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Thursday, November 15, 2020 Reader Supported.
SPECIAL DOUBLE LENGTH EDITION!
Prolonged Fever During Pregnancy May Increase Autism Rise
Pam Harrison Medscape Medical News
The author of the study said pregnant women should not panic at the research, which discovered a potential link between mother's immune systems and their unborn baby's brains
Fever lasting longer than 1 week may increase the risk for infantile autism, a large population-based study suggests.
Hjördis Ósk Atladóttir, MD, PhD, University of Aarhus, Denmark, and colleagues found that children whose mothers had a fever lasting longer than 1 week before gestational week 32 had about a 3-fold increased risk of being diagnosed with infantile autism.
In addition, children whose mothers reported influenza infection during pregnancy had about twice the risk of being diagnosed with infantile autism.
In contrast, influenza infection was not associated with the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
There also appeared to be a small increased risk for ASD and infantile autism among children whose mothers used certain antibiotics during pregnancy, although this finding might have been due to chance alone.
"We found no association between ASD and mild maternal infections, such as respiratory infection, urinary tract infection, or genital infection," Dr. Atladóttir told Medscape Medical News.
"But we are suggesting that maternal influenza infection and prolonged episodes of fever as well as the use of various antibiotics during pregnancy are potentially weak risk factors for ASD and infantile autism," he added.
The study was published online on November 12 in Pediatrics.
Maternal Immune Activation
Outside of the United States, the term "infantile autism" roughly corresponds to autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the umbrella term used in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, that covers 3 different subtypes of ASD.
In the current study, investigators separated out infants with infantile autism and ASD.
Researchers speculate that maternal immune activation during pregnancy may disrupt fetal neurodevelopment. Infectious disease is the most common path to maternal immune activation during pregnancy.
The study included 96,736 children from the Danish National Birth Cohort (DNBC). Exposure data were collected by telephone interviews with the mother at an average gestational age of 17 weeks and 32 weeks and then 6 months after the birth of the child.
Diagnoses of ASD were identified in the Danish Psychiatric Central Register.
A total of 976 DNBC children were diagnosed with ASD (1%); 342 had infantile autism (0.4%).
Following maternal influenza infection, the hazard ratio (HR) for infantile autism was 2.3. Following a prolonged febrile episode, the HR for infantile autism was 3.2.
There was also a small increased risk for both ASD and infantile autism after the use of both macrolides and sulfonamides anytime during pregnancy, as well as the use of penicillin during the second and third trimesters.
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Children With Autism Developmentally Normal at 6 Months
Medscape Medical News
Infants who go on to develop autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are developmentally normal by the age of 6 months, and the earliest signs of developmental disruption are subtle and not specific to autism, prospective, longitudinal data show.
In the largest prospective, longitudinal study to date comparing children with early and later diagnosis of ASD with children without ASD, Rebecca Landa, PhD, Kennedy Krieger Institute, Baltimore, Maryland, and colleagues found that the earliest signs of developmental disruption in children with ASD are likely to be nonspecific to ASD, such as communication or motor delay.
At 6 months, development within both the early-onset ASD children and those with later-onset ASD was comparable both to each other and to non-ASD control children.
"The standard clinical tools that we use to assess early development are not identifying abnormalities in babies midinfancy that go on and have autism," Dr. Landa told Medscape Medical News.
"So the assumption that any infant who is going to have autism would be obviously autistic in midinfancy is a myth because this just isn't happening."
The study was published online October 30 in Child Development.
Studying the developmental trajectory of multiple systems — motor, cognitive, social, and language — in the first 3 years of life in children with and without ASD could shed light on the susceptibility of the developing brain to the impact of genetic, epigenetic, and environmental factors in children with ASD.
Therefore, the investigators examined language and motor development in children aged 6 to 36 months and social development from 14 to 24 months, the time during which ASD regression usually occurs.
Participants included 204 infant siblings of children with autism as well as 31 infants with no family history of autism.
The Mullen Scales of Early Learning provided measures of motor and language functioning, and the Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales Developmental Profile provided measures of 2 social functions related to the diagnostic criteria for ASD.
By 14 months, the early-onset group exhibited significantly lower expressive language and shared positive affect scores than the later ASD group ( P < .001 for both endpoints).
