Autism In The News
April 2 , 2008

It's been a long time coming but it's finally here!

World Autism Awareness Day

Check out the sites that are promoting autism awareness around the world.

Autism The Musical Is A Hit!

I can't rave enough about the documentary Autism The Musical! I was very impressed with the insights that came from Wyatt. He delves into his history dealing with bullies and moving schools. He's very eloquent and descriptive with his take on what it's like for him to be autistic. I also appreciated the views from Lexi's mother who wishes her daughter and all autistic people were valued in society. The documentary highlights the unfortunate trend for parents dealing with autism which is separation, divorce or crumbling relationships. Sleep deprivation is another thing these families have in common. Countless sleepless nights can be spent struggling with a restless child or lying awake with your own worries about your child's future. Although the documentary shows the struggles with the autism families it also shows a great deal of compassion and hope. The point of the Miracle Project musical was to give kids on the spectrum a chance to show their talents in an non judgemental, caring environment. All these kids need is to be given a chance to show their abilities and talents. Kudos to Elaine Hall and all the Miracle Project staff.
See the links below.

Virtual World For Autistics

Autism In The News
March 30, 2008

Naughty Auties is a Second Life virtual world for people with autism. A place for autistic people to connect was started by David Savill, 22, who lives in Gloucester, England. He lives with Asperger's Syndrome. "Residents of this digital realm can represent themselves with 3-D images called avatars and connect with each other over the Internet." See the news story below.

Autism Is A World on CNN Monday

Autism In The News
March 29, 2008
Sue Rubin is a special young woman living a full life with autism and a life full of challenges. We get a glimpse into her special world with the Oscar nominated documentary Autism Is A World. CNN is broadcasting the insightful documentary about Sue's life and it airs commercial-free on Monday, March 31, from approximately 4:00-5:00 a.m. ET. (A short feature begins at 4:00 a.m. and precedes the program). You might want to record this one unless you just happen to be up that early. I watched Sue's story in the past and found it to be very enlightening even with my own expertise dealing with my autistic son. See the 2 news stories here.

Autism: The Musical

Autism In The News
March 19, 2008

I've been anticipating the release of the documentary film Autism: The Musical. The movie takes us on year long journey in the life of five autistic children in Los Angeles, California as they write and rehearse for an original stage production. The movie has made it to the Oscar shortlist. At the recent premiere HBO's Nancy Abraham sees the film "as less a documentary about a disability and more a film about people you can connect with." Film producer Sasha Alpert says "We wanted to do a film about autism but make it entertaining." She adds, "We wanted to leave people with a little more knowledge and a smile on their face." All I can say is "Bravo!"
See the movie link below.

Autism Song "Open Every Door"

Autism In The News
March 18, 2008

A song "Open Every Door" is being re-released to mark the first UN World Autism Awareness Day. Sri Lanka-born singer/songwriter Nimal Mendis' song is being recorded by south asian star Gresha Schuilling. The song is available for download on April 2nd through the website

Autism Over The Loudspeaker

Autism In The News
March 15, 2008

Once again celebrity attention is being given to autism but this time in a much louder package. Jenny McCarthy resently released her book Louder Than Words: A Mother's Journey In Curing Autism. McCarthy goes into detail about raising her young autistic son. Earlier this week McCarthy was a guest speaker at the Toronto Convention Centre's Holistic World Expo where she spoke about her struggles with her son Evan. She preached about the toxins in vaccines and the need to use diet and suppliments to help cure autism. I've read her book and know how passionate she is about curing autism but somehow the word cure doesn't sit too well with me. For all her efforts I believe that Jenny will eventually come to realize that autism is a lifelong disorder. Her son may be able to blend into society as an adult but autism will always be a part of him.

See the news story below.

Addressing Autism Myths

Autism In The News
March 15, 2008

April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day. Autism is a very puzzling developmental disorder that carries with it a myriad of myths. CNN Medical News is promoting a special "The Myths Of Autism" to help dispel the common myths associated with autism and the people affected by it. For example, not every autistic person is a sauvant and their behaviors and abilities vary all along the spectrum.

See the story below and read or send comments to Dr. Gupta.

Golf Pro Ernie Els Reveals His Son Has Autism

Autism In The News
March 13, 2008

Life's not so easy for "The Big Easy."

