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368414-74 A School District That Takes the Isolation Out of Autism

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  • schafer
    Sep 2, 2010

      Schafer Autism ReportRead this report online
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      Monday, August 2, 2010                      
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      A School District That Takes the Isolation Out of Autism

           Garner Moss, far right, with his cross-country teammates in Madison, Wis. He is not the fastest member of the team. But he does have his own style. - Andy Manis for The New York Times

            By Michael Winerip, NY Times xrl.in/5zy4

            Madison, Wis. — Garner Moss has autism and when he was finishing fifth grade, his classmates made a video about him, so the new students he would meet in the bigger middle school would know what to expect. His friend Sef Vankan summed up Garner this way: “He puts a little twist in our lives we don’t usually have without him."
            People with autism are often socially isolated, but the Madison public schools are nationally known for including children with disabilities in regular classes. Now, as a high school junior, Garner, 17, has added his little twist to many lives.
            He likes to memorize plane, train and bus routes, and in middle school during a citywide scavenger hunt, he was so good that classmates nicknamed him “GPS-man.” He is not one of the fastest on the high school cross-country team, but he runs like no other. “Garner enjoys running with other kids, as opposed to past them,” said Casey Hopp, his coach.
            Garner’s on the swim team, too, and gets rides to practice with a teammate, Michael Salerno. On cold mornings, no one wants to be first in the water, so Garner thinks it’s a riot to splash everyone with a colossal cannonball. “They get angry,” the coach, Paul Eckerle, said. “Then they see it’s Garner, and he gets away with it. And that’s how practice begins."
            On his smartphone, Garner loves watching YouTube videos of elevators (“That’s an Otis; it has an annoying fan.”) When John Stec, a swim teammate, met him two years ago, he assumed Garner wouldn’t talk much. “But as soon as you say stuff, he says stuff back to you,” John said. “He knew everyone’s name on the team even before he talked to us."
            This is why Garner’s parents, Beth and Duncan Moss, moved to Madison from Tennessee several years ago. In Tennessee, his parents said, they were constantly battling to have Garner included in regular programs, going through four mediation disputes.
            “After third grade there, I told my husband, Garner would go nowhere in life and the family would fall apart,” Ms. Moss said. “We had to leave.” At the time, Ms. Moss, who stopped working as a teacher when Garner was born, was attending autism conferences. “I kept hearing about Madison,” she said.
            Families with children with autism and developmental disabilities move from all over the country for the Madison schools. Kristi Jacobsen, whose son Jonathan has autism, moved from Omaha several years ago. She and her three children live here full time, while her husband, who has a financial business in Omaha, commutes back and forth.
            “It’s a sacrifice,” Ms. Jacobsen said. “But Jonathan’s made such progress. They give him every opportunity to be part of the community."
            Lisa Pugh’s family moved from Wichita, Kan., for their daughter Erika, 11. A year and half ago Ms. Pugh took a job in Washington, but last month the family returned because, Ms. Pugh said, they missed Madison’s schools.
            Build it and they will come. Nationally, about 12 percent of students are identified as disabled, but in Madison 17.5 percent are, according to John Harper, who oversees special education. Mr. Harper said that 88 percent of elementary students with disabilities were fully included in classes, along with 81 percent of middle school students and 63 percent of high school students. Most of the rest have a mix of general and special education classes; fewer than 5 percent are separate.
            David Riley of the Urban Special Education Leadership Collaborative said Madison was one of the “big three” leaders in successfully implementing inclusion, along with the schools in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., and Clark County, Nev.
            While it costs Madison $23,000 to educate a child with autism (to pay for extra support staff members) versus $12,000 for a typical child, Colleen Capper, a University of Wisconsin professor, said inclusion was cheaper than segregating students.
            For years this liberal university city’s seven-member school board — which includes Ms. Moss, Garner’s mother — has been unanimous in supporting inclusion. “This is not a board that separates our children; it’s a board that believes every child should be educated,” said Marjorie Passman, a member.
      + Read more: xrl.in/5zy4


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      Drug Used In Alzheimers Tested In Kids With Autism
      Researchers think drug has potential to help kids with speech, interaction

