8 January 2009

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The Ontario government has announced that it will change the Ontario Disability Support Program to ensure that both Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) assets and withdrawals are fully exempt!

Read the Government press release

Bulletin from PLAN, which spearheaded this form of savings for families with a son or daughter with a disability:
December 1, the RDSP Becomes Official!

The Registered Disability Savings Plan is now an official Canadian Registered Plan and can be issued by financial institutions across Canada. The RDSP promises to be a life-changing future planning tool for hundreds of thousands of Canadians with a disability, and we are excited that this has become a reality. We see the RDSP as an opportunity for families and individuals across Canada to greatly increase their future financial security and quality of life.
PLAN announces the launch of the new website www.rdsp.com --the place to go for any information relating to the RDSP, including financial updates, provincial treatments, details and analysis, stories...
Try out the RDSP Calculator.

Canadian Government extends RDSP deadline to March 2009
Canadian Government welcomes national availability of Registered Disability Savings Plans and extends deadline for establishing a plan and applying for the 2008 Grant and Bond.
Read the full article



January 12, 2009
, in Toronto
Supported Decision Making Focus Groups
The Canadian Association for Community Living is undertaking a project to develop information tools about legal capacity
and supported decision making for people who have an intellectual disability.
As an early step, focus groups are being convened for four groups of people (families, people who have a disability,
service providers and professionals) to talk about legal capacity and supported decision making and to provide input for the project.
Two focus groups have already met and have resulted in exciting discussions. The remaining two focus groups for families and self advocates will be held as follows:  
Focus group for families: January 12, 10:30am-12:30pm;
Focus group for people who have an intellectual disability: January 12, 1:30-4:00pm
The focus groups will be held at the Harbourfront Centre (627 Queens Quay West) in Toronto.
Click to read more 
To register, or if you require further information, please contact Tyler Hnatuk at tyler@communitylivingontario.ca,
or 416-447-4348.
Support Funding Critical to Spark of Brilliance: an appeal by founder Judith Rosenberg
Spark of Brilliance has provided life-changing opportunities to people with severe mental health issues and their families and has helped build strong communities through the expressive arts. It deserves critical, long-term sustainable funding.
Please support efforts to continue the work of discovery and recovery through the arts, by signing a petition and adding your comments. Click on the following petition to read more and to sign and comment:

"Spark of Brilliance: A History of Hope. Healing the Creative Spirit"
by Marcey Gray

This is the story of how an idea became a movement in healing and transformation through the arts. The book was written by a young woman who is herself a story of inspiration in overcoming adversity and becoming a real hero to many. Marcey has become a valued person in the mental health field and has become a spokesperson for how the arts can be a path to healing and success. Click here to order



Top US Autism Panel Votes For Millions in Vaccine Research
The Inter-Agency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) has voted to recommend earmarking millions of dollars in research funds from the Combating Autism Act of 2006 to study the possible role of vaccines in the causation of autism. The panel also proposed spending an additional $75 million to study a wide variety of other environmental factors in autism, possibly including parental age, infections, heavy metals, neurotoxins, occupational exposures and "other biological agents."
Click on title to read David Kirby's comment in The Huffington Post.

Nicotine Addiction and Autism: shared brain protein link

from Advance NewsMagazine for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists

Scientists have identified a relationship between two proteins in the brain with links to both nicotine addiction and autism. The finding, presented at the Society for Neuroscience Meeting in November, has led to speculation that existing drugs used to curb nicotine addiction might serve as the basis for potential therapies to alleviate the symptoms of autism. The discovery identified a defining role for a protein made by the neurexin-1 gene, which is located in brain cells and assists in connecting neurons as part of the brain's chemical communication system. The job of the neurexin-1 beta protein is to lure another protein, a specific type of nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, to the synapses, where the receptor then has a role in helping neurons communicate signals among themselves and to the rest of the body. This function is important in autism because previous research has shown that people with autism have a shortage of these nicotinic receptors in their brains. Meanwhile, scientists also know that people who are addicted to nicotine have too many of these receptors in their brains.

