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14 February 2005


OAARSN is helping GSA to organize an interesting conference in Guelph on April 29.

CREATIVE SUPPORTS FOR VULNERABLE ADULTS offers a rich program, including:
  • Opening keynote address and closing call to action by John Lord
  • Four concurrent workshops led by Judith Snow, Barbara Leavitt, Peggy Hutchison, Marlyn Shervill and Michelle Friesen
  • Poster sessions and brief presentations illustrating a range of living supports from which persons and families may choose to suit their situations and needs
  • Informal connections and discussions
  • A record of the conference event to encourage a lasting process of consultation and implementation that will also reach those who cannot attend

Click for more detailed information including registration
Register by March 11 to take advantage of lower fees.

Various organizations of and for persons who are vulnerable because of disability have expressed support, including:

Community Living Ontario
Families for a Secure Future
Family Alliance Ontario
Individualized Funding Coalition of Ontario
Kerry’s Place Autism Services
Planned Lifetime Networks
Waterloo-Wellington Autism Services

Story about conference in Community Living Leaders
by Michelle Strutzenberger: Includes an interview with Judith Snow who is leading the workshop "Building Supports with Individuals"



Autism therapy vital, Ontario judge rules
An Ontario judge has ordered the province to finance behavioural treatment for three autistic children, concluding that the therapy is vital if they are to thrive in school. Mr. Justice Lee Ferrier of the Superior Court of Ontario predicted unequivocally in his ruling that the children ''will suffer irreparable harm'' if their treatment is not maintained. Judge Ferrier strongly disagreed with the Crown lawyers who argued that the Supreme Court ruling that provinces should decide health-care priorities precluded a decision for the children's families. Their lawyers based their arguments on access to ABA/IBI, through education programs if not health funding.

Rules broken when autistic man vanished: report
The review of Randy Mogridge's disappearance and subsequent death details numerous instances in which staff at the Oakville facility failed to follow procedures for taking care of their mentally handicapped clients. Mogridge, 46, was unable to speak and had the mental capacity of a child. His body was found in a nearby creek more than two weeks after he wandered away from Oaklands last October. Mogridge's death prompted the Ontario government to commission two reviews. The report, obtained by CBC News, says Mogridge spent hours confined to a "time-out room" on the day of his disappearance. Mogridge's family believes he left the centre to avoid being placed in the room. The report also notes that staff violated centre rules when they failed to document any of Mogridge's first three escapes on the day of his disappearance.
Click to read these in pdf format
Recommendations From The Review Of The Oaklands Regional Centre And The Independent Manager's Review


Focus Narrows in Search for Autism's Cause
A nice synthesis of recent research findings in The New York Tims by Sandra Blakeslee that begins: "There comes a point in every great mystery when a confusing set of clues begins to narrow. For scientists who study autism, that moment may be near, thanks to a combination of new tools for examining brain anatomy and of old-fashioned keen observation." The essay quotes several of about 25 leading brain researchers who recently held a three-day "autism summit" in Malibu, Calif., sponsored by the Cure Autism Now Foundation, to discuss emerging views of autism and to plan collaborative studies.

Autism Gene
Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center report in the journal Science finding that decreased levels of a brain protein called neuroligin, known to occur in abnormally low concentrations in some people with autism, reduced the number of synapses between rat neurons. They conjecture that reduced neuroligin levels could contribute to the communication failures between brain cells that result in autism. This is only preliminary research, yet to be replicated in the human brain.

Clues to autism's neural basis
Researchers Hugo Théoret of the University of Montreal and Harvard Medical School and Alvaro Pascual-Leone of Harvard Medical School have studied brain cells called mirror neurons, which are active both when we execute a specific action and when we see that action performed by another. It has been argued that mirror neurons are an essential part of recognizing actions performed by other individuals. As such, complex behaviors such as imitation, emotional processing, and language may depend on a simulation-like process whereby the observation of motor, sensory, or affective (e.g., emotional) states in others activates corresponding representations in the observer. It is reported "that in some particular instances, brain areas that are normally active during the observation of hand movements are silent in individuals with autism. Using a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation, the researchers showed that when autistic subjects passively viewed meaningless finger movements, brain activity in the motor cortex was unchanged from baseline values, whereas this activity was markedly enhanced in non-autistic individuals. The work suggests that a faulty mirror-neuron system could represent the neural underpinnings of the social deficits characteristic of autism, alterations that ultimately lead to reduced reciprocal social abilities and perhaps prevent the normal development of empathy."

