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31 July 2006


Tracing the Origins of Autism: A Spectrum of New Studies
A review by Mark Szpir for Environmental Health Perspectives Volume 114, Number 7, July 2006 , a publication of the National Institute of Environmental Health.
The author begins by noting that "few medical disorders have stirred up as much passion and divisiveness among scientists and the general public as autism has in recent years." A key factor is the startling increase in numbers of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. Increased prevalence raises "the fundamental question of what causes these disorders. If the number of cases is truly on the rise, then it would seem likely that some change in the environment is driving up the total. That’s partly what has divided scientists into opposing camps—they cannot agree on the relative importance of genetic and environmental factors in the disorders’ etiology."
Several new large research projects are described:
   -The Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) which focuses solely on autistic disorder and emphasizes a search for environmental factors—including a broad array of chemicals in food, consumer products, and ambient air, as well as infectious and medical exposures—that might be linked to the disorder
   -The Autism Birth Cohort (ABC) Study, now under way in Norway, a large prospective design that is expected to gather information on 100,000 babies.
   -Six US Centers for Autism and Developmental Disabilities Research and Epidemiology (CADDRE) to investigate potential risk factors for ASDs--the multisite approach offers a study group that is geographically and demographically more representative of the general U.S. population
   -The Early Markers for Autism (EMA) study in California that employs a case–control design, with about 100 children with an ASD (primarily autism), 100 who are developmentally delayed, and 200 from the general population.
The author ends by quoting various researchers, authors and advocates who consider that environmental risk factors are not yet getting enough attention.

Different genes may cause autism in boys and girls
Researchers searching for the biological cause of autism have found that different genes may be responsible for causing autism in boys than in girls, and that other genes may play a role in the early onset form of the developmental disorder in contrast to the the recently verified regression, or late onset, type of autism. A new study is published today in the online edition of the journal Molecular Genetics.

Autism and the Environment
Editorial in the same journal issue as the previous item, by Julie L. Daniels, who concludes:
"Given the complexity of autism, we will not find a magic bullet (genetic or environmental) to blame for most cases. There are probably many combinations of genes and environmental factors that contribute to the constellation of autistic traits. Future investigations of hypotheses involving environmental exposures need to carefully characterize cases, improve exposure assessment, focus on critical windows of neurodevelopment, and ensure sufficient power to conduct subgroup analyses and assess interactions."

The trouble with autism-lit
A review essay for spiked by Michael Fitzpatrick MD,
who also has a son with autism. The author refers to the ways that "autism has become a fashionable subject in contemporary culture", and comments:
"But autism is not simply a different - and more exotic - way of being that causes minor problems of adjustment. It is a profound disorder of development that creates enormous difficulties for effected individuals throughout their lives, even if they are among the rare few blessed with special talents. Though well intentioned, the depiction of autism as a higher form of individuality risks demeaning the suffering experienced by people with autism and their families, while downplaying their need for specialised services."

Four of these five recent books, all worth reading, are "parent narratives." The reviewer has a deeply sceptical attitude to both biomedical and behavioural interventions:

Marti Leimbach, Daniel Isn’t Talking, London: Fourth Estate, 2006

Stephen Venables, Ollie: The True Story of a Brief and Courageous Life, London: Hutchinson, 2006

Richard Lathe, Autism, Brain and Environment, London: Jessica Kingsley, 2006

Michael Blastland, Joe: the only boy in the world, London: Profile, 2006

Charlotte Moore, George and Sam, London: Penguin, 2005

Music Therapy Helps Develop Communication
An article in Forbes.com that features the way music therapy helps a young man with autism. "Music therapists take advantage of the ways mind and body are stimulated when people listen to and make music to hone motor and brain functions," said a spokesman for the American Music Therapy Association. "Music impacts a person viscerally, physically, immediately and directly," said the founder and chairwoman of the music therapy program at Boston's Berklee College of Music.

US child expert quits Britain over 'hidden crisis' in special needs
Janis Newcomen is part of a system that is supposed to provide for the needs of Britain's most vulnerable children, those with conditions such as autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and severe learning difficulties. But she has had enough. In seven years as an NHS neuropsychologist, Newcomen has been so disgusted and upset by what she has seen that she is packing her bags and [returning to the US]. She says she can no longer bear to watch children and their families let down again and again. As a specialist who is supposed to provide help she says that she feels 'handcuffed', forced to accept hidden waiting lists, discrimination and constant cost cutting. She says she is officially prevented from making recommendations that could safeguard children's futures.
Click to read the full story....

