1 October 2008

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Epilepsy, Autism, Schizophrenia: Master Switch That 'Balances The Brain' Found
Neuroscientists at Children's Hospital Boston have identified the first known "master switch" in brain cells to orchestrate the formation and maintenance of inhibitory synapses, essential for proper brain function. The factor, called Npas4, regulates more than 200 genes that act in various ways to calm down over-excited cells, restoring a balance that is thought to go askew in some neurologic disorders. Synapses, the connections between brain cells, can be excitatory or inhibitory in nature. At birth, the rapidly developing brain teems with excitatory synapses, which tend to make nerve cells "fire" and stimulate their neighbors. But if the excitation isn't eventually balanced, it can lead to epilepsy, and diseases like autism and schizophrenia have been associated with an imbalance of excitation and inhibition.

Autism is caused by a 'supercharged' mind, scientists claim
A brief story, originally in The Telegraph UK, about a research report in New Scientist. This story has been taken up by media all over the world, and quoted in many blogs.
We recommend the original article in Frontiers in Neuroscience (see link below).
Children who develop autism have "supercharged" brains that are so clever and sensitive that they make everyday experiences utterly overwhelming, new research claims. According to a theory developed by Swiss neuroscientists, the condition is not caused by a brain deficiency but by a system overload which causes the world to seem frightening and overly intense. Husband and wife team Kamila and Henry Markram of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, believe the idea could explain the erratic nature of the condition. "Our hypothesis is that autistic people perceive, feel and remember too much," Kamila Markram told the New Scientist.
Link to the New Scientist article (subscription needed or electronic version may be purchased)
We recommend the original article in Frontiers in Neuroscience:
The intense world syndrome – an alternative hypothesis for autism

Abstract: "Autism is a devastating neurodevelopmental disorder with a polygenetic predisposition that seems to be triggered by multiple environmental factors during embryonic and/or early postnatal life. While significant advances have been made in identifying the neuronal structures and cells affected, a unifying theory that could explain the manifold autistic symptoms has still not emerged. Based on recent synaptic, cellular, molecular, microcircuit, and behavioral results obtained with the valproic acid (VPA) rat model of autism, we propose here a unifying hypothesis where the core pathology of the autistic brain is hyper-reactivity and hyper-plasticity of local neuronal circuits. Such excessive neuronal processing in circumscribed circuits is suggested to lead to hyper-perception, hyper-attention, and hyper-memory, which may lie at the heart of most autistic symptoms. In this view, the autistic spectrum are disorders of hyper-functionality, which turns debilitating, as opposed to disorders of hypo-functionality, as is often assumed. We discuss how excessive neuronal processing may render the world painfully intense when the neocortex is affected and even aversive when the amygdala is affected, leading to social and environmental withdrawal. Excessive neuronal learning is also hypothesized to rapidly lock down the individual into a small repertoire of secure behavioral routines that are obsessively repeated. We further discuss the key autistic neuropathologies and several of the main theories of autism and re-interpret them in the light of the hypothesized Intense World Syndrome."
lick to read Brian Henson's comment about living with the intense world syndrome

Almost 50 years old and diagnosed with autism

After four decades a Cleveland man has what he always hoped for, an explanation. He lived his life plagued by an unknown challenge. Now he faces it head on as he talks about living with Asperger's Syndrome. Those who know Thomas Mazanec know he is nothing short of brilliant. It's a far cry from what the once reserved 50 year old was called growing up. Now he shares his talent, talking to others about how he overcomes the barriers set before him by his disorder... His words are uplifting. Those who hear them don't walk away with the story of a tortured man but with great hope that they too can understand this disorder and overcome what is before them.

This job’s truly challenging
Conversation with a Copenhagen entrepreneur on "What You Can Learn From Employees With Autism."  Four years ago, Thorkil Sonne realised that his young autistic son possessed an extraordinary memory and a remarkable eye for detail. Sonne saw an opportunity to help individuals with the disorder to find productive employment. As the technical director of a Danish software venture, he knew those qualities were critical in software testers. So he launched Specialisterne, a software-testing firm in Copenhagen that now has 51 employees, including 37 with autism, and revenues of 2-million. "The key is to find situations that fit employees’ personalities and ambitions, not force everybody into one mould."

