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ABA and Autism

ABA Resources for Recovery from Autism-Behavioral intervention (ABA) is a teaching method to help children with autism and related disorders develop to their maximum potential. Links to research, service providers, support groups, curriculum, and legal and special education information

ABA approach to Autism-The Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies offers a section of their web site to educating parents and other interested persons about the ABA approach. Click on the section dealing with Parents.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Autism: Much publicity has recently surrounded the Applied Behavior Analysis approach to the treatment of Autism. But what exactly is ABA? How do you know if an intervention program works? Read more...

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Accomodations

  • Classrooms that work: There are as many educational techniques and settings that work for kids with PDD-NOS or atypical PDD as there are children with these diagnoses. There are some settings that have a marked record of success, however, and that parents would love to see replicated.
  • Maladaptive behavior and PDD: various adaptations and treatment strategies used in classrooms to accommodate those with learning difficulties as a result of pervasive developmental disorders.

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Adults with Autism

  • Friends of Autistic People: a parents support group. dedicated to raising awareness of services and supported living arrangements needed for the entire spectrum of adults with autism through developing and implementing educational programs
  • Adolescents and adults with Autism: a complete resource directory, advice and support phone contact, books and articles from The National Autistic Society.

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Advocacy

  • Articles on advocacy: Successful advocacy depends on having accurate information and knowing how to use it. There are four sections in the Advocacy Library:  Advocacy Articles: FAQs- Letters to Wrightslaw, Newsletter Archives, and Advocacy Tips
  • Advocacy tips: general tips to follow in becoming your child with Autism's advocate.
  • Autistic advocacy: a good review of topics and articles on Autism advocacy.
  • Autism community-Dedicated to sharing ideas on alternative living arrangements for autistic people.
  • Autism Network International-An autistic-run self-help and advocacy organization for autistic people.
  • Autism Information-Provides information to parents, doctors, professionals, tutors, caregivers, and anyone interested in learning more about autism and autism spectrum disorders.
  • Autism USA-Community for parents, caregivers and educators of people with autism.
  • Autism Society-Support community for parents and families, news, photo-art gallery, information and interactive features.
  • Autism Advocacy-Positive support and information regarding autism, pdd, asperger's and all disorders under the spectrum. Siblings, spouses, ABA and other therapies, IEPs, Beginner's Guide to Autism, message board and online club.
  • Autism and self-advocacy-Developing self-advocacy for people living with Autism.
  • Autism and families-A nonprofit organization dedicated to providing information and advice to families of More advanced individuals with Autism, Asperger's syndrome, and Pervasive developmental disorder (PDD).

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Asperger's Syndrome

  • Asperger's Disorder: throughout the life span- Diagnosis and multimodal treatment of Asperger's Disorder in different age groups.
  • Asperger's Syndrome, by: Lars Perner, Ph.D.-Brief introduction to this condition on the high functioning edge of the autistic spectrum and links to other resources.
  • Asperger Syndrome Coalition of the U.S.-The Asperger Syndrome Coalition of the U.S. is a national nonprofit organization committed to providing the most up-to-date and comprehensive information on Asperger Syndrome and related conditions
  • Asperger Syndrome Videos from Coulter Video- Videos to help people who support individuals with Asperger Syndrome, on the high functioning end of the Autism spectrum
  • Aspie.com- A resource site for Asperger's Syndrome by AS author Liane Holliday Willey.
  • Families of Adults Afflicted with Asperger's Syndrome (FAAAS) -A support group that is aimed at the families of those afflicted with Asperger's Syndrome. Especially those whose relative has not been correctly diagnosed until they are well into adulthood.
  • NINDS Asperger Syndrome Information Page-Asperger Syndrome information sheet compiled by NINDS, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
  • OASIS: Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support -Includes research papers, support groups, clinicians, research projects, educational resources, message board/chatroom, and contributions from individuals and families.
  • Tony Attwood and Asperger Syndrome- A resource for people with Asperger's, their families and professionals who work with them.
  • What is Asperger Syndrome?- Asperger syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder, a group of conditions that include autism and other disorders with similar symptoms, such as problems with language and communication, and repetitive or restrictive patterns of thoughts and behavior. People with Asperger syndrome have autism-like problems in areas of social interaction and communication, but have normal intelligence and verbal skills. Asperger syndrome is usually thought to be the mildest of the autism spectrum disorders.