The Age of Autism: 'Amish bill' introduced
Legislation aimed at determining whether vaccines are linked to an epidemic of unrecognized side effects has been introduced in the US Congress. The Comprehensive Comparative Study of Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Populations Act of 2006 would order the National Institutes of Health to study "health outcomes, including autism," in groups of never-vaccinated children such as the Amish of Pennsylvania and homeschooled children in Illinois. In essence, the bill proposes the simplest way to exonerate vaccines as a cause of autism: If the autism rate is about the same in never-vaccinated children, vaccines are unlikely to play any role.
Click for text of bill

Documentary on autism in the Philippines
National Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation Week is celebrated every third week of July. This year, Autism Society Philippines takes the lead in the celebration by presenting a milestone in the history of autism in the country. The first-ever locally produced feature-length digital film documentary on autism is entitled "Alyana - A Study of Autism in the Philippines" and traces the history of autism in the Philippines dating back to the 1970s when awareness about the disability was remote and unreachable. It also depicts the plight and struggle of persons with autism, their families, and those involved in their lives. It gives information about autism, its possible causes, symptoms, implications, and the importance of appropriate intervention. It also presents different accounts of experts in the field of medical profession, special education, and other related institutions such as schools and special services as well as perspectives from both the private and public sectors. The film was directed and edited by Miranamedina, an award-winning film editor.



Opportunities and Action: Transforming Supports in Ontario for People Who Have a Developmental Disability

The Ontario MCSS is in process of transforming developmental services in Ontario, has published various papers and taken a survey. The result of the process may be a "blueprint" for services and funding in the next 25 years.

Read Autism Ontario’s response to Opportunities and Action 

Read the response to the MCSS survey by one man who is neurologically disabled and uses supported communication technology to type his thoughts.

For other responses to the MCSS "blueprint" keep visiting the  IFCO website


Proposed Initiative for Adults with Autism in Waterloo-Wellington
Brokerage of Personal Supports and Resource Centre

Needs of adults with autism in the region have been considered at a Colloquium and several other meetings, with the objective of deciding what innovations of fairly limited cost would have a large, fairly immediate impact; be practical, do-able, and cost effective; and make other needed changes easier in the future. The steering group has endorsed a plan to pursue two goals, each of which reinforces the other:

1. Brokerage for Person-Centred Planning (on the Windsor-Essex model)

A broker is a specialist who is not connected to any service-providing agency, and whose role is to support an individually-funded disabled person to make life plans and decisions about how to spend his/her funding. The broker knows about available services and other community resources, and helps the person to make informed choices about which to seek or purchase in order to best fulfill his/her needs and desires.

2. Autism Resource and Support Centre

This would: Provides resources and training to service providers, support workers, etc.; Be a place where there is a concentration of expertise and “autism specific” information (on education, housing, training and employment, leisure opportunities, developing communication skills, diagnosis of ASD, developing social skills, health and nutrition, support options ...); Function as a social centre.

Read the full report of the April 21 Colloquium

Read the summary report of the proposal

The proposal and documents could interest advocates and planners in other regions. If you live in Waterloo-Wellington and would like to express your thoughts on the specific plans for this region, please contact OAARSN to request a survey form.


Funding for community participation supports for adults with a developmental disability

As of June 15, 2006, adults with a developmental disability can apply for a new Ministry of Community and Social Services initiative called Passport: Funding for Community Participation Supports. The goal of Passport is to improve the quality of participation in the community for adults with a developmental disability.

If approved for funding, Passport gives individuals the option of receiving funding directly to purchase community participation supports, or they can use the funding to access services through community agencies.

Applicants must be 18 years of age or older and no longer in school.

Application deadline for the first round of Passport funding is August 31, 2006.

Passport Guidelines, Person Directed Planning Guide, Family Information Guide, Application Form:

Links to more information:  _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


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

Autism One Radio Schedule
A Worldwide, Web-Based Radio Station for the Care, Treatment, and Recovery
of Children with Autism  http://www.autismone.org/radio

August 5-25, 2006 in Kingston (and perhaps other locations)
Second Spectrum Art Show: shining the light on Autism Spectrum Disorder
Offered by the Community Education and Awareness Team of Kerry's Place Autism Services, the show is designed to provide a unique experience for talented local artists with autism spectrum disorders to showcase artwork concurrently with providing education and awareness to local members of our community.
Click for poster

Saturday 5 August 2006 9:30 – 6:00 pm
Quinte Mall Belleville, 390 North Front Street

Thursday 10 August 2006: 6-10 pm and
Friday 11 August 2006: 9am–12pm 
Community Room in Chapters Book Store Kingston, 2376 Princess Street