Farm cultivates a sense of community
Located about 12 miles southeast of Tacoma, WA, is a small farm - 8 acres with a farmhouse, a barn and four greenhouses on the property. But it has a large mission, one that goes far beyond the growing and harvesting of foodstuffs. People who live here are core members of the L'Arche Farm & Gardens agricultural complex in rural Pierce County. It's a community where people with developmental disabilities learn life skills by working alongside people without handicaps.

Adults with autism beat odds
An account of a University of Utah longitudinal study of 41 adults aged between 22 and 46. About half were found to be doing much better than their parents and teachers would have thought possible when they were diagnosed with autism as children.


Ontario Passes New Legislation for People with a Developmental Disability
Passed on 30 September 2008, The Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008 replaces the 35-year-old Developmental Services Act, which provided services mainly for people living in government-run institutions.

Click on this link to read the news release, widely relayed in the media, here in The Globe and Mail's Report on Business:
More Independence And Choice For People With A Developmental Disability

Read our review of the legislation and the process of amending it over the summer.

Note, in Announcements below, the meeting planned for October 17--
a forum discussion about what needs to be considered as the government proceeds to develop regulations and policy directives related to "Bill 77" as now enacted.



Participants needed for a research study:
“Sensory Processing Patterns in the Workplace in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders”

If you are 18 years old and over:
· with Autism, Asperger syndrome, PDD or PDD-NOS
· are currently working, have worked in the past or have not yet worked
 I want to learn about your experiences!
· Find out your sensory patterns by taking a questionnaire! Questionnaire completion will take 20-30 minutes.
· You may be asked to continue with the second part of the study to talk about your work experiences.
· Participate from your own home.
If interested, please click on this link to read more:
Tiziana Bontempo    
MSc Rehabilitation Sciences candidate    
Queen’s University
Kingston, Ontario
Email: 6tb3@queensu.ca
Tel.: 613-583-7743



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


Announcing Series of Events

PLAN Institute offers
Weaving the Ties That Bind
Online Training Course for Facilitating Social Support Networks
"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."
Click on title for details of availability and to register--for September, October, or November.

Fall 2008, between October 18 and November 29, in Oshawa
Compassion in Action: Open Mind, Open Heart, Skilful Means
an 8-part introductory seminar series in compassionate practices with Felicia Jervis.
THE HEART OF THE MATTER: Some children and adults express themselves through actions that are at times difficult to understand and support safely. These actions may include: occasional withdrawal or aggressive acts towards self, others and property. These actions must be understood not as challenging behaviors that need to be controlled or eliminated, but rather as communicative acts that often speak of the pain of humiliation and rejection, and a yearning to belong....
Click for full brochure and how to register in the workshop series

Click to read "When children hurt themselves"
by Felicia Jervis in BLOOM magazine on the Bloorview website


Announcing Individual Events

October 3-5, 2008, in Ottawa
Family Alliance Ontario Annual Conference
Engaging Families and Building Bridges
Visit the Family Alliance Ontario website at this link for full information, including an important note about booking hotel rooms.  http://family-alliance.com/conference.html

Waterloo-Wellington Community Faculty Project
Date:           Monday, October 6, 2008
Time:           6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Location:      Kitchener Public Library, Main Branch
                    85 Queen St N., Kitchener ON N2H 2H1
Community Faculty members are adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and their families. By sharing their personal experiences of living with autism, we hope to increase the general knowledge of and sensitivity to adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Four panelists will discuss the ways that ASD has touched their lives. There will be a question and answer period to conclude the presentation. Displays and information resources will be also available. This event is free of charge and open to all interested community members. We hope you will join us! Click to learn more about Community Faculty in Waterloo-Wellington.

