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RESEARCH

Mother’s Antibodies May Explain a Quarter of Autism Cases


      By Maia Szalavitz. Time Magazine.

Linda Epstein / Getty Images
  

  
      A test for six antibodies in an expectant mom’s blood may predict with more than 99% certainty which children are at highest risk of developing autism.
      In a study published in Translational Psychiatry, researchers report that 23% of all cases of autism may result from the presence of maternal antibodies that interfere with fetal brain development during pregnancy. The work builds on a 2008 study from the same scientists that first described the group of antibodies in mothers-to-be. The latest paper describes the specific antibodies and provides more detail on what they do.
      “It’s very exciting,” says Alycia Halladay, Senior Director of Environmental and Clinical Sciences for Autism Speaks, who was not associated with the research.
      The research is already leading to what could be the first biological test for autism; the antibodies are found almost exclusively in mothers of autistic children, and not in children with other types of disorders or in mothers of non-autistic children. Only 1% of mothers whose children were not affected by autism had the antibodies in their blood, compared to 23% of mothers of autistic children. Judith Van de Water, an immunologist and professor of internal medicine at the University of California Davis MIND Institute and the study’s lead author, has consulted for a company, Pediatric Bioscience, that is developing a commercial version of the test, but the research was not funded by that organization and was supported primarily by the National Institute on Environmental Health Sciences.
      “We haven’t found any [mothers] who have these antibodies and don’t have children with some sort of developmental disability issue,” says Van de Water. “We feel this really identifies a subtype of autism."
      The antibodies belong to a class of compounds called autoantibodies, which are immune cells that the body makes to target — often mistakenly — its own cells. Scientists do not know why or when the mothers produce these antibodies, which appear to monkey with normal nerve development in the fetal brain by interfering with their growth, migration and genetic replication. It is possible that infections during pregnancy — a known risk factor for autism —can prompt the immune system to produce them. Exposure to toxic chemicals can also cause immune defenders to mistake healthy cells for invaders, Van de Water notes.
      The study involved 246 autistic children and their mothers, as well as 149 typically developing children. Of the mothers tested, all but one with the antibodies had an autistic child— and the child of the remaining mother had ADHD, a condition that often occurs along with autism.  That suggests that a positive test almost certainly indicates a developmental disability.  However, since 77% of the mothers of autistic children did not have these antibodies, Van de Water says, a negative test would not rule out all risk of autism.
      And so far, the presence of the antibodies do not seem to be associated with any particular form of autism. “Certain behaviors seem to be associated with this, including stereotyped repetitive behavior like hand-flapping and lower levels of expressive language,” says Van de Water, but no unique behavioral signature has been found so far. The children also did not seem to score differently on cognitive tests than other youngsters with autism.
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• • •