Golf master Ernie Els recently showed up to pratice for the US Open with an Autism Speaks logo on his golf bag. This of course started the press asking questions. He revealed that his son Ben has autism and he wants to riase money to find a cure.

It's always interests me how putting a celebrity's face and story to a disorder helps to raise the public interest. With the increasing rise in the autistic population I'm sure more and more people will get to know children and parents dealing with autism in their own community. We tend to pay more attention to celebrities and it's more fashionable to talk about the plight of the famous over the water cooler. Whatever the initial fascination may be at least it helps to draw some attention and put autism out there for public awareness. See Ernie's story below.

Artist Paints A Picture Of Autism

Autism In The News
March 12, 2008
Artist Megan Tollefson is a Arizona State University grad. She also has 2 cousins with autism. She's seen first hand how the disorder can affect the whole family and wanted to bring about more public awareness. She painted a picture commemorating the States recent Autism Candlelight Vigil.
See the story below.

Autism Book For The Classroom

Autism In The News
March 11, 2008

One of the biggest challenges for teachers and parents to an autistic student is dealing with the classmates. Navigating the school playground and recess social scene can be daunting even for the regular population but imagine having communication difficulties or ticks that make you stand out in a crowd. In my experience it's best to introduce and explain the classmate's autism as early as possible and to encourage inclusion. The parents and teacher need to be on the same page about this mind you. Communication is vital and best if it's daily in written form. The teacher shouldn't wait for a problem to go away or get out of hand to start addressing the issue. An example of this would be to ignore instances of teasing and bullying. A recent book "A Is for Autism, F is for Friend: A Kid's Book on Making Friends with a Child Who Has Autism" by Joanna Keating-Velasco was developed as a resource for teachers and students. See the article below.

Jon Stewart Hosts Autism Benefit

Autism In The News
March 10, 2008

"A Night Of Too Many Stars: An Overbooked Benefit for Autism Education" will be held on April 13 in New York with Jon Stewart as the host to a bevy of Hollywood comedians and stars. Robert Smigel of Saturday Night Live fame started the first benefit in 2006 to help raise awareness and funds for autism education. His son Daniel has autism.
See the story below:

New Autism Film: The Black Balloon

Autism in The News
March 7, 2008

Rain Man and What's Eating Gilbert Grape are well known movies that help to put autism out there but they also end up adding to the stereotypes. In the recent movie Black Balloon, Elissa Down lets us peek into her life growing up with two autistic brothers. The coming of age movie stars Rhys Wakefield, Gemma Ward, Luke Ford, Erik Thomson, Toni Collette. The film promises to show a more true-to-life version of a family dealing with autism.

See the story here:

Autistic Girl Types Her Story

Autism In The News
March 4, 2008

Here's an uplifting story about a 13 year old girl who gives us a peek into her world. Carly has autism and uses her computer to communicate. Communication can be a struggle for the non-verbal autistic person and their family. Carly types, "It is hard to be autistic because no one understands me."


Autism In The News
March 3, 2008

IBI or Intensive Behavioral Intervention treatments are crucial for some children with autism. The treatments help to bring the children out of their enclosed world so they can learn and relate to others in a social way. The problem and ongoing concern for parents is the aging out of the IBI elligibility. Parents fund huge out of pocket costs to keep the therapy going and invariably go into debt due to the lack of funding. See the story link below.

