OAARSN offers a rich and expanding collection of up-to-date information and communication tools that can put you in touch with others. We can all benefit from the opportunities for mutual support, encouragement and information sharing. We hope that OAARSN's efforts to promote positive approaches and best practices in supporting adults with autism can help all who live and work on the front lines. Click on OAARSN's main page

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10 February 2006



MMR : the facade cracks
by Melanie Phillips of the Daily Mail (UK)

“Ever since the MMR controversy burst upon a bemused world back in 1998, the battle lines have been very clearly drawn.
In one camp is Andrew Wakefield, the gastro-enterologist who started the whole furore when he claimed to have discovered a new syndrome in children combining autistic symptoms with a new type of bowel disease. The affected children’s parents believed that this was the result of their triple measles, mumps and rubella jabs. Mr Wakefield took their fears seriously and suggested that, for the sake of prudence, children should be vaccinated with single jabs rather than MMR.
In the uproar that has ensued ever since virtually the entire medical establishment, headed by the Department of Health, has lined up in the opposite camp to denounce Mr Wakefield’s claims in the most vitriolic terms as ‘junk science’ with no substance to them whatsoever. MMR, said all these experts with one voice, had been proved to be safe. …. Now... that united front has been shattered. A former senior Government medical officer has broken ranks to say that, on the contrary, the evidence suggests that for a small proportion of children MMR is not safe and that the Government is guilty of ‘utterly inexplicable complacency’.”

Autism link with birth problems
"Infants who have seizures, trouble breathing or abnormal reflexes immediately after birth are six times more likely to be diagnosed with autism later in childhood, says Sydney (Australia) research that may help to clarify the origins of the mysterious disorder." The study was published this week in the journal Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology.

Research to consider autism dietary treatment

Newcastle University (Australia) researchers believe autism could eventually be treated through dietary changes if their study into the condition is successful. The study, examining the role of vitamin B12 in autism, is yet to start and is still in need of more participants. That has prompted researchers to issue a public plea for volunteers. Dr Michelle Adams says the study will focus on whether autistic children have different types of genes involved in the metabolism of the vitamin. "One of the questions we have is are autistic children unable to use certain forms of vitamin B12 and if they use certain forms of this vitamin B12, does it affect their neurological development," she said. "So the outcome of this study, if successful, could lead to using a dietary intervention to help either prevent the onset of autism or perhaps reduce the symptoms of autism."

A new look at autism as Berlin film festival opens
"The Berlin Film Festival opened on Thursday with a story of love and loss starring Sigourney Weaver as an autistic woman whose daughter dies in a car crash and Alan Rickman as the man who helps her cope.
With snow falling on the German capital, the bittersweet British-Canadian co-production "Snow Cake" kicked off the 56th annual "Berlinale", regarded as one of the top three festivals in the world alongside Cannes and Venice.

The film, which received scattered applause from Berlin's notoriously blunt audience of journalists and critics, jolts viewers out of their seats early on when a truck ploughs full-speed into Rickman's car, instantly killing a quirky hitchhiker girl he has just picked up. Wracked with guilt about the accident and weighed down by his own troubled past, Rickman's character Alex forms a strange bond with the girl's mother, a high-functioning but emotionally erratic autistic named Linda.

Weaver, whose diverse film credits include the "Alien" films and "The Ice Storm", spent the better part of a year meeting people with autism to prepare for the role -- an experience she said gave her a new view on the disorder.” 

Some of the movie was shot in Wawa, northern Ontario.

Autism hoisted up welfare agenda

In recent years, the issue of autism has been hoisted up the welfare agenda in Ireland as campaigners continue to push for the establishment of an adequate welfare network. Several groups [are] dedicated to highlighting the plight of autism sufferers and those who care for them. A mainstay of their campaign has been the establishment of an All-Ireland Centre of Excellence for Autism. A cross-border initiative, the centre has been earmarked for Middleton, Co Armagh, and will offer a broad range of services and support for those forced to deal with the debilitating condition which is estimated to afflict between 64,000 and 80,000 people across the country. The first phase of the multi-million pound state-of-the-art centre will go ahead this year.



Locating Technology Project announced

A collaborative project between the School of Rehabilitation Science at McMaster University and the Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) is related to gaining a better understanding of the complex realities of using locating technology with citizens who are at risk of wandering and subsequently becoming lost. The project is being undertaken through Accessibly Yours (AY), the School’s consultation arm. AY aims to enhance environments for the purpose of facilitating individuals in their search for living well and participating in their communities.  

The project aims to assist caregivers who care for people who have Alzheimer’s disease, acquired brain injury, a developmental disability, or autism. The study is exploring the role of technological devices, which could simply be a small bracelet or cell phone. If the caregiver identifies the person for whom they care is lost, they could potentially use the locating technology to find out the person’s location.

