Archive for February, 2011

Autism in the News – 02.22.11

February 22, 2011 1 comment

Brain scans may someday detect autism (CNN Health)
Researchers are hoping that by using a common tool for measuring of brain activity in a new way, they may be one step closer to identifying whether  a child is a greater risk for autism. Read more.

Shelby coach steps down to help son battle autism (Shelby, Ohio)
How do you devise a game plan from an incomplete scouting report? How do you prepare for an opponent you know almost nothing about? Read more.

Autistic workers can help firms grow (Star Tribune)
Temple Grandin wants more autistic people in your workplace. If they don’t become part of the workforce, your company will lose out. Read more.

Barn Fire Kills Six Therapy Horses (Pleasant Hill, Mo.)
A fire destroyed a metro stable, killing half a dozen therapy horses.  The horses were lifelong partners and provided therapy for young people in need. Read more.

One Class at a Time: Lowell Elementary School (Missoula, Mont.)
The satisfaction of a job well done is an empowering feeling for Linda Burr’s students at Lowell Elementary School, especially those with autism. Read more.

How do you manage meltdowns?

February 22, 2011 255 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 do you manage public meltdowns? What strategies do you have for coping? Do you enlist other people or things around you for help or comfort? What ways do you sooth your child or yourself?

Catching Up with Zev and Justin from Amazing Race

February 20, 2011 11 comments

The Amazing Race:Unfinished Business,’ returns to a cast of familiar faces looking to make good on their mistakes. Tune in for the premier, Sunday February 20, 8/7  EST.

Zev and Justin’s friendship started six years ago when they were working as camp counselors and the two have been very close ever since.  Zev has Asperger’s Syndrome, but they don’t let it affect their relationship.  They share friends and interests, and the friendship is as mutually beneficial as any could be.

For more on Zev and Justin, check out their ‘Amazing Race’ Biography.

Are you excited about the upcoming season of Amazing Race?
Justin Kanew: We are really excited!

How are you guys connected?
J: We both went to Greylock Camp in Massachusetts as kids and was a little older…
Zev Glassenberg: You are still older than me…
J: (Laughs) I came back as a counselor and we ran a world-class flag football program together.

Why did you choose to come back?
Z: Well, we wanted to come back for redemption and also for an amazing adventure.
J: I was literally praying for the opportunity to return since Camp Zobio when we lost the passport.

What makes you guys such a good pair?
J: Zev says he’s the amazing and I’m the race!

What is the game plan for this season?
Z: Well we just want to win and to have a good time and compete the best we can. We just will rely on each other and not on other people.
J: We also want to keep up a good attitude and just to be good to each other. We do not trust anybody! Just wanted to make sure we were standing on our own feet

Zev, how does having Asperger’s Syndrome affect you as a player in Amazing Race.
Z: The first time I was going into this brand new world and didn’t know what to expect. I had to change my routine and that was bothersome and worrisome. This time I knew more of what to expect, but it was still worried.

What is it like being back on The Amazing Race?
Z: Amazing. I lived my dream twice! I had a blast! I want to do it again and again and again. They should just have us on every season!
J: Ha, Ha, Ha!

So what are your day jobs?
Z: I’m an aspiring actor.
J: I work for National Lampoon making movies. It is a fun place to be.

What are your hobbies and interests?
Z: Reading books.
J: And rooting for the lakers
Z: I’d say that’s an interest.
J: Explain your art
Z: I do stuff with whole punches. I use a special paper and punch holes then glue whole punches into a design.

We have to ask, did you hang onto your passports this time around?
J: Heyyoooo!
Z: We were checking every 5 minutes.
J: I thought we’d get through one interview without that question! Zev had permission to ask me every 5 seconds. We were constantly checking!
Z: It was like a newborn baby. We wanted to make sure it was there and alive!

Catch up with the guys on Twitter at  @zevglassenberg and @justin_kanew

Make sure to tune into the Amazing Race, Sunday, February 20th on CBS! Check your local listings.

