SAR "Healing Autism:
Schafer Autism Report No Finer a Cause on the Planet"
Tuesday, July 25, 2006 Vol. 10 No. 130
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* 'Pets Are Better Than Prozac'
* How the Schools Shortchange Boys
* Learning Center Opens in Scottsdale
* A Clinical and Laboratory Evaluation of Methionine Cycle-
Transsulfuration and Androgen Pathway Markers in Children with
* Polio, Autism, or Neither? The Autism/Vaccine Scandal Dissipates
* World Crashes In On Sleazy Sex Kingpin
* Alabama Sues Drug Company
* "Autistic" Gets Life Term In Double Slaying
* One-of-a-Kind Bike Stolen in MN, Reward Offered For Return
* Autistic Kids Can Improve With Help, Author Says
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'Pets Are Better Than Prozac'
Dogs, horses, even rabbits - all can provide therapy for the mentally
fragile, as Lucy Atkins discovers
"Pet therapy" used to mean sending your sad pooch to see a doggy
shrink. These days, however, your pet is less likely to see a therapist than
to be one.
The change is down to the growing scientific evidence demonstrating
the therapeutic potential of animals.
Guide dogs, or hearing dogs, which are trained to help people with
physical disabilities, are already part of our national consciousness. But
now dogs, cats, horses - and even rabbits or fish - are being used to
provide psychiatric assistance to humans suffering from agoraphobia,
addiction, depression and schizophrenia.
In the US, where this trend began, the notion of "emotional support
animals" has become so mainstream that a pet which helps you to stay sane
now has the same legal rights in housing and transportation (including air
travel) as a guide dog.
There is even a debate currently raging in Manhattan over the
increasing numbers of people who claim their mutts are emotional support
animals, then bring them along to restaurants and cafés.
This is not, apparently, as crazy as it sounds. According to Ingrid
Collins, a consultant psychologist at the London Medical Centre, the idea of
an emotional support dog getting these rights is completely valid.
"A pet is better than Prozac," she says. "Animals have a completely
different agenda to humans, and bring things back to basics. They want
comfort, feeding and love. In return, they give huge affection."
This calming, restorative doggy function means that canines in America
are now commonly used as companions for people suffering depression or
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. "Depressed people tend to be inward
looking," says Collins. "To care for another soul, an uncomplicated one, is
therefore extremely therapeutic."
One US pet support website summarises its philosophy thus: "A dog is
better than a wife, because the later you come home, the more happy the dog
is to see you."
It is not only dogs that can help people with psychiatric problems,
says Collins. Even a rabbit can be beneficial.
"The simple benefit of touch, for someone who is lonely - perhaps
after a divorce or bereavement - or suffering from low self-esteem, is
enormous," she says.
What is more, she adds, animals, unlike spouses or bosses, can be
highly tuned to a human's emotional state.
This notion lies behind an emerging form of psychotherapy that uses
horses to treat people with psychiatric problems. "Equine Assisted
Psychotherapy" (EAP) originated in the States, but is now being practised in
"Horses are a mirror to humans: a horse will pick up on someone's
mental state and react to it clearly," says Wendy Powell, addictions
therapist at the Stepps Rehabilitation Centre in Gloucestershire.
"Horses, unlike people, do not worry about hurting your feelings."
EAP therapists set their clients horsey tasks such as feeding or
grooming. This helps people to face their fears and to build
self-confidence. In the two years that Stepps has been using EAP, horses
have helped dysfunctional families, warring couples, addicts, and people
with eating disorders, anger issues and depression.
"It is a very powerful therapeutic method," says Powell. "When you are
faced with a ton and a half of horse, there is no hiding your true
"There has certainly been a recent surge of interest in the
relationship between companion animals and human health," says Dr Deborah
Wells, a psychologist specialising in animals at Queen's University,
Some pet benefits are physical: dogs have been known to sniff out
malignant tumours or anticipate epileptic seizures in their owners and to
lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
A recent British study found that the presence of a dog during
potentially painful medical procedures reduced chronically ill children's
physiological and psychological levels of distress. Research from Israel,
meanwhile, suggests that animals can help people with schizophrenia to feel
calmer and more motivated.
