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  1. Feds Move to End Segregated Schools for Kids wi...

    August 22, 2016- "Feds Move to End Segregated Schools for Kids with Disabilities"- The U.S. Department of Justice is filing a lawsuit claiming Georgia has violated the civil rights of students assigned to the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support (GNETS) program, citing a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires students with disabilities to be educated as often as possible with children who are typically developing. The agency is seeking the closure of the 24 GNETS programs.  An investigation carried out by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Georgia schools assigned a vastly disproportionate number of African-American Students to GNETs program. Additionally, restraints were used nearly 10,000 times, five times more than at the state’s other 2,300 public schools combined.

    • Aug 22 2016 09:48 AM
    • by brian
  2. Girl Scout Creates Playground for South Middle...

    November 10, 2015- "Girl Scout Creates Playground for South Middle Students with Autism"- To earn her Girl Scout Silver Award, high school freshman Lucia Morris worked to redesign her former middle school playground for children with autism. Before Lucia’s intervention, the playground for children with severe autism simply consisted of two swings. Now, after 70 hours of effort from Lucia, involving researching equipment, pitching the idea, and attaining funding for the new installments, the playground consists of sculptures that are tuned on a musical scale, a sand table to help with sensory needs, a therapy hammock, a balance beam to help improve motor skills, and a shed full of toys and games, some of which are designed to assist with sensory needs and others designed to enhance motor skills. Although not on the spectrum herself, Lucia was inspired to help individuals with autism after participating in the peer buddy program in middle school in which students in regular education classes are paired with students in autism classes.

    • Nov 11 2015 12:10 PM
    • by brian
  3. Ga. Teen with Autism goes Viral with High Schoo...

    October 15, 2015- "Ga. Teen with Autism goes Viral with High School Football Moment"- Two high school football coaches recently conspired to give Heritage High School senior football manager Logan Pickett, who is on the autism spectrum, a moment he will never forget. After years of cheering from the sidelines as manager, Logan was put into the game and ran for a touchdown, after which he was picked up on the shoulders by his fellow teammates. The coaches wanted to demonstrate how the game can be more than just what happens between the sidelines on Friday nights. You can watch the video of the play and the ensuing celebration for yourself in this article.

    • Oct 19 2015 11:25 AM
    • by brian
  4. Mother Behind Autism Insurance Push Eager for G...

    April 18, 2015- "Mother Behind Autism Insurance Push Eager for Governor to Sign Bill"- Anna Bullard, mother of Ava Bullard for whom the recent autism insurance reform bill in Georgia is named, grows more anxious everyday Gov. Nathan Deal doesn’t sign Ava’s Law into law. The bill, which has been through several legislative sessions over many years, was finally passed by both the Georgia House and Senate after a compromise was struck. The governor has until May 12 to veto or sign bills, but many expect his signature on the new legislation before the end of April since it is Autism Awareness month. This article details Anna Bullard’s harrowing journey to find autism coverage for her own daughter, and potentially the entire state of Georgia.

    • Apr 20 2015 03:00 PM
    • by brian
  5. Georgia House and Senate Announce Deal on Autis...

    March 27, 2015- "Georgia House and Senate Announce Deal on Autism Bill"- The Georgia House and Senate recently announced a compromise on a bill designed to mandate insurance coverage for autism treatment. Legislators announced that SB1, which requires health insurers to cover autism treatments for children up to age 6, will be combined with House Bill 429, a measure dealing with end-of-life insurance coverage for terminal patients. Under the deal, autism insurance would be capped at $30,000 a year, rather than the initially proposed $35,000. Additionally, a vote is planned in 2016 for a .2 percent general sales tax increase which, if approved, would increase eligibility for autism treatments to age 18.

    • Apr 01 2015 12:30 PM
    • by brian
  6. House Committee Chair Says No Vote on Autism Bill

    March 25, 2015- "House Committee Chair Says No Vote on Autism Bill"- Rep. Rich Smith, chairman of the House Insurance Committee in Georgia, recently said that Georgia will not join the soon to be 40 other states that require insurance coverage for autism during this legislative session. An autism insurance reform bill, which currently sits in the House after passing through the Senate in January. Smith believes the bill doesn’t do enough to treat individuals on the spectrum and that a large fraction of children on the spectrum would be unaffected by the legislation.

    • Mar 27 2015 09:17 AM
    • by brian
  7. Photos Shine Light on Need for Medical Waivers

    February 23, 2015- "Photos Shine Light on Need for Medical Waivers"- In Georgia, there are 98,000 people with developmental disabilities and 7,400 on a waiting list for a waiver. Despite this, last year the state legislature approved money for only 400 new waivers. This year, the Georgia Counsel for Developmental Disabilites will ask for funding to support 1,000 waivers and an increase in funds for supported employment for the 1,300 young adults aging out of high school protections this spring. To help spread awareness and gain support, advocates launched the "Real Stories, Real People" online photo essay site about individuals living with developmental disabilities. Beate Sass, a photographer and launcher of the site, plans to create a traveling exhibit and publication to be given to lawmakers in hopes it will inspire them to grant the much needed funding.