Autism linked to mother’s illnesses in study
Asthma, allergies and psoriasis symptoms during pregnancy — especially if diagnosed in the second trimester — doubled the risk of autism in children compared to children who were not afflicted. Research published in The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine used data for 88,000 children belonging to the Kaiser Permanente health plan born in Northern California between 1995 and mid-1999, 420 of whom were diagnosed with autism. The researchers said there was no statistical link between autism in children and 44 autoimmune diseases in mothers, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and multiple sclerosis. The exception was psoriasis, which doubled the risk of autism.

A startling diary reveals the onset of autism
A meticulous diary kept by a mother of twins has revealed indicators of autistic behaviour in children as young as six months of age. The findings are published today in Neurocase. Mel Rutherford, assistant professor of psychology at McMaster University, says the diary provides a rare and unprecedented opportunity to observe the early development of autism. During the first six months, both twins smiled, engaged in socially responsive vocalization, and showed a preference for family members over other people. By the age of one, however, the male twin showed less eye contact, less verbal communication, and less affection toward others than did his sister. His sleep patterns were also noticeably different from his sister's. By the age of two, the boy had developed a fixation on particular patterns and puzzles; at age three, a child psychologist noted the boy “did not offer comfort if others are in distress and will not come for comfort is he is hurt.” The mother's diary tells of her son's facial expressions that ranged from limited to “spaced-out'.
Effects of Autism Reach Beyond Language, New Research Suggests
people with autism may perform unusually well on some tests of visual processing. The researchers found that autistic people were less likely than others to have false memories about images they had seen earlier. The researchers had previously demonstrated this kind of effect with verbal material, but not with visual material. In this case, the results suggest that the autistic people had trouble seeing the images in context - a hallmark of the disorder.

Autism First-Hand: An Expert Interview With Temple Grandin, PhD
"As a child, Temple Grandin, PhD, like many children with autism, couldn't speak and raged for no identifiable reason. Yet she grew up to earn a PhD in animal science from the University of Illinois; pioneer humane ways of treating cattle using knowledge gleaned from her disorder; and write on the sensory and cognitive experience of being autistic. Medscape's Randall White, MD, interviewed Dr. Grandin, Associate Professor of Animal Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, on her insights into autism spectrum disorder."

Autism: An Expert Interview With Eric Hollander, MD
What is autism? How common is it? What are the best ways to treat it? What makes doing research on autism spectrum disorders exciting today? Elizabeth Saenger, PhD, Medscape Psychiatry & Mental Health, interviewed Eric Hollander, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Director, Seaver and New York Autism Center of Excellence, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY.

NBC Autism Series, February 21 - 25, 2005
NBC Attacks Autism With “Autism: The Hidden Epidemic?”
A Week Long Series On The Networks of NBC News
“Today,” “Nightly News with Brian Williams,” CNBC, MSNBC, NBC Owned
and Operated Stations, Telemundo and MSNBC.com will spend the week of
February 21 - 26, 2005 looking at autism from all angles.
NBC's Today show is preparing a 10-part series that will run the week of February 21 airing at 8:10 AM and 9:10 AM. The series will look at autism from a variety of angles, with segments exploring topics such as etiology, diagnosis, treatment, educational programs, effects on siblings, and how to be an advocate for your autistic child. In conjunction with the Today show series, CNBC is airing a four-part series from Tuesday through Friday, Feb. 22-25. Segments will air at 12:30 PM and 1:30 PM during CNBC's Power Lunch program. Titled "Autism: Paying the Price," the CNBC series will focus on the financial implications of the disorder, with segments on the financial impact on families, the roles of government and private funding for research, the opportunities in healthcare and pharmaceuticals and autism in the workplace. Both the NBC and CNBC series will feature interviews with leading members of the autism community, from researchers and physicians to activists, educators and parents.
All of MSNBC.com's coverage and the scripts and interviews from the “Today” show and “Nightly News” will all
be available at http://www.autism.msnbc.com

