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Newest Estimate: 1 In 45 Youngsters Have Autism
By Standard Times
The government has a new estimate for autism – 1 in 45 U.S. children – but other federal calculations say the developmental disorder is less common.
Released Friday is one of three estimates that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gives for autism based on different surveys; the most rigorous one gives a lower estimate of 1 in 68 children.
The new number is from a survey of parents of 13,000 children, who were asked last year if their child were ever diagnosed with autism or a related disorder. The lower CDC estimate is from researchers checking health and school records for more than 47,000 children.
The 1 in 68 will still be treated as the best estimate, said Michael Rosanoff, director of public health research for the advocacy group Autism Speaks.
But the new number supports a belief that 1 in 68 is an underestimate, he added.
Estimates of how common autism is have been steadily increasing. In 2007, the CDC estimated 1 in 150 children had autism.
For decades, autism meant kids with severe language, intellectual and social impairments and unusual, repetitious behaviors. But the definition has gradually expanded and now includes milder, related conditions. The cause or causes of autism are still not known.
Experts say teachers and parents are increasingly likely to say a child with learning and behavior problems is autistic, so at least some of the apparent increase is due to different labeling.
A third CDC survey issued two years ago – also based on parents’ responses – came up with an estimate of 1 in 50 children with autism.
In the latest survey, some questions about autism were reworded to try to avoid confusion and get a more accurate figure, said lead author, Benjamin Zablotsky.
“I think we’ll continue to see the estimates getting closer” to each other, he said.
Sleep, Sensory Injury Problems In Half Autistic Kids=".2x">
Aggression is a clinically significant problem for many children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). However, there have been few large-scale studies addressing this issue. The current study examined the prevalence and correlates of physical aggression in a sample of 1584 children and adolescents with ASD enrolled in the Autism Treatment Network. The prevalence of aggression was 53%, with highest prevalence among young children.
Aggression was significantly associated with a number of clinical features, including self-injury, sleep problems, sensory problems, GI problems, communication and social functioning. In multivariate models, self-injury, sleep problems, and sensory problems were most strongly associated with aggression. The results indicate that aggression is markedly prevalent, and clinical implications and directions for future research are discussed.
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Researchers Grow Brain Parts To Study Development, Disease
By Malcolm Ritter AP
Dr. Sergiu Pasca, a neuroscientist, used to envy cancer specialists. They could get their hands on tumors for research, while Pasca could not directly study key portions of a living brain.
But these days, Pasca does the next best thing: He grows his own.
In his lab at Stanford University, thousands of whitish balls of human brain tissue float in hundreds of dishes. Each smaller than a pea, they were created from human skin cells, including some from people with autism. Each one carries the DNA of the person it came from, and each organized itself enough to form a part of the brain that interests Pasca.
He is hardly alone. Dozens of labs are growing lumps of human brain tissue for study, a practice that drew notice in 2013 when researchers said they had created "minibrains" that contained multiple major parts of the fetal organ.
Just to be clear: Although brain cells in the lab-grown tissues show some activity, nobody has created fully functioning, adult human brains. The versions reported in scientific journals mimic only one or more parts of a fetal brain. (An August announcement of a nearly complete brain comparable to a fetal one hasn't been backed up by a journal article yet, and experts are withholding judgment until they can see the details).
Scientists say the technology holds great potential for studying the roots of diseases like autism and schizophrenia, testing possible treatments and tackling basic questions about evolution.
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Gluten-Free Diet Has No Benefit for Children With Autism, Study Finds
University of Rochester researchers also restricted casein in the diet and found no effect on behavioral symptoms
The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders published a recent study that found the gluten-free, casein-free diet had no effect in reducing symptoms associated with autism. It should be noted, however, that the study had low statistical power since it consisted of only 14 participants. Thus, very large group differences would be needed to reach statistical significance.
By Shirley S. Wang wsj.com
A diet popular as an alternative treatment for autism doesn’t appear to improve behaviors or symptoms of the condition, according to a small but rigorously conducted study published this month in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
The new work, conducted by researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center, examines the gluten-free, casein-free diet and offers what many experts in the field say perhaps the highest-quality evidence to date that eliminating proteins found in wheat and dairy doesn’t improve autism symptoms.
Many interventions for autism have been well-studied and demonstrate benefits, particularly if begun in children very young, including applied behavior analysis and developmental therapies.