Autism in the News – 02.18.11

February 18, 2011 1 comment

Caldwell College to Hold 5K Run/Walk for Autism (The Caldwell Patch)
Runners, walkers and anyone whose life has been affected by autism, it’s time to mark your calendar for the second annual 5K Run/Walk for Autism at Caldwell College. Read more.

The Autistic Sports Nerd (The Tangerine)
Hey guys, the Autistic Sports Nerd here. I hope everyone had a happy and safe Autism Sunday. I had a lot of fun that day. Let’s get into the sports talk. Read more.

They’re assets at work — and they’re autistic (Twin Cities Pioneer Press)
He’s nervous and awkward with people, can’t tell the difference between biting sarcasm and sincere praise, and doesn’t take well to crowded rooms, loud noises or sudden interruptions. Read more.

Faculty research attempts to better understand autism (The Oracle)
Faculty research may provide the tools to better understand autism. Psychology professor Shannon Morgan has been conducting research that could benefit the lives of people with autism. Morgan’s research is in place in order to “see how people with autism see the world around them.” Read more.

Craig Nicholls of the Vines Copes with Autism (Autism Key)
In the Spring of 2004, an Australian group known as The Vines quickly became one of the hottest bands in the world, topping charts and mentioned in the same breath as bands such as Nirvana. Read more.

John Robison to Appear on ‘Ingenius Minds’

February 18, 2011 8 comments

Tune in on Thursday, February 24 at 10 p.m. EST to see John Elder Robison appear on Ingenious Minds.

Ingenious Minds enters the lives of savants: individuals who possess an extraordinary ability in areas such as art, music and mathematics, while also suffering from intellectual and developmental disabilities.

John Robison never had a high school degree, but he worked as a highly skilled mechanical engineer designing sound equipment, special effects, cutting-edge toys, nuclear test apparatus, and medical lasers.

John is a savant with Asperger’s Syndrome, which has given him a preternatural understanding of mechanics, but has made his social and work life exceptionally challenging. For more information about this episode, visit here.



Vodpod videos no longer available.

Tips on Applying for Financial Aid for your Family Member with Autism

February 18, 2011 15 comments

This is a blog post by J-Jaye Hurley, Autism Response Team coordinator on the Autism Speaks Family Services team and the mother of a child with autism.

1.      Print all pages of the application and read them carefully. Twice.  . . These applications are usually lengthy and complex so you must review their own requirements.  Many applications ask for similar items (tax statements, IEPs, etc) but they are ALL in a different format.  If you do not provide the information they request AND in the format they request, you can be denied.  If you do not send in all the information at the same time, you can be denied.  Also review their application criteria before you apply.  A friend of mine filled out a long application only to realize they didn’t provide assistance for the therapy she was interested in.  Know all requirements before diving in.

2.     Be aware of deadlines.  Some family grants are year-round but the majority I applied for had specific deadlines. In fact, I was unable to apply for one that I wanted because I missed their annual deadline.  If you are requesting therapy notes or letters of recommendation, make sure you allow plenty of time to gather all information, complete application and send in PRIOR to that deadline.  If they receive your application after the deadline, you will be denied.

3.     Be concise and honest.  Most organizations review thousands of apps, and the majority of the application is financial information.  However, most apps ask the parent for some personal information about the child.  Make sure you tell them about your child, why you need their help and how this will make a difference for your child and family.  They don’t need your entire life story, but they do need you to be honest and upfront about your needs and situation.  Most of our stories speak for themselves so just be yourself and speak from the heart.  We are passionate parents and advocates by nature so go with what you know – your child.

4.     Get recommendations.  Some applications say they will accept letters of recommendation but don’t require them. I recommend your seeking those letters as they only serve to provide additional information on your child and family to this anonymous committee.  Ask your therapists, physicians or family members.  You can save letters and use them for multiple applications each year.

