OAARSN offers a rich 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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Send news, announcements and comments to gbloomfi@uoguelph.ca We welcome news items, announcements of autism events, new information, discussion questions and comments, and accounts of experience.

Please note that this service is for information and awareness. We cannot endorse or be held responsible for the validity of any information or the value of any therapy or service. Nor do we necessarily agree with opinions that may be expressed.

Visit OAARSN's website and keep in touch through the OAARSN Listserv--send a message requesting to join to gbloomfi@uoguelph.ca


21 December 2006


Novel Brain Areas Associated With The Recognition Of Gender, Ethnicity And The Identity Of Faces
Researchers in Southern California have isolated brain regions that respond selectively to the cues of gender, ethnicity and identity in faces. Using a novel adaptation technique, they found evidence for neurons that are selectively tuned for gender, ethnicity and identity cues in an area not previously thought to be associated with face processing. Led by researchers at the University of Southern California (USC), the work is a collaboration between USC, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and the University of California at San Diego (UCSD). The findings appear Dec. 11 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"A surprising percentage of the population -maybe 2 to 3% of the population- have a real inability to recognize faces or even tell if someone is a male or a female," says co-author Minna Ng, a graduate student at UCSD. "In the most extreme cases it's a clinical condition called prosopagnosia. Until now, most people assumed that difficulties with face recognition were due to cortical deficits near the fusiform gyrus. These data suggest that other brain regions may be involved. The fact that the cingulate gyrus is involved has some interesting implications for conditions like autism spectrum disorders."

Myelin to Blame for Many Neuropsychiatric Disorders
The author of a report published in the journal Biological Psychiatry argues that the miles of myelin coating in our brain are the key "evolutionary change that defines our uniqueness as a species" and, further, may also be the cause of "our unique vulnerability to highly prevalent neuropsychiatric disorders." Viewing the brain as a myelin-dependent "Internet" may be key to developing new and novel treatments against disease and aid in assessing the efficacy of currently available treatments, including the use of nicotine (delivered by a patch, not smoking), which may enhance the growth and maintenance of myelin.
Conventional wisdom holds that myelin, the sheet of fat that coats a neuron's axon — a long fiber that conducts the neuron's electrical impulses — is akin to the wrapping around an electrical wire, protecting and fostering efficient signaling.

Researchers link gene with autism

European scientists have identified mutations in a gene in three families with autism disorders, the journal Nature Genetics reported Monday. In an abstract published online, the journal said a mutation in the SHANK3 gene "can result in language and/or social communication disorders." The mutations were found in only three families with autism disorders, "but they shed light on one … synaptic pathway that is involved in autism spectrum disorders."

Ped Med: The many faces of autism
As parents of adults have long known, no two cases of autism are exactly alike, Researchers' newfound recognition of the condition's diverse complexity and multi-faceted nature carries over to the research field, where the seekers of causes and cures are starting to look for ways to subdivide the disorder and crack its armor of secrecy piece by piece.

Dr Judith Miles is convinced all that looks like autism doesn't have the same cause and, therefore, will require a different therapeutic approach. "If we can be more precise, we can do a lot of things," she said. "That would include the ability to prognosticate a child's future capabilities and design more specific and hence more efficacious treatments." To that end, she has proposed the criteria for identifying autism, which currently are broadly based on social, communication and behavioral symptoms, be broken down into two further categories. To that end, she has proposed the criteria for identifying autism, which currently are broadly based on social, communication and behavioral symptoms, be broken down into two further categories.

The recommendation is based on her finding that 20 percent of autistic children differ from the rest in both unusual physical features, such as an abnormal head size or malformed ear or hand, and autistic symptoms, which may include lower IQ, seizures or lack of speech after age 8. The researchers dubbed this subtype "complex autism." They noted the much larger set of youngsters without the corporeal differences tended to be male and have siblings with a high risk for autism and other kin with the disorder. They called this subdivision "essential autism."

Ped Med: Brain size may point to autism
"Large brain volumes and craniums appear to be a family trait in about one of every five children with autism, one team reported in a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. In another investigation, scientists who measured the head circumference of children at birth and then two or three years later found as newborns, nearly all of the youngsters later diagnosed with autism had abnormally small heads that, in 90 percent of the cases, swelled to unusual proportions by toddlerhood."

Autism as a Minamata Disease Variant: Analysis Of A Pernicious Legacy
Click on title for abstract of a paper by Kenneth P. Stoller, MD, FAAP.
"Minamata Disease is a myriad of neurological and neurodevelopmental symptoms stemming from the pollution of Minamata Bay, Japan with 27 tons of organic mercury by the Chisso Corporation.... Today, the causes of autism and several neurodevelopmental disorders may be linked to mercury. Genetic and environmental risk factors are involved, but the epidemic increase in autism parallels cumulative mercury exposure through Thimerosal containing vaccines. ..."

ASA Releases Research on Environmental Health and Autism
The Autism Society of America (ASA) today released a special edition of its magazine, Autism Advocate, which explores the critical effect on environmental toxins on the incidence and treatment of individuals with autism. Paired with a new ASA environmental health website highlighting leading scientists, professionals, and individuals affected by autism, this two-platform media launch is the first-ever effort to bring leading scientists, doctors, therapists, families and individuals with autism together to examine the linkages between environmental health and autism.

Devices help give voice to students who are autistic
"A drab device called a LinkPlus translates keystrokes into spoken words -- a concept familiar to anyone who has heard the clipped yet engaging computer-generated speech of eminent scientist Stephen Hawking. The technology offers hope of faster and easier communication for some people with autism, a neurological disorder characterized by difficulty in verbal communication." A story about PACE, the Pacific Autism Center for Education in Sunnyvale, a school for young people with autism and other developmental disorders.

What if your laptop knew how you felt?

Researchers train computers to 'read' emotions, which could help with teaching, security, people with autism – and cranky users. The article refers to "Mind Reader," a system developed by her team in the Affective Computing Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. 

"Mind Reader" uses input from a video camera to perform real-time analysis of facial expressions. Using color-coded graphics, it reports whether you seem "interested" or "agreeing" or if you're "confused" about what you've just heard. (You can read more about Picard and postdoc researcher Rana el Kaliouby's project in detail on MIT's website). The system was developed to help people with autism read emotions, as they have difficulty decoding when others are bored, angry, or flirting. Their lack of responsiveness makes them seem insensitive to others. Ms. Picard's team uses cameras worn around the neck or on baseball caps to record faces, which the software can then decode.

Are we failing autistic adults?
"The support system for adults with autism is in "crisis" and local, state and federal officials must fund more programs that provide specialized services," says the New Jersey Center for Outreach and Services for the Autism Community. A white paper has been released in mid-December with more than 80 recommendations for revamping a system that, the group says, largely ignores adults who suffer from the neuro-developmental disorder. NJCOSAC, which provides autism education and advocacy services, calls for an "integrated, seamless" service delivery system that's available to everyone, and proactive strategies to meet the needs of an increasing number of adults with autism. New Jersey's Legislature gave $400,000 in 2005 to NJCOSAC to allow it to interview parents and develop the 21-page blueprint for change.

New Program for Adults with Autism Offered by HeartShare
Partnering with Autistic CiTizens (PACT), a program for young adults with autism has made its home in downtown Brooklyn NY, in the heart of the borough’s business district. Sponsored by HeartShare Human Services of New York, the PACT program is designed to increase the participant’s involvement in the community through skill-building, volunteering and recreational activities.



Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology has been holding hearings described as an "inquiry on the issues of funding for the treatment of autism and discussions around a national autism strategy."   Click for transcript of a very long hearing on December 8, 2006
Autism specialists quoted in this transcript, referring to autistic adults, were Dr Peter Szatmari on the conjunction with mental health issues and Dr Jeanette Holden on the critical needs (and potential) of older adults and their aging parents who are their carers.

