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POAC-NoVA: Education and Autism Information, 6 October 2008

Oct 06, 2008 Download iCalendar 1. FCPS workshop on Bully Prevention. Do you know the signs of bullying? Do you want to understand how to prevent bullying? Join us to learn how to support positive friendships and learn about the myths and signs of bullying. It is on October 7, 2008 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the West Springfield High School, Spartan Hall, 6100 Rolling Road, Springfield, VA 22152. Display tables are open a half hour before and after the workshop. Parents and students are invited to attend this interactive workshop and learn how to avoid bullying. Safe & Drug Free Youth, Office of Student Services will present an interactive workshop for parents and students who are interested in learning more about supporting positive friendships. A variety of materials will be on display and packets available for participants. Seating is limited and registration required. Please call 703-204-3941 or email prc@fcps.edu (and type “Bully Prevention” in the subject line) to register.

2. The FCPS Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities (ACSD) will hold its monthly meeting at Dunn Loring Administrative Center, 2334 Gallows Road, Dunn Loring, VA. Please use entrance 2. However, the meeting may move to Gatehouse Administrative Center, 8115 Gatehouse Road, Falls Church, VA 22042 sometime this Fall. The meeting begins promptly at 7:30 p.m. Guests are welcome to observe and/or provide public comment at any meeting. Anyone needing accommodations for a disability in order to attend or participate in this Fairfax County Public Schools activity should call 703-204-3956 or # 711 to access the Virginia Relay TTY service. For more information about the Advisory Committee for Students with Disabilities, visit http://www.fcps.edu/ss/ACSD.

3. MEDICAID WAIVER WORKSHOP. LEARN MORE ABOUT MONEY FOLLOWS THE PERSON, HOME AND COMMUNITY-BASED MEDICAID WAIVERS, and SCREENING AND ELIGIBILITY TO NAVIGATE THE MEDICAID LONG TERM CARE SYSTEM. THIS WORKSHOP WILL BE HELD on Wednesday, OCTOBER 8, 2008 at The disability Resource Center, 409 Progress Street, Fredericksburg, VA 22401 from 9:00 to 12:00pm. Please RSVP & Special Accommodations requirements by October 1, 2008 to (540)373-2559, (540)373-5890 TTY, or tgratz@cildrc.

4. Autism Spectrum Symposium: Working together to connect the pieces. Friday, October 10, 2008. The George Washington University - 1957 E Street - City View Room. The number of students with Asperger’s Syndrome and other autism spectrum diagnoses is increasing on college campuses across the country. These students interact with all aspects of the institution and therefore the campus community needs to be able to respond to this increased visibility and involvement of students with autism spectrum disorders. Offices of disability services cannot be the only outlets for advocacy and understanding. Through interdepartmental networks, we are able to best serve these students. This day-long symposium aims to provide academic, student affairs, and rehabilitation professionals with a framework for understanding students with autism spectrum diagnoses and to share best practices when working with these students. Sponsored by The George Washington University Office of Disability Support Services. For more information, please contact DSS at 202-994-8250 or by email at dss@gwu.edu, or visit http://gwired.gwu.edu/dss.

5. Guardianship Workshop sponsored by DSANV on October 11, 2008 from 9:00am to 12:00pm at The Arc of Northern VA, 98 N. Washington St, Falls Church, VA 22046. Parents of children with special needs are very involved in the medical care, education, and personal issues of their special child. However, upon reaching the age of 18, parents will no longer have the decision-making rights they are accustomed to having. Therefore, in order for to continue to have parental authority after your child reaches 18 years of age, you must file for "guardianship." To learn more about legal guardianship options, please join the Down Syndrome Association of Northern Virginia as we present our Guardianship Workshop. Featured Speakers are Kelly A. Thompson, PLC and Nancy Mercer. To RSVP and for more info, please email Noelle Holloman at NoelleH@dsanv.org.

6. NEW! Meeting of the Fairfax Autism Network (FAN) on Friday, October 17 at 10 a.m. at 8100 Backlash Ct. Springfield, VA 22153. We are a small group of parents that meets casually and talks about issues with our children on the spectrum. We problem solve any questions, and support each other. Call Teresa Champion, if you have any questions at 703.440.8843.

7. NEW! First Family Fun Night is 17 October. Family Fun Night is a drop-in program for individuals ages 3-21 who are on the Autism Spectrum and their families. Through activities such as games and arts and crafts, staff and volunteers encourage the families to play together. Volunteers will assist with implementing activity stations and engaging participants in the activities. The program is held on the 3rd Friday of the month from October through May at the Langston-Brown Community Center. This month we’re featuring THE MOONBOUNCE! In addition, we’ll have the following: board games, puzzles, open gym, quiet room with our musical beanbag chair, watercolors, playdoh, etc.

8. NEW! Centreville HS PTSA is proud to have a representative from CrossRoads speak at their next PTSA meeting on October 21st at 7pm. A 20-30 minute overview of their neurologically based interventions will be introduced. Anyone with children/family members with ADD, LD, PDD, Depression, etc. are encouraged to attend. Their website is www.crossroadsinstitute.org. Please come for this informative overview.

9. NEW! Children Together Fall Workshops. Thursday, October 23, 2008 at the First Baptist Church of Alexandria, 2932 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22302 - (703) 684-3720. Registration: 3:30- 4:00 p.m. - Full Session: 4:00-7:00 p.m. – or - Session One: 4:00- 5:15 p.m. Session Two: 5:45-7:00 p.m. Break for all Sessions: 5:15-5:45 p.m. Upon arrival you will have the option of choosing the extended workshop that continues after the break or choosing two shorter workshops. Please arrive early. Seating will be first come, first serve until each workshop reaches capacity.Full Session Workshop 4:00-7:00 p.m. Parent Tool Box: Four steps to reaching your goals for you and your child - Susan Keightley, M.Ed. Session Workshops 4:00-5:15 p.m. and 5:45-7:00 p.m. The Serious Work of Play - Moshe Shtuhl, Ph.D - Licensed Clinical Psychologist - Alison Gardner, Psy.D. - Licensed Clinical Psychologist. Nutrition and The Child’s Brain Development - Elizabeth Holm, DrPH, RD. All Children Can Observe: How to Easily Bring Local Butterflies into Your Classroom - Peggy Ashbrook - Early Childhood Science Educator and Writer. Handwriting Without Tears (HWT): Incorporating HWT Into Your Preschool Classroom - Allison Tracey, M.A., HWT certified. Watch Your Step! Crossing Boundaries - Alma Tovar, LCSW - Fairfax County Public Schools - Elaine Barker, Ed.D. - Preschool Special Education Coordinator - Alexandria City Public Schools. Inclusion Helps All Children Soar: Setting Up Your Classroom for Success - Kathy Harris, Head Teacher - Lana Sonoda, Assistant Teacher - Resurrection Children’s Center - Lisa Woodruff-Sanford, M.A. - Early Childhood Special Education Specialist - Alexandria City Public Schools. For more info, see the brochure at http://www.acps.k12.va.us/prc/20081023.pdf.

10. NEW! FCPS Assistive Technology Services will be sponsoring the Real Assistive Technology for Everyone (R.A.T.E.) conference for staff and parents on Saturday, October 25 from 8:00-1:00 at Rachel Carson Middle School. This conference will feature presentations on a wide variety of

assistive technology topics with a special focus on the integration of software programs and devices into the instructional setting. For additional information about the R.A.T.E conference, descriptions of available sessions, and to learn how to register, go to http://www.fcps.edu/ss/its/rate/index.htm. Questions? Contact Mary Beth Fleming at marybeth.fleming@fcps.edu or Betsy Komoniewski at


11. NEW! Accessible Public Transportation Options Expo For People with Disabilities and Senior Citizens on Tuesday, October 28, 2008 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm at Metro Headquarters, 600 5th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) invites you to an Accessible Public Transportation Options Expo for People with Disabilities and Senior Citizens. The purpose of the event is to provide information about the wide array of accessible bus and rail public transportation options available throughout the Washington metropolitan region. The Expo will include on-site demonstrations of bus accessibility features. Rail accessibility and safety features tours of the Judiciary Square and Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro stations will also be conducted. The following are participating transit agencies that join Metro in presenting this Expo: Alexandria DASH, Arlington Transit, City of Fairfax CUE, D.C. Circulator, Fairfax Connector, Loudoun County Transit, MARC, Maryland Transit Administration, Montgomery County Ride On, Omni Ride, Prince George's County TheBus, and Virginia Railway Express. To reach Metro headquarters, take the Red, Green or Yellow lines to the Gallery Pl-Chinatown station. Use the Arena exit. Walk two blocks east on F Street to 5th Street. Or ride Metrobus routes D1, D3, D6, P6, 70, 71, 80 or X2. Use the Metro Trip Planner at www.MetroOpensDoors.com for door-to-door itineraries. To RSVP or get more information, call 202-962-1100, TTY 202-962-2033 or e-mail adap@wmata.com

12. A Comparison of Two Types of Video Modeling to Teach Self-Help Skills to Children with Autism. The people responsible for this study are Dr. Laura Stapleton and Anna Burns, M.A., at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. The study is conducted during home visits, when your child will watch a video of a person performing self help skills, and then will try to do those skills, while he or she is being videotaped. There is limited information about the best ways to teach children with autism. Purpose- Video modeling has been used successfully to teach a wide variety of skills to people with and without disabilities. The purpose of this study is to see which of two types of video modeling works best to teach self-help skills to children with autism. The intervention will consist of showing your child a video made using one type of video modeling. The video will attempt to teach your child to do a multi- step task. Prompting and positive reinforcement may also be used to help your child learn this new task. There are no known risks associated with video modeling interventions. Participant requirements:

1. The family lives within a 50 mile radius of Baltimore, MD.
2. The child is between 4-16 years old at the beginning of the study.
3. The child must have a written diagnosis of Autistic Disorder made by a professional using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV).

4. The child is able to sit still and watch a video or television program for a minimum of 2 consecutive minutes on a regular basis.

If you are interested in learning more about this study, please contact Anna Burns, M.A. at (443) 983-4417 or e-mail to burns1@umbc.edu.

13. The Autism Research Institute e-newsletter for October is at http://www.autism.com/ari/enewsletter/enewsletter_200810.htm.

14. The All Aboard e-newsletter for Fall is at http://www.aboard.org/aboard/newsletter/FALL2008_Newsletter.pdf.

15. "Responsive Teaching- The 'response to intervention' framework in Iowa is helping teachers better understand and address students' learning needs." dated 10 September 2008 by Christina A. Samuels from Education Week at http://www.teachersourcebook.org/tsb/articles/2008/09/10/01rti.h02.html.

"Identifying struggling students wasn’t an issue for teachers at Lynnville-Sully Elementary School, tucked away in this town of 900, an hour’s drive east of Des Moines. Knowing what to do next was the hard part. Even in an elementary school with just 188 pupils, it was hard for teachers to offer intensive instruction to children who needed extra help while juggling the needs of the rest of their students. The school’s reading-support staff created lesson plans that didn’t always relate to regular classroom work. And teachers felt they had to wait too long to get extra resources to help the students who needed it. “You know what they need, and yet you had to prove it,” said Cindy Gibbs, a 2nd grade teacher. “Sometimes you’d miss half a year before you’d get them in the resource room” for extra help. Acting on these concerns, the principal and teachers revamped the school’s instructional program in the fall of 2006, introducing a framework best known as “response to intervention,” or RTI. Called “instructional decisionmaking” here in Iowa, RTI relies on frequent, short tests of students and on regular adjustments of instruction, based on what those tests show of a student’s progress, or “response,” to lessons. Iowa’s school district officials are among the most enthusiastic promoters of the method, which is garnering intense interest among educators around the country. …"

16. "Secretary Spellings Addresses Global Education Summit, Announces $7.5 Million in Grants for More Innovative, Effective Tests for Students With Disabilities and Limited English Proficiency" dated 19 September 2008 in a press release from the US Department of Education at http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2008/09/09192008a.html.

"U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, addressing an international conference today on special education entitled "2008 Global Summit on Education: Inclusive Practices for Students with Disabilities" at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C., stated that measuring the academic progress of students with disabilities and including students with disabilities in regular classrooms delivers results. During her remarks, Spellings also announced $7.5 million in grants to help develop more innovative and effective tests for students with disabilities and those with limited English skills. "By measuring achievement every year, No Child Left Behind encourages schools to focus on the needs of students with disabilities like never before. This approach is clearly working," said Secretary Spellings. "Our latest National Report Card shows that the percentage of fourth graders with disabilities who have fundamental math skills nearly doubled between 2000 and 2007, from 30 to 60 percent." A factor in that progress, she said, has been the growing practice of including students with disabilities in regular classes -- the concept known as "inclusion." "There are many who would prefer to return to what I call the 'aspirational approach' –- when we aspired to teaching all children, but we didn't measure results," said Secretary Spellings. "They say that teaching students with disabilities means ignoring other students, and that education is a zero sum game. I disagree. The truth is, research shows that including kids with disabilities in the classrooms so they can learn side by side with their peers helps all students do better in school." Additionally, Secretary Spellings noted that a new technical assistance center to help colleges and universities develop and expand programs for students with intellectual disabilities will be located at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. …"

17. "Research Yields Clues on the Effects of Extra Time for Learning- Yet Results Are Inconclusive as Scholars Have Trouble Teasing Out Which Strategies Work Best" dated 22 September 2008 by Debra Viadero from Education Week at http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2008/09/24/05narresearch_ep.h28.html?tmp=48951064.

"In the winter of 2003, when a string of storms closed schools for days on end in his home state of Maryland, researcher—and parent—Dave E. Marcotte wondered how all that lost learning time would affect students’ achievement. The answer, as it turned out, was quite a lot. With fellow University of Maryland, Baltimore County scholar Steven W. Hemelt, Mr. Marcotte analyzed 20 years of data from state reading and math exams to find out how unscheduled interruptions, such as snow days or teacher strikes, affect students’ test scores. They found, for instance, that, in a year with five lost school days, which is the average number for Maryland, the number of 3rd graders who met state proficiency targets was 3 percent lower than in years with no school closings. While that figure may seem low, the consequences for schools were pretty high. The researchers calculated that more than half the elementary schools that had been singled out by the state over the past three years for failing to make adequate progress would have been on target to pass if Mother Nature hadn’t interfered. Mr. Marcotte’s findings, which were published this year in the Education Finance and Policy journal, cast in unusually concrete terms the kind of impact that lost—or extended—learning time can have on learning. Since the work of the national education commission that gave birth to the report A Nation at Risk in 1983, one blue-ribbon panel after another has called for expanding learning time as a way to boost student achievement. Yet studies only recently have begun to document the potential impact that a little extra learning time might have in practice. The research is also pretty thin on what the best strategies might be for lengthening the amount of time that students spend in school: Would achievement improve more with a longer school year or a longer school day? Is a block schedule more effective than a “double dose” of core academic classes for students struggling in a particular subject? What about after-school programs? Studies over the past 25 or 30 years have provided helpful clues to those questions but no definitive answers. …"

18. "Thousands of Families Sue Over Vaccine Link to Autism" dated 25 September 2008 by David Gutierrez from the Natural News at http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_14844.cfm.

"The U.S. Court of Claims is hearing a series of arguments from parents who charge that vaccines gave their children autism. The claims court is considering arguments from 4,900 parents who say that the vaccines produced autism or neurological problems in their previously normal, healthy children. While the disorder normally develops before the age of three, many of the parents claim that their older children only developed the condition after being vaccinated. In order to deal with the large number of claims, the court's Office of Special Masters ordered lawyers for the families to select three test cases for each of the three vaccine-autism arguments that have been put forward. The group currently being heard claims that autism was produced by a preservative thimerosal, which contains mercury. The vaccine caused mercury to build up in children's brains, the lawyers say, reversing their normal mental development when brain cells became chronically hyperactive in order to try and purge the metal. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that is known to cause a variety of developmental and brain problems, especially in children. "In some kids, there's enough of it that it sets off this chronic neuroinflammatory pattern that can lead to regressive autism," attorney Mike Williams said. the past, many children's vaccines were made with the thimerosal. Although the FDA denies that the thimerosal in vaccines is dangerous, it ordered the chemical phased out of childhood vaccines in 1999. It is currently found only in adult vaccines and in certain multi-dose flu vaccines that are also given to children. Another group of parents, which went before the court in 2007 and has yet to hear a verdict, argued that autism was produced not only by thimerosal, but also by the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, which does not contain the chemical. A third group, to be heard in September, alleges that only the MMR vaccine produced autism in their children."

19. "J&J, Lilly Cited by U.S. Over Promotional Materials" dated 26 September 2008 by Justin Blum and David Olmos from Bloomberg.com at http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aQTyBLQMYfMs&refer=home.

"Drug advertisements for five hyperactivity medicines on Web sites including YouTube and in other promotional materials were cited by U.S. regulators as incomplete and misleading. Johnson & Johnson and Novartis AG were among five companies that received warnings from the Food and Drug Administration on ads for medicines to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to letters posted today on the agency's Web site. The letters were sent after the FDA reviewed advertising for the class of hyperactivity drugs and found numerous violations, said Rita Chappelle, an agency spokeswoman. Among the ads cited were those for J&J's Concerta and Shire Ltd.'s Adderall XR. The Adderall letter mentioned a YouTube video with Ty Pennington, featured on ABC television's ``Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,'' along with advertising on a Web page. The letter to Shire says: ``The Web page and video raise significant public health and safety concerns through their overstatement of efficacy and omission of important safety information.'' The FDA also posted today an unrelated warning from August for Novartis's Diovan for blood pressure. That letter cited eight online ``banner'' ads, saying they failed to communicate risks. The hyperactivity drug warnings, all dated yesterday, also included Eli Lilly & Co.'s Strattera, Novartis's Focalin XR, and Mallinckrodt Inc.'s Methylin. …"

20. "Board OKs special-education changes- Controversial portions removed, proposal now goes to governor's office" dated 26 September 2008 by OLYMPIA MEOLA from the RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH at http://www.inrich.com/cva/ric/news.apx.-content-articles-RTD-2008-09-26-0116.html.

