Archive for May, 2008
MELVILLE, N.Y. – A psychology researcher has pinpointed regions of the brain that are linked to “ritualistic repetitive behavior” in autistic children – the insatiable desire to rock back and forth for hours or to tirelessly march in place.
Repetitive behavior is one of autism’s core traits. It has driven parents to extremes as they try to distract a child to engage in other activities.
Mapping the brain constitutes a journey into the inner labyrinths of a three-pound cosmos where countless frontiers have yet to be explored.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is becoming a major public policy issue. Federal health officials estimate that it afflicts 1 in every 150 children, which affects not only families but communities.
School systems don’t have enough appropriately trained teachers. Social services departments are overwhelmed by parents who need support and respite care.
For clues to the disorder, some scientists are scanning the human genome for suspect DNA.
Doctors involved in the autism research say that the brain areas associated with repetitious behavior were not associated with another autism problem, self-injury. Some children repeatedly slam their heads against a wall, for instance.
TACOMA – Washington Academy of Music is now offering a program for special needs kids after an instructor taught an 8 year old autistic boy how to play guitar.
The instructor said that the boy, educationally, had a high success rate following that. This is a first in autistic education at the school. The school is insistent on the fact that they’re not only offering lessons, but they are role models as well.
Yoga is often thought as a great way to enhance your body and spirit as it works on both the physical and emotional aspects of one’s being. Parenting a child with autism isn’t easy and many instructors are now offering yoga classes to both parents and autistic children.
The idea is to utilize yoga as a way to help children focus their minds and energy and better deal with their anxiety. Obviously, this isn’t the end all of therapy, but it can help a great deal.
In the latest autism news regarding religion, Pope Benedict XVI has been asked on what the church will do about parishioners who are autistic after a Catholic church in Minnesota filed a restraining order against a 13 year old autistic boy.
The local sheriff threatened to arrest the boy and his mother if they had attempted to enter the church. The church’s priest filed the order of protection “for the safety of those at the church.”
Now people are calling on the Pope to provide guidelines on how to reach out to Catholics who suffer from autism or provide care to those who do.
In an unprecedented act, the federal government has granted Pennsylvania permission to spend Medicaid money on services that will allow autistic adults to live independently.
The previous Medicaid and Medicare services were focused on targeting autistic children, but not adults.
Pennsylvania’s program will allow for respite care and crisis intervention. This latest autism news is a highly positive note for people who have no services or aid once they cross the age threshold of 21.
Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada have found that autism detection can begin as early as nine months.
The Early Autism Study, led by Mel Rutherford, associate professor of psychology in the Faculty of Science, has been using eye tracker technology that measures eye direction while the babies look at faces, eyes, and bouncing balls on a computer screen.
Rutherford presented her peer-reviewed research at the 7th Annual International Meeting for Autism Research in London.
At present time, the earliest diagnostic test for autism is reliable around the age of two, and most children in Canada are diagnosed around age three or four.
Yesterday in Florida, Gov. Charlie Crist signed into law a bill that requires insurance companies to cover the cost of autism therapy for children in the state. According to the law, insurance policies will cover behavioral therapies for autistic children for up to $36,000 a year and a lifetime maximum of $200,000.
The bill passed earlier in the spring and is among several bills that have been introduced in several states around the U.S.
Last Friday, scientists from the University of Pittsburgh released findings from a study that showed primates that were given vaccines showed autism-like symptoms. The vaccines that were used were the same ones recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics; several of the vaccines had thimerosal in it.
The study’s results are being released as a federal case goes underway.
The latest in autism news comes from San Jose, CA. On May 17th, Cadence Design Systems hosted a bowling tournament to raise money for a pediatric center specifically for children who suffer from autism. Members of local NFL franchise, the San Francisco 49ers were in attendance, as were several local leaders. The event raised $1.045 million, while Cadence employees raised over $75,000 prior to the event.
CALIFORNIA – New technologies are helping autistic children communicate like never before. At the Pacific Autism Center for Education in Santa Clara, each morning begins with a Power Point presentation, launching a day filled with technology and a new type of autism therapy.
Two out of every three students at the center are non-verbal, but thanks to a voice output device 12-year-old Alex is able to get the snacks he craves.
Malique also uses the device to “talk” for him.
“The largest benefit is the ability to give them a voice, gives them a voice that offers a breadth of options and the third benefit is the social interactions that come from having the ability to speak,” explained the center’s Kurt Ohlfs.
Technology also makes communicating less cumbersome. Imagine trying to carry around a book with pictures of everything you wanted to convey in a day.
Now the students have all that information at their fingertips; 21-year-old Daniel is using a more advanced, hand held device that offers him a menu with hundreds of icon options. He selects the ones he wants and the computer talks in sentences, conveying his thoughts.
“It’s amazing when we’ve given some of this technology to our students and it’s opened up that door and now the students are surprisingly prolific when it comes to expressing their thoughts,” said Ohlfs.