Autism Symptoms Not Explained by Impaired Attention



      psychologicalscience.org


      Autism is marked by several core features — impairments in social functioning, difficulty communicating, and a restriction of interests. Though researchers have attempted to pinpoint factors that might account for all three of these characteristics, the underlying causes are still unclear.
      Now, a new study suggests that two key attentional abilities — moving attention fluidly and orienting to social information — can be checked off the list, as neither seems to account for the diversity of symptoms we find in people with autism.
      “This is not to say that every aspect of attention is fine in all children with autism — children with autism very often have attentional disorders as well,” explain psychological scientists and lead researchers Jason Fischer and Kami Koldewyn of MIT. “However, our study suggests that attention impairments are not a key component of autism itself."
      The study is published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
      Attention has long been targeted as a possible causal mechanism in autism research: “Problems with attention early in life could have far-reaching consequences,” say Fischer and Koldewyn. “For example, if young children with autism don’t pay close attention to the behaviors of the people around them, they might never learn to read body language and other social cues."
      But much of the previous research on attention, social learning, and autism had been mixed.
      “Some of the most fundamental questions remain debated,” Fischer and Koldewyn explain. “Our goal was to conduct careful, systematic, relatively large-scale studies of some of the mental processes most often implicated in autism to discover which of them are actually disrupted in autism and which are not."
      To investigate this, Fischer, Koldewyn, and their team had children with high-functioning autism and children without autism complete an attention task while tracking their eye movements. Critically, the participants were matched on age and IQ before participating in the study to rule out the possible influence of global developmental delays that aren’t specific to autism.
      The task was intended to answer two questions: Are children with autism less able to reorient to a new stimulus (a plausible precursor of restricted interests)? And are children with autism slower to respond to social stimuli, such as faces? Overall, children with and without autism showed clear signatures of shifting attention and orienting to social stimuli, but there was no difference in either ability between the two groups, challenging the hypothesis that impaired attention might be at the root of autism symptoms.
      Fischer and Koldewyn underscore that these aren’t simply null results — they do contribute in a meaningful way to our understanding of autism.
      “Understanding which mental capacities are intact in autism is not only encouraging, but also helps families and educators design effective interventions to work on those cognitive skills that are true areas of weakness in autism."
      While finding those true cognitive impairments, and their antecedents, has proved difficult, it’s not for lack of effort.
      “We believe that the crux of autism lies in a difficulty interpreting the nuanced and complex information present in real life social situations,” Fischer and Koldewyn conclude. “We plan to test children with autism in more natural scenarios than the typical laboratory environment in order to understand how social context interacts with attentional abilities in autism."
      Co-authors on this research include Nancy Kanwisher of MIT and Yuhong Jiang of the University of Minnesota.
+ Read more.    

• • •
 
Asperger's and Autism: Brain Differences Found

      By Bahar Gholipour livescience.com


      Children with Asperger's syndrome show patterns of brain connectivity distinct from those of children with autism, according to a new study. The findings suggest the two conditions, which are now in one category in the new psychiatry diagnostic manual, may be biologically different.
      The researchers used electroencephalography (EEG) recordings to measure the amount of signaling occurring between brain areas in children. They had previously used this measure of brain connectivity to develop a test that could distinguish between children with autism and normally developing children.
      "We looked at a group of 26 children with Asperger's, to see whether measures of brain connectivity would indicate they're part of autism group, or they stood separately," said study researcher Dr. Frank Duffy, a neurologist at Boston's Children Hospital. The study also included more than 400 children with autism, and about 550 normally developing children, who served as controls.
      At first, the test showed that children with Asperger's and those with autism were similar: both showed weaker connections, compared with normal children, in a region of the brain's left hemisphere called the  arcuate fasciculus, which is involved in language.
      However, when looking at connectivity between other parts of the brain, the researchers saw differences. Connections between several regions in the left hemisphere were stronger in children with Asperger's than in both children with autism and normally developing children.
      The results suggest the conditions are related, but there are physiological differences in brain connectivity that distinguish children with Asperger's from those with autism, according to the study published Wednesday (July 31) in the journal BMC Medicine.
      "The findings are exciting, and the methods are sophisticated," said Dr. James McPartland, a professor of child  psychiatry at Yale University, who was not involved in the study.
      Although the study included a reasonable number of children, like any new finding, the research needs to be replicated in future studies, McPartland said.
      People with Asperger’s syndrome experience difficulties with social interaction, and can display unusual behaviors, such as repeating the same action or being excessively attached to performing certain routines. These symptoms overlap with those of autism disorder, however, children with Asperger's tend to show language and cognitive development that is closer to that of normal children, compared with children with autism.
      Recently, the American Psychiatric Association decided to eliminate Asperger's syndromefrom the newest revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5) and instead put it alongside autism under an umbrella term, autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
      The APA's decision raised voices of concern from several places. Parents worried that their children with Asperger's might not receive the special training they need, and experts said it was premature to combine the two conditions under one groupwhen it cannot be ruled out that there are biological differences.
      "At present, it is hard to know whether [the new findings] reflect a core, intrinsic difference between Asperger's and autism, or whether it is a reflection of developing with different characteristics," McPartland said.
      Duffy said the new findings fit with the notion that autism and Asperger's syndrome are similar in some respects; for example, both have difficulty getting along with other people. However, stronger connectivity among the left hemisphere brain areas in children with Asperger's may be what makes people with Asperger's special in terms of their personalities and abilities, Duffy said.
      "It's essential to separate these two groups, because they need different education  and training and opportunity," he said.

