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US Autism & Asperger Association, Inc. March 18, 2009

Welcome to USAAA Weekly News, an email newsletter that addresses a range of topics on Autism Spectrum Disorders and Asperger's Syndrome.

Engaging Children in "Contributory Activities": A Preventive Disciplinary Approach
by Robert Brook, PhD

In this month's article, we describe the importance of a preventive approach to discipline with a focus on providing all children and adolescents, but especially those who are easily angered, with opportunities to help others.

Angry Children, Punitive Measures
The negative behaviors of many youngsters invite angry responses from adults. Yet, despite these angry responses, many children are repeat offenders as they continue to engage in these behaviors. The reasons for this are complex. Some children come into the world with what has been referred to as a "difficult temperament," meaning that they are hard to soothe or satisfy, feel that people are unfair and arbitrary, are rigid and unable to compromise, and quickly lose their temper. Other children have experienced emotional or physical abuse, leading to their mistrust of adults, expecting the worst even from those who are trying to help.

"Your work has helped to save a family, said the assistant principal"... Jerry had given [his mother] difficulty for a few years but had recently become physically violent with her...I talked with Jerry and told him that I had a problem and thought he might be able to help me....Jerry has not been in trouble since he started his new job three months ago. He is no longer physically violent or disruptive during class.

Ongoing challenging behaviors on the part of children test the understanding and patience of even the most empathic parents and other adults. When parents eventually display their frustration and annoyance, it confirms to these children that they are not loved and that adults are unkind. They experience the world as being angry with them. While some recognize to a certain extent that their behavior provokes this anger, others don't seem to appreciate their role in the situation.

Whatever the reasons for development of this unfortunate scenario, it often becomes an entrenched family pattern in which anger is met with anger. Positive comments from parents become less and less frequent, while authoritarian forms of discipline become the rule rather than the exception.

Click here to learn more.

Dr. Brooks is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and has served as Director of the Department of Psychology at McLean Hospital, a private psychiatric hospital. He is the author of a book titled The Self-Esteem Teacher and has co-authored over twelve books.


The Romantic Lives of Young Adults with Asperger's Syndrome
By Tony Attwood, PhD

While a young adult with classic autism may appear content with a solitary “monastic” lifestyle, this is often not the case with young adults who have Asperger’s syndrome or high-functioning autism. Clinical experience has identified that the majority of such adolescents and young adults would like a romantic relationship. However, there is remarkably little research examining this aspect of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) or strategies to facilitate successful relationships.

"My [Dr. Temple Grandin] brain scan shows that some emotional circuits between the frontal cortex and the amygdala just aren’t hooked up – circuits that affect my emotions and are tied to my ability to feel love. I experience the emotion of love, but it’s not the same way that most neurotypicals people do. Does this mean my love is less valuable than what other people feel? (Grandin and Barron 2005, p.40)"

We know that young adults with Asperger’s syndrome have significant difficulty developing peer relationships and are developmentally delayed in knowing what someone may be thinking or feeling. Typical children do this naturally and have practised relationship skills with family members and friends for many years before applying these abilities to achieve a successful romantic relationship. Young adults with a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome or high-functioning autism also have conspicuously limited social conversational skills or ability to communicate emotions, especially affection. They also can have an extreme sensitivity to particular sensory experiences. All of these diagnostic characteristics will affect relationship skills throughout childhood, and will eventually limit an adult’s ability to achieve a long-term successful relationship.

To achieve a successful relationship, a person also needs to understand and respect him- or herself. 1 Self-understanding and self-reflection can be particularly difficult for people with Asperger’s syndrome.2 Self-respect will have been adversely affected by being rejected, ridiculed and tormented by peers.3 Adolescents with Asperger’s syndrome also are gullible and vulnerable to being given misinformation on relationships by fellow teenagers. This can include instances of being deceived and “set up.” For example, a teenager with Asperger’s syndrome was lonely and longing for a girlfriend. His requests for a date had been consistently rejected. Then a very popular and attractive girl in his class suggested the two of them go for a date at the cinema. He was so happy and the date was progressing well, when the girl became embarrassed and confessed that she asked to go out with him only to complete a dare from her friends. He was devastated.

Click here to learn more.