The psychological support potential of animals is now being studied in
depth too. "Studies have found that merely having a dog in the room acts as
a stress buffer," says Wells. "In trials of people doing stressful tasks,
such as mental arithmetic, individuals functioned better when there was a
dog in the room - even better than they did with a friend for company."
The reason for this is hardly mysterious: "A dog will not have an
opinion about how well you are performing. Dogs are a non-judgmental safety
Wells says that dogs "can genuinely alter your mood". She believes
they can also act as social lubricants for people who would otherwise be
entirely isolated: "They can improve self-esteem and confidence, and your
ability to deal with humans."
If you suffer from agoraphobia, anxiety disorders, or are simply
debilitated by low self-esteem, taking your "emotional support pet" with you
on trips to a café or supermarket could, therefore, be a genuine
psychological bonus. Indeed, if you are really debilitated, the presence of
your pet could mean the difference between going out or staying home.
Britain seems likely to follow the US, where organisations such as
Paws with a Cause or Pets Are Wonderful Support (Paws) are now taking pups
into prisons to help rehabilitate inmates. "Studies show that if you are
kind to animals, you tend to be kind to humans too," says Wells.
America has also pioneered the use of companion dogs to help autistic
children, and horses to help children with cancer.
We are slowly moving beyond "pat dogs", where volunteers take their
dogs into hospitals or old people's residential homes for petting therapy.
It could, of course, be some time before the British public is prepared to
let emotional support pets vie with guide dogs in legal terms. But perhaps
pooch power is not something to be sniffed at.
The Stepps Rehabilitation Centre, Minsterworth, Gloucestershire
Pets are non-judgmental stress buffers: if you are doing stressful
tasks, the presence of a dog is calming.
Pets love you unconditionally: if you are lonely, bereaved or
depressed, this is great for self-esteem.
Dogs are social lubricants: great if you are isolated or anxious.
Touch is beneficial: stroking your pet can improve your mood and
lower your blood pressure and stress levels.
Dogs get you out of the house: no matter how depressed you are, they
still need walking.
Pets can improve your ability to deal with humans: studies show that
if you are kind to animals, you tend to be kind to humans too.
Comment: Also unlike Prozac, pets don't have to be eaten to be
effective. However, be warned; they are higher in cholesterol. (And despite
the myth, only rabbits taste like rabbit.) -LS.
How the Schools Shortchange Boys
By Gerry Garibaldi
In the newly feminized classroom, boys tune out.
Since I started teaching several years ago, after 25 years in the
movie business, I've come to learn firsthand that everything I'd heard about
the feminization of our schools is realand far more pernicious to boys than
I had imagined. Christina Hoff Sommers was absolutely accurate in
describing, in her 2000 bestseller, The War Against Boys, how feminist
complaints that girls were "losing their voice" in a male-oriented classroom
have prompted the educational establishment to turn the schools upside down
to make them more girl-friendly, to the detriment of males.
As a result, boys have become increasingly disengaged. Only 65 percent
earned high school diplomas in the class of 2003, compared with 72 percent
of girls, education researcher Jay Greene recently documented. Girls now so
outnumber boys on most university campuses across the country that some
schools, like Kenyon College, have even begun to practice affirmative action
for boys in admissions. And as in high school, girls are getting better
grades and graduating at a higher rate.
As Sommers understood, it is boys' aggressive and rationalist nature
redefined by educators as a behavioral disorderthat's getting so many of
them in trouble in the feminized schools. Their problem: they don't want to
+ Read more: http://www.city-journal.org/html/16_3_schools_boys.html
Learning Center Opens in Scottsdale
From a company press release.
PRNewswire - Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes continues to spread the
"Magic of Learning" across the nation with the opening of their 40th
Learning Center in Scottsdale.
"We are excited that this new center has become a reality," said
Clinic Director Jessica Ramsden. "Lindamood-Bell's programs have changed the
lives of so many students and to bring this organization to the communities
of Scottsdale is a real privilege."
Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes is one of the world's most respected
educational institutions, now with 39 Learning Centers nationwide, and one
in London, England. Their sensory-cognitive programs develop
language-processing skills for necessary for successful reading, spelling,
comprehension, expression, critical thinking, and math. Students of all ages
and levels, including those previously diagnosed with dyslexia, ADD/HD, and
autism are seen in one-to-one sessions designed around the individual's
needs. Gains are significant and life changing, and are often made after
only a few weeks of intensive instruction.
