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Tuesday, December 31, 2013 Reader Supported.
Truth In Media: Vaccine Court and Autism
Watch here: youtube.com
Ben Swann Truth in Media takes a look at Vaccine Court established by Congress in 1985 and what that court has meant for families of vaccine injured children. Plus, has HHS secretly awarded families of autistic children damages while publicly stating there is no connection between autism and vaccines.
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A Shot of Truth Calls for a Complete Ban of Mercury-Containing Vaccines
Read the December 17, 2013 letter to the HHS Secretary, FDA Commissioner and CDC Director. To support this letter, click here.
Read the documents which clearly demonstrate mercury containing vaccines have caused a huge rise in the autism rate as well as documents that show our federal health agencies have been aware of this for a long time.
CDC Study Says Children With Autism Could Be Diagnosed Earlier
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released new project findings on the prevalence rate of 1 in 32 Somali children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Minneapolis. While the report says that Somali children with ASD are more likely to have cognitive disabilities and more significant disabilities than all other racial groups, the data say that the rate of autism in the Somali population is about the same as in the white population (1 in 32 vs. 1 in 36). The report also states that children who have autism aren't identified as early as they could be.
"This new data from the CDC indicate potentially higher rates of autism spectrum disorders in distinct populations than the national numbers, clearly show that more research is needed to better understand autism, and again makes the case that additional funds must be made available for services and supports for children with autism and their families.
"The CDC continues to do important work in this area, shining a bright light on what families associated with The Arc and our chapters experience everyday – autism spectrum disorders touch so many people, of all cultures and backgrounds, and we must do more to support them to achieve their goals and to foster an inclusive society. The Arc is committed to families of all backgrounds in our efforts to serve and support people with disabilities, through our network of 700 chapters across the country," said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.
"About a third of individuals and families using advocacy services from The Arc Greater Twin Cities are from multicultural families," said Kim Keprios, The Arc Greater Twin Cities' chief executive officer. "We have been working hard to make connections in the Somali community because we know Somali children who have autism are not being diagnosed as early as they could be and therefore not getting critical services. Anyone who might benefit from The Arc's assistance in getting a diagnosis, receiving help with special education issues and more, is encouraged to call us at 952-920-0855 or visit www.arcgreatertwincities.org."
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Florida Leaders Allow Toddler With Autism To Keep ‘Therapy Chickens’
By KFOR-TV and A. Edwards
A 3-year-old autistic boy in DeBary, Florida, will be allowed to keep his chickens.
A special exception was approved by the DeBary City Council on Wednesday night.
The parents of J.J. Hart had been fighting city officials for more than a year to allow their son to keep his three pet chickens.
The boy’s parents said they’ve seen big differences in their son since the chickens were brought to their home.
“The changes are tremendous,” Ashleigh Hart said. “He’s talking."
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Worms And Hot Baths: Novel Approaches To Treating Autism
A new study shows that two unusual treatment approaches may have beneficial effects on the symptoms of autism in children and adults with the disorder. Using a hot bath to raise body temperature and thereby mimic the effects of infection, or using worm eggs to stimulate the production of immunoregulatory factors in the gut to diminish inflammatory signals, both attenuated symptoms of autism. These findings support the idea that disruption of systems in the body that control inflammation may contribute to the disorder. The study was presented at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) Annual Meeting.
Approximately 1 in 88 children are afflicted with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). A prevailing hypothesis of ASD is that a hyperactive immune system, resulting in elevated levels of inflammation, may contribute to the disorder. Consistent with this possibility, it is known that approximately one third of those with ASD show a clinical improvement in symptoms in response to a fever.
In a new study led by Eric Hollander MD, a professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, the effects of two novel treatment approaches that modify aspects of inflammation were tested on ASD symptoms.
First, as fever may trigger the release of protective anti-inflammatory signals in the body, the effects of raising body temperature to mimic fever on ASD symptoms were assessed. It was found that children with ASD and a history of positive behavioral response to fever had improved social behaviors when bathed each day in a hot tub at 102oF compared with water at 98 oF.
