March Digest 1 of 2

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National News

Jean Vanier, Untiring Advocate For People With Disabilities, Wins Templeton Prize
Huffington Post – In 1964, Jean Vanier invited two men with developmental disabilities to share a house with him in Trosly-Breuil, near Paris. It was a life-changing move for the Canadian philosopher that would, over time, radically improve the lives of many others.

Obama Task Force Urges Improved Police Interactions
DisabilityScoop – A presidential task force is encouraging police departments across the nation to be more mindful of their dealings with people who have disabilities.

SD Senate, House Strike Compromise On Autism Bill
NBC – A bill that would mandate that certain insurance plans cover a costly but effective treatment for children with autism is headed to the governor’s desk.

Disney Faulted In Disability Access Complaints
DisabilityScoop – A civil rights commission has found reason to believe that Disney discriminated against theme park visitors with developmental disabilities after altering its disability access policy.

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Research

Autism’s Gender Bias Evident Before Diagnosis
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative – One of the most consistent findings in autism — and arguably the most perplexing — is that it affects four times as many boys as girls. There’s no shortage of theories to explain this gender imbalance: Autism-related behaviors manifest differently in girls, who also require more mutations than boys do to trigger the disorder.

Gene-Editing Tool Hews Shortcut to Autism Mouse Models
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative – A widely used gene-editing technique can create large chromosomal defects in mice, slashing the time and effort needed to engineer mouse models of these genetic glitches. The advance was described 4 February in Cell Reports1.

Study Shows Connection Between Key Autism Risk Genes in the Human Brain
Yale News – A new study reveals an important connection between dozens of genes that may contribute to autism, a major step toward understanding how brain development goes awry in some individuals with the disorder.

Landscape of Chemical Tags Paves Way for Autism Studies
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative – It’s been 12 years since researchers sequenced the human genome, unearthing an estimated 20,000 genes. Now, in a feat that unites findings from 2,800 experiments in more than 100 types of cells, researchers have mapped the human epigenome — the many layers of code that turn these genes on or off.

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Technology

Can an App for Google Glass Offer a Path Out of Autism?
BetaBoston – Can technology help children with autism accomplish what other educational efforts have not? Ned Sahin aims to find out.

Autism, It’s a Hot Focus for Tech
Huffington Post – While frequent attention to autism in the media brings light to the topic, in recent months, there has been a less well-publicized, yet emerging trend: technology companies big and small have been stepping forward to focus their resources on projects to help individuals with autism.

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Education

Disabilities Group to CPS: Make Sure Charter Schools Welcome Special Ed Students
Sun Times – A disabilities-rights group is asking Chicago Public Schools to consider the track records of some charter schools in serving students with special needs before it renews their operating charters this spring.

Overcoming Challenges through Perseverance and the Arts
Stopbullying.gov – At age two, Thomas Ledbetter was diagnosed with Autism and was not expected to be able to speak. Thomas experienced bullying throughout elementary and middle school and decided to channel these negative experiences and feelings into positive graphic design.

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Teens & Adults

Film Premiering At Tribeca Explores Love On The Spectrum
DisabilityScoop – A documentary on romance among adults with autism will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival alongside films featuring Hollywood veterans Richard Gere, James Franco and Dakota Fanning.

New Housing Concept Emerging For Those With Disabilities
DisabilityScoop – Much of the money has been secured — nearly $14 million to date. The blueprints are being readied. A builder has been hired.