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US Autism & Asperger Association, Inc. January 31, 2010

USAAA WeeklyNews Opinion
USAAA WeeklyNews Opinion begins today featuring comments and discussion from readers, as well as readers' recommended resources. The USAAA WeeklyNews Opinion will be delivered every Sunday to your email inbox.

Songs and Food at School
I have a BS in Physics, and some college work in Psychology and Early Childhood Development. I was a substitute paraprofessional, specializing in Special Ed., mostly with Pre-K. I noticed many teachers unaware of the special needs of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and worked with one teacher's son, a young man with Asperger’s Syndrome one-on-one at home. My method was to play soft children's songs on a small pennywhistle, and virtually all the autistic children responded exceptionally well with me, giving me immediate eye contact and quickly connecting with me. The food was regular school fare, with an emphasis on milk and wheat products, with fluorescent lighting, and lots of yelling, and time-outs for the misunderstood behaviorisms of the children. I enjoyed your article (USAAA January 5th newsletter – “Many dietary modifications are believed to have a beneficial outcome,” – from the Consensus Report) and shall forward it to two teachers with whom I do some volunteer work. — Mr. Don

Treat Your Child With Normalcy
I found out when my son was two years old he had a problem. He was diagnosed with PDD and autism spectrum. We were devastated, like our perfect child was somehow flawed. My son is now eighteen years old, he speaks, is in a regular school, he is a wonderful artist and he is on his way to being independent. Perhaps he is not like a neurotypical eighteen-year-old, but is very similar to other eighteen-year-old children. I went through many hard years enduring anger and frustration. We did not have a good support system and our parents were afraid they didn’t know what to do, so they expected me to handle it. I didn’t know what I was doing. I learned day by day. I’ve run the gamut from one thing to another. I’ve been through it all, and the best advice I can give is to treat your child with as much normalcy as possible. There are days I feel sad, days I want for him what I want for all my sons. But you go on to the next day. Sometimes it’s a lonely place to be. But it’s worth it. I can’t imagine never knowing this child. He brings us such love and togetherness. — Sherry

Thanks for your Sacrifice
Life is funny. It can slam you down in the face of fear, or it can propel you to find courage where you never knew you had it. They don't call it a "hot seat" for nothing. Nobody in their right mind would want to be sitting on it, but there's something very revolutionary for those who endure its torture--they survive and thereby anchor for all to see that they are still standing, that the issue is still worth fighting for, and that fear or intimidation cannot make the truth and those who carry it disappear. Thanks to the many courageous people who have sacrificed their lives for the greater good of many, like the parents, doctors, etc. — Unknown

Model Me Kids iPhone and iPod app
Model Me Kids recently introduced a new visual teaching tool for helping children learn to navigate challenging locations in the community: Model Me Going Places, an application for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The app contains photo slideshows of children modeling appropriate behavior in various community locations, including Hairdresser, Mall, Doctor, Playground, Grocery Store, and Restaurant. The app is based on locations included in the Model Me Going Places DVD, the latest addition to the Model Me Kids social skills training series for children with autism and Asperger's Syndrome. Users can touch the forward and back buttons to move through the photos one by one, or simply press a slideshow button to advance photos automatically. A home button brings users back to the navigation menu where they can choose their next destination. The app also includes audio narration (English) and descriptive text for each photo. Download the free app at the Apple store or to learn more, visit — Sofia

Sensory Based Activity Room
We developed a room containing equipment and material that provides wide range of sensory experiences. It was funded at our schools through parent donations, PTA/SAC support, business donations, and various fundraising events. To view, click here for the sensory based room.

Adapted Books
Special Education District 75 of New York provides citywide educational, vocational, and behavior support programs for students who are on the autism spectrum, severely emotionally challenged, and/or multiply disabled.
Click here to view adapted books and materials created with Boardmaker, Writing with Symbols, and PowerPoint software. — Special Education District 75 of NY

Legislation offers fair chance for autistic children
By The News Tribune, Jefferson City, Missouri
Published: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 5:06 AM CST

Legislation expanding insurance coverage for treatment of autism deserves passage.

The proposal under consideration would require insurers for small and mid-sized employers to cover an intensive therapy called "applied behavioral analysis." Larger group insurance plans frequently are self-funded and federally exempt from state regulation.

Debate this session focuses on the amount and duration of coverage for the behavioral therapy that has yielded dramatic improvement, according to testimony from parents of some autistic children.

Other provisions of the legislation -- now in its third year before lawmakers -- largely have been resolved. They include agreement that autism is a medical condition and that psychological and pharmaceutical treatments will be covered.

Insurance companies resist government mandates and base opposition to expanded coverage on increased costs, which invariably will be passed on to consumers.

Proponents of the bill contend fears of exorbitant costs are not supported by data from other states that have adopted mandates.

In addition, proponents point out the universal benefits of early intervention. Treatment for autistic children -- like early detection and treatment of any disorder -- will prevent more debilitating and more expensive problems later.

One parent said the cost to help an autistic child become productive is much less than the social cost of caring for an unproductive adult.

We are inclined to advance that argument a step further.

We believe every person has potential and deserves an opportunity to attain that potential.

History has provided countless examples of people who have overcome adversities -- including behavioral and medical challenges -- and made meaningful contributions to society.

Whether the affliction is a heart defect, autism or leukemia, each child deserves a chance.
The News Tribune

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