• • •

Addictive Gaming More Common With Autism And ADHD

      By Andrew M. Seaman, Reuters



      Children with an autism spectrum disorder spend about twice as much time playing video games as kids who don't have a developmental disability, according to a new study.
      Researchers also found that children with an autism spectrum disorder or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at an increased risk of gaming addictions, compared to children without the disabilities.
      "What we found is that it looks like (addictive gaming) was largely driven by inattention," Christopher Engelhardt, one of the study's authors from the University of Missouri in Columbia, told Reuters Health.
      Previous studies have found that children with an autism spectrum disorder or ADHD spend more time playing video games and are at increased risk for gaming addictions than other children, write the researchers in the journal Pediatrics.
      No single study, however, has looked at the three groups to see whether shared features of autism and ADHD - such as inattention or hyperactivity - seem to drive video game use.
      For the new study, Engelhardt and his colleague surveyed the parents of 141 boys between the ages of 8 and 18 years old. Of those, 56 had an autism spectrum disorder, 44 had ADHD and 41 were developing normally.
      Overall, they found that kids with an autism spectrum disorder played - on average - 2.1 hours of video games per day. Children with ADHD spent about 1.7 hours per day playing video games and normally developing kids played about 1.2 hours per day.
      Kids with an autism spectrum disorder or ADHD were also more likely to have a video game system in their rooms, according to the researchers.
      The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children not spend more than two hours in front of a screen per day.
      The researchers also asked the parents to answer questions about the types of video games their children played the most, about their gaming behavior and their symptoms of hyperactivity and inattention.
      While typically developing kids tended to pick first-person shooter or sports games, children with autism and ADHD were more likely to play role-playing games - although the latter finding could have been due to chance. Role-playing games have been linked to video game addiction in previous studies.
      The researchers did find that children with an autism spectrum disorder or ADHD were more likely to exhibit symptoms of video game addiction or
"problematic video game use," compared to kids with typical development.
      Overall, they found the number of hours a child spent playing video games and inattention were linked to video game addiction.
      "Among people with autism, the score on problematic video game behavior was driven by inattention and role-playing video games and not hyperactivity," Engelhardt said.
      The study, however, can't say autism spectrum disorders or ADHD cause children to play more video games or become addicted to them. Also, the number of parents surveyed may have limited the researchers' ability to detect some differences between the groups.
      "What does seem to be the case is that the average amount that you're playing does seem to be related to problematic video gaming," Engelhardt said.
 
• • •

Good Job Training Results In Competitive Employment For Autistic Youth


      New York / Heidelberg, 29 July 2020

     
springer.com


      Young people with ASD who completed program achieved employment at 87 percent A Virginia Commonwealth University study shows intensive job training benefits youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), one of the most challenging disabilities in the world where only 20 percent find employment. Published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, the study demonstrates that nine months of intensive internship training, in conjunction with an engaged hospital, can lead to high levels of competitive employment in areas such as cardiac care, wellness, ambulatory surgery and pediatric intensive care units.
      “This is the first study of its kind to demonstrate the skills and abilities youth with ASD have and the success they can experience at work,” said Paul H. Wehman, Ph.D., principal investigator of the study and Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Director of the VCU Autism Center at the VCU School of Education. “Previous research in this area showed that youth with ASD were employed at lower rates than even their peers with other disabilities."
      Traditionally, youth with autism between the ages of 18 and 22 remain unemployed after leaving school at rates of over 80 percent. But VCU researchers reported that those who completed a program called “Project SEARCH with Autism Supports” achieved employment at 87 percent. This study also showed that youth with ASD required less intense support as they became more competent at their work task.
      VCU partnered on the study with Bon Secours Richmond Health System St. Mary's Hospital in Henrico County, Va., St. Francis Medical Center in Chesterfield County, Va.; Henrico County Public Schools; Chesterfield County Public Schools; and the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS).
      “Bon Secours has participated in Project SEARCH since 2010 and each year we find the students add a tremendous value to our team of caregivers,” said Michael Spine, Bon Secours Health System Senior Vice President of Business Development. “Project SEARCH graduates are permanent and important members of our staff, working throughout the hospitals in a variety of areas including labor and delivery, our cardiac units and wellness."
      “Witnessing how these ‘disabled students’ are transformed into valued employees and colleagues during their Project SEARCH year is the best example of how our system can be successful when our collaboration is employed,” said DARS Commissioner James A. Rothrock.
+ Read more.     

• • •

Discovery of Brain Chemical Changes in Autism Could One Day Be Used to Reverse Process

      By Tamarra Kemsley natureworldnews.com



         Researchers have identified distinct brain chemical changes in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that, they say, not only confirms it is fundamentally different from other developmental disorders, but could help scientists reverse the processes at play. (Photo : University of Notre Dame) Researchers have identified distinct brain chemical changes in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that, they say, not only confirms it is fundamentally different from other developmental disorders, but could help scientists reverse the processes at play.
      Led by a team from the University of Washington, the study compared brain chemistry among three groups of children: those with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, those with a diagnosis of developmental delay and those considered to be developing in a typical manner.
      They then used magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging, a type of MRI, to measure tissue-based chemicals in three age groups, including 3 to 4 years old, 6 to 7 years old and 9 to 10 years old.
      Among the chemicals measures was N-acetylaspartate, which is believed to play an important role in regulating synaptic connections and myelination, or the process by which a myelin sheath is formed. Its levels, studies have shown, are lower in people with conditions such as Alzheimer's, traumatic brain injury or stroke.
      Other chemicals examined in the study -- choline, creatine, glutamine/glutamate and myo-inositol -- all help characterize brain tissue integrity and bioenergetic status, according to the scientists.
      Among the study's notable discoveries was that while low concentrations of N-acetylaspartate were identified in 3-to-4-year-olds both with ASD and those identified as developmentally delayed, by age 9 and 10 these levels caught up to those of the typically developing group for the ASD cohort even as those in the developmentally delayed group continued to lag behind.
      This pattern of chemical alterations that are then resolved is similar to those seen in people have suffered a closed head injury and then healed, the researchers explain, and offers new insight into how the life-altering disorder can be both detected and intervened on.
      "A substantial number of kids with early, severe autism symptoms make tremendous improvements. We're only measuring part of the iceberg, but this is a glimmer that we might be able to find a more specific period of vulnerability that we can measure and learn how to do something more proactively," said Annette Estes, a co-author of the study and director of the UW Autism Center. Estes is an associate professor of speech and hearing sciences.
      However, despite the encouraging finding, the researchers note that science has yet to identify exactly when and why autism really begins to take root, which is crucial because, as the study acknowledged, "even a relatively brief period of abnormal signaling between glial cells and neurons during early development would likely have a lasting effect" on how a child's brain network develops.
      For this reason, the scientists are currently using more advanced MRI methods to study infants at risk for autism spectrum disorder because of an older sibling with autism.
      "We're looking prospectively at these children starting at 6 months to determine if we can detect very early alterations in brain cell signaling or related cellular disruption that may precede early, subtle clinical symptoms of ASD," said Stephen R. Dager, a UW professor of radiology and adjunct professor of bioengineering and associate director of UW's Center on Human Development and Disability.




