Autism Reality

Will New Collective Agreement Help NB’s Autistic Students?


CUPE Local 2745, the union representing about 3,000 educational and clerical support staff in New Brunswick, including teacher assistants (TA’s), has reached a tentative agreement with the Province of New Brunswick. No details are expected to be released until after a late March ratification vote. Local president Sandy Harding has stated that the tentative agreement brings improvements for their members on issues such as guaranteed hours of work and weeks of employment. Many autistic school children need the help of teacher assistants to learn, even to cope and attend school in safety.

The traditional collective bargaining model is an employer-employee-union model. It does not provide for direct participation by those representing the interests affected by the results of bargaining – in this case children, including autistic children, with whom the TA’s work. Parents and advocates for autistic school children must lobby perpetually with both government and union in order to have their children’s interests taken into account in collective bargaining.

Historically a number of collective agreement issues have caused difficulty for New Brunswick’s autistic students. One is the lack of autism specific training for TA’s assigned to work with autistic students. CUPE historically has shown no interest in fighting for such training for its members despite overtures from the Autism Society New Brunswick. Given the solid commitment by Premier Graham and Education Minister Lamrock to provide autism specific training to TA’s at the UNC-CEL Autism Intervention Training program this issue should not be problem under the new agreement.

Hopefully the new collective agreement will address problems which have arisen in some cases from use of seniority rights. By means of seniority some TA’s, lacking training or experience with autism, have for personal reasons, bumped more junior, better trained TA’s even where the TA had developed a working relationship with an autistic student. In other cases autism trained TA’s with seniority have used their seniority to seek a post working with a non-autistic child. “Bumping day”, when positions are re-assigned on the basis of seniority, takes place shortly after the start of the school year leaving no opportunity for planning for an autistic child’s school year.

Many of these problems were admittedly reduced by use of clauses permitting the Department of Education to prevent a TA from being bumped by a more senior TA in special circumstances and by the cooperation of many TA’s who put the childrens’ interests first. But problems have arisen often and when it is your child who is affected by loss of a TA with autism training, or experience working with your child, solely on the basis of seniority it can be very unsettling. Hopefully these issues have been addressed, and the childrens’ interests better protected, in the new collective agreement.

The Department of Education has also been remiss in allowing District Superintendents to unofficially cap the hours of TA’s working with children. If an autistic child is fortunate enough to have an autism trained, experienced TA the TA is still not permitted to work the full day with the child in many districts. The hours are capped in order to prevent the TA, from acquiring full employee status, and benefits, under the relevant legislation and agreements. Hopefully this issue too has been addressed in the new collective agreement. The TA’s are valuable players in the education of autistic children in New Brunswick schools. They deserve the status, income and benefits that reflect the important role they play in educating autistic children. and the children deserve to have available properly trained personnel working with them.

In the absence of solid information we can only wait until the ratification of the agreement at the end of March. Hopefully these issues have all been resolved. The TA’s work with children with special needs. Education Minister Lamrock has made it very clear that he will not let adult interests interfere with the best interests of children. That should mean some good news for autistic children in the new CUPE collective agreement.

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February 28, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Too Soon to Write Off a Possible Mercury (Thimerosal) Autism Link ?

I have personally never been a believer in possible alleged mercury (thimerosal) autism link. Primarily because I accept the overwhelming consensus in the world scientific community that there is no link. Second, because I don’t believe in the conspiracy angle of those who postulate a mercury autism link. Third, for personal reasons, my son displayed unusual behavior, which we have documented in a large photograph collection, since birth. None the less I think that Michael Wagnitz has made a very interesting argument for the mercury vaccine connection. Mr. Wagnitz is a chemist with 20 years experience working trace metal analysis who argues that recent findings of clinical studies examining brain tissue, blood, urine and human cells make a strong case for thimerosal as the agent causing the neuroinflammation which has been found in the brains of deceased autistic persons. The following article in the Madison Wisconsin Capital Times is worth a read. It will be interesting to read critiques of Mr. Wagnitz’ theory but for now at least maybe it is worth waiting for more study before writing off the mercury-autism link.

Michael Wagnitz: Research supports mercury-autism link

By Michael Wagnitz

It was reported repeatedly in 2006 that the link between mercury-containing vaccines and autism has been disproven. Yet if one looks at the most recent research coming from some of our major universities, one may draw the opposite conclusion.

What we have learned in the last couple of years is that the underlying medical condition of autism is neuroinflammatory disease. In a study conducted at John Hopkins University, brain tissue from deceased autistic patients was examined. The tissue showed an active neuroinflammatory process and marked activation of microglia cells. Neuroinflammatory disease is synonymous with an activation of microglia cells.