See also: Funding Issues--new OAARSN Discussion Boards and Topics. Press the Communications bar on OAARSN’s main page then choose Discussion Area



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

March 4 & 5, 2005, in Ottawa
Autism Awareness Centre Presents
Jeanette McAfee, M.D. (March 4) on
Navigating the Social World
and Suzanne Murphy (March 5) on 
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) - Practical Strategies and How to Use The
Find more and register on-line at: www.autismawarenesscentre.com
Please contact Wendy Benson at Toll Free 1-866-724-2224 or (780) 474-8355
Fax: (780) 477-8350 or (780) 447-5445 E-Mail: wendy.aaci@shaw.ca or maureen.aaci@shaw.ca

March 5, 2005, 8:30 to 4:30, in Guelph
Family Initiatives Project presents

Coming Together to Create Change
2nd annual conference for family members and those providing support
to individuals with mental health issues

March 18, 2005, in
Novi, Michigan
Epilepsy, Autism Spectrum Disorders and Behavior
Autism Society of Michigan's Annual Spring Conference 

Information on registration coming soon.

Outcomes: Participants will--
1. understand the different seizure disorders that occur with autism and the impact on autism.
2. understand the role of seizures in challenging behavior
3. learn how seizures affect sleep disorders
4. learn practical solutions for supporting the individual with seizures and ASD.

Autism Society of Michigan has a most impressive program of other workshops and meetings in the first quarter of this year. Explore its website

Wednesday, March 30, from 7:00 in Kitchener
“My Sad is all Gone”:
Various therapeutic techniques for helping Autistic people

with Thelma Wheatley, author, teacher & parent
Kitchener Public Library, in the Schneider Room
In association with Waterloo Wellington Autism Services & Autism Society Ontario
Thelma Wheatley is described as the only Canadian parent of an autistic adult who has published a book about him. “My Sad is All Gone” was published in October 2004 and now you can meet the author and her son Julian. Thelma will speak about the specific drug protocol that helped her son control his violence and aggression, also about other helpful therapy techniques including music and art therapy.

Thursday, March 31 (evening) and Friday, April 1, in Waterloo

2005 Spring LD Conference
Learning Outside the Box
“Piece by Piece: putting the LD puzzle together”
Waterloo Recreation Complex, Waterloo, Ontario
KEYNOTE SPEAKER Thursday evening:Dr Maggie Mamen, Ph.D., C.Psych.
Friday Breakout Sessions include: Learning Styles / Multiple Intelligences; Written Expressive Issues;
Auditory Processing Challenges; Social /  Emotional Impact of LD; Sensory Integration and Motor Deficits;
Programming for the LD student
For more conference details, or to register on-line:
visit our website at www.learningoutsidethebox.ca
Or contact us at

April 6-8, 2005, in Barrie

OADD 2005 Conference

The 16th annual conference on developmental disabilities will be held April 6-8, 2005 at the Kempenfelt Centre in Barrie, Ontario. Visit our conference section for information on submitting proposals for your workshop/seminar sessions and posters.

Friday, April 8,
9am to 4:30 pm, in London
Art Sheil Workshop
Suicide Recognition and Response
Howard Johnson Motel, 1170 Wellington Rd. S, London
Registration begins at 8:30am. Deadline for registrations is March 25.
Workshop is open to a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 15 participants. Cost $79.00.
Register on-line at
www.artswork.on.ca/training selecting this workshop.
Phone 519-294-6814 E-mail  art@artswork.on.ca Box 690, Parkhill Ont. N0M 2K0

