29 August 2007

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Breaking free from a silent abyss
Sri Lanka Times Online, 26 August 2007

Smriti Daniel meets poet, writer and advocate Chandima Rajapatirana and his mother Anoja. Chandima, who was featured in TIME Magazine's cover story ‘Inside the Autistic Mind’ in May 2006, uses Facilitated Communicating to express himself most eloquently. Chandima began a presentation to a gathering of 250 in 1999: “Autism/Apraxia took away my voice, and a world that equates muteness with stupidity took everything else.” He now lives in Sri Lanka and volunteers to share his expertise with others who cannot speak with their voices.

Parallel Play: A lifetime of restless isolation explained
"Personal history" in The New Yorker by Tim Page, music critic and culture writer, who was identified with Asperger's Syndrome in 2000--"one of those rare clinical confirmations which are met mostly with relief." The whole article is worth reading, but this is a small example:
"We are informally referred to as 'Aspies' and if we are not very, very good at something we tend to do it very poorly. Little in life comes naturally—except for our random, inexplicable, and often uncontrollable gifts—and, even more than most children, we assemble our personalities unevenly, piece by piece, almost robotically, from models we admire.

Research may unlock mystery of autism's origin in the brain

"In the first study of its kind, researchers have discovered that in autistic individuals, connections between brain cells may be deficient within single regions, and not just between regions, as was previously believed. The results were reported in this month’s issue of Biological Psychiatry.
A group of 10 children and adolescents with autism, and 10 without autism, listened to a series of clicks occurring every 25 milliseconds (ms) for a duration of 500 ms. The MEG measured the brain’s responses to these clicks. In the right hemisphere of the brain, which controls attention and spatial processing, there was no significant difference in the groups. But the results showed a considerable discrepancy between the two groups in the left hemisphere, the area of the brain that controls language and logic."

School of shock
Eight US states are sending troubled children to a facility that punishes them with painful electric shocks. Mother Jones, a national magazine with a focus on investigative journalism, reports its year-long examination into the Judge Rotenberg Center, a highly controversial “special needs school” located in the Boston area. The Rotenberg Center takes in all kinds of troubled kids—severely autistic, mentally retarded, schizophrenic, bipolar, emotionally disturbed—and attempts to change their behavior with a complex system of rewards and punishments, including food deprivation, social isolation and (for about half) powerful electric shocks to the torso and limbs. Children are shocked for hurting themselves, but also for offenses as minor as “nagging and swearing,” according to state investigators. Prominent behavior modification experts call this treatment ineffective and outmoded. Lawmakers have called it barbaric. Some parents have sued. The Judge Rotenberg Center currently treats about 230 children from eight states, with the charges of about $220,000 per student paid by states and school districts. Authorities have tried to close it down, but it is defended by some parents and authorities as a place of last resort for very severely challenged children and youth.

The Hormone that helps you read minds: Is Oxytocin the Key to Understanding?
Scientific American article.
"Individuals with autism spectrum disorders often show impairments in processing social information..."



Were You Denied Passport Funding?
You're invited to an            
Information-Action Evening on the Passport Program                

When:   September 12, 2007, 7pm to 9 pm 

Where: 22 Leeming Street, Hamilton

Hamilton Area:
174 applicants to Passport Program--6 people with developmental disabilities funded
Toronto Area:
Over 400 applicants--33 people funded
London Area:
262 applicants--11 people funded

(approximate numbers )

The story is the same throughout the province.  In May 2007 the Minister of Community and Social Services announced a $200M budget for Developmental Services.  Where is the money?

Throughout the province 100's of people with developmental disabilities have been left with no support and will languish at home.  How are families, the largest care-giver group in
Ontario supposed to survive with no meaningful support to help them do their job?

Come to the Information-Action Evening and join with voices across
Ontario to protest this second-rate treatment of people with disabilities and their families.  

Register by phone: 905-526-7190 or Email: hamiltonfamilynetwork@bellnet.ca
Presented by Hamilton Family Network
Visit us at www.hamiltonfamilynetwork.com and www.family-alliance.com



SMART Home technology could make homes for people with special needs as good as they can be--individually tailored to individual tastes and sensory needs, protecting privacy, promoting self-help and dignity, environmentally efficient and sustainable.
Some OAARSN members are interested in discussing the relevance to Ontario. Perhaps the Ministry announcement of support for creative housing options gives us an opportunity to propose these related ideas.
Please let us know if you are interested in a discussion.

