Tag Archives: Autism Center

Employment advice on and off the autism spectrum from Marty Nemko

If you are looking for career advice, and you are free this coming Saturday, September 15, you are in luck.

KALW radio star Marty Nemko (“The Bay Area’s Best Career Coach” — SF Bay Guardian)  will answer your questions about employment for people on and off the autism spectrum at AASCEND’S meeting in their new location.

That’s right. You do not have to be on the autism spectrum to attend! Still, the focus of Marty’s talk will be on how the autism community can build its own employment structures.

Details:

AASCEND Monthly Meeting with Dr. Marty Nemko

Saturday September 15, 10-noon

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Do you have questions? Contact me HERE and I will do my very best to help.

FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK and TWITTER.

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The Marin and North Bay Autism Lecture Series starts Sept. 19. (more about that soon) but CLICK HERE to learn more and register.

The Morgan Autism Center Conference is coming soon, too. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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Special needs parenting: is it time to brush up on your child’s disability?

If you are the parent of a child with special needs, it’s likely that you researched your child’s disability exhaustively during the early diagnosis stage.

Then you got busy, and tired, but now you are thinking it might be a good time learn about resources get caught up on the latest research and treatment. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you are in luck. In the next few months there are countless opportunities to learn from renowned disability experts:

EAST BAY

Living with Disabilities: A Family Conference and Resource Fair

Sunday, October 28

Lamorinda Family Center
Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church
49 Knox Drive
Lafayette, CA 94549

Pediatrician and autism expert Dr. Ricki Robinson is Keynote speaker and will discuss treatment approaches for individuals with developmental disabilities through their life.  She is the author of Autism Solutions: How to Create a Healthy & Meaningful Life for Your Child and has been in private practice for over 30 years, specializing in children with developmental delays.

Take part in a fun and informative resource fair that will include interactive booths with:

Dr. Clarissa Kripke (UCSF), Developmental Pediatrician
Dr. Deborah Sedberry, Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician
Nan Arkwright, Occupational Therapist
Dr. Megan Flom, Psychology, Assessment, School Advocacy
Shannon Des Roches Rosa, iPad for Autism Expert

To learn more and to register CLICK HERE

MARIN

The Marin Autism Lecture Series

The first Lecture was this past week, but there are several more left through May.

SOUTH BAY

Peninsula and South Bay Autism Lecture Series

Morgan Autism Center Lecture Series

The Morgan Autism Conference was Saturday, September 22 and it was awesome, but register for the lecture series by clicking the link above.

Future Horizons Autism and Aspergers Conference featuring Temple Grandin

SACRAMENTO

UC DAVIS MIND INSTITUTE DISTINGUISHED LECTURE SERIES

The UC Davis MIND Institute’s Distinguished Lecturer Series is now in its 11th season of public lectures by nationally and internationally-recognized researchers in neurodevelopmental disorders.  These monthly presentations (October 2012 – June 2013) are intended for both specialists and community members.  All lectures are  *free and open to the public* and no reservations are necessary.

SAN FRANCISCO

Support for Families of Children with Disabilities has ongoing lectures, clinics, support groups and workshops. Check them out.

That is all for now. I’m sure I am missing something, and I count on YOU to let me know. But do yourself a favor and pledge to go to at least one of these amazing events. Lets face it, being the parent of a child with a disability can be isolating and these events will not only educate and inspire you, but you will have a chance to connect with parents just like you. I’ve made some of my dearest friends this way.

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Do you have questions? Contact me HERE and I will do my very best to help.

FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK and TWITTER.

Read the first three chapters of my book HERE.

You’ll be hooked.

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Learning to communicate successfully with autism:The Morgan Autism Center Conference

I recently asked parents of children with autism this question:

What is ONE thing you would like to help your child with autism do?

Not surprisingly, a large percentage of the answers read like this:

“Communicate” “Make and keep friends” “Communicate, in whatever way he can: speech, devices, typing…” “Communicate successfully and with ease.”