Appeal for research brain donors
More people need to donate their brains to medical research if cures for diseases like dementia and autism are to be found. UK scientists say research is being hampered by a gross shortage of brains and are urging healthy people as well as those with brain disorders to become donors. Brain research has proved essential for finding new treatments - such as dopamine for Parkinson's disease. Brain investigator Dr Payam Rezaie called the current situation "dire". BBC News – UK

New method of scoring IQ tests benefits children with intellectual disabilities

Parents of children with intellectual disabilities have long been frustrated by intelligence quotient (IQ) testing that tells them little to nothing about the long-term learning potential of their children. That's because these tests are scored according to the mean performance of children without disabilities. The result is that the raw scores of many children with intellectual disabilities are converted into the lowest normalized score, typically a zero. Now a research team at the UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute has devised a new system of scoring IQ tests taken by children with fragile X syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes intellectual disabilities, including autism. Frustrated by the lack of sensitivity of IQ tests,they set out to devise a scoring method that would reveal the strengths and weaknesses of each child. The details of the new method are described in a study published online today by the Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

Smoke and Mirrors: Dr Richard Horton and the Wakefield Affair
A review of the roles of some actors in the controversy that erupted after The Lancet published a brief article by Dr Andrew Wakefield in 1998 about a "sub-group of
children who had suffered adverse reactions to the MMR vaccine, and hypothesised but did not confirm a connection between their symptoms and the vaccination."

Autism is no barrier to local small business owner

Because of his autism, 22-year-old Andrew Pegg of Frostburg, in western Maryland, has not spoken a single word since he was 2 years old. Yet, he owns Andilla Designs & Graphics, a home-based business that personalizes gifts and advertising products, proving that individuals with severe disabilities can build a future with the right mix of community programs and family support.

The Lifelong Journey of Asperger’s Syndrome
“Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) is a lifelong journey following a path,” writes Chris Mitchell in the introduction to his new book. “At times, this path can be difficult to negotiate, but with the right effort and through developing self-esteem, the path of Asperger’s Syndrome can also be a fulfilling one to follow through life, if one is able to ‘awaken’ to it through the development of awareness.” Mitchell describes his own path to awareness in Asperger’s Syndrome and Mindfulness,(Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 144 pages, paperback, 978-1-84310-686-9, $19.95).

The book illuminates the author’s journey toward personhood, while being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, as an empowering path of discovery through the teachings of Theravada Buddhism. Talking openly about his own personal experiences, he also provides helpful tips and suggestions for improving confidence and self-esteem towards an overall better sense of self that will be of interest not only to anyone diagnosed with AS but also to their family and friends.

"What will happen to my son when we are gone?": Easter Seals' Living with Autism Study
In cooperation with the Autism Society of America, Easter Seals surveyed over 2,500 parents of children with autism and typically-developing children -- about daily life, relationships, independence, education, housing, employment, finances and healthcare. The results gathered from the groundbreaking autism study paint a startling picture of the life-long fears and anxieties people with autism and their families face ... and the disparities among parents of children with autism as compared to parents of typically developing children...



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


13-15 February 2009, near Barrie at Kempenfelt Centre

Phoenix Autism Weekend Symposium
Friday evg: Dr Wendy Edwards on Biomedicine and Autism
Sat and Sun: Get an HANDLE on Autism ("an effective- non-drug treatment alternative")
Click for flyer
Click for registration Preregistration discounts before January 15
Click for website

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.

February 26-March 1, 2009, in Vancouver
Biennial Autism Congress: Autism Through the Lifespan
featuring over 18 of the world's foremost autism experts speaking on a full range of topics
Link for more details: http://www.autismvancouver.com

April 2-3, 2008, in Ottawa
Autism Awareness Centre Presents:
April 2nd: Leslie Broun: Essential Elements of Positive Practice;
Dr Peter Gerhardt: Transition Planning for Any Age
April 3rd: Jenny Clark Brack: Ready S.E.T. Go! Sensorimotor Early Childhood/Elementary Themes & ASD
Holiday Inn Plaza la Chaudiere, 2 Montcalm, Gatineau/Ottawa
For more information, phone toll free: 1-866-724-2224 or (780) 474-8355 Fax: (780) 477-8350
E-mail: vharris@shaw.ca or visit our website at www.autismawarenesscentre.org

May 14-15, 2009 Birmingham, UK

Autism Awareness Centre Conference
Lori Ernsperger: Girls Under the Umbrella of ASD

Eustacia Cutler: Life Experiences and A View of Autism

Dr Lori Ernsperger: How to Get Children to Eat: Practical Strategies for Addressing Food Aversions and Eating Challenges

Pamela Hirsch: Conversations in Autism

Click for conference details and to register...



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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