One in 68 Children has Autism

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Snoopy and the “Peanuts” Gang Perform for Autism

December 4, 2008 7:21 pm Published by

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Danièle Favre-Panayotatos, Director of Development
212-244-5560 ext. 2016

Danielefp@qsac.com

Snoopy and the “Peanuts” Gang Perform for Autism

December 3, 2008… “Good grief!” The quirky cast of “Peanuts” is at it again! Quality Services for the Autism Community (QSAC) is excited to announce a special charity production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, on January 3 and January 4 at The Sage Theater, 711 Seventh Avenue, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10036 (between 47th & 48th Streets). Tickets can be purchased online at http://benefit.qsac.com or by calling 212-244.5560 x2000. All proceeds benefit QSAC.

“It is fantastic to have a group of young people ready to give their time and talent to a cause, in this case, autism,” said Gary A. Maffei, Executive Director of QSAC. “What a wonderful opportunity for QSAC to expand its visibility and raise much needed funds for our programs.” Based on the popular comic strip “Peanuts” by Charles M. Schulz, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown is best described as “an average day in the life of Charlie Brown.” Snoopy, Lucy, Schroeder, Linus, and Sally join Charlie Brown in reliving some of the most comical and endearing moments from the comic strip. This revised version of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown builds on the original 1967 version of the musical with the addition of new songs and scenes as presented in the 1999 revival.

QSAC is one of the largest agencies dedicated specifically to autism and provides comprehensive services and programs to individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their families in New York City and Long Island. QSAC has received the Mental Hygiene Services Award for Excellence from New York City and recognition from the Queens Borough President and the Town of Hemp stead for contributions to individuals with autism and their families. Over 2,000 people benefit yearly from our programs, including 902 individuals who receive direct services. Many of QSAC’s participants represent challenging cases referred to QSAC by the Boards of Education and New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.

Starring: Kally Duling as Sally, Marissa Hayley as Lucy, Jason Koth as Snoopy, Joe Lattanzi as Schroeder, Joe Moran as Charlie Brown, and Jason B. Schmidt as Linus.

Based on The Comic Strip “Peanuts” by Charles M. Schulz
Book, Music and Lyrics by Clark Gesner

Additional Dialogue by Michael Mayer

Additional Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa
Directed by Michael Duling

Musical Direction by Steven Mitchell

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown plays Saturday January 3 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, January 4 at 2:00 p.m. at the Sage Theater, 711 Seventh Avenue, 2nd floor, New York, NY 10036 (between 47th & 48th Streets) Tickets cost $25.00. General Seating. 100% of the proceeds go to QSAC. Appropriate for ages 4 and up For more information or to make a reservation, visit: http://benefit.qsac.com or call 212-244-5560 x2000

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Understanding Restricted, Repetitive and Stereotyped Patterns of behavior in Autistic Disorder

December 2, 2008 5:27 am Published by

Restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior are diagnostic symptom domains of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Restricted and repetitive behaviors occur in most people with most forms of autism spectrum disorder. However not everyone with a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder will have the same restricted and repetitive behaviors. Stereotypical behaviors are not specific to autism and are associated with other disorders such as Tourette’s syndrome, schizophrenia and mental retardation (Stoppelbein, et al. 2005; Kraepelin, 1899).

Repetitive stereotyped behaviors have been problematic to define due to the variation in the topography of type of movements. Repetitive stereotyped behaviors have been associated with tremor (more or less regular, rhythmic contracting of muscles and their antagonists.) There are various types of tremors: a) tics (sudden, brief, recurrent, inappropriate, and other irresistible movements, simple or complex, without purpose or aim), b) tardive dyskinesia (involuntary movements of the lips, jaws, and tongue), perseveration (repetition of recent movements, action, or speech in spite of the individual’s effort to produce a new movement), c) stereotypy (an action or group of actions or words monotonously repeated or a posture maintained abnormally long), d) mannerism (a normal goal-directed behavior which is performed in a peculiar stylized and idiosyncratic manner) and e) obsessional phenomena (repetitive, purposeless voluntary phenomena which the subject feels compelled to carry out, but does so under the influence of his or her own will) (Frith and Done, 1997). Baker (1992) divided repetitive stereotyped behaviors in two categories: 1) As consequence of a restricted environment and 2) repetitive stereotyped behaviors triggered by the central nervous system. According to Garner (2005) and Turner (1997), repetitive stereotyped behaviors can be defined as behaviors that are inappropriate, repetitive and unvarying in either goal or motor pattern. Repetitive stereotyped behaviors may be subdivided into two basic categories based on the unvarying manner in which the behaviors are repeated: (1) Stereotypies involve the unvarying inappropriate repetition of a particular set of movements and/or body postures that lack any goal or function. (2) Impulsive/compulsive behaviors involve the repetition of an inappropriate goal with variable flexible goal-directed behavior (Garner 2005). Cuccaro and colleagues (2004, 2007) identified two factors in the repetitive stereotyped behaviors: Factor 1) Repetitive sensory motor actions and Factor 2) Resistance to change. Esbensen and colleagues (2008) found that repetitive behaviors are a heterogeneous group of behaviors, with the subtypes of repetitive stereotyped behaviors having their own individual patterns across the lifespan. Stereotyped patterns of behavior include not only excessive atypical movement but also the loss of typical movement (e.g., catatonia) in this broader definition (Stoppelbein, et al. 2005; Heffernan, et al., 2003).