A study done at the University of Washington showed that baby primates exposed to injected thimerosal (50 percent mercury), at a rate equal to the 1990s childhood vaccine schedule, retained twice as much inorganic mercury in their brains as primates exposed to equal amounts of ingested methylmercury. We know from autometallographic determination that inorganic mercury present in the brain, following the dealkylation of organic mercury, is the toxic agent responsible for changes in the microglial population and leads to neuroinflammation.

Recently it was shown that in more than 250 examined patients, atypical urinary porphyrins were almost three times higher in autistic patients than controls. Porphyrins are precursors to heme, the oxygen-carrying component of blood. Mercury inhibits the conversion of porphyrins to heme. When the patients were treated to remove mercury, urinary porphyrins returned to normal levels.

In a study done at the University of Arkansas, autistic children were found to have significantly lower levels of the antioxidant glutathione. Glutathione is the major antioxidant needed for the elimination of mercury at the cellular level. This may explain why some children are more severely affected by thimerosal in vaccines than others.

While all the government-conducted epidemiological (statistical) studies show no link between thimerosal and autism, the clinical studies examining brain tissue, blood, urine and human cells show a completely different picture.

Michael Wagnitz is a Madison resident with more than 20 years of experience as a chemist working with trace metal analysis.

Published: February 27, 2007

http://www.madison.com/tct/opinion/column/index.php?ntid=120748&ntpid=1

February 27, 2007 Posted by | autism disorder, John Hopkins University, mercury, neuroinflammation, thimerosal, Wagnitz | 1 Comment

Combating Autism Act Spurs Autism Research

The following article from the Psychiatric Times gives a good, digestible, overview of some of the autism studies currently being conducted even as the Combating Autism Act spurs more research.


New Act by Congress Gives Boost to Autism Research
By Arline Kaplan

February 2007, Vol. XXIV, No. 2

The passage and signing in December of the Combating Autism Act (S. 843), which authorizes $945 million over 5 years for research, screening, intervention, and education on autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and developmental disabilities, has been hailed by the advocacy group Cure Autism Now (CAN) as a “federal declaration of war on the epidemic of autism,” a disorder that affects 1 in 166 children. 1 Yet, some battles are already under way at NIMH’s Intramural Research Program, with patient recruitment proceeding for 3 major autism studies.

In a press statement, Jonathan Shestack, father of an autistic child and cofounder of CAN, a large private funding organization for autism research, said S. 843 (now Public Law 109-416) “creates a congressionally mandated road map for a federal assault on autism, including requirements for strategic planning, budget transparency, congressional oversight, and a substantial role for parents of children with autism in the federal decision-making process.”

Key provisions of the law, subject to the availability of appropriations, call for the following:

* Expanded research on ASD, including basic and clinical research in such fields as pathology, developmental neurobiology, genetics, pharmacology, nutrition, immunology, neurobehavioral development, and toxicology.
* The CDC to increase and update its efforts to monitor autism incidence and prevalence around the country and to support the establishment of regional Centers of Excellence in the epidemiology of ASDs and other developmental disabilities.
* Development of a curriculum for continuing education to assist in recognizing the need for valid and reliable screening tools and in using those tools.
* Early screening of individuals at higher risk for ASD and other developmental disabilities.
* Congressional oversight of the Autism Centers of Excellence.
* Expansion and reauthorization of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee, composed of relevant government officials, experts, families of those with ASD, and at least one individual who has ASD.

Autism trials

The NIMH studies on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Md, are the first products of a new, integrated focus on autism. One study, “Clinical and Immunological Investigations of Sub-types of Autism,” seeks to learn more about autism and its subtypes. “It is actually two studies in one,” said Susan Swedo, MD, chief of NIMH’s Pediatrics and Developmental Neuropsychiatry Branch.

The first is a study of regressive versus nonregressive autism to determine whether there is an immune or other systemic trigger of children’s neurologic regression, she said. It involves 50 children with idiopathic autism and regression, 50 children with idiopathic autism and no history of regression, 25 children with Rett syndrome, and 50 healthy children. The age range of all 4 groups is between 12 months and 48 months at first visit.

The second component to the study, Swedo said, is part of the Autism Phenome Project, a pilot investigation being conducted in collaboration with David Amaral, PhD, Beneto Foundation Professor and director of research at the M.I.N.D. Institute at the University of California, Davis. Between the 2 sites, the pilot phase of the phenome study involves 50 to 100 children with autism, 50 children with developmental delays, and 50 to 100 children without disorders. The purpose is to identify clinically meaningful subtypes of autism, which could lead to better understanding of the etiology and pathophysiology of the disorder.