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• • •

MEDIA

Anti-Jenny McCarthy 'The View' Campaign Orchestrated By Pharmaceutical Intrests


By Jeannie Stokowski-Bisanti examiner.com



      On August 1, Mark Crispin Miller, Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University entered a blog post entitled, 'Big Pharma’s faking a “grass-roots” campaign to keep Jenny McCarthy off “The View.” He then posted an article by Steve Schneider mentioning which pharmaceutical industry cronies are linked to a petition circulated by Change.org that seeks to have McCarthy replaced on “The View” before she can even shoot an episode.
      The petition is bylined “by Voices for Vaccines; St. Paul, Minnesota.” One look at the specific names involved in Voices for Vaccines makes it clear why the organization might be very interested in preventing any anti-vaccination talk from coming to “The View”: The Scientific Advisory Board of Voices For Vaccines (VFV) includes Paul A. Offit, identified in a CBS News report as holding a $1.5 million dollar Merck-funded research chair at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Offit “holds the patent on an anti-diarrhea vaccine he developed with Merck” according to CBS and, in 2008, future royalties for that vaccine, Rotateq, were sold for $182 million.
      According to National Vaccine Information Center President, Barbara Loe Fisher, the Voices for Vaccines board is rounded out by another advisor (Stanley A. Plotkin) who is a vaccine developer, and two others (Alan R. Hinman and Deborah L. Wexler) with significant ties to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Meryl Nass, a Maine-based Medical Doctor and public-health blogger explained that the pharmaceutical industry “funds CDC through the conduit CDC Foundation.” In turn, the CDC funds the Immunization Action Coalition, another pro-vaccination advocacy group. VFV advisor Wexler (mentioned above) also heads the IAC.
      VFV is also a project of the Task Force for Global Health whose board of directors is chaired by Jane Fugate Thorpe, an Atlanta products-liability lawyer whose official bio according to Schneider trumpets her “strategic defense of industry-leading corporations and industry coalitions, particularly with regard to Daubert strategies.” Schneider writes, '“Daubert” refers to the standard governing the admissibility of expert testimony at trial. In other words, Thorpe has made her reputation shielding product manufacturers from individuals like the concerned parents VFV purports to represent.'

• • •

The United States of Autism: Film Review
Director Richard Everts
This emotional documentary succeeds in putting a human face on this growing health issue. Richard Everts' personal documentary spotlights families and individuals affected by the developmental disorder

      By Frank Scheck hollywoodreporter.com

      It seems like every documentary requires a gimmick, even one dealing with as serious a subject as autism. As might be deduced from its title, the one in Richard Everts’ The United States of Autism is a road trip, specifically an 11,000, 40-day journey in which the filmmaker crisscrossed the country to speak to individuals, families, politicians, doctors and other relevant figures about this serious issue that has reached epidemic proportions.
      Its cutesy concept notwithstanding, the film delivers many profoundly emotional moments in its filmed encounters with those affected by the condition, although its breadth is ultimately more impressive than its depth. Opening for an Oscar-qualifying theatrical run, its larger viewership will probably stem from grassroots screenings.   Everts has a personal stake in the matter. His teenage son is autistic, which adds an undeniably heartfelt element to the proceedings. On the other hand, the debuting filmmaker makes the typical mistake of injecting his own irrelevant issues into the proceedings, such as his feelings towards the father who gave him up for adoption when he was a child. Their reunion late in the film, and such moments as when he’s warmly greeted by his wife after returning from his journey, have a stilted, staged feel.
      The film certainly earns points for its diversity of interviews, with Everts talking to people of many different ethnicities and religious persuasions, ranging from Chinese immigrants to Mormons. And such vignettes as when a little girl is seen operating a “Lemonade for Autism” stand to raise money for the cause are very moving.
      Most of the very brief interviews concentrate on the personal travails of the autism sufferers and their families, with only brief explorations of the still debated cause of the disorder. Brief mentions are made about such subjects as vaccines, environmental conditions, diagnosis issues, etc., but for the most part the film avoids wading into controversial waters.
      Political issues are touched on only fleetingly, such as an interview with a Republican activist in Oklahoma who’s been trying to get an aid bill passed by the state legislature for years without success. "It’s like, we’ll take care of you until the day you’re born, then you’re on your own," he bitterly comments.
      Ultimately, the film succeeds in its admirable goal of putting a human face on a disorder which many of those who lack a personal connection to it fail to fully comprehend or, in the worst cases, tolerate.

• • •

Brain Chemistry in Autism Changes with Age

      By Traci Pedersen Associate News Editor
      Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. psychcentral.com

     
psychcentral.com

      Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have distinct brain chemical changes that differ from children with other developmental delays as well as typically developing children, according to researchers at the University of Washington.  And these changes seem to resolve themselves after 10 years of age.
      “In autism, we found a pattern of early chemical alterations at the cellular level that over time resolved - a pattern similar to what others have seen with people who have had a closed head injury and then got better,” said Stephen R. Dager, M.D., a UW professor of radiology and adjunct professor of bioengineering and associate director of UW’s Center on Human Development and Disability.
      This finding gives new insight to efforts aimed at improving early detection and intervention.
      “The brain developmental abnormalities we observed in the children with autism are dynamic, not static. These early chemical alterations may hold clues as to specific processes at play in the disorder and, even more exciting, these changes may hold clues to reversing these processes,” said Dager.
      During the study, researchers analyzed brain chemistry among three groups of children: those with a diagnosis of ASD, those with a diagnosis of developmental delay, and those considered typically developing. The researchers used magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging, a type of MRI, to measure tissue-based chemicals in three age groups: 3-4 years, 6-7 years and 9-10 years.
      One of the chemicals measured, N-acetylaspartate (NAA), is thought to play an important role in regulating synaptic connections and myelination. Its levels are lower in people with conditions such as Alzheimer’s, traumatic brain injury or stroke. Other chemicals examined in the study were choline, creatine, glutamine/glutamate and myo-inositol, which help with brain tissue integrity.
      One important finding included changes in gray matter NAA concentration.  In scans of the 3- to 4-year-olds, NAA concentrations were low in both the ASD and developmentally delayed groups.
      By 9 to 10 years of age, however, NAA levels in the ASD children had caught up to the levels of the typically developing group, while low levels of NAA persisted in the developmentally delayed group.
      “A substantial number of kids with early, severe autism symptoms make tremendous improvements. We’re only measuring part of the iceberg, but this is a glimmer that we might be able to find a more specific period of vulnerability that we can measure and learn how to do something more proactively,” said Annette Estes, Ph.D., a co-author of the study and director of the UW Autism Center. She is an associate professor of speech and hearing sciences.
+ Read more.

• • •

NEWS

Autism Outreach: Pilot Program Enhances Military Special-Needs Care


      By Terri Moon Cronk Headquarters Marine Corps

     
hidesertstar.com

     
      A congressionally mandated pilot program set to launch July 25 will enhance an existing DoD program that provides care and treatment for military children with autism, a senior DOD official said.
      Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs and director of the TRICARE Management Activity met with reporters yesterday to explain the new program.
      An estimated 8,500 children of active-duty military families have a form of autism, Woodson said. He sought to dispel military parents’ concerns about rumors of a potential loss in benefits for their children with autism and autism spectrum disorder.
      “We understand that there’s a lot of anxiety in the community of interest around autism about suspected changes that would adversely affect care,” he said. “Providing care to children who have autism spectrum disorder and making sure they get the full range of care they need is a priority to us."
      “All care will be continued,” Woodson added. Noting that active-duty service members’ children’s autism care benefits in the applied behavior analysis administered through TRICARE would not change.
      “Anyone who’s receiving care under the (Enhanced Access to Autism Services Demonstration) --- there will be no change,” he said.
      There’s also no change in benefits to anyone enrolled in the basic medical program that began July 2012, Woodson said. An expansion of services through the autism pilot program, he added, will also allow retirees and their families to receive ASD benefits.
      Autism care and treatment is evolving, Woodson said.
      “In the future, we’ll try to identify what the best practice is for the periodic assessments -- who should get it and over what period of time,” he said, noting the pilot program is expected to yield “great insight” into evaluation protocols.
      The pilot program was developed by crafting requirements through consulting with experts in the field and advocacy groups to “try to find validated tests and the best strategy for focusing on what would be the right care at the right time for children (with autism),” Woodson said.
+Read more.   

• • •

FDA Defining What "Gluten Free" Means On Packages


      AP — A label that reads "gluten free" will now mean the same thing for all food, regardless of which kind you buy.
      After more than a six-year delay, the Food and Drug Administration has set a new standard for labels that will make shopping easier for consumers on gluten-restricted diets. Until now, the term "gluten free" had not been regulated, and manufacturers made their own decisions about what it means.
      Under an FDA rule announced Friday, products labeled "gluten free" still won't have to be technically free of wheat, rye and barley and their derivatives. But they will have to contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten.
      That amount is generally recognized by the medical community to be low enough so that most people who have celiac disease won't get sick if they eat it.
      People who suffer from celiac disease don't absorb nutrients well and can get sick from the gluten found in wheat and other cereal grains. Other countries already have similar standards.
      Celiac disease affects up to 3 million Americans. It causes abdominal pain, bloating and diarrhea, and people who have it can suffer weight loss, fatigue, rashes and other long-term medical problems. Celiac is a diagnosed illness that is more severe than gluten sensitivity, which some people self-diagnose.
      Only a very small number of people wouldn't be able to ingest the amount of gluten that will be allowed under the new rule, FDA officials said.
+ Read more.

• • •
      
Autism Ontario’s Ottawa Chapter Manager Resigns After Budget Shortfall Of $50,000 Is Discovered

       By Joanne Laucius, Ottawa Citizen   


      Autism Ontario has informed its Ottawa chapter that the chapter manager has resigned.
      In a message to members of the Ottawa chapter, Ontario community resource manager Katherina Symes said Tracy Davidson has resigned.
      “The chapter has accepted her resignation and wishes her the best in future endeavours,” said Symes in a message dated July 12.
      The chapter leadership discovered a budget shortfall of $50,000 about three weeks ago, said Marilyn Thompson, director of family supports and programs at Autism Ontario.
      She declined to elaborate on Davidson’s resignation, citing confidentiality.
      “She resigned. I can’t comment on her or her work.”
      Autism Ontario has chapters in 24 cities across the province. The non-profit offers education and family support and advocacy for people with autism and their families.
+ Read more.

• • • 

PEOPLE

South Florida Man With Autism Was Being Kept in "Dungeon-Like Conditions"


Police said his small room has a blacked-out window, no lighting, and a lock only accessible from the outside
   
     
nbcmiami.com



      Police discovered Thursday that a 30-year-old man with autism was being kept in “dungeon-like conditions” in a Sweetwater trailer home, authorities said.
      Gladys Jaramillo told police that on numerous occasions she has locked her son in his room with iron bars and a dead bolt so she could go out with her boyfriend and enjoy herself, her arrest affidavit said.
      The 56-year-old mother faces charges of aggravated abuse and neglect on a mentally disabled adult and false imprisonment, police said. She was being held on $15,000 bond early Friday. It wasn't immediately known whether she has an attorney.
      Her son has been taken to Kendall Regional Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries, Sweetwater Police spokeswoman Michelle Hammontree-Garcia said.
      Police responded to an anonymous call about the situation at 11250 NW 3rd St. at 5 p.m. The caller said that the mother kept her son in a small gated room while she left for hours at a time, according to police.
      No one was home when police arrived, and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue provided entry to the trailer.  Inside police said they found that the man had “a small room with a blacked-out window and a rusted iron door with a lock accessible only by the outside."
      Hammontree-Garcia described the room as "dungeon-like. As soon as you walked in the door, the smell of urine and feces slapped you in the face," she said.
      Police said the floor is coated with human waste. The bare room has no lighting or bathroom. Inside there is only a mattress.
      While police were at the home, the mother and her son returned home, police said.
      Jaramillo told police that she would give her son medication to sedate him so he'd sleep the whole time she was away from home. He was left without food, water, access to a bathroom or a phone, police said in the affidavit.
      He is expected to be placed with the Department of Children and Families, Hammontree-Garcia said.
      
• • •


Autistic Man Breaks Through The Silence

      usatoday.com


Watson Dollar relaxes outside his parents' Magee, Miss. home in June 2013, on a swing his father built for him years ago.

