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Friday, November 9, 2007 Reader Supported Vol. 11 No. 161
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* Autism: The Epidemic?
* Be Afraid Of What You're Made Of, Study Says
* Start on Success: A Model Transition Program for High School Students
* Imaginative NJ Girl Is 'Just Like You'
* Parent's M-CHAT Screener For Autism
* Free Autism Conference Set in San Antonio
* Chickenpox Vaccine Is Bad For Children
NEW!! NOVEMBER CALENDAR of EVENTS!
Autism: The Epidemic?
By Kent Erdahl http://www.ksfy.com/news/local/11137101.html
Watch The Video http://www.ksfy.com/news/local/11137101.html?video=YHI&t=a
Autism is now the fastest growing childhood impairment in the country,
affecting one in 150 children according to the latest CDC report. One Iowa
mom has made it her mission to do something about it.
Life has been full of appointments for Lin Wessels and her son Sam but
each one has become a little easier since doctors made a dreaded diagnosis
three and a half years ago.
"(The doctor) said we have your diagnosis and it is autism," Lin says.
"And I was choking back the tears and I said to her, 'So now what?' And she
said, 'So now you need to go out and educate yourself on your son's
Lin did just that, learning ways to work with Sam on his physical,
sensory and social development. But despite Sam's progress, she grew
frustrated with the lack of research and political attention paid to why
autism cases are increasing. So like many other Iowans, she decided to take
sam to meet some presidential candidates.
"Sam posed the same question to each candidate," Lin says. "'How will
you help me and all the others like me? I have autism.'"
Lin is asking candidates to look into a connection between autism and
a preservative in vaccines containing mercury. Sam tested positive for
mercury poisoning this summer, but the connection has yet to be proven
"I don't believe it's the only cause of Autism I believe it's a major
factor," Lin says.
Because of her belief, Lin asked other parents of autistic children to
send her their mercury test results in hopes of sharing them all with
Senator John McCain on a trip through her hometown of Rock Rapids.
"Senator McCain promised to help all those with Autism," Lin says. "He
promised to help find the cause. We are holding him to his word."
The day after Lin put out a request she had 30 lab results from
parents across the country, and within ten days time she had 208 from 35
"They want their government to know this is my child and this happened
to my child," Lin says. "So I became their spokesperson."
On October 26th, Lin, the spokesperson, stood and asked Senator McCain
for one more appointment.
"Would you commit to meeting with a special task force of parents such
as myself?" Lin asked. "Anywhere, any time, you name the place, we'll be
"Yes ma'am and I will do it at your convenience either here or
Washington D.C. or some other geographic location that is most convenient
for the people that you want me to meet with," McCain responded.
That appointment is now official, Lin Wessels and a group of parents
are scheduled to meet with Senator McCain in Washington on November 20th.
Seven states, including Iowa, have passed laws banning that mercury based
preservative, known as thimerosal. It is not banned in Minnesota or South
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Be Afraid Of What You're Made Of, Study Says
By William Hathaway for the Courant. http://tinyurl.com/37skp6
A mother of two daughters and certified school psychologist, Laura
Anderson has long suspected there is an environmental cause to the learning
disabilities, childhood cancers and autism that she sees at schools and in
her own neighborhood.
Thursday, the 45-year old Wethersfield woman's own body gave her a
couple of potential culprits.
Anderson was one of 35 people from seven states whose lab tests
revealed numerous potentially toxic chemicals in their blood and urine. All
35 participants in the "Is It In Us?" project were found to have such
chemicals in their bodies.
Previous government tests have shown that most Americans on any given
day are carrying around chemicals contained in a host of everyday items such
as the plastic of water bottles or the cans of tuna.
The press conference held by a coalition of Connecticut environmental
groups on Thursday gave chemical names and local faces to the vague fears of
millions of Americans like Anderson
"I lead a health-conscious life," said Nancy Simcox, 42, of
Middlefield who has worked as an environmental health researcher and was one
of five Connecticut women who found they had been exposed to the chemicals.