            By Ohio State University Medical Center  xrl.in/5zyt

           (HealthNewsDigest.com) - Ohio State University researchers are embarking on a study to determine if a single drug can treat both autism and Alzheimer’s disease, two different conditions affecting two different age groups, but with some similarities.
            This study, led by Dr. Michael Aman of Ohio State University Medical Center, examines the effects of memantine, a drug proven safe and effective for Alzheimer’s disease, on kids with autism. Memantine has been used in Europe for nearly 30 years to help fight dementia**, and was approved for the use in Alzheimer's patients in 2003.
            Both Alzheimer’s disease and autism share a brain malfunction involving a chemical called glutamate, which impacts the patient’s speech and interaction.
            “In the case of Alzheimer’s we’re talking about loss of function. In the case of autistic disorder we’re talking about failure to develop,” Dr. Aman says.
            Since both Alzheimer’s & autism share this key similarity, experts here hope that if a drug helps one, it may help with the other. Dr. Aman says most drugs for autism only focus on lessening symptoms like hyperactivity or repetitive actions. This study is designed to try and help communication, one of the core issues of autism.
            Ohio State’s research builds on a previous study of memantine on approximately 150 children with autism which showed promising results. Investigators reported that communication improved with this medicine in about 70 percent of participants.
            Thomas and Amy Hess of Columbus are optimistic for improved communication with their 10-year old son, Henry, who has autism. He is taking memantine as part of Dr. Aman’s trial. In most ways, Henry is just like most other 10-year old boys - he loves riding his bike, playing and drawing. It’s only during conversations that Henry’s autism is noticeable.
            “Some days we’ll get an eight-word sentence out of him, but others we’ll just get a couple of words,” says Henry’s mother Amy Hess.
            Dr. Aman is hopeful that use of the drug will lead to gradual improvements in autistic children like Henry.
            “We’re not going to snap our fingers and suddenly see a total reversal, so the kinds of improvements we’re looking for might be more gradual and might be built up more slowly, but will still be beneficial.” Dr. Aman says.
            For more information and to download broadcast-ready video, audio and still photos, please visit msmediacenter.tv.

      • • •

      Vision Abnormality Seen in Close Relatives of Autism Patients

      In finding that points to genetic influences, family members were more likely to have these differences

            By Randy DotingaHealthDay xrl.in/5zxd

            HealthDay News - In another sign that autism is at least partly inherited, a new study reveals that close relatives of people with the disorder share something in common: their eyes are much more likely than those of other people to function abnormally.
            "There are brain abnormalities that run in families with autism," said study co-author John A. Sweeney. "These findings might be telling us that there's an important genetic contribution to autism."
            The causes of autism, which affects an estimated one in 110 children in the United States, are unclear, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of children diagnosed with the disorder has risen in recent years, but it's not clear if that's largely due to more awareness or some other factor, such as something in the environment around these children.
            Previous research has suggested that family members of autism patients are more likely to have some minor brain impairments than other people, said Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer of Autism Speaks, an advocacy organization.
            In the new study, researchers looked for signs of eye abnormalities that are common in people with autism. They often have difficulty tracking moving objects in the first milliseconds that they look at those objects, explained Sweeney, director of the Center for Cognitive Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
            The abnormalities are minor and probably have no significant impact on vision, Sweeney said. "These parents are walking around fine, and it's unlikely that these [abnormalities] are going to affect anyone's life."
            Still, the vision abnormality suggests that something has gone awry in the brain.
            Sweeney and colleagues studied the eye movements of 57 close relatives -- 42 parents and 15 siblings of people with autism. They compared them to 40 other people who were similar to them in age, gender and IQ but weren't close relatives of people with autism.
            More than 50 percent of the family members of people with autism showed different signs of abnormal eye movements, Sweeney said. In the general population, about 5 percent of people might have the abnormalities, he added.
            Essentially, the study suggests relatives of people with autism share an abnormality in the brain that, for them, didn't fully develop into autism.
            Sweeney acknowledged that the study doesn't shed light on exactly how responsible genetics are for autism. Still, the findings fit in with research "that suggests the problems in autism are much more the results of genetic than environmental factors," he said.
            The study also provides evidence that the genes thought to carry the risk for autism specifically affect parts of the brain such as the cerebellum and frontal cortex, Dawson said.
            The study findings are published in the August issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.
      • • •

      Could Gut Germs Underlie Western Allergies?

