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  1. In Autism, the Social Benefits of Being a Girl

    February 8, 2016- "In Autism, the Social Benefits of Being a Girl"- Infant girls at risk for autism pay more attention to social cues in faces than infant boys, according to a Yale School of Medicine Study, which is the first known to prospectively examine sex-related social differences in at-risk infants. This difference in observational skills could help protect female sibling of children with autism from developing the disorder themselves. Researchers measured social attention in 101 infants between the ages of 6 and 12 months who have older siblings with autism. The team also studied 61 infants with no risk of autism. The infants were all shown a video of a woman smiling and cooing at them, while she was doing other activities like pointing to toys in different parts of the screen, and preparing a sandwich. The team tracked where the infants focused their gazes, and for how long. They found that girls in the high-risk group displayed more attention to people and their faces than all other infants. According to the lead researcher, “This increased access to social experiences during a highly formative developmental period predicted fewer social impairments at 2 years of age. It is important to note however, that this may not prevent ASD in high-risk females, but could mitigate the severity of autism symptoms.”

    • Feb 10 2016 12:59 PM
    • by brian
  2. Repetitive Behaviors Augur Developmental Delays...

    February 4, 2016- “Repetitive Behaviors Augur Developmental Delays in Autism”- According to a recent study, preschool-age children with autism who have severe repetitive behaviors and intensely restricted interests tend to lag intellectually and struggle with daily living skills later in life. The findings support the notion that repetitive behaviors pave the way for other autism-related symptoms, perhaps by shifting a child’s focus away from important learning experiences. Researchers found that preschool-age children who showed intense fascination with parts of objects, such as the wheels on a toy car, and had restricted interests, such as sniffing objects, had lower scores on cognitive tests at ages 8 to 10 than did those with mild repetitive behaviors or restrictive interests. The more extreme a child’s sensory preoccupation, the more severe his or her autism symptoms are overall, the researchers found.

    • Feb 05 2016 04:08 PM
    • by brian
  3. Yale Seeks more Objective Autism Diagnoses

    December 7, 2015- "Yale Seeks more Objective Autism Diagnoses"- Currently, getting an autism diagnosis can take several months of doctor’s visits (or more) and relies upon the opinion of the doctor conducting the diagnostic tests. According to Alison Singer, president of the Autism Science Foundation, “Your likelihood of receiving an autism diagnosis, unfortunately, is very much dependent on where you live and which clinic you’re able to get to—if you’re able to get to a clinic at all.” To advance the diagnostic method towards implementing more objective criteria, the Yale Child Study Center is spearheading a $28 million effort known as the Autism Biomarkers Consortium for Clinical Trials. The scientists will measure the child’s brain waves with an EEG and track the child’s eye movement while given certain tasks to perform as these two approaches have the most support from previous research. The article goes on to discuss how it will carry out its plans to develop a more objective diagnostic measure for autism. Recently, National Autism Network published an article highlighting potential autism screening tools for the future.  

    • Dec 08 2015 10:39 AM
    • by brian
  4. Avoidance in Tasks Predicts Autism Spectrum Beh...

    November 17, 2015- "Avoidance in Tasks Predicts Autism Spectrum Behaviors"- According to a new Yale co-authored study, infant avoidance during novel tactile task may be a predictor for autism spectrum disorder behaviors. Researchers had nine-month old infants participate in a task and collected data on their negative reactions and avoidance behaviors such as looking away from the task or physical resistance to the task. Researchers concluded that since physical touch is essential in early social interactions, avoiding physical contact during infancy might predict impaired social development, a main indicator of ASD. These findings are important because the sooner ASD-type behaviors are recognized, the sooner professionals can provide effective intervention, which is typically more effective the younger the children are.

    • Nov 18 2015 11:17 AM
    • by brian
  5. Child Guitar Prodigy Overcomes Adversity

    July 26, 2015- "Child Guitar Prodigy Overcomes Adversity"- At just 7-years-old, Eamonn Hubert has performed on stage with a number of bands. Eamonn has Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), a diagnosis that was recently reclassified under the umbrella term Autism Spectrum Disorder. Eamonn has only been playing the guitar since the age of five, but already has the talent to play it masterfully, along with the ukulele, bass guitar, mandolin, and dulcimer guitar.

    • Jul 28 2015 08:44 AM
    • by brian
  6. Making 'Miniature Brains' from Skin Cel...

