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Education and Autism Information, 1 DEC 06 (UNCLASSIFIED)

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  • Campbell, Scott LTC AEC
    Classification: UNCLASSIFIED Caveats: NONE Items 1 through 21 have been deleted, since they are primarily for families living in Virginia and Maryland, and I
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2006
      Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
      Caveats: NONE

      Items 1 through 21 have been deleted, since they are primarily for families
      living in Virginia and Maryland, and I did not want to send useless
      information to the folks in the rest of the country. However, please let me
      know if you live in Virginia, Maryland or DC; so that I can add you to my
      private email distribution list for events in those states.

      22. Free Eyeglasses. Lenscrafters will be sponsoring a community day on
      December 5th. If you have a youth in need of new glasses, contact a
      Lenscrafters in your area and get their prescriptions filled for free.
      You'll need a valid prescription and a letter from an organization stating
      financial need (with the organization's tax ID # on it). For more
      information, visit / www.givethegiftofsight.org.

      EARNING UP TO $60,000 ANNUALLY. If you or someone you know lacks
      prescription drug coverage, a prescription assistance program may be able to
      provide significant help in paying for medicines. And one company,
      AstraZeneca, is making it even easier to get into one of those programs.
      Starting Nov. 15, AstraZeneca's program will offer free medicines to people
      who earn $30,000 a year or less, or a family of four making up to $60,000 a
      year. The company made the income guidelines more generous, raising the
      limit to get assistance from 250 percent to approximately 300 percent of the
      government-determined Federal Poverty Level (FPL). For 3.8[1] million more
      people, this means they could have new access to the medicines they need.
      AstraZeneca's program is for people of all ages who are uninsured. The
      program directly helps those in the middle class as well as those with lower
      incomes. People with drug coverage experiencing financial hardship,
      including people with Medicare Part D, may also apply to the program for
      interim assistance. "People struggle every day to pay for their health care.
      Part of AstraZeneca's core commitment to patients is to enable those who
      can't afford our medicines to get them, regardless of their ability to pay,"
      said Tony Zook, President and CEO, AstraZeneca US. "Expanding this program
      means that a family earning the median US household income of around $46,000
      will be able to qualify for our program-we think that's a significant step
      in the right direction." The AstraZeneca program doesn't stop at providing
      free medicines. The company will also provide one-on-one education and
      information to help people find out about health insurance coverage that
      they might be able to afford and obtain, including public and private
      programs. The AstraZeneca call center operators will even help someone find
      out about programs that aren't associated with AstraZeneca. If you or
      someone you know needs to learn more, they can call the AstraZeneca PAP toll
      free at 1-800-424-3727 or visit http://www.astrazeneca-us.com/drugassistance
      or visit www.azandme.com after November 16th.

      24. Online Survey about Health and Wellness for CSHCN. by Barbara Popper,
      Family Voices Staff. Little is known about health and wellness promotion for
      children with special health needs. The Family Voices and Tufts University
      research team invites you to complete an anonymous online survey about
      Health and Wellness for Children with Special Health Care Needs. The team is
      looking for as many responses as possible from families who have children, 6
      - 18 years old, with special health care needs (this includes special mental
      health/behavioral/emotional needs). The aim of the survey is to learn how
      families promote health and wellness for their children with special needs
      in the areas of food choices, physical activity and screen time (TV and
      computers). It takes about 20 minutes to complete and must be completed in
      one sitting. Please go to http://go.tufts.edu/familymatters
      <http://join.buddywalk.org/site/R?i=J5AcI4s7S9w5GtNeUDGJPA..> to access the
      survey. The survey does not ask for identifying information; it only asks
      for the name of your state and your child's age. The survey will be on-line
      until December 31, 2006. Our results will be shared broadly with health
      professionals, government agencies, other families and researchers in the
      hope they will be better able to support healthier lifestyles for children
      with special health needs, directly or indirectly through their agencies.
      The Family Matters Health & Wellness Project is a partnership between Family
      Voices and Tufts University School of Medicine and is funded by the Centers
      for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you have any questions, please
      contact: Barbara Popper [bpopper@...], Paula Minihan
      [paula.minihan@...], or Aviva Must [aviva.must@...].

      25. Autism Study. Jamie Cho is a doctoral student in the Education
      Department at the University of California at Berkeley. My advisor is Susan
      Holloway, Ph.D. who is an adjunct professor in the Graduate School of
      Education at University of California at Berkeley. I am conducting a study
      investigating the beliefs and practices of Asian-American and Anglo-American
      mothers of preschoolers and kindergarteners with autism spectrum disorders.
      Specifically, this study will examine parents' beliefs about disability,
      their roles and beliefs about parenting and their involvement in their
      child's education. I would like to invite you to participate in this study.
      This study involves a survey that will take you no more than 30 minutes to
      complete. The survey will ask you to answer questions about the way you
      participate in your child education, the qualities you would like your child
      to develop, the attitudes you have about disability, and your beliefs about
      being a parent. For completing the survey, you will receive a $15 gift
      certificate to Target as well as be entered into a drawing for a $200 Spa
      Finder gift certificate which can be redeemed at 2500 spa/massage locations
      nationwide. You can also choose to participate in one optional 60 minute
      interview. The total time of participation should be no more than 2 hours.
      The interview will take place at a time and location that is convenient for
      you. I will be asking you about your beliefs about disability and parenting.
      You will be asked some sensitive questions about your child's diagnosis and
      your hopes for your child's future. If you are interested in participating
      in this study and meet the criteria: (a) Anglo-American or 2nd generation
      Chinese, Japanese, or Korean American (e.g. you were born in the United
      States with immigrant parents or you immigrated to the United States before
      the age of 14), (b) you have a child with autism in preschool or
      kindergarten, you can contact me, Jamie Cho, directly at 510)594-1065 or

      26. You can look up any disciplinary action taken against any practitioner
      licensed by the Department of Health Professions by going to the website:
      http://www.dhp.virginia.gov/ and clicking on License Lookup on the left hand
      menu. You can also read the specifics of any complaint, at least the formal
      charges and correspondence of record, from any of these cases, if you click
      on the word "yes" (in cases where action has been taken, the word "Yes"
      appears in red under that heading).

      27. Federal Register Comment Request - IDEA Part D Comprehensive Plan. On
      November 27 a notice was posted in the Federal Register inviting comments on
      the IDEA Part D Comprehensive Plan. The complete notice is attached and can
      also be found at
      /2006/pdf/06-9404.pdf. Comments are due January 11, 2007.

