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TREATMENT

At UC Davis MIND Institute, Learning Can Be Child's Play For Autistic

PEOPLE
Autistic Boy Bonds With Wildlife Safari Elephants
The Promise of Music and a Phemoninal Young Man Video.

PUBLIC HEALTH
Author Robyn O’Brien Talks Of Dangers Lying On Our Plates

RESEARCH
Psychologists Use Non-Expert Student Observers In Autism Research
Everybody Laughs, Everybody Cries: Researchers Identify Universal Emotions

EVENTS
Dear John Premiere Raises More Than $100,000 for Autism
The Annual Seaver Autism Center Conference: New Insights in the Etiology, Diagnosis, Neurobiology, Genetics and Treatment of Autism

COMMENTARY
Autism Clusters In California Real, Not Genetic
The Scandalous History of MMR in the UK

LETTERS
Thank you for "Chasing the Hope" - Autism Awareness Won


TREATMENT
At UC Davis MIND Institute, Learning Can Be Child's Play For Autistic

      By April Dembosky, The Sacramento Bee.  is.gd/73811



                                                       Lezlie Sterling

      Most parents never think they'll have to learn how to play with their own children.
      But if a toddler is diagnosed with autism, moms and dads can spend years with the child and a therapist, drawing with crayons and playing hide and seek. Research is proving that as parents color and stack building blocks with their kids, they are subtly teaching them to overcome cognitive, language and social delays.
      "When we first came in, he wasn't talking, he didn't respond to his name, he wasn't making eye contact," said Cindy Jensen of her son Cooper, who's now almost 3.
      After more than a year of specialized play therapy through the UC Davis MIND Institute in Sacramento, Cooper is speaking in seven-word sentences, learning to take turns and initiating pretend play. "It's a lot of training, but it's worth it," Jensen said.
      Treatments for autism are geared to children between 3 and 5 years old. Researchers said there is growing urgency - even a sense of obligation - to develop effective intervention for much younger children.
      New diagnostic tools can identify autism in kids as young as 12 months, and prevalence of the disorder is reaching record numbers. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports one in every 110 children has an autism spectrum disorder.
      Researchers at the MIND Institute are conducting a study adapting a specialized program, the Early Start Denver Model, for children to begin as young as 1 year old. The model focuses on building relationships with children and teaching skills through play: 20 hours every week with a therapist, and at least five hours a week with parents.
      "What the child learns is that it's more fun to do things with others, rather than alone," said Sally Rogers, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the MIND Institute. "Kids with autism enjoy playing with others, they enjoy being tickled. They just don't know how to initiate."
      Rogers co-authored a previous study, recently published in the journal Pediatrics, which found that autistic children who received this therapy showed significant improvement in IQ, language, motor skills and adaptive behavior compared to a control group of autistic children who did not receive the same therapy.
      Some kids improved so much that they no longer met the diagnostic criteria for autism, classified instead as having a less-severe developmental disorder.
      "We're trying to identify these kiddos early so they can learn in a typical way," Rogers said.
      The coaching channels an autistic child's learning pattern toward eye contact and verbal communication, before autistic developmental characteristics become entrenched.
      "This is unique in that parents learn the model," said Vanessa Avila-Pons, a therapist and team leader for the early intervention study at the MIND Institute. Avila-Pons demonstrates play techniques and offers guidance while parents play with their children.
      During a recent session, Carrie King played with her 2-year old son Elijah. King held a plastic toy gun for a game of helicopter.
      "Go!" Elijah said. King pushed a button, sending a small plastic disc spinning through the air and onto the table. Elijah was delighted. After a few more times, she handed him the toy. He fiddled with it but couldn't get the same result. He looked up; King reached out her hands, palms up.
      "That's good she responded," Rogers said, watching from the other side of a two-way mirror. "For these little ones, eye contact is hard. A lot of parents wait for a word."
      Kids don't know that eye contact and gestures are communication tools, Rogers said. By giving Elijah the toy without showing him how to work it, King forced him to ask for help. By holding out her hands, she reinforced Elijah's request for help through eye contact. King had introduced to him a new gesture that means "help" or "give me."
      "Push," King said, "push!" The disc flew. King opened her eyes wide and let out a "Wow!"
      Rogers nodded.
      "She's using simple one-word phrases, because that's where he's at," she said. "The use of the word 'wow,' shows kids that words are not just for labels or requests. It's an emotional word. 'Wow' is social. We want kids to know that words are used in a lot of different ways."
      Elijah and King will finish their initial 12-week coaching this week, then move to the 25 hours of weekly therapy over the next two years. King said she was relieved when she enrolled Elijah in the study, soon after he was diagnosed at 18 months.
      "It's so great to get a diagnosis, because your life can start," she said.
+ Read more: is.gd/73811




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• • •

PEOPLE

Autistic Boy Bonds With
Wildlife Safari Elephants


is.gd/71N2N


       Winston, Ore. — Wylie Malek has liked elephants for as long as he can remember. His father, Kris Malek, said as soon as his son was able to sit up and watch TV he was fascinated with the giant creatures, whether real ones on the Discovery channel or cartoons on Disney.