Second, using a more unusual approach, adults with ASD were treated for 12 weeks with Trichuris suis ova (TSO), which are the eggs of the worm helminth trichura (whip worm). This worm is safe in humans as it does not multiply in the host, is not transmittable by contact, and is cleared spontaneously. However, the worms can inhibit immune-mediated responses and diminish inflammation.
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Sex Ed Missing For People With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Nova Scotia has little support for adults with ASD
By Stephanie Taylor halifax.mediacoop.ca
Allistair Fraser shows off his skecthbook at the Nova Scotia Austism Centre Allistair Fraser often wonders what it would be like to have a girlfriend.
“I’m basically a hopeless romantic with no one to share it with,” the 32-year-old says. Fraser is a self-taught artist who lives alone in his Fairview apartment and spends most of his days shelving books at the Nova Scotia Autism Centre on Spring Garden Road.
He has a high-functioning case of Autism Spectrum Disorder — a lifelong neurological condition that affects a person’s ability to communicate and to relate to others.
The disorder limits a person's social interactions and communication skills, making it difficult to form romantic relationships.
“Sometimes I feel pretty lonely,” Fraser says. “I like to drink tea and sometimes tea is meant for sharing."
Making sense of the mixed signals, subtle glances and emotions of dating is at best confusing even for the developmentally normative person.
But people with ASD are at a greater disadvantage because their disability prevents them from reading other people’s feelings and picking up on non-verbals cues, such as flirting.
“If you don’t pick up on those non-verbals then navigating sexuality is nearly impossible because it’s so much non-verbal,” says Emily Martinello, a sex educator who is writing a sexual health curriculum for an ASD support group in Wolfville.
Each year Nova Scotia spends $40 million to fund early intervention programs that support the diagnosis and assessment of autism in children.
Yet the province does not fund any programs aimed at teaching sexual health or relationship-building to either children or adults with ASD.
When the province released the Autism Action Plan in 2009, sexual education was not included among the 53 recommendations to improve the current support services for adults.
Vicki Harvey, outreach coordinator for Autism Nova Scotia, sat on the committee for the report and says sexual health was one of the last priorities.
“Our focus was on housing, employment and health related things. To be frank, I think that sexuality and relationship building was just something that wasn’t on the top of what we’re trying to accomplish … we probably could have made well over 100 recommendations, but we had to limit what we could do.”
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Anti-Epilepsy Drugs Can Cause Inflammation
Physicians at the Ruhr- Universitšt Bochum (RUB) have been investigating if established anti-epilepsy drugs have anti- inflammatory or pro-inflammatory properties -- an effect for which these pharmaceutical agents are not usually tested. One of the substances tested caused stronger inflammations, while another one inhibited them. As inflammatory reactions in the brain may be the underlying cause for epileptic disorders, it is vital to take the trigger for the disorder under consideration when selecting drugs for treatment, as the researchers concluded. They published their report in the journal Epilepsia.
Hannes Dambach from the Department for Neuroanatomy and Molecular Brain Research, together with a team of colleagues, studied how anti-epilepsy drugs affect the survival of glial cells in cultures. Glial cells are the largest cell group in the brain; they are crucial for supplying neurons with nutrients and affect immune and inflammatory responses. The question of how glial cells are affected by anti-epilepsy drugs had previously not been studied in depth. The RUB work group Clinical Neuroanatomy, headed by Prof Dr Pedro Faustmann, analysed four substances: valproic acid, gabapentin, phenytoin and carbamazepine.
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Innovative Surgery Proving Effective with Epilepsy Patients
Melanie Vandyke can’t wait to get her driver’s license.
“I just want to get back out in the world,” she said.
For nearly 15 years, Vandyke’s world was severely restricted by epileptic seizures during which she couldn’t control her speech or actions and didn’t know what she was doing or saying, and afterwards couldn’t remember what had happened.
These unpredictable episodes prevented her from driving, pursuing a career, having a social life, living independently and doing countless other things that most people take for granted.
But since undergoing a cutting-edge, minimally invasive surgical procedure called MRI-guided laser ablation at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Vandyke is poised to reclaim her life.
“The surgery, I do believe, has turned my life around,” said the resident of Buchanan County in southwestern Virginia.
In the operation, the source of Vandyke’s seizures – a lesion on her right medial temporal lobe – was destroyed with heat generated by light from a thin laser-tipped probe inserted into her brain through a tiny hole in her skull while the surgeon viewed real-time MRI images of the process.
Wake Forest Baptist is one of only 25 medical centers nationwide, and the only one between Philadelphia and Atlanta, to perform this type of laser surgery for epilepsy with a technology called Visualase.
Introduced in 2007 and initially used to destroy tumors, the Visualase system was first employed as a treatment for epilepsy in 2010. Wake Forest Baptist performed its first epilepsy-related laser procedure in June of last year and has done 11 more since then on people between the ages of 10 and 60. The results to date have been very favorable: Most of the patients have been seizure-free since having the surgery while a few have experienced only isolated episodes.
“Our initial indications are that this is a really effective therapy,” said Wake Forest Baptist neurosurgeon Adrian Laxton, M.D., who performed the operation on Vandyke. “It’s extremely precise, with incredibly quick and powerful delivery, so it makes sense that we’re getting the results we want."
The laser method is a much less invasive alternative to conventional surgery. That type of procedure is usually a day-long operation which involves removing part of the skull, cutting through healthy brain matter and physically removing the problem tissue, followed by a weeklong hospital stay and prolonged recovery period. The entire laser procedure, conversely, can be completed in about four hours and most patients can go home the next day.
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Eating Bacteria Could Be the Future of Medicine
By Michael Brooks newrepublic.com
Here’s something to think about while you eat and drink to excess on New Year's Eve: your large intestine is host to roughly a hundred trillion bacteria, weighing a few kilos, and they can have a surprising effect on your health and maybe even your behaviour.
In December, researchers at the California Institute of Technology showed that mice demonstrating abnormal social interactions, obsessive behaviour and intestinal problems—all traits associated with autism in human beings—can be cured if they ingest the right type of bacteria.
That’s quite a startling result, and just the latest in a booming area of research. Typically, you will have hundreds of different species of microbes living in your gut; this is known as your gut microbiome. A study reported this spring showed that not hosting a sufficiently diverse bacteria population can lead to insulin resistance, which is often a precursor for Type 2 diabetes and can make you prone to putting on weight. This is fixable, according to another recent study: if you go on a low-calorie diet, it boosts your gut microbe diversity.
Or you could have a microbe transplant. Lean mice have been made obese simply by giving them the gut flora of obese mice. And, in a remarkable study published in September, gut flora taken from human twins where one is obese and one is lean affected the corpulence of the mice that received them. Those that received the microbiome of the fat twin became fat, and the ones that got the lean twin’s bacteria became lean. Body shape is, to a certain degree, transmissible.
Microbiology is becoming cheaper, and the processing of biological information is happening ever faster. Today, there are even crowdsourced, open-access studies, such as the American Gut project. In September, its scientists released the first analysis of the gut microbiome of North America, based on 1,000 stool samples. This is just the start: 4,000 people are now signed up to the project (you can sign up from anywhere in the world but researchers are having problems with US Customs over importing fecal matter). American Gut is co-ordinating its findings with information from large-scale genomic and body-mapping projects; we are beginning to build the kinds of database that could revolutionise medicine.
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Florida Family Reaches Out For Autism Service Dog
By Tiffanie Reynolds aroundosceola.com
A few months ago, the Brooks family in St. Cloud wouldn’t have thought of a dog as the answer for their son’s autism.
Now, it’s become their biggest focus for this year.
Autism service dogs, like assistance dogs for persons with physical disabilities, help children with autism better focus on the world around them, associate with others and prevent any nervous ticks, among other behaviors that stem from autism. Trained from the time they are a puppy, each dog is matched with a family and trained to a specific child to best address any special needs for the child and family.
“With our service dogs, it seems to be having that constant companion. There’s no judgment from a dog, they’re consistent in their behaviors. So, it’s something consistent in their life that never changes, and it provides some security and comfort in situations that typically would bother the child, whether it be noise or crowds that overstimulate them, or just being out and about in general,” said Ryli Banik, service dog coordinator at Highlands Canine Training in North Carolina.
For the Brooks’ nine year-old son, Trace, it’s social skills that are the most challenging for him. While functioning and learning at about the same level as his peers, it’s difficult for him to be able to associate with others. Lynn Brooks, Trace’s mom, describes him as unable to look others in the eye when he speaks, and being shy when it comes to group situations.
Lynn and her husband, Doug, first found out about Autism service dogs while walking past a family with one during a visit at Epcot. Both were surprised to read “Autism Service Dog” on the dog’s harness, and it only took a few moments to decide to track the family down and ask about it.
Immediately after, both started doing research on the subject. They found Highlands Canine Training in North Carolina, and were able to visit the facility over Thanksgiving. While they were interested before, seeing their son interact with the dogs at the facility was all they needed to begin applying for a service dog of their own.
“When we went to North Carolina and they put that puppy down on his lap, it was amazing at how much calmer he was. He sat and kind of rubbed on the dog instead of chewing his fingernails,” Lynn Brooks said.
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Psychosocial Interventions By Non-Specialists For Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders
Many children with intellectual disability or lower functioning autism spectrum disorders, particularly those in low and middle income countries, do not receive psychosocial treatment interventions for their condition. If non-specialists were able to deliver such care, more children may be able to receive treatment. In PLOS Medicine, Brian Reichow (Yale Child Study Center, University of Connecticut Health Center, US) and colleagues from the World Health Organization conducted a systematic review of studies of non-specialist psychosocial interventions for children and adolescents with intellectual disability or lower functioning autism spectrum disorders. In a search of several international databases for studies published through June 2013, the authors found 34 articles describing 29 studies (including 15 randomized controlled trials) involving 1,305 participants that met their inclusion criteria. The studies evaluated behavior analytic techniques, cognitive rehabilitation, training, and support, and parent training interventions.
The authors found that for behavior analytic interventions, the best outcomes were shown for developmental and daily skills; cognitive rehabilitation, training, and support were found to be most effective for improving developmental outcomes; and parent training interventions to be most effective for improving developmental, behavioral, and family outcomes. The study limitations included that in research of this type it is difficult to mask individuals to the intervention, and therefore the studies are susceptible to performance bias, and the fact that few studies were conducted in low and middle income countries.
The authors state, "Overall, the outcomes of the studies included in this review show that non-specialist providers can deliver effective treatments to children with intellectual disabilities or lower-functioning autism spectrum disorders... Our findings that psychosocial interventions can be effective when delivered by nonspecialist providers has much relevance for improving access to care for children and adolescents with intellectual disabilities or lower-functioning autism spectrum disorders who live in both [high income countries] and [low and middle income countries], but it is useful especially in low-resource settings."
In an accompanying Perspective, Mashudat Bello-Mojeed and Muideen Bakare (Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Lagos, Nigeria) (uninvolved in the study) discuss the implications of the study for care of children with intellectual disability or lower functioning autism spectrum disorders in low income countries. They state, "With under-five child mortality declining in resource-poor countries, an increasing number of children will live on to experience an increasing burden of neurodevelopmental disorders while the family shares a huge burden of caregiving... Interventions provided by non-specialist care providers could help alleviate the scarcity of specialist care by task shifting and potentially also help reduce the risk of burn-out among existing specialists." They conclude, "Ultimately, non-specialist psychosocial interventions for [neurodevelopmental disorders] will require advocacy and government support in [low and middle income countries], where mortality is given priority over morbidity and disability."
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Finnish Research Team Reveals How Emotions Are Mapped In The Body
Researchers Aalto University have revealed how emotions are experienced in the body.
Emotions adjust our mental and also bodily states to cope with the challenges detected in the environment. These sensations arising from the bodily changes are an important feature of our emotional experiences. For example, anxiety may be experienced as pain in the chest, whereas falling in love may trigger warm, pleasurable sensations all over the body. New research from Aalto University reveals, how emotions are literally experienced through the body.
