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US Autism & Asperger Association, Inc. October 14, 2009

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


Headlines:
Common Problems of Learning Disabled College Students

Scientist's new findings of autism-associated synapse alterations lead to coveted NIH grant

Undiagnosed Asperger's Leads To 'Life As An Outsider'

OPINION: My Life With Asperger's How to live a high-functioning life with Asperger's.

USAAA News Around the World
Thousands Of UK Adults With Autism ‘Consigned To Poverty,’ Report Says


Shop Online and Support USAAA


Common Problems of Learning Disabled College Students
A Student's Perspective

By Carol Wren and Laura Segal
Article contributed by Dr. Joan Azarva

depaul logoLaura - "I have a learning disability..."Looking back on my high school years, I can see that my behavior and characteristics were a direct result of a still undiagnosed specific learning disability. My family and friends occasionally questioned why I valued my school work so highly that doing homework always took priority over relaxing and enjoying a balanced social life. I claimed that I wanted to suck out each possible droplet of knowledge because learning was fulfilling unto itself; but I became a serious student very early because, due to my unidentified impairment, learning was demanding, requiring intense concentration and hard work on my part.

Dr. Wren - As Laura's story illustrates, many times students do not recognize that they have learning disabilities. They may have been called lazy, or been afraid that they were just "dumb." Or they may have lived with considerable frustration and anxiety through grade school and high school, not understanding why some things were so very difficult, when others were so easy.

"When I went to my professors for help because I felt I couldn't write a paper, they just told me to relax and not to worry because I had good ideas judging from class discussions in which I participated. They had faith in me and urged me to 'just write down' my ideas. To me, however, this was an insurmountable task. Feeling threatened and lacking weapons for battle, I developed a defeatist attitude and my goal became simply turning in something, anything, on the due date."

Students with learning disabilities usually have areas of difficulty that are in marked contrast to other areas where they excel. Some may learn well through lectures, but have extreme difficulty reading. Others may express themselves very well orally, but spell or write very poorly. Each person possesses a unique combination of strengths and weaknesses. The deficits all have a negative impact on learning and can interfere in a variety of ways.

"A person in a wheel chair needs special access to the elevators in university buildings instead of using stairs or escalators. Similarly, an LD student may need special access to information, e.g., by tape recording a lecture instead of taking notes. In either case different means are necessary, but the same goal is reached: obtaining an education."

Click here for entire article on Common Problems of Learning Disabled College Students.

Dr. Carol T. Wren, Associate Professor Emeritus in the Program for Literacy, and Specialized Instruction School of Education, DePaul University


 

Scientist's new findings of autism-associated synapse alterations lead to coveted NIH grant

BY BRUCE GOLDMAN

stanford logoA Stanford University School of Medicine researcher has pinpointed the mechanism by which a gene associated with both autism and schizophrenia influences behavior in mice. And just recently, he received a $1.65 million government grant to expand his efforts to include many more such genes.

"One of the most perplexing things about autism is the heterogeneity of the disease,” said Sudhof, who is also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. “Autism might be one disease, or it might be thousands of diseases.”

In a study published online on Oct. 12 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team led by Thomas Sudhof, MD, the Avram Goldstein Professor in the School of Medicine and professor of molecular and cellular physiology, characterized key neurophysiological changes wrought by the deletion of a particular gene in bioengineered mice. The team further identified behavioral changes in the mice that are similar to some symptoms of autism and schizophrenia.

The boundaries separating cognitive disorders including autism, schizophrenia, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder are not sharply drawn. In all of these overlapping disorders, mutations in not one but hundreds of genes appear to be able to cause the symptoms, suggesting an unprecedented heterogeneity that has baffled scientists in the field.

Click here for entire article on Scientist's new findings of autism-associated synapse alterations lead to coveted NIH grant.


 

Undiagnosed Asperger's Leads To 'Life As An Outsider'

For most of his life, music critic Tim Page felt like an outsider. Restless and isolated, he was overstimulated and uneasy around others. Finally, when he was 45, Page was diagnosed with Asperger's, a syndrome that falls within the autism spectrum.

As Page explains in the prologue of his new memoir, Parallel Play: Life As An Outsider, the diagnosis came as a relief: "Here, finally, was an objective explanation for some of my strengths and weaknesses," he writes.

People with Asperger's often struggle to interact with groups and understand social norms. Page describes himself growing up as a "very lost little kid" who acted out in school by making faces at teachers and being aggressive with the other students. His ability to connect to others didn't improve with age.

"Page went on to become a music critic at The New York Times and Newsday. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1997 for his work as the chief classical music critic at The Washington Post.

"I can remember all sorts of trivia, but I don't notice what somebody has on," Page tells Terry Gross. "I guess it's sort of like your absent-minded professor times five, if that makes any sense."

Click here for entire article on Undiagnosed Asperger's Leads To 'Life As An Outsider'.


 


OPINION: My Life With Asperger's How to live a high-functioning life with Asperger's

The "cure" for autism, and the fight over it.
Some groups fight FOR a cure. Autistics fight ABOUT it.

Our society is confronting many serious, chronic medical issues, including AIDS, diabetes, obesity, cancer, Alzheimer's, MS, heart disease, and autism. What do all those conditions have in common? Every one is something you live with for a long period of time; in some cases all your life. Furthermore, every one has one or more strong advocacy organizations who speak for people affected by the condition.

What makes autism unique?

"Autism, by virtue of its diversity, is totally different. Unless he makes a point to study nonverbal autistic life, a high functioning Aspergian will have no concept of life at the other end of the spectrum. And of course the opposite is true too.

I'll tell you. Autism is the one medical condition I can think of where no one can agree on the legitimacy of any of its so-called advocacy groups. Why is that, and what does it mean? The recent Autism Speaks video debacle and the continuing controversy over neurodiversity and a "cure" makes me think this is something worth talking about.

The problem starts with autism itself, and how people see it. Unlike cancer and most other medical issues in the news, autism is a stable neurological difference. It's not a progressive disease. At the same time, autism's impact on people varies tremendously. Some people are totally disabled which others are merely eccentric. It's no surprise that the individuals at the two extremes would have totally opposite views of their condition.

Click here for entire article on My Life With Asperger's How to live a high-functioning life with Asperger's.



Thousands Of UK Adults With Autism ‘Consigned To Poverty,’ Report Says

By Michelle Diament
OCTOBER 13, 2009

Most of the 300,000 adults with autism in the United Kingdom want to work, but only 15 percent have full-time employment, a new report indicates.

"It is absolutely vital they are able to access the right help and services if seeking employment and are supported financially when they cannot work.”

The report from the National Autistic Society found that 79 percent of adults with autism who receive government assistance would like to work. But limited resources and lack of understanding mean that few have jobs and many have trouble even getting government assistance, leaving them “consigned to poverty.”

Currently, half of the country’s adults with autism have spent time without work or government assistance, forcing them to rely on family or friends just to get by.

Click here for entire article on Thousands Of UK Adults With Autism ‘Consigned To Poverty,’ Report Says



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USAAA 2009 4th International
Recap, Manual and Powerpoints


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