By 18 months, the early ASD group also had greater delays in receptive ( P < .001) and expressive language development ( P = .001) compared with the later-onset group.
At 24 months, however, "the gap between the Early- and Later-ASD groups had closed, and no differences from the Later-ASD group were detected at subsequent ages," the investigators write.
These findings indicate that the early-ASD group manifested earlier development disruption, especially as it affected language and social functioning, than children with later-onset ASD but that they were no more severely affected than later-onset ASD children at either 30 or 36 months.
• • •
Scientists Make Autism Breakthrough
By Kelsey Fletcher stuff.co.nz
Scientists at Auckland University's Centre for Brain Research say they have gained new understandings of the causes of autism, opening up new avenues for possible treatment.
The ground-breaking research, done in collaboration with Stanford University in the United States, looked at brain cell communication and genetic mutations in people with autism.
The team discovered that autism was caused by mutated brain proteins, called Shank3, weakening communication between brain cells.
Head researcher Jo Montgomery said that the discovery was exciting because it meant treatments could be investigated.
"Brain cells are incredibly sociable cells in the brain and they talk to each other all the time," she said.
"There are about 10 trillion brain cells connected by about 10 billion synapses which gives you an idea of how much chatter is going on in your brain at one time, and all that chatter underlies how you see things, how you move, how you learn and how you remember things.
"What we showed is that when you have these autism-associated mutations, this changes how synapses in the brain function."
Dr Montgomery said there was definitely reason to get excited about the possibilities for a cure for autism, at some stage in the future.
"This is becoming an increasingly prevalent disorder - the latest numbers are one in 82 children," she said. "We're not entirely sure why that is and this is becoming a major issue, we need to find out what's going on and try to help some of those people who are severely affected by it."
Dr Montgomery said the Shank3 protein would normally provide a foundation for receiving information and help the synapse "talk back".
However, mutated Shank3 proteins, found in people with autism, did not work.
"This is a very hot area of research at the moment because there is no known cause to autism," she said. "There is a very strong genetic link but the problem is not everyone has the same genetic mutation, which makes it very difficult to find out what is causing autism and how we treat it."
+ Read more.
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Children of Scientists And Engineers Linked To Autism
By Sharon Takiguchi examiner.com
Scientific America on November 14, 2020 published results of multiple studies linking children with autism to parents of technically minded people. One study conducted back in 1997 on 2,000 people in Great Britain found 12.5 percent of the fathers of children with autism listed their occupation as an engineer compared to 5 percent of fathers without a child with autism. Later research found scientists, computer programmers and mathematicians showed higher rates as well.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke indicates that autism is not one disease, but a group of conditions called autism spectrum disorder. The children with this developmental disorder exhibit problems with communication and relating with others at a very early age. The children with autism display repetitive behaviors such as staring at one item for a long time or rocking back and forth.
The researcher in Great Britain further studied parents and children in the Netherlands to compare the city of Eindhoven that is home to Eindhoven University of Technology and High Tech Campus Eindhoven, the equivalent to M.I.T. in the U.S., and two other similar sized cities in the country. The study found the city, Eindhoven, with the high number of mathematical and computer experts showed a rate of autism three times higher than the comparable cities.
Another theory of autism proposes that high levels of the male hormone, testosterone, during pregnancy play a role in the development of autism spectrum disorder in the offspring. Italian researchers published in the December 2012 issue of Clinical Endocrinology a study of women with high testosterone levels during pregnancy and a history of polycystic ovary syndrome compared to healthy pregnant women. The female children of the women with high testosterone levels exhibited developmental disorders after birth.
Researchers theorize that the autism condition involves multiple genes, but other factors like high levels of testosterone or events occurring during pregnancy contribute to changes in the childâ€™s brain that causes the autism spectrum disorder. Scientists continue to slowly unravel the mystery behind this disease.
• • •
Brain Imaging Alone Cannot Diagnose Autism
Brain scans. An expert cautions against heralding the use of brain imaging scans to diagnose autism and urges greater focus on conducting large, long-term multicenter studies to identify the biological basis of the disorder. (Credit: © forestpath / Fotolia)
ScienceDaily — In a column appearing in the current issue of the journal Nature, McLean Hospital biostatistician Nicholas Lange, ScD, cautions against heralding the use of brain imaging scans to diagnose autism and urges greater focus on conducting large, long-term multicenter studies to identify the biological basis of the disorder.
