Tuesday, October 28, 2014

PRT Get's Results for Autism - That's the good news...

I am a big fan of both Dr. Koegel and PRT - and I am frustrated that it is so hard to find agencies who provide behavior services who have staff with good training in this intervention. Any idea's for this LA mom?  Anyone working with an agency who's nailed this?  Please let me know via email at autismdaybyday@gmail.com!
Thanks in advance :)

Study co-authored by Lynn Koegel of the Koegel Autism Center at UC Santa Barbara shows effectiveness of Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT)®
Friends and Colleagues,

We have some exciting news to share with you! A study in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders co-authored by Lynn Koegel, Clinic Director of the Koegel Autism Clinic at UC Santa Barbara, offers findings that contribute to the overall body of literature supporting Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT). Appearing in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, the paper, co-authored with Fereshteh Mohammadzaheri and Mohammad Rezaee, from the Hamadan University of Medical Sciences and Health Services, Hamadan, Iran, and Seyeed Majid Rafiee from the Institute for Cognitive Science Studies, Teheran, Iran, is entitled “A Randomized Clinical Trial Comparison Between Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) and Structured Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Intervention for Children with Autism.”

    Thirty children diagnosed with autism, 18 boys and 12 girls, ranging in age from 6 to 11 years, participated in this study. The children were randomly paired and assigned to either a group where they were treated with traditional applied behavior analysis (ABA) methods or with pivotal response treatment. After three months of intervention, the data showed that the PRT approach was significantly more effective in improving targeted and untargeted areas. The children in the PRT group saw greater gains in social communication skills, as well as overall gains in pragmatic skills, including inappropriate initiation, coherence, stereotyped language, use of context, and rapport.

“With large numbers of children being diagnosed with autism, intervention procedures that are more efficient are both time and cost effective,” the paper concludes. “As well, procedures that speed up the habilitation process are important for children with ASD [Autism Spectrum Disorders], particularly if they produce widespread gains beyond the specific treatment goals.”

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Cyber Bullying Goes Mobile!

One of the saddest downsides to technology, not only do kids have to suffer bullies in person, now they can follow anyone anywhere. 

Young Girls Are The Biggest Victims Of Mobile Cyberbullying 

Cyberbullying, particularly over mobile, is an unfortunate trend. According to the Cyberbullying Research Center (CRC),over 80% of teens use a cell phone regularly, which is why bullying over that medium is so common. And based to the latest data from Ofcom research, which also included fieldwork from UK research firm Saville Rossiter-Base, it seems as though preteen girls are the biggest victims of mobile bullying, according to the victims and those who know them.

According to Ofcom's data, which was charted for us by BI Intelligence, preteens and young teenagers aged 12-15 — in other words, middle schoolers — reported more bullying experiences for themselves and others, compared to younger children. Girls also reported more instances of bullying than boys — about themselves and others. But why did more children report bullying happening to others as opposed to themselves? According to the CRC, "only 1 in 10 teens tells a parent if they have been a cyber bully victim," and "well over half of young people do not tell their parents when cyber bullying occurs," which might mean kids are less likely to talk about getting bullied to any adults, period.

The CRC has a helpful list of suggestions for parents who want to reduce cyberbullying statistics.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