Mother wins legal battle for disabled son
A Victoria mother has won the latest round in her court fight with the B.C. government over disability payments for the mentally disabled. She challenged the government policy that cuts off disability benefits on the basis of a person's IQ. Her son's benefits were to be cut off this year when he reached age 19 because he has an IQ of 79.To qualify for benefits as an adult, Community Living B.C., the government agency that provides support to people with disabilities, says a recipent's IQ must be 70 or lower.



Summary Report Consultation on Changing Supports in Ontario For People who have a Developmental Disability
In September 2004, the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services began a process of consultation towards "transforming" the system of supports for people with a developmental disability in Ontario. We have posted links to many previous documents. This one, by Mercer Delta Consulting, summarizes points made by about 1000 people who took part in discussions around Ontario
and/or submitted their comments online or on paper.
Click on the title above to read the basic report.
Or click on this link to download a plain language version.

Important New Releases from the Individualized Funding Coalition for Ontario
IFCO is pressing purposefully to persuade the Ontario Government to move ahead in implementing
the new directions announced in Opportunities and Action – Transforming Supports In Ontario for People who have a Developmental Disability  IFCO members are meeting with Ontario Ministers, members of Treasury Board and MPPs this month.

Rationale for Independent Planning and Facilitation: Why MCSS Should Move Quickly
This document presents nine rationales for independent planning and facilitation which will help build a sustainable, innovative, cost effective direct individualized funding program.  With this document, IFCO calls on MCSS to move ahead with independent planning and facilitation as a vital infrastructure to ensure the success of direct funding.