      28. "Bullying and Peer Victimization Among Children With Special Health
      Care Needs" by Jeanne Van Cleave, MD and Matthew M. Davis, MD MAPP in the
      October edition of the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics at

      "BACKGROUND. Dr Van Cleave's current address is Department of Pediatrics,
      Center for Child and Adolescent Health Policy, MassGeneral Hospital for
      Children, 50 Staniford St, Room 901, Boston, MA 02114. The association
      between bullying, being bullied, or being a bully/victim and having a
      special health care need has not been well described in a national sample of
      children with a broad variety of special needs.

      OBJECTIVE. We aimed to determine the prevalence of bullying, being bullied,
      or being a bully/victim in children with special health care needs and
      associations of behaviors with particular types of special needs.

      DESIGN. We performed a secondary data analysis using the National Survey of
      Children's Health, a nationally representative telephone survey conducted by
      the National Center for Health Statistics of >102000 US households.

      METHODS. We measured associations between having a special health care need
      and being a victim of bullying, bullying other children, and being a
      bully/victim in children and adolescents aged 6 to 17 years. Multiple
      logistic-regression models were used to examine the association of children
      with special health care needs overall, and of particular special needs,
      with the bullying measures.

      RESULTS. Overall, children with special health care needs were 21% of the
      population. In multivariate models adjusting for sociodemographic factors,
      being a child with special health care needs was associated with being
      bullied but not with bullying or being a bully/victim. Having a chronic
      behavioral, emotional, or developmental problem was associated with bullying
      others and with being a bully/victim.

      CONCLUSIONS. Having a special health care need generally is associated with
      being bullied, and having a behavioral, emotional, or developmental problem
      is associated with bullying others and being a bully/victim. These findings
      may help pediatricians, mental health providers, and schools use targeted
      screening and interventions to address bullying for children with special
      health care needs."

      29. "First Teen Vaccination Delivery Program In The Country Funded By
      Boston Celtics" dated 10 November 2006 in a press release from The Miriam
      Hospital at http://medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=56072.

      "Reflecting a long-standing commitment to the youth in New England, The
      Miriam Hospital and Boston Celtics have teamed up to develop the Boston
      Celtics "Team Vaccinates Teens" program - the first program in the country
      that will test and explore vaccine delivery strategies to adolescents.
      Highly safe and effective vaccines that can prevent Human Papilloma Virus
      (HPV) and other sexually transmitted diseases are only beneficial if they
      are successfully dispersed to the critical age group of adolescents. Through
      a $25,000 grant from The Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation, researchers at
      The Miriam Hospital will collaborate with organizations distributing the HPV
      vaccine to adolescents at high-risk for contracting the disease. The goal of
      "Team Vaccinates Teens" is for researchers to learn what structures are
      effective for engaging youth in an extended vaccination program, creating a
      model that will eventually allow for delivery of an HIV vaccine once one
      becomes available. For more than ten years, The Miriam Hospital has been
      one of the 30 sites in the world that is researching and testing HIV
      vaccines for adults in the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN). It is expected
      that HIV vaccine trials will be open to adolescents in approximately two to
      four years. "The goal - which we believe it is achievable - is to license
      and deliver an effective HIV vaccine within ten years," said Michelle Lally,
      MD, medical director of the HIV vaccine trials at The Miriam Hospital.
      "However, if an effective HIV vaccine was approved tomorrow, we would not be
      able to successfully administer it to the youth in New England without a
      distribution plan in place. This generous grant allows us to start to test
      vaccine modalities among adolescents so when anticipated vaccines become
      available, we can efficiently deliver them to high-risk youth." "The Boston
      Celtics Shamrock Foundation is proud to collaborate with The Miriam Hospital
      to create the first program in the nation to test vaccine delivery methods
      to high-risk youth," said Stephen Lewinstein, part-owner of the Boston
      Celtics. "With half of all diagnosed AIDS patients today under the age of
      25, a safe and effective vaccine is the best way to control the spread of
      this deadly disease. Through the combined strengths of those involved in the
      'Team Vaccinates Teen' program, we will ensure that when a HIV vaccine is
      approved it will make a significant and direct impact on infection rates in
      adolescents." Although participation in adult HIV vaccine trials has
      increased in recent years, several misconceptions about the trials remain
      that researchers expect to hinder adolescent participation. Among the most
      popular inaccuracy is that a potential HIV vaccine can cause a participant
      to contract the disease, which is impossible. Since the adolescents targeted
      in "Team Vaccinates Teens" are also potential candidates for future HIV
      vaccine trials, this program will help researchers move toward
      implementation of an HIV vaccine program for high-risk youth that minimizes
      or eliminates barriers to participation."

      30. "Tackling a culture of bullying" dated 16 November 2006 in a comment
      article by Sir Alan Steer in the BBC News (UK) at

      "Sir Alan Steer, a serving head teacher who led the government's inquiry
      into behavioural problems in schools, explains why bullying must be tackled.
      This year's anti-bullying week - which takes place on 20-24 November -
      serves as a timely reminder that bullying is one of the most significant
      challenges schools face. We know that bullying can cause intense damage,
      both psychological and physical, to children and young people. We also know
      that it is a complex and deep-rooted issue, for which there are no simple
      answers. Since September 1999 it has been a requirement for schools in
      England and Wales to have an anti-bullying policy, which enables them to
      handle bullying if and when it occurs. These policies are likely to reflect
      the overall culture and needs of the individual school, with - as Department
      for Education and Skills guidance recommends - a system of sanctions and
      rewards, to be applied appropriately according to the severity of the
      situation. But dealing with specific incidents of bullying is not enough:
      schools also need strategies for longer term prevention. This means going
      beyond the immediate situation to look at the behavioural context in which
      bullying occurs. Silent approval.
      There is a wealth of evidence to show that when others stand by and do
      nothing it can encourage bullying behaviour: indeed, one US study, published
      in 2001, describes the bystander as "the invisible engine in the cycle of
      bullying". Bystanders may not actively assist bullying, but their failure
      to intervene can give a message of silent approval, fostering an environment
      in which bullying can thrive. Of course, intervening is not always easy.
      While most children and young people recognise bullying and know that it is
      wrong, there are many different reasons why they may feel unable to act.
      They may be afraid that they will become the target for bullying themselves;
      they may feel that it is none of their business; they may simply not know
      what to do or who to tell. Yet if we are to succeed in preventing bullying,
      it is vital for schools to promote a culture where it is not tolerated, and
      where children and young people feel able to speak out when they witness it.
      In some cases this may mean challenging other prevailing cultures both
      within the school and in the wider community. One example is children's own
      dislike of "snitching" or "grassing". This may derive from a sense of
      loyalty to the peer group, but it may also be prompted by a fear of the
      consequences of speaking out. Will adults fail to listen or to take the
      situation seriously? Or will they over-react, and make things worse? ..."