October 7, 2008: 9am-4pm, at Wellington County Museum, between Fergus and Elora
Aging and Developmental Disabilities
Click for flyer

Tuesday, 7 October 2008, 7–9pm, in Guelph
First of a series of information forums for families living in Guelph-Wellington, who are interested in learning about services and increasing life options for adults with Autism. Supported by Kerry’s Place Autism Services. At Kortright Presbyterian Church, 55 Devere Drive in Guelph (registration begins at 6:30 pm)
Guest speakers include: Andrea Robinson from Access, Information & Referral, Developmental Services; Elizabeth Bloomfield of Guelph Services for the Autistic; Gail Jones from Kerry’s Place Autism Services; and Dwight Syms, Service Resolution Facilitator for Wellington. Service information booths with staff representatives will also be available throughout the evening.
Child-minding services will be provided on site and light refreshments will be served.
Click for more details and to register
**For more information and registration, call Wendy Perry at 905-867-6152**

Friday, October 17, 2008, 9:30 am to 4:00 pm, in Toronto
Bill 77 - Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008: A Forum to Discuss Future Directions for Policy Development, hosted By Community Living Ontario
Who should attend? 
The forum is open to all who are interested in a taking part in a discussion about what needs to be considered as the government proceeds to develop regulations and policy directives related to Bill 77. The discussion will benefit from your participation as a person who has an intellectual disability, a family member, a person who provides planning and support or anyone else who has a perspective to share on these matters.

What should attendees expect from the day?
This is not an information day where you will learn about how the Bill will be implemented, but rather, it is an opportunity for you to share your ideas on how the Bill should be implemented. This is not a government sponsored discussion, but a chance for stakeholders to have their own discussion; however, representatives from the office of the Minister of Community and Social Services, and from the Ministry’s policy office, have agreed to join in as observers and participants in the discussion. A report of the day will be prepared and shared with the Ministry. This is an opportunity to provide your insights and knowledge.

Where:  Harbourfront Community Centre, 627, Queens Quay W., Toronto (Queens Quay and Bathurst St.)  Lunch will be provided.
To Register: Please contact Arlene Robinson at Community Living Ontario by Tuesday, October 14: by email (preferred) arlene@communitylivingontario.ca ; by phone (416) 447-4348. (Please confirm any access or dietary considerations you might have when you register). Space is limited, so register today
Cost: We ask that those sponsored by an organization pay $25 if possible to assist with costs, those paying their own way are welcome to attend with no charge.

18 October 2008, 8:30-5pm, in Guelph
Hiring Support Workers: First Steps
an all-day workshop presented by Judith McGill
for Families for a Secure Future
Click for full details and how to register

October 22, 23, 24, 2008, in Toronto
Autism 2008 – Geneva Centre for Autism International Symposium
The Symposium will provide a cross-section of perspectives on the most recent research and information on evidenced based best  practice.  All topics of importance to autism intervention will be addressed including bio-medical and neurobiological research, ABA, intervention, social skills, behaviour, communication, first-hand accounts, Asperger’s Disorder, and more.  Featuring speakers from Canada, U.S., Great Britain, and Australia.  For registration information, visit www.autism.net or contact Eva Finna at efinna@congresscan.com or 416-504-4500 ext. 208.

Friday, October 24-Saturday, October 25, 2008
Organization for Autism Research hosts its
Sixth Annual Applied Autism Research and Intervention Conference
at the Westin Arlington Gateway in Arlington, VA.

Read all about Day One.
Click for information and early-bird registration

25 October 2008, 8:30-5pm, in Pickering
Hiring Support Workers: First Steps
an all-day workshop presented by Judith McGill
for Families for a Secure Future
Click for full details and how to register

November 10, 2008, in Toronto

Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services,
Employer Outreach Secretariat:
Symposium on Disability and Employment

Contact: Tim Hilliard

Email: tim.hilliard@ontario.ca

3rd Floor, Hepburn Block

80 Grosvenor Street

Toronto, Ontario M7A 1E9

Tel: (416) 325-5352

FAX: (416) 212-4704

E-mail: employeroutreachsecretariat@ontario.ca

Employer Outreach Secretariat contacts: http://www.infogo.gov.on.ca/infogo/office.do?actionType=telephonedirectory&infoType=telephone&unitId=UNT0027984&locale=en

Wednesday, November 12, 2008, 4:30-6pm, in Kitchener
Social Innovation Generation, at the University of Waterloo (SiG@Waterloo, www.sig.uwaterloo.ca), invites you to
Social Innovation Dialogues: Fall 2008
Frances Westley & Paul Born (SiG@Waterloo and Tamarack)
"Systems Change: Thinking like a Movement"
Venue: Kitchener Public Library, Main Library, 85 Queen Street North, , ON
THIS EVENT IS FREE TO ATTEND. PLEASE RSVP BY EMAILING info@sig.uwaterloo.ca OR CALLING 519 743 0271 ext 255

