New Autism Research Outlines Gender Differences in Social Interactions – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

Boys and girls with autism spectrum disorder may share difficulties in communicating, but how those problems manifest themselves differs between the sexes—an important element for educators to remember, according to new research examining children with autism and their peer interactions.

For example, because boys tend to play more structured games, its easier to spot when a boy with autism is being excluded. Socialization among girls tends to be more fluid, so a girl with autism may appear to be fitting in with her peer group—but a closer look might reveal less-obvious rejection.

The research also shows that in general education classrooms, girls remain more connected to peers when they are in larger classrooms—21 students or more. Boys tended to have better social connections when they were in classrooms of 20 students or fewer. Researchers hypothesize that boys might do better with more individualized attention, while girls may thrive if they have more friendship options.

via New Autism Research Outlines Gender Differences in Social Interactions – On Special Education – Education Week.

Solano County ranch helps those with autism – Times Herald

By Elisabeth Nardi

When Jeanine Stanley’s son Ben was diagnosed with autism at age 3, she not only wondered what that would mean for his life, but at that time – the early 1990s – didn’t know anyone else who had a child with autism or experience working with them.

“You end up teaching the teachers,” she said. “We had to be the pioneers.”

For the next 20 years, the Lafayette mom learned plenty, fought for programs for her son and tried various therapies, all in an effort to make sure Ben lived life to his greatest potential. When he graduated from high school, a bigger question arose: Now what?

Along with a longtime friend and with the help of a former San Jose congressman’s ex-wife, Stanley believes she has at least a partial answer for Ben and other autistic adults — opening a ranch where they can channel their talents into work, on land near Fairfield they were recently given for this purpose. The women are working to raise money to build and refurbish facilities there, in hope of opening B Walker Ranch, named after Ben (his middle name is Walker), in 2015.

via Solano County ranch helps those with autism.

PBS Documentary Explores Life After School for Students With Autism – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

Janet Mino, a seemingly tireless special education teacher in New Jersey, is quick with smiles, hugs, and high-fives for the six young men with autism in her self-contained classroom at Newark’s John F. Kennedy High School.

The students in her class, and throughout the school that calls itself the city’s “best kept secret,” are used to a warm, supportive environment. All of the students have autism or multiple disabilities with cognitive impairments. But once those students reach the age of 21, they leave the school system for a fate that is sometimes unknown.

via PBS Documentary Explores Life After School for Students With Autism – On Special Education – Education Week.

Ed. Dept. Addresses Bullying of Students With Disabilities – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

Severe bullying of a student with disabilities could deny that student’s right to a free, appropriate public education would need to be addressed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, according to a guidance letter for districts, states and building administrators released today from the U.S. Department of Education.

A student who is not receiving “meaningful educational benefit” because of bullying triggers that provision, but even bullying that is less severe can undermine a student’s ability to meet his or her full potential, said the letter, written by Melody Musgrove, director of the office of special education programs, and Michael Yudin, the acting assistant secretary of the office of special education and rehabilitative services. If a student with a disability is bullying others, school officials should review that student’s individualized education program to see if additional support or changes to the student’s environment are necessary.

 

via Ed. Dept. Addresses Bullying of Students With Disabilities – On Special Education – Education Week.

Researchers Pursuing Novel Methods to Diagnose Autism – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

A handful of recent studies are delving into new methods of screening children and adults for autism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1 in 88 children has this disorder, which affects communication, behavior, and socialization.

In one study, researchers suggest that “micromovements” some people with autism make when asked to point to a dot on a screen may be indicative of the disorder. These results have been published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience. (The journal Medical Daily offers a less-dense synopsis of the research.)

via Researchers Pursuing Novel Methods to Diagnose Autism – On Special Education – Education Week.

Study: High Quality Matters More Than Specific Model for Preschoolers with Autism – Education Week

By Christina Samuels

A comparison of two well-known interventions for young children with autism, LEAP and TEACCH, has found that both of them produce gains among students during the school year—and so does high-quality classroom instruction that is not tied to any particular model.