Click on the title to read more. Volunteers to test the various devices and systems are invited to contact either Mehdi Tabatabaeinia (905) 525-9140 extension 22047 or Nicole Grochowina at ext 26896.


Ministry of Community and Social Services press release,
February 8, 2006

McGuinty Government Helping People With Disabilities Find Jobs And Increase Their Income

Changes Mean A Higher Quality Of Life For Social Assistance Recipients And Their Families

TORONTO – The McGuinty government is helping people with disabilities gain greater financial independence and increase their standard of living by improving the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), Minister of Community and Social Services Sandra Pupatello announced today.

As part of its plan to restore integrity to Ontario's social assistance system, the government is introducing changes to ODSP supports and services to make it easier for recipients and their families to find jobs, keep more of what they earn and, for those who are able, move toward financial independence from ODSP.

"It's time our social assistance system did a better job of supporting people with disabilities who want and are able to work, and rewarding those who are trying," said Pupatello. "Having a job brings more than financial benefits – it gives people an opportunity to contribute to their communities and helps them fulfil their potential. That leads to a higher quality of life for our clients and their families."

Currently, more than 18,000 ODSP recipients are working. Many more are able and willing to work, but need the right supports. In the coming months, the government will implement a number of improvements that will help ODSP recipients and their families:

  • Find work – such as improving access to employment services, like job placement and retention support, to help recipients and their families find and keep real, sustainable jobs
  • Keep more of what they earn – such as replacing the current set of complicated earnings exemption rules with an easy-to-understand 50 per cent flat rate exemption combined with a new $100 monthly work-related benefit. For recipients this means that only half of their income will be deducted from their ODSP payment, plus they will receive an extra $100 per month – and as a result, the vast majority of current earners will automatically see an increase in their disposable income
  • Move toward financial independence – such as providing ongoing health-related benefits to recipients who find employment and leave ODSP until they receive employer health coverage, so people don't have to worry about how they will pay for their prescription drug, dental and vision care expenses.

"Our plan to help more people with disabilities get into the workforce will result in a stronger economy, stronger communities and a stronger Ontario," said Pupatello. "By investing in our people, we're investing in the future prosperity of our province."




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

New York Times best-selling author David Kirby speaks about the autism-thimerosal controversy

Kirby is author of Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic, A Medical Controversy, and will speak in London on March 25, Winnipeg on April 1, Ottawa on April 29, Montreal on May 6, Toronto on May 12 and Windsor on May 13. Click on title for more details.

David Kirby writes: “This simmering controversy affects Canada as much as it does the United States... Why should Canadians be concerned about mercury and their children? There are many reasons. To begin with, many Canadian kids received significant amounts of thimerosal in their vaccines until at least 1994, and some children may have received mercury after that time. In fact, many children born in three Canadian provinces and three territories received mercury in their Hepatitis B vaccines until at least 2002, and perhaps beyond. These exposures were in addition to possible exposure through the influenza vaccine, which is often given to pregnant women and children in Canada.   

"Canadian children who received the flu and hepatitis B vaccine series were exposed to as much as 63 micrograms of ethylmercury in the first seven months of life, nearly equal to the amount of exposure in the UK, until very recently. And prenatal exposure to thimerosal in Canada continues, in the form of the flu shot (25 mcgs). Also, some women may have received injections of thimerosal-containing immune globulin products while pregnant. Prenatal exposure to mercury is thought to be extremely hazardous for the developing fetus.

"Meanwhile, a number of other thimerosal-containing vaccines for children are still used in Canada, including some single antigen acellular pertussis and conjugate H. influenzae vaccines, diphtheria-tetanus (DT), and diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccines, all of which contain 25 micrograms of ethylmercury.

"All of this comes on top of environmental exposures in Canada, including fish consumption, dental amalgams and air pollution. Some Canadians are exposed to increased levels of mercury from coal-fired plants in Canada and the US. Meanwhile, mining activities are also a significant source of environmental mercury contamination."

Autism One Radio Schedule
A Worldwide, Web-Based Radio Station for the Care, Treatment, and Recovery
of Children with Autism

February 25, 2006, in Guelph
Agency Information Fair for families and individuals with disabilities
in partnership with Public and Catholic School Boards and Family Counselling & Support Services Guelph-Wellington.
Click for more details

March 29, 2006, evening, in Owen Sound
Shirley Sutton OT offers a workshop on sensory integration strategies for parents and educators.
For more details, contact
Laura Walton-Clouston by email at register-here@rogers.com or phone at 705-445-0695. For general information about Shirley's OT practice, visit http://www.ot-shirleysutton.com

April 4, 2006, 5-8pm, in Kitchener
Community Connections 2006:
Information for People with Disabilities in the Region of Waterloo
St Mary's High School, 1500 Block Line Road, Kitchener
Click for flyer