5.     Have a friend/spouse review your apps.  Before you mail in your completed applications, have someone review it for you.  My husband caught typos & had suggestions.  As a former English teacher, I always recommend having another pair of eyes review your writing.  Applications are no exception!

6.     Include a picture of your beautiful child!  This helps bring a personal and real connection to those reading your applications.

7.     If at first you don’t succeed, apply and apply again!  I was turned down for some of my applications and I plan to re-apply before 2011 deadlines.  Make a copy of your completed application, as it stays basically the same from year to year.  It is much easier to update last year’s application than start from scratch on a 10 page app.  Update your new information and try again.

Check out this article in Family Services Community Connections.

Family Services provides resources and information. If you have a question, contact the Autism Response Team today. If you’re concerned that your child may be affected with autism or if you’ve received a diagnosis, browse the Tools for Families section, where you’ll find our 100 Day Kit, and the Autism Video Glossary. If you’d like to do a quick search for service providers near you, selectFind a Local Resource and browse the Resource Guide.

In Their Own Words – Experience Breeds Ability

February 17, 2011 22 comments

This ‘In Their Own Words’ post is by Susan Senator, a writer, activist, and the mother of three boys. Susan is the author of “Making Peace With Autism,” and “The Autism Mom’s Survival Guide.” Please visit Susan’s website for more of her blog and other resources.

I was looking for a place to toss a shovelful of snow that I’d just dug up next to the car when I thought about Nat.  Nat was still at the group home, but we had told him that as soon as the snow stopped and we were dug out, we’d come get him.  I threw the snow right or maybe left — we are really running out of space and the drifts bordering the driveway are about five feet high by now — and I imagined Nat and his brothers shoveling.

We are all really good at shoveling these days.  I pictured handing the shovel to Nat and seeing him push it down and push the snow aside.  No problem. But it used to be.  Such tantrums!  He couldn’t be outside with us.  And if we left him inside, he’d freak out in there, watching us working outside.  The horrible feelings I had, knowing I couldn’t be inside or outside.  There was no place to go, no place to be on this earth because my child was so unhappy and he could not understand what was going on.

Now he shovels snow willingly and competently.  Yet another skill, another feather in Nat’s cap.  How did this come to be?

We made him do it anyway.  We lived through tantrums.  We had shoveling (shopping days, movie outings, parties, holidays, vacations, meals, sleepless nights) days that ended badly.  Nat has been exposed to a lot of activities.  It’s as simple — and difficult — as that.  The more Nat experiences, the more he is able to do.  As soon as we realized that we needed to familiarize Nat with as many things as possible, we started to take him out, make him be around people and go to new places.  It was almost always really, really hard.  We tried a Cape Cod vacation:  terrible.  Each year, not as much.  Stayed with my parents:  it got better.  Switched to the ocean, rather than the bay side and brought boogie boards:  success.  Still difficult, because he walks in circuits and ends up too close to others’ blankets. But still, we enjoy ourselves for a lot of it.  Not all of it, but enough.

Challenger T-ball; failed.  A year later we tried Special Olympics gymnastics: success.  But bumpy success.  Nat sometimes slapped people or had tantrums or spaced out.  We stuck with it.  Or rather, Ned did.  I’m the coward of the two of us.  I find out about stuff and dream things up, but Ned very often ends up following them through. You gotta have at least one parent who doesn’t mind people staring, or an occasional pinch.  I think that even if you are a single parent, you should find a way to have a second person around sometimes.

Vacuuming.  Food shopping.  Parties.  Shoveling.  We took Nat places.  Even for abbreviated visits and outings.  Because even if he had tantrums during the event or activity, it was becoming a part of his repetoire.  Stored data.  Information he could draw on for the next time.  If there was a tiny seed of it already there in his mind, no matter how sharp and horrible that experience had been, it was now lodged there, resting in his gray matter.  And that is the most fertile ground there is.

“In Their Own Words” is a series within the Autism Speaks blog which shares the voices of people who have autism, as well as their loved ones. If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, 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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