Jenny McCarthy's Book On Autism

Louder Than Words: A Mother's Journey In Healing Autism

Real Women Magazine Jan/Feb 07
Optimism in the Face of Autism

by Wanda Lynne Young

You may be familiar with the name Jenny McCarthy but I must admit that I haven’t been following her career too closely. McCarthy is a comedic actress, television personality, Playboy playmate and a best-selling author. She’s written about pregnancy, motherhood and marriage in her books, Belly Laughs, Baby Laughs and Life Laughs. I never thought she and I would have anything in common other than our mutual appreciation for Jim Carrey movies. As it turns out, we both have sons with autism. In her recent book, Louder Than Words: A Mother’s Journey In Healing Autism, McCarthy takes a departure from her usual humourous tone. In the book, she gives readers a brutally frank and honest account of her struggles in dealing with her son’s condition, a failing marriage and a spotty career. The book starts with the harrowing tale of when McCarthy finds her two-year-old son Evan laying in his crib having a life-threatening seizure. McCarthy later reflects on this incident as being a giant wake-up call. Dealing with the wrong diagnosis of epilepsy, Evan then goes through a terrible ordeal of trying different medications and dealing with the wildly varying side-effects; at one point McCarthy wonders if she’ll have to choose between having a psycho kid or a zombie kid. Readers go on a very bumpy ride along McCarthy’s journey to the world of autism. After her son’s delayed diagnosis, the author gains insight through another celebrity, Holly Robinson Peete, who has an older son with autism. Robinson Peete tells McCarthy to imagine her son is stuck behind a window that she needs to pull him through. This image works well if you consider the common belief that there’s a limited window of opportunity to get through to autistic children.McCarthy jokes that she deserves a degree from the “University of Google” after all the Internet researching she did in her quest for answers and treatments to help her son. One thing the author swears by is her son’s gluten and casein-free diet which limits wheat and dairy products. Evan, who is now five, still maintains this diet. McCarthy also credits her son’s continued improvement to Intensive Behavioral Intervention, or IBI therapy. McCarthy gives her opinion on a variety of treatments, therapies and sounds off about the long wait lists and inordinate costs to treating autism. She strives to keep a level head throughout her ordeal but continues to question why or how her son developed autism in the first place. As far as the controversial vaccine theory, she weighs in on this topic, too, her wish being there was a test available to assess a child’s vulnerability before getting a vaccine.McCarthy credits her tenacious drive to her strong maternal instinct and deep connection to her son and sees herself as a messenger of hope and help for other “autistic moms” to find faith that their child can get better. McCarthy isn’t wearing a pair of rose-colored designer shades here either. She notes that there are children who never seem to improve or advance in therapy and warns that early intervention is crucial. McCarthy insists that all parents and pediatricians need to be aware of the signs or red flags that could be characteristics of autism; she reflects on missing her son’s signs such as his excited hand flapping, tip toe walking, lack of eye contact, spinning objects and fixating on moving parts, just to name a few. McCarthy wanted to share her story not to evoke sympathy but to raise awareness and encourage parents to become strong advocates for their children. As for my personal experience, I’ll save my son’s story for another time, but my advice to parents is to hold on to hope and harness every bit of help you can. Come to think of it, maybe it’s time I write my own book. Something to think about...

Autism Speaks Info Kit

Autism In The News
March 4, 2008

Autism Speaks has developed an information kit for parents dealing with the autism diagnosis for the first time. I wish this kit or any kit was available for us way back about 15 years ago. Basically parents get the diagnosis at some doctor's office and then you're on your own. No kidding! You end up leaving stunned with all kinds of questions. What is autism? Who do we talk to? When can we get help? Where can our child go to school? How do we cope? Apparently they can customize the kit to fit you're family and area. This is the type of thing that can help soften the blow a bit. One of the biggest problems dealing with autism is the maze of services and professionals. The first challenge is knowing where to find the maze before you can start weaving your way through it.
See the story below.

J Mac Story

Autistic Basketball Star

Neurofeedback Study

Autism In The News
Feb. 28, 2008

Neurofeedback is a treatment for autism symptoms. In layman's terms, the autistic person's brain is wired differently and the feedback therapy claims to help with the social confusion associated with the disorder. I wish my son, now 21, was given the opportunity to try the technique but he "aged out" before we had access to the treatment. See the story below.

Drowned Girl Update

Autism in The News
March 3, 2008

Xuan Peng, 36 was found guity of second-degree murder in the drowning of her autistic daughter, Scarlett. The automatic life sentence carries a minimum 10 year sentence. Reports indicate that the Peng had suffered from depression and bipolar disorder. Scarlett's father and grandmother appeared to be holding it together, so to speak. Scarlette, 4 at the time of her death, had spent time in her grandmother's care. Peng had called her husband several times on that fateful day. I have to question the family's level of support or help from their community. Where's the social workers? Where's the respite services? Did the family ignore these options or were they even aware of the services available? Were they on a waiting list? I'm just wondering if the family was going it alone. The stress of raising an autistic child can make a stable person crack. It's a fact. Xuan Peng, with her psychological problems, must have been a ticking time bomb! The key is to know when to ask for help.

See the news story here: