14 February 2008

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The long walk to Ottawa
Canadian autism news story of the past two weeks.
Stefan Marinoiu, who has a 15-year-old son with autism, made the long trek from his Scarborough home to Parliament Hill in Ottawa in the bitter cold of February. Unplanned, and out of frustration, Marinoiu left his home on January 31 intent on walking to Ottawa to speak to MPs about a national solution for autism. From Scarborough's The Mirror today.

Poor recognition of 'self' found in high functioning people with autism
Contrary to popular notions, people at the high end of the autism spectrum disorder continuum suffer most from an inability to model “self” rather than impaired ability to respond to others, said Baylor College of Medicine researchers in a report that appear in the journal Neuron. This inability to model “self” can disrupt an individual’s ability to understand the world as a whole, said Dr. P. Read Montague Jr., professor of neuroscience, and director of the Human Neuroimaging Lab and the Computational Psychiatry Unit at BCM. “It’s an interesting disconnect.” Using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner, Montague and his colleagues scanned the brains of people considered “high functioning” autistics because they have normal or high normal intelligence quotients but many of the symptoms of people with autism. During this procedure, the researchers identified a pattern of activity or “signature” in the brain that identified those with autism. The level of activity correlates with the severity of the autistic symptoms. The less activity there is, the more serious the symptoms. The finding could lead to a test to speed diagnosis.

Brain study suggests way to measure, treat autism
Researchers have pinpointed subtle deficits in the brains of people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that they say could aid more precise diagnoses and perhaps improve treatment of ASD. The researchers discovered characteristic patterns of brain activity in people with ASD that reflect an inability to perceive themselves as social creatures.
P. Read Montague and colleagues published their findings in the February 7, 2008, issue of the journal Neuron, published by Cell Press. Their experiments involved asking groups of high-functioning people with ASD and normal people to play a “social trust” game as their brains were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging. In this widely used imaging technique, harmless magnetic fields and radio waves are used to map brain flow in brain regions, which reflects brain activity.
In the game, an “investor” decides how much of a fund of money to send to a “trustee.” The amount is tripled on the way to the trustee, and the trustee then decides what fraction to repay to the investor. The interaction is repeated ten times in each session. Previous studies had shown that the social game produces in normal people characteristic patterns of neural activity in the cingulate cortex, a region involved in higher brain activity.
The researchers found that, while people with ASD played the game the same as normal controls, the pattern of activity in their cingulate cortex indicated a diminished perception of themselves in a social interaction. The abnormality arose at the so-called “self” point in the game, where they were deciding how much to invest, and their brains were thus representing the social intent of their own behaviors.

Some Cases Of Autism May Be Traced To The Immune System Of Mothers During Pregnancy

"New research ... has found that antibodies in the blood of mothers of children with autism bind to fetal brain cells, potentially interrupting healthy brain development. The study authors also found that the reaction was most common in mothers of children with the regressive form of autism, which occurs when a period of typical development is followed by loss of social and/or language skills. The findings raise the possibility that the transfer of maternal antibodies during pregnancy is a risk factor for autism and, at some point, that a prenatal test and treatment could prevent the disorder for some children."

MIT gene research may explain autistic savants
Researchers at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT report in the Feb. 13 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience that mice genetically engineered to lack a key protein used for building synapses-the junctions through which brain cells communicate-actually learned a spatial memory task faster and better than normal mice. But when tested weeks later, they couldn't remember what they had learned as well as normal mice, and they had trouble remembering contexts that should have provoked fear.
"These opposite effects on different types of learning are reminiscent of the mixed features of autistic patients, who may be disabled in some cognitive areas but show enhanced abilities in others," said Albert Y. Hung, a postdoctoral associate at the Picower Institute, staff neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and co-author of the study. "The superior learning ability of these mutant mice in a specific realm is reminiscent of human autistic savants."

‘Open Every Door’ Autism Song for Autism Sunday
The song for autism, ‘Open Every Door,’ has been re-released by Media Eye Music in London to coincide with Autism Sunday, the International Day of Prayer for Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome on 10th February 2008. The song has received worldwide attention. ... MPs of all parties have signed an early day motion in the House of Commons in parliament supporting Autism Sunday...  To purchase the song for autism, ‘Open Every Door’ please access the Media Eye Music website

A Sneak Peek Into the Special Needs Home of Tomorrow
Leading speech pathologist and autism consultant Valerie Herskowitz presents her findings on the latest special needs technologies at the "Autism Through the Lifespan" conference, Feb 14-17 in Orlando. "The future is now for an entire generation of children challenged with autism, reaching the adolescent stage of their lives and becoming young adults with autism. Technology is the key to maximizing their future independence. By teaching children with autism how to utilize technology, we are not only arming them with tools to capitalize on their present successes, but setting the stage for the real possibility of future independence," Herskowitz said. Technological advances designed to equip the special needs home of the future include Herskowitz's research on specialized software programs for use in teaching skills to a special needs population. "From devices that use robotics to perform housekeeping activities, to a simple mirror that reminds you of your appointments, I envision communities where adults with developmental disabilities can live and work together in a supported environment of homes equipped with state-of-the-art advances for special needs," Herskowitz added.



Thinking creatively about new opportunities
for person-centred and self-directed lives.......... just published

Strategies and formal agreements developed by
Services for the Autistic in its role as housing trust

GSA has functioned as a housing trust since 1997, its mission to help adults with "Autistic Disorder" to live in their own homes with dignity and safety, supported by family and friends--and with self-directed planning, individualized funding, and infrastructure services as needed.

Other families and organizations, concerned with persons who have other special needs, are interested in following the paths pioneered by GSA, so we have compiled this 120-page guide to the various agreements and procedures, with some explanatory text.

A new resource that is valuable for anyone who is trying to direct their own person-centred life, and for their families and friends.  
Contents: (click the links to reach an excerpt)

Please click on this link for the flyer


Spark of Brilliance announcement...
KidZCreate will be launched in the spring of 2008!

Highly qualified Creative Mentors will be facilitating workshops in creative expression, learning about nature, experiencing music and sounds, working with creative materials, and much more--for children and families living with autism and developmental challenges.

Spark of Brilliance along with Trellis and KidsAbility and will be meeting with families, children and supportive professionals on Thursday, April 24 from 7 to 9 pm at 8 Royal Road to present our program and generate dialogue that will enable us to provide the very best in creative programming!

In conjunction with the new initiative Spark of Brilliance is offering a new section on its website where children and families living with autism and developmental challenges will have the opportunity to spotlight their gifts and talents and connect with others with similar experiences. Please visit www.sparkofbrilliance.org/kidzcreate



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


Monday, March 10, 7pm, at Kitchener Public Library
John Lord and Peggy Hutchison talk about their book
Pathways to Inclusion:
Building a New Story with People and Communities
in the KPL’s Learning for Wellness series
The authors look at how our communities accommodate people with disabilities and discuss how society needs to change so our more vulnerable citizens move towards social inclusion.

Read Ted McCartney's review of this book for OAARSN
Copies of the book will be on sale.

March 10-12, 2008, in Delta BC
Changing the World One Person at a Time: The Canadian Experience
  • Share what’s been learned in Canada regarding the provision of
  • person-centred options that have been sustained over time
  • Provide inspiration, valuable start up knowledge and guidance to
  • individuals, agencies and systems beginning such work
  • Help organizations change from "fixed" service models to entirely
  • individualized supports
  • Explore the elements necessary for high quality personalized supports,
  • and the safeguards to ensure this occurs
Please click on title to reach website
Sponsored by Community Living
British Columbia, BC Association for Community
Living, Canadian Association for Community Living

April 3 & 4, 2008, in Ottawa
Autism Awareness Centre Presents Michelle Garcia Winner
Thinking About YOU Thinking About ME and Implementing Social Thinking Concepts
and Vocabulary into Our School and Home Day: A Day to Develop Team Creativity