EXTRA!!! Common Vision EXTRA!!!
A news summary including excerpts from interviews with leaders in the social change movement.

~~~~~~newly posted ~~~~~~~
Investments That Will Make a Difference

This document is a must read!  It clearly explains the important considerations for investing tax payer dollars in Direct  Individualized Funding and Independent Planning and Facilitation.   This document is an excellent resource for people to take with them when they meet with MPP's as they try to help move Individualized Funding and Independent Planning and Facilitation forward.

IFCO issues are vital for Ontario. Look up the many current resources on the IFCO website.


Disability advocates are very upset to learn that the Ontario Government (through the Ministries of Community and Social Services and Health and Long-Term Care) has made plans for adults with a developmental disability and relatively high needs to be admitted to long-term care facilities instead of opening community living opportunities for them. Advocates of inclusion and community living see a discrepancy between this new "access protocol" and the values and strategies discussed in the MCSS "transformation process" for developmental services since mid-2004.
Read the Ministries' Access Protocol (July 2006)
Read a letter of serious concerns by Shelley Martel MPP
Read Doublespeak, a critique by Dr Patricia Spindel
(we have permission to share this).

From Family Alliance Ontario…No to ALL institutions!



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

Six Wednesday evenings, starting Jan 17,: 6-9pm in Oshawa
Keeping People Safe From Harm:
Gentle and Compassionate Caregiving Practices
A six-week introductory series by Felicia Jervis
Key caregiving principles include: bonding and companionship; avoiding power and control over others; a focus on personal connections; a celebration of equality, mutuality, and reciprocity.
Click for brochure with more details 
For further information about Gentle Teaching, visit www.gentleteaching.com
Families who could benefit are most welcome, and there is no charge.
Students and others who attend all sessions can receive a certificate of participation from Gentle Teaching International.

January 17, February 14, and March 14, 2007
Understanding Children, Youth and Adults with Asperger Syndrome:
A lecture series presented by the Aspergers Society of Ontario

Auditorium, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Clarke Site
250 College Street, Toronto, Ontario
Those who participate can expect to take away valuable information on Asperger Syndrome, how to recognize it in children, youth and adults and the role of the multi-disciplinary team in supporting the individual with Asperger Syndrome and their family.
 January 17, 2007Children and Youth with Asperger Syndrome
 February 14, 2007Adults with Asperger Syndrome
 March 14, 2007 : Multidisciplinary Interventions
Click for speaker and registration information
Monitor the website at

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

January 25 - 27, 2007,  in San Diego
Learning to Listen: Personalizing Supports Across the Life-Span
Conference topics include
  • The role of movement differences/disturbances in communication and behavior challenges
  • Pitfalls of literal interpretation of behavior: Successful interactions with individuals whose unconventional ways of communicating make you think they are not listening and wouldn’t understand
  • Sensory-movement issues and stress
  • Personalizing accommodations and life options for meaningful inclusion.
  • Panels of parents and of self-advocates who address the processes and supports that make a real difference in their lives
Conference presenters
Anne M. Donnellan, Ph.D.
Martha R. Leary, M.A., CCC-SLP
Jeff Strully, Ph.D.
Jodi A. Robledo, Ph.D.
Panel of Parents and Self-Advocates
Click for Winter Autism Conference details

8-10 February 2007, in Herning, Denmark

Welcome to Meeting of Minds 2 - A conference on autism and related disorders

Social Cognition and Emotion in Autism and Related Disorders - A Multidimensional Approach - Research and Practice
Keynote speakers include
Daniel Stern, Uta Frith, Simon Baron-Cohen, Peter Hobson, Paul Harris, Stephen von Tetzchner, Hans-Christoph Steinhausen, Anthony Wigram
For more details, visit: http://www.meetingofminds2.dk/

March 1-4, 2007

Autism Vancouver Biennial Congress 2007
Autism Spectrum Disorders Across the Lifespan
Leading experts on autism spectrum disorders, from England, Canada, and the United States, will focus on ways to improve the quality of life for the affected individuals and their families/caregivers by conducting presentations in the areas of educational and biomedical interventions, research, adjunct therapies, diet and nutrition, and family issues.

Speakers include Dr. Temple Grandin, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, Dr. Jeff Bradstreet, Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen, Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh, Dr. Phillip DeMio, Dr. Stephen Shore, Shannon Kenitz, Dr. Lauren Underwood, Dr. Barry Prizant, Stan Kurtz, Dr. Diane Twachtman-Cullen, Dr. Teresa Bolick, Dr. William Shaw, and plus more experts in the field of autism.
This theme reflects the reality that autism spectrum disorders present an evolving set of personal, familial, societal, and therapeutic issues as affected individuals pass from infancy, childhood through adolescence, adulthood, and finally old age.
Adopting a life-span perspective is a fundamental requirement for developing a set of comprehensive services to individuals and families who are dealing with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

For the entire schedule, click here.

March 8, 2007, in Guelph
Wellington Agency Information Fair
For Families & Individuals with Disabilities to get information about:
-inclusive & specialized recreation opportunities
-summer day & overnight camps
-year-round sports, art, music and dance programs
-agencies providing services (ex. Mental Health)
-government programs (ODSP, ACSD)
-respite care programs (Hopewell Homes, CLGW)
-case management services
-work and volunteering services
Click for full details

March 29, 2007, in London UK
Mental Health and People with Autistic Spectrum Disorders
Over recent years there has been a growing interest in autistic spectrum disorders. This conference will concentrate on the mental health issues, an area that is often neglected in other conferences. The day will offer an opportunity to hear from a number of experts in the field and will provide plenty of time for discussion.