      31. "Jury awards $2 million verdict against school for autistic children
      rds_2_m.html> " dated 17 November 2006 by Michael Naughton from the Boston
      Globe at

      "A Suffolk County jury awarded $2 million today to the family of an autistic
      boy who was abused at a private school for autistic children in Randolph,
      the lawyers for the family said. The jury found Robert Fantasia, the
      executive director of the Boston Higashi School; three teachers; a doctor;
      and an administrator at the school responsible for the physical abuse caused
      to Scott Tedeman. The student's family said it discovered the abuse in 2000
      and later withdrew him from the school where he was a residential student
      for 14 years. School officials could not be immediately reached for
      comment. Boston Higashi, one of more than 200 private special education
      schools where Massachusetts students can attend on state-financed tuition,
      is known for its unorthodox methods of teaching autistic students. Last
      year, a former teacher was convicted of injuring a student."

      32. "New strategies urged for 'learning disabled'- Experts pushing for more
      help for struggling readers" dated 20 November 2006 by Berny Morson from the
      Rocky Mountain News at

      "Large numbers of students diagnosed with learning disabilities could be
      helped by better reading instruction, particularly in the lower grades,
      state education officials believe. More than 30,000 Colorado students are
      considered learning disabled - the largest handicap category among the
      state's 83,000 special education students. Numbers are similar in other
      states. But educators now believe most of those students aren't handicapped
      at all. They were just allowed to fall so far behind that they look like
      they're handicapped, said Ed Steinberg, a psychologist who heads the
      Colorado Department of Education's special education unit. "They're
      instructionally disabled, not learning disabled," Steinberg said. Steinberg
      believes that more than 50 percent of learning disabled students are
      misclassified. He said a similar percentage of the 20,642 students
      classified with speech or language disabilities also may be misdiagnosed.
      He's recommending a strategy in which teachers intervene massively at the
      first sign a student is falling behind in reading. The method calls for
      diagnosis of just what part of reading the child doesn't understand, along
      with one-on-one tutoring. Only after such methods have failed would the
      child be tested for learning disabilities. Steinberg's view is backed by
      educators statewide who agree that too many kids are being misclassified as
      learning disabled. Several schools in Jefferson County, the state's largest
      school district, already are trying early intervention, said special
      education director Ruth Stern. "There's a body of research at this point
      that is telling us that many, many kids identified as having a learning
      disability are identified (that way) because they can't read," Stern said.
      "And the research is telling us that most of these kids can be taught to
      read." All schools in Colorado Springs are moving to the new method, said
      Bob Howell, the special education director for Distinct 11, which has been
      experimenting with early intervention for several years. A state task force
      is being assembled to help other districts learn the new method, a process
      that could take up to five years. At issue is a brain dysfunction -
      sometimes called "crossed wires" - that blocks learning. Reading problems
      are usually the first sign. In practice, few learning disabilities are
      diagnosed through a neurological exam. The process is too expensive and the
      science is in its infancy, Steinberg said. The diagnosis usually comes by
      process of elimination - where nothing else explains the child's failure to
      learn. Sheila Buckley, of Englewood, advocacy director for the Learning
      Disabilities Association of Colorado, is skeptical of the misdiagnoses
      theory. Nonetheless, she said the intervention strategy is a good idea - if
      teachers are adequately trained. ..."

      33. "Uncertified Teachers Performing Well, Study Finds" dated 20 November
      2006 by Sarah Garland from The New York Sun at

      "Uncertified teachers end up performing just as well in the classroom as
      certified teachers and alternatively trained teachers like Teaching Fellows,
      a study to be released today says. The study's results appear to challenge
      requirements under the federal No Child Left Behind Act that every classroom
      have a "highly qualified" teacher, instead suggesting that schools should
      put more emphasis on weeding out bad apples after the teachers have been
      hired. "These are people who have no prior experience in teaching and they
      go into the lowest performing schools, and they do just as well," a Columbia
      University Business School professor, Jonah Rockoff, who co-authored the
      study, said. "Where you went to college and what your GPA was doesn't seem
      to tell you how good you're going to be in the classroom." In the study,
      researchers at the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank affiliated
      with Stanford University, used standardized test scores to measure the
      performance of New York City students taught by traditionally certified
      teachers, uncertified teachers, and teachers who enter the profession
      through alternative programs such as Teach for America and Teaching Fellows.
      They found that while alternatively certified and uncertified teachers do
      worse at first, they appear to improve at faster rates than traditionally
      certified teachers in their first years on the job. By the teachers' third
      year on the job, students of alternatively certified and uncertified
      teachers are performing just as well as those of traditionally certified
      teachers. That's good news for New York City public schools, since the
      majority of new hires during the past five years have come through
      alternative certification programs. Currently, a third of all teachers in
      city schools received certification from an alternative program.
      Alternative certification programs have grown in popularity around the
      country since the No Child Left Behind law introduced a requirement that all
      school districts have a "highly qualified" teacher - meaning a teacher with
      a certificate - in every classroom by July 2006. New York City had already
      been under pressure to hire more certified teachers after the state
      education commissioner, Richard Mills, sued the city in 1999 for placing
      uncertified teachers in the lowest performing schools. To meet the
      requirements, the city invented the Teaching Fellow program in 2000 to
      recruit teachers from other professions and speed them through the
      certification process. The city has hired 9,000 Teaching Fellows since then.
      The study shows that uncertified teachers, who are more likely to be
      minorities than the other groups, end up doing just as well as the
      alternatively and traditionally certified teachers. Since the Teaching
      Fellows program was introduced, hiring of minority teachers has dropped
      significantly, a trend that can be attributed to the effort to remove
      uncertified teachers, Mr. Rockoff said. Statistics first reported by the
      Amsterdam News showed that in 2001, 27% of new teachers were black, while
      this year only 14% were black. The percentage of new Hispanic teachers has
      also dropped. ..."