      By Emily Le Coz

      The last word Watson Dollar spoke before autism erased his ability to do so was "lights."
      The chubby cheeked toddler lay in his father's arms as anesthesia, administered for an ear-tube surgery, dimmed his consciousness. Head lolling back, body going limp, Watson gazed at the fluorescent lamps above him, uttering the one-syllable noun.
      Then he closed his eyes and never spoke again. That was 20 years ago.
      In the two months between Halloween and Christmas of 1992, Watson had lost almost of all of his 150-word vocabulary along with an interest in the world.
      His parents initially failed to notice the change, chalking up the subtle signs to stubbornness or fatigue or the ever-changing nature of a developing child.
      By New Year's, though, the difference was both inescapable and worrisome.
      The smiling, inquisitive boy who'd sung and pranced around his house in Magee now sat sullen and withdrawn. He rarely spoke. Instead of saying "juice" or "outside," Watson met his needs by tugging the nearest adult to the refrigerator or the backdoor.
      Watson also stopped playing with his toys. He used to push little cars around the living room, making vroom-vroom sounds. Now he held the vehicles upside down and close to his face while silently fixating on the wheels he'd spin for hours with his tiny fingers.
      By the time his pediatrician discovered fluid in his ears and recommended tubes, Watson was a different child. His parents, Pam and Donald Dollar, hoped the surgery would return him to his previous state.
      "He can't hear, that's why this is happening," Pam remembers the doctor saying. "As soon as we get those tubes in, everything will be fine."
      But the procedure changed nothing.
      The Dollars got the dreaded diagnosis on May 17, 2021 — 10 days after his second birthday — autism — and took immediate action.
      They bombarded Watson with therapy and enrolled him in Magnolia Speech School in Jackson. They enlisted the best doctors and attended the latest autism conferences. They did everything they could to loosen autism's grip, but it wouldn't let go.
      Pam and Donald eventually accepted reality: The disorder had permanently severed communication in their only child and, in doing so, isolated him from the world. Watson was lost, and he wasn't coming back.
      His own mother often wondered, "Is he even in there?"
      That question lingered two decades, until, on Nov. 11, 2011, Watson sent a postcard from the other side.
+Read more.

• • •

Slain Autistic Teen's Parents Sue Sheriff's Office

A deputy who killed an autistic teenager in the street could have defused a tense confrontation and awaited backup instead of drawing his gun and firing 11 shots, his family said in a wrongful death lawsuit filed Thursday against the sheriff's office.

      By Ben Wolford, Sun Sentinel

      West Palm Beach — A deputy who killed an autistic teenager in the street could have defused a tense confrontation and awaited backup instead of drawing his gun and firing 11 shots, his family said in a wrongful death lawsuit filed Thursday against the sheriff's office.
      Linda and Irving Camberdella announced the suit with their attorneys outside the courthouse, clutching framed portraits of their son Michael, 18, who died Oct. 4 after he threw a tantrum at their home west of Boynton Beach.
      The lawsuit challenges findings by prosecutors and sheriff's office investigators, who determined Deputy William Goldstein complied with Florida's self-defense laws and agency policies. The family, who said Michael Camberdella was unarmed when he was shot, is seeking at least $15,000 in damages.
      "If they would have just gave him a chance," Irving Camberdella said. Twice before, deputies had been called to calm down his son, and "when they came they always resolved it. Just this time it didn't happen that way."
      On that morning, Linda Camberdella called 911 seeking help to control Michael Camberdella, who could be heard shouting in the background, "you're going down," according to investigative reports. A dispatcher told Goldstein en route: "She says he has a hammer and a tree trimmer; says he will hurt anyone who approaches."
+Read more.


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  In This Issue:

































































RESEARCH
Mother’s Antibodies May Explain a Quarter of Autism Cases

Autism Symptoms Not Explained by Impaired Attention

Asperger's and Autism: Brain Differences Found

Addictive Gaming More Common With Autism And ADHD

Study Shows Job Training Results In Competitive Employment For Youth With Autism

Discovery of Brain Chemical Changes in Autism Could One Day Be Used to Reverse Process

MEDIA
Anti-Jenny McCarthy 'The View' Campaign Orchestrated By Pharmaceutical Intrests

The United States of Autism: Film Review

Brain Chemistry in Autism Changes with Age

NEWS
Autism Outreach: Pilot Program Enhances Military Special-Needs Care

FDA Defining What "Gluten Free" Means On Packages

Autism Ontario’s Ottawa Chapter Manager Resigns After Budget Shortfall Of $50,000 Is Discovered   

PEOPLE
South Florida Man With Autism Was Being Kept in "Dungeon-Like Conditions"

Autistic Man Breaks Through The Silence

Slain Autistic Teen's Parents Sue Sheriff's Office

 



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