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BY Annie

5 Top Special Needs News Stories From 2011

1. Wandering Children With Autism

There is no doubt about it. As the amount of children with autism grows, the stories of children with autism wandering expands as well. This is a crises that is happening in every state, city and community.

Many tracking devices are now on the market and special needs organizations are working with law enforcement agencies on creating a plan when looking for missing children with autism.

Here are 11 stories documenting the issue of wandering children with autism:

Indianapolis, Indiana: Missing Boy With Autism Found Wandering In Cold

Jenson Beach, Florida: Missing Autistic Teen Found Fishing Under Bridge

Caroline County, Virginia: Boy lost in woods released from hospital

Bridgewater Township Michigan: Missing 17-year-old autistic teen found in Adrian

Franklin County, North Carolina: Franklin County teen found after Silver Alert

Greenwich, Connecticut: Missing Conn. teen found safe in southern Virginia

New York, New York: Missing Teen With Autism Found

Sacramento, California: Girl Found In Creek Bed

Willisburg, Kentucky: Randall Chesser released from the hospital

San Bernadino, California: Missing autistic boy found; expected to be OK

Chicago Illinois: Missing man with severe autism found

2.The battle to force insurance to cover autism

Autism Votes Autism Insurance Reform

The battle continues to enact legislation that would force private insurance companies to cover therapies for autism. Six more states–Arkansas, California, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia–have enacted Autism Insurance Reform laws in 2011. To date 29 states have Autism Insurance Reform laws in place with another 14 states discussing Autism Insurance Reform. For full coverage visit

Here are five stories  in 2011 covering Autism Insurance Reform:

New York Times:  Health Care Law Will Let States Tailor Benefits

Business Week: Michigan lawmakers to revisit autism coverage plan

Washington Post: VA House passes bill mandating insurance for autism

Wall Street Journal: Cuomo signs NY autism treatment insurance bill

The Seattle Times: Washington should insure the futures of children with autism


3. Research, Research and more Research

ResearchThere have been a number of stories this year about research breakthroughs in a number of different conditions including Autism, Fragile X Syndrome, Angelman Syndrome and more. The breakthroughs can be divided into three parts:

  • Detection
  • The Cause
  • Potential Cure

Research this year has helped at all of those levels.

Below are six stories that cover some of the breakthroughs:

LA Times: For autistic children, brain size is bigger

US News & World Report: Brain’s Electrical Activity May Help Spot Infants at High Risk for Autism

ABC Science: Genetic mutations clue to autism drugs

Nature: Anti-cancer drug holds potential as a treatment for genetic-imprinting disorder

Autism Speaks: Top Ten Autism Research Achievements

KABC News- Los Angeles: Treating ‘Fragile X Syndrome’ autism symptoms



4. Using the iPad

Ipad special needsWith the release of the iPad 2 and iPhone 4, Apple continues to create and maintain a huge fan base that is craving for the next best thing Apple has to offer.

Apple’s biggest fans may well be the special needs community! The iPad has enabled individuals with autism and other special needs the ability to communicate with others. Hundreds of special needs apps have been created to enhance the quality of life for families and individuals with special needs are available in the app store (see our Special Needs iPad and App Series for more info).

Here are five stories about the special needs community and the use of the iPad.

CBS News (60 Minutes): Apps for Autism: Communicating on the iPad

New York Times: Finding Good Apps for Children With Autism

Orange County Register: How an iPad can give a voice to special needs children

USA Today: Adapting to the iPad, called education’s ‘equalizer’

Wall Street Journal: Giving the Gift of Voice With the Touch of a Finger


5. Students with disabilities heading to college

Special Needs CollegesForty years ago, individuals with special needs were placed in group homes at a young age, were largely ignored and never received any education.  Twenty years ago, individuals with special needs were sent to special schools and were never included in neurotypical classrooms.

Over the past 10-15 years, a large push has been made to include children with special needs in neurotypical  schools and classrooms. Along with this push comes an effort to enable students with special needs to attend colleges and universities (see 17 Great Colleges for Students With Special Needs).

Here are four stories about students with special needs attending college.

Education Week: More Students With Disabilities Heading to College

New York Times: Learning With Disabilities

Education Week: Some Advice for Students With Disabilities Heading to College

Disability Scoop: Handbook Offers College Advice For Students With Autism

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Written on January 2, 2012 by:

Annie is currently a junior journalism major at Michigan State University. She is an associate editor for ing Magazine, a student-run magazine on campus, and manages ing's Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr accounts. Annie has spent her last three summers at camp working with children who have special needs. When she is not on Twitter or blogging, she likes to dance, swim, and read as many books as humanly possible.

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