The researchers found that the most common emotions trigger strong bodily sensations, and the bodily maps of these sensations were topographically different for different emotions. The sensation patterns were, however, consistent across different West European and East Asian cultures, highlighting that emotions and their corresponding bodily sensation patterns have a biological basis.
- Emotions adjust not only our mental, but also our bodily states. This way the prepare us to react swiftly to the dangers, but also to the opportunities such as pleasurable social interactions present in the environment. Awareness of the corresponding bodily changes may subsequently trigger the conscious emotional sensations, such as the feeling of happiness, tells assistant professor Lauri Nummenmaa from Aalto University.
- The findings have major implications for our understanding of the functions of emotions and their bodily basis. On the other hand, the results help us to understand different emotional disorders and provide novel tools for their diagnosis.
The research was carried out on line, and over 700 individuals from Finland, Sweden and Taiwan took part in the study. The researchers induced different emotional states in their Finnish and Taiwanese participants. Subsequently the participants were shown with pictures of human bodies on a computer, and asked to colour the bodily regions whose activity they felt increasing or decreasing.
The research was funded by European Research Council (ERC), The Academy of Finland and the Aalto University (aivoAALTO project) The results were published on 31 December (U.S. Eastern time) in the scientific journal Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America (PNAS).
Figure summarizing the main findings of the study
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Review: Most Clinical Studies On Vitamins Flawed By Poor Methodology
The study this story is based on is available online:
Most large, clinical trials of vitamin supplements, including some that have concluded they are of no value or even harmful, have a flawed methodology that renders them largely useless in determining the real value of these micronutrients, a new analysis suggests.
Many projects have tried to study nutrients that are naturally available in the human diet the same way they would a powerful prescription drug. This leads to conclusions that have little scientific meaning, even less accuracy and often defy a wealth of other evidence, said Balz Frei, professor and director of the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, in a new review published in the journal Nutrients.
These flawed findings will persist until the approach to studying micronutrients is changed, Frei said. Such changes are needed to provide better, more scientifically valid information to consumers around the world who often have poor diets, do not meet intake recommendations for many vitamins and minerals, and might greatly benefit from something as simple as a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement.
Needed are new methodologies that accurately measure baseline nutrient levels, provide supplements or dietary changes only to subjects who clearly are inadequate or deficient, and then study the resulting changes in their health. Tests must be done with blood plasma or other measurements to verify that the intervention improved the subjects’ micronutrient status along with biomarkers of health. And other approaches are also needed that better reflect the different ways in which nutrients behave in cell cultures, lab animals and the human body.
The new analysis specifically looked at problems with the historic study of vitamin C, but scientists say many of the observations are more broadly relevant to a wide range of vitamins, micro nutrients and studies.
“One of the obvious problems is that most large, clinical studies of vitamins have been done with groups such as doctors and nurses who are educated, informed, able to afford healthy food and routinely have better dietary standards than the public as a whole,” said Frei, an international expert on vitamin C and antioxidants.
Vitamin or mineral supplements, or an improved diet, will primarily benefit people who are inadequate or deficient to begin with, OSU researchers said. But most modern clinical studies do not do baseline analysis to identify nutritional inadequacies and do not assess whether supplements have remedied those inadequacies. As a result, any clinical conclusion made with such methodology is pretty much useless, they said.
“More than 90 percent of U.S. adults don’t get the required amounts of vitamins D and E for basic health,” Frei said. “More than 40 percent don’t get enough vitamin C, and half aren’t getting enough vitamin A, calcium and magnesium. Smokers, the elderly, people who are obese, ill or injured often have elevated needs for vitamins and minerals.
“It’s fine to tell people to eat better, but it’s foolish to suggest that a multivitamin which costs a nickel a day is a bad idea."
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Downton Abbey Star Sophie Mcshera To Open Doncaster Autism Gallery
By Sarah Marshall doncasterfreepress.co.uk
Sophie McShera who plays humble assistant cook Daisy Mason in the Golden Globe winning ITV show Downton Abbey is set to open The Artspace in Thorne next month.
The Artspace is home to Artistic Spectrum, a social enterprise specialising in art as therapy for people with autism.