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Assessment

Purpose and procedures: Considering the heterogeneity of characteristics associated with autism spectrum disorders, it is not surprising that questions often arise about how best to evaluate children with this diagnosis.

Professional issues: individuals assessing children with pervasive developmental disorders need to be familiar with diagnostic criteria and be prepared to use alternative assessment procedures to compliment traditional standardized testing in order to accurately make a diagnosis. This article will address several key issues in assessing children suspected of having autism.

Diagnostic and assessment instruments: The following instruments are used by educators, clinicians, and researchers to assess children suspected of, or previously diagnosed with, a pervasive developmental disorder.

Lists of tests used in assessment: a list of tests often used to assess children with Autism

Screening tests for autism: Screening tests for autism are often used if there is a heightened concern about possible autism, or as part of a general assessment of a child's development. Screening for autism is often done prior to a more specific in-depth assessment for autism.

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Assistive Technology

  • Good overview: This article will discuss how various modes of technology (including technology designed as augmentative communication systems), can be used for children with autism
  • Assistive technology and augmentative communication: selective links to assistive technology and augmentative communication resources for children with Autism and other disabilities.
  • Curriculum wide integrationThe Center for Technology in Education (CTE), a partnership of Johns Hopkins University and the Maryland State Department, is developing a hybrid paradigm that involves infusing technology-based instructional and behavioral supports into existing curriculum activities to help promote gains in communication, social skills, academics, as well as to increase the children's overall involvement in classroom activities.
  • High tech assistive technology strategiesThere are two "high"-tech strategies which have proven very effective in focusing on various skill areas for children with autism: video taping and computers.
  • Case study-literacy needs and assistive technology:the use of assistive technology with a young child who has literacy problems and also has Autism.
  • Assistive technology site: a thorough assistive technology site
  • Extensive site with over 250 assistive technology websites:this is a wonderful and comprehensive list of the various assistive technology sites.

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Audio/Video tapes

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Autism Educator Information

Teaching Children with Autism - Puzzling Through - New Ways to Teach Children with Autism.

Autism Education - For children with autism education is usuallly used as the first line of defense to treat Autism Spectrum Disorders. Autism education can also complement other interventions. The National Academy of Sciences (2001) recommends educational programs that are intensive (more than 25 hours a week), engage the child and are directed toward a strategic goal.

Teaching Social Skills to Children with Autism - Teaching social skills to children with autism is an area of behavioral treatment that is continuously evolving, perhaps more than any other area. The Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis alone frequently includes articles discussing the teaching of interactive play skills, the development of creativity and spontaneity, and the development of conversational skills.

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Books and Publications

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Books and Research on Autism Spectrum Disorders

Causes

  • General article including causes: It has been over 50 years since Dr. Leo Kanner, a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins University, wrote the first paper applying the term 'autism' to a group of children who were self-absorbed and who had severe social, communication, and behavioral problems. This paper provides a general overview of the complexity of this developmental disability by summarizing many of the major topics in autism.
  • Excellent overview of various theories of autism: Some experts believe there are bio-chemical reasons for autism; others suspect that it is a psychiatric disorder. Some believe that a combination of the wrong foods and too many antibiotics and environmental toxins can damage the colon and lead to physical and behavioral problems, including autism.
  • General article including causes from the National Institute of Mental Health: All these disorders are characterized by varying degrees of impairment in communication skills, social interactions, and restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior.
  • Excellent overview: everything you ever wanted to know about Autism.
  • Genetics and autism: The first thing Dr. Cook wanted to clarify about genetics is that, finding genetic evidence of autism does not mean that that person's fate is sealed.
  • Theories and causes: There is no theory of the cause of autism which everyone has found convincing. There may be multiple causes. Thus we will review some of the proposed causes.

