Sunday, May 31, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
@ Merriweather Post Pavilion • Columbia, MD
"Thomas the Tank Engine, whose television adventures on the fictional island of Sodor have delighted children around the world for years, is now on a real-life mission to help kids with autism.
Thomas the Tank Engine is part of a new online game to help autistic children recognize different emotions.
The steam locomotive and his friends are the stars of a new game in Australia, designed to help autistic children recognize emotions."
I actually found the link to the game at the Australian website. I am sending it to Jimmy's teacher to try with Jimmy and his friends.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
In many cases, the restraints happen even when students aren't physically aggressive or dangerous, says a report from the Government Accountability Office being released Tuesday."
These are fairly common practices that parents have to fight with the schools over their autistic kids. I battled it during the Rifton chair incident during kindergarten. I hope our story serves as a cautionary tale within this school division to not engage in these practices when handling special education students. It was extremely mild as opposed to the ones cited in this article.
Friday, May 22, 2009
From the Roanoke Times:
"Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sen. Creigh Deeds of Bath County attended the rally and called autism a "national epidemic."
"It's just right that it be covered," Deeds said. "I believe eventually if this bill does not pass, the market will provide coverage. But we cannot wait.""
From his own campaign website:
"Brian Moran will set the goal of making Virginia the leader in Special Needs education by the
end of his term."
Seems like he has supported autism organizations in the past, but I can't find a solid quote or policy statement online. If anyone can hook me up, I would like to include it. The effort to help kids like Jimmy is a bipartisan one (evidenced by Jackson Miller's unfailing support of HB 1588), so I hope that I can come up with something.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Autism Treatment Acceleration Act of 2009 - Federal Autism Insurance Reform (S. 819, H.R. 2413)
In his Presidential campaign statement on Autism Spectrum Disorders, then-Senator Barack Obama committed to bringing autism insurance reform to our entire nation. His statement put forth that Obama and Biden "will mandate insurance coverage of autism treatment and will also continue to work with parents, physicians, providers, researchers, and schools to create opportunities and effective solutions for people with ASD."
In an effort to put his words into action President Obama has asked Illinois Senate colleage Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), along with Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) to introduce comprehensive autism legislation, including a section addressing broad based federal autism insurance reform. The companion bill in the House (H.R. 2413) has been introduced by Representatives Mike Doyle (D-PA), Chris Smith (D-NJ), Eliot Engel (D-NY), and Hank Johnson (D-GA).
The “Autism Treatment Acceleration Act of 2009” (ATAA) contains a total of twelve sections, each putting forth a different program for autism. A key feature of the bill is Section 12, which contains the provisions for federal reform of autism insurance coverage. If passed, Section 12 will require all insurance companies across the country to provide coverage for evidence-based, medically-necessary autism treatments and therapies.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
By ALICE PARK
Among the many mysteries that befuddle autism researchers: why the disorder affects boys four times more often than girls. But in new findings reported online today by the journal Molecular Psychiatry, researchers say they have found a genetic clue that may help explain the disparity.
The newly discovered autism-risk gene, identified by authors as CACNA1G, is more common in boys than in girls (why that's so is still not clear), and the authors suggest it plays a role in boys' increased risk of the developmental disorder. CACNA1G, which sits on chromosome 17, amid other genes that have been previously linked to autism, is responsible for regulating the flow of calcium into and out of cells. Nerve cells in the brain rely on calcium to become activated, and research suggests that imbalances in the mineral can result in the overstimulation of neural connections and create developmental problems, such as autism and even epilepsy, which is also a common feature of autism.
"Our current theories about autism suggest that the disorder is related to overexcitability at nerve endings," says Geri Dawson, chief science officer of Autism Speaks, an advocacy group that provided the genetic data used by the study's authors. "It's interesting to see that the gene they identified appears to modulate excitability of neurons."
For the new study, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), combed the genetic database of the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE), a resource of DNA from 2,000 families with at least one autistic child. The scientists focused on the more than 1,000 genetic samples of families in which at least one son was affected by the disorder, prompted by the results of an earlier study using the same database, which identified a rich autism-related genetic region on chromosome 17 that contained genetic variants more common in boys than in girls. While nearly 40% of the general population has the most common form of CACNA1G, one variant of the gene was more prevalent in autistic boys, researchers found. "There is a strong genetic signal in this region," says Dr. Daniel Geschwind, director of UCLA's Center for Autism Research and Treatment and one of the study's co-authors. "But this gene doesn't explain all of that signal or even half of it. What that means is that there are many more genes in this region contributing to autism."
That's not surprising for a disorder as complex as autism - actually, a spectrum of developmental disorders involving impairment in language, social behavior and certain physical behaviors - with symptoms that range widely in number and severity. So far, studies have linked a handful of genes, all of which play a role in the way nerve cells connect and communicate, with autism spectrum disorders. It's likely not only that a large number of genes contribute to the disorder, but also that a different combination of genes - as well as unique interactions between genes and environment - are responsible for each individual case of autism.
So it's certainly a daunting challenge to begin teasing out the individual genes that may contribute to autism, as the UCLA team has with CACNA1G, but databases like AGRE make the job slightly easier. The next step will be to try to use known autism genes to help develop screening tools or early interventions. "We are going to have a much better understanding of the causes of autism over the next five to 10 years," says Dawson. "We're in a period of great discovery."
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
So, I am a little mad at an online company, Catoctin Popcorn Co., and I feel the need to vent.
I have a thing for kettle corn. I shouldn’t, but I do. DH often sends me shipments from this company with great kettle corn, Catoctin Popcorn Co. and it has been appreciated. They always arrive at my work and are devoured by myself and a fortunate few friends. If I was reviewing the product, there would be no problem. It's good stuff.
One of my nieces in Texas has pneumonia, so DH tried to do something sweet and send a basket down to her. I stood behind him at the computer and watch him type in and verify the address in Texas. He put his credit card in and hit send. No worries, right?
Well, guess what arrived at my office today. “Feel better soon!” the card read. What the bleep am I going to do with this? When the heck am I going to have time to take this to the post office? I called Catoctin Popcorn Co. and the owner Brian Casey answered the phone. I explained what had happened, to see if I could get an explanation as to why since I watched DH put in the answer correctly. He offered to fax me to order to prove that the address on his form was where it shipped. That wasn’t the point, especially since I watched what was entered on my end.
I am sure this could be easily dismissed as our stupidity if I hadn’t watched the whole thing with my own eyes, the correct information going into the computer. We are repeat customers. I know it isn’t clearly Catoctin’s fault, but you know, it isn’t clearly our fault either from where I am sitting. I am thinking he might want to take a good look at his website to make sure this doesn’t happen again, but I am not holding my breath. I am not saying he was rude or anything – Brian certainly was not at all. I was upset at little, but I wasn’t rude either. I just told him we wouldn’t be ordering with him again. He didn’t seem particularly worried about that.
That kind of shocked me, you know. I have fifteen years in retail and DH used to own a small business. I was trained that the customer was always right and the last thing you wanted was an angry customer, even if they were to blame to some degree. I saw DH go out his way to make a customer happy. Since I saw the address go in correctly, I think I am in the right here. Even if he thought I was in the wrong, he should have acted concerned and I just didn't get that. As a repeat customer, he should have thrown me a bone. I guess that philosophy and pride in excellent customer service is dead and gone. In my experience today, that isn’t the service philosophy of Catoctin Popcorn Co.. It’s too bad… their kettle corn was awesome.
I just spent $11.95 sending this stuff to Texas at the post office. I feel like I have the right to complain and take my business (and DH's) elsewhere. Any suggestions for a new kettle corn source?