            By Maggie Fox xrl.in/5zys

            Reuters - Germs living in the gut may cause higher rates of allergies, chronic stomach upsets and even obesity among children living in rich industrialized countries, researchers reported on Monday.
            They compared intestinal bacteria between European Union children and young villagers in remote Burkina Faso, and found enough differences to help explain disparities in chronic disease and obesity.
            The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may support the development of probiotic products to help restore the ancient balance and keep humans leaner and healthier, the researchers said.
            "Our results suggest that diet has a dominant role over other possible variables such as ethnicity, sanitation, hygiene, geography, and climate, in shaping the gut microbiota," Paolo Lionetti of the University of Florence in Italy and colleagues wrote.
            "We can hypothesize that the reduction in richness we observe in EU compared with Burkina Faso children, could indicate how the consumption of sugar, animal fat, and calorie-dense foods in industrialized countries is rapidly limiting the adaptive potential of the microbiota."
            The study builds on a body of evidence that human health relies heavily on the trillions of microorganisms living in and on our bodies. Only a fraction cause disease directly - many more help digest food, affect other bacteria and may influence hundreds of biological functions.
            Several recent studies have found that certain bacteria cause inflammation that can affect appetite as well as inflammatory bowel conditions like Crohn's disease and colitis, including a study published in Science in March.

      Trading One Disease For Another
            "Western developed countries successfully controlled infectious diseases during the second half of the last century, by improving sanitation and using antibiotics and vaccines," the researchers wrote.
            "At the same time, a rise in new diseases such as allergic, autoimmune disorders, and inflammatory bowel disease both in adults and in children has been observed," they added.
            Lionetti's team studied the DNA of the gut bacteria of children in Burkina Faso, who are breast-fed up to age two and eat a diet likely similar to stone-age humans, rich in whole grains such as millet, legumes such as black-eyed peas, and vegetables. They eat very little meat.
            The Western diet, in contrast, is heavy in meat, processed grains, sugar and fat.
            The Italian team found the African children had many bacteria that help break down fiber, but the European children were lacking these microbes. The ratios were similar to studies comparing the gut bacteria of lean people to obese people.
            This bacterial balance could even be causing obesity, the researchers said. It may also be useful to test children for these bacteria to see if they are at high risk of becoming obese, they said.
            "Reduction in microbial richness is possibly one of the undesirable effects of globalization and of eating generic, nutrient-rich, uncontaminated foods," Lionetti's team wrote in the study.
            SOURCE: link.reuters.com/typ82n Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online August 2, 2010.

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      • • •


      Virginia Teacher Charged
      With Cruelty To Children


             Centreville, Va. - Fairfax County Police have arrested and charged a special education teacher with mistreating children in her care.
            According to police, 33-year-old Jennah Billeter physically assaulted two boys, ages 4 and 5, at Deer Park Elementary School in Centreville. The boys did not require medical treatment.
            The charges stem from an investigation

      Photo Courtesy of Fairfax County Police Department
      launched after a school employee called Child Protective Services about the alleged abuse in July.
            Billeter was charged with one count of misdemeanor simple assault and two counts of felony cruelty to children.
            Billeter turned herself into the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center on Sunday.
            Fairfax County Public Schools have suspended Billeter without pay.

      • • •

      Legos Lovers Put It All Together
      at Camp Brick

      Camp founder has more event planned for lego fans in Nashville

            By Juanita Cousins, The Tennessean, xrl.in/5zy3

              Bradeb Galbreath,11, creates a Star Wars ship out of Legos during Camp Brick which camp for girls and boys ages 5-13 designed for children to create structures with Legos at Lipscomb University. (Shelley Mays/The Tennessean)

            Jennifer Thayer’s Camp Brick may be the quietest summer camp in Nashville.
            In a classroom at Lipscomb University, a dozen boys construct buildings and contraptions from colorful Legos. A few kids sit on the floor facing the wall to concentrate on their projects.
            Others prefer groups for the larger-scale construction of Star Wars ships, Atlantis, the Sponge Bob Square Pants Pineapple House and the Space Shuttle Challenger.
            “They are educational to build but fun to play with when you’re done, of course,” said Branson Galbreath, 11, while working on a Jawa Sand Crawler from Star Wars. “It’s big. It’s cool. But you have to pay very close attention, because if you mess up then you have to take a big hunk off."
            Camp Director Thayer said she got the idea for Camp Brick from a woman with a Legos camp in Charlotte, N.C.
            She visited the camp and modeled Camp Brick after that venture. For nine months she looked for Legos sales at local toy stores and online to amass more than 100 sets in nine months, Thayer said.
            Thayer operates two 3.5-hour sessions daily for three weeks for children ages 5 through 13. The cost is $200 for a one-week session.
            Campers go on Lego scavenger hunts, assemble sets of their choice, free-form build using their imaginations and assemble and program Lego Mindstorm robots.
            “I think they are really fun. … There are so many different possibilities. You can put them together like a staircase of put together the set,” said John Barckley, 9, known as a Lego Brickmaster.
            The secret to building Lego sets is to separate the pieces by color and size into chips and dip party trays and then follow the all-picture instructions, he said.
            Thayer also gives them problem-solving activities to build a toothbrush for a giraffe at the Nashville Zoo or to create bridges to withstand floods.
            But at the end of the day, the Legos are taken apart and returned to their plastic tubs for students in the next session to play.
      + Read more: xrl.in/5zy3