      34. "Absent enemies- Much truancy is caused by bullying, new research
      shows. Why aren't schools able to prevent this?" dated 21 November 2006 by
      Julie Bindel from The Guardian (UK) at

      "Today 55,000 young people will be absent from school because they are being
      bullied - that is one-third of all truancies. These shocking figures are
      findings from research published this week by the charity Beatbullying (BB).
      To mark Anti-Bullying Week, it has commissioned a hard-hitting TV
      advertisement in an attempt to raise awareness about the links between
      bullying and truancy. The research also found that there are strong,
      irrefutable links between persistent truancy and a young person's
      opportunities in later life. "What we have discovered for the first time
      ever is an inarguable link between poor behaviour, bullying and absence from
      school," says Niall Cowley, head of communications at BB. "Its effect on the
      future workforce is disastrous." BB's research was conducted by
      questionnaire, delivered via its website and completed by almost 2,600 young
      people who reported being bullied in the past year, as well as a series of
      intensive one-to-one interviews with individuals. It found that of all
      young people bullied, almost half truant. Reasons given by interviewees
      include: "So I could get somewhere I felt safe and somewhere I knew no one
      could hurt me"; "I didn't want to go to school I suppose really for fear of
      my life"; and "Because I felt worthless and hated". Strategies for young
      people. BB is the UK first children's charity to devise anti-bullying
      strategies for young people by young people, by organising seminars,
      training courses and conferences for young people and professionals working
      in the area, and providing professionals with comprehensive anti-bullying
      tool kits. Its website has been described as "the most user-friendly and
      innovative" website aimed at young people for educational purposes. Staff
      can also offer one-to-one support to young people experiencing bullying.
      "There are no class, gender or race issues with young people who bully or
      who are bullied," says Emma-Jane Cross, chief executive of BB. "There are
      different methods in different communities, so we need to tailor our
      responses and make bespoke prevention programmes by listening to the needs
      of young people." During the research, BB collated a number of case studies
      of young people with whom it has worked that are "fairly typical" scenarios.
      One such case is Karen, who experienced chronic bullying and was terrified
      of going to school. When the bullying escalated, Karen had to choose whether
      to go to school and face a torrent of insults, kicks and punches at the
      hands of her bullies, or stay at home and risk her mother being sent to
      prison for failing to ensure her attendance. "I would cry myself to sleep
      some nights knowing that I might have to go back to school the next
      morning," says Karen, "and that any day they could take me from my mum and
      put her in prison." Although the police were called and the girls concerned
      given warnings, Karen did not return to school in September as she was too
      afraid. However, when her mother received a letter threatening court action,
      Karen felt that she had to go back. The bullies struck immediately, hitting
      her in the corridor and during lessons. The girls were given detentions, but
      Karen was now so terrified, she stayed at home. ..."

      35. "Those Who Pass Classes But Fail Tests Cry Foul" dated 23 November 2006
      by Ian Shapira from The Washington Post at

      "Sylvia James hardly considers herself clueless in mathematics. After all,
      she finished sixth grade with a B-plus in the subject and made the Honor
      Roll, which she saw as a victory in a challenging year of fraction
      conversion and decimal placement. But what happened when she took the state
      math test? She flunked it. Now, by that measure, Virginia considers the
      12-year-old below par in math. "I was kind of shocked," said Sylvia, who
      attends Herbert J. Saunders Middle School in Prince William County. "I just
      thought I was going to pass it because I always usually pass everything
      else. I guess I went through the test pretty quickly." Many students in the
      Washington region are suffering from academic split personalities. Driven by
      the federal No Child Left Behind law and tougher state diploma standards,
      the testing blitz has left these students in a curious limbo: They pass
      their classes with B's and C's yet fail the state exams. These cases
      surface frequently, with one local high school reporting, for example, that
      a quarter of students in beginning algebra passed the course but failed the
      state test. The discrepancies have emerged amid fierce debate over the role
      of testing in public education. Supporters of the federal law say
      standardized exams are the best way to raise academic standards and the only
      way to hold schools accountable for results. Critics complain that time
      spent on test preparation saps classroom creativity and that test scores are
      just one indicator among many of student achievement. Students and teachers
      offer an array of explanations for why test scores sometimes fail to match
      up with grades. Some students don't take the exams seriously. Some freeze
      up. Still others trip over unfamiliar language. And teachers sometimes are
      not prepped in what the exams cover, especially when the tests are new.
      Occasionally, some school officials suspect, classes aren't rigorous enough
      to prepare students adequately. Whatever the reason, the fact that some
      bright students struggle on state exams upends the perception that only the
      worst students fail them. "This is a warning sign that there's something
      out of tilt in the system," said Jack Jennings, president of the Center on
      Education Policy in Washington, which tracks how states implement the
      federal law. The law requires annual state testing in reading and math for
      all students from grades 3 to 8 and at least once in high school. The
      results are used to rate schools, and those that fall short of adequate
      progress are threatened with sanctions. States often add more tests in high
      school that students must pass to graduate. ..."

      36. "Autism picture still incomplete" dated 22 November 2006 by LIDIA
      WASOWICZ from United Press International at

      "Right or wrong, the comparatively minuscule minority convinced mercury in
      medicines lies at the root of autism's ascent has something the American
      healthcare behemoth does not: a cause. Going against the mainstream grain,
      some parents and physicians tie neurodevelopmental and certain other chronic
      health problems increasingly diagnosed in America's children to the
      mercury-based preservative thimerosal, once widely used in vaccines and
      still present in some booster and flu shots. Others are convinced potential
      harm also may lurk in other components of the ever-expanding childhood
      immunization schedule. "It is just as logical to argue that the chronic
      disease and disability epidemic that has developed during the past 25 years,
      in which autism takes a leading role, is more associated with an increase in
      the different types of live virus and inactivated bacterial vaccines given
      to all children, as well as the increases in total number of doses, than it
      is to one component of those many vaccines," said Barbara Loe Fisher,
      co-founder and president of the advocacy group National Vaccine Information
      Center. "Human infants have never in the history of man experienced their
      environment in the way that they are now experiencing it, which includes
      having their first immunological experience at 12 hours of age with an
      atypical manipulation of the immune system when hepatitis B vaccine is
      injected," she explained. "This is followed by continuing atypical
      introduction of lab altered live viruses and inactivated bacteria into the
      body during the first six years of life, including seven vaccines at 2
      months, seven more at 4 months, eight more at 6 months ... (B)y age 6, a
      child will have received 48 doses of 14 vaccines," Fisher said. "The
      cumulative effects of over-vaccinating children, especially the effects of
      simultaneous injection (of) many vaccines at once, whether the vaccines
      contain mercury or not, is a plausible explanation for why so many children
      today are chronically ill, suffering with a variety of brain and immune
      system problems, including autism," Fisher concluded. To public health
      authorities, however, the matter appears much less settled. "We just simply
      don't have answers to the cause of this disorder or the disorders that fall
      into the autism spectrum," said Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the
      Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. The agency, which
      has steadfastly denied a vaccine-autism association, has a workforce of more
      than 9,000, an annual budget of more than $8 billion and a mission to
      protect and promote public health. Gerberding told reporters at a news
      briefing that "we don't have a complete picture of the scope of the
      problem." Nor even of its definition. "We don't really understand that
      whole landscape very well," conceded Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the
      National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md. "We don't know where
      the dividing point was, or is," he said at a conference on autism, sponsored
      by the Brookings Institution in Washington. ..."