But many families are willing to try a range of unproven therapies in an effort to do whatever they can to help their children, say clinicians and advocates. Some in the autism community have long suspected that diet and food additives have a negative impact on children with the developmental disorder, which is characterized by social and communication deficits.
Anecdotal reports about restrictive diets improving or even erasing symptoms in children have prompted many parents to try such diets—especially, over the past 15 years or so, those restricting gluten, a protein found in wheat, and casein, present in dairy. At the University of Rochester’s Kirch Developmental Services Center, where some 1,200 children with autism are seen a year, about 1/3 have been on such a diet at some point, according to Susan Hyman, division chief of neurodevelopmental and behavioral pediatrics there and the lead author of the newly published paper.
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Apple Expands ResearchKit To Autism, Melanoma, Epilepsy, More
Autism only mentioned, but not specifics.
By Cesar Mills financialspots.com
Apple's enterprise-facing app platform is being used by researchers at Duke University, Johns Hopkins and the Oregon Health & Science University in new studies focused on autism, epilepsy and melanoma. Epilepsy: The EpiWatch app developed by Johns Hopkins is the first study of its kind to be conducted with Apple Watch using ResearchKit. There are already devices on the market that can take these measurements individually, Krauss said. The information that the app collects now is private. More than 50 researchers have added to the apps coding framework which is open source. Early ResearchKit apps encourage patients to track symptoms of heart disease, diabetes, asthma, Parkinson's disease, breast cancer treatment, and more.
Watson health makes use of the data collected with Apple's HealthKit and ResearchKit to provide info to several other firms such as Johnson and Johnson and Medtronic. (NASDAQ:AAPL) came up with the ResearchKit to allow users contribute to the research in health and medicine. The app tracks medication intake, seizure duration, and other factors. In the new research, studies using ResearchKit researchers will rely on participants that use the mobile apps.
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CARE, INCLUSION & ACCEPTANCE
Barber Helps Autistic Boy Conquer His Fear Of Haircuts
By Maria Guido scarymommy.com
James Willis and Denine Davies’ son Mason was diagnosed with ASD a few months ago. They’ve been struggling with cutting his hair because Mason does not like his ears to be touched — which makes it really difficult to get him to sit still for a haircut. As luck would have it, someone recommended a barber who would end up working with Mason in the most creatively patient way.
The barber’s name is James Williams, of the shop, Jim The Trim. He explained on his Facebook page that over the last few months he’s been attempting to find different ways to cut Mason’s hair, but Mason wouldn’t allow him to go near one of his ears and would run away if he got too close to it. But one day, Mason stretched out on the floor of Williams’ shop in silence, and Williams met him down on the floor.
Williams explains that by getting on the floor and laying with Mason in silence, Mason allowed him to give him his first proper haircut. “I love making both parents happy by giving extra attention,” Williams said. And when he finished, he asked Mason for a high-five and instead got a hug.
• • •
GPS Tracking Device Helps Nassau County Mother Keep Her Boys With Autism Safe
By Kristin Thorne abc7ny.com
It was just more than two years ago that Avonte Oquendo walked out of his school in Queens.
The body of the 14-year-old who had autism was found months later in the East River.
Now, a mother in Nassau County is using GPS to track her children who have special needs.
"I haven't slept in my own bed for about the past four years because I'm so terrified he's going to run off and I'm not going to hear him in time," said Dayann McDonough, a Merrick resident.
It's not just 8-year-old Donovan that Dayann has to worry about.
Her 10-year-old son Douglass also has autism and has a tendency to run away.
"You can have an alarm and all that's going to do is let you know your child left but not where your child is," Dayann said.
But now her kids wear a GPS device that not only tells McDonough and her husband where the boys are but it tracks them.
"The bus went down and dropped him off at school," Dayann said.
It sends the parents alerts. It's called "Angel Sense".
• • •
Adult Autism: The Unique Challenges Of Age
Mention the word “autism” in conversation and many will likely assume you are referring to autistic children. This notion is not surprising. After all, autism in children seems to be discussed more these days for various reasons.
But what about adults with autism? This question often falls between the sheets in the general autism conversation. The fact is that autism itself does not change with age; most of the disorder’s core deficits endure through puberty and into adulthood.
“The deficits (between both autistic children and adults) are essentially the same,” said Dr. Michael Murray of the Autism Services, Education, Resources and Training (ASERT) initiative. “The core deficit is processing social information; difficulty with socially interacting with people stays consistent throughout life.”