    July 20, 2015- "Making 'Miniature Brains' from Skin Cells to Better Understand Autism"- Recent studies of genetic mutations in rare cases of ASD hint that development of the cerebral cortex in the fetal period is abnormal in autism. A Yale research team sought to pinpoint what goes wrong as the cerebral cortex develops. To this end, the team stimulated early cerebral cortex development by utilizing stem cells generated from skin biopsies of four patients with autism to grow three-dimensional miniature human brains. They then compared gene expressions and developing cell types between the patients and their family members without ASD. Patients in the study had enlarged heads, an indication of worse autism outcomes. The team discovered that the patients’ cells divided at a faster pace, and that they produce more inhibitory neurons and more synapses. They also noticed a 10-fold increase in a gene called FOXG1, which is important in the early growth and development of neurons in the embryonic brain. By regulating FOXG1 expression levels in patients’ neural cells, the researchers claim they were able to reverse some of the neurobiological alterations. Researchers also added that FOXG1 could be used as potential biomarkers of severe ASD and a potential drug target.

    • Jul 20 2015 11:55 AM
    • by brian
  7. Program Would Offer Job Training to 100 Young A...

    March 12, 2015- "Program Would Offer Job Training to 100 Young Adults with Autism"- A new bill in Connecticut addresses the high unemployment rate of adults with autism and the difficulties they may encounter with living independently. Before the program can even be implemented, professionals would need to be trained in order to teach vocational skills to individuals with autism.  The bill comes in response to a study by the legislature’s program review and investigations committee which confirmed that transitional services, programs that attempt to prepare teenagers and young adults with autism for an independent life, are lacking in many respects in the state.

    • Mar 16 2015 01:12 PM
    • by brian
  8. Report: State Must Strengthen Bridge to Adultho...

    January 13, 2015- "Report: State Must Strengthen Bridge to Adulthood for Young People with Autism"- Connecticut must lessen the divide between adults and teens on the autism spectrum and their independence. A recent study by the state’s legislature program review and investigations committee found that transitional services need to begin years earlier, as oppose to the current standard of age 16. The study also said that the state should increase housing and job-placement assistance to young people with autism, and that services in general for 18- to 21-year-olds need to be expanded in the face of the dramatic rise in the number of people diagnosed with autism. The study recommends creating two jobs, housing and employment coordinators at the DDS. The full report is available within this article.

    • Jan 15 2015 10:03 AM
    • by brian
  9. Saving Evan: A Mother and Son Navigate The Chal...

    January 2, 2015- "Saving Evan: A Mother and Son Navigate The Challenges of Treating Autism"- This special report details the journey mother Carol Marcantonio has had as an advocate raising her son, Evan, who has autism. The 7-chapter report begins with Evan’s mother first recognizing the signs of autism, discusses the impact the Sandy Hook shooting had on their family, and concludes with a look to the future. Within the text are several slideshows illustrating Evan's treatment sessions and progress.

    • Jan 07 2015 11:32 AM
    • by brian
  10. Interest Level May Serve as Predictor in Autist...

    December 2, 2014- "Interest Level May Serve as Predictor in Autistic Children"- According to a new Yale study, the level of interest in toys, activities, and social routines of children with autism is a strong predictor of their subsequent acquisition rate of verbal, nonverbal and social adaption skills. Children with ASD who displayed more interest in the world around them at two years of age were better at picking up those skills than those who showed less interest in the activities. Essentially, the study indicates that children at risk of poor progress in behavioral interventions can be identified as soon as two years of age. Researchers believe that designing more effective ways to naturally motivate such toddlers can allow researchers to improve their long-term outcomes.

    • Dec 03 2014 09:55 AM
    • by brian
  11. Medicaid to Cover Autism Therapies for Children...

    November 24, 2014- "Medicaid to Cover Autism Therapies for Children, Teens"- The Connecticut Autism Spectrum Disorder Advisory Council has until Dec. 15 to make recommendations to a proposed overhaul of the state’s Medicaid program to include services for ASD. State officials are concerned about the increased demand for services and the lack of professionals to deliver them. Under the proposed plan, Medicaid would cover evidence-based ASD services that are medically necessary based on a diagnostic evaluation, behavior assessment, and individualized plan of care for beneficiaries under age 21. The plan would also provide care coordination and family navigator services to both children and adults with ASD.  

