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2 September 2006

Thought for Our Times: The Empathy Symbol

Because what the world really needs now is Empathy.

The Empathy Symbol stands for 2 sides reaching out, and reaching into each other to really understand what the other is feeling and experiencing.

Whether it’s Men and Women,

Blacks and Whites,

Jews and Muslims,

Gays and Straights,

Red States and Blue States,

Christians and Atheists,

Asians and Latinos,

Handicapped and Able-bodied,

White collar and Blue collar…

Whatever the 2 sides are.

Because it’s a lot harder to hate someone you understand.

Because in order to get to Peace and Love and Harmony in our World,
 we first have to have Empathy for one another.

Thanks to Brian Henson for recommending this link--please click on the title to reach more.
Brian has also found a piece in Wikipedia about empathy in persons with autism. "Empathy and autism spectrum disorders" explains how persons on the autistic spectrum are far more empathetic than most, but the intense sensitivity of the empathetic feelings that they do have for others makes them withdraw, as they do not have the capacity to communicate this empathy to others.


Autism 'affects all of the brain'
Autism does not simply affect how people relate to others but has a wide range of effects, a study suggests. US researchers compared 56 children with autism with 56 who did not have the condition. Those with autism were found to have more problems with complex tasks, such as tying their shoelaces, suggesting many areas of the brain were affected. People with autism are traditionally identified as having problems interacting with others and with both verbal and non-verbal communication. They can also display repetitive behaviours and have very focused interests. But this study suggests autism can affect sensory perception, movement and memory because it prevents different parts of the brain working together to achieve complex tasks.

Dr Nancy Minshew, a specialist in psychiatry and neurology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, who led the research, said: "These findings show that you cannot compartmentalise autism. It's much more complex.” She said researchers investigating autism needed to look for causes that affect multiple brain areas, rather than simply looking at areas related to communication and repetitive behaviours or obsessive interests. She added: "Our paper strongly suggests that autism is not primarily a disorder of social interaction but a global disorder affecting how the brain processes the information it receives - especially when the information becomes complicated."

Brain structure scrutinised
A study by Newcastle University and the International University Bremen, Germany, has debunked a prevailing theory that the nervous system should have mainly very short nerve fibre connections between nerve cells, or neurons, to function at its most effective. Instead the study, which carried out a sophisticated computer analysis of public databases containing detailed information of worldwide anatomical studies on primate and worm brains, found that long nerve fibre connections were just as vital to overall brain function as short ones. Much of what we know about the human brain derives from neuroscience research on primates, which are used because they have experienced similar evolutionary stages to humans.
Brain scans of Alzheimer’s patients and people with autism have shown that they are lacking certain long-distance neural interactions, although experts have yet to discover their specific purpose. The new study found that long fibres are important because they can send messages quickly over a longer distance compared with if the same message was sent over the same distance via lots of short fibres. It also found that long fibres are more reliable for transmission of messages over longer distances.

Link Between Autism And Abnormal Blood-vessel Function And Oxidative Stress
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine discovered that children with autism showed signs of abnormal blood-vessel function and damaging levels of oxidative stress compared to healthy children. The children with autism possessed levels of biochemicals that indicate the presence of constricted blood vessels via the endothelium (the cells that line vessels) with a higher tendency to form clots (through cells called platelets).

Inflammation in brain tissue a possible clue to autism

According to new research, the common medical belief that young children with autism have accelerated brain growth is not the case even though their brains may appear enlarged. A study by researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine has found that the abnormality seen in the brains of autistic children in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans is clearly not because of accelerated brain growth. The findings while they confirm some earlier reports also conflict with others.
Dr Stephen Dager and his colleagues compared 60 autistic children to 16 children with developmental delay and 10 children with typical development by using MRI scans to measure how much water was moving around inside the brain tissue, which gives clinicians an indirect measure of brain maturation. The researchers found the autistic children had differences in the gray matter of their brains compared to the children with typical development.
A number of earlier studies have suggested the brains of younger children with autism are 10 percent larger, but Dager says their research focussed on tissue chemistry and found the abnormality wasn't due to lack of "pruning," which is how the normal developing brain rids itself of unnecessary neurons. Dager suggests an alternative hypothesis could be an inflammatory process. He says that would be consistent with adult studies that found higher levels of cytokines, associated with inflammation, in postmortem studies.

Government Investigation Finds Autism Vaccine Related

A review of studies that support the hypothesis that an autism epidemic can be correlated with the use of the mercury compound thimerosal which has been used as a preservative in many vaccines.

Father and son document autism and set up The Tailor Institute
An orthodontist in southeast Missouri and his autistic son, are currently involved with projects aimed to educate people about autism. Not only are they working on bringing to life The Tailor Institute, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to autism research, but they also are putting the finishing touches on a new DVD that will help people understand autism.
Taylor, who is high functioning, is studying animation at CalArts and intends to graduate in May 2007. He aspires to work at Dreamworks Animation.

