April 24, 2012 3:00 pm Published by QSAC
Brandon pedals for the first time.
Most nineteen year old teenagers have the freedom to go to the park and enjoy riding a bike on a nice spring day. They do so without appreciating that they have the coordination and skills to ride without any difficulty.
Brandon is a nineteen year old teenager who worked very hard to learn how to ride a bike. After a long period of time working on different skills to increase his coordination and balance, this spring he and his community habilitation specialist (CHS) Robert, decided to put to test all those hours of hard work and go out and ride a bike. As a responsible bike rider, Brandon had his helmet ready and he walked to the sidewalk ready to start. His CHS, on a bike next to him, encouraged him to “give it a try.”
To Brandon’s surprise starting wasn’t that easy. He pushed forward slowly trying to make the bike go straight but not without losing control and stopping. “You have to pedal to keep it going Brandon”said Robert. “Give it another try.” This time Brandon pedaled, and to his surprise he began to move forward. He now had to focus on his direction, and the swirling of the front of the bike began to stop and Brandon was now in control, riding straight, next to his CHS. Brandon became challenged by a new problem:stopping. The CHS told Brandon that they needed to stop, first by slowing down, and then putting one foot on the ground. As Brandon began to stop the front of the bike began to swirl. Finally Brandon touched the ground with his right foot and brought the bike to a complete stop. Again the CHS instructed him to do it over and they repeated this a couple of times, each time Brandon gained more confidence and became a better bicycle rider.
April 21, 2012 3:10 pm Published by QSAC
QSAC’s annual autism conference was a huge success. On Thursday, April 19, more than 200 people gathered for a day-long agenda of workshops on a variety of topics.
Conference workshops included an introduction to autism, language and communication, increasing independence, feeding challenges and a special series on adolescent sexuality. QSAC’s Executive Director, Gary Maffei, MPA, said “QSAC’s annual conference offers parents of children with autism and professionals serving the community with workshops aimed at expanding our communal understanding of timely topics related to autism.”
The conference was made possible with support from the New York City Council as well as our generous sponsors – Astoria Federal Savings, MedClaims Liaison, and the New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council.
April 16, 2012 2:07 pm Published by Francisco Monegro, Ph.D., M.D.
According to the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring, an active surveillance system network that estimates the prevalence of ASDs from 14 sites in the USA, the overall prevalence of ASDs during 2008 was 1 in 88 children. Their data suggest that the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder between 2000 to 2008 has been increasing (see table). This increase could be an indication that autism awareness and access to services have somewhat improved, but also attests to the need for more programs serving this population.
Dr. Paul Patterson in his new book, Infectious Behavior: Brain-Immune Connections in Autism, Schizophrenia, and Depression
(2011) tries to elucidate this trend in prevalence and decode some of the multiple hypotheses on the etiology of Autism Spectrum disorders
. In addition to the behavior symptoms and genetic components in autism, Dr. Patterson studies the role of the neuro-immune system abnormalities and interactions, fetal testosterone levels and the maternal infection risk factor. The notion that maternal infection constitutes a risk factor of development of autism has been supported by Dr. Stell Chase, which reported the first incidence of autistic features in 1964. According to Dr. Patterson, the autistic features outcome may be more frequent if infections occur early in the first trimester. It has been reported in the literature that the timing of infections is critical for fetal brain development
, which may lead to adverse postnatal behavioral outcomes (Pardo & Eberhart, 2007).
Several studies have linked Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) with maternal viral, bacterial, and protozoan infections, which are hypothesized to evoke an immune response in the pregnant women that may predispose her offspring to autism. Another hypothesis is that elevated testosterone may impact fetal brain development that may lead to autistic traits and gender bias. This hypothesis supports the fact that prevalence is highest in males than females. There is much that we have yet to learn about Autism Spectrum Disorder, and it’s reassuring that the Combating Autism Reauthorization Act of 2011
was extended to further our research on this important disorder.
April 9, 2012 1:57 pm Published by Kristen DuMoulin, Ph.D.
QSAC’S Early Intervention Staff participated in the 1st Annual Autism Awareness event, “Illuminate the Unisphere in Pink and Blue for Autism Awareness Month.” Despite the gloomy weather, many children with autism, their friends and family came to raise awareness and support for autism.
April 3, 2012 9:08 pm Published by Anne Denning, MA, BCBA, Director of Training
QSAC had arts and crafts activities, performed a puppet show on acceptance and led story-time.
All in all, it was a great event. With the new official estimate of autism prevalence among children in the United States increased to 1 in 88 many advocates are encouraging April to be re-named Autism Acceptance Month.
Carly Fleischmann has severe autism and is unable to speak a word. After years of expensive and intensive therapy, this 14-year-old has made an amazing breakthrough. Carly began using her computer to communicate to those around her and in doing so shared her unique experience of autism. Carly was able to state with clarity what it felt like to be in her body, why she made odd noises or why she hit herself. “It feels like my legs are on fire and a million ants are crawling up my arms,” Carly said through the computer. She continued to state that hitting herself and banging her head helped her tune out the overwhelming sensory input she experienced on a daily basis.
Carly had another message for people who don’t understand autism.”Autism is hard because you want to act one way, but you can’t always do that. It’s sad that sometimes people don’t know that sometimes I can’t stop myself and they get mad at me. If I could tell people one thing about autism it would be that I don’t want to be this way. But I am, so don’t be mad. Be understanding.”
Check out the following video of Carly for a unique perspective on autism that will surely change your perspective on this neurological disorder.