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US Autism & Asperger Association, Inc. February 5, 2010

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


US Senate Investigates Chemicals in People

An Introduction to England: A Journey Designed for Young People With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Antioxidant Therapies for Traumatic Brain Injury

When Autism Stars

Autism, Aspergers and social thinking

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US Senate Investigates Chemicals in People

From bisphenol A (BPA) to flame retardants and beyond, industrial chemicals that have troubling connections to a host of human health problems and are widely used in consumer products came under tough scrutiny before a U.S. Senate hearing this week (Feb. 4).

“Mr. Chairman, the science of human exposure to toxic chemicals is exploding,” said Cook.

New Jersey Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D) called top government officials and national experts from the environmental community to testify before the Subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health, which he chairs. The central topic was biomonitoring and the importance of determining what chemicals are turning up in people, particularly in children.

Click here for entire article on US Senate Investigates Chemicals in People.

An Introduction to England: A Journey Designed for Young People With Autism Spectrum Disorder

In the context of a fascinating cultural adventure, this program for a group of fifteen young people at least sixteen years of age with Autism Spectrum Disorder encourages and enhances independence, self-reliance, and the ability to interact effectively with peers. Participants broaden their horizons, and have fun!

"I am excited to announce that Childrens Hospital Los Angeles has created a program in England this summer specifically designed for young people with ASD. Limited to 15 participants and staffed by Jill Hudson, two post-doctoral students, a leader from Putney Student Travel and me, the group will visit Oxford and London for ten days in July," said Dr. Beverly Daley.

This program was conceived by Dr. Beverly Daley, who will join the group. Dr. Daley (Ph.D., and Master of Social Work, University of Southern California (USC), LCSW) has been a social worker at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) since 1978 and is currently on the social work faculty for the USC University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at CHLA. She created the Turner Syndrome Summer Camp, a national program for adolescents that is now in its 16th year and continues to serve as director. At the meetings of The International Association of Adolescent Health in May 2001 ( Salvador, Brazil), her study on the benefits of camp, A Time to Thrive, received an award. In 2007, under the auspices of CHLA, she conceived, organized and participated in a highly successful European travel program for adolescents with special health care needs.

Click here for more information on the tour and the application process. or call (802) 387- 5000. This program is for children 16 ears of age or older.

Antioxidant Therapies for Traumatic Brain Injury

Neurotherapeutics. 2010 Jan;7(1):51-61.

Hall ED, Vaishnav RA, Mustafa AG.
Spinal Cord & Brain Injury Research Center, University of Kentucky Medical Center, Lexington, Kentucky 40536.

Free radical-induced oxidative damage reactions, and membrane lipid peroxidation (LP), in particular, are among the best validated secondary injury mechanisms in preclinical traumatic brain injury (TBI) models. In addition to the disruption of the membrane phospholipid architecture, LP results in the formation of cytotoxic aldehyde-containing products that bind to cellular proteins and impair their normal functions. This article reviews the progress of the past three decades in regard to the preclinical discovery and attempted clinical development of antioxidant drugs designed to inhibit free radical-induced LP and its neurotoxic consequences via different mechanisms including the O(2)(.-) scavenger superoxide dismutase and the lipid peroxidation inhibitor tirilazad.

...various other antioxidant agents that have been shown to have efficacy in preclinical TBI models are briefly presented, such as resveratrol, curcumin, and lipoic acid.

In addition, various other antioxidant agents that have been shown to have efficacy in preclinical TBI models are briefly presented, such as the LP inhibitors U83836E, resveratrol, curcumin, OPC-14177, and lipoic acid; the iron chelator deferoxamine and the nitroxide-containing antioxidants, such as alpha-phenyl-tert-butyl nitrone and tempol. A relatively new antioxidant mechanistic strategy for acute TBI is aimed at the scavenging of aldehydic LP byproducts that are highly neurotoxic with "carbonyl scavenging" compounds. Finally, it is proposed that the most effective approach to interrupt posttraumatic oxidative brain damage after TBI might involve the combined treatment with mechanistically complementary antioxidants that simultaneously scavenge LP-initiating free radicals, inhibit LP propagation, and lastly remove neurotoxic LP byproducts. Copyright © 2010 The American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics, Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Click here for entire story on Antioxidant Therapies for Traumatic Brain Injury.


