One in 68 Children has Autism

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QSAC Has a Picasso!

June 28, 2010 3:21 pm Published by

Michael K.’s artwork “A Winter Landscape” was selected as 1 out of 800 participants for Exhibition at the MOMA for July 8-Aug 8th. “I 
drew this picture from my head, and did not have any challenges in creating it,” said Michael. “I like to draw all the time and my teacher always inspires me to be creative.” Michael is 14 years old and has been receiving waiver residential habilitation and MSC services from QSAC for over a year.

A Note from Michael’s Teacher: Before students began their landscapes, they identified cool colors and discussed how these colors can invoke feelings of winter. Looking at Impressionist winter landscape paintings by Claude Monet and Alfred Sisley, they noted horizon lines and how each artist used white in his paintings to convey a sense of the season. We wove Blueprintstrand two, Visual Literacy, into our art making, and the visual interpretations helped students to develop descriptive language. Michael showed skill in manipulating the chalk and the paint. He used space well and developed an interesting composition with a strong sense of line. 

Congratulations Michael!

Martha Wash Lends a Voice for Autism

June 21, 2010 3:50 pm Published by

QSAC is excited to announce that Legendary Pop Diva Martha Wash has become the organization’s official spokesperson! Martha will be lending her distinctive and powerful voice, well known for hits such as “It’s Raining Men,” and “Everybody Dance Now” to help spread QSAC’s mission of helping individuals with an autism spectrum disorder to live meaningful and fulfilled lives in our society.

Martha is no stranger to spreading positive messages to unite people worldwide. She has performed for many Human Rights Campaigns and is currently gearing up for her 2010 tour! “We are honored that she will be spreading the word about our goals and commitment, as well as the importance of the services we provide” says Executive Director, Gary Maffei.

Martha was first introduced to QSAC when asked to perform and judge at Got Talent? A Competition to Benefit Autism on May 24, 2010 at the Times Square Arts Center. The contest, which was open to all, had two autistic performers. One of them, Laurie Maitland, was actually crowned the winner. “I was given the opportunity to experience firsthand how much of an influence music has on autism” said Martha Wash after the winner was announced. “I am so grateful”.

About Martha
As part of the Weather Girls, Martha scored a Grammy Nomination for a song that was destined to become a cult classic. “It’s Raining Men” – the original version that confirmed it was time to leave your umbrellas at home, rip off the roof and stay in bed. Martha continued to sing with the Weather Girls until the late 80’s when she felt it was time to move on to the next tenure of her career. Into the early 90’s, Martha became one of the most sought after session singers and soon found herself recording for numerous acts – Seduction and C+C Music Factory to name a few. From “You’re My One and Only (True Love)” to “Everybody Dance Now”, Martha was all over radio airwaves and had club-goers moving to her distinct vocal styling.

Treatment of Communication Impairment in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders

June 7, 2010 11:57 am Published by

Autism Spectrum disorders (ASD) have been characterized by severe chronic impediments to social interaction, communication and interests. These impairments themselves interrelate and affect the trajectory to assess, diagnose and treat of individuals with ASD. We can note for instance that difficulties in both verbal and non-verbal communication have a significant impact on social development. As a consequence, a great deal of research has focused on approaches for improving communication skills for individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), in particular for those who are non-verbal.

Numerous individuals with autism spectrum disorders do not develop useful speech. 25-50% of individuals with ASD never develops spoken language or learns to express themselves in any functional way or use gestures or other forms of communication to compensate. Individuals with ASD usually experience little use of conventional gestures, reduced attention to others’ face and voices, reduced integration of gaze, gestures and vocalization and difficulty to joint attention. We have a lot of hypotheses about why individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) fail to develop verbal communication or expressive language skills. Some researchers have hypothesized that some of the reasons are low cognitive ability, deficits in receptive language, failure of symbolic capacity, failure to understand the function and value to communicate with others, and imitation deficits among others problems. Moreover, persistent lack of speech of some individuals with autism spectrum disorder that involve receptive and expressive language deficits has been attributed to abnormalities in lateral temporal cortex, small amygdalae and linkage to chromosome 7q31–33.

There are many different approaches to improve communication skills in individuals with autism. However, only a few of them have evidence-based with randomized research studies. Before naming a few of these approaches, it is important to recognize that the first step to improving communication skills and develop an effective communication intervention plan for the non-verbal individuals with autism is to determine the individual’s current communication abilities. Also, we need to understand the function of the communication: Behavioral regulation, social interaction or joint attention.