“Children with autism grow up to be adults with autism,” said Leslie Long, Vice President of Adult Services at Autism Speaks. “Core symptoms do not change, but people have to learn how to compensate for environmental changes as they get older.”
Unique challenges But deficits become more noticeable as autistic young adults begin to adapt to the unpredictable professional and social demands of the “real” world; they begin to face external challenges unique to their disorder.
“With autism, as the individual gets older, their characteristics such as preservations, difficulty reading social cues and interactions as well as the expression of emotion become more noticeable than when that individual was much younger,” said Dr. Bernadette Cachara, a local psychologist. “As a child, many of their peers are also learning the art of social interactions; therefore, it may be less noticeable unless very extreme.”
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• • •
Rutgers Announces One-Of-A-Kind Program For Autistic Adults
By Matthew White nj1015.com
Rutgers University is partnering with the Mel Karmazin Foundation to launch an initiative that establishes a center for adults with autism to live and work independently in the university setting.
The Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services (RCAAS), to be located in two buildings on the university’s Douglass Campus in New Brunswick, will offer up to 60 adults with autism, who are living off campus, with university jobs supported by clinical staff and graduate students. A second phase of the center will offer a pilot residential program for 20 adults with autism who will work on campus and live alongside Rutgers graduate students in an integrated apartment-style residence.
Mel Karmazin, former CEO of Viacom, CBS and Sirius XM Radio, has a personal connection to the issue. His grandson, Hunter, was diagnosed with autism at an early age. Thus, the Mel Karmazin Foundation, has been active in autism causes.
An estimated one in 68 children nationally – and one in 45 in New Jersey – are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). While these children have access to many services through high school, Karmazin realized the services diminish considerably once they leave public school systems. That leaves adults with little support outside of their families.
“There is very, very little being done to provide resources for the adults with autism,” Karmazin said.
In the course of meetings and research, it was realized that a college campus would be a perfect site for this type of center because: it is always open, there’s lots of jobs, access to different types of transportation, and recreational facilities.
“The campus environment of the university would provide for all of the needs for adults with autism,” Karmazin explained.
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Haircuts By Autistic For Autistics - Starting Up, Tucson
"A Special Cut" is the business idea of my wife, Mary Meinel. It refers to a hairstyling salon with two distinct features. It will cater to a mostly autistic clientele. There is a great need for such a salon in Tucson where we live as most of the regular salons don't want autistic people as customers. Mary, being autistic herself, feels differently.
We have found an ideal location for our business; the home office of the Tucson Alliance for Autism. We want to spend part of each week serving children and older autistic people ("normal" family members are okay too) and part of the week going out to homes of people who don't want to come to our salon. If there is room, we want to also serve other people with special needs; cerebral pals, down's syndrome etc.
+ Go fund them.
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Texas Company Gives Autistic Adults Jobs For Life
“It's a technology company with a brand new location in Houston. When it's up and running, it'll look like the flagship location in Plano where 165 adults with autism learn sophisticated software, work together to create gaming apps, and earn a living to support themselves for life.”
+See video here or here.
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CARE & PREVENTION
Breastfeeding Your Baby Could Protect Them From Autism, Says New Study
Mothers who do not breastfeed their babies could be putting them at increased risk of autism, a startling study has revealed.
By Selina Sykes express.co.uk
Researchers said breast milk may be rich in oxytocin, a hormone involved in trust and bonding.
Alternatively, the close contact involved in the act of breastfeeding itself could make a baby more trusting.
Previous research has shown mothers' milk boosts levels of feelings of confidence and helps reduce fear.
Kathleen Krol, a Phd student at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, said: "Sensitive responding to emotions in others is a vital social skill that helps us related to others, predict their actions and co-ordinate our own behaviour during social interactions.
Babies who had been nursed naturally for the longest duration showed an increased preference for looking at happy eyes and were put off by angry eyes compared with peers breastfed for a short time.
Recognising emotions in others is an important social skill which relies heavily on information from observing the region around a person's eyes.
Reduced attention to eyes has been linked to social impairments such as autism, which sees children and adults struggle read emotions and find it harder to communicate.
The results, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest breastfeeding might improve sociability in children prone to autism.
The shocking research has found breastfeeding could boost social behaviour in children born with a genetic predisposition to autism.