The Morgan Autism Center is holding their 11th Annual Autism Conference Saturday September 22 at Santa Clara University,(register now, it is a bargain and it sells out) and if you want to learn more about helping individuals with autism communicate  socially, especially through the transition to adulthood,  you should really try to attend. Here are 8 reasons why:

Carol Gray, a true  autism hero and the developer of Social Stories, is the Keynote Speaker.Carl Feinstein, M.D., the Director of Clinical Services of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Stanford University will be talking about transitions from adolescence to adulthood.Shannon McCord, Ph.D., Consultant, Assistive Technology/AAC Specialist. Her Topic: “Utilizing Augmentative and Alternative Communication Devices Effectively in the Class Room.”Antonio Hardan, M.D., Associate Professor, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Stanford University.  His topic: “Communication Deficits and Research Targeting Communication Deficits.”Faheem Ahmed, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, SAP.  His topic: “Project Care: How Private Social Networks Are Empowering People with Special Needs.”Steve Johnson, M.A., Director of Character Education, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. His topic: “How Religious Institutes Might Better Serve People With Autism.”Michael Gilfix, Esq., Principal, Gilfix & La Poll Associates will talk about the importance of  establishing a Special Needs Trusts.You will have the opportunity to meet other parents and professionals who are as passionate about learning how to help individuals with autism socialize, communicate, and live fulfilling lives.

To learn more about the Morgan Autism Center, this conference and the Center’s awesome lecture series, CLICK HERE.

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The Marin and North Bay Autism Lecture Series starts Sept. 19. (more about that soon) but CLICK HERE to learn more and register.

Got autism questions? Need resources? Email me here lshumaker@sfgate.com and I will do my very best to help.

FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK and TWITTER.

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Identification Of Gene Expression Abnormalities In Autism

Main Category: Autism
Also Included In: Genetics
Article Date: 23 Mar 2012 – 2:00 PDT

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A study led by Eric Courchesne, PhD, director of the Autism Center of Excellence at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine has, for the first time, identified in young autism patients genetic mechanisms involved in abnormal early brain development and overgrowth that occurs in the disorder. The findings suggest novel genetic and molecular targets that could lead to discoveries of new prevention strategies and treatment for the disorder.

The study published in PLoS Genetics uncovered differences in gene expression between brain tissue from young (2 to14 years old) and adult individuals with autism syndrome disorder, providing important clues why brain growth and development is abnormal in this disorder.

Courchesne first identified the link between early brain overgrowth and autism in a landmark study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2003. Next, he tested the possibility that brain overgrowth might result from an abnormal excess of brain cells. In November 2011, his study, also published in JAMA, discovered a 67 percent excess of brain cells in a major region of the brain, the prefrontal cortex – a part of the brain associated with social, communication and cognitive development.

“Our next step was to see whether there might be abnormalities of genetic functioning in that same region that might give us insight into why there are too many cells and why that specific region does not develop normally in autism,” said Courchesne.

In the new study, the researchers looked towards genes for answers, and showed that genetic mechanisms that normally regulate the number of cortical neurons are abnormal. “The genes that control the number of brain cells did not have the normal functional expression, and the level of gene expression that governs the pattern of neural organization across the prefrontal cortex is turned down. There are abnormal numbers and patterns of brain cells, and subsequently the pattern is disturbed,” Courchesne said. “This probably leads to too many brain cells in some locations, such as prefrontal cortex, but perhaps too few in other regions of cortex as well.”

In addition, the scientists discovered a turning down of the genetic mechanisms responsible for detecting DNA defects and correcting or removing affected cells during periods of rapid prenatal development.

Autism is a highly heritable neurodevelopmental disorder, yet the genetic underpinnings in the brain at young ages have remained largely unknown. Until now, few studies have been able to investigate whole-genome gene expression and genotype variation in the brains of young patients with autism, especially in regions such as the prefrontal cortex that display the greatest growth abnormality.

Scientists – including co-first authors Maggie Chow, PhD, and Tiziano Pramparo, PhD, at UC San Diego – identified abnormal brain gene expression patterns using whole-genome analysis of mRNA levels and copy number variations from 33 autistic and control postmortem brain samples. They found evidence of dysregulation in the pathways that govern cell number, cortical patterning and cell differentiation in the young autistic prefrontal cortex. In contrast, in adult patients with autism, the study found that this area of the brain shows dysregulation of signaling and repair pathways.

“Our results indicate that gene expression abnormalities change across the lifespan in autism, and that dysregulated processes in the developing brain of autistic patients differ from those detected at adult ages,” said Courchesne. “The dysregulated genetic pathways we found at young ages in autism may underlie the excess of neurons – and early brain overgrowth – associated with this disorder.”

Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Click ‘references’ tab above for source.
Visit our autism section for the latest news on this subject. Additional contributors include co-senior authors Nicholas J. Schork, PhD, biostatistician at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA, and Anthony Wynshaw-Boris, professor of pediatrics at UC San Francisco; Mary E. Winn and Sarah Murray, The Scripps Research Institute; Lauren Weiss and Haim Belinson, UC San Francisco; Jian-Bing Fan and Craig April, Illumina, Inc.; Cynthia Carter Barnes, Hai-Ri Li and Xiang-Dong Fu, UC San Diego.
The research was supported by funds from the Simons Foundation, The Peter Emch Family Foundation, Autism Speaks, the Thursday Club Juniors and the UCSD-NIH Autism Center of Excellence.
University of California – San Diego Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

MLA

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28 Mar. 2012. APA

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‘Identification Of Gene Expression Abnormalities In Autism’

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For Children With Autism, Variability In Successful Social Strategies Revealed By Eye-Tracking

Main Category: Autism
Also Included In: Psychology / Psychiatry
Article Date: 28 Feb 2012 – 3:00 PST

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In a study published in the March 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Katherine Rice and colleagues, from the Marcus Autism Center, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and Emory University School of Medicine, used eye-tracking technology to measure the relationship between cognitive and social disability in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and the ability of children with ASD to pay attention to social interactions.

The study is the largest to date to observe children with ASD watching scenes of social interaction; 135 children, 109 with ASD and 26 without, all approximately 10 years old, participated. The children were shown movie scenes of school-age children in age-appropriate social situations. One set of analyses focused on the differences between children with ASD and typically-developing children, by closely matching a subset of those with ASD to typically-developing peers on IQ, gender, and age. A second set of analyses focused on measures that quantify the broad spectrum of adaptive and maladaptive behavior in ASD by analyzing variation across all 109 ASD participants.

Results indicated that children with ASD were less likely than typically-developing peers to look at other people’s eyes and faces, and were more likely to fixate on bodies and inanimate objects. The results also revealed the varying ways in which children with ASD use the information they observe. For the entire group of children with ASD, increased observation of inanimate objects rather than people was associated with more severe social disability. However, for some subsets of the autism spectrum, such as highly verbal children with ASD, whose verbal IQs were larger than their nonverbal IQs, increased looking at others people’s mouths was associated with less disability.

“These results help us tease apart some of the vast heterogeneity of the autism spectrum,” said Rice. “For some children, atypical looking patterns may be serving as a compensatory strategy; but for others, these patterns are clearly associated with maladaptive behaviors. Objective, quantitative measures of social disability help us to identify these subsets in a data-driven manner.”

Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Click ‘references’ tab above for source.
Visit our autism section for the latest news on this subject. The article “Parsing Heterogeneity in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Visual Scanning of Dynamic Social Scenes in School-Aged Children” by Katherine Rice, Jennifer M. Moriuchi, Warren Jones, Ami Klin, (doi:10.1016/j.jaac.2011.12.017) appears in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Volume 51, Issue 3 (March 2012), published by Elsevier.
The study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.
Elsevier Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

MLA

Elsevier. “For Children With Autism, Variability In Successful Social Strategies Revealed By Eye-Tracking.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 28 Feb. 2012. Web.
9 Mar. 2012. APA

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‘For Children With Autism, Variability In Successful Social Strategies Revealed By Eye-Tracking’

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Autism Spectrum Disorder

INTRODUCTION

Every parent has hopes and dreams for their children and all parents want their kids to

be the best and even though no one is ever perfect, they would still try to make them

perfect, But all this may be shattered once this little boy or girl gets diagnosed with

one of the most alarming disorders in the world of childhood disorders which is not

only a serious disability; but is also a bewildering one this disorder is called Autism.

A. Title:

Autism Spectrum Disorder

B. Why Autism?

there were six childhood psychological disorders other then autism that any person would find very interesting to do a research about, but autism is found to be one of the most dangerous and confusing childhood disorder any parent can find also learning a bit about autism in Oman made it very important to talk and explain this disorder to Omani parents and the Omani community as a whole.

C. Purpose:

To spread awareness on the Autistic Spectrum Disorder in Oman and this will have a great and positive impact on the treatment of the Omani children that were diagnosed with Autism.

 

 

D. Objectives:
To give the reader a clear and detailed information on the Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
To spread awareness on the Autistic Spectrum Disorder to the Omani people in specific.
E. Limits and Difficulties:
The time given before the dead-line was not enough.
References like books, articles, etc… Related to the subject were very limited.

