Archive for January, 2011

Autism in the News – 01.26.11

January 26, 2011 3 comments

Autistic man’s confinement was abuse: province (Canada)
An autistic man was locked in a room at a special care home in Nova Scotia for 15 days, sometimes urinating in the corner when nobody knew he needed to go to the washroom, says his mother and staff at the facility. Read more.

Autism-vaccine article by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. removed from’s website (Los Angeles Times)
The assertion that autism is linked to childhood vaccinations has run and run, even as study after study has failed to find such a link, either with MMR vaccines or ones containing thimerosal,  an organic compound that contains mercury. Read more.

Michigan lawmakers renew fight for autism coverage (The Times Herald)
Michigan lawmakers are renewing efforts to require the offering of insurance coverage for certain autism treatments. Read more.

Miami Companies Join to Benefit Autism Research (Miami, Fla.)
Sedano’s stores in conjunction with IMUSA will initiate the Puzzle Piece Fundraising campaign from Feb. 2, 2011 through March 2, 2011 to raise awareness and funds for Autism research. Sedano’s customers will be invited to purchase a $1 puzzle piece as a donation. Read more.

Family of autistic man shot by police wins case (SF Gate)
A civil jury found in favor of a family Monday that sued the city of Los Angeles after an autistic relative was shot and killed by a police officer. Read more.

An early start to “Light It Up Blue” in Central Ohio

January 25, 2011 3 comments

This guest post is by Kim Niederst, the Area Director of Nationally Managed Walks.

On Friday, January 14, I headed to Dublin Coffman High School in Dublin, Ohio for the first Autism Puzzle Shootout.  Not knowing what to expect, I was prepared to watch high school boys basketball.  What I found was an army of students and faculty in blue t-shirts with “1 in 110” printed on the front.  It was a true “Blueout” with the entire Dublin Coffman side of the gym in blue shirts – 600 in all!  The players wore the shirts during warm ups, the cheerleaders cheered in their shirts, everyone replaced the tried and true Ohio scarlet and gray and went blue for autism awareness!!

During the week, the Dublin Coffman students sold all 600 tshirts, wristbands, raffle tickets and contenstant slots in minute to win it games which were held during half time.  The students raised $4,000 to benefit Autism Speaks and the Autism Society of Ohio.  A local car dealership joined the effort by donating $5,000 to the cause – so a $9,000 night for Dublin Coffman!  Visit this link for video coverage of the Shootout!

And the fun doesn’t end with Dublin Coffman!  There are 6 more Shootout events scheduled over the next three weeks.

  • Tuesday, January 25 – Westerville South vs. Dublin Scioto
  • Friday, January 28 – Grove City vs. Lancaster
  • Friday, January 28 – Gahanna Lincoln vs. Pickerington Central
  • Friday, February 4 – New Albany vs. Franklin Heights
  • Thursday, February 10 – Hamilton Township vs. Amanda-Clearcreek
  • Saturday, February 12 – Olentangy Orange vs. Olentangy

The Shootout is the brainchild of Jerod Smalley, NBC 4 Sports Director and father of two young boys diagnosed with autism.  Smalley’s concept is to provide high school students with information about the autism epidemic and create a forum where they can show support for awareness and fundraising efforts in Central Ohio.  Students will participate in a “Blueout” at each game and compete with other area schools in a fundraising effort.  The winning school will receive free food for all students.

The Autism Puzzle is Central Ohio’s source for all things relating to autism.  Powered by NBC 4, the Autism Puzzle is showcased through television specials featuring a live web chat and ask the expert phone bank, print magazine and web portal.

In working with NBC 4, I have realized the true power of a media partnership.  Since 2008, NBC 4 has provided countless hours of air time – either through public service announcements or the anchors on the news broadcasts casually encouraging viewers to attend the Columbus Walk Now for Autism Speaks event.  4’s Army has raised well over $25,000 to advance the mission of Autism Speaks.  I am honored  to work with our partners at NBC 4 to increase awareness and understanding of autism spectrum disorders in the local community.

If you live in Central Ohio, please go to an upcoming Autism Puzzle Shootout.  The energy in the gym is electrifying and you may even see yourself on TV as NBC 4 broadcasts live at many of the games.  If you are not a Central Ohioan, check out the Autism Puzzle online at  It is a fabulous resource and who knows you may see the Autism Puzzle at your local station soon!

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If you are a high school interested in hosting an event for Autism Speaks please check out our Student Initiatives Program.

If you are a college student interested in hosting an event please visit Autism Speaks U.

Dawson Letter to The New York Times

January 25, 2011 21 comments

Autism Speaks Chief Science Officer Geraldine Dawson wrote a letter to the New York Times in response to an editorial entitled “Autism Fraud.”

To the Editor:

Re “Autism Fraud” (editorial, Jan. 13):

The latest British Medical Journal paper about autism and vaccines, which provides evidence that the initial report linking autism and vaccines was fraudulent, and the media coverage that ensued, miss an important point: Until science discovers the causes of autism and explains its dramatic increase, parents will continue to reach their own conclusions and desperately try a wide range of treatments, whether there is evidence to support them or not.

The answer is not to look to the past and look for blame, but rather to look to the future. We need increased research financing directed toward rigorous science that can provide the answers that parents are looking for and deserve. Until this happens, we will continue to wallow in controversy, and people with autism and families will continue to struggle with autism on their own.

Geraldine Dawson
Chief Science Officer, Autism Speaks
New York, Jan. 13, 2011

See the letter on the The New York Times site.

Autism in the News – Tuesday, 01.25.11

January 25, 2011 1 comment

Autism Research (The New York Times)
The latest British Medical Journal paper about autism and vaccines, which provides evidence that the initial report linking autism and vaccines was fraudulent, and the media coverage that ensued, miss an important point. Read more.

Round Rock hair salon donates time to help children with autism (Round Rock, Texas)
One local hair salon used its grand opening Sunday to support an autism charity. Read more.

Study finds many autistic children improve social skills over time (Columbia, Mo.)
A clinical child psychologist has found that many autistic children gain more verbal and social skills over time. Read more.

Autism Queensland Creative Futures Awards: call for nominations (Australia)
Autism Queensland is calling on individuals and organisations that are bringing about positive change in the lives of people with Autism to nominate for the 2011 Creative Futures Recognition Awards. Read more.

A (horse) path to heal (Roosevelt Island, N.Y.)
A Roosevelt Island school for special-needs children would like to create an equestrian center and riding path on the northern tip of the island. Read more.

Autism in the News – Monday, 01.24.11

January 24, 2011 Leave a comment

iPad Apps for Autism: A Spreadsheet of Reviews and Recommendations (Squidalicious)
Instead of making folks ferret out multiple posts for apps info, I’ve put together a spreadsheet of iPad apps for people with autism — the ones that work for Leo, yes, but eventually lots of other apps as well. Read more.

Series focuses on spectrum of autism in youths (Salem, Ore.)
Britt Collins had her Salem audience dancing Saturday — well sort of. At one point in her lecture “Practical Use of Sensory Integration” for children, Collins had the scores on hand at the Salem Hospital Community Health Education Center standing with their left hand and right foot stretched out. Then she had them jump and switch, back and forth, back and forth. Read more.

New program in Swansea brings autistic kids back home (Swansea, Mass.)
Billy Cooper had no choice but to pursue his high school education out of the district, and away from his home. Read more.

Red Kite Round Up engages autistic children (Chicago, Ill.)
The Red Kite Round Up is back for its third year with a new multi-sensory performance that is tailored to meet the needs of children with a wide range of autism. Read more.

New Sherman Oaks center aims to help children with autism-related disorders (Sherman Oaks, Calif.)
Seeking to provide much-needed services to young people with problems related to autism, a new center is slated to open Monday in Sherman Oaks. Read more.


How has autism impacted relationships between siblings?

January 24, 2011 93 comments

We are starting a new feature, ‘Topic of the Week.’ These topics stem from submissions from our community. If there is anything in particular that you would like to see featured, please contact us!

How has autism impacted relationships between siblings? What has been your experience? As a parent what is the nature of your childrens’ relationship?

The Fight

January 24, 2011 16 comments

This guest post is by Autism Speaks staffer Kerry Magro. Kerry, an adult who has autism, is a rising senior at Seton Hall University, majoring in Sports Management. He started the club Student Disability Awareness on campus to help spread awareness and raise funds for those affected by autism. Autism Speaks U is a program designed for college students who host awareness, advocacy and fundraising events, while supporting their local autism communities.