The findings suggest that a chemical passed from mother to child in breast milk could help protect babies from the behavioural disorder.
The link was made after researchers showed 98 seven-month old babies pictures of happy, angry and scared faces and noted how long they looked at them.
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Program Teaches Special Needs Children How To Swim
While drowning is a serious concern for all children with or without autism, lack of exercise will probably shorten the life of many who survive to adulthood.
Charlie Flanagan, 7, of Danbury, laughs in the water with instructor Jessie Lippi, of New Milford. The class, Swim Whisperers, uses the pool at the Quality Inn in Danbury.
Marianne Flanagan watches as her son laughs and plays in the pool.
But Charlie Flanagan, 7, who has autism, wasn’t always this comfortable around water.
“When we first came, we were pulling him into the water,” Marianne Flanagan said. “Now he jumps right in.”
Flanagan credits her son’s transformation to Swim Whisperers, a program developed by Angelfish Therapy to teach children with autism and sensory motor disabilities the skills to be safe in and near water.
“Water seems to calm him,” Flanagan said, “and he’s learning to take direction.”
Children with these issues tend to have either no fear of water — and therefore, no awareness of the inherent dangers, or are petrified of it. Statistics show drowning is the leading cause of death for children with autism.
Jessie Lippi, 27, of New Milford, is one of the program’s swim instructors. She is certified and trained by the Red Cross and Angelfish. Her focus is safety, using the Swim Whisperers’ “14 roadblocks to swimming,” which include making a child comfortable going underwater, how to get out of the water and basic swimming strokes.
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A New Smartwatch That Detects Seizures and Emotional Stress
By Jessica Carew Kraft healthcaresolutionsplus.org
Like many health conscious Americans, Dr. Rosalind Picard wears a fitness tracker on her wrist. But hers doesn’t just track steps, it has an extra sensor that gathers medical information.
Picard hopes the sensor, which measures the skin’s electrical response, will soon save lives by predicting major health events such as epileptic seizures. As a leading engineer at the MIT Media Lab, Dr. Picard researches the autonomic nervous system, which includes heart rate, respiration, digestion, perspiration, and the fight-or-flight response.
Picard’s smartwatch, developed by her company Empatica, records electrodermal (EDA) activity and wirelessly sends the data to a smartphone. The technology isn’t new, versions of the sensors have been used in polygraph tests for decades.
But new, highly sensitive sensor technology can now provide a continuous reading on our emotional states, linking the tiniest increase in sweating to psychological or physiological arousal.
Picard calls this idea of using tech to help bridge the gap between human emotions and technology, ‘Affective Computing’ and she has been driving this field of study for several years.
She takes her research personally, and wears her wristband sensor every day. It shows when she’s stressed, and when she’s calm, and yields surprising insights. When Picard compares her data with other researchers wearing the sensor, she notes that her tolerance of stress is higher than average. “We find individual differences in stress points,” Picard explained. “I tend to thrive on thrill-seeking high stress situations, but other people would go nuts with what I do.”
+Read more on Using Sensors for Autism.
Easy Screening Test For Autism
Pupillary Light Reflex Test, Common In Eye Exams, Detects Disorder In Babies
By Susan Scutti medicaldaily.com
A penlight pupil test commonly used by doctors can predict a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, a Washington State University study finds. The new research suggests this simple exam could be an accurate physiological measurement of autism, the range of neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by difficulties with social interaction and repetitive patterns of behavior.
Parents and doctors begin to worry about autism whenever a child does not meet the usual developmental milestones. However, to make that diagnosis, specially trained physicians and psychologists must conduct a behavioral evaluation, since no medical test for the disorder currently exists. According to Autism Speaks, these assessments cannot be confirmed until a child reaches age 2 or 3, when, it is said, a child’s symptoms become stable. Meanwhile, precious time is lost, time when a child might be receiving special training and therapy that could spell the difference between severe disability and high-functioning ability.
Yet, the very latest brain imaging technology has revealed some clear distinctions in the autism spectrum disorder brain. Since some obvious anatomical differences exist, why isn't there a physiological test to diagnose autism — one that is able to detect the disorder at an early age?
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Training By Repetition Actually Prevents Learning For Those With Autism
Carnegie Mellon sciencedaily.com
Training individuals with those with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) to acquire new information by repeating the information actually harms their ability to apply that learned knowledge to other situations. This finding, by an international research team, challenges the popular educational approaches designed for ASD individuals that focus on repetition and drills.
Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) sometimes acquire a new behavior or skill only in a specific context, but they have difficulty transferring that learned skill or information to a new context.
For example, children with autism can be taught what a dog is by showing them a picture of a dog and repeating the word "dog" over and over. But, when they are then taught what a cat is or even shown another type of dog, the previous knowledge does not transfer, and they have to learn this information from scratch.
A new study published in Nature Neuroscience shows that training individuals with ASD to acquire new information by repeating the information actually harms their ability to apply that learned knowledge to other situations. This finding, by an international research team, challenges the popular educational approaches designed for ASD individuals that focus on repetition and drills.
"There have been few systematic investigations into the fundamental mechanisms by which information is acquired by ASD individuals -- and into the potential reasons for their restricted, atypical learning," said Marlene Behrmann, the Cowan Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Carnegie Mellon University and a faculty member in the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC). "This study begins to scratch the surface of the phenomenon.”
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• • •
New Grant Provides College Access To Individuals With Intellectual Disabilities
By the Graduate School of Education, Portland State University. schoolofed.wordpress.com
For the first time in Oregon, individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) will have access to an inclusive university experience. A $2.5 million, five-year grant from the US Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education will create a college program that enrolls students with ID in regular PSU classes and culminates in the certification of skills for eventual employability and adult life. Ann Fullerton and Susan Bert, faculty in the Graduate School of Education, are co-directors of the project. Ruth Falco, Director, Research Center on Inclusive and Effective Educational Practices, was instrumental in bringing partners together for the project and in writing the grant proposal, and will serve as the project evaluator. The Think College Inclusion Oregon (TCIO) project is the first of its kind at a four-year university in Oregon.
“For many young adults, college is a path to independent living and preparation for employment in a chosen career area. Traditionally, individuals with intellectual disabilities have been excluded from the college experience, when college can be a critical step toward their success as adults,” said Fullerton.
PSU faculty and staff will design a program that provides inclusive college coursework, the option to live on campus, and preparation for future employment. The grant also provides academic advising and other academic support to help ensure students with ID are successful in their individualized college experiences. The plan is for 35 TCIO students to participate. The project will start small and focus on building capacity over five years.
“As a recipient of a Model Demonstration Grant, the goal is to develop and evaluate a model that can be a blueprint for other higher education institutes in the state,” said Fullerton.
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BULLYING, ABUSE AND FATALITIES
Nashville Jury Awards Man In Altered Pics $150K
By Stacey Barchenger, tennessean.com
A Nashville man with Down syndrome, whose photograph was posted online and years later surfaced with altered text and phrases such as "Sick Retarded Kid," was awarded $150,000 by a federal jury on Wednesday.
Court papers say the image of Adam Holland was taken in 2004, when he was 17 and in an art class. In the original photo, he is smiling at the camera and holding a drawing that included the words "Go Titans.”
The picture surfaced online about eight years later. And instead of "Go Titans," the drawing in Holland's hand had been changed to include inappropriate messages.
Larry Crain, the Brentwood attorney who represented the Holland family in the case, and Sara Hart Weir, president of the National Down Syndrome Society, said the jury's ruling could set precedent. States are looking at ways to address what happens when someone's picture is shared without their permission.
"A lot of states are taking a look at changing the law and protecting individuals, not just disabled individuals, whose photos are taken and used on the Internet," he said. Tennessee's Personal Rights Protection Act allows some protections to individuals when their images, name or likeness is used for the commercial gain of others.
Efforts to strengthen the Tennessee law have failed, though Crain said he hopes this ruling will be momentum for change. The Tennessee General Assembly in 2014 considered a bill that would make sharing nude images of someone else a crime, but the bill died. Many other states have made such sharing illegal.
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Two Louisiana Officers Charged with Murder in Shooting Death of Six-Year-Old Boy
The officers have been the subject of multiple lawsuits alleging excessive force.
By Deb Belt Patch.com
Two Louisiana police officers charged with murder following the shooting death of a 6-year-old boy have been the subject of numerous excessive force complaints, according to court records.
Jeremy Mardis, 6, was buckled into the front seat of his father’s car, which is where he died Tuesday night. The boy’s father, Christopher Few, is in critical condition from gunshot wounds.
Louisiana State Police say the two city marshals fired 18 shots during a pursuit of Few’s vehicle. The child was shot five times, authorities said.