Increasingly, researchers are considering that autism may be multiple disorders. The regressive subtype is well characterized, Swedo said, although there is some debate about how common it is. The reports vary from indicating that as few as 10% to as many as 40% of children with autism have a pattern of regression.

With regressive autism, Swedo explained, you have a history of the child developing typically until age 12 to 18 months with appropriate development of language and social skills and then the child loses words and social skills and begins to look indistinguishable from children who have had autistic symptoms from birth or early on.“Some investigators have found that the regressive subtype actually has a worse prognosis,” she said.

To explain the regression, Swedo said that the research team’s working hypothesis is that there are environmental triggers or perhaps genetic aberrations that are expressed at this particular point in the child’s development. One possibility based on Swedo’s work with obsessive-compulsive disorder and the pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections subgroup is that regressive autism develops following a viral or bacterial infection that triggers an autoimmune response and neuropsychiatric symptoms.

The phenome study includes questions related to a child’s exposure to environmental toxins and household products; neuroimaging (structural MRI); and biomarkers; as well as very careful behavioral, neurologic (eg, via electroencephalograms administered while the child sleeps in the hospital overnight), and physical assessments. “The children will be monitored every 6 months to a year until they are age 5, and then intermittently after that time” to examine the validity of their diagnosis and how their symptom course evolves over time, Swedo added.

Minocycline study

In another small-scale intramural study, Treatment of Childhood Regressive Autism With Minocycline: An Anti-Inflammatory Agent Active Within the CNS, NIMH researchers are examining the use of the antibiotic minocycline (Dynacin, Minocin, Myrac) in children aged 3 to 12 years with regressive autism.

“We are using minocycline, a tetracycline derivative, not for its effectiveness as an antibiotic but rather for its ability to modulate the immune system,” Swedo said. “It has fairly specific effects on NF-kappa B and therefore inhibits the initiation of the cascade that leads to inflammation. Published data from the Johns Hopkins group [2,3] demonstrate that brains of individuals with autism have evidence of chronic neuroinflammation. We hope that by stopping that process, the children will be able to recover some of their skills. We are conducting an open-label trial in 10 children and are accepting referrals. If the results are encouraging, we will do a placebo-controlled trial in a larger cohort of subjects.”

Asked about other pharmacologic approaches being investigated at NIMH, Swedo responded, “We have a few in [the] pipeline, but it is premature to talk about them. Eric Hollander, MD, has been doing some work with oxytocin, reported at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology’s annual meeting.”

Hollander, chairman of psychiatry at the Mt Sinai School of Medicine in New York and director of the Seaver and New York Autism Center of Exellence, and Jennifer Bartz, PhD, found that pitocin (synthetic oxytocin), administered intravenously or nasally, may have significant positive effects in adults with autism. Oxytocin, a hormone that is best known for activity during birth and lactation, is also a brain neurotransmitter involved in social recognition and bonding.

Chelation therapy

The third NIMH study, “Mercury Chelation to Treat Autism,” seeks to address whether chelation therapy can be helpful for autism. The chelation study is a placebo-controlled trial that involves use of meso-2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA, succimer), an orally adminstered chelating agent that binds to all metals including mercury and lead but also to some beneficial metals, such as zinc and iron, according to Swedo. DMSA is commonly used to treat autism, with some surveys estimating that 1 in 12 children with autism has undergone chelation, although it has never been tested in a controlled study and there is no proof that it helps children with the disorder. Support for its use is based on single-case reports of benefits of chelation with DMSA.

Children aged 4 to 10 years in whom autism, Asperger disorder, or pervasive child developmental disorders have been diagnosed; who weigh at least 33 lb; who have detectable, but not toxic, levels of mercury or lead in the blood; and who have not previously received chelation therapy may be eligible for this study.

“The chelation study is based on the hypothesis that mercury toxicity is responsible for at least some cases of autism,” Swedo said. She explained that extensive controversy surrounds the issue of mercury toxicity in autism. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) conducted a comprehensive study of the question of whether thimerosal, an ethylmercury-based compound used previously in the United States as a vaccine preservative for routine childhood immunizations, contributed to the apparent increase in the prevalence of ASDs. 4 The IOM panel concluded that there was no evidence for an association, but the report has been dismissed by some parents who report “toxic mercury levels” among their affected children and who have observed benefits of open-label DMSA administration.