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Characteristics

  • General article including characteristics: Many autistic infants are different from birth. Two common characteristics they may exhibit include arching their back away from their caregiver to avoid physical contact and failing to anticipate being picked up (i.e., becoming limp). Read more.
  • Common Characteristics: The symptoms and characteristics of autism can present themselves in a wide variety of combinations, from mild to severe. Although autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors, children and adults can exhibit any combination of the behaviors in any degree of severity.
  • Excellent overview: contains an excellent section on characteristics of Autism.
  • Characteristic behaviors: a lengthy list of characteristics of Autism

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Childhood Disintegrative Disorder

  • Overview of Childhood disintegrative disorder : Childhood disintegrative disorder is a condition occurring in 3- and 4-year-olds who have developed normally to age 2. Over several months, a child with this disorder will deteriorate in intellectual, social, and language functioning from previously normal behavior.
  • Criteria and clinical features  : This rather rare condition was described many years before autism (Heller, 1908) but has only recently been 'officially' recognized. With CDD children develop a condition which resembles autism but only after a relatively prolonged period (usually 2 to 4 years) of clearly normal development
  • Contrast DSM criteria for CDD with the other PDD disorders. : Doctors are divided on the use of the term PDD. Many professionals use the term PDD as a short way of saying PDDNOS. Some doctors, however, are hesitant to diagnose very young children with a specific type of PDD, such as Autistic Disorder, and therefore only use the general category label of PDD. This approach contributes to the confusion about the term

Organizations That Can Help (Childhood Disintegrative Syndrome)

  • Autism Organizations: Given the CDD is one of the disorders along the autism spectrum, with symptoms quite similar to autism itself, you may also find useful information, assistance, and connection to local resources at any or all of the autism-related organizations.

Teaching Students with CDD

  • Educating students with Autism: As was said above, it's very difficult to locate information specific to CDD, let alone materials about educating students with this rare disorder. Since CDD is one of the disorders along the autism spectrum, with symptoms quite similar to autism itself, appropriate educational interventions will be those similar to what's used when educating students with autism.

Classifications or Types of Autism

  • Is there more than one type? : Several related disorders are grouped under the broad heading "Pervasive Developmental Disorders" or PDD
  • Types : Individuals who fall under the Pervasive Developmental Disorder category in the DSM-IV exhibit commonalties in communication and social deficits, but differ in terms of severity.
  • Pervasive developmental disorder: The diagnostic category pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) refers to a group of disorders characterized by delays in the development of multiple basic functions including socialization and communication.
  • Excellent overview: Several related disorders are grouped under the broad heading "Pervasive Developmental Disorder" or PDD-a general category of disorders which are characterized by severe and pervasive impairment in several areas of development
  • Overview of Asperger’s Syndrome: Asperger Syndrome is a neuro-biological disorder named for a Viennese physician, Hans Asperger, who in 1944 published a paper which described a pattern of behaviors in several young boys who had normal intelligence and language development, but who also exhibited autistic-like behaviors and marked deficiencies in social and communication skills.
  • Autistic savant: The autistic savant is one of the most fascinating cognitive phenomena in psychology. "Autistic savant" refers to individuals with autism who have extraordinary skills not exhibited by most persons.
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders-Full article on the full spectrum of autistic disorders, and how to sort them out.

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Classroom Management

  • Treatment and education: While there is no cure for autism, there are treatment and education approaches that may reduce some of the challenges associated with the disability. Intervention may help to lessen disruptive behaviors, and education can teach self-help skills that allow for greater independence.
  • Effective approaches: Evidence shows that early intervention results in dramatically positive outcomes for young children with autism. While various pre-school models emphasize different program components, all share an emphasis on early, appropriate, and intensive educational interventions for young children.
  • Lovaas Institute: The UCLA Model of Applied Behavior Analysis was created and developed in the Psychology Department of UCLA under the direction of Dr. O. Ivar Lovaas. It is based on extensive clinical experience and more than 40 years of scientific research.
  • Institute for Applied Behavior Analysis- ABA
  • All about TEACCH
  • Educational methods: There are a number of methods & techniques used in the education of autistic children. Many professionals use a variety of combination of methods. Some professionals attempt to identify an individual student's learning style and modify curriculum and materials to suit the student's learning style.
  • Guidelines for mainstreaming: With the momentum for (mainstream) inclusion of children with special educational needs and the growing realisation that it may not always be in the best interests of children with autism or Asperger syndrome to be grouped together in classes, it is likely that many children at the higher functioning and more verbal end of the continuum of need, who might previously have attended specialist schools, will now be educated in their local, mainstream schools.
  • Sensory integration: Children and adults with autism, as well as those with other developmental disabilities, may have a dysfunctional sensory system. Sometimes one or more senses are either over- or under-reactive to stimulation.
  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and verbal behavior: ABA generally assumes that appropriate behavior – including speech, academics and life skills – can be taught using scientific principles. ABA assumes that children are more likely to repeat behaviors or responses that are rewarded (or "reinforced"), and they are less likely to continue behaviors that are not rewarded.
  • Complimentary approaches to the treatment of Autism: While early educational intervention is key to improving the lives of individuals with autism, some parents and professionals believe that other treatment approaches may play an important role in improving communications skills and reducing behavioral symptoms associated with autism. These complementary therapies may include music, art or animal therapy and may be done on an individual basis or integrated into an educational program.
  • Behavioral and communication approaches to the treatment of Autism: The behaviors exhibited by children with autism are frequently the most troubling to parents and caregivers. These behaviors may be inappropriate, repetitive, aggressive and/or dangerous, and may include hand-flapping, finger-snapping, rocking, placing objects in one's mouth, and head-banging. Children with autism may engage in self-mutilation, such as eye-gouging or biting their arms; may show little or no sensitivity to burns or bruises; and may physically attack someone without provocation.

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Definition

Excellent overview: everything you always wanted to know about Autism and the Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Definition of PDD: Over the past few years, PDD has become a subject of increased attention among parents, professionals, and policymakers across the country.

Definition of autism: diagnostic criteria for the diagnosis of Autism.

Autistic disorder from DSM IV: the diagnostic criteria used by DSM for Autism is listed.

Basic definition: Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder NOS (not otherwise specified) are developmental disabilities that share many of the same characteristics.

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Diagnosis

  • Diagnosing autism: There are no medical tests for diagnosing autism. An accurate diagnosis must be based on observation of the individual's communication, behavior, and developmental levels. However, because many of the behaviors associated with autism are shared by other disorders, various medical tests may be ordered to rule out or identify other possible causes of the symptoms being exhibited.
  • Diagnostic criteria for Asperger’s Syndrome: The following criterion for Asperger's Syndrome are from the 2000 Revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition-Text (DSM IV-TR).
  • Tests used in diagnosing PDDs: Hundreds of standardized tests, questionnaires, and observation plans are available for rating behaviors, abilities, and other factors that could be related to pervasive developmental disorders. The lists in the next sections provide a little information about some of the most commonly encountered tests, but they are by no means complete.
  • Interesting website that contains a case study report and all the auxiliary Reports-good reference: an actual clinic report on a child with Autism.

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FAQ

20 questions and answers: an Autism Primer containing 20 of the most frequently asked questions about Autism.

Common questions: quick answers to commonly asked questions about Autism.

Autism through the ages: Autism is not a modern problem, even though it has only recently gained vast recognition. It is difficult to discuss the history of autism treatment without paying particular attention to the history of "autism" as a concept and the ways in which autism has been conceptualized and theorized about over the past 100 years.

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Functional Assessments

  • Functional assessment refers to a variety of approaches used to gather information about the cause of problematic behaviors to enable the design of effective treatment. Functional assessment approaches include descriptive methods (e.g., interviews, rating scales), direct observations (e.g., ABC, time charts) and functional analysis.

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Hyperlexia

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Incidence

  • Incidence and some causes: There has been a lot of advancement in the diagnostic criteria, diagnostic tools and investigations, physician awareness and the confidence among healthcare workers to diagnose Autism at an early age. This has resulted in the revision of statistical data concerning this disorder.
  • GAO 2005 report on Autism: an excellent report on Autism statistics and information from the GAO and speaks to the 500% increase in Autism diagnosis from 1993-2002. A Pdf file.

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Legal Issues

  • A summary of special education law specific to autism. Subjects covered: Assessments, IEP, Stay Put, Least Restrictive Environment, Autism Services Parent Attachment to IEP, What is a Free Appropriate Education - FAPE, Extended School Year - ESY, Stay Put, Compensatory Education, Damages, Mediation and Due Process

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Medical Issues

Autism spectrum medical issues: a family's personal journey in dealing with thetreatment of Autism.

Treatment Options - There is no single best treatment package for all children with ASD. One point that most professionals agree on is that early intervention is important; another is that most individuals with ASD respond well to highly structured, specialized programs.

Allergies and food sensitivities: People with autism are more susceptible to allergies and food sensitivities than the average person; and this is likely due to their impaired immune system. I have provided a brief discussion of allergies and food sensitivities below.

Autism from mercury poisoning: Thimerosal is an organic compound that contains mercury, or an ‘organomercurial’ and can cause Mercury poisoning.

Autism and element imbalances: Much concern has been raised over the link between exposure to heavy metal toxins and neurological brain damage associated with learning and behavioral disorders in children. Indeed, research shows that exposure to heavy metals such as lead and mercury can impair brain development at very early ages-even at low doses previously deemed "harmless."1-3

Autism and fatty acids: Increasing evidence suggests that essential fatty acids, which are critical nutrients for the brain, may be especially important for children suffering from developmental disorders like autism.

Biomedical and Dietary Approaches: While there are no drugs, vitamins or special diets that can correct the underlying neurological problems that seem to cause autism, parents and professionals have found that some drugs used for other disorders are sometimes effective in treating some aspects of or behaviors associated with autism.

Autism and secretin

Treatment : There is no standard, universally accepted treatment of autism; in fact, every single method has its detractors. General approaches may be summarized as follows...

Treatment of PDDNOS: No one therapy or method will work for all individuals with Autistic Disorder or PDDNOS. Many professionals and families will use a range of treatments simultaneously, including behavior modification, structured educational approaches, medications, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and counseling.

Dietary Autism treatment-Autism may be aided by a gluten-free, casein-free diet

Gluten Free Casein Free Diet and Autism-Explanation of the diet, menus, sources of foods, message board.

Guide to Improving Gastrointestinal Symptoms among Children with Autism Spectrum - Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) frequently exhibit gastrointestinal (GI) distress. They often have deficiencies of benefi cial intestinal microfl ora, which may lead to infl ammation or immune dysfunction, malabsporption, food intolerance, failure to thrive, gas, bloating, constipation or diarrhea.

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Organizations

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Overview and General Information

Autism Spectrum Disorder: A very comprehensive and complete overview of spectrum disorders associated with Autism. Includes a detailed summary that describes symptoms, causes, and treatments, with information on getting help and coping.

Autism/PDD - A brief overview of autism/PDD

Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified - A brief overview specific to PDD-NOS

Autism-What is It? - Essay, with references, on the history and current knowledge of autism.

Autism information page - Brief description with some resources and links, compiled by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Autism information page - Autism.Answers is an informative guide containing articles on a variety of autism topics.

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Parent Information

Getting a diagnosis: starting with a pediatrician - In an ideal world, pediatricians would be quick to see the early signs of ASDs, and would guide parents toward the best medical resources available. Sometimes that's how it works.

Comments from Parents - Comments and questions and answers from parents of children with PDD and Autism.

Autism experts and services - The largest collection of experts and services for the Autism Community.

Parent's guide to Autism - A guide to the diagnosis, treatment and education of children with autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder. Information on diet, teaching methods, links, a message board, and book guide.

Growing Minds Autism Programs - Specializes in training parents whose children have autism, PDD, and other autism spectrum disorders. Offers 5-day programs with continuing distance support.