The officers’ body-camera footage of the chase and shooting “is the most disturbing thing I’ve seen,” said Louisiana State Police Superintendent Col. Michael D. Edmonson at a Friday press conference. “Jeremy Mardis, six years old, he didn’t deserve to die like that.”
Marshals Derrick W. Stafford, 32, of Mansura, LA, and Norris J. Greenhouse Jr., 23, of Marksville, LA, are both charged with second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder.
Four officers were involved in the encounter with Few and his son, and initially claimed they were trying to arrest the man on an outstanding warrant, The Washington Post reports. Edmonson disputed that account and said investigators are still trying to determine what started the chase.
“It’s a very tragic time. Nothing is more important than this badge that we wear on our uniform. The public allows us to wear that; it’s not a right, it’s a privilege. That badge has been tarnished,” Edmonson said.
• • •
Nevada Plans to Pay More for Autism Therapists, After Outcry
From the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services ktvn.com
Richard Whitley, director of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), today announced that effective January 1, 2016, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) will be covered by the Division of Health Care Financing and Policy (DHCFP).
“This is a significant step forward for treating the children of Nevada whose lives can be greatly improved by receiving this type of therapy,” Whitley said, “and it will be a great benefit to their families. We thank the community for their passion and involvement in this process.”
Funding for the program was approved by the Nevada Legislature during the 2015 session as part of an overall push to improve autism treatment for approximately 6,000 children in Nevada.
Nevada Medicaid will reimburse for ABA rendered to Medicaid eligible individuals under age 21 in accordance with Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) coverage authority. The coverage includes assessments, evaluations, individual interventions and family treatment. There are no co-pays or annual/lifetime limitations.
• • •
200-Year-Old Homeopathy “Cures” May Face Modern Medical Testing
By Dan Vergano BuzzFeed News
The FDA is taking aim at homeopathic remedies — pills and preparations sold over-the-counter that claim to cure diseases with tiny doses of stuff that makes people sick.
Homeopathy, which debuted in Germany more than 200 years ago, is now a $6.4 billion business nationwide, and growing. After decades of ignoring these products, U.S. drug regulators are finally asking hard questions about what has long been derided by mainstream doctors and scientists as quack medicine.
“Consumers are constantly being misled about homeopathics,” Edzard Ernst, an emeritus professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, told BuzzFeed News. “They believe that they are natural, safe, and effective — none of this is true.”
That’s not just Ernst’s view. Doctors since Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. in 1842 have mocked homeopathy. This past June, an Australian government review found “no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective.” And in August, the U.S. CDC noted that “there is little evidence to support homeopathy as an effective treatment for any specific condition.”
Homeopathic products can also pose rare safety risks, according to the FDA. In 2009, for example, the agency received more than 130 accounts of people who lost their sense of smell after taking Zicam homeopathic cold remedies. One expert testified to the FDA that those accounts raised concerns about toxic levels of zinc.
• • •
How a Child With Autism Became 'His Own Man' After Treatment
By John Donvan, Caren Zucker, Durrell Dawson, Alexa Valiente abcnews.go.com
When he was 2 years old, Jake Exkorn couldn't talk, make eye contact or follow instructions because he had autism.
But today, Exkorn is a 19-year-old freshman at the University of Michigan and hardly even remembers what it was like to have autism.
"My memories are pretty limited," Exkorn told ABC News' "Nightline." "I don't say, ‘Hi I'm Jake. I used to have autism when I was little.' But if it comes up, if they see an article or something or a segment where I'm in it or ask about it, I'm more than happy to tell them about my past.”
It's a remarkable change from when "Nightline" first met Exkorn when he was 4 years old.
In 2001 Exkorn had been recently diagnosed with autism, which many people think of as a lifelong condition. But in some cases, individuals can recover from autism.
Starting in 1998, two-year-old Exkorn went through an intensive therapy called applied behavior analysis (ABA) treatment, which has become a standard treatment, but it was not well known then.
During these therapy sessions, children are taught in small steps how to wave and how to speak. Month after month, Exkorn sat in a chair for 40 hours a week taking lessons and slowly making progress.
Though Exkorn has few memories of his ABA therapy sessions, his parents remember it all.
"I think that part of our lives was so intense and the therapy was so intensive and it was like we were living in this snow globe," Exkorn's mother Karen Siff Exkorn told "Nightline." "And the rest of the world didn't exist. I mean we barely--I barely left the house during those two years.”
