Autism Reality

Hope For Autism

Hope for autism

Thursday, 24 May, 2007

Health Children with autism showed an improvement in language and daily living skills and also in their levels of Intelligence Quotient (IQ) following the implementation of Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention (EIBI).

The home-based programme was tried for 25 hours per week over a two-year period, with the cooperation of trained staff and the parents of autistic children. The courses were individualised to meet the needs of each child and this proved to be beneficial. IQ levels improved significantly, with two-thirds of the children showing an increase. Indeed, one child saw their IQ leap from 30 to 70, while another showed an improvement from 72 to 115. This is particularly impressive considering the general population have an average IQ of between 85 and 115.

Despite the intensive nature of the programme, parents were more than willing to participate to help their children. The study was led by Professor Bob Remington of the School of Psychology, who did admit that the programme was hard work and a big commitment but added that he felt it was “harder to be helpless.”

Today, an estimated 535,000 people live in the UK with an autistic condition. This early intervention appears to help autistic children develop important skills that could allow them to be included in mainstream schools. With this in mind, the Southampton Childhood Autism programme (SCAmP) research team will continue to monitor the children to establish long-term effects to improve the programme for others.

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

IAN, Interactive Autism Network

I have registered on the IAN, Internet Autism Network and encourage other parents and professionals to do the same. The Internet has proven itself a powerful tool for many purposes. Here in New Brunswick, Canada, those of us who are autism advocates have used it for autism education and advocacy. With use of the internet government has become more responsive to the perspective and interests of parents of autistic children and adults. IAN promises to bring parents of autistic children into the world of research and information about autism.

About IAN

IAN, the Interactive Autism Network, was established in January 2006 at Kennedy Krieger Institute and is funded by a grant from Autism Speaks. IAN’s goal is to facilitate research that will lead to advancements in the prevention, treatment, and cure of autism spectrum disorders. To accomplish this goal, we created the IAN Community and IAN Research.
IAN Community

The IAN Community is an online environment designed to act as an inviting library and meeting place where everyone concerned with autism spectrum disorders can learn more about autism research. Everyone can participate and benefit from the IAN Community.

Our goal is the help you:

* Understand the research process
* Keep up with the latest research findings, news, and events
* Understand the value of participating in autism research
* Influence the direction of research

We hope that the IAN Community will bring families, friends, individuals with ASDs, together with researchers, therapists, educators, and other professionals in the autism field to better understand this complex disorder through research and collaboration, and to develop effective strategies that will improve the lives of people on the spectrum.

IAN Research

IAN Research is scientific study where parents of children with an autism spectrum disorder and qualified researchers throughout the United States work together to understand autism spectrum disorders. IAN Research connects researchers to parents—the people who know the most about their child—to uncover the secrets of this complex disorder.

Without leaving home, parents provide information in a secure online setting about their child’s diagnosis, behavior, family, environment, and services received. Participating parents report on their child’s progress over time. Researchers from different institutions throughout the country will work with this information to learn about the effect and interaction of factors such as genetics, environment, and treatment on the well being of children with autism spectrum disorders.

IAN Research will match willing parents with appropriate local and national research projects. This partnership will solve one of the major difficulties that autism research projects face—recruiting enough participants. Each year, many useful and innovative studies in the United States are not completed or are significantly delayed because researchers cannot find enough children who qualify; valuable opportunities to learn about autism are lost.

Parents may benefit directly from this match because they will be able to participate in research that they would not have known about without IAN. Participation may also provide parents with opportunities to learn more about their child’s disorder and receive additional services.

April 11, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Japanese Study Finds No MMR Autism Connection

Evidence to support a connection between the MMR vaccine and incidents of autism is hard to come by. An epidemiological study in Japan found no connection. Tokio Uchiyama, Michiko Kurosawa and Yutaka Inaba, in a July 2006 study, found no evidence to support a causal relationship between the MMR and autism:

Abstract It has been suggested that the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR) is a cause of regressive autism. As MMR was used in Japan only between 1989 and 1993, this time period affords a natural experiment to examine this hypothesis. Data on 904 patients with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) were analyzed. During the period of MMR usage no significant difference was found in the incidence of regression between MMR-vaccinated children and non-vaccinated children. Among the proportion and incidence of regression across the three MMR-program-related periods (before, during and after MMR usage), no significant difference was found between those who had received MMR and those who had not. Moreover, the incidence of regression did not change significantly across the three periods.

March 31, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Educating Autistic School Children

One of the best autism blogsites on the internet, in my humble opinion, is “ABA4Autism or other Neuropsychological Disorders” hosted by blogger and Psychologist Dr. Gary Brown, Psychologist/HSP Professor and Chair Department of Psychology University of Tennessee, Martin, Tennessee. In a recent blog Dr. Brown described as “criminal” the use by school systems of special ed teachers with no ABA training to teach autistic children.

In New Brunswick a similar problem has existed for far too long but it is in the process of being corrected. Teachers with no autism specific training and Teachers Aides/Assistant’s without any training have been engaged in “teaching” autistic children, usually in the mainstream classroom regardless of the autistic child’s environmental sensitivity issues, development level, curriculum content or preferred method of learning. Steps have been taken to remedy this problem though. Within the last two years some Resource teachers and teachers aides have been trained at the UNB-CEL Autism Intervention Training program at the University of New Brunswick campus in Fredericton New Brunswick and more on the way with the current government committed to training an additional 100 resource teachers and aides for each of the next four years at the UNB-CEL AIT program.