"Several studies in the past two years have claimed that brain scans can diagnose autism, but this assertion is deeply flawed," said Lange, an associate professor of Psychiatry and Biostatistics at Harvard Medical School. "To diagnose autism reliably, we need to better understand what goes awry in people with the disorder. Until its solid biological basis is found, any attempt to use brain imaging to diagnose autism will be futile."
While cautioning against current use of brain imaging as a diagnostic tool, he is a strong proponent of using this technology to help scientists better understand autism. Through the use of various brain imaging techniques, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), and volumetric MRI, Lange points out that researchers have made important discoveries related to early brain enlargement in the disorder, how those with autism focus during social interaction and the role of serotonin in someone with autism.
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Brain Region-Specific Altered Expression And Association Of Mitochondria-Related Genes In Autism
Mitochondrial dysfunction (MtD) has been observed in approximately five percent of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). MtD could impair highly energy-dependent processes such as neurodevelopment, thereby contributing to autism.
Most of the previous studies of MtD in autism have been restricted to the biomarkers of energy metabolism, while most of the genetic studies have been based on mutations in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Despite the mtDNA, most of the proteins essential for mitochondrial replication and function are encoded by the genomic DNA; so far, there have been very few studies of those genes.
Therefore, we carried out a detailed study involving gene expression and genetic association studies of genes related to diverse mitochondrial functions.
Methods: For gene expression analysis, postmortem brain tissues (anterior cingulate gyrus (ACG), motor cortex (MC) and thalamus (THL)) from autism patients (n=8) and controls (n=10) were obtained from the Autism Tissue Program (Princeton, NJ, USA). Quantitative real-time PCR arrays were used to quantify the expression of 84 genes related to diverse functions of mitochondria, including biogenesis, transport, translocation and apoptosis.
We used the delta delta Ct ([increment][increment]Ct) method for quantification of gene expression. DNA samples from 841 Caucasian and 188 Japanese families were used in the association study of genes selected from the gene expression analysis.
FBAT was used to examine genetic association with autism.
Results: Several genes showed brain region-specific expression alterations in autism patients compared to controls. Metaxin 2 (MTX2), neurofilament, light polypeptide (NEFL) and solute carrier family 25, member 27 (SLC25A27) showed consistently reduced expression in the ACG, MC and THL of autism patients.
NEFL (P = 0.038; Z-score 2.066) and SLC25A27 (P = 0.046; Z-score 1.990) showed genetic association with autism in Caucasian and Japanese samples, respectively. The expression of DNAJC19, DNM1L, LRPPRC, SLC25A12, SLC25A14, SLC25A24 and TOMM20 were reduced in at least two of the brain regions of autism patients.
Conclusions: Our study, though preliminary, brings to light some new genes associated with MtD in autism.
If MtD is detected in early stages, treatment strategies aimed at reducing its impact may be adopted.
Author: Ayyappan AnithaKazuhiko NakamuraIsmail ThanseemKazuo YamadaYoshimi IwayamaTomoko ToyotaHideo MatsuzakiTaishi MiyachiSatoru YamadaMasatsugu TsujiiKenji J TsuchiyaKaori MatsumotoYasuhide IwataKatsuaki
• • •
How I Took My Autistic Son Off His Meds
By Shannon Des Roches Rosa autismsupportnetwork.com
My 12-year-old autistic son Leo was on the black box anti-psychotic medication Risperdal for almost four years. As of this writing, he's been off it for almost four weeks. Will he be okay? I hope so, but I'm not sure. Not yet.
We'd finally arrived at the point where Risperdal's side effects outweighed its benefits. Leo was no longer the desperately agitated and distraught boy of four years ago who seemed to feel assaulted by the world and so needed to assault it right back... which was good. But after one of the periodic medical check-ins that should accompany any Risperdal use, we found out he was also on the verge of becoming an unhealthily overweight boy with dangerously elevated cholesterol levels. It was time to stop Risperdal and try something else.
The doctor who prescribes our boy's psychopharmaceuticals was sympathetic, both about the decision we'd need to make, and his own inability to give us guarantees about medications and autism -- because there aren't any. Autistic people as a population don't always react typically to medication, plus they can have very different reactions to the same medication. Leo's doctor couldn't tell us what was likely to happen if we changed Leo's meds; he could only tell us what he's seen in other patients.