Contact Victoria Harris for more information at vharris@shaw.ca
Telephone Toll Free 1-866-724-2224 or (780) 474-8355 Fax: (780) 477-8350

Register On-Line or download brochure at www.autismawarenesscentre.org

April 10-11, 2007, 9am to 4pm, in Toronto
Facilitation Workshop: Building a New Story
A New Story across Canada involves the creation of individualized supports
and strengthening communities through the presence and participation of all citizens.
Led by John Lord and Charlotte Dingwall
whose approach to training recognizes that
all of us can benefit from the skills of listening, planning, group work, collaboration and
--the essence of facilitation.
Click for brochure and registration form

April 23-24, 2008
Stages of Autism: Adolescence and Beyond
2nd Biennial Conference
In Hamilton Convention Centre
Message from Michelle McIntyre, event organizer: "The first Stages of Autism: Adolescence & Beyond Conference attracted 300 parents, educators, service providers and healthcare practitioners from all over Canada and the US. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to attend a unique conference that will provide an open forum for discussion and cover a multitude of topics related to adolescent and adult Autism Spectrum Disorders."
Click for links to full conference information

Thursday April 24, 7 to 9 pm, in Guelph, discussion of
Spark of Brilliance announces a new initiative for children and their supportive/families allies living with autism and developmental challenges!
KidZCreate will be launched in the spring of 2008! Highly qualified Creative Mentors will be facilitating workshops in creative expression, learning about nature, experiencing music and sounds, working with creative materials, and much more!

Spark of Brilliance along with Trellis and KidsAbility and will be meeting with families, children and supportive professionals on Thursday April 24 from 7 to 9 pm at 8 Royal Road to present our program and generate dialogue that will enable us to provide the very best in creative programming! Please click on link for more.

May 21-25, 2008, in Chicago
Recovery Rising - Meet the Strongest Gathering of Biomedical Presenters
Ever Assembled at an Autism One Conference
Parents.Doctors..Recovering children together
One Mission
Autism One
Autism One, a member of the Autism Collaboration (http://www.autism.org), the most experienced collective body of autism organizations worldwide covering all aspects of the spectrum, joins in celebrating the message that "autism is treatable and recovery is possible."
The Autism One 2008 Conference will bring together the most recent research and treatments in the most crucial biomedical areas:
-Oxidative stress
-Toxic burden and detoxification
-Immunological dysregulation and autoimmune activity
-Metabolic profiles, including methylation capacity and transsulfation

May 27-29, 2008, in Detroit
“Everyday Freedoms”
International Conference of Center for Self-Determination
”Cutting Edge in a City with an Edge”
Detroit Marriott, Renaissance Center, Detroit, USA
Conference Highlights:
§                            Discussions about meaningful lives, real freedom
§                            Community membership, income asset & development
§                            Aging with dignity & freedom
§                            Recovery in the context of self-determination
§                            Families truly supported to best assist in developing self-determined lives
§                            International perspectives on these issues as well as discussions of what system change requirements are needed: what works and what interferes
Click for more information

June 9-11, 2008, in Honolulu, Hawaii
International Conference on Diverse Abilities & Innovative Supports 2008
Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Community

Join us as we explore topics such as:
Dual Diagnosis * Direct Support Worker Issues & Solutions
Supervision & Managment * Clinical Issues
International Best Practices * Self-Advocacy/Independent Living
Autism/Aspergers * Employment * Caregiving
Find out more from http://www.lifelibertyandthepursuitof.com
Questions?  lifelibertyandthepursuitof@craconferences.com
1-888-542-8555 CRA, 373 JaMax Dr., Hillsborough, NC 27278

June 13-15, 2008, in Waterloo
International Conference 2008 presented by Laurier Centre for Music Therapy Research
Making Connections:
Exploring the relationship between music therapy and music education

Music Therapy keynote speaker, Dr Amelia Oldfield of the UK, is specialized with music therapy with autistic children. 
Pre-Conference workshop June 12, 2008
Click for full information



The Kitchener Public Library, with funds given by Waterloo-Wellington Autism Services, established a special Autism Collection of books and other media from 2003.  During 2007, more than 50 new titles were added. Please click on this link for a list of the titles, in alphabetical order.