"The Virginia Board of Education revised the state's regulations for special-education students yesterday, advancing a plan stripped of the proposals that were the most unpopular among parents and politicians. Despite pleas from some groups to postpone a vote, the board unanimously signed off on the changes after holding nine public hearings throughout the state and fielding 38,752 comments over the past year. "I think the cold, hard truth is we could hold it for 60 days, we could hold it for 90 days, we [could] not come to agreement on some of these things -- [and] reasonable people can disagree," said board member Andrew J. Rotherham. The revised regulations are now headed to the governor's office for review. The board maintained parental input when a school is considering terminating their child's special-education services, and it will keep the due-process hearing system under the purview of the Supreme Court of Virginia instead of moving it to the Board of Education. State education officials last amended Virginia's regulations about eight years ago and must now review them to comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004. Many of the state's regulations exceed federal requirements, and the move to align them has been contentious. But several special-education instructors yesterday told board members that the state regulations should align with the federal regulations. Tom Nash, executive director of intervention and prevention services for Albemarle County Public Schools was disappointed with a change under which the board will allow students to be considered "developmentally delayed" until age 6, as opposed to keeping them in regular education classes or distinguishing them with a more specific disability. Under the current state regulations, students can be classified as developmentally delayed until age 8. Parents had concerns about labeling students with a specific disability, such as mental retardation, at a younger age. State education officials say earlier identification will keep more children in regular-education classrooms with supplemented teaching and place only students who need intensive services in a different setting. "You really want to make sure special education is the last step, not the first answer," Nash said. In recent weeks, Superintendent of Public Instruction Billy K. Cannaday Jr. and several board members backed away from proposals that raised objections from Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat, and Speaker of the House of Delegates William J. Howell, R-Stafford. Emily Dreyfus, with the JustChildren Program of the Legal Aid Justice Center, asked the board yesterday for more time to consider the changes. …"

21. "Learning From Mistakes Only Works After Age 12, Study Suggests" dated 27 September 2008 by Anna C. K. van Duijvenvoorde, Kiki Zanolie, Serge A. R. B. Rombouts, Maartje E. J. Raijmakers, and Eveline A. Crone in Evaluating the Negative or Valuing the Positive? Neural Mechanisms Supporting Feedback-Based Learning across Development from The Journal of Neuroscience at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080925104309.htm.

"Eight-year-old children have a radically different learning strategy from twelve-year-olds and adults. Eight-year-olds learn primarily from positive feedback ('Well done!'), whereas negative feedback ('Got it wrong this time') scarcely causes any alarm bells to ring. Twelve-year-olds are better able to process negative feedback, and use it to learn from their mistakes. Adults do the same, but more efficiently. Brain areas for cognitive control. The switch in learning strategy has been demonstrated in behavioural research, which shows that eight-year-olds respond disproportionately inaccurately to negative feedback. But the switch can also be seen in the brain, as developmental psychologist Dr Eveline Crone and her colleagues from the Leiden Brain and Cognition Lab discovered using fMRI research. The difference can be observed particularly in the areas of the brain responsible for cognitive control. These areas are located in the cerebral cortex. Opposite case. In children of eight and nine, these areas of the brain react strongly to positive feedback and scarcely respond at all to negative feedback. But in children of 12 and 13, and also in adults, the opposite is the case. Their 'control centres' in the brain are more strongly activated by negative feedback and much less by positive feedback. …"

22. "Parents Helping Parents" dated 28 September 2008 from Hernando Today at http://www2.hernandotoday.com/content/2008/sep/28/parents-helping-parents.

"Spring Hill resident Stacy Walsh knows what its like to feel lost in the system. In the years since her 9-year-old son, Gavin, has been diagnosed with Asberger's Syndrome, a mild form of autism, she has struggled to get certain educational services added to his state-mandated Individualized Service Plan, or IEP, through the Hernando County School District. Not that it's anyone's fault. The process can just be complicated, and if parents don't know how, it can be difficult to know what to ask for, she said. That's why she and fellow parent Nikki Pierce, of Brooksville, have joined forces to create the Special Students of Hernando, a support group that functions more like a resource for local parents of students with disabilities. "When you begin your journey with a special needs child, you have to learn a whole new language," Walsh said. "I didn't know how to ask for what I thought I needed. You have to know who to ask, what to say, and a lot of times, certain things have to be done before other things can be done." With the motto of "parents helping parents," the two created a Web site with contact information, event notices and other information. The group aims to work as a community partner with the district's Exceptional Student Education department, and its members — local parents — meet once a month to share solutions that relate to their children with disabilities. "I now (know how) to work with the school district, and that's why I'm helping other parents," Walsh said. "You'll never get anywhere if you're butting heads with administration." And now, with a project that has been in the planning stages since April, they are partnering with the ESE department to bring a world-renowned expert to Hernando County for a two-day boot camp designed to help parents and educators get appropriate, legal help for their children. His name is Peter Wright, and he is a well-known author and attorney who has argued successfully for landmark special education cases. His books include, "From Emotions to Advocacy" and "Special Education Law." …"

23. Got Autism?" dated 29 September 2008 from the PETA blog at http://blog.peta.org/archives/2008/09/got_autism.php.

"Parents, heads up. Recent studies have suggested a link between dairy consumption and autism. Since many people don't know this, PETA is planning to run a billboard in Newark, New Jersey. Even though it won't please the billion-dollar dairy industry, parents have a right to know the truth about milk. In a study at the University of Rome, researchers noticed a "marked improvement" in the behavior of autistic children who were taken off dairy products, but how dairy might worsen or cause autism is still unclear. Some suspect that casein (a component of cow's milk) harms the brain, while others suggest that stomach problems that are often caused by dairy products cause distress and thus worsen behavior in autistic children. Not so surprising, considering that milk has already been strongly linked to Crohn's disease, certain types of cancer, and other serious health problems. But I digress. Thankfully, there is hope. Testimonials suggest that some people with this devastating disease may be able to find relief by simply removing milk from their diet. There's a whole world of information out there for parents and for women who are pregnant or nursing about how to raise their kids dairy-free. Be an informed consumer and check it out! *The Newark area had the highest rates of autism occurrence among 14 states studied in one report. …"

24. "‘Special’ Education- A Parent Reflects on Singling Out Exceptional Children" dated 29 September 2008 by Lawrence M. Knowles from Education Week at http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2008/10/01/06knowles.h28.html?utm_source=fb&utm_me.

"It is Monday morning at a rural elementary school in an idyllic New England setting. The week begins with an all-school meeting: 93 students, kindergarten through 6th grade, gathered in a cavern of a room that serves interchangeably as gymnasium, cafeteria, performance space, and assembly hall. The kids and staff members share news large and small, practicing the community values that are an essential part of today’s enlightened education environment. On this particular Monday, after hearing about Earth Week events and a few breathless reports of new family pets, the principal makes the unusual announcement that a 6th grader was recently evaluated and found qualified for special learning assistance; she invites the child to step forward and be recognized. The word “special” is generally understood as a euphemism for remedial, the domain of the blameless underachiever. No responsible educator would expose a student to embarrassment, ridicule, perhaps even bullying by publicly branding the student as “special” in that way. The special assistance I am referring to was of a different sort, however, directed at enrichment rather than remediation, which may explain how the scene I describe could and did occur. The principal is a responsible educator; the child was my own. It was partly my fault that my daughter was called out in front of her schoolmates. Watching her make her way through elementary school, I had grown concerned at what appeared to be a widening gap between her abilities and her schoolwork. Because the curriculum was falling behind her, rather than the other way around, there were no programs to identify, assess, or remedy the disparity. The standard achievement test used in our state to satisfy the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act is a fairly blunt instrument. Students who fall below grade-level expectations in basic skills receive further evaluation to determine how best to bring them up to the required standard. Those who meet or exceed the standard are left in a fairly undifferentiated mass of the “doing just fine.” I was not satisfied with being told that my daughter was doing just fine, nor with tests that did no more than tell me she was somewhere in the top third of her grade level. …"

25. "Moms give up more for disabled child" dated 29 September 2008 by Tamara King from THE CANADIAN PRESS at http://www.parentcentral.ca/parent/article/507900.

"When it comes to the jobs of the thousands of Canadian parents caring for a child with a disability, it's mothers – not fathers – who pay the price, a new report says. Three out of five parents of children with disabilities say their employment was affected by their children's condition, according to a survey, released Thursday, by Statistics Canada. However, when asked whose job was affected most, 64 per cent of parents reported it was the mother. Only 8 per cent of survey participants said the father's job was most affected. About 25 per cent of mothers and fathers believed their jobs were equally affected. "The adjustments to their employment was the largest way they were impacted," said Statistics Canada spokesperson Krista Kowalchuk. Kathy Payne-Mercer, 47, mother of two and occupational therapist from Port Perry, Ont., can relate. Her oldest daughter, 19-year-old Laura, has Down syndrome. "I couldn't work full-time and meet all her needs," Payne-Mercer said. "The meetings at the school, the arranging for things, the extra appointments." During the study, conducted in 2006, there were about 200,000 Canadian families caring for a child with disabilities. Almost 30 per cent of Canadian students with an intellectual disability must attend special classes or segregated schools."

26. "Helping kids break stereotypes- First-graders learn firsthand about disabilities – and respect" dated 29 September 2008 by Stacy Teicher Khadaroo from The Christian Science Monitor at http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0929/p03s03-usgn.html.

"When Maggie Doben's first-graders find a wheelchair in the middle of their room, she meets their curiosity with questions of her own: Who might need to use this? Would they be able to get around the classroom? How do you think it works? Inevitably they ask if she knows anyone they can meet who uses a wheelchair. Of course, she does. During an eight-week session, her students at the Cambridge Friends School have the chance to befriend at least half a dozen people with a wide range of physical disabilities. It's a unique program that's also part of a growing trend to help children become more sensitive to those who may somehow be "different." "Helping to answer their questions really does combat discriminatory behaviors," Ms. Doben says. "Children of 6 already have stereotypes ... but [they] are very apt to challenge those stereotypes and be able to turn their thinking around." Before the visits, they learn the alphabet in sign language or make textured vases for a blind guest. They learn why a "little person" prefers to be called that rather than "midget" or "dwarf." They find out it's OK to ask whatever they're curious about. Doben tracked down some junior-high students who had a similar first-grade class with her in another city to find out if the lessons stuck. Their comments are part of her new documentary, "Labeled Disabled," which she hopes will help parents and teachers see the potential of disabilities-awareness education. The students "feel more confident now to be allies and ... more comfortable in the presence of people with disabilities," Doben says. And as an increasing number of wounded soldiers return from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, she adds, "it's incredibly important for children and all people to be prepared for how to interact with brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers ... [with] disabilities." Many schools offer some lessons on disabilities, but rarely at such a deep, personal level. "Every school these days is working in the antibias, antibullying fields, [but] I think few are focusing their efforts on disabilities," says Jamie Kaplan, executive director of The Cromwell Center for Disabilities Awareness in Portland, Maine. …"

27. "Getting Lost: A Newly Discovered Developmental Brain Disorder" dated 29 September 2008 in a press release from the University of British Columbia at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080922135227.htm.

"Feeling lost every time you leave your home? You may not be as alone as you think. Researchers at the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute recently documented the first case of a patient who, without apparent brain damage or cognitive impairment, is unable to orient within any environment. Researchers also believe that there are many others in the general population who may be affected by this developmental topographical disorder. The study, published in the journal Neuropsychologia, and led by Giuseppe Iaria, a UBC Faculty of Medicine and VCH postdoctoral fellow, used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) together with behavioural studies to assess and characterize the navigational deficiencies of the patient, who is completely unable to orient within the environment, getting lost even within the neighborhood where the patient lived for many years. "Imagine not being able to do the simplest of tasks such as finding your way home from the grocery store," says Iaria, who is affiliated with the Brain Research Centre. "Navigating and orienting in an environment are complex cognitive skills, involving parts of the brain used for memory, attention, perception, and decision-making. It also requires using at least two distinct types of memory systems." The procedural memory system involves using landmarks, distances, or following stereotyped movements to move between locations. The spatial memory system is more complex. When moving through an environment – familiar or not – a person creates a mental representation of the environment, called a cognitive map. It is the ability to "create" and "read" these cognitive maps that enables a person to navigate by following a route without getting lost. Brain malformations or lesions in parts of the brain important for navigation are known to cause navigation difficulties. However, no such defects or lesions in the patient's brain were detected. Moreover, a series of behavioural tests revealed that patient's problem was due to a specific inability to form cognitive maps. …"

28. "Mercury Export Ban, Backed by Obama, Passes Congress- A Victory in Drive to Limit Pollution that Impairs Childhood Development" dated 30 September 2008 by Dan Shapley from The Daily Green at http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/mercury-obama-47093005.

"U.S. companies would no longer be able to export mercury, a toxic metal that impairs the development of children, under a new law passed by Congress. President Bush is expected to sign the bill, which was co-authored by Sen. Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate for president, according to the Chicago Tribune, which deserves some credit for inspiring the bill, after publishing accounts of mercury contamination in fish. The bill plugs a hole in regulations designed to limit pollution that contaminates fish. Many women have unsafe levels of mercury in their blood, primarily from eating fish like tuna and other predators, and the mercury can damage developing fetuses, or infants who are breast-feeding. Mercury pollution begins most often with mining, burning coal or making cement. It is also used in medical devices, electronics and other manufactured goods. The concern with exports is that the toxic metal ends up in countries with weak regulations, and because the metal is dispersed widely after being released into the atmosphere by smokestacks, even distant pollution sources can rain down mercury close to home. Ocean pollution can affect populations anywhere, given that fish caught in one part of the world is often sold in another."

29. "Emotional Hearing for Parents with Autistic Children" dated 30 September 2008 by Charity Corkey from the Loudoun Extra at http://loudounextra.washingtonpost.com/news/2008/sep/30/emotional-hearing-parents-autistic-children.

"At 9 a.m. Monday morning, 13 Loudoun residents boarded a bus for a Special Advisory Commission in Richmond to lobby for House Bill 1588 - a mandate for the medical coverage of autistic treatment in Virginia. Led by Delegate David Poisson (D-Loudoun), co-sponsor of HB1588, along with Delegate Robert Marshall (R-Prince William), the residents left prepared with stories and pictures of their autistic children. If passed next year, the bill would require insurers to provide an annual maximum benefit of $36,000 to children under the age of 21 for the treatment of autism, particularly Applied Behavior Analysis. ABA is a costly, intensive program that breaks learning into small steps. It is rarely covered by insurers in Virginia, leaving many parents who choose to use the therapy paying thousands in out-of-pocket fees. Carol Nunez, who brought her 6-year-old autistic son Ethan to the hearing, said she and her husband Rick spent almost $5,000 in potty training. "ABA came into our home at 8 a.m. in the morning till 8 p.m. at night for four weeks," said Carol. "It was successful. He's now 100-percent potty trained at home." "ABA is most effective if applied early," she added. "Had we had insurance to cover [more treatment], I can't fathom the changes we would have seen." While most hearings end after a couple hours, according to Poisson, Monday's hearing lasted for five due a high turnout of parents with autistic children and multiple expert witnesses. In his opening remarks to the commission, Poisson discussed the cost of immediate coverage for autistic children compared to long-term coverage. "Admittedly, in the near time, mandating this coverage could add slightly to the cost of health insurance in Virginia," he said. "But whatever the cost, and no one can say for certain what it will be, it pales by comparison with what it will be if we fail to invest now in early intervention services." …"

30. "Parents gain empowerment through workshop" dated 30 September 2008 by SAMANTHA ARNOLD from The Spectrum at http://www.thespectrum.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080930/NEWS01/809300318.

"Parents gained power through knowledge at an Individual Education Plan workshop last week, learning the basics of an IEP for their children with special needs. Cheryl Benkert, Enoch resident and parent, said Friday that she had a daughter who was on an IEP a few years ago and had no idea what to do or how to make sure that the teachers and school would help her. Now that she has two sons whom she is considering putting on IEPs, she wanted to make sure she knew the basics and rights as a mother of her special-needs children. "I am really excited with what I learned," she said. "Now I know the laws and rights I have on the end as a parent. Benkert said she thought the school and teachers tried pushing her daughter through the system and did not give her the individualized attention she needed through the IEP. "Now I know that it is my child and I am in charge," she said. "I feel so empowered." Lydia Mackun, a mother of two special-needs children, said she thought the IEP program at Cedar Middle School has failed her and her son. Her oldest son recently entered middle school and has not been successful with the curriculum, Mackun said. "It seems like they don't want to make the effort," she said. Mackun said she has set up parent-teacher conferences with the school, and made many attempts to talk directly to the principal. Cedar Middle School Principal Kendall Benson said despite some complaints, there are many parents on the other side who are pleased with the school's IEP program. "We really go out of our way to meet the needs of every child whether they have special needs or are a gifted and talented student," Benson said. …"

31. "Prom king with Down syndrome goes to college" dated 30 September 2008 by Elizabeth Landau from CNN at http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/conditions/09/30/adult.down.syndrome/index.html.

"Marget Wincent has never met Sarah Palin, but she hopes the Republican vice presidential candidate will respond to her recent e-mail. Wincent said she encouraged Palin, whose son Trig has Down syndrome, to "get that little guy on skates when he's a couple years old, and enjoy those snowmobile rides." "Sometimes you're scared as a parent, and you wonder if your child is going to be able to do this and this and this," Wincent said recently. "And you know what? You just go out and try it, and you live each day at a time, and you celebrate all the great things that happen." Wincent's own son Zach, now 19, also has Down syndrome. But the genetic disorder, which causes intellectual disabilities and other difficulties, has not prevented "Zach Attack" from enrolling in community college, climbing the Great Wall of China, coaching hockey games or becoming Prom king in high school. As many as 6,000 babies are born with Down syndrome every year in the United States, according to MayoClinic.com. People with Down syndrome have extra genetic material from the 21st chromosome, the result of abnormal cell division during development. Life with Down syndrome has changed dramatically in the past century. In 1929, the average life expectancy for a person with the condition was 9 years, but today, it is 58 to 60, said Nicole Schupf, associate professor of clinical epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center. Before a movement started in the late 1960s, people with Down syndrome were shut away in institutions, she said. Now, children with the conditions are integrated into the schooling system, and adults are able to live by themselves, said Schupf. She also studies the connection between Down syndrome and Alzheimer's disease, which she said is strong. …"

32. "Voice of Congress: Amendments target autism cases in DoD" dated 1 October 2008 in a press release from Rep. Joe Sestak at http://www.ausa.org/publications/ausanews/specialreports/10_08/Pages/VoiceofCongressAmendmentstargetautismcasesinDoD.aspx.