As mentioned, different approaches have emerged in trying to give an answer to the problem of how we can treat communication deficits in autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

• A few studies suggested that Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) in conjunction with applied behavior analysis increase social-communicative behaviors, spontaneous language, speech, higher percentage of independent “mands” (requests for preferred items) and decrease problem behaviors, but the improvement takes long period of time. The picture exchange communication system (PECS) is a pictorial system that was developed for children with social-communication deficits. The system uses basic behavioral principles and techniques such as shaping, differential reinforcement, and stimulus control to teach children functional communication using pictures. In addition, PECS has been associated with spontaneous increases in spoken language.

• Another approach, Motor Communication Training (MCT) shows better effect than PECS in small children with autism.

• Children treated with More Than Words (MTW) showed increase in vocabulary, but not in social communication.

• Another approach is Relationship Development Intervention (RDI), which does not focus on communication, but in social relationships. DRI approach does not teach skills, but helps to develop pleasure in relating to others. Although some studies show improvement in functional emotional abilities in decreasing autistic symptoms, however, this approach did not show statistically significance improvement in communication.

Sign Language treatment studies suggested that non-verbal children fail to use any signs functionally and children using Sign Language did not make progress. For both participants, sign language training produced a higher percentage of vocalizations during training.

• Children with autism spectrum disorders using Augmentative Alternative Communication devices (AAC), non-PECS communication boards, Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCAs) show modest improvement in speech production, although there is no scientific evidence that these devices will lead to speech development.

• Although there is no single best approach for all individuals to treat language development, Discrete Trial Instruction (DTI) and Rapid Motor Imitation Training (RMIT) have been shown to be effective in eliciting first spoken words from preverbal children. DTI is a specialized form of instruction that breaks down tasks into their component parts with instruction delivered in small units (e.g., “Stand up” and “Touch your nose”). RMIT consists of imitating rapid motor imitation sequences of actions, and then a simple word for a preferred item (reinforcer/reward) is added to the end of the sequence to be used as a request.

(Van Droof et al. 2010; Tager-Flusberg, 1993; Tager-Flusberg, et al. 2005)
(Paul, 2010; Chawarska, et al. 2007)
(Nacewicz et al. 2006)
(Bondy & Frost, 1994; Siegel, 2000; Yamall, 2000; Ganz & Simpson, 2004; Tincani, 2004)
(Carr & Durand, 1985; Stokes, et al. Stokes, Fowler, & Baer, 1978).)
( Magiati & Howlin, 2003)
(Frost & Bondy, 1994)
(Charlop-Christy et al, 2002).
(NRC, 2001, Paul 2010)
(Voder 2002, 2006)
(McConachie et al., 2005)
(Greenspan Wekder, 2006)
(Barteh, 2004; Chzyh, 2006)
(Gustein & Sheely, 2002)
(Layton & Watson, 1995; Voder & Layton, 1988; Grove & Dockrell, 2000)
(Miller, Light & Schlower, 2006; Brady, 2000; Garrison-Harrell et al., 1997.)
(Lovaas, 1987; Kates-McElrath & Axelrod, 2006)

QSAC Takes it’s Annual Auction Online This Year

June 2, 2010 3:14 pm Published by

Check out for lots of exciting and unique items, including a great selection of memorabilia and sports tickets.

The online auction is taking place in conjunction with the QSAC Cocktail Extravaganza, scheduled for  Friday, June 18 at Belmont Race Track. Festivities include cocktail dinatoire, three twilight races, and program. Visit for more information and to purchase tickets.

We Have Our Winner!

June 2, 2010 2:52 pm Published by

The Top 12 contestants took to the stage one last time at the Grand Finale of Got Talent? A Competition to Benefit Autism on May 24 at the Times Square Arts Center. In the end, it was Laurie Maitland who walked away with the grand prize.

The talented finalists received feedback from a celebrity panel consisting of Leslie Jordan (Will & Grace), Telsey+Co Casting Director Rachel Hoffman, and legendary diva Martha Wash. Ms. Wash also opened the show with hit songs “Everybody, Everybody” and “It’s Raining Men.” Broadway and TV Star/Puppet Master John Tartaglia hosted the evening. 


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.