Motor stereotyped behaviors are apparently purposeless ranging from simple movements, such as flapping arms or hands, flipping fingers in front of eyes, making repetitive sounds such as “eeeee” or “dika dika dika”, jumping up and down , clenching muscles or turning in circles, clapping and finger tapping, to more complex whole-body movements. Self-injurious behaviors (SIB) seem to be a form of restricted stereotypical behaviors (RSB) and share some similarities with symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) such as preoccupations, rituals, distress over changes in environment or routine and an insistence on sameness. Although restricted stereotypical behaviors have some comorbilities with OCD, however, OCD is not the same as the restricted and repetitive behaviors seen in many individuals with autism spectrum disorder. In a comparison on a range of repetitive behaviors between individuals with autism and individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), individuals with OCD reported more compulsive and obsessive behaviors than individuals with autism spectrum disorder and both groups reported more compulsions and obsessions than a typically developing comparison group (Zandt et al. 2007). However, autistic individuals are more likely to engage in repetitive ordering, hoarding, telling or asking, touching, tapping or rubbing, and self-injurious behaviors (SIB).

According to Turner (1997, 1999) restricted stereotyped behaviorsin autism can be divided into “lower-level” behaviors characterized by repetitive movement, and “higher-level’” behaviors characterized by preoccupations, insistence on sameness, and restricted patterns of interest. According to Turner (1997, 1999, Moy, et al., 2008) “higher-level” repetitive stereotypical behaviors (RSB) are more specific to autism than “lower-level”. Abramson and colleagues (2005) found that repetitive stereotyped behaviors in autism may be on a spectrum with obsessive-compulsive traits, which may allow genetic researchers to identify different phenotypes groups in the autism spectrum disorder.

Although self-injurious behavior is not specific for autism spectrum disorder, it constitutes one of the most challenge forms of “lower-level” repetitive stereotyped behaviors.

There are several hypotheses about self-injurious behaviors as a repetitive stereotyped behavior. One leading theory explains repetitive stereotyped behaviors as an attempt to adjust arousal levels to maintain homeostasis by producing needed sensory stimulation or avoiding over-stimulating situations (Frith and Done, 1997). Applied behavior analysis ( ABA) proposes that repetitive stereotyped behaviors may play a role in modulating the frequency and severity of the behaviors. Social theories suggest that repetitive stereotyped behaviors are coping strategies designed to decrease anxiety caused by social impairments. According to Hughes (2001) executive dysfunction such as deficits in cognitive flexibility, working memory, and response inhibition have been positively associated with repetitive stereotyped behaviors. Some neurobiological hypotheses have implicated various brain regions such as the caudate, cerebellar vermis, and frontal lobes as well as serotonin, opiod and dopamine systems play a significant role in repetitive and stereotyped behaviors (Stoppelbein, et al. 2005). For instance, short-term dietary depletion of the 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) precursor tryptophan has been associated with an exacerbation of behavioral symptoms in autistic adults. In addition, genetic studies have associated the repetitive stereotypical behaviors with specific chromosomal regions.

MRI studies have demonstrated an increase in the volumes of the right caudate both OCD patients and autistic individuals [caudate nuclei: specific areas of the basal ganglia which are broadly responsible for body movement, sensorimotor coordination, including response selection and initiation (Grahn, et al., 2008)] Enlargement of the right caudate and total putamen has been positively associated with repetitive stereotyped behaviors in autistic adults (Hollander, et al. 2005) The corpus striatum has also been implicated in the pathophysiology of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Turner and colleagues (2006) using functional connectivity Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fcMRI) to examine functional neural networks incorporating the caudate nuclei found that in part atypically enhanced functional connectivity between caudate nuclei and other brain regions in autistic individuals may indicate more diffusely organized fiber tracts, possibly due to reduced synaptic pruning.

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QSAC is a New York City and Long Island based nonprofit that supports children and adults with autism, together with their families, in achieving greater independence, realizing their future potential, and contributing to their communities in a meaningful way by offering person-centered services.

QSAC pursues this mission through direct services that provide a supportive and individualized setting for children and adults with autism to improve their communication, socialization, academic, and functional skills.