"the United States, 1 in 150 children suffer from autism spectrum disorders and 67 new cases are diagnosed each day. As the fastest growing serious developmental disability, more children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with diabetes and cancer combined. Tragically, autism research nationally receives only $80 million, or .28 percent of the National Institute of Health’s research funding, compared to the $130 million in private funding alone that is allocated to juvenile diabetes and the $310 million for leukemia, both of which I strongly support. With approximately one percent of the nation’s total autistic population, military families are acutely aware of the funding and coverage limitations provided for autism. Like others in the medical research and care community, the Department of Defense’s healthcare system has failed to adequately provide autism therapy services to families. Master Sgt. Buck Doyle’s daughter Kate is an example. After incurring $250,000 in legal fees and therapy costs trying to compel their local school district to provide basic autistic therapy, the Doyle family turned to TRICARE’s Extended Care Health Option (ECHO). They waited seven months for Kate’s coverage to be authorized and then received only a fraction of the therapy costs. I would like to say that the Doyle family’s story is the exception; sadly, it is not. Military families wait as long as two years for their coverage to be authorized and ECHO’s current coverage limit of $2,500 provides only one hour of therapy per day. The American Academy of Pediatrics and National Academy of Sciences recommends a weekly minimum of 25 hours of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and optimal results are seen with 35-40 hours a week. With diagnoses of this disorder increasing 10-17 percent nationally each year, TRICARE and Congress should set a standard for healthcare nationwide, ensuring that autistic children have the opportunity to reach their potential and become productive members of society. Toward this goal, I sponsored amendments that were included in the Fiscal Year 2009 National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the House of Representatives and laid the ground work for a model that could be used across the country. First, my amendment provides autistic children from military families enrolled in ECHO with a minimum of $5,000 per month for therapy services, a 100 percent increase from the current level. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., recently announced plans to introduce a companion amendment in the Senate. Second, I call on the secretary of defense to make certain that the process of determining eligibility for these services is conducted in an expeditious manner, to prevent the Doyle family’s experience from becoming the norm. Finally, I have mandated a study to research the costs and benefits of covering these treatments under TRICARE’s basic plan rather than under a supplementary program. If this transition occurs, autistic children will finally receive the recommended amount of therapy as an entitlement under TRICARE. …"

33. "Amanda Peet, How Much Are They Paying You?" dated 1 October 2008 by J.B. Handley from the Age of Autism blog at http://www.ageofautism.com/2008/10/amanda-peet-how.html#more.

"I hadn't really been paying attention, until an alert AoA reader pointed out a sentence buried in the VaccinateYourBaby website (that features Amanda Peet as the campaign spokesperson): "Every Child By Two's Vaccinate Your Baby campaign is made possible through an unrestricted, educational grant from sanofi pasteur."
For those of you new to this debate, "sanofi pasteur" (why did they put it in small caps?) is a vaccine company. I guess "educational grant" is intended to throw people of the scent that Sanofi is paying someone to endorse a product from which they profit immensely. We already know that Every Child By Two is largely funded by Wyeth, another vaccine company. (Read "ECBT: A Front Group for Wyeth" HERE.) Sanofi Pasteur, according to their own website, is a division of Sanofi Aventis Group, and is "the largest company in the world devoted entirely to human vaccines." Sanofi Aventis' Market Cap (total value of the stock) is $85.2 Billion dollars. In 2007, they had revenues of $43 Billion dollars and made $8.4 billion in net profits. Their vaccine division is responsible for about $5 billion of their revenues and grew almost 15% between 2006 and 2007. Which leads me to a simple question: Is Amanda Peet a spokesperson for VaccinateYourBaby out of the goodness of her heart? While Sanofi seeks to protect its annual $5 billion in revenues from the greatest threat to vaccine growth – autism – is Amanda Peet just playing good Samaritan? Does she tell her friends she is involved in a nonprofit venture? There is no doubt in the world that Amanda Peet is a paid spokesperson for a vaccine maker. There is also no doubt that in her interactions with the press she will do her best to pretend her work is humanitarian and to somehow equate what she is doing with what Jenny is doing. Jenny has an "angry mob" of tens of thousands of parents who agree with everything she says and does. Amanda Peet has an Italian-suited army of vaccine makers standing behind her. So, I just want to know: How much, Amanda Peet, did they pay you to sell your soul?"

34. "Billboard campaign against use of R-word begins" dated 1 October 2008 by Jesse Williams from the Coppell Gazette Star at http://www.coppellgazette.com/articles/2008/10/02/coppell_gazette/news/10.txt.

"When drivers pass the roads of Belt Line and Fairway in Coppell, they will be reminded of how everyone should ban one R-word from their vocabulary by demonstrating another important R-word--respect. On Sept. 15, Special Olympics Texas kicked off its state-wide campaign to rid usage of the r-word (retard). A billboard highlighting the campaign went up in Coppell that day. Special Olympics is a non-profit international program that provides year-round sports competition for people with intellectual disabilities. In 2004, it changed its terminology from mental retardation to intellectual disabilities. This was a response from the Special Olympic competitors who felt there was still negative connotation with the R-word and the fact that for years before 2004, foreign countries had used other terms other than mental retardation. “It’s not a clinical word,” Kelly said. “The R-word is just a slang word. It’s used in a negative way. It’s not a word a doctor would use.” The project is meant as a public awareness campaign to educate people, especially children on how harmful using the R-word can be. “If you listen, it’s something you hear everyday,” said Andi Kelly, spokesperson for Special Olympics Texas. “It’s become acceptable in society, especially among younger kids.” Currently, there are billboards up in Austin, Dallas, Ft. Worth, El Paso and San Antonio. Kelly said there will be billboards in the Houston area. However, the outlets do not just stop there. Special Olympics Texas has also set up MySpace and Facebook accounts for people to join and people can also watch banning the R-word on Youtube. Kelly said if kids are educated on not using the R-word, they will grow up and teach their children not to use it as well. “It’s disrespectful when you use the R-word,” said Jesse McNeil, Area 10 director of Special Olympics in Texas. “The people who use it don’t know it is hurtful.” …"

35. "Parents of learning disabled join as education advocates" dated 1 October 2008 by SYLVIA LIM from the Bradenton Herald at http://www.bradenton.com/news/local/story/922138.html.

"Even before Myra Donnelly moved to Bradenton from New York in 2003, a doctor had told her that her 1-year-old son may have speech delay. Since then, they knew they were going to have to start Frankie, now 7 and attending Stewart Elementary, on an early intervention program. But getting him enrolled in one in Manatee County was a struggle, she said. She and her husband fought to get him a spot in a right program at a school. Knowing what programs are available, who to call or how to deal with a bureaucracy can be a daunting task for parents of children with special needs. "It's kind of a struggle. From all the other parents we have talked to, even parents in our group, it was the same experience for them," said Donnelly. "It always seems to be a struggle to get disabled children the services they need." Donnelly, Tara Gourlay and several parents thought they could help with that and provide support to those in similar situations by creating a Special Education Parent-Teacher Association. The non-profit organization, which is registered with the National PTA, may be one that is sorely needed in Manatee County, where 8,000 students, or 18 percent of the public school population, have special needs. "It is certainly an issue that a lot of our PTAs are starting to take more seriously," said James Martinez, spokesman for the National PTA. "They feel that they need the help of the community to come together to call attention to their needs. It's an issue that is gaining more attention." Gourlay, the local organization's president, agreed. "We want to try to encourage parents to become advocates," she said. Manatee schools would welcome any help in letting parents know how to find services or get help as there is only one full-time staff at the district who does that now, said Ron Russell, the district's exceptional student education director. "Anytime parents get together and advocate for students with disabilities, only good can come out of that," he said. "As much as we try to help, it's still a pretty big bureaucracy." The core group of the local organization met last year after the district announced it would cut a program aimed at children with language learning disabilities in which their children were enrolled. …"

36. "Father age link to autism in children- Older fathers are almost twice as likely to have autistic children as younger men, research has found." dated 1 October 2008 by Rebecca Smith from the Telegraph (UK) at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/health/3109313/Father-age-link-to-autism-in-children.html.

"A small study of children with autism spectrum disorder, the umbrella term for a range of similar conditions, found they were more likely to have been fathered by men over the age of 33. There was no link with the condition and the mother's age, the Japanese study found. The research involved 84 children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders, meaning they had the social impairments of the condition but had normal intelligence, and 208 children without the disorder. Children whose fathers were over 33 were 1.8 times more likely to have autism than those fathers were under 29. Men who fathered children between the age of 29 and 32 were 30 per cent more likely to have an autistic child. The research is published in the British Journal of Psychiatry. This is the first study to explore the effect of paternal age on the risk of high-functioning autistic spectrum disorder. Its findings correspond with previous studies which have shown a link between older fathers and a low IQ in children. Benet Middleton, director of communications at The National Autistic Society, said: "The causes of autism are still being investigated. Many experts believe that the pattern of behaviour from which autism is diagnosed may not result from a single cause. Autism affects around one in 100 people in the UK and does not solely affect children of older parents. "Members of the NAS are made up of parents of children from a variety of ages and backgrounds; in addition there is evidence to suggest that complex genetic factors are responsible for some forms of autism." Some experts have argued that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccination is linked to the development of autism but this has been widely discredited and other studies have failed to find any link."

37. "FDA: Another Government Regulatory Disaster -- II of III" dated 1 October 2008 by Deirdre Imus from The Huffington Post blog at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deirdre-imus/fda-another-government-re_b_130279.html.

"When the FDA grants approval on products marketed to consumers, the vast majority of Americans feel comfortable that the agency has performed its due diligence and the risk of injury or harm is non-existent. Since its inception in 1906 as the Bureau of Chemistry, however, the FDA has been mired in an incestuous conflict-of-interest culture. Despite horrific reports on approved drugs harming and killing thousands of Americans, the public at large remains unaware of the agency's corrupt history. According to its mission statement, "the FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation's food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation. The FDA is also responsible for advancing the public health by helping to speed innovations that make medicines and foods more effective, safer, and more affordable; and helping the public get the accurate, science-based information they need to use medicines and foods to improve their health." While operating under the illusion of a government regulatory agency responsible for ensuring products are safe, time and time again we have witnessed the FDA acting as an agency that has abandoned the public's interest and under the control of the very industries it is charged with regulating. Over the past thirty years, there have been countless articles and books detailing startling revelations about the pervasive influence of industry on the regulatory process and exasperating attempts to change the strangle-hold that corporations have on the FDA. Following three frustrating years as FDA Commissioner, Dr. Herbert Lay resigned and told the San Francisco Chronicle, "The thing that bugs me is that people think the FDA is protecting them. It isn't. What the FDA is doing and what the public thinks it's doing are as different as night and day" (January 2, 1970). In a Wall Street Journal article, "Drug Firms Use Financial Clout to Push Industry Agenda at FDA" (Sept. 1, 2006), Anna Wilde-Mathews summarized how a heavily lobbied Congress allowed industry to seize more control over the under-funded agency. …"

38. "Parents: Special-ed busing not a priority- Vow to file complaints charging discrimination" dated 1 October 2008 by Rita Savard from the Lowell Sun at http://www.lowellsun.com/local/ci_10607201.

"At least two parents are filing complaints with the Department of Education, accusing the Chelmsford School Department of discriminating against students with special needs. Believing that several special-needs students were bused to school late for 16 consecutive days, parent Regina Jackson said the school district is in violation of the Massachusetts schools "time and learning statute." Schools Superintendent Donald Yeoman said that while some buses -- including those carrying regular education students -- were late arriving during the first week of school, the 16-day claim is false. "That is not accurate," Yeoman said. "At the beginning of any school year adjustments are made in bus routes. And because of construction in town many buses, including those carrying regular ed students were late as well." But frustrated parents say the time their kids have actually arrived to school for three weeks tells another story. "This is logistics 101," Jackson said. "There hasn't been any consistency with drivers, monitors and pick-up times. Safety has been an issue. Put simply, it's a mess." The Massachusetts time and learning statute for school children mandates that students cannot spend more than an hour riding a school bus unless their parents and the school district agree it is necessary. The law also requires that every student receives 900 hours of classroom time per year. Parent Gail Borges said that on the first day of school, her 8-year-old daughter was stuck riding on a school bus for an hour and a half. "Another parent called me after she saw my daughter being dropped off at the Center School at 10 a.m.," Borges said. "She was alone on the bus, with a driver she didn't know and was about to go to a school she hadn't been to before. My heart just sank. I made a dozen different calls that day but nobody could tell me what happened." Borges said her daughter has been late to school every day since then, with the exception of yesterday. A couple of parents have called upon SPEDwatch, a Pepperell-based nonprofit group working to secure the educational rights of all Massachusetts school children with disabilities. SPEDwatch is helping the Chelmsford parents file their complaints with the state Department of Education. …"

39. "Study Finds Young Children Can Develop Full-blown OCD" dated 1 October 2008 in a press release from the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center at http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/123593.php.

"A new study by researchers at the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center has found that children as young as four can develop full-blown obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and often exhibit many of the same OCD characteristics typically seen in older kids. The study, published online by the Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, is the largest sample of young children with OCD published to date. "There have been very few studies focusing on early childhood OCD, even though we know that OCD, if left untreated, can significantly disrupt a child's growth and development and can worsen as the child gets older," says lead author Abbe Garcia, PhD, director of the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center (BHCRC) Pediatric Anxiety Research Clinic. "That's why we need to understand more about OCD in very young children, since early diagnosis and intervention are critical to reducing the severity of symptoms and improving quality of life." OCD is an anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Repetitive behaviors such as handwashing, counting, checking, or cleaning are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Performing these so-called "rituals," however, provides only temporary relief, and not performing them markedly increases anxiety. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, as many as 1 in 200 children and adolescents struggle with OCD. Garcia and colleagues studied 58 children with OCD between the ages of four and eight, including 23 boys and 35 girls. All children underwent a series of clinical psychological assessments. Approximately 19 percent had been previously treated with medication and 24 percent had received some form of previous psychotherapy for OCD. Twenty percent reported a first-degree family history of OCD. Nearly 22 percent of children had an additional diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and about 20 percent were also diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). …"

40. "A Lifeline For Military Families" dated 2 October 2008 by Chuck Hagee from the Mount Vernon Gazette at http://www.connectionnewspapers.com/article.asp?article=320287&paper=69&cat=104.

"Retired military families who have children with autism will have their health care benefits protected if bipartisan legislation introduced by Virginia Congressman James P. Moran (D-8) and Florida Congressman Jeff Miller (R) is enacted into law. Designated as the "Military Family Autism Equality Act," HR3690 will provide retired military families with children with autism the same health care benefits as families of active duty service members with children with autism. Department of Defense statistics indicate there are an estimated 8,784 retiree families that will benefit from this legislation. "Caring for autistic children is expensive. Military families, already stretched thin by the high costs associated with the disease and long deployments overseas, are often left with a choice no parent wants to face: provide expensive treatments for their child or keep their family clothed and fed. This legislation will eliminate that painful decision," Moran said. "This bipartisan bill to extend needed medical coverage for children of military retirees with autism is long overdue and I'm pleased Congressman Moran and I were able to address this issue together. Autism is an insidious disease inflicted upon our children and we should live up to our obligation to serve the children of those who have served this nation," Miller said. Active duty service members with an autistic child have access to benefits through TRICARE which provides $2,500 a month (a max of $30,000 per year) for Applied Behavioral Analysis, a proven treatment for the symptoms of autism. Unfortunately, the day an active duty military person retires their dependents lose access to the ABA health benefit, according to Moran and Miller. This occurs whether the retirement is voluntary or forced at the end of their career obligation. According to a February 2007 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 150 children under the age of eight have autism or a related disorder such as Asperger syndrome, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified. "All those affected by autism should be able to receive appropriate, medically necessary care. The Autism Society of America strongly supports this legislation which would provide quality care to families that have made tremendous sacrifices for our country," said Lee Grossman, president and CEO, ASA. The cost savings from autism treatment is clear, according to Moran and Miller. A Harvard School of Public Health report found that without effective intervention, approximately 90 percent of individuals with ASD require lifelong care costing an estimated $3.2 million over an individual child's lifetime. ABA therapy has been shown to be effective in reducing this cost to less than 50 percent and reducing the cost of lifelong care by two-thirds. "Our soldiers risk their lives on the battlefield in service to their country. It is incumbent upon us to care for them and their families when they return home. For retired military families with an autistic child, this benefit is a lifeline for their child's future and the family's financial future," Moran said."

41. "Autism Insurance Bill Introduced in Virginia" dated 2 October 2008 from Autism Votes at http://www.autismvotes.org/site/c.frKNI3PCImE/b.4445103/.

"Legislation has been prefiled for introduction in Virginia to require insurance coverage for autism spectrum disorders. House Bill 1588 has been introduced by Delegate Robert Marshall (R-13th District) and Delegate David Poisson (D-32nd District) of the House of Delegates. The bill will require Virginia healthcare policies to cover applied behavior analysis (ABA) and other medically necessary, evidence-based treatments prescribed by an insured's treating physician or psychologist with annual coverage for up to $36,000 a year. Autism insurance legislation is currently being reviewed by the Special Advisory Commission on Mandated Health Insurance Benefits, which held a hearing on September 29 that was very well attended by parents and advocates from all over the Commonwealth. The Virginia General Assembly will kick off its 2009 session on January 14."

42. "In Most School Districts, the Doctor Is in Charge, but Some Question Degree" dated 2 October 2008 by Nelson Hernandez and Valerie Strauss from The Washington Post at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/01/AR2008100102958.html?hpid=sec-education.

"Most top school officials in the Washington area -- and a growing number across the country -- hold doctorates, even though some experts contend the advanced degrees are often too easy to obtain and of questionable value for education leadership. Questions about the academic credentials of superintendents arose anew after the University of Louisville began an investigation of a PhD in education it granted four years ago to John E. Deasy, now superintendent in Prince George's County. Nationally, the percentage of superintendents who hold an education-related PhD or the education doctorate known as an EdD rose from 36 percent in 1992 to about 51 percent in 2006, according to the American Association of School Administrators. An exception to this trend in the Washington area is D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, who holds a master's degree in public policy. Superintendents and many academics say the doctoral programs teach vital management and statistical skills while providing an intellectual challenge. But critics say the programs mostly provide financial rewards -- for the universities that collect tuition and for educators who pick up a credential that helps them earn a higher salary and a "doctor" title. …"

43. "Girl's Own Cord Blood Gives Her Parents Hope" dated 2 October 2008 by Kathy Walsh from CBS4 News at http://cbs4denver.com/health/levine.cord.blood.2.830963.html.

