One in 68 Children has Autism

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Decisions, Decisions…Tablets or Touchscreen Computers?

September 25, 2012 6:24 pm Published by
Figuring out how to invest your money in technology for a loved one or student with special needs can be a tough decision, especially with a growing number of new products on the market. 
My preference and recommendation has always been the iPad, specifically the new iPad “3” for those fortunate to get their hands on one. Apple made many improvements with the new operating system, including “Guided Access,” which allows the learner to stay on task and focus on certain areas on the screen (controlled by the caregiver)**. Overall, I would recommend tablet technology (in any format) over traditional touch screen, tower computer-based technology. Windows tablet technology, as written by Mariann Lai earlier this year is also be a very viable option. The choice also depends on what the family can afford to pay, family and individual expectations and what type of portability the individual needs. Touch screen technology is stationary, a tablet can be used virtually anywhere, with the right Internet plan, of course. 
If we take a look back at the evolution of these platforms, touch screen technology was the prerequisite most tablet technologies. A touch screen monitor paired with computer tower made it easier for an individual with fine motor deficits to navigate the screen in front of them, but that seems to be where the benefits ends. The individual still needs to know how to navigate Windows, know what, and where to click not to mention the install programs the computer with software (Many of us know what it’s like to try and install a printer!). This was noted with our own touch screen monitors in the school, many of the children had a hard time making the connection between the mouse, and the movement on the screen. With touch screen monitors, the movement was brought right to the tips of their fingers. 
There are still many things an individual can do with a touch screen monitor only, but navigating the Internet, browsing, and many other things are so much easier to teach/learn on a tablet device. With tablets, there is also some degree of ease with installing software, it is much easier for a parent to download and install apps.
Tablets have “built in” touch technology paired with flexible, specific software (apps) pinpoint target skills which is easier to locate and download right into the device. There is a growing “pool” of applications specifically suited for children and adults with special needs. We see every day that our students have an easier time navigating the Internet, browsing their favorite websites, and teachers have an easier time teaching them how to use the tablet appropriately. There are more options for exposure to educational, fine motor, communication interfaces with tablet technologies and plain o’l motivation for the learner to that far surpass what a traditional tower and touch screen monitor can provide. 
We all know how quickly companies come out with the newest and latest gizmos, but you can get a tablet on many different budgets. Many 1st and 2nd generation IPads are selling for much less than their new counterparts and are compatible with most educational apps. 
My final recommendation to families is never veer away from the idea that technology cannot replace our fundamental teaching techniques and procedures, but technology (tablets) adds something different to our experience. It adds to quality of life. 

**Guided access- Scroll down to Accessibility: http://www.apple.com/ios/whats-new/

Bowl for Autism!

September 25, 2012 3:46 pm Published by

Are you ready to strike up support for QSAC’s programs and services for the autism community?

Join us on Sunday, October 21 for our annual Bowl-for-Autism event and your team might be named this year’s champions!

Register online now at: http://www.qsac.com/bowl.

Your registration includes two games, bowling shoes, a hot dog, and a soda. Last year, the bowl-a-thon was sold out, so register today before it’s too late.

All of the funds raised from this year’s bowl-a-thon will benefit QSAC’s educational, recreational, habilitation, and family support services for more than 5,000 people.

Research on Autism Treatment in Teens is Weak [Huffington Post]

September 24, 2012 4:30 pm Published by

The Huffington Post recently posted an article, “Evidence For Value Of Autism Treatment In Teens Is Weak, Report Finds”, which discusses the lack of research in the area of effective treatments for older students and adults with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It is suggested that in the next ten to twenty years, more funding will go into this research. Parents are advised to continue to advocate and push for more studies targeting treatments for adolescents and adults with an ASD.

A new government report confirms what many parents of teens with autism have long suspected: There is little scientific evidence backing up the current treatments used for autism spectrum disorders in older children and young adults.

“What we found was a dramatic lack of evidence for any kind of interventions,” said Julie Lounds Taylor, an assistant professor of pediatrics and special education at Vanderbilt University and lead author of the paper. 

“It was not a surprise,” Taylor continued. “There’s not very much research in general focused on adolescents and adults with autism.”

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

QSAC Welcomes Three New Members to Board of Directors

September 7, 2012 4:48 pm Published by
Photo by lrargerich

On Wednesday, September 5, QSAC welcomed three new members to its Board of Directors. Each member brings a passion for QSAC’s mission to serve the autism community of New York City and Long Island. 

Danielle Guarino, joined the the board after serving as the chair of QSAC’s Junior Board. She is a financial advisor at MetLife and previously served as a financial adviser at Ameriprise Financial Services. Danielle graduated with a Bachelor of Science in economics from Quinnipiac University’s School of Business. Danielle is married to John Guarino, a partner at Quad Capital, and they live in Manhattan.