A Guide to Keeping Your Children with Autism Safe - Most parents place their children’s safety as a top priority as a rule. But for parents of autistic kids, the reality is that it can be even more difficult to keep your children safe from themselves and others simply because of the nature of their disorder.

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Pervasive Developmental Disorder

  • PDD guide-Pervasive Developmental Disorder guide written by Dr. Rami Grossmann.
  • PDD briefing paper-NICHCY briefing paper, discussing how Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) fits into the category of Pervasive Developmental Disorders.
  • PDD Overview-Provides introduction, and information related to: clinical, differentials, workup, treatment, medication, follow-up, etc.
  • PDD information pages- From the Yale Developmental Disabilities Clinic.
  • PDD and your child-Find out all about PDD and autistic spectrum disorders. University of Michigan Health System (UMHS) can help you find all kinds of resources, including local support groups.
  • What is PDD-If you are confused about PDD, this should help answer some of your questions.

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Prevalence

  • List of statistics: a comprehensive list indicating all the statistics on Autism
  • Definition and prevalence: Sixteen studies of the prevalence of autism in childhood, using epidemiological methods in defined populations in Europe, the USA and Japan, in English or with English summaries, were found in the published literature
  • Increasing incidence-fact or fiction: Each year, the IRCA reports on the incidence of autism spectrum disorders in public schools in Indiana. Ten years ago, commonly accepted incidence rates ranged from 2 to 5 individuals per 10,000. Today, the Centers for Disease Control believe that the incidence may be as great as 1 in 166 for those diagnosed with autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and other pervasive developmental disorders.

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Research

  • Researchers to Create Autism Databank - Scientists at the University of Michigan and 10 other universities will use a $10 million gift from a New York-based foundation to create a databank of DNA samples from 3,000 autism patients that they hope will help them identify different kinds of autism and develop treatments.
  • Largest-Ever Search for Autism Genes Reveals New Clues -  The largest search for autism genes to date, funded in part by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has implicated components of the brain's glutamate chemical messenger system and a previously overlooked site on chromosome 11. Based on 1,168 families with at least two affected members, the genome scan also adds to evidence that tiny, rare variations in genes may heighten risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
  • Autism: It’s Not Just in the Head - The devastating derangements of autism also show up in the gut and in the immune system. That unexpected discovery is sparking new treatments that target the body in addition to the brain.

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Rett Syndrome

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Sensory Integration

  • How to help children with sensory integration dysfunction- including tactile and oral defensiveness, pain tolerance and mealtime issues. Discussion lists, articles, and research
  • Interview with LornaJean King, OTR, FAOTA -One of the pioneers of sensory integration therapy, international lecturer on this topic, and founder and director of the Center for Neurodevelopmental Studies, Inc. in Phoenix, Arizona. Interview was conducted by Stephen M. Edelson (SE).
  • Sensory integration dysfunction articles-A series of articles written by parents and professionals on some of the most pressing issues for these children. Links to additional resource sites included.
  • Sensory Integration Article by Cindy Hatch-Rasmussen, MA, OTR/L –The author has written a thorough paper on sensory integration dysfunction. Includes links for those who want or need more information.
  • Sensory Integration Dysfunction in Young Children – An article by Linda C. Stephens. Also includes useful links to resources and associations related to article.
  • Sensory Integration Resource Center-Provides a broad range of information and services on sensory integration. Includes sections for parents, children, physicians, educators, therapists, families, and frequently asked questions. Resource, research, and donations links are also included.
  • Sensory integration treatment-New Clinic that helps kids with Sensory Integration and Autistic Spectrum Disorders. Uses teachings of Dr. Tomatis.
  • Sensory integration and parenting- Approaches sensory defensiveness (and its treatment, sensory integration) through a variety of articles aimed at helping parents raise and treat sensory defensive children
  • Sensory Integration Links- Section of the Sharon (Massachusetts) Special Education Parents Advisory Council that deals specifically with sensory integration. Contains a wide range of articles, interviews, resources, and links on the subject.

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