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29 January 2007


The use and misuse of diagnostic labels
by Lorna Wing, Consultant Psychiatrist, National Autistic Society (UK)
"Most parents are now familiar with the terms 'autism' and 'autistic spectrum disorder'. Problems arise with a range of other diagnoses where the relationship to the autistic spectrum is not clear. Clarification is important because, whatever other condition may also be present, when a child or adult has an autistic spectrum disorder, this has a major effect in determining the needs of the person concerned. Providing the right kind of help and services is essential for the person's future progress and quality of life. The right diagnosis and the right help also makes life much easier for the person's family." Please click on title to read on.

Ped Med: Autism tied to neural 'cracks'
"In prying beneath the brain surface of autistic patients, researchers have discovered "cracks" in a system of nerve cells called mirror neurons, which under normal circumstances permit people to see a clear reflection of the actions of others and respond appropriately to them. Electroencephalograph, or EEG, recordings of 10 individuals with autism revealed that their mirror neurons -- also dubbed "monkey-see, monkey-do" cells -- responded only to their own doings, not to those of others, scientists said. First identified in the early 1990s in macaque monkeys (hence their nickname), these nerve cells in the premotor cortex -- a movement-controlling brain region -- fire up both when a monkey performs an action and when it sees others imitating it. ..."

Ped Med: Autism at nature-nurture nexus
Neuroscientists seeking clues to autism in studies of brain development have surmised the cause of and perhaps cure for the disorder may lie at a nature-nurture nexus. The author quotes findings, just published in the Journal of Neuroscience, that address :the possibility that symptoms of autism appear when something goes awry with the setup or maintenance of the complex cerebral circuitry and/or the synaptic connections that permit the free flow of information within it, throwing the brain off balance."

Ped Med: Autism as a cognitive disorder
"Based on recent brain research, some scientists are calling for a redrawing of the current picture of autism as a primarily behavioral condition... This field of research attempts to get to the heart of one of the most confounding and devastating pieces of the autism puzzle: why children with the disorder so often appear to lack the natural inclination to forge social ties...."

Ped Med: Looking to faces for autism clues
Brain researchers searching for clues to autism have zeroed in on regions associated with recognizing and reading faces.

Duke scientists map part of brain

"Neuroscientists at Duke University have mapped the timing and sequence of neural activations that unfold in the brain when people focus their attention on specific locations in their visual fields. The findings may point the way for clinicians to address attention-related problems..."

Breaking Down Barriers  By David Cohen for The Guardian, UK.
An account of Asian research into autism, as part of an effort to devise new models of autism's wide prevalence and roots in human genes. Researchers have been collecting new data and fine-tuning their research tools in countries including China, India, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan. A pilot project in South Korea has been led by a Washington anthropologist, Roy Richard Grinker, who has just published a new book on autism, Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism, which includes a long section on the Korean experience

Autism father effect: Calcutta study finds possible cause
In the first study of the genetics of autism in India, scientists in Calcutta (Kolkata) have found that some fathers may transfer a version of a gene that makes their children susceptible to autism. The researchers at the Manovikas Biomedical Research and Diagnostic Centre and other city institutions have found what they describe as a “possible paternal effect” that may underlie susceptibility to autism — a brain disorder marked by unusual behaviour and lack of communication abilities. The findings have been published this month in the journal American Journal of Medical Genetics: Neuropsychiatric Genetics

Different for Decades: Adults with Asperger Syndrome strive to fit in

"Geeky. Clueless. Loner. Loser. Just plain odd. All their lives, they have heard these words and society's ruthless verdict that, try as they might, they can never achieve that indefinable state of “fitting in.”
Finally these people are hearing a new word: Asperger's.  At long last, medicine has a label for their quirks. .....
A story about adults who weren't diagnosed until they were 30, 40 or 50.  Growing up, they endured decades of misdiagnosis and misunderstanding.

Speaker with autism gives tips on life, relationships, jobs
David Hamrick who is a frequent presenter of his life story that he calls "Weathering Autism," was diagnosed wiith high-functioning autism at age 3 and didn't speak until he was 4.  He now works for the National Weather Service after earning a master's degree in meteorology.

Real Life 'Rain Man' Writes Memoirs
Daniel Tammet, one of the world's 50 living autistic savants, experiences the world differently.  For him the world is full of colorful numbers and shapes, and he  can perform miraculous mental calculations or artistic feats in mere seconds. "Numbers are my first language, one I often think and feel in," he explains. "Numbers, actually help me get closer to understanding people." Tammet wrote a book about his life and the way his mind works called Born on a Blue Day: The Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant. Tammet overcame epilepsy, and some doctors think his seizures may account for his brilliance.

'You worry about them every day': Autistic children's future concerns parents
A detailed story from Ann Arbor MI, that refers to Michigan Ability Partners, an agency that offers many services including job development and job coaching for people with disabilities, has placed clients in libraries, book stores, movie theaters and restaurants. MAP's vocational services director, said clients are usually good, dependable workers who stay for years.

A home of their own
Stars for Life Foundation in Charlottetown PEI aims high to create new housing, employment and living opportunities for adults with autism.



Very little effort now goes into communication support for adults with autism, though communication is a key "deficit" oof autism. A big reason for this neglect has been the absence of funds for research and implementation. It would be great if this new initiative could help to turn that around, and if Canada could be somehow involved:
Nancy Lurie Marks Foundation: Fostering Knowledge and Community for Autism and Beyond
The NLM Family Foundation announces the availability of research funds for projects aimed at investigating communication difficulties, capacities and options for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Deadline for receipt of Letters of Intent is March 15, 2007.
See for general information on the foundation: http://www.nlmfoundation.org/
To see the detailed announcement which states that researchers outside the US are eligible to apply and explicitly encourages research in Supported Communicating and FC: http://www.ont-autism.uoguelph.ca/NLM-Communication-Research.pdf



The documents and issues in this section, while not limited to persons with autism, are of great relevance to supporting them to have good whole lives in their communities.

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]

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.

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

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

Regional Support Associates
RSA (based in Woodstock) "provides services to adults with a developmental disability. The staff have clinical expertise and training in Psychology, Social Work, Sociology, Nursing, Speech Pathology, Behaviour Therapy, and Developmental Services. Services are offered to the individual, their families and agencies supporting them in their community."
Click for RSA Workshop Calendar, January to March 2007

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

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/

13-14 February 2007
Facilitation Workshop: Building a New Story

led by John Lord and Charlotte Dingwall
sponsored by Community Living West Northumberland
Click for brochure and how to register
Click for more about Facilitation Leadership Group training

17 February 2007, all day, in Brantford
Working Together Symposium
Keynote speaker: Dr Duncan McKinlay on
"Leaky Brakes: what they are and they aren't"

For partners, guardians, educators and service providers
Click on title for more and how to register
(very good value at only $10!)

18 February 2007, all day, in Guelph
Reflecting on Support Workers
Through story telling and dialogue, Judith McGill will help you reflect on how to
get the most out of your Support Worker and how to build a supportive context for their work.
In the Family Leadership Series of Families for a Secure Future
Click on the title for more and how to register.

25 February 2007, all day, in Durham Region
Reflecting on Support Workers
Through story telling and dialogue, Judith McGill will help you reflect on how to
get the most out of your Support Worker and how to build a supportive context for their work.
In the Family Leadership Series of Families for a Secure Future
Click on the title for more and how to register.

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:

E-mail: president@autismeurope.org
Do not miss this opportunity to contribute to take part in ‘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.



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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