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US Autism & Asperger Association, Inc. March 17, 2010

Welcome to USAAA Weekly News, an email newsletter that addresses a range of topics on Autism Spectrum Disorders and Asperger's Syndrome.


Letting Go of Anger

Bridging from Cells to Cognition in Autism Pathophysiology: Biological Pathways to Defective Brain Function and Plasticity

Autism through the lifespan #6: Early Adulthood

Michael Lewis, 'The Big Short' Author, On Jon Stewart: How A One-Eyed Man Bet Against Wall Street

A Special Need Planning Timeline: 9 Steps to a Sound Family Plan

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Letting Go of Anger

From Alternative Choice Blog
Cindy N Ariel, Ph.D.
Robert A. Naseef, Ph.D.

Recently a woman at a workshop on coping with the stresses of raising a child with autism, shared that, “Once I let go of my anger, I had a whole new life.” She told her story. Several weeks before her baby was due, she was rear-ended in her car and taken to the hospital. When she went into labor a few days later, she thought this was caused by the driver of the car which struck her. When her child was diagnosed with autism a few years later, she angrily blamed that driver. She stated that she needed someone to blame. This went on for several years. She told people that when she let go of her anger, she started to really enjoy her child and her life. She had been miserable staying angry.

"channel the anger into more productive action such as advocating for the child to get all that he deserves."

Anger is often about a perceived sense of injustice. Next time you feel your anger brewing, check your thoughts. See if you are thinking that you have been wronged, or slighted, or mistreated in some way. Remember that just because we think something doesn’t make it true. But the more we think about it, the more true it may seem.

Click here for more information on Letting Go of Anger.


Bridging from Cells to Cognition in Autism Pathophysiology: Biological Pathways to Defective Brain Function and Plasticity

American Journal of Biochemistry and Biotechnology 4 (2): 167-176, 2008
Matthew P. Anderson, Brian S. Hooker and Martha R. Herbert

Abstract: We review evidence to support a model where the disease process underlying autism may begin when an in utero or early postnatal environmental, infectious, seizure, or autoimmune insult triggers an immune response that increases reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in the brain that leads to DNA damage (nuclear and mitochondrial) and metabolic enzyme blockade and that these inflammatory and oxidative stressors persist beyond early development (with potential further exacerbations), producing ongoing functional consequences. In organs with a high metabolic demand such as the central nervous system, the continued use of mitochondria with damaged DNA and impaired metabolic enzyme function may generate additional ROS which will cause persistent activation of the innate immune system leading to more ROS production. Such a mechanism would self-sustain and possibly progressively worsen.

"Additionally, brain changes of various types have been documented to exist during postnatal period, including increasing brain volume, persistent immune activation, and diminution of cell size, with the latter two continuing substantially into the lifespan.

The mitochondrial dysfunction and altered redox signal transduction pathways found in autism would conspire to activate both astroglia and microglia. These activated cells can then initiate a broad-spectrum proinflammatory gene response. Beyond the direct effects of ROS on neuronal function, receptors on neurons that bind the inflammatory mediators may serve to inhibit neuronal signaling to protect them from excitotoxic damage during various pathologic insults (e.g., infection). In autism, over-zealous neuroinflammatory responses could not only influence neural developmental processes, but may more significantly impair neural signaling involved in cognition in an ongoing fashion. This model makes specific predictions in patients and experimental animal models and suggests a number of targets sites of intervention. Our model of potentially reversible pathophysiological mechanisms in autism motivates our hope that effective therapies may soon appear on the horizon.

Click here for more information on Bridging from Cells to Cognition in Autism Pathophysiology: Biological
Pathways to Defective Brain Function and Plasticity

Dr. Martha Herbert is a scheduled Keynote at the USAAA 5th Annual 2010 World Conference in St. Louis, MO October 1-3.


Autism through the lifespan #6: Early Adulthood

WHYY News and Information

For most, early adulthood is full of new found independence. Going to college, getting a job, moving from home and possibly starting one’s own family are among early adulthood’s rites of passage. But a wave of autistic adolescents are becoming adults and will most likely struggle with all of those things.

Ray Springer and Amanda Smith are planning their wedding. They’ve been together for 3 years. They met at a Valentine’s Day dance at their job.

"What is normal, I don’t know what normal is, but we're always trying to make them fit into a normal world. Sometimes it’s a square peg going into a round hole, and its very difficult for them to understand but he has learned to shove that peg in there in a lot of ways that some autistic kids never learn.

Amanda: I asked my friend Katie, I said, Katie, who’s that good looking guy up there' and she said, 'Oh you’ll find out, you’ll find out,' of course he comes to me he goes, ' What's your name?' and I said, "Amanda' he goes, 'Would you like to dance with me?' And I was kind of shy, and then I told him and he goes, 'Do you have a boyfriend?' and I said, 'No' he says, 'Would you like to be my girlfriend?' I said, 'Sure' and that’s how we hooked up.

Ray: Amanda is a sweet, sweet person in the world and all that and she always says I love you. That’s what she tells me.

Ray has autism. He is 25. Amanda has intellectual disabilities. She is 21. They live in his parent’s basement.

Click here for more information on Autism through the lifespan #6: Early Adulthood.


Michael Lewis, 'The Big Short' Author, On Jon Stewart: How A One-Eyed Man Bet Against Wall Street

Michael Lewis came on "The Daily Show" last night to talk about his new book, "The Big Short," about the few investors who bet against subprime loans in 2005, predicting the financial meltdown, and were able to make money off of it. The book highlights one of these investors, a man named Mike Burry, who has a glass eye and Asperger's syndrome but was still smarter than the rest of Wall Street.

From CBS News:"Michael Burry's advantage was he wasn't part of the collective. That he was just this guy in a T-shirt and shorts with a glass eyeball and Asperger's Syndrome, looking at the numbers, and when nobody else really was," Lewis said.

These bets against the market, Lewis said, are important because they are "the only incentive in the system to bring bad news into the system" -- most Wall Street investors had "forgotten" that they'd rigged the market, and couldn't let themselves believe that something catastrophic was going to happen.

Click here for more information on Michael Lewis, 'The Big Short' Author, On Jon Stewart: How A One-Eyed Man Bet Against Wall Street.


A Special Need Planning Timeline: 9 Steps to a Sound Family Plan

From Parenting Special Needs Magazine

Planning for the future well-being of your children is a daunting task for any parent. Add the complexity of adequately providing for the future care of a son or daughter with special needs and the process becomes exponentially more challenging.

"The actual creation of a special needs plan will take time, focus and creativity. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Include your child’s educators, family, friends and professionals that can offer support and guidance through the process.

Any special needs plan requires thoughtful dedication by the parents and often involves the utilization of multiple resources and professionals. The question for most parents is where to even start? The answer, of course, varies based on the child’s diagnosis, age, family situation and numerous other factors. There is, however, a core guide that I believe can be provided to any parent of a child with special needs to help work through the process (a process, I might stress, that is accomplished over time).

Click here for more information on A Special Need Planning Timeline: 9 Steps to a Sound Family Plan.


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