The findings suggest that common elements of good classroom instruction, including an orderly classroom environment, well-trained teachers and positive interactions between children and adults, may be more important for children with autism than instruction using any particular treatment model. The study was published in the June edition of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, and the researchers have written a layman-friendly version of their findings.

via Study: High Quality Matters More Than Specific Model for Preschoolers with Autism – On Special Education – Education Week.

Education Week: Study: Minority Students Less Like to Be Identified With Autism

The rates of autism for students of all races is on the increase, but students who are black, Hispanic, or American Indian are less likely to be identified with the disability compared to white and Asian students, according to a study published this month in The Journal of Special Education.

The study, “A Multiyear National Profile of Racial Disparity in Autism Identification,” compiled information collected by the federal government from 1998 to 2006 on the race and disability category of students in special education. Using that information, the researchers were able to calculate a “risk index,” or the percentage of all enrolled students from a racial group with a specific disability.

via Study: Minority Students Less Like to Be Identified With Autism.

Education Week: Revised Psychiatric Disorders ‘Bible’ Changes Disability Definitions

The long-awaited fifth revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, known as the DSM-5, was released last weekend by the American Psychiatric Assocation with several revisions that affect conditions such as autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder that are common in school contexts.

The manual was last published in 1994 and updated in 2000. Many of these changes reflected in the DSM-5 have been the subject of widespread debate for several months. The diagnostic criteria also have potential to affect schools, though the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has its own definitions of disabilities covered under special education law.

via Revised Psychiatric Disorders ‘Bible’ Changes Disability Definitions.

Education Week: ‘Hackathon’ Yields Review Site For Autism-Friendly Businesses

People with disabilities and their families have long relied on word-of-mouth to find disability-friendly community businesses, but that recommendation system has been given a new twist after a “hackathon” sponsored by AT&T in partnership with the advocacy group Autism Speaks.

Ryan Stevens, 25, and Cyrus Stoller, 24, both living in San Francisco, won $10,000 for creating RevTilt, a review site that allows users to suggest businesses that accommodate people with autism.

via ‘Hackathon’ Yields Review Site For Autism-Friendly Businesses.

Education Week: CDC Study Pegs Autism Prevalence at One Child in 50

From guest blogger Alyssa Morones:

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 50 school-aged children has an autism spectrum disorder. That’s a significant increase from 2008, when the CDC estimated that 1 in 88 children had the disorder.

The data for this report came from a study by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, which surveyed more than 95,000 parents with children under 17 years old.

via CDC Study Pegs Autism Prevalence at One Child in 50.

Education Week: Children With Autism Frequent Victims of Bullying

So let’s just start, with a conversation about bullying: It’s at the top of list of concerns for many educators these days, and a recent article in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics shows that the topic should be of particular concern when it comes to students with autism. The study surveyed 1,221 families of children with autism spectrum disorders, and 38 percent of them reported being bullied in the past month. Twenty-eight percent said they were bullied frequently. The study also found that about 9 percent of children with autism were perpetrators of bullying, with about 5 percent described as “frequent” perpetrators. Close to 70 percent of the victims of bullying reported having experienced emotional trauma as a result of their treatment.

via Children With Autism Frequent Victims of Bullying.

Education Week: Conn. School Shootings Unleashed Attack on Disabilities, Too

When a website is created to raise money for a child who has cancer, it might get a million clicks. But that kind of sympathetic outpouring is far more rare for children with mental health disorders, behavioral issues, or neurological conditions, said Kristine Melloy, the president of the Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders, who also works in St. Paul, Minn., public schools.

Yet when the media cited unnamed law enforcement officials who said the gunman in the horrific school shooting in Newtown, Conn., last week may have had a form of autism or a mental health condition, the unconfirmed diagnosis was quickly blamed for triggering the massacre of 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary.

via Conn. School Shootings Unleashed Attack on Disabilities, Too.

Daily Republic Letter: Bad move for SCOE’s Delta program

The school district wants to take over the Solano County Office of Eduction Delta program, a program designed to help special needs children with behavior problems

They say it’s not a financial reason, but yet they give no logical reason. These children do not handle change well, as many are autistic. With the change, there will be new teachers and staff. If teachers want to switch to the district, they will have to apply and interview and take a pay cut. Also, the district has a smaller budget to work with than the county.