"A toddler in Highlands Ranch born with Cerebral Palsy has made "remarkable" progress thanks to her own umbilical cord blood. Chloe Levine, 2, is benefitting from a treatment many parents don't know about. Her parents, Jenny and Ryan, knew something wasn't quite right after Chloe's birth. At 9 months, she couldn't hold a bottle with her right hand because it was always in a tight fist. She also would drag her right leg and scoot along the floor rather than crawl. "She was fast and she was good at it, but she wouldn't crawl," her parents said. A few months later, her doctor ran some tests and learned Chloe had a stroke in utero which caused brain tissue to stop developing. The Cerebral Palsy caused paralysis on her right side. Fortunately, the Levine's had banked Chloe's umbilical cord blood when she was born and stored it with a private company. Doctors at Duke University were using cord blood, infusing children with Cerebral Palsy with their own stem cells to possibly heal and repair damaged brain tissue. Chloe had an experimental procedure in late May. Her parents noticed improvement a couple of days later. "She began saying words we had worked weeks and weeks to try and get her to say, one being her nickname, 'Coco' and that was music to our ears," Jenny Levine said. The Levine's stored Chloe's cord blood with a company called Cord Blood Registry. It is the world's largest cord blood bank. The registry said 40 of its clients have been involved in the experimental treatment at Duke University and many of them have shown improvements. The procedure of cord blood storage is costly: about $2,000 for the collection and $125 a year for storage. Other parents donate their baby's cord blood to a free public bank for the use of others to treat disease. There is a public bank at the University of Colorado School of Medicine."

44. "Hillsborough schools shortchange disabled students, joint complaint says" dated 2 October 2008 by Richard Danielson from the St. Petersburg Times at http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/article834237.ece.

"Even in kindergarten, R.J. struggled in school, saying he often felt like a "bad boy" who was "dumb." His problems included behavioral or emotional disabilities, frustration at not keeping up with classmates and a lack of coping skills. Within two years, he was suspended regularly for being disruptive. But an advocacy group says Hillsborough schools failed to give him adequate counseling and support. Now three civil rights groups say that kind of missed opportunity deprives R.J. and students like him of the chance to learn. The Southern Poverty Law Center, the Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities and the NAACP filed a 20-page complaint Wednesday with the state Department of Education over Hillsborough's treatment of students with emotional and behavioral disabilities. "These students are being tragically shortchanged by the school district," said Marlene Sallo, a Tampa-based attorney for the Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities. The complaint asks the state to force Hillsborough to transform a "culture of neglect and overly harsh discipline" that puts students with disabilities on a path to jail and prison. Hillsborough schools referred 1,881 students to the juvenile justice system, mostly for minor offenses, in 2006-07. That's the most in the state, though Hillsborough's percentage of school-related delinquency referrals tracked the state average, according to the complaint. Punishing students with disabilities instead of providing them with services that promote positive behavior "appears to occur more frequently with students of color," according to the complaint. "This breakdown in our schools has put children of color particularly at risk," said Pat Spencer, the NAACP's director for the area covered by chapters in Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando, St. Petersburg and Clearwater. In response, school spokesman Stephen Hegarty said the district has worked with the NAACP and agrees that in the past it too often referred troublesome students to law enforcement. …"

45. "Judge to rule on student-mistreatment suit" dated 2 October 2008 by Monica Potts from The Stamford Advocate at http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/norwalkadvocate/news/ci_10615636.

"A federal judge soon may decide whether to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the Darien Board of Education by parents of four special needs children who said the students were physically and mentally abused by two teacher's aides. The suit, filed in 2005, names the town, a principal and a teacher at Hindley Elementary School as defendants. The suit claims that during the 2003-04 school year, the aides, Johnna Galiatsos and Kim Granite, routinely grabbed and yanked the children, yelled in their faces, did not allow them to go to the bathroom, and force-fed them, among other alleged abuses. In the motion for summary judgment, the defendants argue they have immunity from the civil claims because they were acting as government employees, that there is no evidence of some of the claims, and "the alleged conduct was not so egregious as to shock the contemporary conscience." Mark Sherman, an attorney for the plaintiffs, filed a memorandum this week asking Judge Warren Eginton to deny the defendants' motion. The memorandum details the alleged abuse, including incidents in which one of the children was pushed to the floor and in which Granite and Galiatsos took turns "growling" in the face of another child and laughed when it made him cry. The children, who are not named in the suit, were 3 and 4 and enrolled in an early learning program designed to combine special needs pre-schoolers with non-disabled peers. Three of the students had autism, and one was mentally retarded, according to the suit. The conduct violated their civil rights and rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the suit. The suit claims the school district, Principal Jerry Saunders and the children's teacher, Karen Wilson, were negligent in hiring the aides and that they and other aides were aware of the alleged abuse and negligent in failing to stop it or report it. The memorandum said Wilson was out of the classroom about half of the time, leaving the children under the supervision of uncertified aides. "Negligent supervision is at the heart of this case," Sherman said. …"

46. "With stagnant funding, districts push for state to share costs- Schools Adapt to Autism Increase" dated 2 October 2008 from the Flathead Beacon at http://www.flatheadbeacon.com/articles/article/schools_adapt_to_autism_increase/5819.

"Like most 5-year-olds, Ian tests his boundaries, waiting for his teacher to be distracted to coyly make a move for the door. He’s bright, observant and expressive. But Ian, who is diagnosed with a form of autism, is hyper and doesn’t yet communicate with words. Prone to outbursts and sometimes biting his hands or other objects, he requires constant one-on-one attention in the classroom. Special education teachers throughout the Flathead Valley and Montana are developing new programs to serve the increasing number of students who, like Ian, have autism. Still, at the same time they’re seeing growing need, special education programs are grappling with stagnant state funding – forcing administrators to reach deeper into local school district coffers. Number of Autistic Students Grows. Once viewed as a rare disorder, the diagnosis of autism is becoming increasingly prevalent in the general population. Nationally, there are more than 500,000 children diagnosed with some degree of autism, and that number keeps growing. In recent estimates, one in every 150 children is believed to have some form of the disorder. Groups advocating more research money call autism "the fastest-growing developmental disability in the United States." The cause of the increase in autism is widely debated. Most scientists believe the illness is influenced strongly by genetics, while some citizens put childhood vaccines at fault. Nearly all school officials, national and local, agree that improved diagnosis, heightened awareness and the fact that the definition of autism has been evolving and expanding has played a role. In Montana, statistics from the state’s Office of Public Instruction show the number of autistic students has swelled from 212 in the 2001-2002 school year to 442 last year – a 52 percent increase in just seven years. The number of autistic students jumped 9 percent between 2006 and 2007 alone. …"

47. "Md. parents question special-needs testing mandate" dated 2 October 2008 by Ben Nuckols from The Associated Press at http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/education/bal-testing1002,0,3528629.story.

"Susan Gordon's son, Michael, is doing well in school despite a neurological disorder that causes major learning disabilities. By working closely with teachers at Southern High School in Anne Arundel County, he passed all his classes last year. He even made the honor roll. But high-stakes tests are another matter. Barring a major policy reversal, the 16-year-old must pass tests in algebra, English, government and biology or complete equally rigorous projects in the subjects he fails. While special education students can take a slightly easier version, they're required to earn the same scores as everyone else. "If he does not pass these tests, he will not get a diploma," said Gordon, a mother of four from Shady Side. "He will get a certificate of completion, and the door will be slammed in his face before he even gets there to get a job." This school year, Maryland will become the 24th state to require some sort of exit exam for graduation. As the state has slowly phased in its tests, known as the High School Assessments, the national debate has grown more pitched -- a response, in part, to the federal No Child Left Behind law, which punishes schools that don't raise test scores. Supporters say such tests raise academic standards. But critics believe they provide little benefit to those who pass and disproportionately affect students like Michael -- along with minorities and children living in poverty. State Schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick says naysayers' concerns are overblown. She thinks graduation rates could improve this year because the testing program has led to unprecedented attention for struggling students. "There have always been kids who don't pass," Grasmick said. "But the fact of the matter is, we think there will be very few, by virtue of not passing the High School Assessments, alone, as the single reason, that won't get a diploma." It's not clear how many students are in danger of failing. Statewide results on last year's High School Assessments have not been released, and previous results were skewed by test takers who knew they could graduate without passing. …"

48. "Complaint Filed On Behalf Of Disabled Students" dated 2 October 2008 by MARILYN BROWN from The Tampa Tribune at http://www2.tbo.com/content/2008/oct/02/me-complaint-filed-on-behalf-of-disabled-students.

"A class-action complaint with the Florida Department of Education was filed in Tallahassee on Wednesday by three civil rights groups on behalf of students with mental and emotional disabilities in Hillsborough County. The complaint alleges that six students did not receive services such as counseling, social work or psychological help that they were entitled to under federal law. Instead, students were subjected to repeated disciplinary measures including more than 10 days of in- and out-of-school suspensions, court referrals, and undocumented, illegal removals from school, it said. Such students "are literally pushed out of school" and many end up in prison, Marlene Sallo, attorney for the Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities, said Wednesday at a news conference in Tampa. The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Florida State Conference of the NAACP are the other groups bringing the action. The action is on behalf of "all students of the Hillsborough County public school system with emotional/behavioral disabilities, or who manifest such behavioral issues, and who have been or are being, subjected to repeated disciplinary removals totaling more than 10 school days." A similar class-action complaint was filed Wednesday on behalf of five students in Palm Beach County, said Brandi Davis, lawyer for the Southern Poverty Law Center. Similar successful complaints have been filed in Louisiana and Mississippi that brought changes for all students, she said. …"

49. "Stephen Stills- THE MUSICIAN'S FAMILY DISCUSSES THEIR ROLE IN THE RECENT MIRACLE PROJECT MOVIE, THEATER THERAPY, AND THEIR SON'S PROGRESS" dated 2 October 2008 by Dave Gerardi from Spectrum magazine at http://spectrumpublications.com/current-issue/2008-09-15-23-06-25.html.

"Master Chief is fighting a deadly battle against the Brute Chieftain. “What do you think happens next?” asks 12-year-old Henry Stills as he holds the two action figures in mid-air. “Master Chief kicks the alien in the face,” I suggest. He does. “You’re good at this,” Henry nods in approval. I am. Ten minutes ago, Henry was showing me his Bionicle collection. There are all sorts of good guys (Toa) and bad guys (Makuta). I have trouble keeping up with who is who doing what to whom. Henry doesn’t. He knows everything about them and recites facts about their history as if he’s writing the definitive Lego Bionicle product encyclopedia. I’m much more comfortable when he breaks out Master Chief and his alien adversary from the Halo video game universe. While we’re playing, I slip in a question or two about Henry’s Hollywood debut in Autism: The Musical, a documentary film about a theatre group putting on a play starring children on the autistic spectrum (Spectrum, June/July 2007). Henry shrugs and gives me a one-word answer. He spits out a quick plot scenario for Master Chief having to fight the Brute Chieftain. We play a little more, and I try to throw out another question. Same result. Rinse and repeat. I make mental notes about how this is Henry’s Asperger’s coming to the surface, that he is retreating to his comfort zone of toys. Later, I realize I’m completely wrong. He’s a normal kid who’s been asked by a stranger the equivalent to, “How was your day at school?” No kid would answer that with more than a shrug. And he is being social. He’s allowing me equal input into the play storyline and offering information about each of the characters that provides a background to their actions and abilities. Henry is the son of Kristen and Stephen Stills, the latter of the supergroup Crosby, Stills and Nash. Kristen is one of the producers of Autism: The Musical, which debuted on HBO in March. Directed by documentary filmmaker Tricia Regan, Autism: The Musical follows several children and their parents as they spend 22 weeks rehearsing a play at Elaine Hall’s The Miracle Project children’s theater program. Hall called Kristen the “go-to-person” whenever there was a problem or challenge during the program. “It’s hard to see yourself on film, but it’s even harder when it’s your kid,” Kristen says. She was concerned Henry might not respond well to the program and was constantly surprised by his progress during the process. Stephen was reluctant to have his son thrust into the spotlight. He wanted Henry to have his “feet underneath him,” before deciding whether or not to talk about autism. “I’m shy about going public with this,” he explains. “I had misgivings, (but) if he wants to talk about it, then yay.”

50. "Capitol Hill Update: "Weaknesses and Limitations" of the CDC's Vaccine Safety Database" dated 2 October 2008 by David Kirby from the Age of Autism blog at http://www.ageofautism.com/2008/10/capitol-hill-up.html#more.

"There has been much discussion – and some confusion – about a letter sent earlier this year from CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding to Congress, in response to a report by a panel of the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) that detected many weaknesses and limitations with the CDC-run Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD). In her letter, Dr. Gerberding wrote that “CDC concurs” that the weaknesses and limitations inherent in the database would call into question the usefulness of using the VSD for conducting ecological and other types of studies on the potential association between thimerosal exposure and autism risks. It has been my contention that the same weaknesses and limitations that reduce the usefulness of VSD-based ecological studies going into the future, would likewise have negatively impacted the study already conducted by Thomas Verstraeten, which was a retrospective cohort study, and not an ecological one. During my briefing in Washington on September 24, I mentioned the NIEHS report, and included the CDC agreement with the findings, without explaining the important distinction between an ecological study and a retrospective cohort study. During the Q&A session, a Congressional staff person asked me about this, and suggested that I had tried to conceal information and thus deceive people in the room. This was not my intention. On Tuesday, September 30, I sent that staff person the following letter, which reprises and expands upon the answer I gave in person on the 24th. I have decided to reprint it here, because I think it is important to note that Dr. Gerberding did indeed concur with findings of “limitations and weaknesses” within the VSD database which would negatively impact ecological studies going into the future. These problems woud ALSO impact other VSD-based studies (i.e. Verstraeten) conducted in the past. Sadly, but perhaps not surprisingly, Dr. Gerberding in her letter to the powerful House Appropriations Committee, utterly failed in her duty as CDC Director to address, or even respond to, the most serious and important finding in the NIEHS report. Namely, that the fundamental “weaknesses” within the VSD itself “reduce the usefulness” of the VSD to study thimerosal and autism. Period. This is important, of course, because the Verstraeten study was a cornerstone of the 2004 Institute of Medicine report, which found no evidence of a link between thimerosal and autism. It remains a pillar of medical opinion to this day, despite a letter from Verstraeten himself, published in Pediatrics, insisting that his study found no evidence AGAINST an association, and was in fact a neutral study, and that indeed, more research was recommended. Here is the letter. I will let readers know when I get a reply: …"

51. "Florida Tech poll takes pulse on autism- Many believe vaccine a cause" dated 3 October 2008 by SUSAN JENKS from FLORIDA TODAY at http://www.floridatoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081003/NEWS01/810030343/1006/news01 by Lindsay Ubinas from Tamps Bays10 News at http://www.tampabays10.com/news/health/story.aspx?storyid=91327&catid=12.

"Nearly 1 in 4 Americans believes vaccines cause autism, even though no scientific evidence supports such a link, a new national survey suggests. The survey -- commissioned by Florida Tech to measure the public's knowledge and understanding of autism -- found that 24 percent of respondents believe vaccines carry the blame for the wide range of developmental delays, known as autism spectrum disorders, and as a result, shy away from vaccinating their children. Another 19 percent said they were unsure about vaccines' role. Mary Beth Kunkel, dean of Florida Tech's College of Psychology and Liberal Arts, described the finding as a surprise given the number of federal studies exonerating the mercury preservative thimerosal, once used widely in children's vaccines, but rarely, if ever, included in vaccines today. On a positive note, however, Kunkel said, the survey found more than 80 percent of those polled recognized the importance of early childhood interventions, especially behavioral therapies, to maximizing autistic children's potential. Also, 83 percent said understanding the cause -- not now known -- and finding a cure for autism should be a national priority. Results of the survey were released today to kick off Florida Tech's two-day second annual autism conference, "The Many Faces of Autism." The conference title reflects the fact that some children diagnosed with these disorders function at high levels, while others face severe learning impediments, unable to interpret social cues and prone to self-destructive behaviors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 1 in 150 children in the United States is diagnosed with autism, making it the second most serious developmental disability, after mental retardation. Kunkel said the school wanted a snapshot view of attitudes toward autism prior to completion of the Scott Center for Autism Treatment, now under construction. The $5 million project, which will serve children, adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders in Central Florida, is expected to open in late 2009 on Babcock Street, south of the school's College of Business in Melbourne. "We wanted to get a national read on where the country should go in terms of research and treatment," Kunkel said. "If it's not the first national survey, it's certainly the most current." Conducted in August, the survey included telephone interviews with 1,000 randomly selected men and women across the country. Among its other findings: …"

52. "Survey confirms parents' fears, confusion over autism- The first national survey of attitudes toward autism reveals that a small but significant percentage of people still believe the disease is caused by childhood vaccines. The survey of 1000 randomly selected adults was conducted for the Florida Institute of Technology." dated 3 October 2008 in a press release from the Florida Institute of Technology at http://www.physorg.com/news142245786.html.

"Nearly one in four (24 percent) said that because vaccines may cause autism it was safer not to have children vaccinated at all. Another 19 percent were not sure. This at a time when the Centers for Disease Control reports that autism affects one in 150 children born in the United States. Scientists say there is no evidence linking vaccines and autism, but the lingering fear is leading to fewer parents having their children vaccinated and a growing number of measles infections. The New York Times reported in August that measles cases in the first seven months of 2008 grew at the fastest rate in more than a decade and cases in Britain, Switzerland, Israel and Italy are said to be soaring. The public's concern over vaccines stems from a controversial 1998 British study linking autism and the MMR vaccine, which at the time contained the mercury-based preservative thimerosal. The study was later retracted by most of its authors and thimerosal was removed from all childhood vaccines in 2001, but responses to the just-completed survey show the public is still confused. Florida Institute of Technology commissioned the survey, which asked specifically about the link between the preservative and autism. Nineteen percent of the respondents agreed with the statement "Autism is caused by a preservative once found in childhood vaccines." An additional 43 percent were not sure, meaning fewer than half (38 percent) of the respondents believe no link exists between the vaccine and autism. …"

53. "Survey: Growing number of parents question safety of autism vaccines" dated 3 October 2008 by Hillary Copsey from the Treasure Coast and Palm Beaches at http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2008/oct/03/survey-growing-number-parents-question-safety-auti and WPTV5 News at http://www.wptv.com/news/local/story.aspx?content_id=8d319200-d9f4-45b9-9efb-12de916daa44.

"Fear of autism and its unknown cause seem to be behind the growing number of parents questioning the safety of vaccines, according to Florida Institute of Technology researchers who released results Friday from the first national survey of people’s knowledge and understanding of the disorder. One in four people told the Melbourne-based researchers not getting vaccinated was safer than risking autism. Only 38 percent of the 1,000 men and women surveyed believed there was no link between vaccines and autism, despite no evidence of such a link from recent scientific studies. A 1998 British study that suggested autism might be caused by thimerosol, a mercury-based preservative in the mumps, measles and rubella vaccine was later retracted, and autism rates climbed even after the preservative was removed in 2001. One in four people told Florida Tech surveyors the Internet was the most effective place to get medical information. Despite the retracted study, the thimerosol link still is easy to find on the Internet, along with myriad other sources about vaccination dangers and possible autism causes."