November 12-14, 2008 in Niagara Falls ON
National Association for the Dually Diagnosed (NADD) 25th Annual Conference: 
"A Quarter Century of Awareness: Assessment, Treatment & Policy Advances (ID/MH)"

At the Sheraton Fallsview Hotel,
Niagara Falls, ON, Canada.
At the end of the conference, participants will be able to:
• Cite advances in the field of co-occurring MH/ID;
• Recognize the genetic underpinning of several MH/ID disorders;
• Identify to relevance of the DM-ID to the diagnosis and treatment of persons with MH/ID;
• Name several integrated system responses that have developed in Canada and the US;
• Interpret relevant integrated research that can be generalized to other individuals with MH/ID issues.
To learn more information about this event, please visit:

November 18, 2008, 7-9pm, in Waterloo (at KidsAbility)

All About Me: an Advocacy Seminar/Workshop
Presented by Beverly Grant.
Also on April 28, 2009

Click for full details and how to register

November 17-21, 2008, in Ottawa
Global Forum for Inclusion and CACL 50th Anniversary Conference
CACL (Canadian Association for Community Living) is co-hosting a Global Forum for Inclusion and celebrating its 50th Anniversary November 17-21, 2008 at the Westin Hotel in Ottawa, Ontario. The Global Forum consists of an international gathering of self-advocates and families, Inclusion International’s General Assembly, an International Conference on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Study Tours on Inclusive Practices in Canada and the US. CACL’s 50th Anniversary conference will celebrate the last 50 years and look at next steps needed to address the remaining challenges and barriers to the full inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities and their families.
Join with people from around the world to transform rights into action and make inclusion a reality for all!
To register for the Global Forum for Inclusion visit: www.inclusion2008.com
To register for CACL’s 50th Anniversary Conference visit: www.cacl.ca

advance announcement....

26-28 February 2009, in Herning, Denmark
Meeting of Minds 3, 2007.  a Conference on Autism:

 a multidimensional approach - research and practice

For researchers, parents, professionals, people with autism, and others with an interest in autism and related disorders. Meeting of Minds is a concept which brings different mindsets together. The 2009 conference centres on issues in areas such as the medical, the educational/psychological and quality of life

This conference will build on the phenomenal success of the 2007 International Conference "Meeting of Minds 2" that brought together professionals, families, carers and people with ASD from all over the world. The first Meeting of Minds conference on autism and related disorders was held in 2003 in Copenhagen. The organizers’ vision for the conferences is to impart research based knowledge and establish an atmosphere for the exchange of knowledge between researchers and professionals in the field of autism and related disorders.

Plenary sessions will be presented by the following keynote speakers:  

·        Lorna Wing, Dr., NAS Lorna Wing Centre for Autism

·        Judith Gould, Director, NAS Lorna Wing Centre for Autism

·        Elkhonon Goldberg, Professor, New York University School of Medicine  

·        Christopher Gillberg, Professor,  University of Gothenburg  

·        Gary Mesibov, Professor, University of North Carolina (to be confirmed) 

·        Rita Jordan, Professor, University of Birmingham  

·        Mohammad Ghaziuddin, Associate Professor, University of Michigan  

·        Per Hove Thomsen, Professor, University of Århus

·        Maria Råstam, Associate Professor, University of Gothenburg

·        Richard Mills, Research Director, Research Autism/National Autistic Society

·        Olga Bogdashina, Visiting lecturer, University of Birmingham

·        Eva Billstedt, Dr., University of Gothenburg

·        Holger Kallehauge, Retired High Court Judge, Disabled Peoples Organisations

·        Kjeld Høgsbro, Professor, University of Aalborg


Further details on the conference, including the full programme can be accessed via the website www.meetingofminds.dk where online booking is now available.

Charlotte Holmer Jørgensen
Special consultant
National Centre for Autism
Direct:  +45 45 11 41 89

Mobile:  +45 20 30 22 54

E-mail: chj@servicestyrelsen.dk

National Board of Social Service

Ministry of Social Welfare
Kongevejen 256
2830 Virum


Telefon+45 11 41 91 www.servicestyrelsen.dk



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 ebloomfi@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 ebloomfi@uoguelph.ca