• • •
7-year-old Boy With Autism Auctioned Picture For The European Refugees
The British Red Cross aired a heart-warming story about a 7-year-old boy with autism who successfully auctioned a picture he drew to raise money for the European refugees.
From Celtic FC to a caring schoolboy, how you’re supporting refugees Refugees stand in a queueWhen Oliver Hall heard about the plight of refugees, he wanted to do his bit to help.
The seven-year-old schoolboy drew a picture, called ‘Lost on the Road’, about people who have had to walk long distances.
Oliver, who has autism, said he simply wanted to help someone start a new life by raising a bit of money.
His mum, Charlotte, was going to buy the picture from him, until a friend suggested auctioning it on ebay.
Incredibly, the bid at the time of writing stood at a fantastic £82. Money raised will go towards our Europe Refugee Crisis Appeal.
• • •
Autistic NYC Boy Says 'SpongeBob' Taught Him Heimlich
A 13-year-old autistic boy says he performed the Heimlich maneuver on a classmate at his New York City school after learning the technique from "SpongeBob SquarePants.”
The Staten Island Advance reports that Brandon Williams was eating lunch at Barnes Intermediate School on Oct. 28 when he noticed that classmate Jessica Pellegrino was choking on a piece of apple.
He wrapped his arms around her mid-section and gave a sharp thrust to her diaphragm, and she spit out the piece of apple.
Brandon was asked how he learned the Heimlich a few days later. He said, "Learned it on SpongeBob.”
Brandon's and Jessica's seventh-grade class had a party to celebrate Brandon's heroism. Some adults at the school said Brandon deserves a medal but he said he doesn't need one.
• • •
Janna Rollens Gone
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• • •
Who Benefits From Autism Growth Denial?
New report says autism rate is now at 1 in 45, but experts insist that autism growth is merely a diagnostic anomaly, a stupid illusion. So who you going to believe, the experts or your lying eyes? Here is my take on the motives behind this inane and malicious spin attempt.
Winner Number One
Deep pocket supported genetic research projects.
A real and recent increase in autism prevalence strongly points to environmental factors as the cause, and not inherited genes. Genes don't cause large surges in medical disorders. Even epigenetic changes need environmental triggers. Yet, almost all causative research goes into finding genes, not environmental factors. Genetic research, which is important, would stand to lose huge amounts of funding if attention switched to finding the actual cause, not the genetic alibis for autism. Why aren't hundreds of millions spent on finding the genetic source of alcoholism, for example? It's a crushing problem, too. Because it is known what the environmental cause of alcoholism is: alcohol. If we determined the environmental cause of autism, the funding of genetic research into it would greatly diminish, decimating a research growth market. Although the abortifacient dream treatment for autism that genetic research promises dies hard. Big motive.
Winner Number Two
Vaccine manufacturers and their public health agencies.
Vaccines have been a suspected cause of autism and its increase due to the temporal proximity of expanded number of vaccine injections with the surge of onset of autism in toddlers. Both autism and the expanded vaccine protocols started in the late 80's. But if it can be shown there is no real increase in autism, then there is nothing real to blame on vaccines. This exonerates the negligence of vaccine manufacturers and their future executive personnel pool now running public health agencies for their conflicted promotion of vaccines. Billions of dollars in remedial care to the states and families, possible criminal charges, along with a ruined vaccination program. Big motive.
Winner Number Three
Ableist-countering higher functioning autism advocate movement.
The neurodiverse anti-ableist movement seeks to define autism not as a medical condition, but as a social class struggle between an exploitative, privileged and prejudicial (ableist) normal class of people at the expense of an historically oppressed disabled autistic class. If there is a real increase, then the autistic class never existed to be oppressed in the first place. There goes your historically oppressed class and a major justification for the organizational cause which goes with it. While denying the autism surge, the ND leadership is quietly counting on the increased membership it promises. Big motive.
The people and families of the autism surge will lose if the public fails to appreciate the enormity of consequences to the individuals, families and society. The costs are phenomenal and if the rate of growth continues, it will bankrupt taxpayers. If research into treatments for autism continues to be ignored it will compound the poor functioning lives of the autistic and their dependency. If research into the cause of autism continues to be ignored, we will have failed the future victims of autism who may have been saved from the discovered causes. Denying the autism surge is not just wrong, it's immoral, if not criminal for the suffering it enables.
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