      Wylie, 10, is autistic but has already proven himself to be a  

      Robin Loznak/The News-Review
hard worker and willing to do the tough jobs — just ask the elephants at Wildlife Safari.
      When the Maleks discovered they lived just miles away from three elephant residents of the safari park in Winston, they became regulars, stopping in every couple of months since Wylie was 2 years old.
      Eventually, park officials noticed his passion and enthusiasm for the gentle giants and worked up an arrangement that has benefited the boy and his co-workers for the last two years.
      “We don't do job shadows on a regular basis,” Dinah Wilson, elephant manager, said. “But he has been an inspiration to us."
      Wylie, a student at Green Elementary School, works with trainers about once a month to do almost every aspect of elephant care. He spreads sawdust, shovels waste and puts out food. When it is time for an elephant bath, Wylie raises a brush high above his head, spreading soap and bubbles across their thick, gray skin.
      “Wylie likes to outwork me, I think,” elephant keeper Timmy Hamilton said. “We were sweeping hay in the barn and we had a race and he won."
      The boy constantly has a positive attitude, Hamilton said, and she hasn't found a chore her young helper won't complete.
      “He wants to be out here every day,” Kris Malek said. “He is pretty proud that he has a job. He feels pretty important to have that responsibility (and) takes it real serious that he gets to come out here."
      He wants to be an elephant keeper “forever,” Wylie said. The boy might not know exactly what that means, his father said, but he knows he wants to be working with elephants for life.
      The young man's communication skills have improved through the interactions, his father said, both with the adults at Wildlife Safari and with kids in his classes at Green Elementary. Sometimes it is hard to get the otherwise reserved boy to stop talking about the elephants, his father said. When he recites for the fifth time how much an elephant can eat, his family has to change the subject, Kris Malek joked.
      “I think in the last year especially he has gotten much more gregarious, more chatty,” Wilson said. “He is getting more comfortable with my staff and he works well to help. He likes being here and we like him."
      The elephants like him, too, Wilson said, as they have a noticeably calm demeanor when he is around.
      He is a natural elephant man, she said.
      “Some people say I am the lucky one,” Wylie said. “I feel lucky. I like it out here."
      
• • •

The Promise of Music and a Phemoninal Young Man Video.

Here:

• • •

PUBLIC HEALTH

Author Robyn O’Brien Talks Of Dangers Lying On Our Plates


      By Katie Simon, smudailycampus.com is.gd/73hF4


      It’s no big news that the food we eat does not fall off a tree and ship straight to our local grocery stores untouched by processing chemicals and dyes. What may be less known is the detrimental impact that many food and drinks we consume have on our health.
      Author Robyn O’Brien spoke Thursday night at DeGolyer Library about her book, “The Unhealthy Truth: How

Our Food is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It” and her passion in taking action against what food corporations are putting in our food.
      But O’Brien explained that she never grew up as a “foodie.”  “I am a very unlikely crusader for cleaning up food supply,” she said. “I was born and raised in Houston, Texas on Twinkies and Po’ Boys."
      However, when one of her four children developed a food allergy, that all changed. Curious, she decided to research food allergies: what she came across was not only astonishing to her, it compelled her to take big steps to alert people in the nation about what they were putting in their bodies.
      The information she found led her to write a letter to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
      sAs a result, she landed a spot on his radio show, gained media coverage across the country, and successfully published her book.  According to her research, the Centers for Disease Control reports that between 1997 and 2002, there was a 265 percent increase in hospitalizations related to food allergies.  This begged her to ask the question, “Is there something foreign in our food that wasn’t there when we were kids?"
      O’Brien found her answer when she learned that in 1994, corporations introduced a new synthetic protein, RBGH, that they were inserting into dairy cows in order to increase their lactating profitability.
      Even more suspicious to her—many top world governments never allowed the introduction of RBGH into their cows because of its toxicity potential.
      “There were nights…where I thought, ‘How many sippy cups of this stuff have I filled? And how many bowls of cereal have I poured this on, not knowing that this was not allowed in children’s food around the world?’” O’Brien said.  As a result of the introduction of this protein, milk is now the most common food allergy in the U.S.
      So how does O’Brien suggest ridding these chemicals out of one’s diet? Aside from avoiding corn syrup and sticking to organics, she suggests considering three simple questions.
      “Ask yourself, ‘Would grandmother have had this on her kitchen counter? Can my eight-year-old read the ingredients on the side of the box?” And finally, “is it pronounceable?"
      O’Brien has an MBA in finance from Rice University. She is the founder of the AllergyKids Foundation, an organization that funds research to advance and practice techniques to heal children with autism, ADHD, asthma or allergies.
+ Read more: is.gd/73hF4