      37. "Arrested for Epilepsy- When a Seizure Gets You Thrown in Jail" dated
      23 November 2006 by JIM AVILA and LARA SETRAKIAN from ABC News at

      "Roughly 3 million Americans live with epilepsy. And a surprising number of
      them go to jail for it. Why? Around the country, police officers and
      bystanders who see someone having a seizure mistake it for disorderly,
      criminal behavior. That's what happened to Daniel Beloungea of Pontiac,
      Mich. On most days Daniel lives the normal life of a 48-year-old single man.
      But roughly once a week, he loses total control of his body and mind to an
      epileptic seizure. A seizure took over Beloungea's body while walking
      through his suburban Detroit neighborhood last April. When an onlooker in a
      neighbor's house saw Beloungea having the seizure, which includes rapid
      repetitive arm motion, she misinterpreted it as criminal conduct.
      Specifically, she thought Beloungea was masturbating in public. With that
      misconception in mind, she called the police. When the Oakland County
      Sheriff's Department arrived on the scene, Beloungea was still undergoing
      his seizure, acting disoriented and not responding to questions. When
      officers couldn't get through to Beloungea they drew their weapons, shocked
      him with a high-voltage taser, hit him with a baton and wrestled him to the
      ground. They then handcuffed him and put him in a police car. Oakland
      County Undersheriff Michael McCabe said that the officers tasered Beloungea
      because he lunged at one of them. Beloungea and his lawyer say the more
      police got physical the more Beloungea got agitated and aggressive - typical
      behavior, according to the Epilepsy Foundation of America, for a person
      restrained while having a partial complex seizure. Beloungea's wild motions
      and inability to communicate were not defiance or resistance, but classic
      symptoms of epilepsy. The officers put Beloungea in jail, citing assault of
      a police officer and resisting arrest. Throughout the incident Beloungea,
      was wearing a medical alert bracelet identifying him as an epileptic,
      stating his name and the contact numbers of people who can be reached in
      case of an emergency. ..."

      38. "Meeting Special Needs and the Need for Peace of Mind" dated 25
      November 2006 by HILLARY CHURA from The New York Times at

      "On top of the therapists, doctors, medicines and other issues of daily
      living, the last thing that parents of disabled children may want to face -
      establishing a special-needs trust - could provide the most comfort. It
      took Wayne and Nancy Cotiaux until this year, 18 years after their son Scott
      was born mentally retarded, to look into a trust. The trust, which
      ultimately will be valued at $750,000, can be used to pay for anything other
      than Scott's food and shelter. The couple wanted to use their life insurance
      policies to sustain Scott's quality of life once they died but not
      jeopardize his government benefits. "You worry so much," said Mrs. Cotiaux
      of Centereach, N.Y. "As you get older and closer and closer to your
      geriatric years, it just becomes a greater worry, and you build more anxiety
      over it. Last year, I was a basket case. I was on medication. I feel the
      weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders." Most services for
      the disabled are provided through state-administered Medicaid programs, with
      federal Supplemental Security Income providing a monthly stipend for adults.
      To be eligible for Supplemental Security Income, however, potential
      recipients cannot have more than $2,000 in assets. Because that amount is
      inadequate for a lifetime of haircuts, hobby supplies, vacations and DVDs -
      expenses not covered by the government - a supplemental-needs trust can
      enhance quality of life. Without a trust, a lifetime of care for a disabled
      person could eat through even a sizable inheritance. "I don't care if the
      parents have $10 million, chances are the child needs Medicaid," said Craig
      Marcott, a certified financial planner in East Patchogue, N.Y. "Most
      services are Medicaid-based, and you can't pay to get into them." About
      51.2 million Americans have some disability, according to the Census Bureau.
      While the term trust tends to imply great wealth, many special-needs trusts
      contain less than $100,000. Because the trust does not belong to the
      disabled person but is used to supplement a lifestyle, it does not
      compromise government benefits. These so-called third-party special-needs
      trusts cannot be financed with the money of the disabled individual. To do
      so would require a different type of trust. About 60 percent of children
      with special needs will require lifelong care, said Nadine Vogel, president
      of Springboard Consulting, which advises companies how to market products
      and services to the disabled and their families. It is uncertain how many
      people who could use trusts actually have them, but an online survey of
      1,718 respondents, conducted by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and
      released in January 2005, found that 88 percent of the parents of
      special-needs children do not have a trust to preserve eligibility for
      government benefits. Still, many parents are reluctant to start a trust
      because they fear making the wrong decision, do not want to face the idea
      that one day they will be unable to care for their child, or do not know how
      to establish one or whom to ask. In addition, they may not like the notion
      of putting their child on what is perceived to be welfare. Some may believe
      they can avoid drawing up a trust by leaving the money to a trusted relative
      or friend. Specialists universally discourage that. Even people who intend
      to follow up on a moral obligation to care for the disabled child could lose
      the money in a divorce, bankruptcy, lawsuit, premature death or other
      unforeseen calamity, the specialists say. ..."

      39. "Reading is the key" dated 26 November 2006 by Mark Tuscano from The
      News-Herald at

