortem brain tissue suggests that autism may involve inflammatory processes affecting the brain. The authors argue that, at a minimum, prior to ascribing autism to vaccination it would be important to rule out chromosomal and single-gene defects, including a variety of metabolic (e.g. mitochondrial disorder) and inflammatory or infectious diseases that may exist prior to vaccination.

The IOM report is consistent with Autism Speaks’ policy statement on vaccines. Given the present state of the science, the proven benefits of vaccinating a child to protect them against serious diseases outweigh the hypothesized risk that vaccinations might cause autism. Autism Speaks continues to support research that explores the relationship between innate or acquired metabolic, inflammatory, or infectious diseases that may play a role in the etiology of autism.

Hurricane Irene: How to Prepare

August 26, 2011 5 comments

Hurricane Irene is bearing down on the U.S. East Coast with exteme impacts expected through the weekend. Hurricane warnings and watches are posted as far north as New England. Autism Speaks wants to make sure that everyone can be as prepared as possible.

Here are some useful links that will help in storm preparation.

Here Shelley Hendrix shares how to navigate the uncertainties of a natural disaster as the mother of a child on the autism spectrum. She offers some special things to do for families having to evacuate.

The Autism Safety Project provides information for families and First Responders with information and guidelines for communicating with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in emergency situations.

AutismCares Provides Grants for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders During Times of Crisis or Unplanned Hardships

Please everyone be safe and follow all precautions.

Please know that you can always contact the Autism Response Team (ART) members are specially trained to connect families with information, resources and opportunities. Call us at 888-AUTISM 2 (288-4762) or email us at familyservices@autismspeaks.org.

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