In Oregon, a Lawsuit Aimed at Supporting Disabled Students

A FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND lawsuit charging that the state of Oregon has failed to provide full school days to students with mental, emotional and behavioral disabilities could create a model for other states to stop the practice of shortening school days.

The class action lawsuit – filed Jan. 22 in U.S. district court by Disability Rights Oregon and other groups – says Oregon violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act by the “unnecessary segregation” of children with disabilities. The lawsuit alleges that schools in Oregon, mainly in rural areas, send students home on a regular, sometimes daily basis, for all or parts of the school day, citing behavior issues or safety concerns stemming from behavioral, mental and emotional disorders such as autism.

Joel Greenberg, a Disability Rights Oregon attorney, says the practice often makes disabled students feel “that they don’t belong in school.”

Full story at US News

Early Screening is Vital to Children and their Families

How a child plays, learns, speaks, moves, and behaves all offer important clues about a child’s development. A delay in any of these developmental milestones could be a sign of developmental challenges, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Early intervention services, like those services that help a child learn to speak, walk, or interact with others, can really make a difference and enhance a child’s learning and development. Unfortunately, too many young children do not have access to the early screening that can help detect developmental delays.

Additionally, the CDC estimates that an estimated one in every 68 children in the United States has been identified as having an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. Unfortunately, most children identified with ASD were not diagnosed until after age four, even though children can be diagnosed as early as age two or younger.

Full story of early screenings for children at

CrossFit Helped Us Face Our Son’s Autism Diagnosis

Annie, my wife, agrees. And if you knew Annie, she doesn’t overstate anything.

Don’t get me wrong, we had a lot of awesome things happen personally (I taught my daughter how to ride a bike… on Father’s Day!) and professionally (my second book came out), but the last year has been tough.

Honestly, we’ve sort of been reeling since Sept. 18, 2012. That’s the day we learned that our son Griffin might be on the autism spectrum. In 2013, after jumping through all sorts of hoops and watching our son be poked and prodded again and again in the name of evaluations, we learned that our little Griffy is autistic.

So much of our hearts and minds have been wrapped up trying to learn what autism means and what to do and how to feel. We struggled. We cried. Nothing we could say or do made it better. Much of whatever free time was left after a day of wiping ends of kids, feeding, bathing, and putting them to bed was spent talking about autism.

We took less photos. We spent less time with friends. We both were depressed.

Full story of parents handling autism at the Huffington Post

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New Autism Spectrum Australia report shows teens on spectrum struggle at school (VIDEO)

The first ever study to ask high functioning teenage autism sufferers about their own experience with their disability has found less than half the students had good friends.

The study found more than half the students needed support for bullying and discrimination and that two thirds felt lonely and needed help managing stress.

Three in four said they needed more help understanding teachers in the classroom and managing their homework and concentration.

Autism Spectrum Australia surveyed 100 people aged 12-17 with autism and found a shortage of coordinated, appropriate and affordable support services.

Lead researcher Dr Debra Costley said the students in the study had Asperger’s syndrome, were high functioning and had high IQs but had problems with social interaction.

“Their disability is very hard to see,” she said.

At school their peers honed in on their weaknesses such as sensitivity to noise and crowds, Dr Costley said.

One boy was struggling with his lessons because between each class he had to visit his locker which was on the bottom row.

Full story of autism spectrum report at the Herald Sun

Helping Adults With Autism Find Meaning: Roses for Autism

There are countless great causes out there, but there is one in particular that has touched my heart, for personal reasons: Roses for Autism. As the father of a teenage son with autism, I worry a great deal about his future as an adult and how my wife and I can help him be as independent as possible. Roses for Autism was introduced to me a few years ago by a friend who knew about their incredible programs for training and employing adults on the autism spectrum. From that moment I was hooked and have done everything I can to promote their revolutionary and much needed approach to training our fellow adult citizens with autism. In case you were not aware, autism currently affects one in 88 children.

I recently had an opportunity to interview Tom Fanning, the President and CEO of Ability Beyond Disability, which is the parent organization of Roses for Autism. He has worked tirelessly to create an organization devoted to developing creative strategies and effective services that enable people with disabilities to participate fully in their communities and live a life of independence

Tom, thank you for taking time out of your hectic schedule for this interview. Can you tell me about the origins of Roses for Autism?

“Started in 2009, Roses for Autism is a social enterprise (nonprofit mission-aligned business) devoted to helping people with autism spectrum Differences learn the essential skills required to achieve meaningful employment and personal success. The idea came from the father of a child on the spectrum, who wanted more for his son after he aged out of traditional education within the school system. He believed his son could attain employment if he was provided the right training and support. This man partnered with a lifelong friend who owned the last family operated rose farm in New England, and together with Ability Beyond Disability, they created Roses For Autism.

Full story of adults finding meaning in autism at the Huffington Post

Autism Risk May Be Raised for Children When Labor Induced

Boys born to mothers who needed their doctor to start or help along the birth may have a higher risk of autism, a study found.

Boys whose mothers had labors that were induced, which stimulates the uterus to bring on contractions, or augmented, which increases the strength, duration and frequency of contractions, had a 35 percent greater risk of autism then children whose mothers didn’t need those procedures to help the births, according to research in JAMA Pediatrics.

The study released yesterday is the largest to examine the potential link between birth procedures and autism and to find that males may be more affected than females, said Simon Gregory, the lead author. While induced labors help reduce deaths among mothers and babies, more studies are needed to better understand why these procedures may raise autism risk, he said.

“The study shows there is an elevated risk around augmentation and induction, however we haven’t found cause and effect,” Gregory, an associate professor of medicine and medical genetics at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, said in a telephone interview. “The results don’t dictate there be any change in any clinical practices surrounding birth. The dangers to the mothers and the infants by not inducting or augmenting far outweigh the elevated risk for development of autism.”

Full story of autism risk raised when labor is induced at Bloomberg

Studying movement and learning in autism

Studying Movement in Learning AutismElizabeth Torres, a computational neuroscientist at Rutgers University, thinks many experts are making a mistake when they focus only on what’s malfunctioning in the brains of people with autism.

She sees autism as a condition of the whole body in which information from all sorts of sensory channels – movement, touch, pain, vision, temperature – is not reaching the brain properly while messages from the brain that tell the body what to do also are not getting through.

"The whole loop is disrupted," she said as she explained two studies published last month in Frontiers in Neuroscience that lay out her theories on the importance of movement as a form of sensation and perception in autism. That loop, she said, plays a huge role in how normal people make sense of their environment and anticipate what’s coming.

The lack of integration between sensory-motor input and the brain may explain why people with autism can become so narrowly focused. "They must live in a very uncertain world," she said, "so the moment they get an anchor in that world, they try to hold on to it as much as possible."

Full story of autism and movement at

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Autism May Be Caused By Maternal Antibodies that Target the Fetus

Autism May Be Caused by Maternal AntibodiesToday’s Autism epidemic shows that as many as one in 88 children will be diagnosed with having an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), according to Psychology Today. Furthermore, it has been established that autism and ASD are caused by alterations that occur during brain development.

A new study at the University of California, Davis’ MIND Institute has identified a maternal autoantibody that acts on the fetus and can begin medical problems that can ultimately cause the disorder.

Autism spectrum disorder is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders that are usually characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties and restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior. Autistic disorder, sometimes called autism or classical ASD, is the most severe form of ASD, while other conditions along the spectrum include a milder form known as Asperger syndrome, and childhood disintegrative disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified. Males are also four times more likely to have an ASD than females, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Full story of autism and maternal antibodies at Science World Report

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Working to Combat the Stigma of Autism

Combating the Stigma of AutismAutism, or the fear of it, chased one Korean mother from her Queens church. “I very carefully told the mom: ‘I think your child is a little different. Why don’t you take the test for autism?’ ” said the Rev. Joy Lee of the Korean Presbyterian Church in Flushing. “She told me, ‘Oh no, my child will be O.K.’ So then she quit. After that, she did not pick up the phone.”

It crushed another Korean mother — twice. First, she said, when her son received the diagnosis, and again when friends saw it as a sign that she herself was sick. To cure him, they said, she needed psychotherapy.

Sun Young Ko, of Forest Hills, whose 8-year-old son, Jaewoo Kwak, was given a diagnosis of autism 18 months ago, said her own mother refused to discuss her grandson with relatives or friends. “She’s kind of hiding,” Ms. Ko said.

Raising an autistic child is hard enough, let alone raising one in a culture in which the stigma surrounding autism still runs high. Now, inspired by a 2011 study of a South Korean city that found relatively high rates of autism, a leading advocacy group is teaming with churches, doctors, schools and news organizations in Flushing, trying gingerly to bring Korean parents around to the idea that if there is something unusual about their child, concealing it and avoiding help are absolutely the wrong things to do.

Full story of the stigma of autism at The New York Times

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How high-tech jobs could solve the autism unemployment crisis

High Tech Jobs Help Autism Unemployment CrisisSince getting his first Game Boy at five years old, Aaron Winston knew he wanted to work in the gaming industry. But as he got older, the prospect seemed less and less likely: Winston, who is autistic, enrolled in community college but never made it to his first day of classes. “The social environment scared me off,” he told The Verge. “I was too nervous.”

Three years later, however, Winston is thriving as a staff programmer at the nonPareil Institute in Dallas, TX. His first game, Space Ape, is available on iOS and Android, and Winston now looks forward to a future in the industry. “This is the right environment for me, and I want to stay at nonPareil for years,” he said. “They gave me a career.”

Winston’s success at nonPareil is no coincidence. The institute was established in 2010 by Dan Selec and Gary Moore, both parents of children on the autism spectrum, to hire and train autistic adults in software development. Both Selec and Moore’s sons demonstrated unique, remarkable talents where computing and gaming were concerned, but because of their struggles in social settings, risked never being able to apply those skills in paid jobs. “The institute was born out of two parents worrying about their kids,” Selec said. “I didn’t just want to start another nonprofit. I wanted to do something practical. I wanted a lifetime solution.”

Full story on autism and unemployment crisis at The Verge

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