      • • •

      New Store Caters To Caretakers
      of Autistic Children

            By Debra Gruszecki, K Kaufmann and Mike Perrault,  The Desert Sun, Palm Springs, California. xrl.in/5zyb
            Do you believe in angels?
            The Moore family does — so much so, they've called on the celestial beings to market Angels for Autism, a 2,000-square-foot retail store in Rio del Plaza in Cathedral City that holds potential to empower and inspire.
            Founded by LaVeda and Dean Moore, parents of 9-year-old Evan, the store is a one-stop shopping zone to serve parents, teachers and therapists of special needs children — some 6,500 of whom live in the Coachella Valley.
            It offers products in a “stare-free” environment for children with autism and special needs in the areas of sensory integration, socialization, life skills, fine motor skills and therapy.
            What prompted the Moores to tap their personal savings to open the store in tough economic times? “We were for the longest time frustrated that we couldn't find all the products we needed in one place," Moore said. “So, after all the somebody-shoulds, we decided we would."
            Think sensory-friendly clothing by New York manufacturer, Soft; hand-crafted puzzles; wooden toys; resource materials; learning and therapy tools. The store also sells autism-empowerment T-shirts.
            His personal favorite? The shirt that says, “I heard Einstein was a late talker."

      • • •


      World’s Largest Autism Treatment Center Celebrates Milestone Center For Autism & Related Disorders

      Honored at 20TH Anniversary Gala

      Saturday, September 25, 2010 Los angeles
      Renowned autism expert Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh honored

            Los Angeles – The Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc. (CARD) will celebrate their 20th Anniversary at a star-studded gala on Saturday, September 25, 2010 at 6:30pm at the legendary Park Plaza located at 607 S. Park View Street, Los Angeles, CA.
            The black-tie charity event is expected to draw 500 supporters including community leaders, 

      CARD Founder, Doreen Granpeesheh honored.
      leading autism researchers, CARD families and clients, CARD clinicians, and many surprise guests.  Young people and their families who have received CARD services will be in attendance to share their inspiring stories.
            “I was told to institutionalize my son when he was diagnosed with autism at the age of three,” said Bryce Miler, mother to former CARD client, Brett.  Brett was treated by CARD from 1994 to 1999, recovered and is now studying psychology at Moorpark College.  “Thank goodness I found CARD back then.  They worked miracles with my son and so many other children."
            CARD Founder, Doreen Granpeesheh, PhD, BCBA-D, will be honored in a special tribute during the event.  Her career in autism treatment spans over 30 years and she participated in some of the most noteworthy findings on the subject.  She participated in the first major research study showing that recovery from autism is possible when intensive, early Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) treatments are used.  Her work with renowned psychologist Dr. Ivar Lovaas at UCLA in 1987 produced an almost 50% recovery rate for the children in the ABA program there.  Dr. Granpeesheh started the Center for Autism & Related Disorders (CARD) in 1990 and quickly expanded ABA services throughout California, then to other major US cities.  Today, CARD operates 22 facilities worldwide and partners with several other agencies to ensure ABA treatment is disseminated to all those who need it.
            “When I began my career, the incidence rate of autism was 1 in 10,000.  Today, it’s 1 in 100 children,” says Dr. Granpeesheh. “This is an epidemic that we as a society are not keeping up with.  So many children would benefit from treatment, but they have zero access because of lack of funding or qualified clinicians.  This is not acceptable.  Autism is treatable.  This is why I started CARD and is why I’m so passionate about spreading treatment globally."

