Siblings of Children with Autism Often Have Developmental Delays

87561520Although it is still very unclear as to what exactly causes autism, recent research has begun to show that family members of children with autism often have developmental delays as well. Nearly 50% of the time, siblings of children with autism show some form of slower development. Researchers have also found that one out of every five siblings of children with autism will also develop some form of autism sometime in their lives.

This research shows scientists the importance of screen siblings of children with autism early on so as to find the disorder quickly and begin treatment as soon as possible. Studies have proved that in some cases of autism, early diagnosis and treatment in children can be the difference between the child growing into a completely independent adult, or needing lifelong care or assistance.

To read the complete article, click here.

Canada Suffers Due to Lack of Vaccines

kids%20at%20school-saidaonlineCommunities in Canada are experiencing huge outbreaks of the measles, a completely preventable and highly contagious infection. The reason that the measles seems to be spreading across the country seems to be due to the fact that Canadian public schools do not require their students to have all of their vaccines and immunizations. The immunization rate of British Columbia is around 65% in schools, while the country as a whole averages 85%, still 10 percent less than the minimum needed to prevent harmful diseases.

One of the reasons that parents reject safe, protective immunizations is because they believe that they can cause autism. This idea stems from a 1998 article published in the British medical journal The Lancet,which claimed that a link had been uncovered between the measles/mumps vaccine and autism. The report was then backed by endorsements by celebrities like Jenny McCarthy, and created a steep decline in immunization rates worldwide. Countless studies have been conducted since that have proved that immunizing children does not lead to autism development in later years. 

To read the complete article, click here

Kansas Bill Mandates that Autism is Covered by Insurance

20090908_lawmaker-summit-in-st-paul_33Lawmakers in Kansas have recently proposed a bill that will make it mandatory for insurance companies to cover children with autism under current insurance plans. Advocates for the bill have been pressing for a proposal similar to the Kansas bill for years, but are not completely satisfied with the bill as it stands now. The problem lays within the amount of coverage offered for children with autism. The current prescribed treatment for autism is known as applied behavior analysis (ABA), and typically costs families around $60,000/year out of pocket. The proposed bill would cover 10 hours of ABA under Kansas insurance plans. Autism advocates say that the bill needs to cover 40.

Michael Wasmer, associate director of state government affairs for the advocacy group Autism Speaks, says that the bill is like partially treating a problem. He says that “we’re not going to be happy if your child is prescribed a certain dose of antibiotic, and they only get half of it. We’re not going to be happy if your child breaks his arm, but they only partly fix it.” If the bill passes, it will be another step towards the right direction in the way children with autism are treated legally in the United States.

To read the full article, click here.

Researchers in Nebraska are Searching for Earlier Autism Detection

father-child-doctors-office-300x300Researchers at the University of Nebraska Omaha have been working to help identify babies who are showing early signs of autism spectrum disorder. They look for missed developmental milestones, such as an inability to track objects with their eyes, the ability to sit upright, or responding to parents’ voices. Children as young as four months are now being tested for autism disorder. Early tests have been proven to be critical for a healthier life for both parent and child.

Even though this is a great step towards creating a healthier life for children with autism in Nebraska, the state still remains as one of just 17 in the United States that does not require insurance companies to cover medical care for children with autism. The state currently has a bill in the process of being passed in congress titled LB 505 that would rectify the situation.

To check out the full article, click here

 

Some New Findings On Autism Spectrum Disorder

The past decade has given scientists a wealth of new information about autism spectrum disorder and how it affects people. A new article published by the Huffington Post highlights some of the newest and most important discoveries.

1. There may soon be a way to genetically test for the Autism Spectrum Disorder

This past decade has yielded the discovery of a genetic basis for ASD. Now it seems that scientists are       very close to developing a blood test for ASD. The hope is that these recent scientific breakthroughs will lead to more research on how environmental and genetic factors of autism.

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2. Researchers are developing new medications to address more symptoms of autism

Scientists are working on medications that can target specific neurotransmitters and help control some of the biggest symptoms of autism, such as difficulty communicating and repetitive behavior. These medications are very different than antidepressants and stimulants because they are engineered specifically for those with autism. They will also have less harmful side effects.

3. Children with ASD may have a higher chance of developing obesity.

Some of the factors that create a higher chance of obesity within the autistic community are delayed motor development, sleep problems, a picky palate, and side-effects of medications.

4. Severe stomach pain can cause children to exhibit stronger symptoms of autism spectrum disorder.

Treatment of gastrointestinal issues could lessen the severity of symptoms of children on the autism spectrum. This opens the door for a new type of microbe-based therapy to treat ASD.

5. Children with autism spectrum disorder can be both over-sensitive or under-sensitive to sounds, touches, tastes, or smells.

This means that children with ASD may be annoyed or uncomfortable by certain types of fabric, or do not feel pain as quickly, leading to worse injuries. Researchers believe this is due to the fact that children with ASD have different brain structures than those without.

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6. More high-functioning children with autism are going to college than ever before.