The organisation has recently been awarded a National Lottery Grant to work with Autistic People in South Yorkshire.
Project leader Emma Wilson said, “We are delighted to announce that Sophie will be coming to open the Artspace. Her involvement helps us in our efforts to shine a light on autism which according to recent figures affects up to 1 in 50 people."
The official opening takes place between 5pm and 7pm on Friday, January 10 2014.
Actress Sophie has just wrapped for Disney’s new movie “Cinderella”, directed by Kenneth Brannagh.
She said: “The work Emma is doing with autistic people really helps autistic people to communicate and feel part of the wider world. My cousin has autism so it is a cause very close to my heart."
Tony Appleton from Doncaster CVS’s Social Enterprise Development Team added: “I’ve mentored Emma for over a year now and I’m delighted to see that such a high profile figure is supporting Emma’s fantastic venture in this way – I’m really looking forward to the opening!"
Artistic Spectrum was established in 2013 to provide art therapy sessions that allow people who have autism to have a sense of self-development, and offers them an outlet to express themselves. Therapy through art can improve handgrip and coordination of motor skills, improved hand eye coordination as well as increased stimulation of visual, tactile and receptual sensors. It can also enable people with autism to release their emotions.
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Lanza’s Psychiatrist Lost License
A Connecticut psychiatrist who treated Adam Lanza years before the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings surrendered his medical license in July 2012 amid allegations he had a sexual relationship with a female patient, records show.
Dr. Paul L. Fox, a former Brookfield psychiatrist now living in New Zealand, told police investigating the school shootings that he vaguely recalled treating Lanza. He said he last saw Lanza when Lanza was about 15 years old and remembered him having aggression problems and possibly Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism not associated with violence.
Lanza was 20 years old when he killed 20 first-graders and six educators at the school in December 2012. He first shot his mother to death at their Newtown home before going to the school, where he killed himself as police arrived.
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Six Months Later, Girl With Autism Thrives With Trained Teachers
By Ann Dornfeld kuow.org
Credit Chloe Burton This is how Chloe Burton draws herself today, complete with freckles and a wide smile.
Chloe Burton had a great year in kindergarten.
Although she has autism, she had no problem learning in a general education classroom alongside her peers.
But in first grade, things went downhill. Chloe wandered the classroom instead of finishing her work.
When we first met Chloe and her family last spring, she was disciplined by her teachers in the Shoreline School District for not getting her work done.
"It’s mean," Chloe said at the time. "[They] make me do all the work and let everybody else go out to recess."
Chloe started lashing out at other students and teachers, hitting and spitting. District officials said they wanted to move her to a unit for kids with behavioral problems. But Chloe’s parents – and an independent evaluator – objected.
They said part of the problem was that her teachers didn’t have enough training to work with a child with autism.
Federal law requires that children with special needs spend as much of their time in general education settings as possible.
It’s been six months, and Chloe’s parents have now settled with the district. Now that Chloe is in second grade, her mother Amy Schley said that her daughter is “very happy."
As part of the settlement, Chloe switched to a school where her teachers received training on working with children with autism. They were instructed on how to break instructions down into steps, motivate using positive reinforcement rather than punishment and to give Chloe extra time to finish her work.
Schley said that teacher training made a difference.
"She wakes up every day eager to go to school," Schley said. "She talks about her friends. And more than that, even outside of the school, she has gone to some really busy birthday parties and done really well, whereas in the past it would have been a struggle for her. She’s just willing to try a lot more than she used to because her self-confidence has grown so much this year."
Chloe said she likes that she is no longer prevented from going out to recess.
"Only if it’s, like, really bad weather," Chloe said.
Schley said she’s learned that parents shouldn’t be afraid to question their children’s school placements or services – and how valuable it can be to get a second opinion from an outside evaluator.
"It has been a long road, but I’m really glad we went through it,” Schley said. “It’s well worth the struggle in the end. I feel that her opportunities for success as an adult are much more being in general education rather than if she’d been in a self-contained classroom," Schley said.
The Shoreline School District declined to comment for this story, citing student privacy laws.
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