“More residential options for community living” is the focus of the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services "Spotlight on Transformation" bulletin in August 2007:
“A goal of Ontario’s developmental services transformation is to provide adults with a developmental disability with more residential options so they can live more independently within their communities. During last year’s public consultation, we heard examples of creative living arrangements that are working well and we listened to suggestions about innovative residential models and partnerships that could be explored.

”What does innovative residential model mean?
The term term refers to a type of accommodation that has been developed to provide individually-tailored supports to help adults with a developmental disability meet their goal of living more independently (or inter-dependently) in the community. Here are some examples of innovative residential models:
  • a home co-ownership situation;
  • a rent-to-own arrangement (i.e. where a private investor buys the home or makes the down payment and the individual pays rent towards the mortgage with the intention of eventually becoming the owner);
  • a co-operative home; or
  • a garden suite.
“Eligible individuals or their families, together with a service provider, can develop a proposal for an innovative residential model for their community. The proposal must be submitted to their local regional office of the ministry for consideration for funding.”
Click here to reach both Word and PDF formats, together with links to earlier bulletins.



Please send submissions for this news bulletin or for the OAARSN Calendar and Bulletin Board in plain text format by email to ebloomfi@uoguelph.ca with "announcement" at the beginning of the subject line.
Please provide details of the following as BRIEFLY as possible: 
Name of Event
 Main Speakers and Topics of Event 
 Date of Event 
 City and Location of Event
 Contact information to learn more about event
 URL Link for more information/registration 

 Please Do Not Send Files Or Brochure Attachments


Weaving the Ties That Bind: online course on facilitating social support networks
PLAN Institute for Caring Citizenship offers online course in October 2007
Facilitated social support networks are an effective way to address the isolation and loneliness of many people living on the margins of our society. These networks (also known as “circles of friends”) are proven to contribute to the health, safety and well being of individuals who are vulnerable as a result of age, disability or social circumstance.
Self-paced--approx 20-25 hours.

Click for more information
Click here to register

CBC Passionate Eye Documentary on Using Comedy to Fight Mental Illness and Stigma
Airs nationally on August 30 at
9 p.m. On CBC’s Doc Zone

Cracking Up is a life-affirming documentary about people with mental illness who embark on a quirky quest to become stand up comics. The film follows 11 courageous people who suffer from mental illness as they pursue a year of stand up comedy. Part fun and part therapy, the course, entitled Stand Up For Mental Health is the brainchild of Vancouver counselor, stand-up comic, and author of The Happy Neurotic: How Fear and Angst Can Lead To Happiness and Success David Granirer. “It’s like ‘The Full Monty’ except people want us to keep our clothes on”, he says.
Doing stand-up comedy has had an amazing effect on the people in the course. For the first time in their lives, they have embraced the word crazy, and learned to laugh at their mental illness – and their audiences are laughing right along with them.  They have discovered a talent they never dreamt they had.
For more information http://www.standupformentalhealth.com

September 7, 2007, 9:30am-5pm, in Vaughan
Join John O'Brien as he shares with members of IFCO what is working well; what is not and what to watch for as we continue our work to make Individualized Funding in Ontario a reality!  We hope this meeting will recharge your energy as we head into a Provincial Election in October, and help move Individualized Funding forward in Ontario! We have asked John to help us determine what to advocate for during the election. Costs $20.00 per person (lunch will be included) and subsidies are available. If you are not yet a member of IFCO, please add $15 for membership to your cheque for registration.
Click for more information and how to register

September 8th, 2007, 9:30am-5pm
, in Vaughan
Thinking about the future with COURAGE
Location: City of Vaughan Police Community Room, 2700 Rutherford Rd.  
This exciting one-day event is intended for family members and people with developmental disabilities and their friends to explore their ideas about the future.  John has a gift for provoking thought and action in families about what really matters. Families from all over the world say that hearing him speak was very helpful in shaping their vision of the future.
The morning will be dedicated to having John share the stories he has about facing the future with courage. The afternoon will be focused on dialogue in small and large groups around some of the themes that arise in the morning. There will also be stories from individuals and families who have done courageous things. These stories will stimulate your own thoughts and dreams about what is possible and what are some of your next steps.
Click for more information and registration form