Research Shows Coal Burning Responsible For Arctic's Heavy Metal Pollution

(NaturalNews) The heavy metals polluting the Arctic have primarily come from the burning of coal in North America and Western Europe, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nev., and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers took an ice core sample from Greenland and analyzed it to determine levels of heavy metal deposits over time. They looked specifically for the metals cadmium, lead and thallium, and were able to measure monthly levels of the contaminants as far back as 1772.

"Their [Arctic people] diets also contain high concentrations of mercury, also emitted during the burning of coal."

The levels of all three pollutants surged between the years of 1850 and 1900, coinciding with the growth of rapid industrialism in North America and Europe. By the early 1900s, all three toxic metals were being deposited at a rate 10 times higher than before the Industrial Revolution.

During the worldwide depression of the 1930s, global industrial production slowed, with a corresponding decrease in the rate of heavy metal deposition in the ice. Levels quickly rose again as production increased after the depression. In the 1950s, levels of lead began to rise more rapidly than levels of the other two metals, likely due to growing use of automobiles.

By the 1970s, levels of all three pollutants had begun to drop again as Europe and North America adopted clean air laws.

Like many organic pollutants, heavy metals bio-accumulate - that is, they build up in the tissues of animals and steadily move up the food chain. Because the diets of Arctic peoples are high in fatty animals such as seals and certain fish, many inhabitants of the Arctic Circle carry bodily pollutant loads many times higher than the global average.

Some Arctic people, for example, ingest high enough levels of cadmium to be a risk of kidney damage. Their diets also contain high concentrations of mercury, also emitted during the burning of coal.

Mercury and lead are neurotoxins, while thallium was once used in rat poisons.

Click here to learn more.


Blinders won’t reduce autism

By Jon Poling, MD
For the Journal-Constitution

For the million plus American families touched by autism, like mine, there is real urgency to find scientific answers to help loved ones and prevent future victims. Unfortunately, some doctors still fail to even accept the increasing autism rate as real, rather than their own better diagnosis.

"We should be investing our research dollars into discovering environmental factors that we can change, not more poorly targeted genetic studies that offer no hope of early intervention. Pesticides, mercury, aluminum, several drugs, dietary factors, infectious agents and yes —- vaccines —- are all in the research agenda."

The collateral damage of “better diagnosis,” the idea that we are simply better at detecting autism, is the abandonment of families coping with autism by the medical establishment, government and private insurance companies.

Beyond the high emotional toll autism takes on a family, many have been financially ruined. Public school systems are drowning in the red ink of educating increasing numbers of special-needs students.

Fortunately, the ‘better diagnosis’ myth has been soundly debunked. In the 2009 issue of Epidemiology, two authors analyzed 1990 through 2006 California Department of Developmental Services and U.S. Census data documenting an astronomical 700 to 800 percent rise in the disorder.

These scientists concluded that only a smaller percentage of this staggering rise can be explained by means other than a true increase.

Because purely genetic diseases do not rise precipitously, the corollary to a true autism increase is clear —- genes only load the gun and it is the environment that pulls the trigger. Autism is best redefined as an environmental disease with genetic susceptibilities.

We should be investing our research dollars into discovering environmental factors that we can change, not more poorly targeted genetic studies that offer no hope of early intervention. Pesticides, mercury, aluminum, several drugs, dietary factors, infectious agents and yes —- vaccines —- are all in the research agenda.

An inspiring new text, “Autism-Current Theories and Evidence,” has successfully navigated the minefield of autism science without touching the “third rail,” as Dr. Sanjay Gupta aptly describes the vaccine-autism debate.

Click here to learn more.

Dr. Jon Poling, an Athens [Georgia] neurologist, is an assistant professor at the Medical College of Georgia. His daughter, Hannah Poling, has been a successful petitioner in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

EWG Releases New Grocery Shopping Guide Revealing Pesticide Levels in Common Produce

Get the guide so when you're shopping you'll know which produce to buy organic, and which conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables are okay if organic isn't available.

Click here to learn more.


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Just go to and be sure to enter US Autism and Asperger Association as the charity you want to support. And, be sure to spread the word!

Engaging Children in "Contributory Activities": A Preventive Disciplinary Approach
The Romantic Lives of Young Adults with Asperger's Syndrome


Research Shows Coal Burning Responsible For Arctic's Heavy Metal Pollution

Blinders won’t reduce autism

EWG Releases New Grocery Shopping Guide Revealing Pesticide Levels in Common Produce
Shop Online and Support USAAA

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