To answer the question in a controlled fashion, the NIMH will enroll about 120 children in the chelation study, with half randomized to placebo and half to DMSA. The trial will last for 6 months, and researchers are enrolling participants now. “We would love to receive referrals,” Swedo said, adding that psychiatrists can find out more by going to http://www.clinicaltrials.gov or by contacting Lorraine Lougee, LCSW, research coordinator. Lougee’s e-mail address is LougeeL@intra.nimh.nih.gov.

Incidence and prevalence

Because of recurrent questions about whether autism is increasing, Swedo was asked about incidence and prevalence. “We have absolutely no data on incidence,” she said. “We can say the disorder appears to be more prevalent now than it has been reported in the past. However, there was a major change in diagnostic criteria and case-finding methods, so it is unclear [whether] it represents a true change in rates of affected individuals. . . . The CDC is conducting several studies currently to address that question.”

There is increasing agreement on what true autism is, using the Autism Diagnostic Observational Schedule, a semistructured observational scale developed to assess social interaction, communication, and play in persons suspected of having autism, and the Autism Diagnostic Interview, Swedo said.

“Those 2 give you nice, reliable cutoffs where you can say a child has autism, is on the autism spectrum, or is developing typically. Including children on the autism spectrum will increase apparent prevalence rates,” Swedo said. “The figure of 1 in 166 children having autism was recently confirmed in a CDC study that reviewed school records and confirmed the diagnosis from medical records. But the study included all children with an ASD as having ‘autism’—this included not only severely affected individuals with full-blown autism but also those with a pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified and those with Asperger disorder, a condition [that] is not as impairing.”

“In order to determine the true prevalence of autism and to know whether there is an ‘epidemic’ as some have asserted,” Swedo continued, “we need to have better data about the current prevalence of autism and related disorders and then compare those data with comparable data from previous studies. The CDC is conducting surveillance studies at a number of US sites, and the NIH is sponsoring longitudinal investigations here and abroad to address those questions.”

References

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How common are autism spectrum disorders (ASD)? Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/asd_common.htm. Accessed January 5, 2007.
2. Pardo CA, Vargas DL, Zimmerman AW. Immunity, neuroglia and neuroinflammation in autism. Int Rev Psychiatry. 2005;17:485-495.
3. Vargas DL, Nascimbene C, Krishnan C, et al. Neuroglial activation and neuroinflammation in the brain of patients with autism [published correction appears in Ann Neurol. 2005;57:304]. Ann Neurol. 2005;57:67-81.
4. Board on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Institute of Medicine. Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism (2004). Available at: http://www.nap.edu/books/030909237X/html/1.html. Accessed January 5, 2007.

http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleId=197002523&pgno=1

February 27, 2007 Posted by | Asperger Disorder, autism disorder, chelation, Combating Autism Act, diagnosis, mercury, minocycline, neuroinflammation, oxytocin, PDD-NOS, prevalence, Psychiatric Times, thimerosal | Leave a comment

Cure Autism Now & Autism Speaks Contributions to Autism Genome Project

Almost lost in all the recent excitement about the Autism Genome Project was the substantial contributions of Cure Autism Now and Autism Speaks which recently merged based on their mutual commitment to accelerate and fund biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism spectrum disorders; to increase awareness of the nation’s fastest-growing developmental disorder; and to advocate for the needs of affected individuals and families. A gene bank created in 1997 by Cure Autism Now, later joined by UCLA was a precursor to the massive data bank assembled for the Autism Genome Project which kick started in 2002 with funding by Autism Speaks and the National Institute of Health.

“The UCLA Center for Autism Research and Treatment at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior is among 13 centers in the world to discover two genetic links that cause autism, according to a school press release.

The five year study, which was published in the Feb. 18 online edition of the journal Nature Genetics, came from results from a scan of the world’s largest collection of DNA samples from families affected by this disorder.

The study was led by the Autism Genome Project, an international consortium of scientists from 50 institutions in 19 countries. Founded in 2002 with funding from the nonprofit Autism Speaks and the National Institutes of Health, the group shared DNA samples, data and expertise in a coordinated effort to identify autism-susceptibility genes, according to the press release.

Results of the two-pronged approach implicated both a previously unidentified region of chromosome 11 and neurexin 1, a member of a gene family believed to play a key role in communication between brain cells. The neurexin finding highlighted a group of brain cells called glutamate neurons and the genes affecting their development and function, suggesting that they play a critical role in autism spectrum disorders, also according to the press release.

In 1997, the citizens group Cure Autism Now (CAN) created a gene bank in order to advance genetic research on autism. UCLA partnered with CAN to add more than 400 families to the bank, known as the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange.