When Autism Stars
HBO's new Temple Grandin biopic breaks the Rain Man mold—finally demonstrating that an autistic lead character doesn't have to be a mere collection of tics.

A review of HBO films Temple Grandin
by Alyssa Rosenberg

Of all the variations of human behavior actors portray on screen, autism may be one that the movies find easiest to signal. Fill a refrigerator with identical boxes of microwaveable macaroni and cheese, have your leading man rock back and forth, repeat phrases, and occasionally bang his head against something, and audiences will get the message. Do that with any sense of nuance, and you just might get nominated for an Academy Award, like Tom Hanks, Sean Penn, and Dustin Hoffman did for their portrayals of characters with autistic traits in weepies like Forrest Gump, I Am Sam, and Rain Man, the most famous pop culture document on autism.

Temple Grandin, in contrast, makes extensive use of techniques like sketching and rapid slideshows of images to demonstrate how Grandin literally experiences the world.

Not every person with autism will grow up to be like Temple Grandin, and not all movies will benefit from the template—and counsel—of a living subject like her. But, HBO’s fine biopic... Alyssa Rosenberg, The Atlantic

Portrayals of autistic characters have been popular since Elvis teamed up with a posse of inner-city nuns (including Mary Tyler Moore) to help cure a poverty-stricken girl’s autism in 1969’s Change of Habit, and not simply since such roles are an awards lock. Stereotypical characters with autism are a convenient and powerful device for convincing neurotypical people to mend their ways, or for demonstrating the saintliness of the people who put up with them. These cinematic conceits make HBO’s Temple Grandin, a biopic of the acclaimed animal scientist and autism advocate (to premier on HBO on February 6 at 8 p.m.), particularly remarkable. From the life of one of the best-known individuals with an autism spectrum disorder, director Mick Jackson has managed to make an utterly original movie about autism, simply by allowing Grandin, portrayed in a stunning performance by Claire Danes, to be the center of her own story.

Every child diagnosed as autistic isn't Temple Grandin. But in Danes' pitchperfect and unblinking presentation of her story lies the blueprint for how the world should see potential, rather than limitations. David Hinkley, New York Daily News

Click here for entire review on When Autism Stars.

Click here for review "Claire Danes' performance keeps HBO 'Temple Grandin' from becoming sentimental".


Autism, Aspergers and social thinking

One day during Matthew's freshman year at our local high school, he observed Joe pushing his girlfriend flirtatiously and then tapping her on the head. The couple kissed, took each other by the hand, and skipped away. Inspired Joe's success, Matthew tried the same moves on another girl with too much force, and she ran to the principal's office in tears.

When I arrived at school for a debriefing, Matthew was trying to explain himself. "Joe did the same thing to Sue, " he cried, "and she liked it!"

Michelle's goal is to raise awareness among administrators, educators and parents about the critical role that social thinking and social skills play in every student's life, not only for academic success, but also for growth into adulthood and throughout life.

Good social skills vs. bad social skills? Not exactly, says Michelle Garcia Winner. She is the developer of Social Thinking, a philosophy and a treatment for individuals with social-cognitive deficits such as autism, Asperger syndrome, ADHD and nonverbal learning disorder (NLD).

"Social thinking is required before the development of social skills. Successful social thinkers consider the points of view, emotions, thoughts, beliefs, prior knowledge and intentions of others (this is often called perspective-taking - considering the perspectives of others)."

Click here for entire story on Autism, Aspergers and social thinking.

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