November Digest Part 1 of 2

The most relevant news of the last couple weeks. Sign-up to have future issues delivered to your email.

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National News

Minorities Often Skipped In Autism Identification
DisabilityScoop – The number of schoolchildren with autism has increased nationwide in recent years, but a new study suggests that some kids are still being overlooked.

Autism therapy benefit to be analyzed for DoD
Military Times – The Defense Department has hired Rand Corp. to analyze its autism therapy benefit to determine whether the level of coverage is appropriate and how well it stacks up against private insurers.

Autism Advocates Hope Jerry Seinfeld’s Words Help Fight Stigma
NBC News – In an interview with Brian Williams, Jerry Seinfeld said he struggles with social engagement and believes he is on the autism spectrum.

Explaining the Increase in the Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders
JAMA Pediatrics – The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) has increased markedly in recent decades, which researchers have suggested could be caused in part by nonetiologic factors such as changes in diagnosis reporting practices.

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Research

Variants of autism-linked gene have diverse effects in mice
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative – Each of four different mutations in SHANK3, a leading autism candidate gene, leads to a different set of symptoms in mice, researchers have found. They presented their unpublished results on Thursday.

Behavioral patterns may predict autism in high-risk toddlers
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative – Three distinct behavioral profiles in siblings of children with autism at 18 months predict autism diagnosis at age 3. The findings, published 2 October, point to multiple developmental pathways to the disorder.

Child-Directed Play Blends Autistic Kids into Group
PsychCentral – Finding a setting that allows autistic kids to socialize with more normally developing peers is often a Catch-22 for parents.

Rare mutations linked to severity of autism symptoms
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative – Boys with autism who carry rare, spontaneous mutations have lower intelligence quotients and more severe symptoms than do those who may have inherited the disorder.

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Technology

Robots ‘helping autistic pupils build social skills’
BBC News – A robot is helping Danish children with autism and other developmental disorders to learn and develop communication skills, teachers say. Students can program Little Troels to carry out everyday tasks, like walking, talking and dancing.

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Education

Clermont autism case settled
Cinicinati.com – Their case paved the way for thousands of autistic children to get access to costly treatment programs. Now, a Clermont County family has been awarded more than $142,000 in a settlement agreement marking the final chapter in their legal saga.

Special ed policies called ‘indefensible’
Boston Harold – It’s time for Hub administrators to “question their assumptions about poor kids,” a top special education expert said yesterday, after the release of a report showed young black and Latino males in Boston are designated special needs and placed in separate classrooms at a startlingly higher rate than whites.

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Teens & Adults

Autism after high school
Medical Xpress – Melanie Tyner-Wilson is facing one of her toughest battles yet. She wants nothing more than to help her son Jay Tyner-Wilson, who is a person with autism, land his first real job.

Student spreads autism awareness
DisabilityScoop – FRANKLIN – Westport resident and Columbus North High School senior Sean Gilly spread a wealth of information about autism spectrum disorders (ASD) during the autism panel discussion he hosted at Franklin College on Oct. 28 as his senior project.

Shop A Little, Help A Lot!
Autism Speaks – This list of companies and organizations committed to employing individuals with autism. Each of the businesses below has high quality products created by young adults and adults with autism that are available for purchase so you can shop for gifts and treats while supporting a great cause!

October Digest – Part 2 of 2

The most relevant news of the last couple weeks. Sign-up to have future issues delivered to your email.

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National News

To Siri, With Love
New York Times – Just how bad a mother am I? I wondered, as I watched my 13-year-old son deep in conversation with Siri. Gus has autism, and Siri, Apple’s “intelligent personal assistant” on the iPhone, is currently his BFF. Obsessed with weather formations, Gus had spent the hour parsing the difference between isolated and scattered thunderstorms — an hour in which, thank God, I didn’t have to discuss them. Read full story

Lawmakers Urge Feds To Listen To Autism Self-Advocates
DailyScoop Members of Congress are calling on the Obama administration to take into account the concerns of self-advocates as the federal government works to implement new autism legislation. Read full story

Spotting Autism at 18 Months
US News and World Report – We’re learning more about autism every year – how families can flourish when a child has autism; how important screening can be early in the life of a child who may be at risk; or the ways in which early interventions before age 5 are helpful. Read full story

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Research

Massive Sequencing Studies Reveal Key Autism Genes
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative – Analyzing the sequences of more than 20,000 people, researchers have unearthed the largest and most robust list of autism genes so far, they reported today in Nature. These 50 ‘high-confidence’ autism genes may help researchers understand the biological underpinnings of autism.  Read full story

Web of Genes May Hold Clues for Autism Treatments
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative – Five years ago, scientists saw an exciting pattern emerge from sequencing studies of people with autism: Many of the mutations they picked up affect the function of synapses, the junctions between neurons. Read full story

Early Exposure to Air Pollutants Linked to Autism Risk
Medical News Today – A new study provides further evidence for the previously suggested link between environmental exposures and autism; researchers found that children with autism were more likely to be exposed to specific air pollutants in the first 2 years of life and during their mother’s pregnancy than those without the disorder. Read full story

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Education

Meet Mark Mautone, 2014-2015 NJ Teacher of the Year
New Jersey Education Association – Mark Mautone, a teacher of preschool students with autism at Wallace Elementary School in Hoboken, has been selected the 2014-2015 New Jersey Teacher of the Year. Read full story

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Teens & Adults

Teen with Autism, Twin Sister Crowned Homecoming King and Queen
Fox Carolina – A teenager with autism and his fraternal twin sister share a bond that’s inspired their school, and classmates recently gave them an unexpected memory to last a lifetime. Robby Cocke was recently crowned homecoming king, while his sister, Paulie, was crowned homecoming queen. Read full story

Berkeley Program Helps Those on Autism Spectrum to Transition After High School
San Jose Mercury NewsMemo Hernandez is like most teens. Excited about the future, he dreams of moving out of his parents’ house, getting a job and having his own life.  Those goals aren’t a given for the 17-year-old Hayward teen, who has Asperger’s syndrome and attention deficit disorder, ADHD. Read full story