Unfortunately, they are also at a higher risk for depression, and are dropping out of college more often. Research on students with autism is currently a top priority for scientists.

To read the full article, click HERE

 

Using Disney as a Treatment for Children with Autism

Disney-Castle-Wallpaper-640x360Disney has always been dubbed the “the happiest place on Earth,” but a recent study has shown that it cannot be more true for children with autism. Recent research on the autism spectrum has shown that Disney and Pixar movies can help children associate pictures with language, an incredibly useful tool for both children and parents.

Disney World is also a magical place for children with autism. The park is a great environment for children, regardless of their health status. Disney staff members are kind and knowledgeable on children with autism, creating a welcoming environment for all families. Children with autism who visit the park seem to be truly connected to the community.

It is unknown exactly why children with autism respond so positively to Disney. There are many treatments and therapies for children with autism, but it seems that an effective one can simply be watching Disney movies with their families.

Full article is available HERE

We’re back for our second year!

Hi there,

My name is Don Washington. As an individual with autism, I have been involved in the disability movement for years now, and I am passionate about the work that I do. I believe that the biggest struggle for the autistic community is the lack of a voice, which is why I founded the Missing Pieces Project. My goal with the Missing Pieces Project is to empower the friends, families, and communities affected by autism through a series of photographs.

This is the Missing Pieces Project’s second year, and I would absolutely love for you to be join us for Autism Awareness Month 2014. All I ask is that you submit a high-quality photo of yourself with 1-2 sentences answering our call to action, “What is your missing piece?”

If you’re interested in submitting, please attach your photos as an attachment to missingpiecesproject@gmail.com.

With your help, what I hope to teach others about individuals with autism is this: “We are human, we have something to say, but more importantly, we ALL have missing pieces.”

Thank you so much,

Don

 

New Autism Study Identifies Cause – Lead/Toxic Metals

An article from the Boston Metro this past week revealed the results of a study from Arizona State University regarding causal links between lead exposure and autism. It was found generally that the higher level of toxic metal present in a person’s blood, the more intense the symptoms of autism were. Autistic subjects were compared to control subjects who did not suffer from autism, and the results were astoundingly undeniable; those with Autism were found to carry about 74% more lead in their bodies and about 115% more tin, and those with the most severe autistic symptoms had the most concentrations of toxic metals.

The reason these findings are making so many waves in the disability community is because autism has long been thought to be hereditary. Now that it has been linked to something as common and present as lead, the question looms large: what do we do about it? If autism can be linked to something tangible, something preventable, what are our responsibilities now? Victims of lead poisoning have collected compensation up to $320 million. Should autistic individuals be compensated for being exposed to lead commonly found in soil, paints, or gasoline? Now that a potentially preventable cause of this disability has been identified, the cause needs to be dealt with.Image

Boys more likely to be Autistic?

Boston scientists recently performed a study on male and female twins to provide insight on why males are disproportionately affected by the disorder. Scientists affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School performed the study. They found that boys were more susceptible to the condition and girls needed a higher genetic risk factor in order to exhibit Autistic symptoms. The scientists have yet to determine what is contributing to this disparity between males and females. Do females have some super Autism-fighting gene? We’ll keep you in the loop!

 

Full article from Boston Globe: http://b.globe.com/YQN7Gb

Autism The Musical

On Tuesday, I went to Berklee College for an autism symposium. The title was “Perspectives on Music Therapy And Autism” and it was sponsored by the Greater Boston Chapter of Autism Speaks. What does music have in common with autism? The answer inspired me both visually and musically. The first half of the day was very insightful to me because there were these speakers who had amazing views about music therapy and autism that actually made sense. One speaker that really spoke to me was Dr. Krystal Demaine, an alum of Berklee. She spoke about the role of imitation in music therapy for with ASD. What I saw on the PowerPoint really blew me away. There were videos of her working with children and showing them how to memorize drum cadences and certain sequences with vocal accomplices. It was pretty cool to see how their skills in retention improved in practice. She really knows her stuff.  It took me back to the time when I exposed myself to different genres of music as a child.  Because I could not talk for the first four years of my life, I had to use my ears and listen to my surroundings. Since I was at Berklee, I knew I was in for a few good performances by the current students there and if you are a student there, you better sing and well. They definitely did not disappoint. One of  the students whom I had the opportunity to meet was Kailee Holly, the president of the music therapy student club. She graced the stage with a beautiful rendition of the bossa nova song Desafinado by Antonio Carlos Jobim in English as well as Portuguese and I was floored by her lovely voice. For me, the crown jewel was listening to the Boston Higashi Jazz Band. This band, directed by Kaname Ueno, was entirely composed of students on the autism spectrum and what they did blew me away. They started off with a very nice rendition of My Funny Valentine but what really got me energized was their version of Cantaloupe Island by Herbie Hancock. The Boston Higashi Jazz Band showed me the true power of the human spirit through music. I walked away from the symposium with a deeper respect for music but with a greater appreciation for my autism because it helped me communicate in a way that I could not do otherwise. Autism through song and instruments? Now, that’s music to my ears.