• • •
Autism Treatment Is More Than Skin Deep
Metal-binding agents rubbed into the skin, prescribed by some alternative practitioners for the treatment of autism, are not absorbed and therefore are unlikely to be effective at helping the body excrete excess mercury. The study by Jennifer Cohen and Michelle Ruha from Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in the US, and their colleagues, provides evidence against the use of these treatments in children with autism. Their work is published online in Springer's Journal of Medical Toxicology.
Metal-binding agents such as DMPS* have received significant attention in recent decades amid the controversy over the link between mercury and autism. Even though no causal relationship between mercury in vaccines and autism has been proven, some practitioners treat their patients with mercury-binding agents in an effort to help the body eliminate mercury and treat the autism. One of these agents is a formulation of DMPS which is applied to the skin, also known as topical application. DMPS is approved in Europe for the treatment of heavy metal toxicity, but is not approved by the US FDA for use in the USA.
For the first time, Cohen and team looked at whether topically applied DMPS is absorbed into the body by measuring levels in the blood 30, 60, 90, 120, and 240 minutes after application. They also measured whether DMPS applied to the skin leads to increased excretion of mercury in the urine 12 and 24 hours after application. The study comprised eight healthy adult volunteers and one control subject who ingested oral DMPS, which is proven to increase mercury excretion.
None of the urine samples collected from the healthy subjects contained detectable DMPS at any time point. DMPS was also not detected in 40 of 41 blood samples, with a single sample found to have a small amount of DMPS, considered by the authors to be contamination of the sample. The control subject given oral DMPS had increased levels of DMPS in the blood at every time point and also detectable DMPS in the urine. In addition, topical application of DMPS did not lead to increased mercury excretion, whereas oral intake led to a six-fold increase.
Michelle Ruha concludes: "This is the first study of an expensive, non-FDA approved medication that is advertised on the internet and used on children to treat autism. Our results show that the drug is not absorbed and does not work as a metal-binding agent, when applied to the skin."
• • •
'Calm Down' Genes Treat Epilepsy
Adding "calm down" genes to hyperactive brain cells has completely cured rats of epilepsy for the first time, say UK researchers.
They believe their approach could help people who cannot control their seizures with drugs.
The study, published in the journal Science Translation Medicine, used a virus to insert the new genes into a small number of neurons.
About 50 million people have epilepsy worldwide.
However, drugs do not work for up to 30% of them. The alternatives include surgery to remove the part of the brain that triggers a fit or to use electrical stimulation.
The brain is alive with electrical communication with individual neurons primed to fire off new messages. However, if a group of neurons become too excited they can throw the whole system into chaos leading to an epileptic seizure.
Researchers at University College London have developed two ways of manipulating the behaviour of individual cells inside the brain in order to prevent those seizures.
Both use viruses injected into the brain to add tiny sections of DNA to the genetic code of just a few thousand neurons.
One method boosts the brain cells' natural levels of inhibition in order to calm them down.
After a fortnight the number of seizures dropped dramatically and the mice were "effectively cured" within a month.
One of the researchers, Dr Robert Wyke, told the BBC: "It's the first time a gene therapy has been used to completely stop these seizures.
"Obviously we're very hopeful for this. Drugs haven't done anything for epilepsy in the last 20 to 30 years, just less side effects.
+ Read more.
• • •
New Autism Guidelines Address Nonmedical Interventions
Medscape Medical News
Nonmedical interventions that address cognitive function and core deficits in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) have been evaluated and consensus guidelines have been developed in an effort to improve access to services.
Margaret Maglione, MPP, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California, and other members of the Technical Expert Panel (TEP) agreed that certain behavioral and developmental programs and interventions have demonstrated efficacy in the treatment of cognitive function and core deficits in children with ASD.
They also agreed that children with ASD should have access to at least 25 hours per week of a comprehensive intervention that addresses social communication, language, play skills, and maladaptive behavior.
"The strength of evidence of efficacy of interventions designed to address the core deficits of autism varies among approaches," TEP members state.
"However, we feel that the level of evidence of effectiveness of these programs is sufficient to make availability a worthy goal."
The guidelines are published in the November issue of Pediatrics.