54. "Why Grassley Is Investigating Emory’s Nemeroff" dated 3 October 2008 by Ed Silverman from Pharmalot.com at http://www.pharmalot.com/2008/10/why-grassley-is-investigating-emorys-nemeroff.

"The reason - the psychiatry department chair at Emory University earned more than $2.8 million in consulting arrangements with various drugmakers between 2000 and 2007, but failed to report at least $1.2 million of this income to his university. This oversight violated federal research rules, a point that is central to a widening probe of some 30 academic researchers by the Senate Finance Committee. Since yesterday, we have twice posted items indicating Charles Nemeroff and Emory were caught up in the investigation (look here and here). Now, The New York Times has revealed a detailed account. For instance, the paper writes that Nemeroff signed a letter dated July 15, 2004, promising Emory administrators that he would earn less than $10,000 a year from Glaxo to comply with federal rules. But on the same day, he was at the Four Seasons Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, earning $3,000 of what would become $170,000 in income that year from Glaxo - 17 times what he agreed. “It looks like problems with transparency are everywhere,” Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the committee who has spearheaded the investigation, tells the paper. “The current system for tracking financial relationships isn’t working.” So far, the committee has singled out Stanford University’s Alan Schatzberg, Harvard University’s Joe Biederman, Brown University’s Martin Keller, University of Texas’ Karen Wagner and John Rush, and Melissa DelBello at the University of Cincinnati. As for Nemeroff, he was the principal investigator for a five-year, $3.9 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health for which Glaxo provided drugs. Income from Glaxo of $10,000 or more in any year of the grant - a threshold Nemeroff crossed in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 - required Emory to inform the NIMH and manage the conflict or remove Nemeroff as the investigator. Repeatedly assured by Nemeroff that he had not crossed the threshold, Emory did nothing, the Times writes. …"

55. ""The Appalling Poling Saga" dated 3 October 2008 by Kathleen Seidel from the Neurodiversity weblog at http://neurodiversity.com/weblog/article/176.

"The current issue of the Journal of Child Neurology (JCN) contains a remarkable trio of letters regarding Developmental Regression and Mitochondrial Dysfunction in a Child with Autism, a report by Dr. Jon S. Poling, Dr. Richard E. Frye, Dr. Andrew W. Zimmerman and Dr. John M. Shoffner which was published in that journal in February 2006. Developmental Regression and Mitochondrial Dysfunction in a Child with Autism describes the case of an unnamed child whose health and development deteriorated after a series of ear infections and a vaccine-induced varicella (chickenpox) infection. The child was diagnosed with autism at two years of age; numerous blood tests and a muscle biopsy revealed an underlying mitochondrial dysfunction. Review and comparison of laboratory records of Kennedy Krieger Institute patients with autism and other neurological conditions yielded various abnormal metabolic markers in a portion of the autistic subjects. The authors discuss indicators and possible triggers of mitochondrial dysfunction, such as immune activation by infections or immunization, and end with a call for further research to identify reliable laboratory markers to detect mitochondrial abnormalities. As is customary in scientific papers, the authors acknowledge limitations of their analysis, such as the possibility that their data might have been skewed by false-positive laboratory results. However, although it is also customary for authors to disclose potential conflicts of interest, the published article includes no mention of the fact that co-author Dr. Jon Poling is the father of the child described in the report, and that he, his wife and daughter are petitioners in Poling v. HHS (Case 02-1466V), a pending Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) claim involving exactly the matters described in it. (According to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, the average VICP award amount totaled approximately $1 million at the time Dr. and Mrs. Poling filed their petition for compensation.) This lapse went relatively unnoticed until February 2008, when publicist David Kirby announced the decision of the Division of Vaccine Injury Compensation (DVIC) to compensate Miss Poling for injuries possibly induced by one or more vaccinations. …"

56. "First National Public Opinion Survey: Americans’ Knowledge and Understanding of Autism, 2008" dated 3 October 2008 from the Age of Autism blog at http://www.ageofautism.com/2008/10/first-national.html#more.

"The first national survey of the public’s knowledge and understanding of autism was conducted for the School of Psychology at Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Florida. The survey includes responses from 1000 men and women, 21 years old or older, randomly selected from throughout the nation. The poll has a plus or minus 3.1% confidence interval at a 95% level of confidence. The telephone interviews were conducted between August 1 and August 29 by GDA Education Research, Mount Pleasant, SC.

• With autism now the fastest-growing developmental disability in the United States, more than 80% of survey respondents say every state should have an early intervention program for children from birth to age three. An even larger percentage (83%) thought that finding a cure for autism should be a national priority. This at a time when the Centers for Disease Control reports that autism affects one in 150 children born in the United States.

• Nearly one in four (24%) respondents said that because vaccines may cause autism it was safer not to have children vaccinated at all. Another 19% were not sure.

The Centers for Disease Control says “evidence from several studies examining trends in vaccine use and changes in autism frequency does not support such an association. Furthermore, a scientific review by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded that ‘the evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism.’ CDC supports the IOM conclusion.” [www.cdc.gov]

• About eight of ten (82%) respondents know that autistic people of all ages can benefit from treatment and 77% say behavioral therapists are key individuals in the treatment of people with autism. An additional 73% believe behavior therapies are the most effective way to get autistic individuals to maximize their capabilities.

• About four of ten (39%) survey respondents know a person with autism. They had a better understanding of the disorder, except for its cause, than those who do not know someone with autism. Those who know someone with autism are more likely (21% vs. 17%) to believe the disorder was caused by a preservative once found in childhood vaccines. …"

57. "UCR Researchers Propose Minocycline as a Promising Drug for Patients with Fragile X Syndrome- Study leader Iryna Ethell awarded FRAXA Breakthrough Award for 2008" dated 3 October 2008 in a press release from the University of California, Riverside at http://www.info.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/display.cgi?id=1933 and http://www.genengnews.com/news/bnitem.aspx?name=42899220 and http://www.bioresearchonline.com/article.mvc/Minocycline-A-Promising-Drug-For-Fragile-X-0001 and http://media-newswire.com/release_1075449.html.

"A UC Riverside-led team of biomedical scientists has found that a readily available drug called minocycline, used widely to treat acne and skin infections, can be used to treat Fragile X syndrome, the most common inherited cause of mental impairment and the most common cause of autism. The study’s findings have already impacted future therapies, with the approval of a new clinical trial in Toronto, Canada, that will test minocycline in patients with Fragile X. Neurons in the brain communicate with each other at specialized contact sites called synapses, with many of these synapses occurring on small mushroom-shaped structures called dendritic spines. During early development dendritic spines have immature finger-like shapes. But learning stabilizes the synapses and dendritic spines take on a mature mushroom shape, which make them more efficient. The brains of patients with Fragile X syndrome have an overabundance of immature dendritic spines. In their report, the researchers, led by Iryna Ethell and Douglas Ethell, faculty members in UCR’s Division of Biomedical Sciences, describe how dendritic spine development in mice with Fragile X is delayed by enzymes called matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), which are involved in normal brain development and physiological processes. They report that high levels of certain MMPs keep the synapses immature and inefficient. But minocycline, they found, reduces these MMP levels in the mice, allowing the synapses to mature and make more efficient contacts between neurons in the brain. The outcome: corrected brain abnormalities in dendritic spines, reduced anxiety and improved cognitive function. Study results appear online, ahead of print, in the Journal of Medical Genetics. In their experiments, the Ethells found that young Fragile X mice treated with minocycline showed an increase of dendritic spine maturation in the hippocampus, a brain area that is critical for learning and memory. Besides less anxiety, minocycline-treated mice showed better exploration skills as compared to untreated mice. The Ethells are enthusiastic about how their discovery already is leading to a clinical trial. “Clinical studies often quickly follow such basic science because once there is a solid understanding of how problems arise, it is much easier to come up with solutions,” said Iryna Ethell, an associate professor of biomedical sciences. …"

58. "ID card says "I am autistic" dated 3 October 2008 from News Wales (UK) at http://www.newswales.co.uk/?section=Community&F=1&id=15279.

"People with autism who could get involved with the police because of their vulnerability and lack of social skills have been offered a lifeline by Dyfed Powys police. The force is helping its staff to learn more about autistic spectrum disorders and has linked with Autism Cymru to launch a card for individuals with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Autism is on the rise in Wales and there are 320 sufferers in Swansea alone. The card will be issued to people with an ASD (including those with Asperger syndrome, a form of high functioning autism) living in the Dyfed Powys Police area. if a sufferer comes into contact with any of the emergency services they can produce the card, which states that they have an autism disorder and lists a number of ways in which they may be helped to communicate more effectively in what can often be tense and difficult situations. The card also contains a special telephone number which emergency services personnel can call for advice, support and information about ASD. Maggie Bowen, Deputy Chief Executive of Autism Cymru said, We are delighted to be working in partnership with Dyfed Powys Police on this important project which we hope will assist individuals with ASDs and their families if they come into contact with the police. Chief Inspector Nigel George said: "It is important that police officers are able to identify individuals with an ASD. These cards provide a means of doing that and allow us to work closely with Autism Cymru." Swansea's first ever support worker dedicated to parents/carers of children and young people with ADHD is proving a vital asset. …"

59. "Can Parents of Children with Autism Really "Educate Themselves?" dated 3 October 2008 by Lisa Jo Rudy from About.com at http://autism.about.com/b/2008/10/03/can-parents-of-children-with-autism-really-educate-themselves.htm.

"I just recently read a blog comment from a reader called "LC:" Parents, you must educate yourself on what's safe for your child. I have a typical and autistic child. Read, read, read and make your own decision. LC is repeating something I've heard over and over again - from parents, teachers, therapists, doctors, and self-advocates. It is my considered opinion that "educating yourself" about autism through hours, days and weeks of reading, attending conferences, and tapping into the media is highly over-rated. I know this sounds strange, coming from the About.com Guide to Autism! But I have been reading, reading, reading... listening, interviewing, watching, and querying for several years now. And while I have formed personal opinions on a variety of autism-related topics, I am still unable to say absolutely that I KNOW what causes, prevents, treats, cures, or "recovers" autism. I can't even say for certain that I KNOW there is an autism "epidemic!" Of course, I've learned a great deal. I can tell you that early intervention is a good idea - though not the panacea that some suggest it is. I know that applied behavioral analysis can be very useful if it's done right - and traumatizing if it's done wrong. I know there are a great many people developing a great many treatments for autism - and that some have potential while others are pure snake oil. But any parent who spends more than half an hour in research can tell you that there is crystal clear evidence (provided in published books and articles by credentialed, respected sources) that... "

60. "Jenny McCarthy rips Amanda Peet over vaccinations" dated 3 October 2008 by Rex W. Huppke from the Chicago Tribune at http://www.sun-sentinel.com/entertainment/chi-talk-autismoct03,0,3856646.story.

"Former Playboy Playmate Jenny McCarthy and actress Amanda Peet are publicly feuding over the safety of childhood vaccines. Who says there's nothing sexy about inoculations? Their dispute revolves around the belief among some parents of children with autism—including McCarthy —that certain vaccines may trigger the disorder, although scientific research has shown no evidence of any link. Peet, a mother and advocate for childhood vaccinations, said in a recent magazine interview that parents who don't vaccinate their children because of autism fears are "parasites." That made McCarthy very angry, almost as angry as the people who paid to see her recent movie "Witless Protection," in which she starred alongside Larry the Cable Guy. In an article published Wednesday in Spectrum Magazine, McCarthy said Peet "has a lot of balls to come forward and be on that side, because there is an angry mob on my side. I like the fact that I can say she's completely wrong." Peet apologized for her word choice but called it irresponsible to suggest that groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics are engaged in a massive coverup of harmful vaccines. McCarthy said in the article released Wednesday that the American Academy of Pediatrics "sucks." Too bad the Wall Street bailout debate is devoid of celebrity combatants. Just imagine how spicy it would be if Heidi Klum was ripping Kate Hudson for her stance on credit default swaps. Me-OW!"

61. "USF Gets $29 Million For Role In Major Health Study" dated 3 October 2008 by ADAM EMERSON from The Tampa Tribune at http://www2.tbo.com/content/2008/oct/03/usf-gets-29-million-role-major-health-study.

"The University of South Florida received $29 million to follow 2,000 children from birth till age 21 and spot what may trigger health disorders and diseases, public health experts said today. The effort is part of a nationwide study bankrolled by the National Institutes of Health, whose lead researchers are calling this the largest study of pregnant women ever conducted. USF researchers, under the supervision of the University of Miami, will follow 1,000 children in Hillsborough County and 1,000 in Orange County. Locally, the study will be led by Kathleen O'Rourke, professor of epidemiology at USF's College of Public Health, who said in a written statement released today that the study "is a phenomenal opportunity to help shape child health policy and interventions for generations to come." Researchers will start recruiting participants in 2009. They will be looking for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant. Nationwide, they plan to enroll 100,000 people from all racial groups and income levels. The study will examine children from early infancy to early adulthood. Scientists will collect biological samples – from stool samples to toenail clippings – as well as air, water and house dust to study what in the environment may cause certain illnesses. Those illnesses include autism, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, birth defects, diabetes, asthma and obesity. "In its scope and in its focus, … the National Children's Study is unique," said Duane Alexander, director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. "There is no other American study quite like it."

62. "NIH selects Case Western Reserve University to participate in National Children's Study- School of Medicine receives $26M for study sites in Cuyahoga and Lorain counties" dated 3 October 2008 in a press release from NIH at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-10/cwru-nsc100308.php and by Mary Vanac at http://blog.cleveland.com/medical/2008/10/_case_western_reserve_universi.html and http://www.wkyc.com/news/health/health_article.aspx?storyid=97852&catid=7.

"Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has been awarded $26 million in funding to participate in The National Children's Study, the National Institutes of Health's comprehensive study on the interaction of genes and the environment on children's health. At a briefing today, NIH officials named Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine as one of 36 new and existing study centers which would recruit study volunteers from a total of 72 locations. When it is fully operational, 1,000 children will be recruited from 105 counties across the United States. (Each funded study center will recruit children from two to three different counties.) "The award to Case Western Reserve University will bring a number of benefits to our local communities," said Cynthia Bearer, M.D., Ph.D., adjunct professor of pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and principal investigator for the study center. "First, a lot of attention will be paid to the influences that affect our children's health; second, the study will provide more jobs to the area; and third, as a result of this study, other researches may propose other investigations that could bring additional resources to the community." The National Children's Study will follow a representative national sample of 100,000 children from before birth to age 21. Study volunteers will be recruited throughout the United States, from rural, urban, and suburban areas, from all income and educational levels, and from all racial groups. The study will investigate factors influencing the development of such conditions as autism, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, birth defects, diabetes, asthma, and obesity. …"

63. "Case Medical School gets $26 million to study child development" dated 3 October 2008 by Mary Vanac in a press release from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine at http://blog.cleveland.com/medical/2008/10/_case_western_reserve_universi.html.

"Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine will get $26 million to help the National Institutes of Health study how genetics and environment affect children's health. The 25-year National Children's Study likely will involve 2,000 subjects in Cuyahoga and Lorain counties -- chosen before they are born -- said Dr. Cynthia Bearer, adjunct professor of pediatrics at the medical school who will be principal investigator for the local effort. "We're going to be knocking on tens of thousands of doors" to find the subjects, Dr. Bearer said. "We're really lucky to be chosen as sites" for the study, she said. Authorized by Congress in 2000, the National Children's Study is the largest and longest ever proposed to look at how factors like genes, chemicals, infections and nutrition influence how children develop. The $3.2 billion study aims at answering questions like: …"

64. "UC Denver gets $26M award" dated 3 October 2008 from the Denver Business Journal at http://denver.bizjournals.com/denver/stories/2008/09/29/daily58.html and http://triangle.bizjournals.com/triangle/othercities/denver/stories/2008/09/29/daily58.html and http://www.bizjournals.com/denver/stories/2008/09/29/daily58.html.

"The University of Colorado Denver (UC Denver) was given than $26 million award to take part in the National Institutes of Health’s comprehensive study on how genes and environment influence childrens’ health. National Institutes of Health (NIH) officials Friday named UC Denver as one of 36 study centers which will recruit study volunteers from a total of 72 locations. The study is expected to include from 36 to 50 study centers in the planned 105 study locations throughout the United States. The study will follow a representative national sample of 100,000 children from before birth to age 21. Volunteers will be recruited throughout the United States, from rural, urban, and suburban areas, from all income and educational levels, and from all racial groups. The study will look at factors influencing the development of such conditions as autism, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, birth defects, diabetes, asthma and obesity. UC Denver will recruit participants from Douglas and Denver counties collecting genetic, biological, and environmental samples, and compile statistical information for study analyses investigating how genetic and environmental factors influence health and disease. NIH officials stated that the study would yield health information throughout its 25 year span. Within just a few years, the study would provide information on disorders of pregnancy and birth. Since women would be recruited before they give birth, and in some instances even before they become pregnant, the study would provide insight into the causes and contributors of preterm birth. More than 500,000 premature infants are born each year in the United States. Infants born prematurely are at risk for early death and a variety of health problems, such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation and learning disabilities. Estimated health care costs for preterm infants total $26 billion per year. The study will be conducted locally through a partnership between the Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine and Battelle Memorial Institute."

65. "Emory gets $29M for National Children's Study" dated 3 October 2008 in a press release from Emory University at http://www.portfolio.com/news-markets/local-news/atlanta/2008/10/03/emory-gets-29m-for-national-childrens-study.

"A group headed by Emory University has won $28.5 million in federal funding for the National Children's Study, which investigates the impact of environment and genetics on the health of American children. In 2007, Emory was awarded $25.5 million during the first round of federal research funding to launch the National Children's Study in DeKalb and Fayette counties in Georgia. The current award will be used to recruit study volunteers in Baldwin County, Ga., and Bradley County, Tenn. Emory will partner with the Morehouse School of Medicine, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga College of Medicine (UTCOMC) and Battelle Memorial Institute to begin research. Emory and its partner research teams will collect genetic, biological, and environmental samples from study volunteers in rural Georgia and Tennessee, and compile statistical information for analyses. We are very pleased that rural Georgia and rural Tennessee will be represented in the National Children's Study," said Carol J. Hogue, professor of epidemiology and maternal and child health at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. "Environmental problems for rural infants and children may be quite different from those of our urban centers, like Atlanta, but we wouldn't know that without including them in the study." The study seeks information to prevent and treat some of the nation's most pressing health problems, including autism, birth defects, diabetes, heart disease and obesity."

66. "Guergis abandoned autistic children" dated 3 October 2008 by Stan and Guia Mulvina in a letter to the editor of The Alliston Herald (Canada) at http://www.allistonherald.com/allistonherald/article/118273 and http://www.simcoe.com/article/118273.