 

F. Methodology:

The methods used to complete this report included reading from different sources including: Books, Magazines, and Web sites also visiting The Muscat Autism Center was very helpful.

 

 

 

 

 

Autism Spectrum Disorder

The Root of the word “Autism:

The word Autism comes or drives from the Greek word “Auto” which means self, and the adjective word “Autistic” literally means alone.

In the world of psychology and psychiatry autism or Autistic Spectrum Disorder is defined as:

A life-long brain disorder that is normally diagnosed in early childhood.
A disorder that causes kids to experience the world differently from the way most other kids do.
A complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others.

The history of Autism:

The word “Autism” was first used in 1943 by a psychiatric and physician called Leo Kanner who wrote a paper on “Autistic Disturbance of Attitude contact ” for a journal called: nervous child” which does not exist anymore, Dr. Leo wrote that article after conducting a research on 11 children of ages between two to eight years old who had similar symptoms which included difficulties communicating with others, difficulties interacting with others, and having unusual interests. Before the publication of that article children with the previous symptoms were labeled as “schizophrenic”. (Kocgel & Lazebnik)

 

Types of Autism

 

There are many types of autism some are known while others are not known, but there are 5 main types that most researchers agree with, which are:

1) Classic Autism:

This type can be recognized before the age of 3 years, but can be diagnosed later in life. Children diagnosed with classic autism show lack of eye to eye contact, lack of affection or emotional contact with others, difficulty to socialize and interact with others, intense wish for sameness in routine, and develop language late or not at all.

Children diagnosed with Classic autism also show high levels of Visio -spatial skills* but major difficulties in other areas.

2) Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) which  includes:

A)    Aspergers Syndrome:

Is a form of autism in which speech development and IQ are normal, but in which social disabilities can be compounded by depression and mental health problems [1]. This syndrome is a higher functioning disorder than classic autism and can range from mild to saver. A child diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome can exhibit a number of characteristics, show deficiencies in social skills and have difficulties with transition or change ( they compulsively stick to rituals and any changes in their routine can upset them), they also find it difficult to read body language and to determine the proper body space.

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Some of the kids that were diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome have shown reduced sensitivity to pain & an increased sensitivity to bright light and loud noises.

*Visual Spatial Learners have a very wide imagination, that helps them make a whole movie just by reading something, that is because they can draw a picture in their mind about anything they read or hear.

 

B)  Rett Syndrome or Rex Syndrome:

This is a neurological & developmental disorder that is marked by poor head growth. Some doctors claim that Rett or Rex Syndrome is not a part of autism spectrum disorder, the reason behind this claim is that Rett or Rex Syndrome is a disorder that mostly occurs in females whereas autism affects mostly males.

Children suffering from this syndrome show loss of muscle tone, diminished eye contact, and crawling or walking problems, they also stop using their hands and often develop stereotyped hand movements such as: wringing, clapping, or patting their hands. Kids diagnosed with Rett or Rex Syndrome loses the ability to perform motor skills.

C) Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD):

This disorder occurs a little late in the child’s life, first the child seems perfectly normal then by the age of 2-4 years they start to regress, where they stop socializing with people, loss potty-training skills, stop playing, and stop making friends. The difference between autism and CDD is the long period of normal development below age 2. (Bock & Stauth, 1999)

D) Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS):

A child that exhibits some but not all of the classic autism symptoms is said to have PDD-NOS.

Children with PDD-NOS either do not fully meet the criteria of symptoms used to diagnose any of the four specific types of autism or do not have the degree of impairment described in any of the above four specific types.

Causes of Autism

Until this very day no one knows what the exact cause of autism is the only thing that is clear is that autism affects 1 of 150 kids.

The brain contains over 100 billion nerve cells called neurons. Each neuron may have hundreds or thousands of connections that carry massages to other nerve cells in the brain and body. The connections and the chemical messengers (called neurotransmitters) let the neurons that help you see, move, remember, and work together as they should, but for some reason some of the cells and connections in the brain of a kid with autism –especially those that affect communication, emotion, and senses- don’t develop properly or get damaged. Scientists are still trying to understand how and why this happens [1].

Is lack of a mother’s affection a cause for autism?