Higher Intensity, Longer Duration Members of TEP, including practitioners, researchers, and parents, narrowed their evaluation down to an analysis of 33 systematic reviews and 68 intervention studies not already included in the reviews.
They then assessed the overall strength of evidence for the effectiveness of the intervention using guidance suggested by the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Only guideline statements that had 100% approval from all members of the panel were included in the published guidelines.
+ Read more.
Where Do Children With Autism Go After They "Age Out" Of School Or Graduate?
By Marcy Martinez valleycentral.com
Gabriel Tamez is in his final years at San Benito High School and says he likes school, well, just a little bit.
Gabriel is autistic and participates in transitioning into the real world by taking field trips to local stores to help clean.
“At McCoy's we're dusting and fixing," says the 20 year old.
Once he ages out of school his options are limited.
"When school's over I play the Playstation 2," says Gabriel.
Maria Elena is Gabriel's mom and is scrambling to find alternatives for her son once he leaves school after he's 21, thatâ€™s as long as the state allows students to stay in school.
That's just another year away.
"When he's aged out of school. He's going to stay home. Heâ€™s been in high school for 8 years," says Maria Elena.
There are some services in the valley for those with disabilities who are too old to be in school, however, most are geared towards the elderly in the form of adult day care centers.
Fred Perez is the Admission, Review and Dismissal Director (ARD) for the San Benito school district and says sending someone like Gabriel there (adult day care) will only reverse all the hard work his family and teachers have done to get him to this point.
"It's very hard to see our students that leave us at 22 go to an adult day care. They're not 60,70 years old like the other people there. They should be with students," says Perez.
"I don't think he'll learn anything there, he'll sit there," says Maria Elena.
That's why San Benito CISD is doing all they can to get Gabriel prepared for the next chapter in his life even bringing in embroidery equipment to help students learn a trade.
"We have students that can take an order, we have students that can fold the clothes. deliver or program on the computer for the embroidery," says Perez.
"My hopes are that he could train, really train because they have skills. I want him to actually go out and work and meet people his age so that way when I'm gone he knows," says Maria Elena.
On the other side of the autism spectrum is a 19 year old Harlingen boy who graduated from high school and is attending his first year of college.
• • •
Kaiser Becomes First Oregon Health Insurer to Cover Autism Treatment
Paul Terdal, the father of two autistic boys, has worked behind the scenes to convince health insurers to cover Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy
By W. Scott Jorgensen thelundreport.org
Advocates scored a major victory when Kaiser Permanente announced it would provide coverage of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) therapy for autism and neurodevelopmental disorders.
“What we see is Kaiser actively issuing approvals under a new policy,” said Paul Terdal, the father of two autistic boys. “I canâ€™t overstress my appreciation for Kaiser."
Upon hearing the news, Sen. Chris Edwards (D-Eugene), who sits on the Oregon Commission on Autism Spectrum Disorder, couldnâ€™t hold back his enthusiasm.
“As someone whoâ€™s been fighting for autism insurance legislation for several years … an Oregon HMO has seen the light on this issue and taken a major step in the right direction,” he told his constituents. “While insurance providers and HMOâ€™s have frustrated me and constituents of mine in the past, they play a pivotal role in our healthcare system, and deserve credit when it is due. Thank you Kaiser for doing the right thing and taking this first step."
+ Read more.
• • •
NY Autism Reform Law Reshapes Coverage
By Matt Chandler lawjournalbuffalo.com
In November 2011, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the autism insurance reform law aimed at mandating stronger coverage for families with children on the autism spectrum. After a 12-month transition period, the law went into effect Nov. 1, and supporters say it will offer some of the most comprehensive coverage in the country for those diagnosed with autism.
Dr. Stephen Anderson is CEO of Summit Educational Resources, described as the largest private provider of educational, therapeutic and family support services for autistic individuals. He said a challenge facing both providers and consumers is understanding what the new law mandates in terms of insurance coverage for families. To that point, the Getzville-based Summit Educational Resources hosted a workshop to explore the intricacies of the law and how it will affect local families.
+ Read more.
• • •
Miss. Autism Advisory Committee to Hold Meetings
The legislatively-appointed Mississippi Autism Advisory Committee is organizing a series of public hearings across the state to seek input from those with autism, as well as those who live or work with individuals with autism.
