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US Autism & Asperger Association
March 31, 2011

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


Real ‘Idol’ Singer Durbin resonates with autism-afflicted kids

Music therapy class helping young, old alike

Music for the Child with Autism

Do food dyes make kids hyperactive? FDA to decide

Real ‘Idol’
Singer Durbin resonates with autism-afflicted kids

By Lauren Beckham Falcone, Boston Herald

idolAmerican Idol’s” James Durbin is a rock star — even when he’s not singing.

The Season 10 contestant is a fan favorite, especially among kids with autism.

Durbin, a 21-year-old married father of one, has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, and local kids are rallying around their newfound inspiration.

“If he has autism and we have autism, it shows we can make it, too.”

“I like that he’s on ‘American Idol,’ ” said Kyle Dunne, a 10th-grader at the League School of Greater Boston, a nonprofit educational center for kids with autism spectrum disorder and Asperger’s. “If he has autism and we have autism, it shows we can make it, too.”

Dunne and pals Ross Labossiere, 14, and an eighth-grader whose parents requested we not use his name, said Durbin’s presence on America’s No. 1 show gives them a shot of self-confidence.

Click here for entire story on Real ‘Idol’ Singer Durbin resonates with autism-afflicted kids.

Music therapy class helping young, old alike

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — She holds the violin under her chin and positions her fingers under the neck of the instrument. Then she holds the bow steady as she begins to play "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" as her mother smiles.

violinHannah Cooley, 7, is a student with autism who receives music therapy from University of Alabama students at Sprayberry Education Center.

Carol Prickett, a professor of music, founded the program in 1985, and it is still the only music therapy program in the state. The program at Alabama takes a little more than four years for students to complete.

There are 30 students in the program seeking to obtain a degree in music therapy.

"Daniel Potts, a local doctor at Neurology Associates in Tuscaloosa... said music exercises a large part of the brain, providing visuals and images."

"Music therapy has been deemed a formal profession for 60 years now, and I have been a part of the profession for 40 of those years,"

Prickett said. Prickett is credited with bringing music therapy to both Alabama and Georgia College. She also is well-known in the profession as the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Music Therapy Association in 2009.

Click here for entire story on Music therapy class helping young, old alike.

Music for the Child with Autism
Music enhances communication

by Stephen Shore, EdD

musical notesMusic enhances communication
There are many benefits to using music with people on the autism spectrum. One of these benefits is that Music provides the structural regularity that children with autism need. Within that structure it is possible to expand that child’s repertoire of functioning. Depending on the child’s placement on the autism spectrum I find that music assists with communication in different ways. For the child at the severe end, music is often the means of communication. Often, as I start a music session for children at this portion of the spectrum, the excitement and pleasure of music is clearly visible.

"A research study done by a neurologist [Schlaug], who is also a musician, at the Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts showed a physical change in the brain structure in people who started music training at an early age. "

For the moderately involved child, music can serve as a carrier signal for verbal communication. One child, while having no functional communication, had a storehouse of holiday and children’s songs in her head. I only found this out one day when I didn’t play the last note of a song. Not only did she say the correct word, she sang it at the right pitch. My only wish is that I would have been able to continue working with her in order to move this verbal ability towards functional communication. With limited verbal children of this nature, it is often possible to get them to vocalize and supply the missing words to a song they know by suddenly stopping the song and accompaniment at points of maximal tension.

Click here for entire story on Music for the Child with Autism.

Dr. Shore is a member of the USAAA Advisory Board and will be presenting at the USAAA 6th Annual World Conference, October 27-30 in Seattle, Washington.

Do food dyes make kids hyperactive? FDA to decide


boyWASHINGTON — Some evidence links dyes found in everyday foods to hyperactivity in certain children, scientists and academics told a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee Wednesday.

"Public health advocates and academics studying the issue...say that the effects of dyes on some children is cause enough to ban the additives."

The panel is expected to weigh in Thursday on whether studies, some of which are decades old, definitively link the dyes and the disorder. The committee may recommend that the agency further regulate food coloring, do more studies or require better labeling of the additives. They also could also recommend that the FDA do nothing at all.

The FDA has so far said there is no proven relationship between food dyes and hyperactivity in most children. But the agency has agreed with many of the studies that say for "certain susceptible children," hyperactivity and other behavioral problems may be exacerbated by food dyes and other substances in food. Studies presented Wednesday backed that assertion.

"The petition to investigate certain dyes was filed by the advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest in 2008. The FDA is now addressing the petition."

The question for the agency is whether the potential effect on a possibly small percentage of children — it is unclear just how many — should lead to an outright ban of the additives or stricter warning labels on foods.

Click here for entire story on Do food dyes make kids hyperactive? FDA to decide.

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