Don't call me stupid
"Being labelled ‘subnormal’ can blight a child for life. Catriona Wrottesley of the Timesonline meets two extraordinary people who overcame their diagnoses and found success as adults. Wendy Lawson’s earliest memories include hearing a professional tell her mother: “Your child is intellectually subnormal.” Later, schizophrenia was diagnosed. Kamran Nazeer, meanwhile, was told that he was autistic at 4.
Now Lawson, 54, is a psychotherapist and author who lectures around the world and Nazeer, 28, is a Whitehall policy adviser who has just published his first book. The stories they tell question the way we give children medical labels that can dictate the rest of their lives."

Reaching adult autism patients through music
A story about the MacPhail Center for Music whose Jenifer Josephson has been coming to Opportunity Partners' Karlins Center in Plymouth, Minn. to teach a weekly music therapy class for adults with autism. Music therapy has long been used to treat autism. What is different here is that MacPhail designed "Music to Our Ears" specifically for people ages 21 to 43 who have moderate to severe autism.

Adults with Autism in Connecticut
The state governor has just signed a bill authorizing a year-long, $1 million pilot program to help non-mentally retarded autistic adults function in society. Now that the pilot has been authorized, there's a chance that the program, which will be providing job counseling, assistance with independent living and counseling to 25 adults with autism in several towns around New Haven this fall, will become statewide within the next couple of years. Up until last week, Connecticut, Mississippi and Alabama were the only states in the country without a program for autistic adults. Autism coordinator Kathy Reddington is running the program. She says the pilot is designed to help functioning autistic people with the day-to-day challenges of living: budgeting, managing an apartment, social skills in the workplace and helping people find jobs.  Click for new centre's website

Federal Autism Activities
The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) today released report numbered GAO-06-700 in mid-July. It is subtitled "Funding has Increased but Agencies Need to Resolve Surveillance Challenges". Click on title of this news item to read the whole report, or click here for a summary of highlights.

British Researchers: No Male Children For Families With History of Autism

Researchers at the University College Hospital London have applied for permission to begin using pre-implantation diagnosis (PGD) to screen IVF embryos for possible autism, even though there is no reliable test for the condition. 
Opting for what one commentator called a "close enough solution," the reasoning goes that since 90% of autism sufferers are males, the answer is to allow only embryonic girls to be implanted in families with a medical history of autism. This, they say, will allow families with autistic children "to have a daughter free from the condition."
Simone Aspis of the British Council of Disabled People pointed to the inherent eugenic principles behind the application. "Screening for autism would create a society where only perfection is valued." In the brave new world of the researchers, it is reasonable to fear "that anyone who is different in any way will not be accepted," Aspis said.

A woman of substance
A profile in the Guardian Unlimited (UK) of the actress Sigourney Weaver who plays the role of a bereaved autistic mother in the film, Snow Cake.

Expressing stories through art
A news story about 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 during August 2006 in Kingston and Belleville. The show was 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



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

Awares' second international online autism conference in October 2006
Awares is to hold its second online autism conference between October 4-11, 2006. Once again, the free virtual conference will feature the largest ever gathering of world autism experts, including people with autism and leading academics. Anyone is welcome to log on - parents, people with autism, researchers, practitioners, teachers and social workers. So please join us!

Leading international figures will be available to answer questions and discuss topics ranging from biomedical approaches to autism, the immunology and neurology of autism, educational methods and first-hand experiences of living with autism. They include Donna Williams and Wendy Lawson, two of the world's best-known autistic writers and speakers; Jacqui Jackson, mother of seven children (including four on the autistic spectrum) and her son, Luke, a well-known author and speaker with Asperger's syndrome, and the foremost autism authorities Professor Rita Jordan, Professor Laurent Mottron, Professor Anthony Bailey and Professor Margot Prior.

To find out more about Autism2006 and receive email updates with all the latest conference news, please go to www.autism2006.org  An online Foyer Café is also available for delegates to meet and discuss issues prior to the conference. For further details, please contact Laura Morgan on 029 20464940 in Cardiff. To register for Autism2006, simply go to www.autism2006.org  Abstracts and papers will be available online at www.autism2006.org from the beginning of October 2006. Experts will be available on-line to answer questions in person between October 4-11.

Other experts taking part include Stephen Shore (USA), Larry Arnold (UK), Danny Beath (UK), Dr Marco Iacoboni (Italy), Dr Skirmantas Janusonis (USA), Dr Peter Enticott (Australia), Dr Manuel Casanova (USA), Chantal Sicile-Kira (USA), Dr Julie Donnelly (USA), Professor Michael Fitzgerald (Ireland), Professor Helen Tager-Flusberg (USA), Dr Molly Losh (USA), Paul Shattock (UK), Dr Karl Reichelt (Norway), Mitzi Waltz (USA), Dr Cynthia Molloy (USA), Dr Richard Becker (USA), Dr Dawn Wimpory (Wales), Dr Roberto Canitano (Italy), Dennis Debbaudt (USA), Professor Jill Boucher (UK), Dr Shari Au (USA), Dr David Skuse (UK), Olga Bogdashina (Ukraine), Dr Thomas Berney (UK), Dr Paul Ashwood (USA) and Dr Sven Boelte (Germany).