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• • •

RESEARCH

Psychologists Use Non-Expert
Student Observers In Autism Research


       medicalnewstoday.com  is.gd/73ddn

       Non-expert is not often a term that one would associate with scientific research, but it could become a new trend in psychology research. Some recent studies have begun to rely on non-expert students to observe and provide data during experiments.
      In a research project about early autism detection in infants, Dr. Daniel Messinger, an associate professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Miami (UM), and his research group are doing exactly that.
      "The idea is that human beings are essentially experts on certain aspects of interpersonal interaction. This seems to be particularly true for emotion, as understanding the emotions of others is critical to our own development," says Dr. Jason Baker, a UM postdoctoral researcher with Messinger and first author of the study.
      The study entitled "Non-Expert Ratings of Infant and Parent Emotion: Concordance with Expert Coding and Relevance to Early Autism Risk," is published in the January issue of the International Journal of Behavioral Development.
      The study used 188 non-expert students to observe the interactions of 38 parents and their six-month old infants, 20 of whom had older siblings with autism spectrum diagnoses and were considered high risk, and 18 of whom did not have a sibling with autism and were used as a control group.
      The parents were asked to play with their child for three minutes and then to keep a still emotionless face for two minutes. The idea was to measure the infant's interactions and how their emotions changed in response to the + Read more: is.gd/73ddn

• • •

Everybody Laughs, Everybody Cries: Researchers Identify Universal Emotions


is.gd/73l5M

      ScienceDaily — Here's a piece of research that might leave you tickled: laughter is a universal language, according to new research. The study, conducted with people from Britain and Namibia, suggests that basic emotions such as amusement, anger, fear and sadness are shared by all humans.
      Everybody shares the vast majority of their genetic makeup with each other, meaning that most of our physical characteristics are similar. We all share other attributes, too, such as having complex systems of communication to convey our thoughts, feelings and the intentions of those around us, and we are all able to express a wide range of emotions through language, sounds, facial expressions and posture. However, the way that we communicate is not always the same -- for example, people from different cultures may not understand the same words and phrases or body language.
      In an attempt to find out if certain emotions are universal, researchers led by Professor Sophie Scott from UCL (University College London) have studied whether the sounds associated with emotions such as happiness, anger, fear, sadness, disgust and surprise are shared amongst different cultures. The results of their study, funded by the Wellcome Trust, Economic and Social Research Council, University of London Central Research Fund and UCL, are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They provide further evidence that such emotions form a set of basic, evolved functions that are shared by all humans.
      Dr Disa Sauter, studied people from Britain and from the Himba, a group of over 20,000 people living in small settlements in northern Namibia as part of her PhD research at UCL. In the very remote settlements, where the data for the present study were collected, the individuals live completely traditional lives, with no electricity, running water, formal education, or any contact with people from other groups.
      Participants in the study listened to a short story based around a particular emotion, for example, how a person is very sad because a relative of theirs had died recently. At the end of the story they heard two sounds -- such as crying and of laughter -- and were asked to identify which of the two sounds reflected the emotion being expressed in the story. The British group heard sounds from the Himba and vice versa.
+Read more: is.gd/73l5M