      "Roots of a rift. Around second grade, students face a fundamental shift in
      their educational process - away from learning to read, and toward reading
      to learn, says Becky Malinas. "That's where the big breakdown begins," she
      said. Malinas is a Wilson certified trainer and phonological intervention
      specialist with the Willoughby-Eastlake School District. The breakdown
      comes when students who have not learned the most basic reading
      fundamentals, including letter identification and sounds, are expected to
      read and comprehend textbooks. "Reading affects all their subject areas,"
      she said. Malinas has been with the district for 11 years as a special
      education teacher. Early on, she noticed some students who were still
      having trouble with reading and writing, even after attending tutoring
      sessions, she said. "I started looking at what else was out there, and
      seven years ago, I researched the Wilson program. I took a two-day overview
      class and could see how positive it was, so I took the level one and two
      classes." Reading into it. The Wilson Reading Program was developed in
      1988 by Barbara Wilson, who tested the approach on prison inmates, Malinas
      said. The level classes prepare people to administer the 12 steps of the
      program. Wilson, like several other reading programs, is designed to teach
      students the most basic reading skills first, Malinas explained. As many as
      20 percent of students experience the breakdown rift from the inability to
      read at grade level, Malinas said. The variation in language skill level
      can range from mild difficulty to profound inability. "Individuals who are
      very bright and have this problem can lose confidence rapidly," said North
      High School Psychologist Connie Newyear. "They can see others students
      being successful, and they know they are not stupid, but they can't figure
      out why they are falling behind. Those students may act out and become
      discipline problems later." The situation for one Lake County mom and her
      dyslexic son deteriorated through his middle school years and reached a
      pinnacle this year, when he was sentenced to the Youth Detention Center
      after a confrontation with a teacher. That student is not in the
      Willoughby-Eastlake School District. The district, and the student and his
      mother's names are being withheld by request. Now the mother looks back at
      the wasted years and said she should have done things differently. "In
      kindergarten, he just wasn't getting things," she said. Year after year,
      the boy failed every spelling test. The teachers said he was lazy. "We were
      punishing him for failing his spelling tests in fourth and fifth grades,"
      his mom said. "Then he was always ending up in the nurse's office. We
      thought he was becoming a hypochondriac or something. Could you imagine the
      anxiety this little boy was having whenever he was called on to read?"
      Finally, when her son was in seventh grade, she asked the school in writing
      to conduct a multi-factored evaluation. The diagnosis - the child was
      dyslexic. "His self-esteem was shot. He was in seventh grade and reading at
      a third-grade level, and they let him slip by all those years," she said.

      40. "More colleges helping with disabilities" dated 27 November 2006 by
      Jennifer Brown from the Denver Post at http://www.denverpost.com/ci_4726614.

      "Rick LaFave spent four hours each night reading his college textbooks, but
      was still two weeks behind in class. The Regis University student getting a
      doctorate in physical therapy excelled at helping patients, yet his scores
      on written exams were awful. The discrepancy was so stark LaFave's
      professors pushed him to get tested for a learning disability. Now he is
      counted among a growing number of students with disabilities attending
      colleges and universities, which have magnified services to help those
      students keep pace - from personal note-takers to high-tech computer
      equipment that reads aloud and types research papers. "It's been a
      tremendous help," said LaFave, who was placed in special reading classes in
      high school and dedicated hours of study as an undergraduate only to earn
      mediocre grades. "My reading used to take me forever." Regis University
      scans LaFave's reading assignments onto a disk, which he takes to the Denver
      campus library to pop into a computer that reads it to him. The school lets
      him take tests at his own pace in a private room, and the computer reads him
      the questions. "I was missing the key words," he said. "Time was an issue
      so I would tend to rush through and miss pertinent information." LaFave,
      38, is getting more A's now than he ever has in his life. An estimated 11
      percent of American college students have disabilities - either mental,
      physical or psychiatric - higher education officials said. An exact number
      is difficult to determine because, unlike the K-12 system, colleges are not
      required to report "special-needs" students to the government. The number
      of college students with disabilities has grown fivefold from three decades
      ago, when it was estimated at 2.3 percent. Like Regis, many Colorado
      institutions say they've strengthened services over the past few years.
      Experts believe that much of the increase is simply due to better diagnoses,
      but they also credit higher expectations for students in special-needs
      courses in middle and high school. Learning disabilities are "processing
      disorders," not the result of mental retardation, said Candace Cortiella,
      director of The Advocacy Institute in Washington, D.C. Often people with the
      reading disability, dyslexia, the writing disability of dysgraphia or the
      math version, dyscalculia, have high IQs, she said. Some students don't
      realize they have a learning disability until college, when reading
      assignments can top 300 pages per week. "There is no special education in
      college," Cortiella said. "You can get special accommodations, but you still
      need to do the work." At Regis, the number of students requesting
      note-takers, special software or other services has grown from 240 in 2003
      to 370 this fall, said disability services director Joie Williams. The most
      common are learning disabilities, followed by attention-deficit disorder and
      psychiatric issues such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. The
      number of college students diagnosed with disabilities increased
      dramatically after the 1990 passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act,
      Williams said. ..."

      41. "Escaping 'Average'- Innovative Programs Make the Case That High-Level
      Classes Aren't Just for the Gifted" dated 28 November 2006 by Jay Mathews
      from The Washington Post at

      "School leaders in Seaford, Del., had noticed for some time that very few
      average students took the most challenging courses in the town's secondary
      schools. As was the case in most small school systems, many Seaford families
      did not expect much. Parents and teachers did not want to push kids beyond
      their limits. But Secondary Education Director James VanSciver and other
      Seaford educators became convinced that with extra help, many more students
      could be taking algebra in middle school and college-level courses in high
      school. Four years ago, they began offering special tutoring, summer classes
      and Saturday classes. The number of Advanced Placement classes at Seaford
      High swelled from four to 14. The focus on helping average students also
      boosted minority enrollment in the most rigorous classes. The district has
      about 3,400 students, 40 percent black and slightly more than half white.
      Through the initiative, administrators found more black students doing well
      and going on to college. Julius Mullen, who directs a Saturday program for
      young African American males in Seaford, said the students discovered they
      could advance if given more time and the assurance that they had their
      friends with them. "When expectations are raised, I think students will grab
      for them if they have the support programs in place," Mullen said. "They
      have to see their friends achieving success." Throughout the country, the
      desire to coax average students into high-level courses has inspired many
      innovations. Nearly all seek to teach students how to take notes, write
      papers and prepare for exams. They harness what is perhaps the greatest
      force in U.S. schools -- the urge to be a part of a group -- by giving the
      students a sense they are moving onto the college track with others who
      share their doubts and middling academic records. The largest effort to
      prepare average students for high-level courses is led by a San Diego-based
      nonprofit organization called AVID, for Advancement Via Individual
      Determination. It was started in 1980 by Mary Catherine Swanson, a high
      school English teacher who was dissatisfied with how average students were
      treated at her suburban San Diego school, particularly those who were
      minorities. Swanson retired this year with the program operating in 2,716
      schools in 39 states, including Virginia and Maryland, and in the District.
      Fairfax County has AVID in 14 schools, more than any other school system in
      the region. It uses study skills classes to prepare students for one of the
      nation's strongest college-level programs. "Average students who are put
      into higher-level classes without support is a recipe for disaster," said
      Derek E. Steele, who heads the county's AVID program. "Our program helps
      students recognize they are not average, but they have to develop certain
      skills to prove that to others." ..."

