December Digest 1 of 2

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


National News

The legacy of Stella Young, Australian disability advocate and comedian
The Washington Post – Stella Young did not want to inspire you. The Australian comedian and disability activist died at age 32 on Saturday night, according to a family statement to ABC News. Her death was unexpected and painless, the family said.

How Brain Scans Can Diagnose Autism With 97% Accuracy
Time – Right now, diagnosing disorders like autism relies heavily on interviews and behavioral observations. But new research published in PLoS One shows that a much more objective measure—reading a person’s thoughts through an fMRI brain scan—might be able to diagnose autism with close to perfect accuracy.



Sequencing study clarifies impact of autism mutations
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative – The study looked at 3,486 people with autism and 2,493 of their unaffected siblings. The researchers used a relatively inexpensive and easy sequencing method to look at genes known to be mutated in at least one person with autism.

Brain-normalizing’ therapy points to new kind of biomarker
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative – Pivotal response treatment, one of the most effective forms of behavioral therapy for autism, normalizes brain activity in children with the disorder. The findings, published 5 November inBrain Imaging and Behavior, suggest that imaging studies can signal early responses to autism treatments1.

Brains of people with autism show altered growth with age
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative –  Several brain regions in people with autism become enlarged earlier than usual during childhood and shrink too soon during adulthood, finds a study published 7 November in Autism Research1.

Preeclampsia during pregnancy and child’s autism risk linked
Preclampsia is a condition that appears during pregnancy and is characterized by high blood pressure and protein in the urine. Now, in a new study, researchers have found that children with autism spectrum disorder were more than twice as likely to be born to mothers with preeclampsia during pregnancy, suggesting a link between the two.



‘MSSNG’ Project, Partnership Between Autism Speaks and Google for Autism Research, Has Official Launch
ABC News – A research project by Google and Autism Speaks to sequence and study human genomes and seek a breakthrough for autism was officially launched today(Dec 9). News of the partnership between the tech giant and the science and advocacy organization was first announced in June.

The Heartbreak And Joys Of Having A Child With Autism, In Moving 6-Second Videos
Huffington Post – Just before his second birthday, Kimberly Maschi’s son, Jase, was diagnosed with autism. In that moment, as the doctor delivered the news, Maschi says she’d “never felt more alone.”



Landmark Special Ed. Case Confirming ‘Zero Reject’ Rule Marks 25 Years
Education Week – Around this time 25 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court made special education history for a case that it chose not to take. In 1989, the high court declined to hear the Rochester, N.H., school district’s appeal of a judicial decision ordering it to provide educational services for a severely disabled child.

Helping Kids with Autism Read, Write and Communicate
Penn State News – The boy is delighted. You can see it in his eyes — his enthusiasm for the task, his pride in his ability. Indeed, Max has good reason to be proud: At age three, he is reading. And at this precise moment, he is reading a story about the Disney character Elsa with his speech-language pathologist, Jessica Caron, a Penn State graduate student in communication sciences and disorders.


Teens & Adults

Book Review – Online Safety for Children and Teens on the Autism Spectrum by Nicola Lonie.
Autism Daily Newscast – Online Safety for Children and Teens on the Autism Spectrum A Parent’s and Carer’s Guide – I have had the wonderful privilege to read this book by Nicola Lonie and I have to start by saying that I have learned an awful lot about computers, the internet and social media in general, as well as the many ways in which to make the whole world wide web safer for my little boy who has ASD.