September 12, 2007, in Hamilton
Were You Denied Passport Funding?
Information-Action Evening on the Passport Program
See more above under Special Announcements
Register by phone: 905-526-7190 or Email: hamiltonfamilynetwork@bellnet.ca
Presented by Hamilton Family Network
Visit us at www.hamiltonfamilynetwork.com and www.family-alliance.com

September 14, 2007
, 9:30am–3:30pm, in London
Offered by Regional Support Associates
Individuals with intellectual disabilities may experience sensory sensitivities or processing problems, which can impact on behaviour. This workshop will provide information about identifying and investigating sensory experiences and strategies to handle sensory challenges.
Cost: $50.00  Click for details and registration form
See info on all RSA workshops

September 15, 2007 at Victoria Park in London
Walk A Mile in My Shoes
A Community Outreach Event specifically intended to help people understand difficulties faced by those with differing abilities and to celebrate the diversity of our community.   The walk will be led by Bill Hiltz assisted by his support team, and participants will be asked to truly walk in his shoes by walking behind him all the way.  Bill faces many challenges and strongly advocates for a life full of community and true inclusion for everyone.  Bill would like other people to be able to experience what life is like when a person faces differing challenges.
Participants will be asked to pair up with someone and each couple will randomly choose the challenge that they will live with for the walk. Funds will be directed to Reach for the Rainbow; an organization that  is committed to promoting an environment where children with disabilities can mature with their peers; one which encourages awareness and compassion and allows people with disabilities to discover their full potential. Their commitment is to belonging; to ability, not disability; to inclusion, not segregation.
Registration fee is a minimum pledge of $10.00 begins at 10:15, festivities at 11:00 and the walk begins at 12:00 noon.  Refreshments will provided for participants. Come one, come all. Tell your friends.  This promises to be a day of sharing new experiences; laughter; music; good food and great company!
More details and contact information are being posted on the website: http://inmyshoe.ca/

September 27 & 28, 2007, 9:30am–3:30pm, in London
Offered by Regional Support Associates
People with higher developmental needs (severe disabilities) make up a smaller portion of those who receive support in our field, yet are often those who demand the lion’s share of resources. This session will seek to help caregivers Aim Higher with respect to the famed “Three ‘S’s” of support for the person with higher needs. Discussion will centre on understanding what constitutes higher needs, tips for helping people move toward independence, providing an enhanced environment, and avoiding potential difficulties.
Cost: $100.00  Click for more and how to register
See info on all RSA workshops

September 29-October 2, 2007, in Kitchener
A Comprehensive Biomedical Treatment Approach
Conference for Autism, PDD, AD(H)D, & Behavior Disorders
Offered by the Great Plains Laboratory
For parents, care givers, educators, and practitioners. The goal is to improve the health and well being of individuals using integrative medicine and, in particular, biomedical treatment options.
An excellent opportunity for those seeking evidence to support the use of various biomedical treatment options.  We will be discussing the role of nutritional deficiencies and supplements, special dietary interventions, food allergies, heavy metal toxins, enzyme deficiencies, inborn errors of metabolism, immune deficiencies, the role of micro-organisms in the gastrointestinal tract and more.  In addition, several parents will be presenting their very different journeys of the treatments that helped their children recover. 
Physician training is offered on Monday, October 1--for licensed physicians and practitioners only. The prerequisite for this training is day 1 and 2 of this conference or other biomedical training. All practitioners are encouraged to participate in the entire conference.

October 12, 2007, 9:30am–3:30pm, in Woodstock
PROMOTING COMMUNICATION: A Speech-Language Pathologist Speaks Up on Every Day Encounters
PRESENTER: Aren Hutton, BA (Hons.), M. Health Sc., S-LP (C), Speech Pathologist
Offered by Regional Support Associates
Communication is the base of human interactions. Often, people with intellectual disabilities feel isolated due to their communication deficits. During this workshop you will learn how to identify your client’s level of communication in addition to some tips to encourage positive interactions during every day tasks.
Cost: $50.00  Click for flyer and to register
See info on all RSA workshops

October 12-13, 2007, In Edmonton
AUTCOM's Annual Conference goes International in 2007:
Living Life to the Fullest with Autism: A celebration of ability, acceptance and understanding of autism for individuals on the autism spectrum, families and professionals

