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Sunday, November 2, 2014 Reader Supported.
More Evidence Links Autism to Air Pollution
By Veronica Hackethal, MD, Medscape Medical News Psychiatry
New research adds to the growing body of evidence linking traffic-related air pollution to the development of autism.
The study, conducted by investigators at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, is the first to examine associations between autism and air pollution in North Carolina.
Its results support those from past studies in California, even though the two states have different climates and weather patterns. The study also linked exposure to air pollution during the third trimester of pregnancy, in particular, to autism in the offspring.
"The evidence is suggesting that some component of vehicle emissions may be associated with autism spectrum disorders," first author Amy Kalkbrenner, PhD, MPH, told Medscape Medical News.
The study has not definitively proven that some component of air pollutants is actually responsible for the development of autism, Dr Kalkbrenner pointed out, but the results add to the evidence pointing in that direction.
"There is now a wealth of studies showing that systemic inflammation in the body may be responsible for the early brain damage that results in autism," said Dr Kalkbrenner. "We also know that exposure to air pollution can cause this body-wide inflammatory response. This could very well change the way the brain is developing."
The study was published online on October 20 in Epidemiology.
Lack of Neurotoxicity Testing?
Previous research, including the 2010 Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) study, by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, has shown associations between air traffic pollution during pregnancy and autism in offspring. Moreover, laboratory studies have linked inhaled pollutants to inflammation.
According to current estimates, more than 80,000 man-made chemicals exist in the environment and can be found in the air, drinking water, food, and house dust, said Dr Kalkbrenner.
"There are no requirements that these chemicals be tested for neurodevelopmental toxicity before they're put on the market," said Dr Kalkbrenner.
"There is a great deal that we don't know. Not to increase fear, but there are sound reasons to be concerned about some of these chemicals."
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Dozens of Genes Associated With Autism In New Research
Functions of newly identified genes converge on a few important biological processes
Two major genetic studies of autism, led in part by UC San Francisco scientists and involving more than 50 laboratories worldwide, have newly implicated dozens of genes in the disorder. The research shows that rare mutations in these genes affect communication networks in the brain and compromise fundamental biological mechanisms that govern whether, when, and how genes are activated overall.
The two new studies, published in the advance online edition of Nature on October 29, 2014, tied mutations in more than 100 genes to autism. Sixty of these genes met a "high-confidence" threshold indicating that there is a greater than 90 percent chance that mutations in those genes contribute to autism risk.
The majority of the mutations identified in the new studies are de novo (Latin for "afresh") mutations, meaning they are not present in unaffected parents' genomes but arise spontaneously in a single sperm or egg cell just prior to conception of a child.
The genes implicated in the new studies fall into three broad classes: they are involved in the formation and function of synapses, which are sites of nerve-cell communication in the brain; they regulate, via a process called transcription, how the instructions in other genes are relayed to the protein-making machinery in cells; and they affect how DNA is wound up and packed into cells in a structure known as chromatin. Because modifications of chromatin structure are known to lead to changes in how genes are expressed, mutations that alter chromatin, like those that affect transcription, would be expected to affect the activity of many genes.
One of the new Nature studies made use of data from the Simons Simplex Collection (SSC), a permanent repository of DNA samples from nearly 3,000 families created by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative. Each SSC family has one child affected with autism, parents unaffected by the disorder and, in a large proportion, unaffected siblings. The second study was conducted under the auspices of the Autism Sequencing Consortium (ASC), an initiative supported by the National Institute of Mental Health that allows scientists from around the world to collaborate on large genomic studies that couldn't be done by individual labs.
"Before these studies, only 11 autism genes had been identified with high confidence, and we have now more than quadrupled that number," said Stephan Sanders, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at UCSF, co-first author on the SSC study, and co-author on the ASC study. Based on recent trends, Sanders estimates that gene discovery will continue at a quickening pace, with as many as 1,000 genes ultimately associated with autism risk.
"There has been a lot of concern that 1,000 genes means 1,000 different treatments, but I think the news is much brighter than that," said Matthew W. State, MD, PhD, chair and Oberndorf Family Distinguished Professor in Psychiatry at UCSF. State was co-leader of the Nature study focusing on the SSC and a senior participant in the study organized by the ASC, of which he is a co-founder. "There is already strong evidence that these mutations converge on a much smaller number key biological functions. We now need to focus on these points of convergence to begin to develop novel treatments."
