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US Autism & Asperger Association
December 12, 2012

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


VanBergeijk: New autism definitions will leave too many out of services

By ERNST O. VANBERGEIJK

When the Centers for Disease Control found that 1 out of every 88 children has an autism spectrum disorder, there was an outcry. The number is "too high," was the message; autism is "over-diagnosed." That response, in part, led to a fierce philosophical battle over the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders.

"When the CDC announced last year that two-thirds of Americans were labeled as "overweight" or "obese," no one called for a change in the definition of obesity so fewer Americans would be diagnosed. Instead, policymakers treated the problem as a public health concern."

The battle is over now, and the result is the elimination of Asperger syndrome as a diagnosis in the new edition of the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders, otherwise known as the DSM-V, to be published in May. The manual is used by clinicians to assign diagnoses -- and therefore affects the decisions of insurance companies about reimbursements to providers. Educators, too, often use the DSM-V to justify additional services.

"...changing it will allow some insurance companies and school districts to temporarily save money by not providing services to those individuals who will no longer receive a diagnosis under the proposed stricter guidelines."

This misguided change in the DSM-V limits the number of people labeled as having an autism spectrum disorder, effectively giving insurers and others an excuse to cut the funding for social and educational services these individuals need to live healthy, independent lives. There are distinct differences between a child with Asperger syndrome and a child with autistic disorder -- just ask any parent who has experienced this with his or her child. So there are different approaches to these diagnoses. Full Story

"When I speak...I ask my audience how many would hire someone with Asperger's. Most people would. But if I say the person has problems with social communications, they say no, because it would 'alienate customers.' In any case, the DSM never was and is not meant to be a diagnostic tool for psychiatric conditions; it is a method for reimbursement for the health maintenance organizations." (Stephen M. Shore, EdD speaking at a recent conference) quote from The Jerusalem Post

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Do I Have a Right to Observe My Child's Classroom?
Parent Observations v. Student Confidentiality

by Pete Wright and Pam Wright

children classroom"Do I have a right to observe the class before agreeing (or not agreeing) to a placement for my child? The special ed director said I cannot observe the class because of confidentiality issues with the other children."

Pete Wright says: I have represented kids with disabilities since 1978. In all these years, I have never had an instance where a school denied a parent, or the parent's private sector expert, the opportunity to observe a potential placement.

"Schools that receive Title I funds must meet with parents to develop a parental involvement policy and must distribute the policy to parents and the community. Parents of children who attend Title I schools shall have access to school staff, opportunities to participate in the child's class, and to observe classroom activities." (20 U.S.C. 6318) - Pam Wright

The school board attorneys with whom I have worked over the years have always permitted observations by parents and the parent's outside experts.

When a school administrator takes this position, it creates an appearance of two things (both bad):

(1) that the program is clearly not appropriate and the parent will quickly discover this, and

(2) that the school is attempting to keep important information from parents.

I think many Hearing Officers and Administrative Law Judges would view a refusal to allow an observation as grounds to find that the proposed placement was not appropriate.

Full Story

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From Genes to Environment: Using integrative genomics to build a "systems level" understanding of autism spectrum disorders

By Valerie W. Hu, PhD
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC 20037

phenotypeAbstract
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are pervasive neurodevelopmental disorders that affect an estimated 1 in 110 individuals [CDC 2012 update is 1 in 88]. Although there is a strong genetic component associated with these disorders, this review focuses on the multi-factorial nature of ASD and how different genomewide (genomic) approaches contribute to our understanding of autism. Emphasis is placed on the need to study defined ASD phenotypes as well as to integrate large-scale 'omics' data in order to develop a "systems leve" perspective of ASD which, in turn, is necessary to allow predictions regarding responses to specific perturbations and interventions.

This review demonstrates the value of defining phenotypes for genomic analyses of ASD and of integrating the different types of large-scale genomic data to provide a more comprehensive picture of the underlying biological deficits of ASD which are the likely results of an aberrant developmental trajectory or end-state pathology. Identification of these altered pathways and functions in cells and tissues from individuals with ASD is expected to provide a better understanding of the pathobiology of ASD.

Excerpt
In a larger study involving unrelated case-controls in which individuals with ASD were divided into subtypes by cluster analyses of ADI-R scores, Hu, Sarachana et al. (2009) demonstrated that, dependent on ASD phenotype, hundreds to thousands of genes were differentially expressed relative to non-autistic controls (see Fig. 2D). Of particular interest were the circadian rhythm genes that were associated only with the subtype with severe language impairment. This finding is of interest because circadian rhythm controls daily physiological activities such as sleep and digestive functions, which are often disturbed in individuals with ASD (Johnson & Malow, 2008). The 20 noncoding transcripts that were found to be differentially expressed among all ASD subtypes relative to controls are particularly intriguing because many of these transcripts were found to be responsive to dihydrotestosterone (a potent metabolite of testosterone), further implicating the involvement of the sex hormones in ASD.

Research Paper

To learn more about the underlying pathobiology in autism, visit the USAAA Conference video downloads. Dr. Hu presented "New Discoveries in the Underlying Pathobiology of Autism" at the USAAA 2012 World Conference. Dr Hu serves on the USAAA Scientific Advisory Board.

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This Drink Can Blast Your Body and Brain with High Levels of Lead

By Dr. Mercola
Toxic Taps: Lead is Still the Problem

lead pipesLead is one of the most well characterized toxins known to harm and damage your brain and nervous system. It is so toxic that it has been banned in gasoline and children's toys, and lead paint hasn't been in use since 1978.

If you purchase a home that contains lead paint, the seller is required to disclose this because of the serious risks it can pose to your family's health if lead-containing paint chips or paint dust are inhaled or ingested...

"Partial pipe replacements can physically shake loose lead fragments that have built up and laid dormant inside the pipe, pushing them into the homeowners' water, and spiking the lead levels, even where they previously were not high.

You may think we have already legislated this problem away, but millions of water pipes known as service lines are still made from lead, and could be carrying contaminated water into your home on a daily basis.

While the government has attempted to remedy this problem with replacements, the solution has backfired; in addition to not removing all of the lead pipes, the replacement process may actually increase the health risks...

Full Story

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In this issue:

VanBergeijk: New autism definitions will leave too many out of services

Do I Have a Right to Observe My Child's Classroom?

From Genes to Environment: Using integrative genomics to build a "systems level" understanding of autism spectrum disorders

This Drink Can Blast Your Body and Brain with High Levels of Lead


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