"A while back, I, as a father of an autistic girl, was thrilled to find out that a Private Members Bill was to be put through Parliament to organize a national strategy on autism. My hopes were soon dashed when the Harper government turned down the bill. What was more insulting, was the letter I recieved from Helena Guergis, informimg me that she would not support the bill, citing that it was the liberals fault and it was a provincial issue. I don't understand why it was the liberals fault when the Conservatives were in power, and if it is a provincial issue then why did the Mike Harris Government of 12 years do nothing to provide the services that these children need so desperately? Furthermore, why did the Harper government refuse to recognize the failures of the collective provinces in this regard for so many years? Parents of autistic children are still in court with their own money trying to sue for basic services. I challenge Helena Guergis to debate this issue with her counter parts and explain to me and the public, why a government with so much surplus had no money available for special needs children. This is an epidemic problem that is only getting bigger every day, and politicians cannot continue to hide from it while so many of these children lose in their developing years due to lack of services."

67. "Autism genes can add up to genius- Intellectual gifts and certain brain disorders are closely related" dated 5 October 2008 by Jonathan Leake from The Sunday Times (UK) at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article4882699.ece.

"Some people with autism have amazed experts with their outstanding memories, mathematical skills or musical talent. Now scientists have found that the genes thought to cause autism may also confer mathematical, musical and other skills on people without the condition. The finding has emerged from a study of autism among 378 Cambridge University students, which found the condition was up to seven times more common among mathematicians than students in other disciplines. It was also five times more common in the siblings of mathematicians. If confirmed, it could explain why autism - a disability that makes it hard to communicate with, and relate to, others - continues to exist in all types of society. It suggests the genes responsible are usually beneficial, causing the disease only if present in the wrong combinations. “Our understanding of autism is undergoing a transformation,” said Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the autism research centre at Cambridge, who led the study. “It seems clear that genes play a significant role in the causes of autism and that those genes are also linked to certain intellectual skills.” Scientists have long been intrigued by the apparent association between autism and intellectual gifts in specific fields. This has made autism a hot topic in popular culture, from films such as Rain Man, which starred Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise, to books such as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. Some people with autism have become renowned for their creativity. The British artist Stephen Wiltshire, 34, was mute as a child and diagnosed with classic autism. He began drawing at the age of five and soon completed cityscapes. One of his feats was to draw a stunningly detailed panoramic view of Tokyo from memory after a short helicopter ride. He has since opened a gallery. Autism and the related Asperger’s syndrome are among the commonest mental afflictions, affecting about 600,000 Britons. Boys are four times as likely as girls to develop it. Autistic people can have special skills but they also tend to suffer from anxiety, obsessive behaviour and other problems that far outweigh any advantages. The fact that autism runs in families shows that it is partly genetic in origin, but evolutionary theory suggests genes causing such a debilitating conditions ought to have been weeded out of the population. The Cambridge study hints at why this has not happened, suggesting that with variations in the way they are combined, such genes are beneficial. On their own, such studies have to be treated cautiously because the numbers involved are small. In the Cambridge study, seven of 378 maths students were found to be autistic, compared with only one among the 414 students in the control group. …"

68. "Testimonies recommend special-needs legislation" dated 5 October 2008 by DANIELLE LYNCH from the West Chester Daily Local News at http://www.dailylocal.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=20151698&BRD=1671&PAG=461&dept_id=635398&rfi=6.

"Lawmakers listened to testimony about two bills that would address special-education issues at a legislative hearing Thursday morning. State House Speaker Dennis O'Brien, R-169th, of Philadelphia, the prime sponsor of the two bills, opened the hearing at West Chester University. House Bill 2438 would return the burden of proof to school districts in special-education disputes. "Those who see our kids hold the cards," O'Brien said, referring to placing the burden of proof back on local education agencies, which include school districts, charter schools and intermediate units. When parents of special-needs children and school districts cannot work out issues through mediation, the next step is generally due process. When due process is held pursuant to the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the burden of proof is currently placed on the parents of special-needs children. Previously, the burden of proof had been on the school district. But in the 2005 "Scaffer v Weast," the United States Supreme Court placed the burden of proof on parents. In addition to House Bill 2438, state Rep. Barbara McIlvaine Smith, D-156th, of West Chester, introduced her own legislation, known as House Bill 2718, to turn the burden of proof back to the school districts. She said her bill mirrors a piece of New Jersey legislation and is not meant to be in competition with O'Brien's bill, which she also co-sponsors. The second bill introduced by O'Brien that was discussed at the hearing was House Bill 2536, which, if approved, would create a Board of Dispute Resolution independent of the Pennsylvania Department of Education for special-education matters. Special-education Attorney Dennis McAndrews, of McAndrews Law Offices, who represents families, testified he did not believe there was a logical basis to place the burden of proof upon families of special-needs children. He also recommended an independent oversight board for Office of Dispute Resolution. …"

69. "Self-esteem is jobs for autistic- Linwood Center's vocational programs a hit among disabled, who benefit from its training" dated 5 October 2008 by Tyeesha Dixon from the Baltimore Sun at http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/howard/bal-ho.dedication05oct05,0,3001202.story.

"Deniese Murray smiled as she filled plastic "bubble" containers with small dog figurines, finishing them one by one and tossing them into a cardboard box. "I like working on these dogs," said Murray, 33, as she worked in a Columbia warehouse. "I like dogs." Murray is one of about 20 people with autism who spend a few hours a day in the Linwood Center's vocational program. While Murray's group works in a warehouse packing vending machine bubbles with toys, others in the warehouse prepare donated clothing to be taken for sale to a store in Elkridge that opened in 2006 to employ adults with autism. The vocational programs are among the services that the Linwood Center provides for Marylanders with autism. The Ellicott City-based center, one of the few in the state that works specifically with people with autism, includes residential programs for children and adults with severe autism, as well as educational, work and social programs, said Bill Moss, the executive director. "Our kids and our adults are the most challenging individuals with this particular disability in the state," Moss said. "They need a lot of support. Autism is a lifelong condition, and these people are here for their entire lifespans." The center, founded in 1955, serves about 50 autistic people and has a staff of about 170, Moss said. Housing for the participants consists of a home and dormitory on the main campus in Ellicott City, as well as 13 group homes scattered throughout Ellicott City and Columbia in Howard County and Catonsville in Baltimore County, Moss said. Autism is a developmental disability that results from a neurological disorder, according to the Autism Society of America, a grass-roots advocacy organization based in Bethesda. The disability usually appears during a child's first three years of life and affects brain development in the areas of social interaction and communication. Howard has the largest per-capita population of children with autism in Maryland, according to the Howard County Autism Society. While statewide, the average percentage of special-education students with autism is about 4 percent, in Howard County, it is about 8 percent, according to the society. This is in part because many families move to Howard to take advantage of the services the county offers. …"

70. "Should the Validity of Vaccine Poisoning Be up for Debate? Dougie and I think NOT!" dated 5 October 2008 by Gina LaVerde from the Age of Autism blog at http://www.ageofautism.com/2008/10/should-the-vali.html#more.

"Today I left dishes piled in the sink and butternut squash squished into the carpet because news of the “battle” between mom-actresses Jenny McCarthy and Amanda Peet urged me to write. Both parents undoubtedly care and believe they are working for a necessary cause. However, this war between two young non-doctor icons really cheapens the debate over the safety of vaccines. Mothers can heal our children. We do it all the time. I don’t want parents to become disillusioned by the sugar-coated poll they’ve got going on at Ecorazzi today. I am disgusted that my son suffers from documented metal poisonings, and media thinks it’s a good idea to stage a fight between parents of two completely different types of children. Is it really so important to decide who’s right?

Open Letters to Jenny McCarthy and Amanda Peet: Jenny first. Jenny, I never cry about autism. But, Jenny, I cried through the first 12 pages of “Louder than Words.” I sunk into the book, dripped tears on the pages – then looked up and realized I was sitting in the middle of the Borders Books on State Street in Chicago. I finished the entire book there in the store, sitting on one of those little kid proof chairs. People stared. And, I thanked God that I missed my train to Detroit, so that I had the opportunity alone to read your words. I cried when I saw you on Oprah. I cried as I watched you speak to Eckhart Tolle on Skype. And today, the tears welled up when I realized the obstacles you’ve endured for daring to make life safer for children like mine. I cried because I hate to think of a nation that allows children to remain sick for the sake of money and makes a mockery out of those who suffer. …"

71. "Bailout Provides More Mental Health Coverage" dated 5 October 2008 by Robert Pear from The New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/06/washington/06mental.html?_r=2&hp=&oref=slogin&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin.

"More than one-third of all Americans will soon receive better insurance coverage for mental health treatments because of a new law that, for the first time, requires equal coverage of mental and physical illnesses. The requirement, included in the economic bailout bill that President Bush signed on Friday, is the result of 12 years of passionate advocacy by friends and relatives of people with mental illness and addiction disorders. They described the new law as a milestone in the quest for civil rights, an effort to end insurance discrimination and to reduce the stigma of mental illness. Most employers and group health plans provide less coverage for mental health care than for the treatment of physical conditions like cancer, heart disease or broken bones. They will need to adjust their benefits to comply with the new law, which requires equivalence, or parity, in the coverage. For decades, insurers have set higher co-payments and deductibles and stricter limits on treatment for addiction and mental illnesses. By wiping away such restrictions, doctors said, the new law will make it easier for people to obtain treatment for a wide range of conditions, including depression, autism, schizophrenia, eating disorders and alcohol and drug abuse. Frank B. McArdle, a health policy expert at Hewitt Associates, a benefits consulting firm, said the law would force sweeping changes in the workplace. “A large majority of health plans currently have limits on hospital inpatient days and outpatient visits for mental health treatments, but not for other treatments,” Mr. McArdle said. “They will have to change their plan design.” Federal officials said the law would improve coverage for 113 million people, including 82 million in employer-sponsored plans that are not subject to state regulation. The effective date, for most health plans, will be Jan. 1, 2010. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the new requirement will increase premiums by an average of about two-tenths of 1 percent. Businesses with 50 or fewer employees are exempt. The goal of mental health parity once seemed politically unrealistic but gained widespread support for several reasons: …"

72. "Those with developmental disabilities need help now" dated 5 October 2008 in guest commentary by State Rep. Bob Gardner and Frances Owens in the Denver Post at http://www.denverpost.com/commented/ci_10645667?source=commented-opinion.

"As long-term advocates for people with developmental disabilities, we strongly disagree with The Post's recent editorial on Amendment 51 ("Disabled are deserving, but Colo. can't afford a tax hike," Sept. 26). The time to help Coloradans with mental retardation, Down Syndrome, autism and other developmental disabilities is now. They have waited for basic services for far too long. Amendment 51 helps people who need it most. When passed, it will create a critically needed safety net for 12,400 eligible children and adults with developmental disabilities who need, but do not receive, care. It provides new funds through a modest sales tax increase of two-tenths of 1 percent, or two pennies on $10, excluding tax on essential items such as gasoline, groceries and prescription medications. This statutory (not constitutional) proposal helps people like Russell and his mom. Russell is a 63-year-old man with mental retardation who lives with his 85-year-old mother because he needs help to eat, dress, bathe, and use the bathroom. His mother put him on the waiting list more than 15 years ago. Because of age and failing health, she worries constantly about who will care for Russell when she dies. Amendment 51 helps children like Sam, a 4-year-old with autism and multiple physical disabilities, who could learn to walk, talk, feed himself, and play with other children if he was not waiting at the bottom of the list for services. For Sam, Russell and his mother, and thousands more Coloradans, there is absolutely no safety net for the vital services they need. They have already waited far too long. The time to help is now. Under Amendment 51, the spare change in our pockets, the pennies on the sidewalk we often just step over, will add up to more than $186 million each year. For most of us, it is an unnoticeable amount, but those pennies will help more than 12,000 children and adults who, through no fault of their own, face tremendous burdens every day just getting by. …"

73. "Warrior Son" dated 5 October 2008 by Jeanne Cantkier from the Age of Autism blog at http://www.ageofautism.com/2008/10/son-warrior.html#more.

"Managing Editor's Note: Jeanne Cantkier blogged this story at her site Charlie in Wonderland. I asked her if she'd share it with our Age of Autism readers. Thank you, Jeanne. Here's what Charlie told his Mom: “I gotta have those meds so I can talk.” “Talk about what?” “Just talk. Like what I didn’t do when I didn’t use my words.” “Charlie, do you remember when you didn’t talk?” “Yes.” “Do you know why you didn’t talk?” “It was my brain Mom.” “Your brain? What does that mean?” “I couldn’t talk because my brain wouldn’t let me.” “How come?” “Because my brain wouldn’t let my voice work.”

Charlie was not born with autism; but, as time went by, there was a dull sense that, compared to my two older children, something was different. From age two until age six, he exhibited many puzzling problems (some might say rogue symptoms), which garnered no more than a “don’t worry” from the pediatrician. Problems such as: chronic diarrhea; chronic sinus problems; loss of language; no eye contact; no social interests; many sensory issues; no understanding of danger; a very high threshold for pain; nosebleeds; escaping/running away; random screaming; tantrums; sleep problems; severe hyperactivity; migraines; and seizures. Somehow, this brief description does not quite express the hell in which we all lived, especially Charlie. …"

74. "Largest study of U.S. children gears up- The largest study of U.S. children ever performed — aiming to track 100,000 from conception to age 21 — will start recruiting mothers-to-be in North Carolina and New York in January." dated 5 October 2008 from The Associated Press at http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2008229139_kidstudy05.html.

"The largest study of U.S. children ever performed — aiming to track 100,000 from conception to age 21 — will start recruiting mothers-to-be in North Carolina and New York in January. The National Children's Study aims to learn how the environment and other factors affect youngsters' health, especially development of such conditions as autism, asthma, learning disabilities, diabetes and obesity. Scientists will examine a range of factors, from the diets of pregnant women and young children to the effects of chemicals used in plastics. Tight budgets from Congress have delayed the project, which in 2004 began selecting 105 locations where women and their children can participate. But Friday, the National Institutes of Health took a long-awaited step, announcing that two research centers will start signing up women for the study's pilot phase in January: The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, recruiting women from Duplin County, N.C.; and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, recruiting in Queens County, N.Y. By spring, enrollment in the remainder of the pilot sites is planned, in parts of California, Pennsylvania, Utah, South Dakota and Minnesota. Nationwide enrollment for the full study, in which the University of Washington will participate, is set for summer 2010. No, scientists won't have to wait until participating babies grow up for results: Initial data on preterm births could come as early as 2012."

75. "Insurance to cover mental illness same as physical illness" dated 6 October 2008 by Anthony Gottschlich from the Dayton Daily News at http://www.daytondailynews.com/n/content/oh/story/news/local/2008/10/06/ddn100608mentalweb.html.

"Local mental health advocates are applauding a new law that, for the first time, requires equal insurance coverage for mental and physical illnesses. "This is a major victory for the treatment of mental health issues and mental illness," said Sue Hanna, executive director for the Montgomery County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. President Bush signed off on the law Friday, Oct. 3, as part of the $700 billion economic bailout bill. The requirement follows more than a dozen years of advocacy by friends and families of people with mental illnesses and drug addictions. The new law, effective Jan. 1, 2010 for most health plans, will make it easier for people to obtain treatment for a wide range of conditions, including depression, autism, schizophrenia, eating disorders and alcohol and drug abuse. The law wipes out restrictions and higher co-payments and deductibles that insurers typically set on treatment for such conditions. Federal officials said the law would improve coverage for more than one-third of all Americans, or 113 million people. That includes 82 million in employer-sponsored plans that are not subject to state regulation. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the new requirement will increase premiums by an average of about two-tenths of 1 percent. Businesses with 50 or fewer employees are exempt. Frank B. McArdle, a health policy expert at Hewitt Associates, a benefits consulting firm, said the law would force sweeping changes in the workplace. "A large majority of health plans currently have limits on hospital inpatient days and outpatient visits for mental health treatments, but not for other treatments," McArdle said. "They will have to change their plan design." Advocates say the law will benefit businesses because employees will have a better chance of getting the help they need. "If you can get help for depression or whatever mental illness you may have, you're more likely to be a better productive worker and be absent less," said Rosalyn Dadas, executive director for the Warren County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness."

76. "Professor Luc Montagnier Among 2008 Winners of the Nobel Prize in Medicine- The Board of Directors of the Houston-based the Friends of World Foundation for AIDS Research and Prevention celebrates the award of the Nobel Prize to its President, Professor Luc Montagnier" dated 6 October 2008 in a press release from the Friends of World Foundation for AIDS Research and Prevention at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2100/01/prweb1434084.htm and http://www.emediawire.com/releases/2008/10/prweb1434084.htm.

"Today, the Board of Directors of the Friends of the World Foundation for AIDS Research and Prevention joins people everywhere in the world in celebrating the receipt of the Nobel Prize by the organization's President, Professor Luc Montagnier. Speaking on behalf of the Board, attorney and civic leader, Barbara Radnofsky, Secretary-Treasurer of the Friends' Board said, "This is a wonderful recognition of Professor Montagnier's earlier work. Just as importantly, the Nobel is a great boost for his current scientific research efforts. His Houston laboratory and clinic, being done in collaboration with the distinguished Houston physician, Dr. Joseph Varon, holds great promise for identifying effective treatment for a wide variety of disorders, from neurological diseases and Alzheimer's to autism and breast cancer." …"

77. "Missing Alzheimer’s Patient Found in Dane County" dated 6 October 2008 from WMTV NBC15 News at http://www.nbc15.com/news/headlines/30531229.html and WKOW15 TV News at http://www.wkowtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=9132650&nav=menu1362_2 and The Capital Times at http://www.madison.com/tct/news/stories/308207.

"On Sunday, October 5th at approximately 8:40 pm, Dane County Deputies responded to a report of an intoxicated driver at 6162 US Highway 51 (Truckers Inn) in the town of Burke. The caller reported that he witnessed the male driver of a tan colored Chevrolet pick-up truck travel the wrong way on US Highway 51. The caller also reported that the man had pulled into the Truckers Inn, where he exited the vehicle and went inside the truck stop. When deputies arrived and made contact with the man, it was determined that he was in fact a missing Alzheimer’s patient from Davenport, Iowa. The 79-year-old man had been reported missing by his family. Deputies immediately contacted the family who came to Dane County to bring the man home. The Dane County Sheriff’s Office has recently implemented the Project Lifesaver program, designed for situations such as this one. With Project Lifesaver, a person suffering from a neurological disorder such as Alzheimer’s or Autism can be fitted with a battery-operated wristband used to track their location, should they wander or become lost. …"

78. "Ohio parents seek insurance help to pay for the high cost of autism treatment" dated 6 October 2008 by Sarah Jane Tribble from The Plain Dealer at http://blog.cleveland.com/health/2008/10/ohio_parents_seek_insurance_he.html and http://www.cleveland.com/healthfit/index.ssf/2008/10/ohio_parents_seek_insurance_he.html.