The Lindamood-Bell student success stories have received national
attention on CNN, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, Time, and their
related research has been written in publications such as the neuroscience
journal Neuron and The American Educational Research Journal.
The Scottsdale Learning Center has just opened at 10617 N. Hayden Rd,
Suite B-101. "In celebration of Lindamood-Bell's 20th Anniversary and the
opening of this new Learning Center, we are giving half-price diagnostic
evaluations and a twenty percent discount on instruction now through the end
of August," said Ramsden.
For additional information about Lindamood-Bell's new Scottsdale
Learning Center or programs, call (480) 922-5675 or visit them on-line at
IMPORTANT AUTISM CONFERENCE INFORMATION!
US Autism & Asperger Association (USAAA) Hosts most
comprehensive & informative International Autism Conference
- Park City, UT., Aug 9-12. 35 speakers, (CME and CEU acc.),
comp. buffet lunches, book & manual, & much more. Register:
A Clinical and Laboratory Evaluation of Methionine Cycle-Transsulfuration
and Androgen Pathway Markers in Children with Autistic Disorders
Horm Res 2006;66:182188 DOI: 10.1159/000094467
David A. Geier a Mark R. Geier b
a- MedCon, Inc., 14 Redgate Ct., Silver Spring, MD 20905, USA, Tel. +1 301
, and b President, The Genetic Centers of
America, 14 Redgate Ct., Silver Spring, MD 20905, USA, Tel. +1 301 989 0548,
Fax +1 301 989 1543, E-Mail mgeier@...
Background/Aims: The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) is
1 in 300 children in the US. ASDs are characterized by impairments in social
relatedness and communication, repetitive behaviors, abnormal movement
patterns, and sensory dysfunction.
Pre-pubertal age children with ASDs were assessed for metabolites in
the methionine cycle-transsulfuration and androgen pathways, and for present
physical development/behaviors indicative of hyperandrogenicity.
Methods: The Institutional Review Board of the Institute for Chronic
Illnesses (Office for Human Research Protections, US Department of Health
and Human Services IRB number: IRB00005375) approved the present study.
Sixteen consecutive pre-pubertal age children ( 11 years old; mean ±
SD: 5.9 ± 2.1 years old) with previously diagnosed ASDs that presented to
the Genetic Centers of America for outpatient care were evaluated.
Results: Significantly (p < 0.01) increased levels of serum/plasma
dehydroepiandrosterone and serum total testosterone relative to the age- and
sex-specific normal laboratory reference ranges were observed.
Conversely, serum follicle-stimulating hormone levels were
significantly (p < 0.01) decreased.
Plasma-reduced glutathione (p < 0.01), plasma cysteine (p < 0.01),
plasma methionine (p < 0.01), serum cystathionine (p < 0.05), and serum
homocysteine (p < 0.01) were all significantly decreased.
Conclusion: The results suggest a possible cyclical interaction
between the methionine cycle-transsulfuration and androgen pathways in some
children with ASDs.
Polio, Autism, or Neither? The Autism/Vaccine Scandal Dissipates
By Ronald Bailey.
The percentage of American children who receive childhood vaccinations
is dropping. Experts say that vaccine-resisters are more likely to be highly
educated and well off financially. What has spooked them? Their chief fear
is that vaccinations may trigger autism, a neurological disorder that
typically appears before a child reaches the age of three. Such children
suffer language and communication deficits, withdraw from social contacts,
and react intensely to changes in the immediate environment.
Many parents of autistic children fervently believe that the
measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) triple vaccine causes autism. Autistic symptoms
make their appearance just about at the time that most children are
vaccinated. The typical story is that little Johnny was fine until a couple
of weeks after he was injected. However, most research suggests that parents
are confusing correlation with causationthe symptoms of autism just happen
to emerge at the about the same time as recommended vaccinations are given.
It's a coincidence, not a cause. Public health experts worry that many
parents are wrongly discounting the dangers that infectious diseases pose
for their children because many have never seen a child afflicted with polio
or whooping cough.
