Every Sunday, we select the week’s big special needs stories and great blog posts from special needs bloggers.
This week, we bring you nine news stories, five blog posts, and what you may have missed this week from the Friendship Circle blog.
Alice Walton’s last article on living life with autism generated many comments and emails because it did not include perspective from adults with autism. This article highlights six adults with autism and their lives, education, and work. Not only do they share their own stories, but they offer their own thoughts on what lies ahead for other adults and children with autism.
NY Daily News: Pitcher’s best win is Down syndrome son
Former Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Carl Erskine had a child with Down syndrome in the 60s and 70s, in a society that was not ready to accept children with the disorder. When Erskine’s son was born, the doctors called his son’s condition “hopeless” and urged the new parents to leave their son. They didn’t. This article shares Erskine’s story and his relationship with his son, Jimmy.
The Atlantic: The Biological Causes of Autism
MIT researchers found that a rare disease on the autism spectrum is caused by too little protein synthesis within brain synapses. This is the exact opposite of another disease on the autism spectrum, which is caused by too much protein synthesis. These findings further complicate the study of autism; genetic mutations are not producing the same disease, though both conditions are considered forms of autism.
MyHealthTeams recently launched MyAutismTeam, the first social network specifically for parents of children with special needs. MyAutismTeam gives parents a place to share recommendations of local providers and other tips, discuss issues, and learn about other local services. With the help of Autism Speaks, MyAutismTeam has a directory of more than 30,000 providers.
U.S. News & World Report: Fetal Exposure to Epilepsy Drug Might Raise Autism Risk: Study
New research finds that children who are exposed to the epilepsy drug valporate were 2.6 times more likely to have an autism spectrum disorder and almost five times more likely to have early-onset autism. Due to prior research that also raised concerns about using drugs with valporic acid during pregnancy, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the American Academy of Neurology issued warnings to women of childbearing age about valporate and other drugs in its class.
Scientists say they’ve found variations in four genes that are involved in “brain signaling pathways,” which may provide clues on treating ADHD. Using this information, scientists may be able to develop new ADHD medication that specifically targets those pathways and provides a more effective treatment for the disorder.
Haaretz: Self-fulfilling prophesies
Managers in high-tech firms both here and abroad are realizing that people with Asperger’s syndrome are well suited to work in software quality assurance, among other areas. The benefits – to both sides – can be considerable
Huffington Post: Low Birthweight May Take A Toll On Cognitive Abilities Later In Life
A new study based in Finland suggests that babies under 3.3 pounds scored lower than babies of normal birthweight when researchers considered their general intelligence, visual memory, and executive functioning as adults. When studying executive function, which is “a set of mental processes used to perform activities such as planning, organizing, strategizing and paying attention to details,” researchers found that low-birthweight adults had lower scores on tests looking at psychomotor speed, attention and distractibility.
Chicago Tribune: Michigan Democrats call for autism coverage law
Michigan House Democrats asked Republicans, who hold the majority in the Legislature, to pass an autism treatment bill that would require insurance companies to offer coverage for certain autism treatments. This bill is opposed by businesses and insurance groups who say that mandating coverage would cause the cost of employer-sponsored health insurance to rise, but bill supporters say it would save the state money in the long-run while helping families.
Just Stimming: Quiet Hands
Julia Bascom is an Autistic writer, and Just Stimming… is her internet home and the official depository of her collected writings up disability, disability justice, and growing up and living as an Autistic girl. In this post she talks about what people used to do to her hands to keep them “quiet.”
Different Dream: “A Friend Like John” Explains Autism to Typical Kids
Looking for another book that explains autism to your child’s classmates? “A Friend Like John” by Suzanne Barnett is a children’s book that uses color, a puzzle piece theme, and “kid language” to explain autism to children. More good news: You can peek inside “A Friend Like John” on Amazon before you buy it!
Stuart Duncan: Autism – is it an adjective, a definition, a description?
Stuart Duncan looks at what autism is: if it’s merely one adjective on a long list describing a person or if it, if it’s something a person doesn’t put much thought into, or if it’s a person’s defining characteristic. According to this post, there is no incorrect way to look at autism; the only ones who are wrong are the ones who tell others that they are wrong.
Squidalicious: A Critical Flu Season Q&A
In honor of National Influenza Vaccination Week, which was this past week, this post relays question and answer from a conference call to spread helpful and correct flu vaccine information that the blogger participated in. It covers who cannot receive the vaccination, concerns regarding intradermal flu vaccine injection, the FluMist nasal spray vaccine, and other topics.
Hopeful Parents: How not to worry about looking different?
Parents of children with special needs sometimes worry about what others think about their child’s behavior and mannerisms. This blog post shows how one mother learned how to stop worrying: by looking at her child through her own eyes, not as others see him, and not letting anyone else’s impression of her child influence her opinion of him.
Lost and Tired: Excluding those that can’t
Rob Gorski is the father of three boys on the autism spectrum, all who have different needs and can handle different situations. This post illustrates the current struggle Rob is facing: deciding what to do during the holidays, as each of his sons has a different threshold for stimulation and stress.
Beyond Limits is a new documentary about Bonner Paddock, a man born with cerebral palsy who decides to climb the 19,340-foot tall Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa. The documentary showcases Paddock’s determination to overcome his cerebral palsy and raise money for others with special needs.
A quick trip to the park is an easy solution when kids need sensory input to help them adapt to changes in routine, but isn’t exactly an option many times during the winter. This post has three indoor and five outdoor activities to give your child the necessary sensory input during the cold winter months.
Spread the Word to End The Word, an ongoing effort by Special Olympics, aims to raise society’s consciousness of the negative and hurtful affects of “retard(ed)” and urges people to pledge to stop using the R-word. When was the last time you heard someone use “retard” or “retarded”? Take the poll on this post and let Friendship Circle know!
This is the first post in Karen’s three-part “Crash Course in Meltdown Management,” and covers temper tantrums. Karen describes what temper tantrums are and the best ways to handle them, whether they occur at home or in public. The next part in Karen’s crash course will cover sensory meltdowns and give suggestions for homemade sensory integration toolkits.
This post is the first in a five-part series aimed at making your flying experience easier, and features five books you can use to prepare your child with special needs for flying. These books are not specifically geared toward children with special needs, but help anxious children understand what to expect and what is appropriate on a plane.