Autism is a complex brain disorder that strikes in early childhood, often affecting children as young as 2 or 3. The condition disrupts a child’s ability to communicate and develop social relationships and is often accompanied by acute behavioral challenges. While the cause remains unknown, scientists suspect the disease is highly hereditary.”

http://www.canyon-news.com/artman/publish/article_5323.php

February 26, 2007 Posted by | autism cure, autism disorder, Autism Genome Project, autism speaks, autism treatment, biomedical, Cure Autism Now, UCLA | Leave a comment

Is The Neurodiversity Movement Ashamed of Lower Functioning Autistic Persons?

It seems at times that the Neurodiversity Movement is ashamed of the lower functioning members of the autism world. Autism is defined by the ND movement as simply another natural variation of human wiring. “Autistic intelligence” is defined as a different, perhaps even a superior form of intelligence. Doubt is cast on whether lower functioning autistic persons even exist by the more strident ND’ers. Even autistic persons who have demonstrated no communication skills, engage in seriously and repetitively self injurious and dangerous behavior should not be treated or cured in the view of the ND movement.

Parents who seek to help their OWN children, not the ND’ers themselves, but their own children, through attempts at cures or treatment are vilified by the ND movement. Every major parent driven autism advocacy organization from Cure Autism Now to Autism Speaks, Autism Society Canada, Autism Society America, National Autism Society UK, FEAT organizations, all are roasted for their efforts. They are derided as self centered whiners by the proud members of the ND movement. Pejorative labels such as “Autism Squeaks” and “curebies” are used to dismiss those seeking to cure or treat autism.

Recently CNN’s Dr. Gupta featured the story of Amanda Baggs, diagnosed as being a low functioning autistic person, but clearly very intelligent and, with the aid of technology, an excellent communicator. The implied message – even low functioning autistic persons are really quite intelligent and do not need a cure or treatment. Unfortunately Dr. Gupta played into this denial of the existence of truly low functioning autistic persons by continuing a long history of media focus on autistic savants and other high functioning autistic persons while ignoring the sometimes brutal realities which confront low functioning, seriously disabled, autistic persons.

My autistic son, Conor, is a low functioning autistic person who brings me great joy. I delight in talking about how happy he makes me every single day. But, unlike members of the Neurodiversity I am not ashamed to admit the severe challenges he faces in life and I am not afraid to talk about them publicly. Unless such public discussion takes place there will be no improvements for Conor and other autistic persons like him. Of course that is exactly why the Neurodiversity movement attempts to censor such discussion. Content with themselves they wish to deny the opportunity for lower functioning autistic persons to be treated and cured. Is the Neurodiveristy movement ashamed of its lower functioning autistic cousins? It certainly looks that way to this “NT” (Neurotypical).


TIMES ONLINE

Is autism simply in the wiring?


Ailments come and go. I don’t mean in a personal sense — although my lumbar vertebrae are creaking again after a blissful period of quiescence — but in a social and historical sense. Homosexuality is no longer an illness. Lefthandedness no longer merits a cure. Could autism be next?

Some people argue that the developmental disorder — which compromises communication, social interaction and imaginative play — is merely an example of human “neurodiversity”. Just as disabled individuals sometimes prefer to call themselves differently abled, some people with autism would like to be regarded as differently wired. To try to alleviate or cure autism, they say, is tantamount to oppression. And genetic tests, which are in development to identify autism in the unborn, are a mere step away from eugenics.

This movement, which boasts groups such as Aspies for Freedom (a reference to Asperger’s Syndrome, a high-functioning form) and the Autism Liberation Front, does not accept the image of autistics as odd loners. Instead, nonautistics are portrayed as sad conformists unable to operate outside the social horde. It opposes any attempts to “cure” or even treat autism.

The movement is driven, unsurprisingly, by those at the high-functioning end of autism. It is ironic that they have been accused of not empathising with others at the low-functioning end, who are less able to cope with everyday life.

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, a leading autism researcher at the University of Cambridge, says: “I agree that high-functioning autism is better characterised in terms of neurodiversity. Low-functioning autism may also be, but is probably best characterised as involving additional disabilities, such as learning disability, language delay, epilepsy and so on. I don’t think we are looking to ‘cure’ autism any more than we are looking to cure lefthandedness or being gay. But if there were treatments or interventions that help without affecting the areas of strength [such as the excellent attention to detail] I imagine these would be welcomed.”

http://tinyurl.com/2t6yp9

February 26, 2007 Posted by | Autism Society America, Autism Society Canada, autism speaks, autism spectrum disorder, Baron-Cohen, CNN, Dr. Sanja Gupta, FEAT, neurodiversity | 6 Comments