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

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

Sunday, September 17, 7 pm, at The Bookshelf in Guelph.
Launch and book signing of
More Than a Mom: Living a Full and Balanced Life
When Your Child Has Special Needs

by Amy Baskin and Heather Fawcett
Click for invitation details
Click for more book information

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

Advance Notice:
June 15 & 16, 2007

2007 Autism Spectrum Disorders Conference
Acceptance and Opportunities: See the Potential

A conference that will explore best practices and approaches for increasing quality of life, opportunities and independence.
Save the Date! Friday, June 15 & Saturday, June 16, 2007 Toronto, Ontario
Member and Early Bird Registration discounts are available.
Keep an eye on www.autismontario.com for more information to be released in the coming months.



Request for Parent and Professional Reviewers
The Organization for Autism Research is nearing completion of A Guide for Transition to Adulthood, the 4th volume in the Life Journey through Autism series and we are seeking volunteer reviewers to assist us in the process. to that end, we are looking for volunteers to read the draft document and provide us feedback on accuracy, clarity, and readability of the information presented.
Feedback is sought from parents, professionals, and individuals on the spectrum alike. If you are interested in helping us in this important project, please contact Peter Gerhardt, OAR's President, at pgerhardt@researchautism.org for more details and to obtain a review copy via email.

The Autism Research Institute (ARI) website
ARI, a non-profit organization established in 1967, sponsors conferences for dissemination of research findings, especially about the biomedical aspects of autism. Click on the title to reach information about forthcoming conferences and webcasts of presentations at past conferences.

Engaging Autism: Using the Floortime Approach to Help Children Relate, Communicate and Think. Stanley I. Greenspan & Serena Wieder, $ 36.95 from Parentbooks in Toronto
Engaging Autism is the long-awaited guide to autism and ASD by the authors of The Child with Special Needs. Dr. Stanley Greenspan's unique and highly effective DIR Floortime program is at last presented here in one clear and accessible volume. A number of innovative features distinguish Greenspan's approach to autism, primarily demonstrating that children with signs of autism or autistic spectrum disorders do not have a fixed, limited potential, but in many cases can join their peers and lead full, healthy lives, emotionally and intellectually. Greenspan’s approach can be applied at a very early stage, when signs of autism first appear. DIR Floortime empowers the family to promote their child's development throughout each day as well as guiding the efforts of speech pathologists, occupational therapists, and educators.
36.95 from Parentbooks in Toronto, 201 Harbord St., Toronto, ON, M5S 1H6,
fax (416) 537-9499 email bill@parentbooks.ca

The isolated world of Autism
Excerpts from a news release:

"Maureen Morrell and Ann Palmer, who met at a mothers' support group in Chapel Hill, NC, have collaborated in writing a book, Parenting Across the Autism Spectrum, just published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. They stress that each persons with autism is different. "Palmer's son Eric generally did well in school. A quiet child, he could be easily lost in the shuffle. Still, he sometimes went into "meltdowns" when his routines were altered in the slightest detail, and he sometimes cried uncontrollably for hours. In middle school, he could work algebra problems but had trouble buying a McDonald's Happy Meal and getting correct change. With careful therapy, however, he was able to attend a large university, live in a regular dormitory and make friends. Morrell's son Justin suffered more serious complications, including mental retardation and grand mal seizures. Never able to talk, he could show unpredictable, sometimes violent mood swings and could be a danger to himself or others. He, too, however, was able to benefit from therapy, and at the age of 27, he lives in a residential farm community designed for people with autism."

"Much of Parenting Across the Autism Spectrum reads like a manual of negotiation for dealing with well-meaning but sometimes stubborn therapists and bureaucrats - what Morrell calls "Basic Communications 101." "Start early," said Palmer. "Learn to understand the disability. Ask for help." Morrell and Palmer also offer advice for the friends and relatives of families with autistic children. What's needed most, they agreed, aren't news clippings or the latest "cure" or therapy, or bluff assurances that the diagnosis won't be so bad or that the child will "get over it." What's really helpful is tangible help, Palmer said. If you can, babysit. If not, offer to run errands or fetch groceries. The best message, she added, is "I don't know what you're going through, but I'm here for you."

Donna Williams' all singing all dancing website
Click on this title to reach the website of the noted author of
Nobody Nowhere, Somebody Somewhere, Like Color To The Blind and Everyday Heaven, Autism: An Inside Out Approach, Autism and Sensing, The Unlost Instinct, Exposure Anxiety, The Invisible Cage of Involuntary Self Protection Responses, The Jumbled Jigsaw, and (poetry) Not Just Anything.




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.

Two images by Brian Henson
(please click on title)
The Paradox
As many, at first, look upon autism, they see the
shattered image;
but the glow, somehow, seems to elude them. However,
the longer they look at autism, the glow gradually gets brighter...

What emotions would come to you if you could, somehow, see life
from the inside of an aquarium tank looking out on the world around
you, with sky and trees?

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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