"When Deborah Hoffman's boy was 15 months old, she knew something was wrong. He hadn't learned to talk, wouldn't respond to his name and he wasn't making eye contact. He would sit rocking back and forth until somebody stopped him. Ben, who is now nearly 2 years old, was diagnosed with a form of autism. The University Heights mom and her husband tapped into their savings and retirement accounts to pay for care, which state regulators estimate can cost at least $50,000 annually. "It's incredibly stressful," Hoffman said. "And my kid is mild. I don't know what people do who have kids with more severe cases." Most insurers classify autism as a mental condition and little coverage is available through health-care policies. Parents like Hoffman, who have patched together care from various sources including county and private programs, are hoping that this fall Ohio will join a growing number of states that mandate insurance coverage for autism. "It's an incredible burden on families, who have to deal with a system that doesn't respond," said Ted Celeste, a suburban Columbus Democrat who co-authored H.B. 170, which would prohibit insurers from excluding coverage for autism. The Autism Society of Ohio estimates that there are 40,000 to 60,000 people living with the disorder in the state -- though there is no study confirming that number, said society co-president Barbara Yavorcik. …"

79. "Battelle Expands Partnerships With Universities to Support the National Children's Study" dated 6 October 2008 in a press release from Batelle at http://www.emediaworld.com/press_release/release_detail.php?id=202808 and http://sev.prnewswire.com/health-care-hospitals/20081006/DC3721806102008-1.html.

"Battelle has partnered with multiple University primes and been selected as a subcontractor to participate and expand its role in the National Institutes of Health's comprehensive study on the interaction of genes and the environment on children's health. At a briefing Friday NIH officials announced the addition of new study locations under the direction of 27 Study Centers. Battelle is a team member on 13 of these Centers, supporting the study in 23 of the new locations. When it is fully operational, the study is expected to include from 36 to 50 study centers in the planned 105 study locations throughout the United States. The National Children's Study will follow a representative national sample of 100,000 children from before birth to age 21. Study volunteers will be recruited throughout the United States, from rural, urban, and suburban areas, from all income and educational levels, and from all racial groups. The study will investigate factors influencing the development of such conditions as autism, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, birth defects, diabetes, asthma, and obesity. …"

80. "Campaign Promotes Childhood Vaccinations" dated 6 October 2008 by Martinique Davis from The Telluride Watch at http://www.telluridewatch.com/pages/full_story?article-Campaign-Promotes-Childhood-Vaccinations%20=&page_label=news&id=292747-Campaign-Promotes-Childhood-Vaccinations&widget=push&instance=secondary_stories_left_column&open=&.

"Telluride’s kids have every opportunity to lead a healthy lifestyle, with ready access to organic produce, fresh mountain air and an abundance of outdoor activities. And yet the region has recently been flagged for a public health campaign. According to data collected from the Colorado Immunization Reporting System, only 31 percent of the area’s children between the ages of 15-36 months receive vaccinations on the recommended schedule. Through a Vaccine Awareness Campaign, a series of newspaper ads and a community lecture will be aimed at convincing more parents of the benefits of timely immunizations. Bob Brayden, M.D., associate professor at the Denver Children’s Hospital, will be presenting information about vaccinations at a community talk this Thursday, Oct. 9. A big part of this week’s talk is to help allay parents’ fears about vaccinations and their potential side effects, according to Gary Steinbach of the Local Health Initiative, a program of the Telluride Foundation focused on improving the community’s access to preventative health care. While many in the alterative medicine community speculate that vaccines may worsen, or even cause, conditions such as autism, researchers say there is no evidence to support this thesis. “People have lost faith,” says Telluride’s David Homer, M.D., a member of the advisory committee for the San Juan Health Council. “They’ve lost faith in the pharmaceutical companies, in the government-funded research labs, and in the FDA… When it comes to vaccinating children, it’s ‘my way or the highway,’ and that raises people’s hackles.” Colorado is one of about 20 states that allow parents to opt out of vaccinating their children based on philosophical reasons. Telluride resident Dave Hodges decided not to vaccinate his children, ages 10 and 11, citing mistrust of the large medical companies who push vaccines. Additionally, he says that he has misgivings about subjecting his children to the potential side effects of the vaccines when the risk for contracting those diseases seems slight. “With the way that people in Telluride travel, I realize that there is the potential” for a serious disease to emerge in the region, “but I guess I need to see it before I just automatically vaccinate my kids for every possible scenario. I just don’t want to subject them to the potential dangers of vaccines until I know that there is actually a serious threat.” …"

81. "Florida to study role of environment, genetics in children" dated 6 October 2008 dated 6 October 2008 in a press release from Ocala.com at http://www.ocala.com/article/20081006/UNKNOWN/810060354/1357/OBIZ?Title=_No_heading.

"National and state organizations will follow 100,000 children across the country from birth to age 21 in an effort to study the role of environment and genetics in the health of children. The study is made possible by a $54 million grant from the National Institute of Health. The study, which will be conducted by various institutions including the University of Central Florida in Orlando, will examine certain diseases in children, such as asthma, diabetes, obesity and autism. The ultimate goal is that findings will help develop better treatments, find prevention and, eventually, a cure for prevalent childhood diseases. For severely obese, even a little exercise is good. This is how much it takes for severely obese individuals to have a better quality of life: just a little under one hour of exercise per week. This is according to researchers at Duke Diet and Fitness Center, who reported that more active obese individuals reported improvements in their ability to complete basic daily tasks like getting up from chairs, using the stairs and dressing. Researchers said the study shows that, "no amount of exercise is too little to have an impact. And it's beneficial no matter what you weigh," according to online news source, EurkeAlert. In other words, every little bit counts. …"

82. "University of Arizona to take part in National Children’s Study" dated 6 October 2008 in a press release from the University of Arizona at http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/stories/2008/10/06/daily4.html and http://triangle.bizjournals.com/triangle/othercities/phoenix/stories/2008/10/06/daily4.html and http://phoenix.bizjournals.com/phoenix/stories/2008/10/06/daily4.html.

"TheHYPERLINKHannah K. Webber from The University of Alabama at Birmingham Kaleidoscope at http://www.uab.edu/kscope/kaleidoscope-article-835.html.

"short films made by UAB students received a public screening at the 2008 Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival from Sept. 26-28. According to a UAB Media Relations article by Gail Short, the films first debuted on Sept. 27 at the Carver Theater venue. The students made their films as part of an ethnographic filmmaking class offered to UAB Honors students through the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences. The course, taught by Michele Forman and Rosie O’Beirne, was created to teach students to document and analyze aspects of human social life using film and video. The description of the course as it was offered to Honors students states that, through ethnographic filmmaking, students will “learn ethical and practical methods for representing someone else in a visual narrative medium” as well as “develop an understanding of the visual syntax and narrative structure of successful documentary films.” The UAB Media Relations article says that ethnographic research deals with the description of a specific culture or human social phenomenon. Students in the course made short documentaries about people and communities in Birmingham. The UAB student films screened at the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival were:

• Emily Jackson and Neeta Kirpalani’s “Birth Right,” a film about the lack of choice for Alabama women to have natural, midwife-assisted births at home.

• Tyler Godsy and Chris Lee’s “Under One Roof,” about an early childhood program for autistic children. …"

83. "Midwestern Students & Peers Continue Autism Experiment" dated 6 October 2008 by Dan Garcia from KAUZ6 News at http://www.kauz.com/news/local/29865329.html.

""This is a new beginning for any student with autism who has the chance to come here. For many students with autism spectrum disorders- college isn't an option. But thanks to Midwestern State University's one of a kind autism support program for three students- college has become a reality. "It's a big thing getting out of your comfort zone," says Samantha Spangler. Three peer mentors live with the students in what they've named the initium house. "This program was meant to help them but they teach me everyday. It's very rewarding," says Kiper. The living environment is very structured. Students have daily study groups and weekly social skills training and counseling sessions. But the unique living situation does have it's challenges. "Trying to define that line between being a parent and being mentor. Encouraging but not harping on them," says Kiper. "Just like with every roommate you have your ordinary little tiffs but we get along and have a lot of laughs." So far the program seems to be a success. Doctor Millie Gore says the three students with autism are all excelling in class. But all of these students will walk away from this situation with much more on top of their education. "I definitly already see most people here at the very least friends if not fairly good friends." "I see it as a blessing- an unexpectant blessing. Something I can benefit from personally and professionally."

84. "Tricycles help the disabled stay mobile- Foundation wants all to have the freedom to ride" dated 6 October 2008 by Liz Mitchell from the McClatchy Newspapers at http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/news/local/story/620005.html.

"Anne Guthrie wants to give every disabled person in Beaufort County the freedom to ride. She and her husband, Louis, began the Little Red Dog Foundation three years ago and so far have given away about 80 specially-equipped tricycles to disabled residents, most of them children. Much of the group's work has been in the Beaufort area, but it is expanding to Bluffton and Hilton Head Island. The group donated eight tricycles to Hilton Head Hospital's Pediatric Rehabilitation Center last week. The center will serve as a demonstration site for the tricycles, which can be used during therapy. Tricycles also will be fitted to patients with specific needs for use at home. The foundation will raise money to pay for the custom rides. The foundation's goal is to provide as many tricycles as possible. It is asking for donations. The tricycles cost between $250 and $800 each. The hospital also plans to organize a community day each month to share the tricycles with those who are not patients at the center. Center physical therapist Karen Bessinger said patients with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, autism, Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities can benefit from riding. The three-wheelers provide more stability than a bicycle and can be equipped with back, leg and head supports for those who need the extra help. …"

85. "Autism Recovery Story: Noah" dated 6 October 2008 by Generation Rescue from the Age of Autism blog at http://www.ageofautism.com/2008/10/autism-recovery.html#more.

"At the age of three, having come to the conclusion that our son would most likely be diagnosed PDD-NOS, we wanted to take him to "the best" doctors for their opinion. We ended up at Johns Hopkins' Kennedy Krieger Center, seeing Dr. Andrew Zimmerman who was considered one of the leading autism experts in the country. This was the biggest waste of time and money we have ever invested in anything. Zimmerman told us Noah was probably mentally retarded, would never talk and would never be much different than he was at that point. With a wave of his hand he brushed off aggressive therapies and the notion that vaccines could have caused Noah's misery. Treatment? Get therapy for YOURSELVES, he said, to learn to deal with what you have. Noah is now 10 years old. To be sure, I would not consider him fully "recovered" -- yet. However, he has extensive expressive and receptive language (he can say anything he wants and we believe knows more that we can imagine). He has at least a normal to high IQ; his speech teacher cautioned us to "never underestimate his intelligence." Noah participates in "typical" swim team, enjoys riding his bike and scooter, attends church choir, and does gymnastics. He recently won first place in the RA Pinewood Derby Car Race for our church and went on the win first in the entire Association. He loves books and reads well. He loves geography, knows all the states, can draw the US and label each state correctly, as well as name them aphabetically. His passion is drawing (and he's very good!) and music. Treatment? Yeast overgrowth treatment, GFCF diet, Chelation, AIT, ABA, Speech and Occupational therapy, and Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy. The three most effective were Chelation, ABA and Hyperbaric (started only in Fall 07). We hope that hyperbaric, along with continued chelation, will help him jump the final hurdles to gain recovery. …"

86. "CSUB partners with UC Irvine and UC Berkeley for national study, receives $10.4 million grant" dated 6 October 2008 in a press release from the California State University, Bakersfield at http://www.northwestvoice.com/home/ViewPost/77232 and http://www.swvoice.com/home/ViewPost/77230.

"At a national news conference this morning, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development announced that California State University, Bakersfield has been selected to partner with University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Irvine, and University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center to participate in a nationwide study designed to improve the health and well-being of children. The universities will receive $14.5 million over five years for the research, with CSUB receiving $10.4 million. The National Children’s Study is the largest study to be conducted on the effects of environmental and genetic factors on child and human health in the United States. The study will follow a representative sample of 100,000 children from before birth to age 21, seeking information to prevent and treat some of the nation’s most pressing health problems, including autism, birth defects, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Kern is one of 105 counties nationwide to be included in the study, with nine of these in California. “This study represents a golden opportunity for CSU Bakersfield to participate in high-level health research and strengthen our engagement with the community as well as with top-rated scientists at the University of California,” said CSUB President Horace Mitchell. “We believe this project will bring resources to identify health challenges in Kern County and improve the well-being of residents here and throughout the nation.” Participation by CSUB and Kern County in the project stems from long-standing relationships Mitchell has with both UC campuses. “I was contacted by Jim Swanson, who is principal investigator for the study and a former colleague. He inquired about CSUB’s interest in participating in this landmark research and including Kern County in the study,” Mitchell said. “There was no question that we wanted to contribute to the effort. Research of this magnitude with these premiere research institutions reflects the increasing recognition of the excellence of our faculty and academic programs. This will have a direct benefit on our community.” …"

87. "UM Named 1 Of Centers For National Children’s Study" dated 6 October 2008 from NBC6 TV News at http://www.nbc6.net/health/17636920/detail.html.

"The largest study of pregnant women ever conducted in the United States is about to get under way, and one of the sites for the study is in South Florida. Sandra Castillo Perez has one child, Luciana Perez, and another on the way. Arlene Tabora has 10-month-old Dylan. Both young mothers share the same questions and concerns. “Autism, where does it come from? How does it happen? I mean, is it the vaccines?” Tabora said. The National Children's Study will provide answers about autism and other conditions by following 100,000 children from before birth to age 21. Miami Dade is one of 105 counties selected and the University of Miami will be the coordinating study center for Florida. “There’s always been a huge debate. What’s nature and what’s nurture? What’s in your jeans and what’s due to the environment? Well, until this study … and until we get the results from this study, we will never know,” a UM doctor said. While Luciano Perez is still a child, the study is expected to provide important information on early life disorders and conditions. But congress must approve funding every year. “I think that will be great research because that’s the only way to follow along to see what’s happening,” Perez said. The university will be looking for 1,000 participants in Miami-Dade. “We’ve calculated that we have to physically knock on 17,000 household doors to get a thousand women of childbearing age that will be eligible that may get pregnant over a five to six year period so that we can enroll those children,” a UM doctor said. While a pilot study in two other centers will begin this Winter, enrollment in Miami-Dade will not begin until 2010."

88. "Alarming Increase in Autism Brings Together Parents, Researchers and Clinicians from Around the World to Discuss Current Treatment Options and Research- The Autism Research Institute states that many of those diagnosed with autism have underlying medical disorders that are amenable to treatment" dated 6 October 2008 in a press release from the Autism Research Institute at http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/10-06-2008/0004898600&EDATE=.

"A child is diagnosed with autism every 20 minutes. Autism has become more common in our children than cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that one in every 94 boys suffers with autism. Autism affects children from all socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds; it places a tremendous economic burden on affected families and society at large, costing up to $3.2 million dollars per child for a lifetime of care and over $35 billion in annual societal cost. The Autism Research Institute (ARI) is the oldest autism research organization in the world and was the first organization to call attention to the alarming increase in autism. ARI is now the hub of an international network of parents, clinicians, and researchers who are seeking answers about the causes of this dramatic increase in autism spectrum disorders and what can be done to help restore health to those affected. According to Dr. Stephen Edelson, Director of the Autism Research Institute, research is challenging the long-held view that autism is an incurable genetic disorder. "Many individuals with autism clearly have underlying medical conditions that impair their neurological, gastrointestinal, metabolic and immune systems. When these underlying problems are accurately diagnosed and treated, many of their behavioral, cognitive, and sensory symptoms improve, sometimes to the point of recovery from autism," states Edelson. On October 24-26 hundreds of autism experts, parents and professionals from around the world will gather in San Diego to attend the Autism Research Institutes Defeat Autism Now! Conference. For more information or to register for the conference go to http://www.autism.com or http://www.defeatautismnow.com. To schedule an interview with the parent of a recovered child, clinician or researcher contact Lisa@autism.com The Autism Research Institute was founded in 1967 by the late Dr. Bernard Rimland. It is the only autism organization specifically focused on biomedical treatments for the disorder. ARI is also the only national non-profit autism organization to receive the coveted "Four Star Award" from Charity Navigator for sound fiscal management. CONTACT: Lyn Redwood, +1-404-932-1786, or Matt Kabler, +1-619-281-7165, both of the Autism Research Institute."

89. "Financially Preparing for Special-Needs Kids- Sarah Palin's son Trig helps spark a national conversation" dated 6 October 2008 by Kimberly Palmer from U.S. News & World Report at http://www.usnews.com/articles/business/your-money/2008/09/30/financially-preparing-for-special-needs-kids_print.htm.

"Sarah Palin's 5-month-old son, Trig, who has Down syndrome, has sparked a national conversation about kids with special needs: the extra care they require, available government benefits, and the pros and cons of prenatal testing. One topic that has gotten less attention is the financial stress that parents often face. Many kids with special needs require financial support throughout their lives, and while government assistance often covers basic medical care, holding assets over $2,000 can make them ineligible. That means advance financial planning, through wills, estate planning, and trusts, can be essential to ensuring kids with special needs have the support they require once they grow up. "If [parents] fail to deal with these issues now, it will jeopardize their child's quality of life down the road," says Tanya Harvey, an attorney who focuses on special-needs planning in the Washington, D.C., law office of Bryan Cave. Here are tips from leading experts in the field of financial planning for kids with special needs on how to get started: …"

90. "Don't judge child with autism" dated 6 October 2008 by Larry Leonard from the Greene County Daily World at http://gcdailyworld.com/blogs/1227/entry/21205.

"Reader writes: Mr. Leonard, I would like to see you do an article about autism awareness in schools. I have a kindergarten son who is doing well mainstreamed in the classroom, but I worry constantly what other students and parents think of my son and his sometimes strange behavior. My son and others' acceptance of him is important to me. The problem with kids with autism is that they look so normal, everyone wants to judge the kid and/or the parent(s) for the kid's strange behavior, but they don't know that sometimes the parent or the child can do nothing to stop a meltdown. So, the general public sees the parent as being lax on discipline and the child in need of some restraint and control. Rebecca Mayfield

My reply: You are correct. Children with autism and their parents are often misunderstood. Ignorance of autism is most commonly the cause for these misunderstandings. When people think of autism, the first thing that pops into their head is Rainman. Often, it is a more severe case … someone who sits alone, making noises, and waving his hands back and forth in front of his eyes. The fact is, these are only two different expressions of autism under the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) umbrella. While the exact cause, or causes, of autism is unknown, we do know that it is a pervasive developmental disorder, effecting the way a person processes the information he receives through his senses. People with Autism do not experience the world the same way typically developing people do. …"

91. "Logistics and RFID News: Slowly, RFID-Enabled Distribution Centers Start to Emerge- Focus is on Pallets and Re-Usable Containers; Linking Shipping and Store Receipts" dated 6 October 2008 from Supply Chain Digest at http://www.scdigest.com/assets/On_Target/08-10-06-1.php?cid=1978.