The MMR/autism hypothesis took off in 1998 with the publication of a
study of 12 autistic children by Canadian gastroenterologist Andrew
Wakefield at the Royal Free Hospital in London. Wakefield's study, appearing
in the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet, found traces of the
measles virus in the guts of the children he tested; Wakefield concluded
that these traces derived from the MMR vaccination. The study noted that the
onset of eight of the children's developmental disorders occurred shortly
after they had received the MMR vaccine.
As a precaution, Wakefield suggested that children be vaccinated for
each disease separately rather than with the combination vaccine. The
MMR/autism connection was boosted by a report published in 2001 in the
journal Medical Hypotheses by autism activist Sallie Bernard. Bernard argued
that the mercury in the vaccine preservative thimerosal was "a novel form of
mercury poisoning" that was responsible for autism. In June 2005, Robert F.
Kennedy Jr. fueled the controversy with a sensational article in Rolling
Stone and Salon that claimed there is a massive government cover-up of the
dangers of MMR vaccines. Kennedy quoted school nurse Patti White who told
the House Government Reform Committee in 1999. "Vaccines are supposed to be
making us healthier; however, in twenty-five years of nursing I have never
seen so many damaged, sick kids. Something very, very wrong is happening to
Fortunately, years of subsequent research have not found an
association between MMR vaccination and autism. In 2004, the National
Academy of Sciences issued a report that concluded that "neither the
mercury-based vaccine preservative thimerosal nor the measles-mumps-rubella
(MMR) vaccine are associated with autism." In 2005, a comprehensive review
of MMR of 31 studies by the non-profit authoritative medical collaboration,
the Cochrane Library, found "no credible evidence behind claims of harm from
the MMR vaccination."
These conclusions have been bolstered by other research. In 1993,
Japan stopped using the MMR vaccine and began vaccinating for each disease
separately. A study published last year found that autism rates continued to
climb from 48 to 86 cases per 10,000 before MMR vaccination was halted to 97
to 161 cases per 10,000 after the MMR vaccine was withdrawn. A new study
published by McGill University researchers in the July 2006 issue of the
journal Pediatrics found that autism rates rose from 52 per 10,000 to 70 per
10,000 in Quebec after the preservative thimerosal was removed from vaccines
Many researchers believe that the increase in autism is largely the
result of physicians applying broader diagnostic criteria for the condition
in recent years. On the other hand, some researchers believe that the
incidence of autism spectrum disorders has dramatically increased. In any
case, the best medical advice is that whatever the cause of autism turns out
to be, parents should not let their fears prevent them from immunizing their
children against the very real threats posed by infectious diseases.
EVIDENCE OF HARM DISCUSSION LIST HEATS UP
AS MERCURY LINK TO AUTISM QUESTION SPREADS
>> PAPERBACK BOOK NOW OUT - CHECK AMAZON.COM
An Evidence of Harm email discussion list has
been created in response to the growing interest
in the book and the issues it chronicles. Now over
1,300 subscribers. Here is how to subscribe
(no cost): EOHarmfirstname.lastname@example.org
World Crashes In On Sleazy Sex Kingpin
What's this got to do with autism? You'll see.
By Derek Alexander http://tinyurl.com/qdcyy
Sleazy sex sauna boss Shug O'Donnell ran one of Glasgow's best-known
But when quizzed about the (X)-rated goings-on at Parkgrove House, he
spun a yarn that would have made the hardest hooker blush.
O'Donnell insisted he was running a centre to help disabled children -
not a vice den. And he explained away the lap dancing poles where his girls
gyrated for their punters by claiming they were mobility aids for
The brass-necked liar insisted that flashing disco lights used in sex
shows at the sauna were hi-tech devices to help kids with autism.
And when asked why his establishment had mirrors on the ceilings and
chains and shackles fixed to the walls, he said the kinky paraphernalia was
just for decoration.
O'Donnell told his tales to council officials who suspected all was
not what it seemed at Parkgrove House.
Not surprisingly, the authorities weren't fooled.
And when police raided the brothel in June 2003, there wasn't a
disabled youngster in sight. Instead, they found rooms full of startled vice
girls and customers.
The cops also seized a number of items which handicapped children
would have little use for.
They found sex aids, a whip, bags of condoms, and a substance
described in court as "body sauce".