+ Read more.
+See article below for statistical corollary study.
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Research Team Identifies 33 Genes That Contribute To Autism Risk
Powered By Carnegie Mellon and Pitt statistical tools, study analyzes largest autism sample to date
The list of genes identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by deep DNA sequencing has expanded from nine to 33, according to a new study by an international research team led by the Autism Sequencing Consortium (ASC), including Carnegie Mellon University's Kathryn Roeder and the University of Pittsburgh's Bernie Devlin.
Published today in Nature, the study examined data on several types of rare, genetic differences in more than 14,000 DNA samples from parents, affected children and unrelated individuals. It is the largest sample to date, and provides evidence that small differences in some of possibly 1,000 risk genes contribute to autism. In addition to increasing the number of definitive autism genes almost fourfold, the team pinpointed more than 70 other likely ASD genes.
The genes identified involve critical brain processes, apparently affecting the formation of nerve networks and altering the function of synapses, the crucial structures that allow brain cells to communicate.
"This makes sense because typical development of brain cells require intricate coordination among thousands of genes and appropriate communication between cells to ensure development of the brain — the most complicated organ in the human body," said Roeder, professor in CMU's Department of Statistics and the Lane Center for Computational Biology, and a leading expert on statistical genomics and the genetic basis of complex disease.
The genetic findings also support the influential "Frontal-Posterior Underconnectivity Theory of Autism," in which CMU's Marcel Just and Pitt's Nancy Minshew first proposed and explained that the synchronization of the activation between frontal and posterior brain areas is lower in autism.
For the current study, the Roeder/Devlin team, which included faculty and students spanning statistics, psychiatry and computational biology, developed the statistical tools that enabled the researchers to assess the effects of both inherited differences and those that happen spontaneously in the sperm and eggs that form human embryos. While small, rare genetic differences in the top 107 genes were found to confer a relatively large jump in a person's risk for autism, while many more genetic changes in other genes add smaller amounts of risk. By looking at how many times variations occurred in each of the 107 genes, the researchers were able to predict that small differences in about 1,000 genes will eventually be found to increase autism risk.
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C-Sections May Raise Autism Risk – Study
Study in ‘Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry’ says children have 23% greater risk of developing autism spectrum disorder
The study is a meta-analysis of 25 previously published papers on the links between Caesarean sections and conditions such as autism and ADHD. Photograph: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
Delivery by Caesarean section is associated with an increased risk of autism in childhood, according to a study by Irish researchers.
Children born by Caesarean section have a 23 per cent greater risk of developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the study to be published shortly in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry suggests.
The researchers, led by Eileen Curran of University College Cork, also look at links between Caesareans and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) but the findings were unclear.
The authors urge caution in interpreting their results and say more research is urgently needed to explore the risks involved. The study is a meta-analysis of 25 previously published papers on the links between Caesarean sections and conditions such as autism and ADHD. Some showed the risk of autism after a Caesarean increased by as much as 40 per cent.
The study says it is unclear what is driving this association and whether it is causal. Children born by Caesarean section have different gut flora than those born by normal delivery, and some scientists believe this may be a factor in psychological development.
Last weeks Another theory derives from the fact Caesarean sections are normally carried out at 37-39 weeks, as opposed to a full 40-week gestation. “It is possible the last few weeks are important for brain development, and therefore being born near rather than at term may lead to an increased risk of psychological problems,” the study says.
However, the authors point out the underlying reasons for a Caesarean may lead to the increased risk of autism, not the Caesarean per se.
“Given the accelerating rate of Caesarean section globally, this finding warrants further research of a more robust quality, using larger populations to adjust for important potential confounders and explore potential causal mechanisms,” says Ms Curran.
Worldwide, an estimated 0.62 per cent of children are diagnosed with ASD, and 5.3 per cent with ADHD. The prevalence of autism has increased twentyfold since the 1980s, a rate that suggests factors other than improved detection and diagnosis.
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Autism Symptoms Occur Independently In General Population
By Katie Moisse sfari.org
People with autism have a wide range of symptoms, including social impairments and restricted interests. But these aren’t specific to the disorder. In fact, adults in the general population cluster into two groups, a new study reports: those who tend to struggle in social situations and those who become fixated on details.
The findings, published 22 October in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, support the idea that we all have some features of autism — even if we’re not on the spectrum.
Researchers used an online questionnaire to probe autism traits among 2,343 American adults. The 50-item questionnaire, known as the Autism-Spectrum Quotient, or AQ, asks responders to either agree or disagree (strongly or slightly) with statements such as 'I enjoy social chit-chat' and 'I notice patterns in things.' The average AQ score was 114 out of a possible 200. This is well below 142 — the average AQ score among people with autism, according to a 2008 study. But when the researchers split the AQ into subscales that tap social skills, imagination, communication, attention to detail and attention switching, some interesting subsets emerged.
Nearly half the group, 1,059 people, reported more social difficulties and less attention to detail. The remaining 1,284 participants reported fewer social difficulties and greater detail orientation. In other words, the researchers found that two core features of autism are widespread in the general population — they just occur one at a time. An autism diagnosis only occurs when these features overlap.
The findings suggest that individuals with similar AQ scores can have different subsets of autism-like symptoms. And the symptoms may correspond with different brain abnormalities and cognitive challenges. This calls into question the current view of autism as a singular spectrum of symptoms.
The researchers instead favor the 'fractionable triad hypothesis' of autism. The hypothesis suggests that the social impairments, communication deficits and restricted interests seen in the disorder each have independent triggers that affect people throughout the general population — not just people with autism.
These triggers may also be independently inherited, accounting for the vast heterogeneity seen among individuals with autism as well as the general population.
Whether you see autism as a spectrum, a fractionable triad, or something else altogether, this study is a reminder that we all have some autism traits. And while these traits don’t define us, they do shape who we are.
• • •
Economic Study Confirms Growth In Autism
Autism cases aren't up just because mental health professionals are overdiagnosing the disorder. A study by two researchers using market theory shows the disorder really is more prevalent.
The number of autism cases has soared over the past three decades, leading some to wonder if mental health professionals might be overdiagnosing the disorder.
Two economists who used market theory to study the trend in autism growth, however, have confirmed that at least part of the increase is real.
Researchers Jose Fernandez and Dhaval Dave analyzed the number and wages of auxiliary health providers based on California Department of Developmental Services data from 2002 to 2011. Each time autism cases doubled, the number of autism health providers grew by as much as 14 percent over that of non-autism health providers, they found.
The wages of autism health providers also rose higher, increasing up to 11 percent more.
"We focused on auxiliary providers because, unlike physicians and psychologists who can diagnose autism, these workers cannot induce their own demand," Fernandez said.
The pair also found that although autism supplanted mental retardation in one of every three diagnoses during the period, actual autism cases still grew from 50 percent to 65 percent.
Fernandez is an economics associate professor at the University of Louisville's College of Business. Dave is an economics professor at Bentley University and research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
The study is scheduled for publication in the journal Economic Inquiry.
• • •
Broccoli Extract May Improve Autism Symptoms
By Deborah Brauser Medscape Medical News Psychiatry
Sulforaphane, a compound found in broccoli sprouts, may improve core symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), preliminary research suggests.
A small, randomized pilot study of boys and men with ASD showed that 46% of those who received a sulforaphane-rich broccoli sprout extract had significant improvement in social interactions after 18 weeks of treatment, and 42% had improved verbal communication.
In addition, more than half of the participants who received the supplement showed a significant decrease in abnormal behaviors. Other improvements were found with regard to irritability, hyperactivity, and repetitive movements ― but only temporarily. Most symptoms returned at the same level of severity after treatment was stopped.
"Most of the results were expected, including improved eye contact and communication," lead author Kanwaljit Singh, MD, MPH, from the Department of Pediatrics (Neurology) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, told Medscape Medical News.
"But we were pleasantly surprised to see significantly improved scores on the Social Responsiveness Scale [SRS], which was one of our primary outcome measures," he added.
Dr Singh, who at the time of the study was with the Lurie Center for Autism at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, said that more research in larger populations is definitely needed.
In addition, he pointed out that broccoli sprouts alone do not contain the same high level of sulforaphane found in the supplement that was used. Still, he noted that "it couldn't hurt" to recommend a healthier diet to these patients.
"This isn't a cure for autism. It's one of the first steps that will allow us to look into the biochemical underpinnings in determining autism."
The study was published online October 13 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Early Edition.
• • •
BPA Exposure By Infants May Increase Later Risk Of Food Intolerance
New research in The FASEB Journal suggests that exposure to Bisphenol A at a dose significantly below the current FDA Tolerable Daily Intake predisposes offspring to food intolerance at adulthood
If it seems like more people are allergic to, or intolerant of, more and different kinds of foods than ever before, there might be a reason why. A new research published in November 2014 issue of The FASEB Journal, scientists show, for the first time, that there is a link between perinatal exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) at low doses and the risk to develop food intolerance in later life. This research involving rats suggests that early life exposure at a dose significantly below the current human safety limit set by the FDA affects developing immune systems, predisposing offspring to food intolerance in adulthood.
"Food contributes over 80 percent of the population's exposure to BPA," said Sandrine Menard, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Neuro-Gastroenterology and Nutrition at INRA in Toulouse, France. "On the basis of the susceptibility to food intolerance after perinatal exposure to BPA, these new scientific data may help decisions by public health authorities on the need of a significant reduction in the level of exposure to BPA in pregnant and breastfeeding women, to limit the risk for their children of adverse food reactions later in life."
• • •
For Many With Disabilities, Special Education Leads To Jail
By Jackie Mader and Sarah Butrymowicz, The Hechinger Report
Cody Beck reads a book that was assigned by his teacher. Cody’s educational placement has changed numerous times since he was hauled off by police following an incident at school that was determined to be a result of his disability. (Jackie Mader/The Hechinger Report) GRENADA, Miss. — Cody Beck was 12 years old when he was handcuffed in front of several classmates and put in the back of a police car outside of Grenada Middle School. Cody had lost his temper in an argument with another student, and hit several teachers when they tried to intervene. He was taken to the local youth court, and then sent to a mental health facility two hours away from his home. Twelve days later, the sixth-grader was released from the facility and charged with three counts of assault.
Officials at his school determined the incident was a result of Cody’s disability. As a child, Cody was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He had been given an individualized education program, or IEP, a legal document that details the resources, accommodations and classes that a special education student should receive to help manage his or her disability. But despite there being a medical reason for his behavior, Cody was not allowed to return to school. He was called to youth court three times in the four months after the incident happened, and was out of school for nearly half that time as he waited to start at a special private school.
Cody is one of thousands of children caught up in the juvenile justice system each year. At least one in three of those arrested has a disability, ranging from emotional disability like bipolar disorder to learning disabilities like dyslexia, and some researchers estimate the figure may be as high as 70 percent. Across the country, students with emotional disabilities are three times more likely to be arrested before leaving high school than the general population.
When the special education system fails youth and they end up in jail, many stay there for years or decades. The vast majority of adults in American prisons have a disability, according to a 1997 Bureau of Justice Statistics survey. Data hasn’t been updated since, but experts attribute the high percentage of individuals with disabilities in the nation’s bloated prison population — which has grown 700 percent since 1970 — in part to deep problems in the education of children with special needs.
In Mississippi and across the country, the path to prison often starts very early for kids who struggle to manage behavioral or emotional disabilities in low-performing schools that lack mental health care, highly qualified special education teachers and appropriately trained staff. Federal law requires schools to provide an education for kids with disabilities in an environment as close to a regular classroom as possible. But often, students with special needs receive an inferior education, fall behind and end up with few options for college or career. For youth with disabilities who end up in jail, education can be minimal, and at times, non-existent, even though federal law requires that they receive an education until age 21.
• • •
Disabled Job-Seekers Hunt Meaningful Work For Meaningful Pay in Ottawa
By Blair Crawford ottawacitizen.com
Asperger’s syndrome makes life hard for Bothtawee Kelly.
It has cost him friends and it has cost him jobs. But with a little luck — and some on-the-job coaching from an organization called LiveWorkPlay — Kelly knows that he can contribute. Neatly dressed in his Royal Canadian Legion suit (he’s a former cadet), Kelly was among more than 150 job-seekers at a career fair for the disabled held Friday at city hall.
“People with Asperger have a hard time relating to people,” said Kelly, 20. When he went for a job interview at TD Place, he got some assistance from an employment coach. “The coach had already talked to the employer and when I went for the interview, he sat in with me to help."
Bothtawee “Bot” Kelly, who has Aspergers, was hoping to find gainful employment at the job fair. United Way’s Employment Accessibility Resource Network (EARN) hosted its first-ever career fair for people with disabilities Friday at Ottawa city hall, drawing about 20 businesses and numerous other agencies to take part.
Julie Oliver / Ottawa Citizen Matching job-seekers to employers and is the goal of EARN, the Employment Accessibility Resource Network, the United Way agency that hosted the job fair.
“Meaningful work for meaningful pay,” is how United Way communications officer Jeff Willbond describes it.
United Way says 150,000 people in Ottawa live with a physical, intellectual or mental health disability and only 43 per cent of those participate in the labour force. One in six live below the poverty line.
Among the employers at the job fair were Ottawa police, TD Bank, BMO, Agriculture Canada, the University of Ottawa, and even the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
Hiring the disabled has been a great success for Enterprise Rent-a-Car, said Alison Cross, a human resources manager with its parent company, Enterprise Holdings.
“We want to diversify our workforce,” Cross said. “We’re a customer service company and when people see someone behind the counter who reflects their community, it makes them feel very comfortable."
Disabled employees can also bring in more business, she said, by encouraging others in their network to use the company.
Cross said many employers have misconceptions that hiring a disabled person will lead to accommodation costs or high absenteeism. In fact, she said, 65 per cent of disabled employees require no accommodation, 35 per cent require modifications that would cost less than $500 and just four per cent require expensive or ongoing accommodation. Disabled employees are also likely to be more loyal and less likely to miss work, she said.
• • •
Court For Parents Rights To Seek Relief For Non-Educational Injuries
The United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion favoring families' rights to seek relief for non-educational injuries and to enforce settlement agreements. This is in support of the parents on behalf of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Disability Law and Advocacy Center of Tennessee, The ARC Tennessee, Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services, Support and Training for Exceptional Parents, Tennessee Voices for Children, Inc. and People First of Tennessee. The opinion is available here
• • •
Weighted Blankets and Sleep in Autistic Children—A Randomized Controlled Trial
Gringras P, Green D, Wright B, et al Pediatrics. 2014;134:298-306 medscape.com
Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have much higher rates of sleep disturbance than do typically developing children. Weighted blankets are an intervention widely accepted by families to improve sleep quality for children with ASDs, but the evidence supporting their use is limited. This study was conducted at three clinical sites in England, enrolling children aged 5-16 years with a diagnosis of ASD. All children had a reported disturbance in sleep for at least 5 months prior to enrollment. Sleep disturbances included sleep latency (delay of falling asleep of at least 1 hour after "lights out") and receiving fewer than 7 hours of continuous sleep.
The investigators chose a single manufacturer to make both the weighted and the "placebo" blankets. Two different sizes were used, depending on the age and size of the child. The small weighted blanket weighed 2.25 kg, and the larger blanket weighed 4.5 kg. Control blankets were made of the same material, but plastic beads were inserted into the blanket instead of the typical steel shot. This controlled for the insulating effect of a blanket during sleep, and the embedded beads provided similar tactile stimulation but without the inclusion of the weight.
The children were randomly assigned 1:1 to begin with either the intervention or placebo blanket. During the treatment phases, the children used the blanket for 12-16 nights. After completion of one treatment phase, the children then crossed over to using the other blanket for another 12-16 nights of monitoring. During each treatment phase, parents and children (if old enough) completed sleep diaries that measured sleep latency, duration of sleep, and parental perceptions of sleep quality.
Children also wore electronic devices (accelerometers) on the nondominant hand that measured movement, with still times being considered "sleep" and times of movement above predesignated thresholds being labeled as "awake." This allowed the investigators to calculate the total sleep time, which was the primary outcome of interest. The parental measures of sleep duration and quality were secondary outcomes. The parents and children also completed subjective evaluations of the acceptability of the blankets.
• • •
Lawyer Never Suspected Abuse From Home Of 19-Year-Old Autistic Man Found In Cage
A lawyer assigned to check how kids were being educated at a Huron County home said he never suspected abuse — despite the recent discovery of a young man in a caged bed.
Gerald Prill, a candidate for county judge in Tuesday’s election, agreed in 2010 to regularly visit the home of Karen and Timothy Tolin as part of a settlement between the Tolins and the Huron Intermediate School District about the educational needs of children there.
The Tolins were charged with unlawful imprisonment and vulnerable adult abuse after a deputy discovered a 19-year-old autistic man in a caged bed. Three adults and two children have been removed from the home.
Prill was supposed to make an announced visit and a surprise visit each year after August of 2011.
