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US Autism & Asperger Association, Inc. October 2, 2009

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

EPA Awards UH Lead Role to Study Toxin Effects on Embryonic Development

Asperger's Syndrome in Adults

Obama Announces Nearly $100 Million For Autism Research

Asperger syndrome in the office: How I deal with sensory integration dysfunction

USAAA News Around the World
Mother of slain autistic son seeks to protect his younger brother

Teen earns kudos dispelling myths about autism

Shop Online and Support USAAA

EPA Awards UH Lead Role to Study Toxin Effects on Embryonic Development

By Lisa Merkl
University Communication

Most people would agree that arsenic, lead, mercury, benzene and carbon monoxide pose dangers to humans. Not many, though, realize that the average person is exposed to about 10,000 different chemicals per day.

Thanks to a $3.2 million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, a group of University of Houston researchers is taking the lead with about $1.5 million in a collaboration involving the Texas A&M Institute for Genomic Medicine and Indiana University. The other two research groups were awarded about $750,000 each for their contributions.

"There are so many industrial chemicals in the environment - more than 80,000 - but only a few are tested for their danger levels and, moreover, the synergies between them aren't being analyzed,"...The researchers say current chemical regulations are insufficient.

The primary aim of the three-year grant is to contribute to a more reliable chemical risk assessment that will provide clues to how certain chemicals affect human health. This will provide researchers with a wealth of new information about what toxins may cause serious diseases. Examples may be embryos exposed to chemicals that reduce the number of brain stem cells or change the number of neurons resulting in a greater risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases in adulthood, such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease, as well as detecting developmental effects like spina bifida, one of the most common birth defects.

Click here for entire article on EPA Awards UH Lead Role to Study Toxin Effects on Embryonic Development.


Asperger's Syndrome in Adults

Adults with Asperger's Syndrome (AS) were once children with Asperger's Syndrome. This seems a simple straightforward observation. But it is neither simple nor straightforward.

This disorder first surfaced about 70 yrs ago. Hans Asperger, a Viennese pediatrician, studied patients who were intelligent and verbal, but socially stilted with poor communication skills. During WWII his research was lost and has only come to light again in the 1980's.

"Tight control over their routines creates a sense of order, keeping at arm's length a world that threatens to move in too closely.

Since the research is so new, it stands to reason that for most of their lives, adults with AS didn't know they had it. And it stands to reason that the problems that come with Asperger's have dogged them all their lives, with no explanation other than the one hurled by kids at school — "You're weird." All their lives they've wondered how people successfully relate to others. Because the Aspie can't.

They embrace an all-engrossing world of a few passions. These passions are all they think about, or talk about. They can't tell if they've talked too long for a listener's comfort. The Aspie can't read the signs. They didn't know there were any signs.

Click here for entire article on Asperger's Syndrome in Adults.


Obama Announces Nearly $100 Million For Autism Research

The National Institutes of Health is awarding nearly $100 million in grants — the most ever — to research the causes of autism and look for treatments.

The funding is part of $5 billion that’s being awarded by the NIH to study autism, cancer and heart disease, among other conditions. The grants represent half of the NIH funding allotment from the federal economic stimulus package enacted earlier this year.

Collectively, the grants are “the single largest boost to biomedical research in history,” President Barack Obama said at the NIH Wednesday.

The grants also represent the largest single amount of money allotted for autism research.

Click here for entire article on Obama Announces Nearly $100 Million For Autism Research.


Asperger syndrome in the office: How I deal with sensory integration dysfunction

by Penelope Trunk

"Like most problems related to Asperger’s, when people know me, I am more forthcoming about the problem. This is the only way I can get help from people.

A lot of people ask me how I manage to keep a job when I have Asperger syndrome. So I'm doing a series this week on the topic, because it’s true that most people with Asperger’s are not doing well at work. The work place rewards social skills, and people with Asperger’s have a social skill disorder.

I will never have great social skills, but I make them better by ensuring that I’m in my best social environment for work. For most people with Asperger’s, inadequate social skills are exacerbated by sensory integration disorder, which is a tendency to be overwhelmed by outside stimuli. This frequently overwhelmed feeling makes one unable to concentrate on social skills.

"I was always great at sports. In grade school, I was the only girl the boys let play kickball. In middle school, I was a regional figure skating champion. After college, I played professional volleyball.

Here are the ways I compensate for sensory integration disorder so that I can focus on having social skills that will make people want to work with me...

...I know this is a lot of information for someone who is trying to deal with Asperger’s. The two most important things to take away from this are:

1. Understand common deficits of people with Asperger’s. You probably have them.

2. Surround yourself with people who will coach you through situations.

Click here for entire article on Asperger syndrome in the office: How I deal with sensory integration dysfunction.

Penelope is the founder of 3 startups -- most recently, Brazen Careerist, a social network to help young people manage their careers. Her career advice appears in more than 200 newspapers and magazines including Time magazine, San Francisco Chronicle and Boston Globe. In a review of this blog, Business Week called Penelope's writing "poetic."

Mother of slain autistic son seeks to protect his younger brother


EDMONTON — In a heartbreaking e-mail sent to the Edmonton Journal on Thursday, a woman who lost her 11-year-old in a weekend murder-suicide said she must now focus on protecting her son’s younger brother from the truth.

“I have an eight-year-old son I am trying to shelter from the cruel facts of what has happened,” Jackie McKean said in the e-mail, making her first public comments about the tragedy.

I found it much easier to help other families than coping with the challenges of my own.”

“He knows his dad and brother died of carbon-monoxide poisoning and that we have a carbon-monoxide detector, so we are safe,” she said.

“I want him to always cherish his father. There are many losers in this but (my youngest son) has suffered the largest loss, in my mind.”

The father, 39, and his son were found dead in their north Edmonton home Sunday afternoon.

McKean said her former partner, who moved from Ontario to Edmonton about four years ago didn’t have the support group he needed as a parent of an autistic child.

Click here for entire article Mother of slain autistic son seeks to protect his younger brother.


Teen earns kudos dispelling myths about autism


A 14-year-old Regina native, now living in Ontario, is earning recognition for his efforts in dispelling myths about autism, a general term for neurological disorders that can impair development.

Lewis Schofield is a Grade 9 student in Peterborough, where Trent University is honouring him with a Community Leader Award for Youth.

"I was just doing what I always do," Schofield said in an interview with CBC News. "I always do my best. It's just how I was raised."

Schofield is often online, using blogs, artwork, videos and podcasts, providing information about his health issues including Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism. He also participates in a Family Autism Forum on Yahoo.

"I was just doing what I always do," Schofield said in an interview with CBC News. "I always do my best. It's just how I was raised."

Click here for entire article on Teen earns kudos dispelling myths about autism.

GoodSearch: You Search...We Give!Shop Online and Support USAAA

What if USAAA earned a penny every time you searched the Internet? Or how about if a percentage of every purchase you made online went to support our USAAA? Well, now it can! is a new Yahoo-powered search engine that donates half its advertising revenue, about a penny per search, to the charities its users designate. Use it just as you would any search engine, get quality search results from Yahoo, and watch the donations add up! is a new online shopping mall which donates up to 37 percent of each purchase to USAAA! Hundreds of great stores including Amazon, Target, Gap, Best Buy, ebay, Macy's and Barnes & Noble have teamed up with GoodShop and every time you place an order, you’ll be supporting USAAA.

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!

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