I ask, how is this in the best interest of our children?

Rosalinda McLaughlin

Suisun City

via Bad move for the Delta program.

Education Week: New Definition of Autism Drops Asperger, PDD-NOS Distinctions

Changes proposed to the diagnostic guide used by psychologists, including substantial changes to the definition of autism, are all but final.

Late last week, the American Psychiatric Association’s Board of Trustees approved the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-5, which will be available when the manual is published in the spring.

via New Definition of Autism Drops Asperger, PDD-NOS Distinctions.

Education Week: Students With Autism Choose STEM Majors, if They Go to College

The results of a new study confirm that students with autism spectrum disorders gravitate toward majors in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM—if they make it to college in the first place.

Researchers at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis found that about 34 percent of students with an autism spectrum disorder chose STEM majors. That inclination was not only higher than students with other types of disabilities, but also higher than students without disabilities, about 23 percent of whom declared a STEM major. Students with autism were most likely to choose science and computer science among the variety of STEM majors.

via Students With Autism Choose STEM Majors, if They Go to College.

TEDTalks (video): Faith Jegede: What I’ve learned from my autistic brothers

Faith Jegede tells the moving and funny story of growing up with her two brothers, both autistic — and both extraordinary. In this talk from the TED Talent Search, she reminds us to pursue a life beyond what is normal.

Writer Faith Jegede draws on her experiences growing up with two autistic brothers in order to spread awareness and understanding about this increasingly common diagnosis. Full bio »

via TED: Faith Jegede: What I’ve learned from my autistic brothers – Faith Jegede (2012).

Education Week: Early Autism Intervention Can ‘Normalize’ Brain Activity

A new national study has found that intensive early intervention therapy effective at improving young children’s cognition and language skills can normalize the brain activity of those with autism.

The Early Start Denver Model also has been shown to decrease autism symptoms and improve social skills, researchers found in the study published Friday in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

The randomized, case-controlled, multi-centered study found that children who received the intervention showed greater brain activation when viewing faces rather than objects, a response typical of the normal children in the study, and the opposite of the children with autism who received other interventions.

via Early Autism Intervention Can ‘Normalize’ Brain Activity.

Education Week: Study: Nearly Half of All Children With Autism Wander

A new study finds that nearly half of children diagnosed with autism have tried to wander away from home, school, or other places, and many wind up missing, even temporarily.

The study, published online today in the journal Pediatrics, captures what parents of children with autism have described for years: that their children wander off, or elope. It confirms preliminary findings by researchers from the Interactive Autism Network and the Kennedy Krieger Institute.

via Study: Nearly Half of All Children With Autism Wander.

Education Week: High-Tech Tools Developed to Detect, Study Autism

Researchers in Georgia have developed two new tools designed to better understand and detect autism, including a system that uses glasses to track where children look and facial-analysis software to identify when a child makes eye contact with the person wearing the glasses.

That device, developed at Georgia Tech’s Center for Behavior Imaging, uses a commercially available pair of glasses that records the focal point of their wearer’s gaze. In a study at the school’s Child Study Lab, researchers took video of a child captured by a front-facing camera on the glasses, which were worn by an adult interacting with the child. The video was then processed using facial-recognition software. The result is a system able to detect eye contact in an interaction with a 22-month-old with 80 percent accuracy, the university said. Here’s a video of what this looks like.

via High-Tech Tools Developed to Detect, Study Autism.

Education Week: Autism Research, Parent-Training Centers Get Cash Infusion

Nine sets of researchers will split $100 million in grant money from the National Institutes of Health to research different aspects of autism.

The awards, spread out over the next five years, are part of the Autism Centers of Excellence research program. This year, the research will expand to look into children and adults who have limited or no speech, links between autism spectrum disorders and other genetic syndromes, potential treatments, and the reasons why these disorders are more common among boys than girls, said Alice Kau, Ph.D., of the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Branch at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. That’s one of the five National Institutes of Health entities funding the Autism Centers of Excellence Program.

via Autism Research, Parent-Training Centers Get Cash Infusion.