Comment: Hey, that body sauce could be transdermal chelation cream!
I'd like to see the IEP for getting into that place. -LS.
+ Read more thrilling details if you must: http://tinyurl.com/qdcyy
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Alabama Sues Drug Company
By Chris Joyner http://tinyurl.com/zubn3
The state today filed a lawsuit against pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly
and Co. over an alleged calculated marketing plan to defraud the state out
of millions of dollars in Medicaid reimbursements for off-label uses of
the anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa.
The suit, filed in Lafayette County Circuit Court, alleges that
representatives of Eli Lilly persuaded Mississippi doctors to prescribe the
drug to patients suffering from conditions like anxiousness, mood swings and
disturbed sleep when the drug only is approved to treat bipolar disorder and
Tim Balducci, Mississippi special assistant attorney general, said Eli
Lilly targeted Mississippi because the states Medicaid system is not set up
to weed out when a doctor prescribes a medication for non-approved uses.
Attempts to reach representatives with Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly
were unsuccessful. The company has 30 days to respond to the suit.
"Autistic" Gets Life Term In Double Slaying
By Candace Rondeaux for the Washington Post.
Dinh Pham knew all about violence and death. As a boy growing up in
Vietnam, he had seen neighbors and a relative killed during fierce bombing
near the Cambodian border after the fall of Saigon. When he was 5, his
father, a soldier, was held captive in a Communist prison camp while the
family was left to starve in a remote village where violence was an everyday
Thousands of others in Vietnam suffered a similar fate, but yesterday,
his attorney argued in a Fairfax County courtroom that Pham never fully
recovered from the trauma of those years and was mentally impaired. That, he
said, could explain why Pham strangled a Fairfax woman and her 22-month-old
daughter in their Merrifield home more than 2 1/2 years ago.
"This man, with his limited ability, made a wrong choice and did
something bad," said Assistant Capital Defender Paul A. Maslakowski. "He
didn't set out to do it with evil in his heart."
Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Leslie M. Alden decided to spare Pham's
Four months after Pham, 34, pleaded guilty to murdering Loan P.
Nguyen, 30, and her daughter, Ashley N. Ton, Alden sentenced Pham to life in
prison without parole for killing Ashley and gave him an additional life
sentence for slaying the child's mother. The judge also added 40 years for
grand larceny and burglary charges.
"Your crimes in this case were simply unspeakable. They were
reprehensible, and they were heinous," Alden said. "But there is nothing
that the court can do to bring back the lives of those innocent, innocent
On Jan. 7, 2004, Pham sneaked into the home of his former employer, a
building contractor, to steal $1,000 because he was desperate for money to
feed a gambling habit. Pham hid in a closet when he suddenly realized that
Nguyen was at home. When she emerged from the shower, he strangled her and
the child and stuffed their bodies in a crawl space in their Lester Lee
Maslakowski said the killings were tragic, but he successfully argued
that his client did not deserve to be put to death for his crimes, saying a
lifetime of deprivation and exposure to violence during the Vietnam War left
Pham with post-traumatic stress disorder. Maslakowski said the killings were
the outgrowth of Pham's limited mental capacity and childhood trauma
suffered during the war.
"There is nothing that we have heard that makes Dinh Pham the worst of
the worst," Maslakowski said. "There is nothing other than those 30 or 45
minutes [during the killings] to suggest that he was anything more than a
limited man who was in over his head."
Psychologist William Stejskal testified that Pham likely had
borderline autism or possibly Asperger syndrome, a similar developmental
disability. Years after leaving Vietnam, Pham withdrew from the world, and
about 1998, soon after his mother died, he began gambling heavily, Stejskal
+ Read more: http://tinyurl.com/q6wd8
One-Of-A-Kind Bike Stolen in MN, Reward Offered For Return
When thieves broke into Jaette Carpenter's North Minneapolis garage
last Thursday, it wasn't just any bicycle they ripped off. It was a special
recumbent bicycle for her daughter, designed to latch onto the mother's
19-year-old Siri Carpenter has Rett's Syndrome, a rare neurological
condition with symptoms similar to autism. "It meant getting her out, it
meant getting her out other than in just a car," the young woman's Mom told
us. And as a result, "she's been sad, you can tell there is a difference in
The family suspects that young kids may be behind the burglary. Jaette
Carpenter pointed to her new garage and says, "We think that some small
person was lifted up and put through that window. I don't know what's going
on with young kids in this neighborhood."