April 8, 2006, in Arthur (North Wellington County)
Agency Information Fair for families and individuals with disabilities
in partnership with Public and Catholic School Boards and Family Counselling & Support Services Guelph-Wellington.
Click for more details

April 18, 2006, evening: in Collingwood
Shirley Sutton OT offers a workshop on sensory integration strategies for parents and educators.
For more details, contact Laura Walton-Clouston by email at register-here@rogers.com or phone at 705-445-0695. For general information about Shirley's OT practice, visit http://www.ot-shirleysutton.com

May 5-7, 2006, in Windsor
Achieving True Inclusion: Living Outside the Box

Family Alliance Ontario/Integration Action for Inclusion annual conference
Friday May 5 (evening), Saturday May 6 (all day) and Sunday May 7 (morning).
We welcome siblings, parents, whole families and friends.

More information to come, or check the Family Alliance Ontario website at www.family-alliance.com to register online in the future.   

May 15-16, in Hamilton
Stages of Autism: Adolescence and Beyond
A major two-day conference in the Hamilton Convention Centre, featuring Dr Peter Szatmari and Dr Susan Bryson as keynote speakers, as well as numerous concurrent sessions on various topics relevant to teenagers and young adults with ASDs. Click for the tentative program and to register
Please keep checking for updates.



Waterloo Region Developmental Services Chart
Nancy Cherry of Waterloo, ASPIRE Advocate for GSA during 2005, has compiled a detailed chart of services to support people with Developmental Disabilities. All services that could be accessed by/for children, youth and adults are shown, with those funded through the MCSS Drvelopmental Services Stream distinguished from other community services that may be helpful. The chart is accompanied by a Developmental Disabilities Resource List with names of agencies and service-providers and their contact numbers. Please click on the title to reach this chart. We recommend that you print out the chart and the two pages of resource information on 11 by 17-inch paper (tabloid size).

Thanks to Nancy for her great service to the Waterloo Region. She has also produced a list of potential resources and service-provider for adults with autism in the region--though none has a specific mandate for adults with ASD.

Please also note the
Community Connections 2006 Information Event on April 4, 2006, 5-8pm, for People with Disabilities in the Region of Waterloo. See Announcements in the section above this one.

Colloquium 2006:
Person-Centred Supports for and with Adults with Autism in Waterloo-Wellington
A full-day discussion is being organized for April 21 for representatives of autism support groups, agencies and service-providers.



Kitchener Public Library's Autism Collection
Kitchener Public Library established an Autism Collection two years ago, with generous
support from Waterloo-Wellington Autism Services. Read this update about the Autism Collection

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 they are really looking for – for example the author’s name, or the date order - so all the new
come to the top, or limit to video or DVD, etc.




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.

FRONTLINE IMMERSION Experience in supporting vulnerable adults:
Ontario Opportunity

An Ontario man—let’s call him Alex--who lives with quite severe challenges of autism, has come up with a creative idea, with his family and friends. He lives in his own home with support and chooses the people with whom he shares his home and his time. Alex knows he is a pioneer and sees himself as a teacher and leader.

Over the past eight years, with the help of my support group I have developed a very good quality of life. I would like to share what we have learned with others. My large home has plenty of space to host people interested in learning more about support strategies such as:

  • My person-centred life plan
  • My alternative and augmentative modes of communication, deep listening by my friends, and supported decision-making
  • Support by my circle of friends and incorporated aroha entity (aka a microboard)
  • Support by a housing trust devoted to helping adults with autism to have their own homes 
  • Health and dietary interventions
  • Independence technologies to that I can do as much as possible for myself and move around my neighbourhood in freedom and safety
  • Continued learning and work that contributes to my community
  • Therapies such as music, art, horticulture and my companion dog.

Expressions of interest are invited from people who would like to learn by immersion for a period of two weeks. Two guests at one time could be accommodated, in their own rooms in a private wing. People who could be interested:

  • Family members hoping to support their adult sons or daughters in a similar kind of home.
  • Practicum students planning careers in human services
  • In-service support workers wishing to widen their experience
  • In-service agency managers wishing to learn about new options in supported living

How would interning guests learn?

  • Observing my daily and weekly life and the most effective ways I need support
  • Reading plans and viewing tapes in advance
  • Sharing in household and community activities with me
  • Practising several forms of support
  • Tutorials and individualized learning about my challenges and various support strategies, in relation to those of a wider spectrum of vulnerable people.

Why offer this immersion experience?

  • My friends and I have found that few personal support workers are prepared for the kind of respectful, self-directed support I need. We think that training for work in developmental services should include immersion on the frontlines
  • Others besides me need this kind of approach, though their exact needs may differ. What guests learn in my home can be adapted to supporting people who have somewhat different needs.

People seriously interested in knowing more this experience are asked to send an email first to OAARSN at gbloomfi@uoguelph.ca   We will put you in touch with Alex and his support group for more information.

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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