Information gathered at these hearings will be used to guide the committeeâ€™s recommendations to lawmakers, service providers, policey makers and others about the needs of this growing community.
The first hearing will be held from 6-7:30 p.m. on Nov. 27 at the Eudora Welty Library, 300 N. State St., Jackson.
More hearing dates and locations will be announced soon.
• • •
Florida Hillsborough School District Will Review Policies After Deaths Of Special Needs Kids Spark Outrage
By Chris Trenkmann. abcactionnews.com
Katharine Bower came to the protest carrying not only signs and banners, but also a small locket hanging from her neck. It's a picture of Isabella Herrera, the seven year old special needs student who died while riding home on a school bus back in January.
"My son was friends with Bella," Bower said. "I want to see these people take this seriously and hopefully make a change in the system for all of our kids' safety," she said.
Bower's sentiments were echoed by a dozen other demonstrators outside the Hillsborough County School District, after the deaths of two special needs students while under school supervision.
Joe Robinson of Tampa said he wants school board members and administration staff to resign or be fired if they were in any way responsible for the neglect of ESE kids.
"Here we've got three deaths, students hurt, and nobody put on administrative leave and nobody fired," Robinson said. "This is criminal child neglect," he said.
The Hillsborough School Board agreed to issue a memo to school bus drivers that it's ok to call 9-1-1 in an emergency. Current policy requires drivers to call dispatch or a supervisor, but doesn't preclude them from making an 9-1-1 call. In the case of Herrera, no staff member on the bus called for paramedics when she stopped breathing.
"I think it's sad to see that the big policy decision was now you can call 9-1-1," said Jose Colindres of Tampa. "I think that's so little, so late," he said.
• • •
Daniel Tammet: 'Maths Is As Rich, Inspiring And Human As Literature'
In his third book, Daniel Tammet, the bestselling mathematical savant who has Asperger's syndrome, writes about 'the science of imagination'
Thinking in Numbers: How Maths Illuminates Our Lives by Daniel Tammet
By Adam Feinstein The Observer
Daniel Tammet: 'Maths is as rich, inspiring and human as literature is.' Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian
British writer Daniel Tammet is a mathematical savant with Asperger's syndrome and synaesthesia. His third book, Thinking in Numbers: How Maths Illuminates Our Lives, is a collection of 25 essays exploring mathematics as "the science of imagination". He is also a gifted linguist.
You realised you were different from an early age, and were bullied at school…
Yes, I was very different and for a reason that seems invisible. Other children sniff out these differences, I was called names and teased. But I had no diagnosis at school. Asperger's syndrome only came in officially as a diagnosis in 1994. I had difficulties with understanding social interactions and problems with hygiene, but I managed to control my behaviours and I was under the radar for another few years. When I achieved the European record for reciting pi in 2004, this captured the imagination of Professor Simon Baron-Cohen in Cambridge and he finally diagnosed me with Asperger's that year.
Was your diagnosis a relief?
A huge relief, because I could stop feeling guilty. Guilty about not going to university. I didn't have many friends and I also blamed that on myself, for being lazy or cack-handed. But now, with the diagnosis, I knew that I had developed differently.
What about life today? In your first book, Born on a Blue Day, you mention your need for routine, which is very common in autism - having to weigh out your breakfast precisely every morning, for instance.
Well, I now spoon out the cereal! I do still have a sense of control and routine but this is much less of an issue now. That book was written while I was wrestling with my childhood. I was incredibly lucky that my first book found a large and loyal readership. It changed my life - from being a very withdrawn adult to living in Paris as a full-time writer. It has also given me enormous confidence.
Do you think your love of languages is inspired by the fact languages, although organic, are rules-based, and people with AS enjoy rules?
Certainly. But the rules can be bent and played with. Like mathematics, languages are a great source of creativity. Maths is as rich, inspiring and human as literature is.
+ Read more.
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'Gilligan's Island' Star Devoted Last Two Decades Of Life To Autistic Son, Others With Special Needs
By Hollie McKay FoxNews.com
Bob and Dreama Denver.
Bob Denver played the goofball Gilligan on “Gilliganâ€™s Island” and Maynard G. Krebs on “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.” Now for the first time, his wife of almost 30 years, Dreama Denver, is revealing a more serious side of the much-loved comedy star.