Keynote Speakers: Estee Klar-Wolfond: The Selling of Autism - How we can change language and referencing into a more effective future for accommodations for autistic people; Sharisa Kochmeister: The Doors are Wide Open! - Effective communication set me free; Gail Gillingham Wylie and Lincoln Grigsby: Stepping in the World of Quantum Physics - Reducing anxiety through the SCIO. "One of the most inspiring and galvanizing events I've experienced!!" The Autism National Committee (AUTCOM)! is the only autism advocacy organization dedicated to "Social Justice for All Citizens with Autism" through a shared vision and a commitment to positive approaches.
Contact  Gail Gillingham at exgr@telus.net

October 26, 2007,  in Waterloo
3rd Annual “Learning Outside the Box” conference
Our topic this year is ASD with Marg Spoelstra and Leslie Broun.
Watch for more details to be posted during August.

November 15-16, 2007, in Trenton
Advocates for Community Education (A.C.E.)
4th Annual Self-Advocates Conference
Keynote Speaker: Dave Hingsburger
Click for full details
Contact: Angela Clarke, Outcome Support Facilitator
phone 613.475.5557
fax   613.475.9854

email aclarke@communitylivingcampbellford.com



Special book offer by National Autistic Society (UK)
"To celebrate our 45th anniversary, we are delighted to offer you generous discounts on some of our titles for 45 days."

Profile of a Canadian adult....

Severe Autism, Denied Support: Struggling to Survive in the Mainstream
, by Leonard Jayson and Marla Comm. Trafford Publishing, 2007. Paperback: 284 pp. ISBN-10: 1425116213 ISBN-13: 978-1425116217

Pathways to Inclusion: Building a New Story with People and Communities

by John Lord and Peggy Hutchison

Captus Press, ISBN 978-1-55322-165-4 (2007 Forthcoming)
Approx. 270 pages, 500 g, 6 X 9, $29.50 (US$26.75)
Read more from the publisher



News about adults with autism is usually negative. We receive many appeals for advice on where to turn for help--with diagnosis and assessment, advocacy, planning for the future, alternatives to approaches that are not working. There are virtually no obvious sources of help for isolated adults with autism and their caregivers.

Isaac’s Story

Isaac is a middle-aged man who is quite severely handicapped by the symptoms of autism. He does not speak with his voice and finds it hard to express himself in ways that others can easily understand. He tries, but cannot always control his movement disorders and sensory integration dysfunction. His life has been hard for him in various ways. But insights into how Isaac experiences autism and the efforts of his parents and friends to help him get his life together have been succeeding.

Isaac allows his true story to be shared so it may inspire others. He hopes others will feel encouraged by knowing that he has taken several steps towards a better life. Isaac’s story has messages for others who live with severe challenges--though the same combination of strategies that have worked for him would not work in exactly the same way for another person who lives with the symptoms of autism or similar neurological or communication differences.

Isaac's Story was first published on OAARSN in instalments in 2001. Click on the title to read the full story so far.


We know that some adults and their families and caregivers are heroically using what resources they have to achieve some successes with their challenges. Some can report remarkable progress. We invite you, as an adult or caregiver living with autism, to share your perceptions, problems and success stories, if you think others might help or benefit.



See our
archive of past OAARSN news bulletins.
Read about why OAARSN was started and the tasks still ahead

You may be interested in our Creative Supports Bulletins which carry news about disabilities and special abilities and creative strategies more generally. See for example:  http://www.ont-autism.uoguelph.ca/CS-20060720.html

Send news, announcements and comments to gbloomfi@uoguelph.ca We welcome news items, announcements of autism events, new information, discussion questions and comments, and accounts of experience.

Please send submissions for this news bulletin or for the OAARSN Calendar and Bulletin Board in plain text format by email to
ebloomfi@uoguelph.ca with "announcement" at the beginning of the subject line.

Please provide details of announcements as BRIEFLY as possible: 
 Name of Event
 Main Speakers and Topics of Event 
 Date of Event 
 City and Location of Event
 Contact information to learn more about event
 URL Link for more information/registration 

 Please Do Not Send Files Or Brochure Attachments if you have an online version to which you can provide a link.

Visit OAARSN's website and keep in touch through the OAARSN Listserv--send a message requesting to join to gbloomfi@uoguelph.ca