      • • •


      Autism and Heavy Metals: An Interview With Mary Catherine DeSoto, Ph.D. Beatings

            By J.B. Handley on ageofautism.com xrl.in/5zy5

            “I am sure that only an open debate, searching for new mechanisms and many more experiments may solve the problem of what caused the rise of the incidence of autism that is becoming more and more real the more we investigate the problem."
            - Kris Turlejski, Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis, Editor-in-Chief

             Despite no mainstream reporting about the recent edition (Vol. 70, No 2) of the medical journal Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis, it represents a watershed moment for the autism community: multiple scientists coming together and challenging many of the autism epidemic’s most pernicious myths.
            AoA, appropriately, has focused on one study from the journal by Hewitson and colleagues comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated primates, which ANE’s editor notes “support[s] the possibility that there is a link between early immunization and the etiology of autism."
            Another excellent paper in ANE’s current edition was written by Mary Catherine DeSoto, Ph.D. and Robert Hitlan, Ph.D., titled "Sorting Out the Spinning of Autism: Heavy Metals and the Question of Incidence.”    Dr. DeSoto is a welcome voice in a debate about autism that has grown ugly, partisan, and close-minded, particularly amongst the mainstream scientific community. An Associate Professor from the University of Northern Iowa and a published scientist with nearly two dozen works to her name, Dr. DeSoto makes a powerful case regarding two of the more heated arguments in the autism debate: is the rise in autism cases real and do heavy metals play a role in autism?
            There’s no fact or data set more important than reaching a consensus amongst every stakeholder in the autism debate that the incidence of autism is truly on the rise. If it is, than our money should be focused on finding the environmental trigger for all these new cases. If it isn’t, perhaps the money should be best spent on improving education and services. How do we find a cause for something if we can’t even agree that it’s indeed growing or that there might be a trigger for it? She writes:
            “But we believe that recent studies and recently available data sets are providing convergent evidence for a secular increase [in cases of autism] across numerous countries."
            Also in her paper, Dr. DeSoto pulls no punches in challenging her scientific colleagues for “spinning” the message about autism and its relationship to toxins and argues that:   “It cannot be said there is no evidence for a link between heavy metal toxins and autism: although the question may still be open-in sum, the evidence favors a link."
            Dr. DeSoto also shows tremendous courage in wading into the topic of the bias and “spin” that many in the mainstream scientific community appear to provide when speaking about the science of autism incidence and autism and heavy metals. She writes:   “If a person has publicly staked his/her career on a certain position being right, it may become harder to keep a truly open mind, even when new data become available and even when the original intent was to be objective. A way this bias might manifest itself is an over-statement or slight misstatement of results."
            Our community would be pleased to know that Dr. DeSoto uses none other than the Dark Lord himself, Paul Offit, as an example of a pundit propagating this spin:
      + Read more: xrl.in/5zy5

            Note: The opinions expressed in COMMENTARY are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Schafer Autism Report.

      • • •


      Comment on Increase in Pertussis cases

            The article mentions the usual B.S. about "herd immunity" being reduced but makes the mistake of stating that 7 - 10 yr olds who HAVE been vaccinated are getting the disease.  Of course that's attributed to the immunity provided by earlier vaccination "wearing off".  Baloney.  Vaccine advocates can't/won't acknowledge that vaccination is not the cure all they purport it to be.  Nor are they willing to acknowledge that it results in serious side effects in certain subsets of susceptible people.  Some type of honest evaluation of the efficacy of vaccination needs to be completed by a neutral 3rd party.  Vaccination is just another medical treatment with positive and negative effects.  The mainstream media presents it like some type of panacea--it's NOT.
            - Lawrence Landherr, Rochester, MN

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        In This Issue:

      (Message over 64 KB, truncated)

      A School District That Takes the Isolation Out of Autism

      Drug Used In Alzheimers Tested In Kids With Autism

      Vision Abnormality Seen in Close Relatives of Autism Patients

      Could Gut Germs Underlie Western Allergies?

      Virginia Teacher Charged With Cruelty To Children

      Legos Lovers Put It All Together at Camp Brick

      New Store Caters To Caretakers Of Autistic Children

      World’s Largest Autism Treatment Center Celebrates Milestone Center For Autism & Related Disorders

      Autism and Heavy Metals


      Autism And Vaccines – The Truth Behind a Tragedy
      Andrew Wakefield

      [advertising donated]

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