NATTAP (Autism Networking) Conference September 26-28 2007 Columbus

The Network of Autism Training and Technical Assistance Programs (NATTAP) and the Autism Society of America present…

First Annual International NATTAP Conference

Hosted by the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence
September 26-28, 2007
Columbus Convention Center – Columbus, OH USA

This forum will provide opportunities for professionals and parents to address international, national, state, regional, and local issues concerning current models of systems, training and technical assistance, data-based decision making, and systems-wide capacity building, with the ultimate goal of improving outcomes for school-age children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Empirically-validated interventions will be reviewed. PBIS models across the nation will also be highlighted.Professionals from across disciplines; state special education directors and autism specialists; influential, prominent leaders including legislators; and leaders from across the world will join us as we create a conference atmosphere that encourages networking and an exchange of ideas that will launch a new foundation for programs and services for children with ASD.Conference features include:Review of the prevalence rates of autism spectrum disorders and implications for each state

Presentation of empirically validated programs and initiatives to build capacity and increase learner outcomes

Overview of national trends and services in the field of autism

Facilitated roundtable discussions across topics

Networking opportunities across states, disciplines, and professional levels

Distribution of Technical Assistance guide

Review of National Teacher Competencies in ASD

Content areas will include:

Positive Behavior Intervention Systems Models

A Review of Systems: National, Statewide and Regional

Comprehensive Programming Instructional Techniques and Strategies

Assessment and Identification

Overview of Research in ASD

Building Communities of Practice

Credentials, Standards and Related Issues

Family systems and needs

Early Intervention Models

Transition to Adulthood

Use of Technology and Assistive Technology

Higher Education

For more information, please visit: http://www.ocali.org/nattap2007

Or email: Dr. Brenda Smith Myles (Conference Chair) or Jill Hudson (Conference Coordinator) at nattap@ocali.org

February 24, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ontario Schools Ordered to Make ABA Available for Autistic Students

In Ontario all schools have been ordered to make Applied Behavior Analysis “ABA”, available for autistic students by September 2007. To date ABA is the only intervention for treating and educating autistic children which is widely endorsed as evidence based and effective. It is not clear at this time how properly trained personnel will be made available in that time span to meet the Ontario requirement but hopefully that order will be implemented properly and the province does not back off of that commitment.

In New Brunswick, after years of parent advocacy, schools have already begun providing ABA services to autistic students in a few cases and commitments to provide training to teachers aides through the UNB-CEL Autism Intervention Training program have been made and confirmed. Parents of autistic children seeking to help their children have been misled before and will have to remain vigilant to ensure the commitments are met but the education commitments made in Ontario and New Brunswick are encouraging news for parents of autistic children in the two provinces.

TORONTO — School boards across Ontario are being served notice that they must be able to provide specialized autism treatment in classrooms, ideally by September, Education Minister Kathleen Wynne said yesterday.

Currently, parents of autistic children are often forced to choose between keeping their kids at home to receive expensive Applied Behaviour Analysis therapy or taking them to school, where they don’t receive the costly special treatment.

Those days will soon be over, since the government is issuing a directive to school boards that they won’t be able to ignore, Wynne said.

“We will be making sure that it happens and we will be putting supports in place,” said Wynne, who was unable to say how much the new policy would cost.

“There are many places in the province where this is already happening, but it has to be even across the province.”

The goal is to have the treatment standardized in schools across the province in time for the next school year, although there’s no guarantee that will happen on schedule, she added.

“Will there be places where there will still be work to do? Absolutely,” Wynne said.

“I can’t say that exactly the same thing will be happening in every classroom in all of the 5,000 schools across the province on the day after Labour Day, but absolutely it’s a goal to have a uniform understanding and delivery of that approach across the province — as soon as possible.”

The government’s announcement came in response to a newly released report by a panel of stakeholders, which made 34 recommendations on how to help Ontario’s autistic schoolchildren.

Advocates said they’re thrilled the government has agreed to immediately address 23 of the 34 recommendations and also to review the rest.

Getting ABA treatment in all schools would be an amazing development, but it’s equally important the government has committed to act on so many other recommendations, which will help a wide range of kids with different issues, said Karyn Dumble of Autism Ontario.

“It’s re-enforcing what we already know, that there’s many ways to teach so that students with autism will learn and this is something that our parents across this province have been advocating for,” she said.

Some parents, however, said the plan doesn’t help their children, who are still too young to go to school and caught on long waiting lists for subsidized treatment.

Friends of Lianne Crawford, whose three-year-old son is autistic, launched the website helpjack.ca to raise money for treatment, which costs $70,000 a year. The website has raised about $15,000.