Sunday 13 August 2:00pm – 5:30pm
Tara Natural Foods, 81 Princess Street Kingston

Friday 18 August 2006: 4-9pm 
Community Room Loblaws Supermarkets Limited, 1100 Princess Street, Kingston

Sunday 20 August, 2:00pm to 5:30pm 
Tara Natural Foods, 81 Princess Street Kingston

Thursday 24 August: 12–4pm and
Friday 25 August 3:30 9:00pm
Cataraqui Town Centre Kingston, 945 Gardiner Road
Please contact Corina or Mark at spectrumart@gmail.com or call the office at 613 384 7800:
Community Education and Awareness Team
Kerry's Place Autism Services
556 O'Connor Drive, Suite 104
Kingston, ON K7P 1N3


Sunday, August 13, 2006, 11 am to 2 pm, in Whitby
Family BBQ & Fun Day 2006 with Special Guest "Sparks the Clown"
Hosted by Autism Ontario Durham Region Chapter
Heydenshore Pavilion, 589 Water Street, Whitby, ON
All  families welcome.Cost: $5/person to maximum $25/family for Autism Ontario Durham Region Chapter members; $7/person to maximum $35/family for non-members
Cost includes: choice of Lick's Homeburger, Nature Burger or Jumbo Hot Dog, drink, face painting, balloon art, kids' games and prizes, and one raffle ticket per person.
Durham Regional Police Services "Kidz Printz" program will be available for finger printing of children.
RSVP before August 7th. Call 1-866-495-4680 or e-mail autismdurham.Events@Gmail.com  Please leave name, phone number and number attending. Please note that child supervision at this event is the sole responsibility of parents/guardians.Details online at www.autismontario.com
Autism Ontario Durham Region Chapter's mission is "providing information, support and friendship to families living with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Durham Region".

August 21-23, 2006, in Guelph
Creating Collaborative Partnerships:
Community and Schools Working Together

Each day, 8:30 am to 3:00 pm
St. Michael Catholic Elementary School, 9 McElderry Road, Guelph
For professionals working with a Student with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). NB: Not open to family members.
Click for program
Registration extended: It’s free but you must register
Click for registration form
Offered by Erinoak with Wellington Catholic District School Board and Upper Grand District School Board

Sunday, August 27, 2006
Cambridge Chapter of Autism Ontario
3rd Annual Golf Tournament
Support the dedicated group of volunteers who supply information, provides parent support, and advocates for programs and services to benefit the local autism community.
Location: Grand Valley Golf & Country Club, 1910 Roseville Rd, RR#2, Cambridge ON N1R 5S3, (519) 623-8811
Time:  Shotgun start at 7:30 am, registration begins at 7 am. Best ball format.
Cost:  Fee of $75 per person includes 18 holes of golf, a power cart, buffet luncheon and a $20 charitable tax receipt. Please make cheque payable to “Autism OntarioCambridge Chapter” and mail to 160 Hespeler Road Cambridge, ON N1R 6V7 no later than Friday, July 28, 2006.  We are limited to 144 golfers so please register early. http://www.cambridgeautism.org/ For more information: Dianne at 621-4839 cambridgeautism@rogers.com

September 8-9, 2006, in Nashua, New Hampshire
AUTCOM conference - Autism National Committee
Real Supports for People with Autism
Please click for program

Monday 18 September 2006, in Cambridge UK

The Autism Research Centre (ARC) at the University of Cambridge announces its

First Autism Research Conference at West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge.

Features include keynote speakers, poster presentations and an autism publishers' fair. 

Calling all artists and musicians. As part of the conference, there will also be a music concert and an exhibition of art by people on the autistic spectrum, taking place on Sunday 17 September 2006 at the same venue. Artwork will be auctioned on the day and proceeds will be divided equally between the artists and autism research. Profits from the concert will also be donated to autism research. The ARC is calling for artists and musicians who would like to get involved in the celebrations and perform or exhibit on the day. They welcome applications from people with autism spectrum conditions (or their carers on their behalf) who would like to be considered as performers in the concert, or have their artwork exhibited. For further information about the conference, art exhibition and concert visit: www.arc-conference.com