link between neural stem cell overgrowth and autism-like behavior

UCLA study finds link between neural stem cell overgrowth and autism-like behavior in mice
People with autism spectrum disorder often experience a period of accelerated brain growth after birth. No one knows why, or whether the change is linked to any specific behavioral changes.
A new study by UCLA researchers demonstrates how, in pregnant mice, inflammation, a first line defense of the immune system, can trigger an excessive division of neural stem cells that can cause “overgrowth” in the offspring’s brain.
The paper appears Oct. 9 in the online edition of the journal Stem Cell Reports. 
“We have now shown that one way maternal inflammation could result in larger brains and, ultimately, autistic behavior, is through the activation of the neural stem cells that reside in the brain of all developing and adult mammals,” said Dr. Harley Kornblum, the paper’s senior author and a director of the Neural Stem Cell Research Center at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.
In the study, the researchers mimicked environmental factors that could activate the immune system — such as an infection or an autoimmune disorder — by injecting a pregnant mouse with a very low dose of lipopolysaccharide, a toxin found in E. coli bacteria. The researchers discovered the toxin caused an excessive production of neural stem cells and enlarged the offspring’s’ brains.
Neural stem cells become the major types of cells in the brain, including the neurons that process and transmit information and the glial cells that support and protect them.
Notably, the researchers found that mice with enlarged brains also displayed behaviors like those associated with autism in humans. For example, they were less likely to vocalize when they were separated from their mother as pups, were less likely to show interest in interacting with other mice, showed increased levels of anxiety and were more likely to engage in repetitive behaviors like excessive grooming.
Kornblum, who also is a professor of psychiatry, pharmacology and pediatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, said there are many environmental factors that can activate a pregnant woman’s immune system.
“Although it’s known that maternal inflammation is a risk factor for some neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, it’s not thought to directly cause them,” he said. He noted that autism is clearly a highly heritable disorder, but other, non-genetic factors clearly play a role.
The researchers also found evidence that the brain growth triggered by the immune reaction was even greater in mice with a specific genetic mutation — a lack of one copy of a tumor suppressor gene called phosphatase and tensin homolog, or PTEN. The PTEN protein normally helps prevent cells from growing and dividing too rapidly. In humans, having an abnormal version of the PTEN gene leads to very large head size or macrocephaly, a condition that also is associated with a high risk for autism.
“Autism is a complex group of disorders, with a variety of causes,” Kornblum said. “Our study shows a potential way that maternal inflammation could be one of those contributing factors, even if it is not solely responsible, through interactions with known risk factors.”
In addition, the team found that the proliferation of neural stem cell and brain overgrowth was stimulated by the activation of a specific molecular pathway. (A pathway is a series of actions amongmolecules within a cell that leads to a certain cell function.) This pathway involved the enzyme NADPH oxidase, which the UCLA researchers have previously found to be associated with neural stem cell growth.
“The discovery of these mechanisms has identified new therapeutic targets for common autism-associated risk factors,” said Janel Le Belle, an associate researcher in Kornblum’s lab and the paper’s lead author. “The molecular pathways that are involved in these processes are ones that can be manipulated and possibly even reversed pharmacologically.
“In agreement with past clinical findings, these data add to the significant evidence that autism-associated brain alterations begin prenatally and continue to evolve after birth,” she said.
Kornblum added that the findings that neural stem cell hyper-proliferation can contribute to autism-associated features may be somewhat surprising. “Autism neuropathology is primarily thought of as a dysregulation of neuronal connectivity, although the molecular and cellular means by which this occurs is not known,” he said. “Therefore, our hypothesis — that one potential means by which autism may develop is through an overproduction of cells in the brain, which then results in altered connectivity — is a new way of thinking about autism etiology.”
The next step, the researchers say, is to determine if and how the changes they observed lead to changes in the connections between brain cells, and if those effects can be altered after they have happened.

The study’s other authors were Jantzen Sperry, Amy Ngo, Yasmin Ghochani, Dan Laks, Manuel L√≥pez Aranda and Alcino Silva, all of UCLA. Support was provided by the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Medical Research Foundation, Autism Speaks and the National Institutes of Health (grants P50-HD-055784 and MH65756), and other entities. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Advocate, Don't Discriminate!

I don't know about anywhere else but here in hot LA teenage boys typically don't smell so great all the time, especially after PE. This isn't me giving the boys a bad time, it's just how it is and it's easily proven by a quick stroll down a high school hall when it's crowded with kids, or by just popping your head into the locker room for a few seconds. Yikes!!!  

So riddle me this Batman. On what planet would a teacher send a special ed kid - who has a one on one aid - to the nurse's office for body odor?  What is the nurse going to do? Examine him for extraordinary odors?! Then what? Again, maybe it's just me but, it seems if a kid really smelled that bad there were simple solutions vs humiliating him and sending him to the nurse who could do little or nothing. For one, the aid could simply take the kiddo into the bathroom to wash up. Or, in this case call his at home mom and ask if she could bring him a new shirt and some deodorant.  

Have you ever heard of a typical teen boy being sent to the nurse for body odor?  If this was the case, we would have to double up on school nurses to meet the demand, LOL!

This is crazy making to me and, pardon the pun smells of injustice! The kind of unconscious bias our kids in special ed face every day. Just sadder when the ones with the bias are the ones who are supposed to be looking out for our kids. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

ASD.. Street & Community Safety; ASD and Teaching Safety Instruction Part 1


This is an ABA approach to priming safety in the community as taught by Nick's team. We are having a very rough time with safety, so we created this tool. It's a 6 part short video maybe it will help you too. 

Priming Before the Dentist: A Video to help our kids prepare and lower anxiety.

It's been a slow process but every year the visits to the dentist get a little easier, no doubt because Nick knows they are not going to kill him! Or maybe he's just learned what to expect :) Here's a video that might be good to show to kids in preparation for a trip to the dentist.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Once again, Science is catching up :).

Wednesday, September 10, 2014
The latest research shows one in 68 children will be diagnosed with autism. Many of these kids struggle with making friends, communicating with others, and social interactions in general.

While no one yet knows what causes autism, scientists at Vanderbilt University are finding out exactly what's out of sync when children with autism try to express themselves and communicate with others.

"Generally I would describe having asperger's syndrome as being like a computer that's running a different operating system than what most computers are running," said 16-year-old Austin Miller, who has asperger's.

Diagnosed at age 12, his mom Karen says she's always noticed a delay in the way he processed speech.

"I would say something to him and then I would say, 'Austin, did you?' and then he would start to answer. And so I learned, I have to give him more time," she said.

Now a new study is helping explain why. Headed up by Dr. Mark Wallace, a team at Vanderbilt found what kids with autism see is out of sync with what they hear.

"It's like a badly dubbed video is the way we describe it," said Wallace.