Despite the presence of a strong, politically connected lobby which has pushed hard to have ALL children regardless of disability educated in the mainstream classroom in New Brunswick, reality has dictated otherwise. Some school districts and schools have already departed from adherence to the mainstream classroom for all philosophy. My own son, Conor, 11 and profoundly autistic, has benefited from learning in a quieter environment outside the mainstream classroom where he can receive one to one instruction. His current teachers aide is experienced and trained at the UNB-CEL AIT program. He also spends SOME time in the mainstream classroom for defined periods of time during which he can interact with other children in appropriate activities.

Jurisdictions across North America would be wise to look at the New Brunswick model as it unfolds and examine the UNB-CEL model if they seriously intend to deliver a real education to autistic students in their jurisdictions.

March 8, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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.

February 28, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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:

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

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

Autism Effect in Canadian Federal Election 07?

Will autism issues enter into the Canadian federal election widely expected to be called very soon? 1 in 150 does not sound like much when a governing party has to obtain something in the neighborhood of 40% of the vote to form the government. But how many family members and friends do each of those 1 in 150 have? Across the country the “autism vote”, if one exists, would still be pretty minor but how about in hotly contested ridings where a percentage vote or two could make a difference? It might be worthwhile for autism advocates to take a close look at some at ridings expected to be close and let the party organizations in those ridings know that there party policies and actions (or inaction) on autism issues will be examined closely. We might start by looking at the vote expected tomorrow February 21 on Charlottetown MP Shawn Murphy’s private member’s motion to amend the Canada Health Act to include incentives for provinces to provide funded treatment for autism.

February 20, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Shout Out for Heather Doherty Writes

I am pleased to give a shout out for my wife, Heather, and her brand new blog site Heather Doherty Writes:

Apart from being a mother to two sons, one of whom is profoundly autistic, and working at the UNB Law School Library, Heather has found time to resume her education completing a BA (English), a writers program at Humber College and written a novel Goody Bledsoe which has been published by Oberon Press. Fortunately her husband (me) is a heck of a nice guy, easy to get along with … etc etc etc.

February 17, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Autism DNA Databank

The creation of a DNA databank by researchers from 11 universities should spur the growth of knowledge about the genetic basis of autism. Hopefully the 3 year project will shed much needed light on a subject often characterized by heated emotion and entrenched positions.

11 research universities creating DNA databank for autism research with $10 million grant

The Associated Press
Published: January 10, 2007

ANN ARBOR, Michigan: Researchers at 11 universities will create a databank of DNA samples from 3,000 autism patients in an effort to identify different kinds of autism and develop treatments.

The University of Michigan will lead the three-year, $10 million (€7.7 million) effort funded by the Simons Foundation, the school announced this week.

The New York-based philanthropic group aims to spend $100 million (€77 million) long-term to find a cure for the developmental disorder that affects one in 200 children.

Adults and children with autism lack normal brain development in areas linked to social interaction and communication, but scientists do not know how many subtypes may exist. The gene data could help identify those types and treat newborns, said Catherine Lord, director of the Ann Arbor university’s Autism and Communication Disorders Center.

January 10, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Lyme Disease Induced Autism????

Lyme Disease Induced Autism??? Good grief Charlie Brown, what next? Turn the page on the calendar and it seems that a new cause has been found to explain what causes autism. MMR vaccines, thimerosal, Television, older dads (that one struck a chord with me as an older dad) now Lyme Disease is being touted as a primary cause of autism (purportedly 90% of children with autism are infected with Lyme Disease). I am amazed by this one because I did not know that Lyme Disease was that widespread and did not know that data had been kept correlating LD in some way with Autism. Meanhwile there is actually a Lyme Induced Autism Foundation which has been formed by parents and they are hosting a physician’s think tank session January 26-28 in San Diego. Lyme Induced Autism? I will try to keep an open mind as the research continues but after all the thimerosal controversy I say show me the proof.

Why are doctors saying that up to 90% of children with autism are infected with Lyme disease? The Lyme Induced Autism Foundation is holding a physicians’ Think Tank on January 26-28th in San Diego, CA to discuss this recent finding.

Corona, CA (PRWEB) January 9, 2007 — New reports indicate up to 90% of children with autism are infected with Lyme disease. With autism at a staggering 1 out of 166 children, parents are questioning this new finding.

Doctors and parents alike have been examining the potential causes of autism for years, some of which include thimerosol filled injections, environmental factors and most recently Lyme disease. With more doctors supporting the link between Lyme disease and autism, parents have joined forces to create the Lyme Induced Autism Foundation.

The foundation is holding a physicians’ Think Tank on January 26-28th in San Diego, CA to discuss this recent finding. Co-founder Tami Duncan states, “The Think Tank is an opportunity to bring the Lyme disease specialists and the autism specialists together to create testing and treatment options for our kids.” This is a groundbreaking effort which hopefully will analyze this even further to provide some answers to families.

Duncan says, “We are not saying that Lyme disease is the exact cause of autism for every single child. Let me clarify; what we are saying is that Lyme Disease could be an inciting factor that is suppressing the child’s immune system, which would make them more susceptible to heavy metal toxicity, environmental factors, etc. There are a large subset of autistic children in which this is happening. However, most children with Lyme Induced Autism cannot begin to heal until this infection is under control. Parents want their children healed of autism.”

Where is the proof that Lyme disease is a factor in autism? Currently, several doctors have stepped forward talking about this. Dr. Warren Levin of Vienna, VA recently appeared on the online radio show on hosted by Duncan called “The Lyme-Autism Connection”. He stated that of the 10 children with autism he tested for Lyme disease, 100% of them also came back positive for Lyme disease.

But more proof is needed to convince parents and the medical community to take action. The Lyme Induced Autism Foundation has announced its first fundraiser called “Laughter for Healing” at the Improv comedy club in Irvine, CA on February 24th, 2007.“

The Lyme Induced Autism Foundation site can be found at:

January 10, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment