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Monday, March 23, 2009                                                          Reader Supported

In This Issue:













One Child In 60 in UK 'Suffers From A Form Of Autism'

NY Times: An Outbreak of Autism, or a Statistical Fluke?

Number of Young Girls on Diabetes Drugs Skyrockets 147%

Austria: 2 Killed At Autistic Self-Help Group

Autistic Man Describes Communication Difficulties

California School District Litigates Against Homeless Autistic Child

New Mexico Becomes the 9th State to Pass Autism Insurance Reform

Nevada Parents Plead With Lawmakers To Restore Autism Program Funding

Song Therapy Is Music To Autistic Kids’ Ears

Corrupt UK Journalist Exposed in Conflicts

Rock the Puzzle, presented by the Northeast Ohio Autism Group

World Autism Awareness Day


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One Child In 60 in UK
'Suffers From A Form Of Autism'

      By Sue Reid for the

      Far more children have autism than previously thought, a study of British school pupils has found.
      Researchers now believe as many as one in 60 children has some form of the condition.
      The disturbing findings, which are due to be made public within weeks, mean that up to 216,000 children in the UK could suffer from an autistic condition, although many have not yet been diagnosed.
      The research could have a major impact on public services in Britain with many more youngsters potentially needing a lifetime of special care.
      Families caring for severely autistic children say their lives are devastated by the condition, and looking after sufferers of autism and related disorders already costs the nation £28billion a year.
      The latest study, by academics at Cambridge University's respected Autism Research Centre, involved thousands of children.
      Controversially, it showed autism rates were nearly twice as high as the figure of one child in 100 which is currently accepted by the National Autistic Society.
      It also surpassed the one in 87 figure revealed by research among south London pupils three years ago, which was published in the Lancet medical journal.
      Cases of autism have significantly increased over the past 40 years.
      In the 1980s, for example, a study found only four in every 10,000 showed signs of childhood autism.
      The Cambridge study, led by Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, states clearly that the apparently higher rate found recently is down to better detection and diagnosis.
      The outline results of the professor's research have already been revealed at a major international conference of world experts on autism, although they have not yet been formally published.
      The audience in London was told that autism spectrum conditions have shown a 'steady increase' over four decades.
      The researchers conclude that a figure of one in 60 gives an accurate picture.
      They estimate that one per cent of children - one in 100 - are known to have an autistic condition.
      But, significantly, they say that for every three known cases, there are two unknown. This equates to five cases in every 300 children - or one in 60.
      'This has implications for planning, diagnostic, social and health services,' the researchers told the conference.
      Benet Middleton, of the National Autistic Society, yesterday welcomed the study's findings, saying: 'It is very likely there are people affected by this complex condition who have been completely overlooked by education and health officials and remain undiagnosed.' The Mail understands that two possible lower rates of autism among children - around one in 74 and around one in 94 - are also cited in the study.
      These were estimates made by statisticians to compensate for missing data - for instance, when parents failed to return survey forms.
      Even these lower rates, which were not mentioned in the study's conclusion, would still have a significant impact on schools, social services, and the NHS.
      Anti-vaccine campaigners have previously claimed a link between autism and the MMR triple jab given to children aged between 12 and 15 months.
      However, the Department of Health has dismissed the idea and Professor Baron-Cohen said: ' Environmental factors such as chemicals and children's exposure to testosterone in the womb are a more likely cause.
      'At this point, one can conclude the evidence does not support the idea that MMR causes autism.' Yesterday he declined to comment on the new findings, which will be published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.
      Dr Richard Halvorsen of Baby-Jabs, a private vaccination clinic in London, told the Mail this week: 'The Cambridge figures are very concerning.' In the U.S., President Barack Obama has just launched a multimillion dollar offensive to combat autism and find its causes.


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• • •

NY Times: An Outbreak of Autism,
or a Statistical Fluke?

      By Donald G. McNeil Jr.

      Ayub Abdi is a cute 5-year-old with a smile that might be called shy if not for the empty look in his eyes. He does not speak. When he was 2, he could say “Dad,” “Mom,” “give me” and “need water,” but he has lost all that.
      He does scream and spit, and he moans a loud “Unnnnh! Unnnnh!” when he is unhappy. At night he pounds the walls for hours, which led to his family’s eviction from their last apartment.
      As he is strapped into his seat in the bus that takes him to special education class, it is hard not to notice that there is only one other child inside, and he too is a son of Somali immigrants.
      “I know 10 guys whose kids have autism,” said Ayub’s father, Abdirisak Jama, a 39-year-old security guard. “They are all looking for help."
      Autism is terrifying the community of Somali immigrants in Minneapolis, and some pediatricians and educators have joined parents in raising the alarm. But public health experts say it is hard to tell whether the apparent surge of cases is an actual outbreak, with a cause that can be addressed, or just a statistical fluke.
      In an effort to find out, the Minnesota Department of Health is conducting an epidemiological survey in consultation with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This kind of conundrum, experts say, arises whenever there is a cluster of noncontagious illnesses.
      While there is little research on autism clusters, reports of cancer clusters are so common that health agencies across the country respond to more than 1,000 inquiries about suspected ones each year. A vast majority prove unfounded, and even when one is confirmed, the cause is seldom ascertained, as it was for Kaposi’s sarcoma among gay men and mesothelioma among asbestos workers.
      It is “extraordinarily difficult” to separate chance clusters from those in which everyone was exposed to the same carcinogen, said Dr. Michael J. Thun, the American Cancer Society’s vice president for epidemiology.
      Since the cause of autism is unknown, the authorities in Minnesota say it is hard to know even what to investigate.
      “There are obviously some real concerns here, but we don’t want to make a cursory judgment,” said Buddy Ferguson, a health department spokesman. Even counting autism cases is difficult because the diagnoses are first made by the schools, not doctors, and population estimates for Somalis vary widely. Results are expected late this month.
      Even if the department confirms that a cluster exists, it will not answer the question why. Still, Dr. Thun said a possible focus in one ethnic group “increases my sense that investigating it is essential.” The next step, he added, would be to look at Somalis in other cities.
      A small recent study of refugees in schools in Stockholm found that Somalis were in classes for autistic children at three times the normal rate.
      Calls to representatives of Somali groups in Seattle and San Diego found that they were aware of the fear in Minneapolis but unsure about their own rates. Doctors familiar with the Somali communities in Boston and Lewiston, Me., had heard of no surges there.
      “It’s a concern here, but we haven’t done anything to look specifically,” said Ahmed Salim of Somali Family Services in San Diego.
      Shamso Yusuf of the Refugee Women’s Alliance in Seattle said tearfully that her own daughter had been given a diagnosis of autism, “and I see a lot of parents who have 5-year-olds who cannot speak.” But no Seattle study has been done, she said.
      Somalis began arriving in Minneapolis in 1993, driven out by civil war; now their population in Minnesota is estimated at 30,000 to 60,000. The city is welcoming and social benefits are generous, but many live a life apart as conservative Muslims, the women in head scarves and long dresses. Many Somali men have jobs as taxi drivers or security guards; others are accountants or run shops in the mini-malls catering to Somalis.
      Antivaccine activists are campaigning among them, which worries public health officials, especially because some families go back and forth to Somalia, where measles is still a significant cause of childhood death, according to Unicef.
      One of the first to raise the alarm was Anne Harrington, who worked in special education in the Minneapolis schools for 21 years.
      In the last decade, she said, “we’ve begun seeing a tremendous number of kids born here who have the more severe forms of autism."
      Last year, she said, 25 percent of the children in preschool classes offering the most intensive treatment had Somali parents, while only about 6 percent of public school enrollment is Somali.
      Dr. Daniel S. McLellan, a pediatrician, said that when he began practicing at Children’s Hospital six years ago, he was struck by how many autistic Somali children he saw.
      “They had classic symptoms,” he said. “Really impaired language, didn’t watch faces, didn’t make eye contact, didn’t communicate with gestures, just lost in their own worlds. Nobody would mistake it for anything else."
      Speculation is rampant about possible causes: living conditions in Somalia or in refugee camps in Kenya; traditional medicines; intermarriage; genetic predisposition; vitamin D deficiencies due to a lack of sunlight; and, of course, vaccines.
      But each theory has weaknesses.
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• • •

Number of Young Girls on Diabetes Drugs Skyrockets 147%

       (NaturalNews) The number of girls between the ages of 5 and 19 taking prescription drugs for diabetes increased 147 percent between 2002 and 2005, according to a study conducted by researchers from Saint Louis University School of Medicine, the Kansas Health Institute, and the private company Express Scripts, and published in the journal Pediatrics. The prevalence of other chronic diseases among both boys and girls also increased dramatically in that time.
      "We've got a lot of sick children," said researcher Emily Cox of Express Scripts. "What we've been seeing in adults, we're also now seeing in kids."
      Researchers examined the prescription records of almost four million children every year between 2002 and 2005, using the Express Scripts patient database. Because the company only administers prescription drug benefits for private insurers, the researchers noted that their findings might not apply to uninsured or government-insured children.
      The researchers found the largest increase in the use of diabetes drugs -- more than a 50 percent increase in all children between 5 and 19. Among boys, the increase was only 39 percent, compared with 147 percent in girls. Among girls between 10 and 14, the increase was 166 percent.
      Researchers attributed the overall rise of diabetes drug use to increased obesity among children, but could not explain the sex difference.
+ Read more:

• • •


Austria: 2 Killed At Autistic Self-Help Group

      Vienna: Austrian police say a gunman fatally shot a 24-year-old woman during a meeting of a self-help group for people with autism before killing himself.
      Police spokeswoman Iris Seper says three men and two women met every Friday evening at a Vienna therapy center of an Austrian autistic organization.
      She says the 29-year-old briefly left the group Friday evening and returned half an hour later wearing a mask and carrying two guns.
      He fired multiple shots at the woman while the other group members fled to another room. Seper says the man then shot himself. The others group members were unharmed.
      Police are investigating the relationship between the two and trying to find out where the man got his guns from.

• • •

Autistic Man Describes
Communication Difficulties

      By Anna Krejci, Dells Events.

      Living with autism can be a lonely journey, but 27-year-old Taylor Crowe hasn't let the disorder control his life.
      Autism can interfere with a person's ability to communicate, but Taylor, who is autistic, overcomes it every day as an aspiring career speaker on the disorder. Taylor is also a character animation artist who earned a certificate from the California Institute of the Arts in 2006.
      He plans to make a living by using his art for commercials and also by delivering speeches not only on autism, but on animation as well.
      Taylor spoke Tuesday at the 7th annual CESA 5 School-based Speech-Language Pathology Institute at the Kalahari Resort in Lake Delton. He addressed 500 speech-language pathologists, the kind of professionals who helped him for 14 years to achieve his language skills.
      Taylor was a featured presenter because of his experiences with autism. According to conference coordinator Dallas Kerzan, at the conference last year participants were surveyed and indicated they wanted to learn more about autism and their field.
      "There's more and more autistic kids being identified, and so SLPs would like to know strategies and techniques that would specifically help them address those needs in the students that they serve," she said.

• • •


California School District Litigates
Against Homeless Autistic Child

      Imagine you have lost your house in a tragic fire.  On coming back to salvage any possessions, you find a summons from the school district taped on your charred front door right next to the "condemned" sign.
      Well that is exactly what happened to the Woo* family in Laguna Beach school district.  Jana and Jeff Woo have 3 school age children, Pete and Suzy have learning disabilities and Jason (age 12) has high functioning autism along with learning disabilities.
      Jason spent several years in a Special Day Class (SDC) that had resulted in a lot of emotional damage.  Jana advocated to have him put in the regular classroom with his non-disabled peers as required by Federal law.  Federal law requires that disabled children shall be educated with non-disabled peers to the maximum extent possible. Jason was returned to the regular classroom with his peers and is doing very well.   However, at the last IEP (Individual Education Plan) meeting, the district insisted that they want to put Jason back in the same self contained classroom that caused him so much anxiety.  Jana and Jeff refused to sign the IEP.  Unless the parents consent to the change in placement, the school district cannot switch Jason's placement without filing for due process.   So that is what the Laguna Beach School District decided to do.
      Tragically, the Woo's had a severe house fire last week and the school district decided to file against Jason Woo the next day.  The Woo's came back to their house trying to salvage any belongings that might have survived the fire.  There, taped to the door, next to the condemned sign, was the summons from the school district lawyer.
+ Read more:

• • •


New Mexico Becomes the 9th State
to Pass Autism Insurance Reform

      From Autism Speaks

      Autism Speaks today joined New Mexico families and other autism advocacy organizations in applauding the state’s legislators for passing Senate Bill 39, which requires insurance companies to provide coverage of evidence-based, medically necessary autism therapies.  The bill passed the House today in a vote of 51-15, following unanimous passage in the State Senate, and now heads to Governor Bill Richardson’s desk for signature into law.
      The New Mexico bill requires insurers to cover up to $36,000 a year for treatments and therapies, including Applied Behavior Analysis therapy for children until age nineteen, or age twenty-two if the individual is enrolled in high school. The bill also sets a maximum lifetime coverage limit of $200,000.  Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is recognized as an effective, evidence-based treatment for children with autism.  The law specifies that there cannot be any limit put on the number of visits to an autism service provider and that the maximum per year benefit will be adjusted annually for inflation.

• • •

Nevada Parents Plead With Lawmakers
To Restore Autism Program Funding

      Carson City, Nev. (AP) - Advocates of funding for autism programs pleaded Monday with Nevada lawmakers to ignore Gov. Jim Gibbons' proposed cuts in such funding and pump $2 million into efforts to deal with the neurological disorder.
      Jan Crandy of the Nevada Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorders told the Assembly Ways and Means Committee that the commission, created by the 2007 Legislature, is severely underfunded and reaches less than 7 percent of eligible children.
      The governor's proposed budget includes no funding for the program.
      Crandy noted that 137 children currently are served by the program and there are another 219 children on a waiting list.
      During Monday's hearing, tearful parents recounted stories about autistic children who didn't talk for years and had violent outbursts. Many said the treatment provided for their children made a huge difference, and they couldn't afford the costly treatment without the state's help.

• • •


Song Therapy Is Music To Autistic Kids’ Ears

      By Jean Hwang for The Washington Post.

      When it’s bath time for Janna Simpson, her mother sometimes throws together a tune. “Take a bath, take a bath, take a bath,” Judy Simpson might chant, luring her daughter into the water.
      Janna isn’t a toddler, and her mother isn’t simply singing along. Janna is a 15-year-old with autism, a speech impairment and a seizure disorder. Music, Judy Simpson says, has been key to getting her to engage in such everyday activities as taking a bath; it’s also an alternative to verbal instructions in helping her overcome social and behavioral problems.
      Janna, who never developed normal speech, receives formal music therapy at West Virginia’s Hedgesville Middle School, where she is enrolled in a classroom for students with autism. Her mother, a former music therapist who is director of government relations at the American Music Therapy Association, based in Silver Spring, Md., continues with that therapeutic approach at home.
      “Latitude, longitude, looking through a microscope: Such skills are not important,” Simpson explains. “She needs basic skills to live, such as brushing her teeth, taking a bath, the pragmatics of engaging with people. This is a difficult thing to teach."
      Simpson’s confidence in music therapy is based on her own experience and that of other parents of children with autism who are eager to find ways to increase their children’s ability to function. But exactly how and to what extent music therapy works is not well understood. Just over a year ago, a session titled “The Autism Agenda” at the American Music Therapy Association conference stressed the need for more research and for practice to be based on evidence.
      Despite the limited data about its effectiveness, making music has become an integral part of many programs for children with autism. Leanne Belasco, a music therapist at the Kennedy Krieger School’s Montgomery County, Md., campus, says music gives structure and a predictable rhythm to verbal directions. When Belasco strums her autoharp to her students, she sings encouraging, instructive lyrics such as, “I know I have what it takes; I am a good listener” and “Be flexible."
      At the school, where all 37 full-time students are enrolled in music therapy, Belasco begins her 30- to 45-minute sessions by singing a refrain: “Hello, everybody, it’s time for music today.” She wheels around the group seated in a horseshoe formation, addressing each student in song as she does so. A 16-year-old, who regularly wears headphones in class because of his auditory sensitivities, responds with apparent enjoyment, as does a younger boy, who strums the autoharp with seeming pleasure as he rocks back and forth in his chair. When Belasco asks her students to shake the blue plastic maracas she has passed out, classroom assistants help. When one student seems pained by the exercise, the assistants physically settle him in his chair.
+ Read more:

• • •


Corrupt UK Journalist Exposed in Conflicts

" A Character Assassin Caught in the Act"

      By Dan Olmsted and Mark Blaxill on

      At the source of the [UK] General Medical Council’s (GMC) investigation and trial of Dr. Andrew Wakefield lies a man named Brian Deer. In his first Sunday Times article on February 22, 2004, Deer accused Wakefield of launching a “public panic” over the connection between the MMR vaccine and autism by failing to disclose his conflict of interest and participation as an expert witness on behalf of a group of families involved in vaccine litigation against the British government. Since then, Deer has alleged many things. Among them are the following: that he is an independent, investigative journalist; that he is not a complainant in the GMC investigation; that Wakefield is guilty of medical misconduct; and that Wakefield and his co-authors committed scientific fraud.
      According to documents obtained by Age of Autism (Melanie Philips of The Spectator reported on these documents last month, but we provide for the first time a copy of the key document here and new information on Dr. Wakefield’s complaint against Deer; a copy of Dr. Wakefield's original 3/13 complaint to PCC is here  and the addendum is here Deer’s claim that he is not the complainant in the GMC investigation is false. In a February 25, 2021 email addressed to Tim Cox-Brown of the GMC, Deer first listed the GMC reference numbers of Drs Andrew Wakefield, John Walker-Smith and Simon Murch, and then wrote the following opening sentence.
      “Following an extensive inquiry for the Sunday Times into the origins of the public panic over MMR, I write to ask your permission to lay before you an outline of evidence that you may consider worthy of evaluation with respect of the possibility of serious professional misconduct on the part of the above named registered medical practitioners"
+ Read more:

• • •


Rock the Puzzle, presented by
the Northeast Ohio Autism Group

Friday, April 3 from 7 p.m. - 1 a.m.
      House of Blues, Cleveland

      Northeast Ohio Autism Group’s annual fundraiser, Rock the Puzzle, benefiting Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital’s Autism Center, will be held Friday, April 3rd at the House of Blues located on 308 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland.
      Hosted by Q104’s Allan Fee and WKYC’s Andrea Vecchio, the evening will feature the music of Stan Miller, Blues DeVille, Nick Zuber, Second Place and Breakfast Club.
      Madison Ohio’s Grand River Cellars will provide a special selection and tasting of wines with labels designed by Cleveland-area children diagnosed with autism. The labels were chosen from designs sent in by over 50 adults and children with autism during an annual contest. Photos of the labels are available upon request.
For more information, visit

• • •

World Autism Awareness Day
      April 2, 2021

      Polly Tommey, mother of a child with autism, editor-in-chief of The Autism File magazine, and founder of the UK registered charity The Autism Trust, has launched a national media campaign across the UK, USA, and Canada to coincide with World Autism Awareness Day.
      Working from her home in London (where the 40,000 circulation magazine The Autism File magazine is designed and produced each quarter), she persuaded iconic celebrity photographer Terry O'Neill to take a photograph of her with five other mothers who also have children with autism.
      The result is a powerful image:

      Within days of the campaign being announced and a preview of the image being posted on the Internet, groups of mothers from across the world began joining in and creating their own versions of the image within their local communities. These mothers represent the worldwide autism community in locations from South Africa to Mexico, Belgium to the United States, and more.
      Polly was approached by the UK’s Mail on Sunday. The Mail's YOU magazine will feature the story of the campaign along with details from each of the six mothers. This will be published on March 29, 2009.
+Read more:

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