“He was very under the radar, and never put himself out there that much. He put the characters out there but not himself. I wanted the fans to know who he really was because he was a special, special man, especially when dealing with our son Colin, who has severe autism,” Dreama Denver told FOX411â€™s Pop Tarts column. “I thought it was important to tell people that he set aside the last 21 years of his life to be with me and take care of our son, who had to have full-time care, [because he] didnâ€™t want me to do it alone. That speaks to the type of human being he was… He was highly intelligent, and I think that is the most surprising thing about him. He was extremely intelligent, and that didnâ€™t always come across in the characters that he played."
Dreama writes in her memoir, “Gilliganâ€™s Dreams; The Other Side of the Island,” that she and her husband started the The Denver Foundation in an effort to help families who needed support in enriching the lives of individuals with special needs. And surprisingly, despite Bobâ€™s status as a household name, he started the foundation with little personal wealth.
• • •
Controversial Autism Doctor Mark Geier Loses Licenses In Missouri, Illinois
By Blythe Bernhard stltoday.com
Dr. Mark Geier, who directs autism clinics in St. Peters and Springfield, Ill., lost his medical licenses in Missouri and Illinois Friday following similar disciplinary actions in at least nine other states.
Geier has gotten into trouble for prescribing the testosterone- suppressing drug Lupron to children and teenagers with autism. The hormonal treatment plan has been called dangerous, abusive and exploitative by various medical boards.
Geier cannot reapply for his license in Missouri for at least seven years, the strongest possible discipline from the state Board of Registration for the Healing Arts. The Illinois board of professional regulation suspended Geierâ€™s license indefinitely.
Geier has practiced in Missouri as recently as this summer, when a teenage boy with autism saw local pediatric neurologist Dr. Steven Rothman after being prescribed the Lupron and the diuretic Aldactone at Geierâ€™s clinic in St. Peters. Rothman said there is no scientific evidence supporting the treatment plan for autism.
Lupron, which costs up to $6,000 a month, has been used to chemically castrate sex offenders and is typically prescribed for men with advanced prostate cancer and women with endometriosis.
In the last two years, Geierâ€™s medical license has been revoked or suspended in California, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, Texas, Virginia, Washington and his home state of Maryland. Only Hawaii maintains an active license for Geier, although the state has filed a complaint against him.
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Former Staten Island Camp Counselor To Be Sentenced For Sexually Abusing Autistic Boy
By Frank Donnelly Staten Island Advance
Francesco Zaffuto is escorted to state Supreme Court by a detective on March 23, 2011. Staten Island Advance/Michael Oates
A former teen-age camp counselor from Huguenot will pay the price Thursday for sexually abusing an 8-year-old autistic boy four years ago.
Francesco Zaffuto is scheduled to be sentenced in state Supreme Court, St. George, to up to 18 years in prison.
Zaffuto, now 21, was accused of abusing the victim, who is non-verbal, at least three times during a two-week summer camp at the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin at Mount Loretto, Pleasant Plains, in August 2008.
The baby-faced Zaffuto was a counselor there and, prosecutors say, led the youngster into a bathroom, where he forced the boy to perform a sexual act on him.
The victim was unable to tell his parents he had been sexually abused, prosecutors said.
Zaffuto, who turned 17 that summer, took "trophy photos" of the victim, which he kept for himself and stored on his home computer, prosecutors said.
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• • •
Mom Gets 10-Years In Prison For Not Stopping Stabbing Murder Of Her Son
Deanna Beauchamp De Jesus
By Richard Webster examiner.com
Deanna Beauchamp De Jesus, 38, of Port Orange, Fla. pleaded guilty yesterday to aggravated manslaughter for her part in the murder of her 9-year-old autistic son, Josiah. The boy was stabbed to death by the womanâ€™s husband, William De Jesus, as the mom looked on and did or said nothing to stop the atrocity.
The stabbing death of the child took place on February 9 at a trailer park in South Florida.
According to Live Leak, William De Jesus went on a rampage and got into an argument with one of the residents of the trailer park, 76-year-old Ovila Plante. William De Jesus killed Plante by shooting him in the head and abdomen.
De Jesus then ushered his wife and two sons into an RV and attacked all of them with a knife.
At one point he allegedly asked his wife which son she wanted him to kill first. He also told both boys that he had to kill them, otherwise they would be cut up and eaten by police officers.