    • Nov 25 2014 09:50 AM
    • by brian
  12. Yale Study: Siblings of Autistic Children have...

    October 15, 2014- "Yale Study: Siblings of Autistic Children have 20% Chance of Developing Disorder"- According to recent research from the Yale School of Medicine, younger siblings of children on the autism spectrum have a 20 percent chance of developing the disorder by age 3. The research found that 57 percent of those brothers and sisters will show symptoms by 18 months old. In about half the siblings, poor eye contact and lack of gestures predict the disorders. Others show repetitive behaviors or have limited non-verbal communication skills.

    • Oct 17 2014 10:06 AM
    • by brian
  13. Yale Study Shows Risk Patterns for Autism and S...

    September 17, 2014- "Yale Study Shows Risk Patterns for Autism and Schizophrenia Associated with Birth Size"-  A new study from Yale found that bigger babies have increased risk of developing autism, while smaller babies are more likely to develop schizophrenia. An analysis of 1.75 million Danish babies led to these conclusions. A theory that the activation of select paternal genes favor larger and more demanding babies was found to be true through this analysis in regards to develop autism. Conversely, maternal genes that favor smaller and easier-to-handle babies, thereby protecting the mother’s ability to deliver more children, might confer greater risk of schizophrenia. The article concludes with a possible explanation for this biological mechanism.

    • Sep 19 2014 01:19 PM
    • by brian
  14. East Haven Boy, 11, Uses Musical Gift to Overco...

    August 13, 2014- "East Haven Boy, 11, Uses Musical Gift to Overcome Autism"- This article begins with an anecdote from Julie Cestaro and the first time she realized her son, Peter, possessed a special gift.  Peter, who has autism, has a talent for singing and playing the piano. Last year, Peter participated in and won the “Ticket to Broadway” talent show with a rendition of Cee Lo Green’s hit “Forget You.” Cestaro, now 11, has parlayed his penchant for singing into a blossoming acting career with brief appearances on the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black, as well as a more age-appropriate acting gig in a nationwide Nickelodeon commercial.

    • Aug 15 2014 12:29 PM
    • by brian
  15. Autism Coverage Expands Under Affordable Care Act

    May 8, 2014- "Autism Coverage Expands Under Affordable Care Act"- The ACA prohibits annual dollar limits on essential health benefits, including autism coverage. As a result, Connecticut insurance companies are permitted to substitute dollar limits with nondollars limits, such hours of units or services, as long as those nondollar limits are equivalent to the dollar amounts in Connecticut statutes. In Connecticut, mandated coverge for the treatment of autism and early intervention services will continue and coverage for ABA therapy for ASD will now be required for not only group health plans but extended to include individual plans. Each health insurer or health care center making nondollar substitutions is required to submit to the Department of Health and Human Services, which enforces ACA in Connecticut, and annual certification and demonstration that the substitution for hour limits or unit limits was actuarially equivalent.

    • May 12 2014 09:55 AM
    • by brian
  16. Report: Autistic Children Restrained Most Often...

    February 10, 2014- "Report: Autistic Children Restrained Most Often in School"- According to a Connecticut state report, there were more than 33,000 cases of physical restraint or seclusion in public schools and private special education programs. The report from the state Department of Education shows that autism was the primary disability among special education students subject to emergency restraint or seclusion, with 40.4 percent of all such incidents involving a child with autism.  

    • Feb 12 2014 11:38 AM
    • by brian
  17. Experts Develop Autism Guidelines for Use State...

    December 6, 2013- "Experts Develop Autism Guidelines for Use Statewide"- Act Early Connecticut, a panel of members concerned about child’s healthcare in Connecticut, recently released statewide guidelines concerning autism spectrum disorders. The guidelines are designed to create consistency across the state of Connecticut so that children receive identical evaluations. The guidelines go into detail about what clinicians, psychiatrists, and other diagnosticians can do to make an assessment.

    • Dec 11 2013 09:37 AM
    • by brian
  18. Young Man with Autism Still Seeking Higher Educ...

    November 15, 2013- "Young Man with Autism Still Seeking Higher Education after Appeal to Obama"- Billy Pagoni was diagnosed with autism at 18-months-old, and now, at age 21, Billy has difficulty with communication causing him to be unable to attend a college program. In an attempt to fill this educational gap, Billy made a public plea to President Obama in April 2012, asking for his help to enroll in a secondary school so that he could become one step closer to fulfilling his dream of becoming a professional chef. Billy’s mom, Edith, is the director of the non-profit KNEADS, which is a social and vocational program for adolescents and young adults with autism. KNEADS is teaming up with Autism Speaks to develop a new educational model for restaurants and other businesses, which could be mutually beneficial for both the companies and autistic individuals who want to go to work.