While the definite causes of autism is not yet found or clear, it is clear that there is no any connection between bad parenting or having a cold mother and the development of autism.

At first Dr. Leo Kanner, the psychiatrist who first described autism as a unique condition in 1943, believed that it was caused by cold, unloving mothers. Bruno Bettelheim, a renowned professor of child development supported this misinterpretation of autism. Their promotion of the idea that unloving mothers caused their children’s autism created a generation of parents who carried the tremendous burden of guilt for their children’s disability.

In the 1960s and 70s, Dr. Bernard Remand, the father of a son with autism, who later founded the Autism Society of America and the Autism Research Institute, helped the medical community understand that autism is not caused by cold parents but rather is a biological disorder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The diagnosis of Autism

There are no any biological tests that can be done to detect if a child is suffering from autism or not, the diagnosis of autism depends solely on observation and also educational and psychological testing.

An autism-specific screening tool, such as the Modified Checklist of Autism in Toddlers (MCHAT) should be used. The MCHAT is a list of simple questions about the child. The answers determine whether he or she should be referred to a specialist, usually a Developmental Pediatrician, a Neurologist, a Psychiatrist or a Psychologist, for further evaluation.

What do doctors do?

Often, specialists work together as a team to figure out what is wrong. The team might include a pediatrician, a pediatric neurologist, a pediatric develop- mentalist, a child psychiatrist, a child psychologist, speech and language therapists, and others. The team members study how the child plays, learns, communicates, and behaves. The team listens carefully to what parents have noticed, too. Using the information they have gathered doctors can decide whether a child has autism or not.

DSM-IV criteria for a diagnosis of Autism:

A total of six (or more) items from heading (A), (B), and (C), with at least two from (A), and one each from (B) and (C):

(A) Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:

• Marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to- eye gaze, facial expression, body posture, and gestures to regulate social interaction.
• Failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level.
• A lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people, (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people).
• A lack of social or emotional reciprocity.

(B) Qualitative impairments in communication as manifested by at least one of the following:

• Delay in or total lack of, the development of spoken language (not accompanied by an attempt to compensate through alternative modes of communication such as gesture or mime).
• In individuals with adequate speech, marked impairment in the ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others.
• Stereotyped and repetitive use of language or idiosyncratic language.
• Lack of varied, spontaneous make-believe play or social imitative play appropriate to developmental level.

(C) Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities, as manifested by at least two of the following:

• Encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus.
• Apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals.
• Stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g. Hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements).
• Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects.

II. Delays or abnormal functioning in at least one of the following areas, with onset prior to age 3 years:

(A) Social interaction.
(B) Language is used in social communication.
(C) Symbolic or imaginative play.

III. The disturbance is not better accounted for by Rett’s Disorder or Childhood Disintegrative Disorder.[1]

 

 

 

 

 

[1] (diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders , fourth edition)

 

Treatments used to cure clients diagnosed with Autism

There is no cure for autism but there are treatments that will help reduce the intense of the disorder and help the child and the family cope with the disorder.

Treatment for autism is a very intensive, comprehensive undertaking that involves the child’s entire family and a team of professionals. Some programs may take place in the child’s home with professionals and trained therapists and may include Parent Training for the child under supervision of a professional. Some programs are delivered in a specialized center, classroom or preschool.

There are many therapies and treatments for autism here are some of the most common ones [1] :

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
Pivotal Response Therapy (PRT)
Verbal therapy
Floor time
Relationship Development Intervention

 

 

 

 

 

[1] (http://www.autismspeaks.org/treatment/floortime.php)

Autism in Oman

As mention in the beginning of the report the main objective from this report is to spread introduce the “Autism Spectrum Disorder” to the Omani people, because after a field research that was made in Oman on children suffering from autism the number 4000,200,1, and 0 was the result of this research.

What does 4000, 200, 1, and 0 stand for?

4000 = number cases of autism in Oman.

200 = number of cases diagnosed in Oman.

1 = number of child psychiatry clinic in Oman.

0 = the future number of undiagnosed cases of autism in Oman.

After reading and understanding the above number it is belived that no more words or discussion is need accept:

“There is a problem you are the solution. There is a dream, you make it real”

Dr. Yahya Al-Farsi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a very scary developmental disorder that deserves special attention, and having as much knowledge about this disorder makes it easier to notice it and diagnosing it earlier and this will help lower the risk of it becoming a sever and un-curable disorder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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