"As we’ve noted in the past, an important and, in some sense, glaring hole in the path towards RFID-enablement of the supply chain has been the extreme lack of RFID-enablement of distribution facilities and processes. In the US, after International Paper announced in 2002 its RFID-based distribution center in Texarkana, it was hard to find news regarding any other such facility in the US for several years. Recently, however, we are starting to see announcements of deployment of RFID-enabled DCs in the US and especially Europe, some of which we summarize below. Why there has been so little RF deployment activity in distribution, outside “slap and ship” applications to meet compliance requirements? There are a number of factors. … Interestingly, 40% of the associates at the Walgreen’s DC have autism or other disabilities. The system was designed in part to make the job easier for those workers, but ultimately RFID-enablement turned out to be the smart decision regardless, says Randy Lewis, Walgreens' senior vice president of distribution and logistics. …"

92. "School officials debate restraint" dated 6 October 2008 by MCKENZIE CASSIDY from the Cape Coral Daily Breeze at http://www.cape-coral-daily-breeze.com/news/articles.asp?articleID=21785.

"State education officials and child advocates continue to debate over a rule change that expands the use of “reasonable force” in schools weeks after the Florida Department of Education stalled the issue. The proposal was on this month’s State Board of Education agenda, but was pulled at the last minute. A statement from the DOE explained that “the department withdrew the proposed language to allow further consideration of public comments received.” It could resurface later this year or in 2009, they added. The definition of reasonable force would’ve been an “appropriate physical response” to maintain a safe learning environment and, according to the rule change, would only be used in emergency situations where a student may injure themselves or another. While the DOE currently has guidelines related to physical restraints in special education classrooms, the proposed rule change would have broadened the definition of reasonable force. Current guidelines recommend that school districts file a report and contact parents anytime a physical restraint is used in the classroom, but that is not a requirement. In fact, there is no state requirement for school districts to report the number of physical restraints used in special education classrooms. This week the Lee County School District couldn’t provide the Daily Breeze with the amount of restraints administered during the 2007-2008 school year. The request for information was first made Wednesday morning. “I don’t have a definite time as to when I can get the answers,” said Donzelli. Donzelli said that the school district follows all current Florida laws and DOE rules. “Lee County Public Schools follows all current Florida laws and DOE rules when it comes to the use of reasonable force,” said Donzelli. Experts point out that restraints are precarious and can go awry even for the most seasoned and highly trained teacher. Peter Eastman, director of NAPPI International in Fort Myers, an expert on physical restraints, trains public employees in 28 different states. He said that it is easy for a restraint to go wrong. “Restraints are so complicated and unpredictable that even someone highly skilled can be found outside of the box,” said Eastman. “They are difficult to apply and sometimes things go wrong.” …"

93. "Autism Signs" dated 6 October 2008 by Mike Igoe from WGRZ2 News at http://www.wgrz.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=61232&provider=gnews.

"Janice and Angelo Reesor are surprised that the Village of Depew, where they live, wouldn't put up special autism traffic signs. Two other communities, Amherst and North Tonawanda, have done so. The couple says they were told one of the reasons a sign wasn't installed was because their daughter Michelle was not a child. She is 21 years old. But her parents say developmentally she is not that age. They've taken safety steps like installing a fence, as well as an alarm system that goes off when a door is opened. But, they believe a sign is needed to alert drivers just in case all the other steps fail. Janice Reesor, Depew Resident: "She herself personally does not know the concept of danger. So if she bolts away from us and runs down the street, she doesn't know enough to look both ways and stop." 2 On Your Side spoke to the NYS Department of Transportation. They tell us New Ypork law requires municipalities to get their signs approved by the D-O-T. They further say the age of the person with a disability is not a consideration. 2 On Your Side shared that information with the Mayor of Depew. Mike Igoe: "Would the Village of Depew reconsider this case possibly?" Barbara Alberti: "I think we could possibly reconsider it after our police department does some background on it." The Reesors tell 2 On Your Side they will provide the Village with any materials they need about their daughter's disability."

94. "Autistic woman wins human rights complaint against Canada Post" dated 6 October 2008 by Don Butler from the Canwest News Service (Canada) at http://www.canada.com/cityguides/fortstjohn/story.html?id=785008e8-f501-4605-a3da-3bb960b602e7 and http://www.dose.ca/news/story.html?id=785008e8-f501-4605-a3da-3bb960b602e7 and http://www.canada.com/reginaleaderpost/news/story.html?id=785008e8-f501-4605-a3da-3bb960b602e7.

"In what's believed to be its first autism-related case, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has upheld a complaint against Canada Post by a former Montreal mail carrier. In a ruling released Monday, the tribunal said Canada Post violated the Canadian Human Rights Act by failing to accommodate Michelle Dawson's disability and by allowing management staff to harass her. The decision requires Canada Post to work with the Canadian Human Rights Commission to modify its harassment, discrimination and accommodation policies to conform with the Human Rights Act. It also directs Canada Post to conduct "workplace equity, accommodation and sensitivity training" for managers and staff, with a particular focus on autism. But because Dawson didn't seek remedial measures, the tribunal did not order Canada Post to reinstate her in her job or pay any fines or compensation. Dawson, 47, who has been receiving disability benefits since 2003, has become an internationally known researcher and writer on autism issues. She was diagnosed with autism in the early 1990s. She couldn't be reached for comment Monday. But on her blog, autismcrisis.blogspot.com, she wrote that the decision "is entirely good for autistics in Canada. "It is unprecedented in establishing under a human rights law in Canada that autistics . . . are human beings with human rights." Dawson started working at Canada Post in 1988 and was widely seen as an exemplary employee. But everything went downhill after she disclosed her diagnosis to Canada Post in April 1999, she testified. After she appeared at work in July 1999 with self-inflicted wounds - a behaviour often seen among those with autism - some employees felt threatened and sent a letter of concern to management. Dawson testified that Canada Post treated her as a non-person and acted as if autistic people were bizarre, difficult and unable to speak for themselves. She also accused specific employees of making discriminatory and harassing comments to her, including one who asserted she had mutilated herself in front of her co-workers. The tribunal found those remarks to be discriminatory because they "brand Dawson as a violent person in relation to her disability, a perception which is totally, given the evidence, gratuitous." …"

95. "High court: Atlanta couple can sue over vaccination- Marcelo and Carolyn Ferrari can take case to court over son’s disabilities" dated 6 October 2008 from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution at http://www.ajc.com/services/content/metro/stories/2008/10/06/vaccine_autism_lawsuit.html?cxtype=rss&cxsvc=7&cxcat=13.

"An Atlanta couple’s lawsuit against vaccine manufacturers can go to trial on claims a childhood vaccine caused neurological damage to their young son, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled Monday. In a landmark decision, the state high court unanimously ruled that Marcelo and Carolyn Ferrari’s lawsuit is not barred by the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Act. The court upheld a prior decision by the Georgia Court of Appeals, which was the first appellate court in the nation to make such a ruling. When the Ferraris’ 18-month-old son, Stefan, received his vaccines, he was a healthy verbal boy. Now 10, Stefan has not spoken since, according to court records. A year after Stefan received his vaccines, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that thimerosal, a preservative used for multi-dose vaccine vials, be removed from childhood vaccines. The Ferraris filed suit, contending that the manufacturers should have made vaccines without the preservative before Stefan was vaccinated. The companies argued that the 1986 vaccine act shields manufacturers from liability in civil lawsuits for damages caused by vaccines given after Oct. 1, 1988. In Monday’s ruling, written by Justice George Carley, the state Supreme Court said the vaccine act “clearly does not preempt all design defect claims against vaccine manufacturers.” Instead, it provides “that a vaccine manufacturer cannot be held liable for defective design if it is determined, on a case-by-case basis, that the injurious side effects of the particular vaccine were unavoidable,” the ruling said."

96. "Hoffman brings home the gold" dated 6 October 2008 by Julie R. Johnson from the Corning Observer at http://www.corning-observer.com/news/taylor_3740___article.html/home_gold.html.

"This year many young Americans brought pride to the nation as they came home with Olympic gold medals hanging around their necks. For Bob and Marie Hoffman of Richfield, that same sense of pride was felt when their son Taylor, 17, came home this summer with his own gold medal - a medal he had earned during the state Special Olympics in the sport of golf. "He's fantastic," said Bob. "Taylor is so proud of that medal, he even wore it to church a couple of times after he won it." Taylor is a tall teenager who has an easy smile, infectious laugh, a quick wit and a genuine warmth about him. Taylor also has Marfan Syndrome and Autism. Marfan Sydrome, a connective tissue disorder, is responsible for his extra-long limbs, sight problems (he is legally blind in his right eye), and heart defects. Taylor's shyness and discomfort in large crowds is a result of his Autism. None of that seems to matter when he swings a golf club. "He's a natural," Bob said. "When I go out and watch him practice he tells me ‘watch and learn Dad.'" Bob said it was about six years ago that Taylor got involved in the Special Olympics playing basketball in the Red Bluff event. Having perfected that sport, says Taylor with a grin, he decided to compete in golf which he has been playing since he was 10 years old with his uncle Steve Hoffman, of Corning. "He has a straight and beautiful swing," Bob said. "He knows his clubs and what he wants to use." This spring and summer Taylor golfed in three Special Olympics tournaments. The first was at Cameron Park Country Club, which was a partnership tournament. With his Uncle Steve at his side as his partner Taylor won that round of golf. The next tournament was an independent play at Hagenwood Oaks Golf Club in Sacramento, which Taylor won. …"

97. "On playground, autistic kids bond with peers" dated 6 October 2008 from The Arizona Republic at http://www.tucsoncitizen.com/daily/local/98663.php.

"It was Katy Donmoyer's habit to spend recess alone, circling the perimeter of her Scottsdale elementary playground. Her sister, Leah, hovered silently near groups of playing children, who ignored her. But last month, however, the 9-year-old twins were taking turns jumping rope, even doubles, with classmates in the middle of Copper Ridge Elementary School's crowded and chaotic playground. To behavioral scientists, the change is more evidence that their new strategy to help autistic kids fit into recess is working. To the twins' mother, it is hope her daughters will have a social life despite a disorder marked by an inability to understand the give and take of conversation, play and making friends. In January, Copper Ridge's playground became an incubator for a new kind of recess in which kids teach their autistic classmates about the joys of the playground. And autistic kids teach them a little compassion. In the past nine years, as the number of Arizona school kids grew by 25 percent, the number diagnosed with autism grew fivefold. More than 5,000 autistic kids are in Arizona's K-12 schools. More schools across the country are training teachers and adding teaching assistants so more of these children can learn in a regular classroom. But Copper Ridge is among the first to find ways for these children to successfully fit into the often intimidating social mix of recess. The program being refined on its playground will help create a blueprint for schools across the nation. …"

98. "Ga. Supreme Court: Couple can sue vaccine company" dated 6 October 2008 by GREG BLUESTEIN from The Associated Press at http://ap.onlineathens.com/pstories/state/ga/20081006/340861433.shtml and http://www.wsbtv.com/news/17637376/detail.html.

"The Georgia Supreme Court allowed an Atlanta couple's lawsuit against a vaccine manufacturer to go forward, upholding a first-of-a-kind ruling by an appellate court that had drawn fierce opposition from the vaccine industry. The court's unanimous decision on Monday concluded that a 1986 federal law that has been used to block other lawsuits against vaccine companies does not bar the lawsuit from Marcelo and Carolyn Ferrari from going to trial. It upheld a ruling by the Georgia Court of Appeals, which became the first appellate court in the nation to hold that the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Act does not pre-empt state law. The Ferrari family asked the Georgia Supreme Court on Tuesday to rule that vaccine maker American Home Products Corp. can be held liable for damages in a civil case involving their son, Stefan. The family believes they can prove that thimerosal, the mercury-based preservative, caused their son's disability. Stefan, they say, was a talkative toddler before he got a round of boosters shots when he was 18-months-old. The boy, now 10, hasn't spoken since. The case has drawn the protests from the vaccine industry as well as powerful right-leaning lobbying groups from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation. Seven other state courts have ruled that the federal laws pre-empt any state law that might give families the power to challenge the vaccine manufacturers. But the Georgia Court of Appeals became the first appellate court in the nation to rule that the federal law doesn't take precedence over state tort rules, calling the federal statute unclear. At court hearings in May, attorneys for American Home Products argued that other judges have concluded Congress wanted the federal law to pre-empt state rules, in part so that manufacturers aren't subjected to a mishmash of different state standards. The company's attorney, Daniel Thomasch, did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment. Ferrari's attorney, Lanny Bridgers, contended that the federal law was meant to supplement, not displace, state law. He also asked the court's seven justices not to be swayed by earlier decisions. The Georgia Supreme Court's ruling, written by Justice George Carley, said the federal law "clearly does not pre-empt all design defect claims against vaccine manufacturers." Instead, the court held, vaccine manufacturers must prove on a case-by-case basis that the side effect of the particular vaccine were unavoidable to be immune from defective design claims. …"

99. "What Happens When We Ask Autistic Persons What Is Wrong With Them?" dated 7 October 2008 in a press release from the Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081001093758.htm.

"To date, few studies have focused on the viewpoints of autistic persons themselves despite an increasing number of published autobiographies. The aim of this study is to highlight their personal experiences, and to compare them to scientific and medical knowledge and representations. Adopting an anthropological approach, the authors analyzed 16 autobiographical writings and 5 interviews with autistic persons. The investigators systematically screened this material and explored the writers' sociodemographic characteristics, cognitive skills and interests with a focus on their sensory-perceptual experiences and their representations of autism. The authors' ages (22-67 years), their countries (n = 8) and backgrounds were varied, and most of them were high-functioning individuals with autism or Asperger syndrome. The most striking observations were that all of them pointed out that unusual perceptions and information processing, as well as impairments in emotional regulation, were the core symptoms of autism, whereas the current classifications do not mention them. The results of this study suggest that what has been selected as major signs by psychiatric nosography is regarded as manifestations induced by perceptive peculiarities and strong emotional reactions by the autistic persons who expressed themselves. These considerations deserve to be taken into account by professionals to better understand the behavior and needs of autistic persons. The Authors propose to include this point in the reflection on the next psychiatric classifications."

100. "United Nations World Focus on Autism Forum Held in New York" in a press release from Autism Speaks at http://www.autismspeaks.org/inthenews/united_nations_world_focus_on_autism_gaph.php.

"On September 26, 2008, more than 150 First Ladies and dignitaries, including Mrs. Ban Soon-taek, wife to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Mrs. Sarah Brown, wife of the British Prime Minister met in New York to discuss the global epidemic of autism. Organized and hosted by Mrs. Suzanne Wright, co-founder of Autism Speaks, the largest non-profit autism research organization in the world, the international coalition representing 55 countries was a striking endorsement of the UN efforts to raise autism awareness. Those attending included first ladies from Albania, Bahamas, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Cyprus, Mali, Panama, and Poland as well as spouses of ambassadors. This distinguished group heard from a world-class panel of experts and discussed an international pathway to raising global awareness and promoting research into this non-discriminative disorder. In her opening remarks, event chair Mrs. Ban Soon-taek welcomed the international group on behalf of her husband UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and stated that, “it is still sadly a reality that in some parts of the world, those affected by autism-related disorders are set aside, placed in institutions or dismissed as untreatable lost causes.” Mrs. Ban continued to say that “it is crucial that professionals and society at large become more involved, compassionate and accepting of this complex condition.” Co-chair Mrs. Dorrit Moussaieff, First Lady of Iceland shared her personal reflections on Autism Speaks Co-Founders Bob and Suzanne Wright. “The energy and commitment of Bob and Suzanne to raising awareness of and funding research into autism has been an inspiration to me as to all who come in to contact with them.” Calling for action, event host Suzanne Wright asked the international delegation convened, “not just as the co-founder of Autism Speaks, but as a grandmother of a little boy who has slipped into the silent world of autism to please lend your voices and stand united with us in our worldwide campaign. By recognizing World Autism Awareness Day every April 2nd until a cure is found, you will help to shine a global spotlight on autism.” Bob Wright, shared some of the staggering statistics with the room, “it is estimated that approximately 1% of the global population has autism – 67 million worldwide” Wright said in his remarks. …"

101. "Autism and Religion" by Rabbi Heiligman in a press release from Autism Speaks at http://www.autismspeaks.org/community/ownwords/intheirownwords_religion.php.

"With all the energy that it takes to help our children succeed in their everyday school settings, sometimes the thought of enduring a similar struggle for their religious lives can seem so daunting that we postpone their religious education and/or participation long past the time we would provide it to a typical child. I have the dual perspective of being the parent of children with ASDs as well as being rabbi. I'd like to share some of what I have learned, from both sides about integrating our children into faith communities. To blend in at church, synagogue, mosque or temple, a child will probably need a new set of behaviors that may only be used in that context. S/he may need to learn to read responsively, to sit quietly through a sermon that s/he may not understand, to sing along with other people in their key, at their tempo. The “choreography” of a service may include prayer in a posture that is rarely or never used in other settings, such as kneeling or prostration. Some congregations actively reach out to people with disabilities. If you have found one in your preferred denomination you are fortunate, indeed. Some congregations believe they are welcoming, but have not yet come to realize that ramps and elevators, sign language interpreters, and Braille materials are accommodations only for those with physical disabilities. Welcoming those with autism and other developmental disabilities, as well as mental illness requires a completely different set of accommodations. While many of these are far less expensive than adding elevators and ramps, in my experience they are made much less often. Many fellow congregants have no prior experience with interacting with people with autism, especially older people who grew up in the days when virtually all people with autism were institutionalized. This segment of the population may be more rigid in their views of proper behavior in a house of worship, and while those disapproving looks may be no different from the ones we get during a tantrum in a shopping mall, we don't go to services to have our parenting critiqued by the ignorant. Individuals, clergy, and staff may greet our children with a variety of reactions from warm welcome to annoyance at their quirks or outbursts, to benign neglect of their education, to the hurtful letter I saw suggesting, “Perhaps another congregation could better meet your needs?” As a rabbi, I have always wanted to accommodate people with special needs. But when I was a Sunday school principal at a small congregational school, even we reached a point where we could not handle a child with an (undiagnosed or unrecognized) disability. …"

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