"They don't belong in my body."
The biomonitoring project, sponsored by a variety of environmental
groups across the country, tested the subjects for 20 toxic substances in
three classes of chemicals: phthalates, bisphenol A, and polybrominated
diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs. The chemicals are found in products such as
shower curtains, baby bottles, children's toys, cosmetics, couch cushions
Simcox and Anderson, as well as state Sen. Toni Harp, D-New Haven -
herself a test subject - attended the press conference organized by the
Coalition for a Safe & Healthy Connecticut and revealed that tests showed
they had most of the chemicals in their bodies.
There is scientific debate about whether exposure to these chemicals
in the quantities found in common products poses a health risk for
Americans. A definitive answer won't be available soon, experts say.
"In order to answer that question, we need long-term and large-scale
toxicity studies, and those are hugely expensive," said James Kapin, who
sits on the health and safety executive committee of the American Chemical
Society, which represents chemists. "We depend upon laboratory studies, but
those do not always give us good data on human toxicity."
However, research leaves little doubt that chemicals at least have the
potential to cause significant harm to living organisms, and many
environmentalists say they should be banned. Most of the chemicals act on
hormones and can be particularly dangerous during early development. They
have been linked to birth defects, infertility and learning disabilities.
Other studies have suggested they may be associated with some forms of
cancer and even asthma. And although the body tends to rid itself of
bisphenol A and the phthalates, PBDEs, which are commonly found in fire
retardant materials, accumulate in tissue over time.
Anderson is generally healthy but sometimes wonders whether her bouts
with endometriosis, or growth of the tissue that lines the uterus in
abnormal locations, was caused by the chemicals.
"My mother says, `Your grandmother had the same problem and she wasn't
exposed to any of these things,'" Anderson said.
+ Read more: http://tinyurl.com/37skp6
. . .
Start on Success: A Model Transition Program for High School Students With
By Sabbatino, Eileen D Macrine, Sheila L., excerpts.
ABSTRACT: Employers provide jobs to people with disabilities at a much
lower rate than the general population. Federal legislation requires schools
to (a) work with students and parents to develop transition plans and (b)
plan for students' employment after graduation. It is unfortunate that
transition plans do not necessarily translate into successful employment.
Students with disabilities need community-based education to learn the
academic, social, and vocational skills necessary for success in today's
society. In this article, the authors describe the Start on Success program
as a model transition program that provides students with a community-based
transition from school to work in a supported environment with support from
the school district, mentors, parents, and a local university.
Start on Success (SOS; 2003) is an urban model that National
Organization of Disability funded in 1995. The educators designed it to
provide early training and paid- work experiences for young people with
physical, mental, or sensory disabilities. NOD's objective is a high school
and university partnership that helps low-income, inner-city, minority
students with disabilities receive payment for their work during their
transition period in high school. The educators also designed the model for
students with disabilities to (a) discover that they have abilities that are
necessary to the workplace, (b) help employers and their nondisabled
employees understand the realities and advantages of hiring young people who
are disadvantaged, and (c) demonstrate what employers, educators, and
students with disabilities can accomplish through voluntary partnerships at
the local level with close collaboration among students, teachers, parents,
administrators, service providers, and employers and with a social component
throughout the program.
According to the NOD (2003), the SOS urban model consists of a
partnership between city high schools and a nearby university. The high
school identifies the participating students and special education teachers.