In some, the timing can be completely off.

"And we believe that, that change in the binding of visual and auditory information is sort of the foundation for the problems that they have in things like language and communication and social interactions," said Wallace.

That sounds spot on to Austin.

"I think I can see a couple memories where I'm talking to my dad and maybe his mouth just looks a little bit out of sync," he said.

Researchers are building on that knowledge by testing a new interactive video game that's designed to retrain the brains of those with autism, focusing on how rewards help the brain.

"So it basically takes the tuning of the nervous system and shapes it, so that they get better," said Wallace.

The ultimate goal is to help kids like Austin communicate better.

The study also helps explain why some children with autism are often seen covering up their ears or eyes; it could be the delay in sight and sound that confuses them and makes them focus on one sense at a time.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Silver Alert Expanding to Include Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

Sacramento Is Considering Expanding The Silver Alert To Include Those With Autism!

Sacramento is considering something akin to the Amber alert for those with autism; they would expand the Silver Alert — intended for seniors over 65 — to include those on the spectrum, due to their tendency to wander.
An 18-year-old with autism in Los Angeles county recently bolted from his mother when they were out shopping — and he wasn’t found for almost three weeks. His mother and grandmother searched everywhere for him, and after reaching out to law enforcement and receiving little aid, they turned to online autism communities.
Watch the following video to hear more and then - if you have not already done so - go to http://www.missingkids.com/awaare and send the Autism Related Wandering PSA to your friends, family neighbors. Our autism community understands we have a problem, but the entire community needs to understand. Let's use this PSA and spread the word! 
Read more at http://blog.theautismsite.com/silveralertautism/#EEtQAevCfcbTYuVs.99

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Help Get The Word Out! Share this PSA & Increase Awareness about Autism Related Wandering

Step one was the creation of this PSA. Step two and most important is sharing to save lives.  You can share this link or send people directly to http://www.missingkids.com/awaare to watch the PSA. Doesn't matter how we do it, only that we do.  Thanks!!!

Additional resources

If you are looking for more information about autism and wandering, check out these resources.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is dedicated to raising awareness of wandering in the autism community.
The AWAARE Collaboration has a mission to prevent autism-related wandering incidents and deaths.
  • Frequently Asked Questions - Answers to some of the most common questions regarding wandering in the autism community.
  • Big Red Safety Toolkit - Download tools and resources for caregivers of someone with an autism spectrum disorder who is prone to wandering.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bullies without Boundaries! Ice Bucket Challenge turned into sick joke against teen with autism

How is it that some people always find a way to turn something wonderful into something horrific. Once again, one of our unsuspecting kids who could never conceive doing something so horrible to another person is abused. So sad. I am speechless. 

**Important note: The family asked that we show the video to make other parents aware of bullying.**
BAY VILLAGE, Ohio – Police are investigating an alleged case of bullying involving a teenager with autism who took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
“Once we found out about it, we were just horrified,” said Diane, the mother of the Bay High School student.  She claimed her youngest son was videotaped as feces, urine, spit and cigarette butts were dumped on his head by a group of juveniles.
“I want these kids held accountable for what they did to him and they targeted somebody who just didn’t really understand what was going on,” she said.
FOX 8 News is not identifying the family by last name to help protect their son.
According to the victim’s mom, Diane, the video was discovered on her 15-year-old son’s cell phone. She, along with her husband and other son, Jacob, wants it to be made public.
“I mean, the first thing that popped into my mind was like, why could someone – how could someone do this?” said Jacob. “How could someone really be this cruel to someone?”
In the video, the boy with autism is seen standing in the driveway of a home off school grounds. He’s wearing only his underwear as a bucket of fluid is poured from the roof of the garage. The bucket allegedly contained a mix of bodily fluids instead of ice water.
“He was embarrassed because he did not know what the contents were until afterwards and then he didn’t want anybody to know,” said his mom. “They used his phone to tape it and they put it up on Instagram.”
“This is just too far. It’s really bad,” said his brother, Jacob.
The Bay Village Police Department was made aware of the alleged incident on Wednesday. According to Det. Kevin Krolkosky, criminal charges could be filed.
“It’s disturbing to watch, you can obviously tell that somebody has been taking advantage of there,” said the detective.
Det. Krolkosky met with the parents and said it’s not a prank; it’s possibly a crime committed on the boy with autism by a group of juveniles who could face delinquency charges.
A spokesperson for Bay High School, where the victim is a student, said they’re now working hand-in-hand with police as they investigate.
“Obviously, if possible, we do want to hold those individuals accountable for their actions,” said Det. Krolkosky.
The police are just beginning their investigation and we’re told it could take a few weeks to file charges but they have a good idea who was involved.
“The bucket challenge is supposed to be raising awareness for this disease and now they’ve turned it into a sick joke,” said the victim’s mom. “I just can’t understand why kids would do something this cruel.”
The boy’s mom and dad wanted the video released to make other parents aware of bullying so they’ll have a conversation with their kids on how to treat people.