Friday, August 31, 2007


No posts this week - I have been on vacation. We went to Sesame Place. NT daughter and I enjoyed the roller coaster! It's amazing to see the progress my son has made since we last visited. We all really enjoyed ourselves. We also went to a minor league baseball game where he begged to stay for the postgame fireworks. We can't believe this is the same kid who had major panic attacks every Fourth of July! My son and I also saw a wild major league game yesterday between the Mets and the Phillies. So we have had a lot of fun family time. Next week is back to school. The new routine might be tough for the first few days. Fourth graders are going to change classes this year, to get them used to a different way of doing things. So we are anticipating some bumps in the road from out organizationally-challenged kid. But I am optimistic that he will adapt. Enjoy these last days of summer!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Talk of the Nation Today

The online link for this story is up here.
Audio of the broadcast will be available online after 6:00 pm, Eastern Time.
Please also consider commenting on the Blog of the Nation here.
Related NPR story on parents fighting for insurance coverage of treatment of autism here.

I heard on the radio this morning that "Talk of the Nation" on National Public Radio is devoting an hour to the impact of the rise in autism cases on schools. This is a call-in show. They generally have a few experts talk for a while, then open the phones to comments from listeners. It runs for 2 hours with a different topic devoted to each hour. It airs live at 2:00 pm, Eastern. More details will eventually appear here. Find your local NPR station here.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

An Aspie's Perspective

The August 20 issue of the New Yorker has a wonderful essay called "Parallel Play" by Tim Page. He writes a wonderful first person account of life with Asperger's. Page is a Pulitzer Prize winning classical music critic for the Washington Post. Unfortunately, this essay is not available online. Here are a few excerpts:
"In the years since the phrase became a cliche, I have received any number of compliments for my supposed ability to 'think outside the box'. Actually, it has been a struggle for me to perceive just what these "boxes" were - why they were there, why other people regarded them as important, where the borderlines might be, how to live safely within and without them."

"A friend published a sweet autobiography entitled "Thank You, Everyone," in which she expressed gratitude to everybody who had influenced her...If I were to create a similar book, I would call it "Sorry, Everyone" and apologize for my youthful cluelessness..."

"...I cannot pretend that Asperger's has not made much of my existence miserable and isolated (how will I get to sleep tonight?). I hope that young Aspies, informed by recent literature on the subject, will find the world somewhat less challenging than I have."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Autism Researchers Think They Are Closing In on Cause

This extensive Newsday article by Delthia Ricks focuses on recent genetic research and the reaction of some parents of children on the spectrum.
" With his Cold Spring Harbor [Laboratory] collaborators, Jonathan Sebat and Lakshmi Muthuswamy, [Michael] Wigler has found that spontaneous mutations specific to autism occur with a relative degree of frequency in the human genome. These random strikes are technically known as copy number variants, or CNVs. The Cold Spring Harbor team defines these mutating hits as a major cause of autism."

"Support from the Simons Foundation has allowed the researchers to collect genetic samples from 264 families nationwide, involving more than 1,000 individuals. Within these families, Wigler and colleagues were able to identify 118 families they dubbed as "simplex" where only one member displayed symptoms of autism and 47 families that were identified as "multiplex," with two or more affected siblings. The rest were controls.By studying families, the team was able to determine whether a child's genes were identical to the parents' or whether they contained variants. The investigation revealed the variants were most prevalent among people with autism."

"Alison Singer, executive director of Autism Speaks, a national advocacy organization, said the Cold Spring Harbor studies are destined to have a strong impact on how parents understand autism."We want them to pursue the science wherever it leads," Singer said. "But we don't want to get into a situation where we blame the parents. When some parents read stories about older fathers or older mothers, they can become very sensitive."Singer said what's missing in Wigler's work is the mechanism that causes genes to mutate. Susceptibility genes, she said, often need an outside stimulus to set off a genetic chain of events. Perhaps parents may be correct who think vaccination underlies autism, said Singer, whose daughter and brother are autistic."

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Meaning of Napoleon Dynamite

Child Psychiatrists Hope Levin and Steven Schlozman weigh in on the popularity of the movie "Napoleon Dynamite". Psychiatrist Brett Sharp writes a letter of response.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Autism/Pesticide Link? And What to Do About It

Charles has an excellent post at The Special Education Law Blog about the recent study demonstrating a possible link between autism cases and maternal exposure to pesticides while pregnant. Hip post has lots of advice about what parents can do to learn about their local school's use of pesticides and how to promote an IPM - Integrated Pest Management system.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Autism on Oprah

Oprah's August 2nd show was on autism. Go to her website to see the episode and explore other resources.