Click on the following URL "hot key" to reach a listing in title order of all the books, videos etc in KPL's remarkable Autism Collection. Search KPL Autism Collection
You can then use the Sort/Limit button on the top of the page to narrow down to what you are really looking for – for example the author’s name, or the date order - so all the new items come to the top, or limit to video or DVD, etc.



The Autism Puzzle

North American Premiere was last November 18 on TVOntario
Filmmaker Saskia Baron brings personal insight to this historical examination of autism. Baron's older brother Timothy was one of the first kids in Britain to be diagnosed with the condition in 1961, a time when autism was largely misunderstood by doctors and the general public. The film asks, Is there an epidemic of autism today, or have awareness and even the definition of autism changed in the 60 years since the term was first coined? Is there any connection to the infant vaccination for measles, mumps and rubella? The documentary also looks at current research into cause, treatment and prevalence, and explores the latest experimental research into the autistic brain in Finland, England and America.

After Thomas
North American Premiere was last November 18 on TVOntario
Inspired by a true story, this moving film depicts the struggles of a couple to care for and communicate with their autistic child. Keeley Hawes and Ben Miles play the parents of six-year-old Kyle (Andrew Byrne), who can't communicate his fears. His mother Nicola has given up everything to care for her only child, and her fierce determination to break into Kyle's isolated world places an intolerable strain on her marriage. Into this setting comes Thomas, a golden retriever who opens the door to possibilities the family could have never imagined.

The Magnificent Seven
Helena Bonham Carter plays the role of Jacqui, mother of four sons on the autism spectrum in the BBC film, shown on TVOntario in January 2008.

Her Name Is Sabine
To be presented by QSAC (Quality Services for the Autism Community) in New York on March 3, 2008 at 7 pm. The movie, handled in the U.S. by boutique distributor Film Movement, will be introduced by its director, famed French actress Sandrine Bonnaire.
”The movie is a beautiful and moving portrait of Ms Bonnaire’s sister, Sabine, a 38-year old woman with autism spectrum disorder. The sensitive documentary, filmed by Ms Bonnaire, shows the dramatic consequences, not only of improper diagnosis and inadequate care structure, but of the penury of specialized alternatives to institutionalization.
QSAC was founded 30 years ago by a group of parents who strongly believed that people with autism were capable of living at home and participating in normal social activities, forming relationships, maintaining employment and becoming productive members of the community. Today, QSAC is an award-winning organization and a leader in the provision of services to persons with autism and their families in
New York City and Long Island. Its services range from Early Intervention and Preschool Programs for young children to Day Programs and Residential Services for adults.

Autism The Musical

Coming to HBO in late March.
“Powerful, poignant, and beautifully candid, this documentary brings awareness to the viewer in a unique, eye-opening, and often endearing manner. Stemming from their participation in The Miracle Project, a theatre arts program created by Elaine Hall, five autistic children and their parents are followed over a seven-to-eight month period. The viewer is allowed an intimate look into the daily routines of family life, school, therapy, music lessons, and holidays. We are allowed the rare opportunity of entering the world of autism through the eyes of the child and the parents, and gain a seldom-seen or heard perspective from them both that brings about a strong feeling of connectedness. The candor from the parents is both stunning and, at times, raw in its painful truth of autism's impact on the individual parent and in their spousal relationships.”
Read the Autism Bulletin review by Carol Gerwin

LovingLampposts trailer

Note: When the web page first opens, an intro, in the form of a boy wandering towards a lamppost is shown.
There is a place that says "Skip Intro" under the first video (intro), but just ignore this.
Just let the intro play out (about ten seconds) and the second page will open automatically.
To view the video, just press "Trailer" in the menu at  the top.
The video just gives a hint of what is in store in the forthcoming film.   



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