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US Autism & Asperger Association
June 24, 2011

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

In Custody or Free to Leave? Supreme Court Clarifies Miranda Rights
J. D. B. v. North Carolina
by Peter W.D. Wright, Esq. and Pamela Wright, MA, MSW

gavelOn June 16, 2011, the Supreme Court issued a decision in J. D. B. v. North Carolina (09-11121).

J. D. B. was a thirteen-year-old middle school student who was pulled out of class by a uniformed police officer, and interrogated by a police investigator at school. Before the interrogation, the police did not give him Miranda warnings, an opportunity to call his guardian, nor did they tell him that he was free to leave.

"In this case, the North Carolina Supreme Court “… contends that a child’s age has no place in the custody analysis, no matter how young the child …We cannot agree,” wrote Justice Sotomayor.

The Supreme Court framed the legal issue as: “Whether a trial court may consider a juvenile’s age in a Fifth Amendment Miranda custody analysis in evaluating the totality of the objective circumstances and determining whether a reasonable person in the juvenile’s position would have felt he or she was free to terminate police questioning and leave?"

The Court held that age is a relevant factor to consider in determining whether to issue a Miranda warning before questioning a minor.

Full Story.

Increased Protein Digestion Reduces Food Allergenicity

by Devin Houston, PhD
(Dr. Houston will be discussing protein digestion and enzymes at the US Autism & Asperger Association 2011 World Conference October 27-30 in Seattle, Washington).

dr. devin houstonFood intake, considered a pleasure by most, also represents a health hazard in situations where metabolism is altered or if food proteins are recognized as harmful by the immune system. In the latter case, IgG, IgE and IgA antibodies are produced by the immune system in response to the food “attack”. The number of food-allergic patients is increasing, as is the severity of the reactions. The effects range from mild rashes, diarrhea, and/or migraine headaches to all-out systemic dysfunction.

"The immune system in the gut is triggered by a number of factors but size of the offending protein is the most predominant.

One of the functions of the digestive tract is to change food into a substance that won’t trigger the immune system to launch an attack.

Several methods are used in the body to accomplish this task. Stomach acid denatures food proteins. Denaturation removes the “glue” holding the structure of the food protein together and often results in loss of any function associated with the protein.

Full Story.

“Race to Nowhere”: Stress and Our Youth Part III

Part I was featured in the April 20th USAAA WeeklyNews
Part II was featured in the May 27th USAAA Weekly News
by Robert Brooks, PhD

brooksMy past two articles were prompted by viewing and serving as the moderator for the documentary “Race to Nowhere: The Dark Side of America’s Achievement Culture.” I noted that concerned school and community groups have arranged to show this movie as a catalyst for parents, educators, childcare professionals, and community members to engage in a dialogue about the epidemic of unrealistic expectations, pressures, and stresses that are confronting today’s youth.

"I believe there is universal support for early intervention efforts to address a child’s developmental lags before the negative consequences of these lags become more pronounced and more difficult to remedy. In contrast, math and reading tutorial programs for preschool children who are not displaying any lags, while having supporters, also have detractors.

I described in detail what I believe to be certain myths that contribute to an environment that produces stress in our youth. Briefly, one myth is that grades and test scores are the foundation for and prediction of future success and thus must be attained at any price. A second myth is the supposed correlation between the amount of homework assigned and a child’s achievement in school. I also voiced a concern that is shared by many child development specialists, namely, that play activities in kindergarten—activities that foster learning and fun—are being replaced by a more academically-oriented curriculum that in many instances involves the rote learning of facts. A number of educators are alarmed by the practice of pushing children to learn certain material before they are cognitively prepared to do so, a practice that is likely to increase stress and lessen the joy of learning.

Full Story.

Dr. Brooks is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and has served as Director of the Department of Psychology at McLean Hospital, a private psychiatric hospital. He is the author of a book titled "The Self-Esteem Teacher" and has co-authored over twelve books.

Americans' Eating Habits Worse This Year Compared With Last


by Dan Witters

produceWASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' Healthy Behaviors Index score was 63.8 in May, down from 65.2 in the same month last year. Adults' health habits have been worse in each of the past three months compared with the same months in 2010.

Gallup and Healthways ask at least 1,000 Americans each day about their health behaviors. Specifically, respondents are asked to report on whether they smoke, on how many days in the last week they exercised for at least 30 minutes, if they ate healthy all day "yesterday," and on how many days they consumed five or more servings of fruits and vegetables in the last seven days.

"It is possible that the 2011 decline in the Healthy Behavior Index score is partly a result of sharply increasing gas prices, which may drive some Americans to less expensive, less healthy options.

Americans' eating habits are the culprit in the lower Healthy Behaviors Index score. Fewer Americans reported eating healthily in May this year than did so last year, 66.2 vs. 68.2. Similarly, Americans are not eating as many fruits and vegetables on a weekly basis as they did last year. These data reveal that about 4.5 million fewer American adults ate healthy in May this year than did in the same month one year ago.

Full Story.

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In this issue:

  • In Custody or Free to Leave? Supreme Court Clarifies Miranda Rights
  • Increased Protein Digestion Reduces Food Allergenicity
  • “Race to Nowhere”: Stress and Our Youth Part III
  • Americans' Eating Habits Worse This Year Compared With Last

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