      42. "Cure Autism Now and Autism Speaks Announce Plans to Combine
      Operations- Merger of Leading Autism Organizations Will Lead to Enhanced
      Research, Treatment and Advocacy Programs" dated 29 November 2006 in a press
      release from Autism Speaks at

      "Autism Speaks and Cure Autism Now (CAN) have signed a memorandum of
      understanding to combine operations, uniting the nation's two leading autism
      organizations and their cutting-edge programs for research, biomedical
      treatment and advocacy. The merger was announced today by Mark Roithmayr,
      president of Autism Speaks, and Peter Bell, president and chief executive
      officer of CAN. Due diligence and final board approvals are expected to be
      concluded by February 1, 2007. The consolidated organization will be known
      as Autism Speaks, Inc. The consolidation of the two non-profit
      organizations will provide the scale necessary to respond to the crisis of
      autism, the nation's fastest-growing developmental disorder. Both groups
      share a commitment to accelerate and fund biomedical research into the
      causes, prevention, treatments and cure for Autism Spectrum Disorders; to
      increase awareness of the disorder; and to improve the quality of life of
      affected individuals and their families. "Autism Speaks and Cure Autism Now
      believe that a combined organization will attract more resources and
      facilitate large-scale research, while providing the funding necessary to
      launch planned clinical and quality-of-life programs. A single entity will
      foster collaboration among the best scientific minds and most dedicated
      advocates. This is how we will reach our common mission -- finding a cure
      for autism," said Bell and Roithmayr in a joint statement. "Since their
      founding, Autism Speaks and CAN have committed more than $50 million to
      autism research and education, established scientific resources, promoted
      awareness and led federal advocacy efforts," said Bob Wright, co-founder and
      board chairman of Autism Speaks. "During the past year, we have worked
      closely with CAN on critical issues facing the autism community, and now we
      will truly be able to combine our efforts and passions toward our common
      goals." "When we started CAN ten years ago, they told us you can't hurry
      science," said Jonathan Shestack, co-founder of Cure Autism Now. "But with
      an extraordinary group of committed families and scientists we created a
      field from scratch and proved that, indeed, you can hurry science. In this
      next chapter, with Autism Speaks, we intend to move further and faster."
      Autism Spectrum Disorders are diagnosed in one in 166 children, with four
      times as many boys than girls affected. Autism has increased tenfold in the
      last decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called
      autism a national public health crisis. The combined organization will
      maintain both Cure Autism Now's and Autism Speaks' national walk programs
      and professional staffs. The scientific research processes, advisory boards
      and protocols of each entity will be integrated and flagship CAN programs,
      including the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE), Autism Treatment
      Network (ATN), Clinical Trials Network (CTN) and Innovative Technology for
      Autism (ITA), will be expanded. ..."

      43. "The biological factor in autism" dated 29 November 2006 by Lidia
      Wasowicz from United Press International at

      "Scientists trying to dig up the roots of autism are unearthing mounting
      evidence of the immune system`s involvement in the intractable disorder.
      Scientific hints that the body`s disease-fighting mechanisms play a role in
      autism first surfaced in 1986, researchers said. However, for the most
      part, these studies were small and the results inconclusive so that what now
      appears a logical concept didn`t catch on until more recently, said David
      Amaral, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of
      California, Davis, School of Medicine and Medical Center and M.I.N.D.
      research director. 'You cannot have a normal neurodevelopment without
      having a normal immune system,' said Judy Van de Water, an immunology
      specialist at the UC Davis Center for Children`s Environmental Health. 'We
      know when these kids are faced with particular environmental agents, such as
      certain bacteria, they don`t respond as rigorously as the control kids do.'
      Among other projects, she`s looking into whether children with autism show
      signs of autoimmunity, a phenomenon in which the body`s protective system
      goes haywire, turning on the very tissues and organs it`s supposed to
      safeguard from attack. 'This is important because a lot of investigators
      have suggested that patients with autism have auto-antibodies, so we`re
      looking at whether these kids have auto-antibodies to brain tissue,' she
      told an international meeting on autism research in Boston. Indeed, when
      Van de Water probed the brain`s disease-deflecting armor in 30 autistic
      children ages 2 to 5 and 26 without the disorder, she detected a variation
      in the way specialized messenger molecules called cytokines react to
      bacteria and other health threats in the two groups. These immune proteins,
      which normally get into gear when a response is needed to injury or
      irritation, instead appear to be constantly 'switched on,' or inflamed, in
      individuals with autism, reported another team, which veered off the beaten
      path to study the issue. Rather than taking the more common approach of
      looking at the immensely complex immune system as a whole, the investigators
      from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore and the
      University of Milan in Italy decided to narrow their field of inquiry to
      just a few components within the relatively restricted environment of the
      central nervous apparatus. They confined their search to the
      cell-coordinating cytokines, measuring their levels in brain tissue samples
      taken from 11 children and adults ages 5 to 44 who had died by accident,
      illness or injury. They observed the abnormal patterns of inflammation,
      reinforcing the view that immune activation in the brain is involved in
      autism. However, the authors noted, it is not yet clear whether the
      irregularity is destructive or beneficial, or perhaps both, to the
      developing brain. Wanting to see if their findings would hold up, the
      investigators followed up with an analysis of cerebrospinal fluid from six
      children with autism ages 5 to 12. As in the previous studies, they once
      again detected elevated cytokine levels, raising the possibility that
      ultimately doctors might be able to use these anomalies to diagnose autism
      or even that they might be able to treat the inflammation, thereby
      preventing or reversing the disorder. But that`s a long time and many
      studies away. First, they must deal with such challenges as figuring out
      the chicken-and-egg quandary that can sabotage attempts to definitively get
      at the source of an ailment. In the case at hand, the scientists were
      uncertain whether the abnormality they observed is a cause or consequence of
      the disorder. Just as the body`s first-aid response to a skinned knee is to
      protectively wall off the injury and ward off the agent of harm with heat,
      redness and swelling, so, too, it may be that the inflammation detected by
      the researchers may represent the brain`s efforts to combat some other
      cell-damaging process. The finding 'backs up what we`re seeing in the
      peripheral blood, that perhaps there is a change in these kids and the
      cytokine production in the brain is altered,' said Van de Water, who plans
      to conduct her own investigation into what those changes mean, whether they
      affect brain function and how they might be related to some of the classic
      symptoms of autism. For example, cytokines are known to affect slumber, and
      sleep disorders are a common complaint of individuals with autism. Among
      the next steps, scientists are looking into what role heredity may play in
      the development of immune abnormalities in the brain that may stir up a
      susceptibility to autism. ..."