Over the past months, I’ve received emails from parents asking for advice in regards to schooling for their son/daughter who is on the spectrum. In this blog, I discuss a situation I dealt with in 4th grade. I would like to note that this occurrence happened years ago when autism was still very new to most public education programs. I consider it a precursor to the discussions today on bullying. It would be great if you would like to comment with your own experiences in school if you have a loved one on the spectrum in the comment section below.

I wasn’t sure how it ended up happening the way it did, it just did.

I was in 4th grade in a Special Ed – Multi-handicapped classroom with kids ranging from the age of 6 to 14.

I was in the middle of recess when a kid in my class started screaming in my right ear.

I started to panic. The noise made me feel uneasy.

I told him to stop. I started to get angry. He stopped.

I looked at the substitute teacher in class who was staring back at me looking more scared at the moment than I was. She was still; emotionless.

I turned in my chair, away from the boy, and watched while my other classmates were hanging out around me.

At this time I tried to focus. I had a hard time getting my thoughts together on what I should do. A scream is directed towards me again. Same guy, but the left ear this time. That is when I lost control.

I stood up and grabbed the chair I was sitting in and pulled it over my head. Now I was the one doing the screaming towards him. The boy’s scream stopped while he looked terrified.

I pushed the chair towards him until he suddenly grabbed it in mid air. I was now pushing the chair towards him while at the same time he was pushing it towards me. The boy was about 5-6 inches taller than I was and maybe 2 or 3 years older. My grip was loosening every second of this back and forth and he was clearly the stronger of the two.

The substitute teacher at about this time started yelling at both of us to stop. I dropped my grip and put my hands up to my ears while the boy got a free love tap with the chair to my right shoulder until he lost his grip and the chair went flying towards the ground.

I remember the substitute teacher specifically tried at a lighter tone, “You are lucky your real teacher isn’t here or you both would be suspended.”

I lost it at this time and went to the back of the classroom to get away, sobbing. The substitute teacher didn’t say another word about the incident for the rest of the period.

I was pretty quiet for the rest of the day until one of my best friends came up to me later that day and said, “I heard what happened. The word is that someone told him you don’t like noise. That’s why he started screaming. He wanted to see what would happen; if he could use it against you.” I rolled my eyes and that’s pretty much all I remember from that day…

After repeated incidents, my parents pulled me out of public school and tried to place me at a private school out of our district, under the “Universal Placement of Students” clause.  It was a small, expensive private school for students with neurological impairments. They had to sue our school district to help with funding. This is a process I’m sure many parents with kids on the spectrum have experienced. They also drove me back and forth 50 miles round trip for the next 8 years until I finished high school.

In that private school setting there were only 160 kids. We all had some letters to describe us and the atmosphere was much better. Also everyone on staff was trained to deal with students with some sort of special need.

Looking back now, as a 6’2’’ soon to be college graduate, regardless if the kid knew that I was on the spectrum or not, it made me consider whether other individuals with similar situations as myself are still dealing with similar issues today.  While I was growing up, especially in early grammar school, because of the label of being in a “special ed” program, whether I liked it or not, that was the label that was put on my classmates and me. The other kids saw it like that, and we saw it like that.

I don’t expect this to help anyone narrow the choice of where to send a student on the spectrum to school, public, private, mainstreamed, self contained…. Those are all legitimate subjects for another blog post. This was just a look back at what can be described as a right of passage for many “special” kids.   It is a passage that no child on the spectrum should have to suffer.

Educators and staff saying, “these are kids being kids” is unacceptable.   Even though the kids who tormented me may have had their own special problems, adults need to be aware and step in.

Inclusion for kids on the spectrum is often not the right solution.  In my case, I was left in an atmosphere of bullying with no one to help. Public schools are facing dwindling budgets and often aren’t able to provide the protected environment kids on the spectrum need.  I was lucky to have parents who found a safe and protective environment for me.  Many kids are not as fortunate.  I hope by spreading awareness of just how scary our world can sometimes be, people will display more sensitivity and provide the resources for us to feel safe and grow.

If you are involved with Autism Speaks U on your campus and would like your story to be featured on the Autism Speaks blog, please send it to Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.


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