The university provides work sites and undergraduate mentors. Educators and
administrators have developed a number of versions of SOS across the United
States, each appropriate to their local circumstances. Although flexibility
is one of the strengths of the program, administrators expect each site to
operate within certain SOS core guidelines: (a) the urban community must
demonstrate the need for such a program; (b) each SOS program must have a
clearly identified local coordinator, typically a member of the city school
administration; and (c) the program coordinator is assisted by an intern
coordinator who manages day-to-day details and supports the special
education teachers, undergraduate mentors, and job-site supervisors (NOD,
Careful selection of high schools, university partners, and students
is vital to the success of the programs. Administrators choose each SOS
urban high school because it is located in a low- income neighborhood and
has a predominantly minority student population of which significant numbers
of students have special needs. According to NOD (2003), students selected
for the SOS program are called gap kids. These are young people with
disabilities who-if not given workplace training and experience before they
leave high school-are likely to suffer from social isolation, enroll in
welfare, or be incarcerated. Administrators choose only prospective
participants who have interest, aptitude, and need and who are educable and
employable. Administrators make the final selection of participating
students through a collaboration of professionals, parents, and the students
at the local school-district level. In selecting university partners, SOS
officials seek a commitment at the senior administrative level that is
consistent with mutual interests and a willingness to make in- kind
contributions. Wherever possible, they try to build on existing
In addition, SOS officials place great importance on parental
involvement, not only in the decision to have a child participate but also
in program orientation, periodic conferences, and the annual end-of-year
recognition ceremonies. Throughout the planning, implementation, and
follow-up phases of the program, administrators try to coordinate parents'
expectations and participants' academic preparation with job realities and
One SOS Chapter's Story In the fall of 2000, through a partnership
between a Philadelphia high school and a local university, 20 students were
selected for the first program. The students (a) were between the ages of 17
and 20 years, (b) were African American, (c) were from families
characterized by lowto- middle socioeconomic status, and (d) had been
identified as having a learning disability or mental retardation. Before the
students entered SOS, the school administrators identified these students as
at risk, having failing grades, and exhibiting inappropriate behaviors, low
self-esteem, or inconsistent school attendance.
. . .
Imaginative NJ Girl Is 'Just Like You'
Fighting spirit of 5-year-old thrills parents, doctors
By Mary Anne Ross.
'Thomas the Monster" is an imaginary friend of 5- year-old Naiya
Newton. He is also the title character in a children's book she and her
mother Nikki have written.
Many children have helped their parents write stories, but Naiya has
autism, which makes her involvement in the creation of "Thomas the Monster"
Three short years ago, doctors warned her parents, of the Parlin
section of Sayreville, that it was unlikely that Naiya would ever live a
normal life. At 2, she was nonverbal and at times seemed lost in her own
Today, she is a sociable, outgoing little girl who attends preschool
classes at Sacred Heart School in South Amboy.
Nikki attributes the changes to Naiya's fighting spirit.
"She stopped breathing twice the day she was born," Nikki said, "and
today she still struggles to do the things that come easily to other
Nikki and Donald were thrilled the day Naiya was born.
"She was everything we hoped for," Nikki recalled. "She was such an
angel, always smiling."
Around 18 months though, Nikki noticed that Naiya wasn't trying to
talk the way her friends' toddlers were.
"She didn't babble. She didn't coo. She didn't try to say mama or
The Newtons realized something was wrong. They began to think their
daughter was deaf.
"She would sit in front of the TV set and I could bang pots behind her
head and she wouldn't flinch," Nikki recalled.
Naiya Newton puts her imagination on paper.
When a hearing specialist determined that wasn't the issue, their
pediatrician recommended they contact the New Jersey Early Intervention
System, a program funded by the state Department of Health and Senior
Services and designed to help families meet the special needs of children
with developmental disabilities until the age of 3.
A team came to Nikki's home to meet and evaluate Naiya, and
recommended a neurologist see her.
"They said she is going to be diagnosed, and I said, 'Diagnosed with
what?' They said autism," Nikki said.
Nikki and Donald were stunned. No one in either of their families had
autism, and they knew little about the disorder. A visit to a neurologist
confirmed their worst fears. She was diagnosed with moderate to severe
"He said, 'Don't get your hopes up. She will probably never have a
normal life,'" Nikki said.