Carpenter, who teaches music in the Camden neighborhood says she
sympathizes with youth who "don't have much money and are bored." But she
adds that this bike is of little use to anyone but its owner. "It's too
fancy, it was built for towing another person and it is not something they
can ride around in," says Carpenter.
The specially designed bike took almost a year to build at a cost of
nearly $3,000. But, money is not the primary concern. "Everything we have
done was to get our daughter out into the community," says Carpenter.
Sadly, this isn't the first time the Carpenter's have been
burglarized. Five years ago, another of their special bikes was also stolen.
Anti-theft bars have now been added to the garage windows. But the family
wants just one more thing. "To get that bike back, that's what we're really
hoping for," says Carpenter.
Minneapolis police 4th Precinct Care Task Force and the Folwell
Neighborhood Association are offering a $500 reward for information leading
to the bicycle's return. Anyone who has seen the bike or knows where it
might be is being urged to contact the police.
Autistic Kids Can Improve With Help, Author Says
By Sandy Spurgeon Mcdaniel for the Register
A chance meeting in a walk-in medical office brought Christina Adams
into my life. Christina has written "A Real Boy: A True Story of Autism,
Early Intervention and Recovery." She and I have become friends and now have
the same literary agent.
When I read Christina's exquisitely written book, I was excited to see
that significant changes to a child's diet along with intensive therapy for
behavior and speech, can often help a child improve quickly.
At age 15 months, Christina's son Jonah lost his language skills,
social skills and attention span. He became hyperactive and aggressive. Two
preschools expelled Jonah.
At nearly 3 Jonah was diagnosed with autism. He immediately began
dietary, speech, behavioral training and language-building therapies. Three
weeks later he pointed to a car (autistic children rarely point) and asked
his first question.
At age 4, Jonah passed a pre-kindergarten exam given to him by
credentialed testers who had no knowledge of his autism. Today, Jonah is in
third grade; advanced in language skills, top of his class academically with
some attention difficulties, and is doing well socially.
In a recent interview with Christina, I asked her to help me
understand autism and what can be done to help parents.
Adams: In my Newport Beach neighborhood, there were originally four
families dealing with various forms of autism; now there are nearly two
dozen families in that same area.
McDaniel: What do you think is the reason for this huge increase
across the country?
Adams: I've just returned from a Senate meeting in Washington D.C. and
the government is struggling with how to handle the national increase in
autism and related problems. Right now, the primary focus on the cause of
autism is on genetics and environment, and how they interact.
McDaniel: Since everyone reading this piece knows or is likely to know
someone with an autistic child, what five things would you want them to
Adams: No. 1: The autism spectrum ranges from very mild to severe. 2:
Many persons with autism are very bright, but have a hard time
communicating. 3. Many apparently normal people have undiagnosed
autism-spectrum disorders. 4. People on the spectrum have many of the same
feelings and emotions as everyone else, they just have difficulty showing
it. 5. If a kid is acting "naughty" or odd, don't assume the parent is doing
a bad job; the child may have a behavior disorder such as Asperger's
syndrome, a mild form of autism found in some bright, verbal children.
The McDaniel discipline system was developed for a boy with ADHD and
Asperger's syndrome. Now we see it working with every type of child.
Adams says all children and adults with autism can improve their
skills. They need help and the earlier they get it, the better the outcome.
In Part 2 of this column next week, we will address safeguards against
autism, things to look for in your child's behavior and what to do if autism
comes to your home.
Christina will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming conference for
parents, teachers and professionals held by the Pomona Valley Learning
Disabilities Association, titled "ADHD, Autism or Behavioral Disorders: The
Links Which Bind Us." It will be held Aug.18-19 in Ontario. Go to
www.christinaadamswriter.com for more information or to contact her.
Public Service Announcement to the Reader:
AUTISM IS TREATABLE. Consult these sources:
. Autism Research Institute http://tinyurl.com/ccxco
. Generation Rescue http://www.generationrescue.org
. UK - Autism Treatment Trust http://www.autismtrust.org.uk
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