A severe autistic, 9-year-old son Josiah died after being stabbed eight times in the thigh, chest and back by his crazed father. The father also stabbed his other 7-year-old son who survived.
Although also stabbed by her husband, the wife was charged with manslaughter for her role in the murder of her son Josiah.
Broward County prosecutors argued that the mom was obligated as a parent to safeguard her children.
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UK Autistic Woman Wrongly Removed From Parents After Doctor's Advice, Misconduct Hearing Is Told
By Darren Devine, WalesOnline
An autistic woman was wrongly removed from her parents for six months on the basis of an unproven allegation of sex abuse backed by a doctor relying on an “entirely inappropriate” communication system.
Psychiatrist Dr Rowan Wilson admitted using “facilitated communication” (FC) when he interviewed the woman, who cannot talk, over the abuse allegations for Carmarthenshire County Council.
At a hearing of the General Medical Council (GMC) yesterday the psychiatrist also admitted he had no knowledge or experience of the system, which sees a second person help someone use a key board or word board to spell out words.
The parents of the woman, identified only as “CB”, say she was left so traumatised by the separation her body went into “total shutdown” and she has only now stopped having nightmares and wetting the bed.
After being taken away from her parents in October, 2010, her father was arrested on suspicion of rape, sexual assault and prostitution, with his wife accused of aiding and abetting the offences.
In a witness statement read to the GMC hearing in Manchester, CBâ€™s mother said: “She (CB) doesnâ€™t want to go out. She feels she canâ€™t trust anyone. Itâ€™s finished me off."
In the statement read by Terence Rigby, representing the GMC, the mother said she was concerned about the “terrible stories” associated with care and that male workers had “access” to her daughter in the six months she was away.
After interviewing the woman, now aged 21, using FC Dr Wilson claimed she had repeated sex abuse allegations first made by a carer.
But CBâ€™s mother suggested the problems began when the family fell out with care workers sub-contracted by the local authority to provide 29 hours per week of respite.
The mother said she provided Ł10 a day for her daughterâ€™s lunch when the care workers took her to a college.
The mother, who herself does voluntary work for a disabilities charity, said the allegations were made after she queried why the care workers didnâ€™t provide receipts for the money spent on her daughterâ€™s lunch.
All the allegations against the parents were dropped after it emerged FC should not be used to support allegations of abuse.
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Broward School District in Florida To Fire 2 In Bus Choking Case
By Karen Yi, Sun Sentinel
The Broward school district said Tuesday it plans to fire the bus attendant accused of choking a 13-year-old autistic child. It said it would also terminate the bus driver, Chelsi Edwards.
Darryl Leon Blue, 48, a bus assistant for the Broward County school district, was charged with aggravated child abuse after he allegedly choked an autistic student with his safety harness on Oct. 9, the Broward Sheriff's Office said.
Deputies said Blue spent nearly the whole bus ride from Westglades Middle School in Parkland choking the student. They added the child was screaming "you're hurting me" and had small bruises on his neck.
District officials said Edwards held a level of responsibility in the incident that merited termination.
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Two People Charged With Helping Man Kill Autistic Step-Brother
Madison, WI, WTAQ - Two people have been charged with helping a Dane County man kill his autistic step-brother.
Prosecutors said 28-year-old Robert McCumber of Mazomanie owned the land where Matthew Gravilleâ€™s body was hidden and buried. And the victimâ€™s stepmother, 49-year-old Laura Robar of Fort Atkinson, allegedly conspired to hide the body, and stole money and food stamps from Graville after he died.
The step-brother, 28-year-old Jeffrey Vogelsberg, was arrested in Washington State this week. He faces extradition to Wisconsin on charges of homicide and hiding a corpse.
McCumber is charged in Dane County with hiding a corpse, and Robar with two counts of identity theft. Both are being held under $100,000 bonds - and both are due back in court next Tuesday for preliminary hearings.
Authorities said Vogelsburg abused and tortured the 27-year-old Graville, placed his body in a freezer, and then buried him. The body was found in a 5-foot deep grave in a wooded area near Lone Rock.
Vogelsburg was arrested at a military base where his wife works. Prosecutors said she knew about the crime. She has not been charged, but officials say more charges in the case are possible.
WISC-TV in Madison said Robar was fired Wednesday from a job at the Dane County Human Services department.
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