But the two could not give up hope on their smiling little girl with
big blue eyes.
"We just decided she needed us, and we would do whatever we could for
her. We had faith that she could do more then they thought," Nikki said.
The couple began by learning all they could about the condition.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke,
autism is the most common condition in a spectrum of developmental disorders
called autism spectrum disorder. It is characterized by problems with
communication, social skills and repetitive behaviors.
At first, the family was involved with the state program, but as soon
as Naiya turned 3, she became eligible for services from the local school
district. Nikki started Naiya in the district program, but didn't feel it
was best for her daughter.
"Now they do things differently, but at the time she would have been
in a classroom with other nonverbal children. I couldn't see how she would
learn how to talk that way," Nikki said.
She began looking around for other options and came across an
organization called Parents of Autistic Children (POAC), a nonprofit that
advocates for families of autistic children.
+ Read more:
POLITICAL DISCUSSION FORUM HEATS UP
AS VACCINE LINK TO AUTISM QUESTION SPREADS
An email discussion list has been created in
response to the growing interest in the
environmental causes of autism -- now almost
2,000 subscribers. Here is where to subscribe
(no cost): http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EOHarm/
. . .
Parent's M-CHAT Screener For Autism
For more information on the M-CHAT screen for autism visit
Watch For Early Signs of Autism
Signs of autism almost always develop before a child is three yeas
old, yet, it has become apparent that many children are not diagnosed until
much later, creating more problems for the child and family. Children with
autism respond better to treatment if it begins by preschool. Early
diagnoses is so crucial that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has
recently issued a news release calling for pediatricians to do early autism
screening on all children.
Treatment cannot make autism must go away, but early intervention and
treatment can help the child cope in regular environments. "Red Flags" for
needed immediate evaluation include: . no babbling or pointing by 12 months
. no single words by 16 months . no two-word spontaneous phrases by 24
months . loss or social skills at any age
Additional signs for parents to observe: . Not turning to look when
parents point for a child to observe an object . Smiling late . Failure to
make eye contact . Less likely to form attachments with blankets, stuffed
animal and may prefer hard items such as flashlights, keys, action figures,
flashlights, etc, dolls
Autism impacts the individuals in various degrees and ways, but will
likely include some or all of the following
1.Social interaction: - Impaired nonverbal behaviors, such as eye
contact, facial expression, body posture - Lack of spontaneous seeking to
share enjoyment; social and emotional reciprocity, 2. Communication: -Delay
or total lack of development of spoken language -Repetitive use of language
or idiosyncratic language -lack of varied, spontaneous make believe play or
social imitative play 3. Restrictive repetitive and stereotyped patterns of
behavior, interests or activities -Preoccupation with one or more patterns
of interest -Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects.
Resources: Valley Mental Health's Carmen B. Center for Children with
. . .
Free Autism Conference Set in San Antonio
The South Texas Autism Summit 2007
Saturday, November 10
Don Finley for Express-New. http://tinyurl.com/yojd8o
The co-author of a new set of guidelines from the American Academy of
Pediatrics that recommends all children be screened for autism at routine
exams will be among the speakers at a free, daylong symposium on autism
aimed both at parents and professionals.
The South Texas Autism Summit 2007 will be from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Saturday in the Pestana Lecture Hall, Room 3.104A at the University of Texas
Health Science Center. Call (210) 590-2107 to register.
Dr. Chris Plauche-Johnson, a San Antonio pediatrician and
co-chairwoman of the academy's autism panel, will discuss the guidelines
that recommend all children be screened during 18- and 24-month well-baby
visits, as well as new tools that help pediatricians identify autism.
"She'll talk about the fact that if you catch it early and do
treatment, you can mitigate the symptoms of autism," said Alonzo Andrews,
director of the Autism Treatment Center in San Antonio, which is sponsoring
Topics will cover research advances, environmental and behavioral
factors, available services and screening.