    • Nov 18 2013 11:54 AM
    • by brian
  19. Darien Producer Tackles Complex Topic of Autism...

    August 12, 2013- "Darien Producer Tackles Complex Topic of Autism and Love in New Film"- Will Sullivan is the producer of a new film titled “Jane Wants A Boyfriend,” which tells the story of a girl with autism as she enlists the support of her sister to find a boyfriend. Sullivan claims that the film is based in part on real-life events that occurred while he attended New York University. This is Sullivan’s second film and he met with the girl who is the subject of the film and she has stated that she is very excited that it is getting made.

    • Aug 14 2013 09:35 AM
    • by brian
  20. Social Sabby coming up on Autism Integration Day

    July 22, 2013- "Social Sabby coming up on Autism Integration Day"- Kevin Frederick’s experience as a teacher caused him to realize the great need for programs for children with autism, which led him to create Social Sabby. As part of the program, Frederick conducts a series of group sessions for children with autism at Holy Angles Church three days a week. The 90-minute sessions are split evenly between classroom instruction in social skills and social-recreational instruction in the gym.

    • Jul 23 2013 10:40 AM
    • by brian
  21. Conn. Insurance Mandates May be Felt in New Rates

    July 14, 2013- "Conn. Insurance Mandates May be Felt in New Rates"- Insurance rates for individuals and certain employers are expected to rise once Connecticut’s new health care exchange is up and running. The Connecticut Business Industry Association contends that each new health benefit mandate increase the cost of health insurance, making it less affordable and accessible. Connecticut currently has 27 state-mandated benefits plus an additional five for less-common conditions, which is only second to Maryland, with 28 state-mandated benefits and eight more for rarer conditions.

    *Original article no longer available on source

    • Aug 22 2013 01:23 PM
    • by brian
  22. Black Belt with Autism Inspires New Nonprofit i...

    July 10, 2013- "Black Belt with Autism Inspires New Nonprofit in Westport"- Kyle Derman, a 20-year-old individual with autism, recently earned his adult black belt from Dynamic Martial Arts in Connecticut. Through the teachings of owner Mark Wilkinson, Derman learned skills that are especially difficult for children with autism, like putting sequences together and performing verbal and physical moves at the same time. Derman was Wilkinson’s first special needs student, but during Derman’s training Wilkinson has worked and continues to work with several other students on the spectrum.

    • Jul 12 2013 10:20 AM
    • by brian
  23. Autism Center at University of Saint Joseph wil...

    June 18, 2013- "Autism Center at University of Saint Joseph will Expand Services, Bolster Teacher Education, and Create Jobs"-  Governor Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut has recently announced a $4 million grant to support the construction of the Center for Integrative Education at the University of Saint Joseph. The center will be a 20,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility focused on services for individuals with ASD and support to families, caregivers, practitioners, and educators.

    • Jun 20 2013 09:56 AM
    • by brian
  24. River Street Walks for a Cause Close to their H...

    June 17, 2013- "River Street Walks for a Cause Close to their Heart"- Recently, the CREC community and other advocates participated in the Walk for Autism at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, CT. CREC has managed the River Street School and its program for 40 years and they serve more than 200 hundred students ages three to 21 with a variety of behavioral, communicative, and neurological disorders including ASD.

    • Jun 18 2013 11:11 AM
    • by brian
  25. Wings for Autism Comes to Bradley International...

    June 10, 2013- "Wings for Autism Comes to Bradley International Airport"- Autism Families CONNECTicut (AFC) is hosting an upcoming event known as Wings for Autism, a social learning experience for children and teens with autism. The event encompasses several airlines at Bradley International Airport and participants will be given a chance to simulate what it is like to experience traveling by plane. The social experience simulates the sights, sounds, and activities a child and his or her family encounter from the moment they enter the airport to baggage retrieval, including sitting on the plane. This practice is designed to help children experience what it is like to travel by air without leaving the ground in the hopes of avoiding future situations in which sensory overload might occur.

    • Jun 12 2013 10:17 AM
    • by brian