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US Autism & Asperger Association
July 2, 2010

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


Headlines:

U.N. calls for investigation at autism facility

Brain asymmetry in emotional processing in Asperger syndrome

Cooking club helps autistic children build life skills

United States of Autism: Behind the Scenes

Autism Study for Pregnant Mothers - Vitamin D

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U.N. calls for investigation at autism facility

by Claude Solnik

A high ranking United Nations official has declared electric shock to be “torture” as it’s used at a facility treating autistic students and requested the United States government to investigate the allegations.

The Judge Rotenberg Center, in Canton, Mass., uses electricity to shock autistic children and children with severe behavior problems.

"“Electricity in general is considered torture in every other context,” Laurie Ahern

About 100 students, or nearly half of those cared for at the facility, are from New York state.

Michael Flammia, a lawyer who represents the center and a parent group, told LIBN about half of the center’s students receive electric shock.

Although debate and litigation continues as to whether “skin shock” should be allowed, the United Nations’ involvement lifted the discussion to a new, global level.

 

Click here for more information on U.N. calls for investigation at autism facility.


 

Brain asymmetry in emotional processing in Asperger syndrome.

Shamay-Tsoory SG, Gev E, Aharon-Peretz J, Adler N. Department of Psychology, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel. sshamay@psy.haifa.ac.il

Abstract The role of brain asymmetry in emotional processing in Asperger syndrome (AS) is still largely unknown. Although the valence hypothesis predicts that positive emotions are processed preferentially by the left hemisphere and negative emotions by the right hemisphere, reports concerning laterality of emotion point to a left hemisphere advantage for complex emotion versus a right hemisphere advantage for basic emotions (the "type hypothesis").

In this study, we investigated the lateralization of basic versus complex (negative and positive) eye expressions in adults with AS in 2 consecutive experiments: in the first experiment, the performance of AS and healthy controls were compared in a divided visual field task.

"It is suggested that the pattern of performance of individuals with AS resembles that of patients with left hemisphere dysfunction.

In the second experiment, the ability of participants with AS to identify eye expressions varying in valence and type was compared with that of patients with localized lesions in either the right or the left hemispheres. Controls were better in recognizing negative emotions presented to the left visual field and positive emotions presented to the right visual field, whereas individuals with AS failed to show this interaction effect.

Click here for more information on Brain asymmetry in emotional processing in Asperger syndrome.


 

Cooking club helps autistic children build life skills

By Jen Wulf
Inquirer Staff Writer

Brownie pizza was the featured entree at a recent cooking club meeting in Burlington County.

Four tiny chefs scrambled around the kitchen in the Medford community center, grating their white chocolate "cheese" and taking a quick break for "pin the pepperoni on the pizza." Brownie pizza may not be the most essential recipe for a 9-year-old to master, but Rosy Gruber says the cooking is secondary for her son, Jason.

""Before, he used to be very withdrawn, introverted. He's more part of the family, he's more social. Definitively much more talkative," she said.

"I tell people he's going to a cooking class and they think, 'Oh, he's learning to cook.' No, he's learning to be a competent human being," she said.

The class is part of a program organized by KidsAhead Consulting & Center for Development, which works with autistic children and their families to foster emotional development and basic life skills. KidsAhead offers consultations and parent education, with supplemental summer programs such as the cooking club, a crafts club, and a summer camp.

Click here for more information on Cooking club helps autistic children build life skills.


 

United States of Autism: Behind the Scenes

(ROCK RAPIDS, IA) Thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project, a film crew is traveling 10,000 miles in 40 days documenting the United States of Autism. They'll meet 20 families including the Wessels from Rock Rapids, Iowa.

As autism advocates, the Wessels are at home in front of the camera but that doesn't make sharing their story with the film's creator any easier.

"You know, life is hard for most people. I'm one of them. So my parents try to make my life easier," says Sam Wessels

"Well I worry about how we'll come across, is our message clear, yeah how we're portraying ourselves - is it accurate?" ponders Linda Wessels, United States of Autism family.

Click here for more information on United States of Autism: Behind the Scenes.


 

Vitamin D linked to Heart Disease Reduction and Autism Study for Pregnant Mothers Reduce Chance of Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis

Vitamin D is a currently the focus of much research. Recently, it was reported that appropriate levels of Vitamin D have been shown to slash the risk of heart disease.

A study reviewed by Dr. Muhlestein, director of cardiovascular research at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute, adds further evidence that appropriately supplementing your diet with Vitamin D can lead to less Heart Disease and decrease the development of late onset Diabetes.

"Associate Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Pediatrics in Portland Oregon is leading a study.

Now there is a study in progress attempting to determine if there is a link between receiving appropriate levels of Vitamin D while pregnant and decreasing the chance of having a child born and diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Click here for more information on Autism Study for Pregnant Mothers.


 

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