Other invited speakers include Dr. Martha Herbert, assistant professor
of neurology at Harvard Medical School; Dr. Claudia Miller, professor of
family and community medicine at the University of Texas Health Science
Center; Kenneth Olden, former director of the National Institute of
Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program; Mark
O'Reilly, professor of special education at UT-Austin; and many others.
. . .
Chickenpox Vaccine Is Bad For Children
By Richard Halvorsen
News that doctors are calling for all children to be inoculated
against chickenpox causes me concern. During the first half of the
20th-century it made sense to be introducing vaccines against whooping
cough, diphtheria and tuberculosis, all of which were killing thousands of
children every year. But nowadays, the vogue is to recommend immunisation
for diseases that are either relatively harmless, or serious but rare.
Chickenpox falls firmly into the former category; most children suffer
only a few uncomfortable days. Yet we are being told that it is a serious
disease against which we need to vaccinate. These recommendations are based
on research that actively looked for serious complications of chickenpox in
all children admitted to hospitals in the UK and Ireland over a 13-month
period. The researchers found 112 children who had serious complications of
chickenpox, most often a secondary infection treatable with antibiotics. Six
deaths were reported. Excluding one baby that died in the womb, four had a
chronic health problem, such as HIV or cerebral palsy. Only one previously
healthy child died, out of a total population of over 10 million. Chickenpox
causes serious complications in less than 1 in 10,000 children.
We now give our children 25 different vaccines, in various
combinations, before the age of 15 months. We are in danger of becoming
dependent on immunisation, rather than on our immune systems, for our future
health. This may appeal to vaccine manufacturers, which operate in an
increasingly profitable market, but should concern the rest of us.
Vaccines have contributed to the eradication of smallpox and to the
fall in deaths from diphtheria and polio; though probably rather less to the
decline in the mortality rate of measles and whooping cough - which was
largely a result of improved hygiene and nutrition. There must be an
overwhelming case before a decision is made to vaccinate the whole
population. Not only has the case not been made for chickenpox, but
inoculation will pose particular problems. It will push the disease into
older age groups, who will catch the illness as their vaccine-induced
immunity wears off, as we have seen happen with mumps. The complications of
chickenpox are much greater in older people: an adult over 15 years of age
is 10 times, and an adult over 50 is 100 times, more likely to die from the
illness than a child.
A second problem is that vaccination is likely to increase the number
of people getting shingles, more serious than chickenpox, that already
causes 60 deaths a year, mainly among older people. A review in 2003 by
government doctors concluded, "Routine infant varicella [chickenpox]
vaccination is unlikely to be cost-effective and may produce an overall rise
in morbidity [illness]". What has changed since then? A further problem is
that the vaccine consists of a live virus, like the measles, mumps and
rubella vaccines. However, uniquely, a recipient of the chickenpox vaccine
can be infectious; though not common, there have been numerous reports from
the US of people catching chickenpox from vaccinated children.
We are introducing vaccines too readily and without regard to the
long-term consequences. There has been a huge rise over recent years in
immune-related diseases, such as diabetes, asthma and eczema; the possible
link to vaccines, though controversial, is plausible. Vaccines, by their
nature, are designed to affect the immune system and it is widely accepted
that most shift the system in an "allergic" direction. This is not the time
to introduce mass vaccination against chickenpox.
Dr Richard Halvorsen is a GP and author of 'The Truth About Vaccines'
(Gibson Square Books)
Note: The opinions expressed in COMMENTARY are those of the author and
do not necessarily represent those of the Schafer Autism Report. .
.disclaimer blah, blah, blah. . . -Ed.
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ARI's Toll-free Autism Resource Call Center: 1-866-366-3361
. Generation Rescue http://www.generationrescue.org
. UK - Autism Treatment Trust http://www.autismtrust.org.uk
. UK - Treating Autism http://www.treatingautism.com
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