“We get no government money and we’ll never see any funding unless something changes drastically (in government policy),” Crawford said.

Prior to the government’s announcement yesterday, Ontario Conservative Leader John Tory unveiled a campaign platform for autism funding that includes $75 million a year to cut the waiting list for treatment of kids under six.

The government’s new plan does some good, but doesn’t address the waiting list, Tory said.

“I’m not saying the things the government (plans) are wrong or shouldn’t be addressed, but I’m saying I think (we’re trying) to address the really big issues.

“We are in the fourth year of this government’s mandate, with an election six months away, and the government’s making that promise again.”

Laurel Gibbons, mother of a nine-year-old son with autism, said she, too, is skeptical.

“The school boards are going to need more time than six months in order to implement such a strategy,” she said. “Where are they getting the people that are going to be trained for this? What’s the hiring process?”

http://lfpress.ca/newsstand/CityandRegion/2007/02/24/3661247-sun.html

February 24, 2007 Posted by | aba, Applied Behavior Analysis, autism disorder, autism education, Autism Society New Brunswick, Kathleen Wynne, Ontario, schools | Leave a comment

Paging Dr. Gupta – Please Bring Your Cameras to the Lower End of the Autism Spectrum

Dr. Sanja Gupta
Chief Medical Correspondent
CNN

Dear Dr. Gupta

Your interview and comments about an autistic person who is obviously very intelligent and able to communicate at a high level with the use of technology are helpful to assisting public understanding of autistic persons with characteristics similar to that individual. It is also helpful that you have directed people’s attention to finding others who might be in a similar situation.

I hope too that you will bring your cameras to the truly low functioning end of the autism spectrum of disorders. There are many truly low functioning autistic persons who do not have a basic grasp of language at the outset. For many technological communication tools, voice synthesis technology, will not offer help. These truly low functioning persons do not necessarily make for a feel good news story on CNN. These souls will not respond to your invitations and you will not be able to engage in “lively email banter” with them. Take your cameras to some of the institutions which provide adult residential care for some of these persons much less fortunate than the person you interviewed. After your visits they too might have “opened your eyes about the world of autism”, a big part of that world that is not regularly featured in Hollywood movies and CNN features.

Respectfully,

Harold Doherty
Fredericton NB Canada

February 23, 2007 Posted by | autism awareness, autism disorder, CNN, Dr. Gupta, low functioning autism | 3 Comments

Harper & Duceppe Defend Canada, Quebec Against Autistic Children


Above are pictures of Stephen Harper, who stood up for Canada yesterday, and Gilles Duceppe, who defended the Nation of Quebec yesterday, against the threat posed by autistic children in need of treatment by ordering their troops to vote down MP Shawn Murphy‘s private member’s motion calling for a National Autism Strategy. The motion sought amendment of the Canada Health Act to ensure that autistic children in Canada, no matter where they resided, would received funding for treatment. Congratulations to these two brave and compassionate leaders for fending off this horrendous challenge to the integrity of their respective nations.

February 22, 2007 Posted by | autism disorder, Bill C-304, Canada Health Act, Gilles Duceppe, national autism strategy, Quebec, Shawn Murphy, Stephen Harper | 3 Comments

Bill C-304 Defeated, Conservatives, Bloc Quebecois Spurn Help for Autistic Children

Bill C-304, the private member’s motion brought by Charlottetown Liberal MP Shawn Murphy was defeated by the Harper Conservative-Bloc Quebecois coalition party in the House of Commons today. The Bloc and Conservatives spurned this attempt to seriously address the plight of autistic children in Canada today. Amongst those who stood firm against help autistic children were New Brunswick Conservatives Rob Moore (Fundy Royal), Greg Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest) and Mike Allen (Tobique-Mactaquac). Well done gentlemen, you may have abandoned the autistic children of your ridings but you stood proudly for your party above all. And what could be more important?

HOUSE OF COMMONS OF CANADA
39th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION CHAMBRE DES COMMUNES DU CANADA
39e LÉGISLATURE, 1re SESSION
Journals

No. 115 (Unrevised)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007
1:00 p.m.

Journaux

No 115 (Non révisé)

Le mercredi 21 février 2007
13 heures

Private Members’ Business
Affaires émanant des députés

Pursuant to Standing Order 93(1), the House proceeded to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion of Mr. Murphy (Charlottetown), seconded by Mr. Szabo (Mississauga South), — That Bill C-304, An Act to provide for the development of a national strategy for the treatment of autism and to amend the Canada Health Act, be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Health.

