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
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."
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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,
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
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.
SOMETHING ABOUT AUTISM NOW
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Drug Used In Alzheimers Tested In Kids With
Researchers think drug has potential to help kids with
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.
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
“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
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
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
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.
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
Dr. Aman is hopeful that use of
the drug will lead to gradual improvements in autistic children like
“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
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
In finding that points to genetic influences, family
members were more likely to have these
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
"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."
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.
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
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.
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
Still, the vision abnormality
suggests that something has gone awry in the
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
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
Essentially, the study suggests
relatives of people with autism share an abnormality in the brain that,
for them, didn't fully develop into
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
Could Gut Germs Underlie Western
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
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.
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
"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
"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
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.
Disease For Another
developed countries successfully controlled infectious diseases during the
second half of the last century, by improving sanitation and using
antibiotics and vaccines," the researchers
"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
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.
diet, in contrast, is heavy in meat, processed grains, sugar and
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
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.
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.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, online August 2,
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Virginia Teacher Charged
With Cruelty To
after a school employee called Child Protective Services about the alleged
abuse in July.
Centreville, Va. - Fairfax County Police have arrested and charged a
special education teacher with mistreating children in her
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.
charges stem from an investigation
Photo Courtesy of Fairfax County
Billeter was charged with
one count of misdemeanor simple assault and two counts of felony cruelty
Billeter turned herself
into the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center on
Fairfax County Public Schools
have suspended Billeter without pay.
• • •
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
Camp Brick may be the quietest summer camp in
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
“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
Camp Director Thayer said she got
the idea for Camp Brick from a woman with a Legos camp in Charlotte,
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 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
“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.
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
Thayer also gives them
problem-solving activities to build a toothbrush for a giraffe at the
Nashville Zoo or to create bridges to withstand
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
• • •
Caters To Caretakers
By Debra Gruszecki, K
Kaufmann and Mike Perrault, The Desert Sun, Palm Springs,
Do you believe in angels?
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
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
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
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
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
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
CARD Founder, Doreen Granpeesheh
“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
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
“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."
Turlejski, Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis,
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
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."
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
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
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
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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