Saturday, September 23, 2006
Golf Tournament for Charity to benefit Autism Ontario Durham Region Chapter
at Winchester Golf Club, 750 Winchester Road E., Brooklin, ON
6:00 a.m. Sign In; 7:00 a.m. Shot Gun start (to 3:00 p.m.)
Early Bird Registration and Payment by August 1st: $110/golfer
Registration and Payment Deadline by September 1st: $125/golfer
Fee includes: 18 holes of golf with power cart, steak lunch, tax receipt for portion of registration fee, door prize and gift bag for every golfer, contests, raffles, 50/50 draw, and silent auction
For registration, call (905) 862-0860 or e-mail autismdurham.Golf@Gmail.com
To sponsor a hole or donate prizes, please call Kathy Sima (905) 862-0860 or Susan Brady (905) 839-0798 or e-mail autismdurham.Golf@Gmail.com Details online at www.autismontario.com
All proceeds of tournament will benefit Autism Ontario Durham Region Chapter, whose mission is "providing information, support and friendship to families living with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Durham Region".

October 5-November 5, 2006, in Toronto
The Joy of Autism: Redefining Ability and Quality of Life
By TAAP: The Autism Acceptance Project

Presentations by authors, parents, researchers and autistic people, with a variety of views
A gallery exhibition will be held from October 5 through November 5, 2006 at the Lonsdale Gallery.
Lectures by researchers will discuss recent studies of autistic cognitive abilities.
Clinicians and autistic people will present views based on their lives with autism.
Parent authors and advocates will talk about their journey.
Lectures on October 10, 11 and 12 at the Al Green Theatre, Miles Nadal, Toronto JCC and on October 14 at the Lonsdale Gallery.
Panel discussion on October 16 at the Al Green Theatre including several autistic people, parents and researchers.
Full information & tickets at http://www.taaproject.com/

October 17, 2006, in Detroit
Behavior Solutions for Adolescents with Severely Limiting Autism
Maria Wheeler: Adolescence combined with severely limiting autism presents a unique challenge for the effected individual, families, educators and therapists. In this session, we will explore age appropriate interventions for addressing behavioral concerns including aggression, refusal to work, stripping, self-stimulation, ineffective communication, offensive communication, echolalia, sexual behavior, seizure-related behaviors, wandering, non-compliance and other behaviors that commonly interfere with social success and learning. Please click for more details

October 18,
2006, in Detroit
Transitioning to Adulthood
Peter Gerhardt: Increasing attention is being paid to needs of learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as they enter adolescence and grow into adulthood. Where job placement was once considered desirable, now the goal is career development. Instead of residential placement, now there is talk of residential choices in support of quality of life. This workshop will provide an overview of this movement toward transition planning for competent adulthood. Social skills and sexuality will also be addressed in young adults with ASD. Please click for more details

October 25, 26, 27, 2006, in Metro
Toronto Convention Centre

Autism 2006 - Geneva Centre for Autism International Symposium

Complete program now available on our website.

Go to www.autism.net now to view this year's exciting conference program
including speakers from around the world.

The comprehensive agenda includes presentations on the latest intervention and research in autism and neurology, biomedical interventions, positive behavioural intervention, communication, social skills, sensory processing disorders, anger management, adolescents, adults/employment, first hand accounts, Aspergerís disorder, cognitive behaviour therapy, intensive behavioural intervention, OCD and much more. 

Don't miss this international exhibit hall, art gallery and remarkable opening ceremony featuring the talents of gifted individuals with ASD.

30 October-November 2, 2006, in Cape Town, South Africa
World Congress on Autism "Autism Safari - Exploring New Territories"
Please keep visiting this website for updates



New York Times articles about autism since 1981
Browse a quarter-century of autism literature. A free online library of all articles (169) printed by the NY Times.

July OARacle E-Newsletter
Read articles by/about siblings of autistic adults:
Perspective Jack
Research Article: Being the Sibling of a Person with ASD




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.

Breaking Through the Invisible Barrier
Lucy Mekler and her son with autism recently celebrated his 45th birthday. Click on title to read Lucy's account of her experience and beliefs in supporting her son. Among other factors in the transformation of his life, she credits "a keen, kind doctor who considered each patient an individual", nutritional intervention, and her son's "passion for music...followed by a fascination with words," and kayaking. She concludes: “Letting my son know that he is valued, and constant injections of hope -- along with family and community acceptance -- have changed my son’s direction from down and backward to up and forward.” 

Thinking in pictures
Using an image of the Caledonia Station, Brian Henson provides "a glimmer of nostalgic hope in an age of relentless conflict." Click on title to view this image. Brian comments:
"Railway stations were once a major social centre of the community, and now, with few stations still in use (and many demolished, abandoned, or used for some other purpose), that social network has been displaced. It's akin to an autistic spectrum person finding that most of his/her friends are just not there any more, but, fortunately, some of the most enduring ones are."

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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