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US Autism & Asperger Association
September 23, 2011

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


Autistic and Seeking a Place in an Adult World

By AMY HARMON
NY Times

MONTCLAIR, N.J. — For weeks, Justin Canha, a high school student with autism, a love of cartoons and a gift for drawing, had rehearsed for the job interview at a local animation studio.

justin_paintingAs planned, he arrived that morning with a portfolio of his comic strips and charcoal sketches, some of which were sold through a Chelsea gallery. Kate Stanton-Paule, the teacher who had set up the meeting, accompanied him. But his first words upon entering the office were, like most things involving Justin, not in the script.

"And Ms. Stanton-Paule’s program here is based on the somewhat radical premise that with intensive coaching in the workplace and community — and some stretching by others to include them — students like Justin can achieve a level of lifelong independence that has eluded their predecessors.

“Hello, everybody,” he announced, loud enough to be heard behind the company president’s door. “This is going to be my new job, and you are going to be my new friends.”

As the employees exchanged nervous glances that morning in January 2010, Ms. Stanton-Paule, the coordinator of a new kind of “transition to adulthood” program for special education students at Montclair High School, wondered if they were all in over their heads.

"...even those who attend college often end up unemployed and isolated, living with parents.

Justin, who barely spoke until he was 10, falls roughly in the middle of the spectrum of social impairments that characterize autism, which affects nearly one in 100 American children. He talks to himself in public, has had occasional angry outbursts, avoids eye contact and rarely deviates from his favorite subject, animation. His unabashed expression of emotion and quirky sense of humor endear him to teachers, therapists and relatives. Yet at 20, he had never made a true friend.

FULL STORY.

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U.S. Researchers Identify Two Autism Strains in Major Breakthrough

From Fox News

two_brainsResearchers have for the first time identified two biologically different strains of autism in a breakthrough being compared with the discovery of different forms of cancer in the 1960s, The Australian reported Thursday.

The findings, to be announced at an international autism conference in Perth, Australia, Thursday [Sept. 8], are seen as a key step towards understanding the causes of autism and developing effective treatments as well as a cure.

"As an example, if a child has an immune form of autism, it may be that what we want to do is manipulate their immune system rather than trying something else that may be related to synaptic functions in the brain."

The findings bring hope that the communication, socialization and other difficulties that autistic children experience can be tackled more easily and earlier.

Researchers from the University of California Davis's MIND Institute in Sacramento began the Autism Phenome Project in 2006. They have been studying the brain growth, environmental exposure and genetic make-up of 350 children aged between two and 3.5 years, and have so far found two biologically distinct subtypes of autistic brain development.

One group of children, all boys, had enlarged brains and most had regressed into autism after 18 months of age; another group appeared to have immune systems that were not functioning properly.

FULL STORY.

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Brain scans let computer reconstruct movie scenes

By MALCOLM RITTER - AP Science Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — It sounds like science fiction: While volunteers watched movie clips, a scanner watched their brains. And from their brain activity, a computer made rough reconstructions of what they viewed.

brain scanScientists reported that result Thursday and speculated such an approach might be able to reveal dreams and hallucinations someday.

In the future, it might help stroke victims or others who have no other way to communicate, said Jack Gallant, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley, and co-author of the paper.

He believes such a technique could eventually reconstruct a dream or other made-up mental movie well enough to be recognizable. But the experiment dealt with scenes being viewed through the eyes at the time of scanning, and it's not clear how much of the approach would apply to scenes generated by the brain instead, he said.

"In the future, it might help stroke victims or others who have no other way to communicate, said Jack Gallant, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley, and co-author of the paper.

People shouldn't be worried about others secretly eavesdropping on their thoughts in the near future, since the technique requires a person to spend long periods in an MRI machine, he noted.

FULL STORY.

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October 27-30: USAAA 2011 World Conference & Expo, Seattle, Washington

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Whether you've just received a diagnosis of autism or you've struggled for years to find answers, you know how difficult it can be to find hope. The vast amount of information, in cyberspace or print, from doctors to friends, on special diets to social skills, can overwhelm even the most dedicated parent. How can you sort through the junk mail and begin down the road to success?

"The primary function of the USAAA conference is where parents, caregivers, health care practitioners, individuals with autism, students, educators, therapists and anyone who wants to learn more about services and treatment for persons living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can learn about effective interventions – both medical and educational.

Introducing the US Autism & Asperger Association 2011 World Conference & Expo. The theme: "Autism Education and Treatment: A Road to Wellness." The goal: to demystify the confusion around autism and to arm you with tools of practical protocols and new resources. After four days, you will leave the conference with a considerable head start down the road to wellness.

With an unprecedented conference format and presentations from some of the most respected experts in the international autism community, the USAAA conference is a can't-miss opportunity. Here's a sneak peek at just a few of the conference highlights:

  • "Meet Temple Grandin's Mother - Coming to Terms with Expectations"
  • "The 7 Keys to Unlock Autism"
  • "The Doctors Who Treat Autism Spectrum Disorders"
  • Panel workshops on advocacy, adjunct therapies, biomedical interventions, nutrition, support services, and more

"Full 4-day packages start at just $95.

Full conference information.

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