Conformément à l’article 93(1) du Règlement, la Chambre procède au vote par appel nominal différé sur la motion de M. Murphy (Charlottetown), appuyé par M. Szabo (Mississauga-Sud), — Que le projet de loi C-304, Loi prévoyant l’élaboration d’une stratégie nationale pour le traitement de l’autisme et modifiant la Loi canadienne sur la santé, soit maintenant lu une deuxième fois et renvoyé au Comité permanent de la santé.

The question was put on the motion and it was negatived on the following division:

La motion, mise aux voix, est rejetée par le vote suivant :

(Division No. 122 — Vote no 122)

YEAS: 113, NAYS: 155

POUR : 113, CONTRE : 155

YEAS — POUR
Alghabra
Angus
Atamanenko
Bagnell
Bains
Barnes
Beaumier
Bélanger
Bell (Vancouver Island North)
Bevilacqua
Bevington
Black
Blaikie
Bonin
Boshcoff
Brison
Brown (Oakville)
Cannis
Chamberlain
Chan
Charlton
Christopherson
Coderre
Comartin
Cotler
Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley)
Cuzner
D’Amours
Davies
Dhaliwal
Dion
Dryden
Easter
Eyking
Folco
Fry
Godfrey
Godin
Goodale
Graham
Guarnieri
Holland
Ignatieff
Julian
Kadis
Karetak-Lindell
Karygiannis
Keeper
LeBlanc
Lee
MacAulay
Malhi
Maloney
Marleau
Marston
Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca)
Martin (Winnipeg Centre)
Martin (Sault Ste. Marie)
Masse
Mathyssen
Matthews
McCallum
McDonough
McGuinty
McGuire
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
McTeague
Merasty
Minna
Murphy (Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe)
Murphy (Charlottetown)
Nash
Neville
Owen
Pacetti
Patry
Pearson
Peterson
Priddy
Proulx
Ratansi
Redman
Regan
Robillard
Rota
Russell
Savage
Savoie
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sgro
Siksay
Silva
Simard
Simms
St. Amand
St. Denis
Steckle
Stoffer
Stronach
Szabo
Telegdi
Temelkovski
Thibault (West Nova)
Tonks
Turner
Valley
Volpe
Wasylycia-Leis
Wilfert
Wilson
Wrzesnewskyj
Zed
Total: — 113

NAYS — CONTRE
Abbott
Ablonczy
Albrecht
Allen
Allison
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson
Arthur
Bachand
Baird
Batters
Bellavance
Bernier
Bezan
Blackburn
Blais
Bonsant
Bouchard
Boucher
Bourgeois
Breitkreuz
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Brunelle
Calkins
Cannan (Kelowna—Lake Country)
Cannon (Pontiac)
Cardin
Carrie
Carrier
Casey
Casson
Chong
Cummins
Davidson
Day
DeBellefeuille
Del Mastro
Demers
Deschamps
Devolin
Doyle
Dykstra
Emerson
Epp
Faille
Fast
Finley
Fitzpatrick
Flaherty
Fletcher
Freeman
Galipeau
Gallant
Gaudet
Gauthier
Goldring
Goodyear
Gourde
Gravel
Grewal
Guay
Guergis
Guimond
Hanger
Harris
Harvey
Hawn
Hearn
Hiebert
Hill
Hinton
Jaffer
Jean
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret’s)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Khan
Komarnicki
Kotto
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Laframboise
Lake
Lauzon
Lavallée
Lemay
Lemieux
Lessard
Lévesque
Lukiwski
Lunn
Lunney
Lussier
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Manning
Mayes
Ménard (Hochelaga)
Ménard (Marc-Aurèle-Fortin)
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Mills
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Nadeau
Nicholson
Norlock
O’Connor
Obhrai
Oda
Ouellet
Pallister
Paradis
Perron
Petit
Picard
Poilievre
Prentice
Preston
Rajotte
Reid
Richardson
Ritz
Schellenberger
Shipley
Skelton
Smith
Solberg
Sorenson
St-Cyr
St-Hilaire
Stanton
Storseth
Strahl
Sweet
Thibault (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques)
Thompson (New Brunswick Southwest)
Thompson (Wild Rose)
Toews
Trost
Tweed
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Vincent
Wallace
Wappel
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Williams
Yelich
Total: — 155

PAIRED — PAIRÉS
Barbot
Benoit
Bigras
Clement
Duceppe
Laforest
Lalonde
Malo
Mark
Scheer
Tilson
Verner

February 21, 2007 Posted by | autism disorder, bloc quebecois, Canada Health Act, conservatives, national autism strategy | 4 Comments