December Digest

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National News

9-year-old’s Heartfelt Video on Life with Autism
ABC News – A 9-year-old boy’s self-narrated video about life with autism has now gone viral on the internet. George Yionoulis, who lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, opens up about living with autism and reassures others that “I’m a kid just like you.”

New Global Diagnostic Manual Mirrors U.S. Autism Criteria
Spectrum – Starting next year, clinicians worldwide may be using a new, streamlined set of criteria to diagnose autism. The criteria are part of a highly anticipated update to the “International Classification of Diseases,” a diagnostic manual produced by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Autism Portrayal Nets Golden Globe Nod
DisabilityScoop – Hollywood appears to be embracing the story of a surgeon with autism. Actor Freddie Highmore snagged a Golden Globe nomination this week for best actor in a television drama for his role as Dr. Shaun Murphy on ABC’s “The Good Doctor.”

 


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Research

Problems with Attention, Not Autism, Predispose Children to Injury
Spectrum – Young children with autism are no more likely than those without the condition to sustain injuries that require medical attention, according a study of more than 2,000 children.

New Genetic Models of Autism Point to Cellular Roots of Disease
UCSF – Researchers at UC San Francisco have developed a new genetic model of autism, using neurons created in the lab from patients’ own skin cells. Their experiments suggest that abnormalities in the electrical firing of neurons may lead to behavioral and developmental symptoms in autism, while differences in neuron size and shape result in abnormalities in brain size that often accompany the disorder.

Five Hot Topics in Autism Research in 2017
Spectrum – Researchers made significant headway on multiple fronts, from understanding the effect of exposures during pregnancy on autism risk to reviving radical therapies for conditions related to autism. Other endeavors, such as the search for noncoding variants that play a role in autism, were less fruitful.

 

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Education

Navigating Life On Campus When You’re On The Autism Spectrum
NPR – James Carmody never had any doubt that he would go to college. He loved learning, he worked hard and he was excited to make a positive impact on the world.

Students with Autism Make Music with iPads
CBS News – For years Adam Goldberg, a classical pianist who teaches music at a school in Queens, New York, struggled to break through to his students who have serious learning disabilities, such as autism, until he started using instruments virtually anyone can play: an iPad.

 

Technology

Classroom Robot Helps South Carolina Children with Autism
Fox News – In October, South Carolina teachers at select schools began using the Robots4Autism curriculum and a small robot named Milo to teach students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Up and Coming Autism Entrepreneurs New GPS Prototype Developed in the Name of Lost Child with ASD
Autism Parenting Magazine – Toron Larkins has developed the prototype for a waterproof and discreet tracker that will track anywhere in the country in an effort to keep loved ones safe.

 

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Teens & Adults

Texas Police Officer Helps Make Autistic Teen’s Dream Come True
13WAMZ – A Garland police officer is using his time off as an opportunity to give back this Christmas by granting a teenager his ultimate wish, CBS Dallas/Fort Worth reports.

Report: Housing A ‘Crisis’ For People With Disabilities
Disability Scoop – Housing prices across the country are far outpacing the monthly benefits provided by Supplemental Security Income, according to a new report, forcing many people with disabilities into homelessness or costly institutional care.

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National News

Federal Officials Order Medicaid to Cover Autism Services
Kaiser Health News – In July, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that comprehensive autism services must be covered for children under all state Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program plans, another federal-state program that provide health coverage to lower-income children.

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Economic Study Confirms Growth in Autism
Science Daily – The number of autism cases has soared over the past three decades, leading some to wonder if mental health professionals might be over diagnosing the disorder. Two economists who used market theory to study the trend in autism growth, however, have confirmed that at least part of the increase is real.

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Research

Roots of Language Troubles, Autism Traits May Diverge
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative – The core symptoms of autism are impaired social and communication abilities, and repetitive and restricted behaviors and interests. Until 2013, the diagnostic criteria for autism included a third category: language problems. In support of this, a few studies have identified genetic variants that link language impairments to autism.

Early Cerebellum Injury Hinders Neural Development, Possible Root of Autism, Theory Suggests
News at Princeton – A brain region largely known for coordinating motor control has a largely overlooked role in childhood development that could reveal information crucial to understanding the onset of autism, according to Princeton University researchers.

Brains of Children with Autism Teem with Surplus Synapses
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative – The brains of children with autism do not prune unneeded connections between neurons as they age, leaving them with too many of these neuronal links, according to a study published 21 August in Neuron1.

Small Study Shows Promise for Parent-led Autism Intervention for Babies (video)
NBC – In a small pilot study, parents learned and delivered a treatment that significantly reduced autism symptoms in babies who had shown warning signs for the disorder.

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Technology

Kids With Autism See Big Gains With Tablets
Disability Scoop – Even with intervention, many children with autism continue to struggle with communication, but new research suggests that using iPads and other tablets can help maximize language skills. Read full story

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Education

Inclusion Rates for Special Education Students Vary By State
Disability Scoop – Where a child lives may significantly impact whether they are placed in an inclusive or segregated classroom, a new national analysis suggests. Regional differences appear to play a role in education placements for students with autism, with those living in the West more likely to attend mainstream classes while students in the Eastern United States are more frequently assigned to segregated settings, according to findings published online in the journal Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities.

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Teens & Adults

Growing Solutions Farm Gives Autistic Adults a Chance to Grow
Chicago Tribune – On a 1.2-acre plot of land on the Near West Side, young adults with autism are getting invaluable lessons — lessons that may soon be replicated around the country. Growing Solutions Farm teaches the 20 or so students, ages 18 to 26, all aspects of farming, from planting and harvesting vegetables and herbs to cooking what they grow. But it’s much more than that.

How Running Changed Life for a Boy with Autism
NBC News – Mike Brannigan is obsessed with running. The repetitive motion. The rhythm he finds. The way he can focus on his body and nothing else. At 17, Mike Brannigan is one of the top 10 high school runners in the whole country. He’s so lightning fast he can run a mile in four minutes and seven seconds flat. His coach says he is the hardest working athlete he’s ever trained. He also happens to have autism.