• • •

EVENTS

Dear John Premiere Raises More Than $100,000 for Autism

is.gd/7233w

      Charleston, SC - Charleston may not be known for hosting red carpet movie premieres but Sunday night it sure looked and felt like Hollywood. More than 400 fans had tickets to the sold-out world premiere at the Terrace Hippodrome Theater hundreds of others showed up to scream and meet the star, Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried, but there was much more to this show than just glitz and glam.
      Every penny raised at Sunday night's big Dear John premiere benefitted Carolina Autism. The event raised more than $100,000 dollars. The organization works with more than 100 autistic adults and children including 7-year-old Braeden Reed of Daniel Island who landed a role in the film.
      ”Two-hundred fifty on average is how much it costs to serve a kid in our home program for a week," said Phil Blevins, Executive Director of Carolina Autism.
      "Everyone who bought a ticket basically provided a child with autism a week's therapy," he added.
      Blevins hopes Braeden's role in 'Dear John' raises more awareness of the disorder. Statistics show it affects one in 110. The actors said the experience touched them personally.
      "He was the most natural person on set, as actors we're thinking about what we're doing and he didn't think, he was just being and as an actor that's what we strive for," Channing Tatum told ABC News 4.
      "It's powerful being next to someone like him what's going on in his mind is just amazing," said Seyfried.
      The film debuts nationwide on Feb. 5. For more information on Carolina Autism click here: www.carolinaautism.org
      
• • •

The Annual Seaver Autism Center Conference: New Insights in the Etiology, Diagnosis, Neurobiology, Genetics and Treatment of Autism


Sunday, April 11, 2021 8am-5pm
Stern Auditorium at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine 1468 Madison Ave,
New York, NY 10029

      The course director is Joseph Buxbaum, PhD. Distinguished speakers include Evdokia Anagnostou, MD; Bryan King, MD and Sarah Spence, MD, PhD.
      Keynote speakers are Dr. Eric London and Alison Singer, MBA.
      For more information, please contact: Natasha.ludwig@mssm.edu
      
• • •

COMMENTARY

Autism Clusters In California Real, Not Genetic


      From Autism Speaks.

      Two recent, separate publications identified regions with higher than expected numbers of autism cases - or clusters - in California. Using data collected by the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS) on 2.5 million births including almost 10,000 autism cases from 1996-2000, investigators at UC Davis[1] uncovered several clusters  of elevated risk for autism. Autism Speaks reviewed these studies and found that the majority of these clusters were found to be strongly associated with higher parental education and, to a lesser extent, with parents of older ages. It is thought that parents with higher levels of education may have better access to the regional diagnostic and service centers in California, as the DDS relies on parents actively seeking services. Thus the distribution of cases is likely influenced by proximity to specialty research and service centers.
      However, demographic factors, alone, may not explain the increased numbers of cases in these clusters. The authors propose that other factors, including environmental exposures, may play a role but warrant further investigation to understand their contribution to autism etiology.
      “Examination of clusters can help us understand the factors that have led to in increase in autism prevalence over time,” said Autism Speaks’ Chief Science Officer, Geraldine Dawson, Ph.D.
      Similar to the UC Davis study, a second study using data collected by the California DDS, which was conducted by investigators from Columbia University identified a significant cluster of increased risk for autism as well as a set of lower risk clusters in and around Northern Los Angeles. However, rather than looking at incidence of cases by DDS Regional Center catchment area, Mazumdar et. al. examined more than 11,500 autism cases among four million births by place of birth. This approach was used to avoid potential bias caused by parents moving to neighborhoods that improve access to specialty autism services.
      “Our paper is different,” Columbia University co-author Peter Bearman, Ph.D. said. “It identifies a large and stable primary cluster for autism based on residence at birth that is observed over many years and which crosses over regional center boundaries."
      The primary cluster accounted for approximately 3 percent of new autism cases in California each year from 1993-2000. While the primary cluster was found to be in an area of higher socioeconomic status than comparison regions, this factor did not fully account for the increased cases of autism in this region.
      “Our findings point strongly to the idea that a local process is associated with the increased risk of autism. Such a local process could be either an environmental factor or a social influence factor, or both,” noted Bearman.
      Both publications add to the growing body of evidence suggesting that the distribution of autism cases differs across different regions. While the exact causes of the clustering in California are unknown, ongoing studies exploring environmental exposures and social factors will be useful in providing answers.

• • •

The Scandalous History of MMR in the UK

      By John Stone ageofautism.com is.gd/73jxx

      The updated ChildHealthSafety documentary account tracing events back to a hidden deal between the UK government and the manufacturers in 1988 involving a product already banned in Canada, and the astonishing array of conflicts among Andrew Wakefield’s persecutors, all the way to the present General Medical Council hearing in London can be found here (HERE is.gd/73k2V . First posted last January, amid rumours that important new documents were to be made available through Freedom of Information, the information about the improper relations between government and industry was already damning.  Whatever  “the findings on fact” when the hearing resumes on Thursday there can be no excuse the continuing naive reporting of these events.
      “The person who commissioned Deer was Paul Nuki, Sunday Times’ sometime Head of Newsroom investigations and “Focus” editor.  Paul Nuki is son of Professor George Nuki. Professor George Nuki in 1987 sat on the Committee on Safety of Medicines when the CSM was considering Glaxo company Smith Kline & French Laboratories’ Pluserix MMR vaccine for safety approval.  The CSM approved Pluserix MMR but it caused very high levels of adverse reactions and was withdrawn by the manufacturers on very little notice in late 1992 leaving the Department of Health in an embarrassing position..."
      “Professor Denis McDevitt was due in July 2007 to chair the unprecedented British General Medical Council hearing of the case of Doctors Wakefield, Murch and Professor Walker-Smith.  McDevitt and the GMC failed to declare McDevitt’s personal involvement in approving the dangerous Pluserix MMR vaccine in 1988.  He only stood down after Jamie Doward of the Observer, Martyn Halle, freelance journalist for the Sunday Express, Andy Wilks of the Mail on Sunday, Jenny Hope of the Daily Mail and Heather Mills of Private Eye challenged the GMC over the matter. ["MMR Conflict of Interest Zone" Private Eye - June 2007]
      Read more at ChildHealthSafety


      Note: The opinions expressed in COMMENTARY are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Schafer Autism Report.

• • •

LETTERS

Thank you for "Chasing the Hope" - Autism Awareness Won


      From the National Autism Association. is.gd/73dIK

      Out of 500,000 nonprofits across the country, you helped us become one of Chase Community Giving’s Top 100 highest voted organizations on Facebook and earned us $25,000.00 for our programs. You also earned us a chance to enter Round 2 of the Chase Community Giving Campaign and a shot at winning $1,000,000.00 for the most amount of votes earned on Facebook, and $100,000.00 for positions two through six. The results are in, and NAA made it to the 7th place position.
      While some may see this as yet another loss for our community, we believe it is an extraordinary win for our cause. We are incredibly overwhelmed by the amount of support, hard work, dedication and compassion that has occurred over the last seven days of this competition.
      We've seen people working around the clock pulling for our children and loved ones. Many of the people who jumped in wholeheartedly aren't directly affected by autism, yet worked alongside us as if they were. We saw autism nonprofits come together and forego our organizational names for a week to simply became the name "vote autism."
      The amount of press coverage and free media placement was unexpected. We saw ABC and Fox affiliates airing our 60 second autism PSA in the daytime, which is unheard of. We saw morning news shows airing our three minute autism video, and radio stations around the country donating free airtime to "Vote Autism on Facebook, the #1 Childhood Disorder in the Country." We saw high profile figures bringing attention to our cause. Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy, HollyRod Foundation, The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation, Kathy Ireland, Nia Vardalos, CNN's Jack Gray with over a million Twitter followers - all of them were bringing awareness to autism.
      Most of all, we saw you fighting like mad to spread the word. Colorful profile pictures with the words "Vote Autism" decorated thousands of Facebook news feeds and our “Think Autism” Facebook Group reached 1.3 million members. We saw Age of Autism, SafeMinds, Autism Speaks, Talk About Curing Autism, Schafer Autism Report, Autism One, Kim Stagliano for Huffington Post, Unlocking Autism, Autism Research Institute, Autism Action Network, Generation Rescue, Tommy Foundation, AutismLink, Houston Autism Disability Network, Easter Seals Miami, Spectrum Magazine, all NAA Chapters and so many other groups and advocates come together to help our cause win resources for our community.
+ Read more: is.gd/73dIK



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In This Issue:


























































TREATMENT
At UC Davis MIND Institute, Learning Can Be Child's Play For Autistic

PEOPLE
Autistic Boy Bonds With Wildlife Safari Elephants

The Promise of Music and a Phemoninal Young Man Video.

PUBLIC HEALTH
Author Robyn O’Brien Talks Of Dangers Lying On Our Plates

RESEARCH
Psychologists Use Non-Expert Student Observers In Autism Research

Everybody Laughs, Everybody Cries: Researchers Identify Universal Emotions

EVENTS
Dear John Premiere Raises More Than $100,000 for Autism
The Annual Seaver

Autism Center Conference: New Insights in the Etiology, Diagnosis, Neurobiology, Genetics and Treatment of Autism

COMMENTARY
Autism Clusters In California Real, Not Genetic

The Scandalous History of MMR in the UK

LETTERS
Thank you for "Chasing the Hope" - Autism Awareness Won







            

Send your LETTER   








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