People with autistic spectrum disorders are vulnerable to developing mental health problems and the conference will explore issues of assessment, intervention and service delivery. People with autistic spectrum disorders span the range of intellectual functioning and some groups may fall between services, the issue will also be discussed.
Click on title for details

March 29 & 30, 2007, in Ottawa
Autism Awareness Centre Inc. presents two workshops
CAROL KRANOWITZ: Functional Fun for the Out-of-Sync Child
KARI DUNN BURON: Understanding Social Cognition and Its Impact On Autism Spectrum Disorders
Click for full information and how to register
Visit the AAC website

May 23 – 27, 2007, Sheraton Centre Toronto

2nd International Come To Your Senses Conference

Opening the Sensory World to Children & Adults with Complex Disabilities

By MukiBaum Treatment Centres

Call for Papers NOW OPEN!

We invite professionals, parents, caregivers, persons with disabilities, researchers and consumers to present on a wide array of topics within the realm of Sensory-Motor Therapy and people with disabilities.  The goal is to share and disseminate knowledge and experience from around the world so that we can better understand the Sensory Reality of people with disabilities and the many forms of treatment that exist. 

If you are interested in presenting at our conference, visit the website at www.mukibaum.com and click on the link for Submit Paper. The complete details and rules for submission are outlined on the website.

Registration is now at http://www.sensoryconference.ca/ and you can take advantage of Early Bird rates.  There will be opportunities for you and your organization to exhibit, become a sponsor of the event and participate in a number of activities throughout the conference.

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.

31 August, 1 & 2 September 2007, in Oslo, Norway
8th International Congress Autism Europe

Abstract submission, registration and further Congress information:

Delegates are invited to share their knowledge, skills and expertise on a range of topics intended to promote the practical outcomes, values and implications of research in terms of its contribution to the quality of life and development of persons with ASD.
-      keynote symposia and discussion
-      poster presentations linked to main themes
-      opportunities for new generation researchers and operators in the field of autism to present their work
For further information and details regarding submissions, please visit the Congress website: http://www.autismcongressoslo.org/comweb.asp?ID=1&segment=1&session=
E-mail: president@autismeurope.org

Do not miss this opportunity to contribute to opening up ‘a World of Possibilities’ for people with autism and their families, view the 4th International Art Exhibition of Persons with Autism and to visit Oslo and its charming surroundings.



Update on the Autism Collection of the Kitchener Public Library
A special, regionally-accessible, resource of materials in all formats intended for the informational, instructional and research needs of the general public, this unique collection includes resources for researchers and health and support workers as well as individuals and families who work and live with autism spectrum disorders. Both genders and all ages are reflected in the collection. Classic works in the field are acquired and retained in the collection for continuity and research purposes. Biographies, children’s books, and fiction as well as multimedia, video and DVD materials are included when deemed important to a resource collection on this disorder.

The collection is housed beside the HealthLink area of the Research Services Department upstairs at the Main Library. All formats are at this one location. Clients who wish to check out materials from this collection will require a KPL Borrower’s Card or a KPL Special Borrower’s Card. The Special Borrower’s card will be issued at the Borrower’s Services Desk to any requesting individual from the regions of Waterloo, Wellington, and Dufferin, who posseses correct identification and a proof of address. There is no charge to obtain this card. The special card may only be used to check out materials from the Autism Collection. All of these items are marked M-Aut and have a special spine label icon and book donation label. Customers may request items through Inter-Library Loan as well, as per normal procedures.

This important resource was made possible through the generous donations by Waterloo Wellington Autism Services organization, and with advice from Elizabeth Bloomfield.

Click on this title for more than 100 titles published in 2005 or 2006 that have been added to the KPL's Autism Collection. You can learn more about each item by clicking on its title in the list and more still, by then clicking on the icon in the upper right part of the screen.

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

How to Contact Us:
Autism Collection
HealthLink Services
Kitchener Public Library
85 Queen St. N.
Kitchener ON N2H 2H1
InfoLink: (519) 743-7502
Fax: (519) 570-1360
Email: askus@kpl.org

New book in January
STRANGE SON: Two Mothers, Two Sons, and the Quest to Unlock the Hidden World of Autism
(Riverhead Books; Publication Date: January 2, 2007; ISBN: 1-57322-311-5; Price: $24.95).

Become a Member of AutismConnects

If you have not already, please become a member of AutismConnects! (click on the following link: http://asdcarc.com/index.php/publisher/articleview/frmArticleID/147/staticId/610/)

Dr Jeanette Holden invites everybody to show how useful our Virtual Community for Autism Spectrum Stakeholders is and will be.  Please pass the word to everybody you know.  Let's make this as large of a community as possible.  We need families, friends, researchers, trainees, students, support workers, service providers, organizations.

After you become a member, please login and contribute to "Celebrate" by sharing photos and artwork.  Please help us to populate our discussion forum.  AutismConnects will continue to evolve so please check back often.
The membership form only takes about a minute to complete!

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact:
Melissa Hudson, BSc
ASD-CARC Research Assistant



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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