Robin Ponsolle, M.S., serves on the leadership team of District 75 for the New York City Department of Education and was recently elected co-president of the Parent Teacher Association for the 2012-2013 school year. She previously worked in career development and counseling. Robin received her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from New York University and her Master of Science in counseling from Long Island University. Robin’s husband, Chris, owns Pergola des Artistes, a restaurant in Manhattan, and they reside in Rego Park.


Stuart Riback, Esq., is an active community leader serving on the boards of a number of local nonprofits. He is a partner at Wilk Auslander LLP. Mr. Riback graduated with his Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, from Queens College and his law degree from Columbia University School of Law. Stuart and his wife, Wendy, reside in West Hempstead. 


QSAC is honored to welcome these three community leaders to our Board of Directors. With their support, leadership, and passion, QSAC looks forward to the coming year as the agency continues its commitment to high quality services for children and adults with autism. 


Regarding the new directors, Gary Maffei, M.P.A., QSAC’s executive director said, “I’m thrilled to welcome such wonderful people to the Board of Directors. Danielle, Robin, and Stuart, all bring unique perspectives to our board that will assist us as we continue to grow and meet the needs of the autism community.” 


Yvette Watts, president of the board said, “Our new directors will help us to chart a future for QSAC and the families we serve that continues the vision of our founders while working to expand our programs and services.”

On the Edge [Guest Blog]

September 6, 2012 7:13 pm Published by
by Jeff Stimpson, QSAC Parent
Photo by Design Trust for Public Space

The tiny elephant sits on the edge of our dining room table next to the “3” scrawled in permanent marker. On the hutch sits the pig, the pirate, and the guinea pig next to the scawled “3A6.” The wooden figure that my son Alex swiped from his Saturday rec program, a blind Chinese man that he called “Uncle Rob,” sits on the right side of the entertainment unit next to the “2016” in black numeric stickers I bought at Staples because I thought Alex deserved a gift. To the left sit the plastic lion and lioness, flanked by the tiger, the big elephant, the rhino and the turtle. 

My wife Jill values all this furniture. The dining room table was her mother’s. The hutch and entertainment unit are Danish Modern and belonged to her beloved aunt and uncle, now long gone. 

The stuffed moose and lobster are next to the “310” on one side of our coffee table. One rubber duck and “1168” in stickers sits on the other. The other sides feature the plastic cat, the plastic salamander and another rubber duck. The lamp table, the walls.
“Alex, cut it out!” 

Autism and Destruction seem to go together like Peanut Butter and Chocolate (Googling “autism” and “destruction” nets 2.2 million hits; “chocolate” and “peanut butter” 26.3 million, but you get the idea.) Alex has had his obsessions: black T’s, khakis, videos and YouYube on the iPad. 

Fine, except the other night at dinnertime when he hovered around the table. “Alex, chicken?” 

No. He bumped me aside and tried to position the tiny plastic elephant right where I wanted my stuffing. “Alex, I’m eating!” He doesn’t eat like we do. If we’d been better parents he would eat like we do now, but we weren’t so he doesn’t. 

He doesn’t hesitate to pull out permanent Marks-A-Lot, either, and scrawl the numbers that mean something to just him beside the plastic animals on the edges. On the walls he uses crayons and pencils, which at least will vanish under Goo-Gone. “Lock up the pencils!” Aunt Julie suggests, taking time out of assisting her blind Chinese husband Robert. I picture a padlocked cage like you see at Michael’s where they keep the X-ACTO knives and the airplane glue. 

On the walls Alex has pasted “Sesame Street” stickers and scrawled numbers. On the door of the linen closet he’s pasted a “1” and a “2” and scrawled what looks like two lines of “R’s”. Is it right that I call it “scrawled?” It makes him sound stupid, which I’m coming to see he’s not. Just unknowable. When we get around to scrubbing the stuff off the walls, we will make him help us. That will make us good parents.

Jeff Stimpson lives in New York with his wife Jill and two sons. He is the author of Alex: The Fathering of a Preemie and Alex the Boy: Episodes From a Family’s Life With Autism (both available on Amazon). He maintains a blog about his family at jeffslife.tripod.com/alextheboy, and is a frequent contributor to various sites and publications on special-needs parenting, such as Autism-Asperger’s DigestAutism Spectrum News, the Lostandtired blogThe Autism Society news blog, and An Anthology of Disability Literature (available on Amazon). He can also be found on LinkedIn and on Twitter @Jeffslife.

ABOUT US

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.