• • •
Family of Autistic Student Who Choked To Death In Brooklyn School Plans To Sue City
The family of Dyasha Smith, an autistic woman who choked to death on a muffin, plans to sue the city in a bid to boost its remedy of special-wants students, their lawyer said Friday. Smith, 21, died Tuesday throughout lunch at the College for International...
The family of Dyasha Smith, an autistic woman who choked to death on a muffin, plans to sue the city in a bid to boost its remedy of special-wants students, their lawyer said Friday.
Smith, 21, died Tuesday throughout lunch at the College for International Studies in Brooklyn.
She was supposed to have an aide to aid her consume, stated lawyer David Perecman, who also represents the household of Avonte Oquendo.
Oquendo, a 14-year-old autistic student, died soon after disappearing from his particular-wants school a year ago.
Smith’s mom, Catherine Smith, told the Daily News earlier in the week that the Division of Education was silent on the facts of her daughter’s death.
“They will not return my calls,” she said.
• • •
NC Teacher Accused Of Using Hot Sauce To Discipline Autistic Student
A North Carolina mother is calling for a teacher to be fired after the way she said her son was disciplined.
The mother told WSOC-TV a teacher used hot sauce on her son to prevent him from touching his nose in class.
The accused teacher used to work at Weddington Hills Elementary in Concord but is now at another school.
The boy’s mom is angry over what happened to her son and she wants more action taken.
“She took advantage of him, and she needs to be held accountable,” Cindy Joseph said.
She calls the incident that happened earlier this month as outrageous behavior.
Her 11-year-old son DJ has autism and can’t speak so while Joseph said he couldn’t tell her about what happened in class on Oct. 7.
But the principal caught the teacher putting hot sauce on DJ.
“She was reported of putting hot sauce on DJ’s fingers because he kept digging in his nose,” Joseph said.
She didn’t believe it at first but the principal told her they found the bottle of hot sauce in the classroom.
“I don’t think she should be allowed to be teaching period, with any kids, whether they have a disability or no disability and she should not be allowed to have a license,” Joseph said.
School officials wouldn't talk about any specific incident but confirmed the teacher now works at Royal Oaks Elementary.
They also confirmed the teacher was suspended on Oct. 8 -- the day after the alleged incident.
Joseph is glad her son is OK but said the school district shouldn't take any more chances.
"I feel in my heart she doesn't need to teach period,” Joseph said. “She needs to be held accountable for her actions."
Now, she wants to file abuse charges against the teacher.
• • •
Parents Say Children with Autism Abused at California School
By Rowena Shaddox fox40.com
The parents of two children with autism at Rocklin’s Breen Elementary School filed legal papers Thursday, claiming their children’s teacher physically abused them.
The parents spoke publicly about it Thursday, saying they are upset with the school because they found out about the alleged abuse from police.
“I failed my son because my job is to protect him and I didn’t,” father Keith Caldwell said.
Caldwell is brought to tears at the thought of his autistic, 10-year-old son being physically and verbally abused by his own special education teacher.
“My son is trying to tell me something and he’s not able to,” Caldwell said. His son does not speak.
Caldwell isn’t alone. Jenn Hugunin also has a child with autism at Breen.
“As a parent, you can’t even describe the horror and the shock of being contacted by the police department, telling you that your child has been a victim of child abuse in their classroom by their teacher,” Hugunin told FOX40.
The parents of the two students filed a claim Thursday against the Rocklin Unified School District, alleging the teacher, whom they identify as Sherry McDaniel, physically and psychologically abused their children.
The claim also accuses the school’s principal of being aware of the alleged abuse, and doing nothing.
“Remarkably, not one incident has been documented as occurring in this class,” Peter Alfert, the families’ attorney, said.
The Rocklin Police Department says it began an investigation back in May after an anonymous tipster, who later turned out to be the teacher’s aide, reported the alleged abuse.
“From our aspect, it’s a criminal case,” Rocklin Police Captain Lon Milka said.
The parents say they are shocked and feel betrayed that the person entrusted with care of their children is the same one who allegedly abused them.
“She yanked him through the chair back opening and it resulted in bruises and scrapes,” Hugunin said.
“The lady threw him out of the room, onto the step, onto the metal setps outside the room,” father Pat Hugunin said.
The Hugunins say their son is now home schooled because he terrified to return to his classroom.
+ Read more.
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