April 8 to 10, 2005, in Toronto
"Living Well: Beyond Existing"
2nd ICE conference 2005 (Independence, Community, Empowerment):
At Travelodge Hotel in Toronto, Ontario at Keele and 401.
ICE Conference Committee includes members from Ontario March of Dimes, Speaking Differently, clinicians from AAC Centres around Ontario, and AAC users. The Ontario Federation of Cerebral Palsy is sponsor.
The ICE Canada 2005 theme is "Living Well: Beyond Existing" and key topics will be:
Recreation/ Leisure/ Travel
Sexuality/ Marriage/ Dating/ Relationships
Aging with a Disability
Spirituality/ Death/ Grieving
Advocacy/ Rights/ Independence
In keeping with ICE 2002 the Town Hall Meeting will again be playing an important role. During this discussion, which is chaired by an individual who uses AAC, only those who use AAC will be allowed to speak.
In addition, on Saturday night, Speaking Differently will be performing the play Broken Speech. This play is "about how one tries to survive in a world that is primarily based on spoken word. Broken Speech is a vivid, hilarious, and insightful commentary on how one person is able to regain his once lost voice."
For more information, please check out the official ICE website at: www.iceconference.ca where you will soon be able to find email addresses related to such areas as Registration, Attendant Services, General Information, and website feedback. There will be a mailout of brochures; you can register and pay on-line by mid-February.

April 8-10, 2005, in Cornwall

Symposium on Raising an Adolescent/
Young Adult with an Autism Spectrum Disorder
Hosted by Autism Society Ontario's Upper Canada Chapter
Click for program
Sample of presentations:
-Secondary School Transitions for Students with Asperger’s Syndrome (Richard Hales)
-Planning for Transition to Employment, Community & Post Secondary Education (Lindsay Moir)
-Panel Discussion On Educational Issues - Please come prepared to ask YOUR questions
-ASD Students in High School - Visual Supports for Meaningful Learning  (Sheila Bell)
-Sexuality and People with Developmental Disabilities (David Hingsburger)
Registration must be received ON or BEFORE MARCH 25, 2005.
Early Bird Registration before January 21.
For brochure with all the details about the seminars, accommodations, costs and directions.
contact the Upper Canada Chapter for a brochure dkeillar@sympatico.ca

Friday, April 29, 2005 in Guelph
Guelph Services for the Autistic and OAARSN invite Ontario people who want and need to be creative in supporting good lives with and for adults who are vulnerable because of disability. We particularly want to encourage self-advocates, families and friends to take part.
  • Our concern is practical--how to plan and implement the elements of a good life for each person, learning from each other's effective strategies and success stories.
  • Our approach is comprehensive and holistic. We hope to put our minds and imaginations around various strategies, to show the connections among them, and to help persons and families think about and choose combinations that may work for them.
  • We plan a process of collaboration in discussion and sharing resources--during the conference and also beforehand and afterwards, using the OAARSN website and other media. Highlights of keynote, workshops and poster presentations will be recorded and edited into electronic and video resources to share with people and groups who cannot attend.  
  • Click for planning updates and conference program  Register by March 11 to take advantage of lower fees

May 29-31, 2005,
in London
"Creating a Community that Works for Everyone"
Community Living Ontario 2005 - 52nd Conference
and AGM
Hilton London Hotel, London, Ontario.
Shirley Yuen, Conference Coordinator,
tel. 416-447-4348, ext. 226  



Autism Awareness Centre Bookstore
Five titles on adult issues, employment and college. View details of many other books taht can be ordered online at www.autismawarenesscentre.com
How Can a Parent Help?
Mothers and fathers can do a lot to ensure a safe landing in early adulthood for their kids. Even if a job's starting salary seems too meager to satisfy an emerging adult's need for rapid gratification, the transition from school to work can be less of a setback if the start-up adult is ready for the move. Here are a few measures, drawn from Dr Mel Levine's book Ready or Not, Here Life Comes, that parents can take to prevent what he calls "work-life unreadiness".



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.

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.

If you wish, we will not print your name or email address. You may send a message to ebloomfi@uoguelph.ca for OAARSN. Or you might use the OAARSN Discussion Board, reached by pressing the Communication bar on our main page

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