      44. "Industry Ties Common on Hospital Boards- Survey finds industry ties
      not unusual in hospital boards that watchdog patient experiments" dated 29
      November 2006 by Mike Stobbe from the Associated Press at

      "survey of hospital review boards that watchdog experiments on patients
      shows that one in three members takes money from companies that make drugs
      and medical devices that come under study. What's more, many of those with
      conflicts rarely or never disclose their financial ties, researchers found.
      The study of 100 university medical centers is said to be the first to look
      at financial conflicts of interest on hospitals' institutional review
      boards. IRBs are little-known committees responsible for protecting patients
      in research experiments. The study's findings are alarming, said some
      patient advocates. If the review board "is riddled with financial conflicts
      of interest, it's not going to be as protective as it should be," said Dr.
      Sidney Wolfe, director of the Public Citizen's Health Research Group. The
      study was published in this week's issue of the New England Journal of
      Medicine. Corporate funding of medical research is common and a mainstay in
      the translation of scientific discoveries into medical treatments. But in
      the last five years, there has been heightened scrutiny of the financial
      ties between researchers and the companies that make experimental drugs and
      devices. The question: Do medical researchers always act in the best
      interest of science _ or patients _ if they are also getting royalties,
      consulting fees or other benefits from the makers of the products being
      tested? All federally funded research must be reviewed and approved by
      IRBs, which consider patient safety as well as ethical conflicts. Most
      members of these boards are volunteers, usually doctors or scientists
      themselves, who get no extra pay for their service. They are expected to be
      more sensitive to ethical concerns than the researchers they monitor, said
      Dr. Jerome Kassirer, a former New England Journal of Medicine editor who
      wrote a book in 2005 on medical conflicts of interest. Now researchers are
      "finally getting around to looking at all the ways that pharmaceutical
      companies can have an adverse influence on health," Kassirer added. In the
      study, led by Eric Campbell of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard
      Medical School, 575 members of IRBs at 100 universities were surveyed; they
      were promised anonymity. About 36 percent _ or more than 200 respondents _
      reported at least one form of industry financial ties in the previous year.
      Roughly 15 percent _ or about 80 respondents _ said that in the previous
      year, they were asked to review at least one research study that was
      sponsored by a company with which they had a relationship or by a competitor
      of that company. Both situations constitute a conflict of interest, the
      study's authors noted. Of those respondents, more than half said they
      always disclosed their conflict to other board members, but 35 percent said
      they rarely or never did. Nearly one in five said that regardless of their
      conflicting ties, they always voted on whether to approve the proposed
      clinical study. Federal regulations bar IRB members from voting in a review
      of a study in which they have a conflict of interest. "This (the study's
      results) reflect a significant lack of law enforcement," Wolfe said. It may
      also reflect a lack of awareness, said Campbell, the lead author. Of all
      the study's respondents, fewer than half said their review boards had a
      formal written definition of what makes a conflict of interest. As for
      patients, a second study published in the journal, suggested that those
      fighting for their lives were more focused on being cured than worrying
      about conflicts of interest by researchers. The study, led by researchers
      at the National Institutes of Health, involved cancer patients enrolled in
      clinical trials. Most said such conflicts did not worry them, and 77 percent
      knew little about the issue."

      45. "How Many Kids Have Autism?" dated 30 November 2006 by CARL BIALIK from
      The Wall Street Journal at

      "Several skeptical Numbers Guy readers have suggested I look into an
      alarming claim: that one in 166 U.S. children has autism. That stat has
      received a lot of attention recently in advocacy materials
      <http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/061027/clf062.html?.v=30> , television ads
      <http://www.adcouncil.org/default.aspx?id=333> and newspapers, including
      reports in the Dallas Morning News
      5nat.ART.State.Edition1.906ed6a.html> , the Chicago Tribune
      676.story> and the Savannah Morning News
      <http://savannahnow.com/node/163038> . Autism experts told me that research
      broadly supports the estimate -- with two major caveats. Those caveats help
      explain why the stat, while alarming, doesn't support related claims by some
      advocates: that autism cases have been mushrooming with "epidemic speed,"
      and that more than one million Americans have autism. First, the stat comes
      from figures published <http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/asd_common.htm> by
      the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based on a review of several
      studies that came up with estimates. But the CDC was careful to point out
      that the studies produced a wide range of results. Indeed, the
      headline-grabbing number focuses on the worst-case scenario: The CDC said
      the number of children with autism was somewhere between one in 500 and one
      in 166. Second, the numbers take into account a relatively modern
      definition of autism that includes a full range of disorders. The changing
      definition of autism has played a major role in influencing statistics. The
      cause of autism isn't completely understood; a combination of genetic and
      environmental factors is believed to play a part, according to the CDC
      <http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/asd_treatments.htm> . Autism can usually
      be diagnosed before the age of three, according to the National Institute of
      Health <http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/autism.cfm> . Different from mental
      retardation, autistic disorders (as they are now defined) are characterized
      by impairment in communication and other social interaction. Mental
      retardation, characterized in part by a low intelligence-test score, can
      coincide with autism, but some people with autism have above-average IQs.
      Those with "high-functioning autism" or with Asperger's Disorder --
      distinguished by less-severe symptoms that may not become apparent until
      later in life -- are likely to have an easier time of adapting to mainstream
      society, and therefore their conditions can be more difficult to diagnose.
      Other people with more severe cases of autism may require special education
      throughout school years and may have difficulty living independently as
      adults. The broad definition used to arrive at the one-in-166 figure, which
      includes milder forms like Asperger's syndrome, was published by the
      American Psychiatric Association in 1994 in the Diagnostic and Statistical
      Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, known as the DSM-IV -- the
      primary handbook for diagnosing mental disorders. Eric Fombonne, an autism
      expert at Montreal's McGill University, told me that while about a dozen
      studies around the world have found autism prevalence rates that would be in
      line with the one-in-166 estimate, that same research found that the
      majority of those people had a mild form of the condition. The high profile
      of the one-in-166 number has been driven by increased public-awareness
      campaigns about autism from the government and advocacy groups. In 2004, the
      CDC, the Department of Health and Human Services, the American Academy of
      Pediatrics and other groups issued an alert (Autism A.L.A.R.M.
      <http://www.medicalhomeinfo.org/health/Autism downloads/AutismAlarm.pdf> )
      to doctors citing the 1-in-166 stat and advising on how to screen for cases.
      Since then, the CDC has reaffirmed the number in an online fact sheet
      <http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/asd_common.htm> (where it cited the broad
      range of estimates) and in a May report
      <<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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