    • Feb 24 2015 11:58 AM
    • by brian
  8. Georgia Senate Passes Autism Bill

    January 29, 2015- "Georgia Senate Passes Autism Bill"- The Georgia Senate has unanimously approved autism insurance reform by providing ABA treatment for children under the age of six. The autism bill is the first to pass through the Senate during the 2015 legislative session and now awaits House approval.  A similar bill died in the House during the 2014 legislative session, but the debate surrounded the addition of a medical marijuana bill to the autism insurance reform legislation, which caused the bill to die in the House. This year, the House vows to consider another medical marijuana bill, but separately from autism insurance reform, which bolsters its chances for becoming law.

    • Feb 02 2015 10:48 AM
    • by brian
  9. Autism Mandate Advances as Top Priority for GOP...

    January 26, 2015- "Autism Mandate Advances as Top Priority for GOP in Georgia Senate"- The Senate Insurance and Labor Committee of Georgia has unanimously approved a bill that would make insurance companies cover children with autism. There is still some disagreement on the bill, however, as opponents  fear the bill would increase insurance premiums across the state. Recently, parents and advocates of the bill held “Autism Day at the Capitol” to voice their support for the legislation.

    • Jan 30 2015 11:05 AM
    • by brian
  10. Autistic Brothers Excel in Southern's '...

    January 22, 2015- "Autistic Brothers Excel in Southern's 'Human Jukebox'"- Micah and Josiah Frank are integral pieces in what is described as one of the best college marching bands in the country, known as the “Human Jukebox.” The Southern University Marching band members are on the autism spectrum and excel within the strict routine that comes with developing a well-timed marching band performance. In this article, the brothers discuss how they are able to excel at Southern University as they are offered the proper supports that help them to excel in school and on the field for game days.

    • Jan 26 2015 11:03 AM
    • by brian
  11. Ava's Law Faces Setbacks in Georgia

    January 12, 2015- "Ava's Law Faces Setbacks in Georgia"- A bill known as Ava’s Law failed once again to pass on the last day of last year’s session in the state of Georgia. Named after Ava Bullard, a 10-year-old with autism, the legislation would mandate insurance companies provide coverage for ASD in the state of Georgia. Last year, the bill was added to a popular medical marijuana bill in the state, but that piece of legislation failed to pass with constituents of the bill blaming the addition of Ava’s Law for its demise. A news clip providing a summary of the bill is available within this article.

    • Jan 13 2015 10:20 AM
    • by brian
  12. Cass Homecoming King Extends Thanks

    November 1, 2014- "Cass Homecoming King Extends Thanks"- In this brief article, Cass High School Homecoming King Trenton Rolen gives his thanks to those who elected him to the high honor and those who helped him achieve such a high status. Trenton Rolen was diagnosed with autism and ADHD at the age of four. In this article, he describes how happy he was to hear his name called at halftime of the homecoming game and how he has never let his learning disability stop him from participating in a number of activities including baseball, band, and after school clubs.  

    • Nov 03 2014 01:50 PM
    • by brian
  13. Research on Psychiatric Disorders Targets Infla...

    July 23, 2014- "Research on Psychiatric Disorders Targets Inflammation"-  Researchers recently discussed how prolonged inflammation can play a role in chronic illnesses in the body and the brain. The article discusses the relationship between inflammation and treatment-resistant depression (TRD), anti-inflammatory treatment in schizophrenia, and inflammatory mechanisms in autism. The autism section of the research focuses on the gut microbiome in individuals with ASD and how researchers have focused on trying to improve it by introducing a medicalized parasite known as Trichuris suis ova (TSO), which works by tamping down the proinflammatory response to increase its survival within the host.

    • Jul 25 2014 09:42 AM
    • by brian
  14. Parents Frustrated after Autism Bill Fails

    March 21, 2014- "Parents Frustrated after Autism Bill Fails"- Georgia parents were angered and saddened to learn that the autism insurance reform bill failed to pass through legislation last week. The bill would have mandated the coverage for Applied Behavior Analysis for children with autism, and a similar bill will likely be reintroduced during the next legislative session.  

    • Mar 24 2014 09:06 AM
    • by brian
  15. Army Wife: Autism is No Reason to Disarm an Ame...

    February 22, 2014- "Army Wife: Autism is No Reason to Disarm an American Citizen"- Sandy Murphy, an army wife, claims she was forced to remove her firearms because she has a 10-year-old son with autism. She questions the legality of this action and lists the precautions she takes in her defense, which include alarms on every door, all trigger locks in place, all firing pins kept out of weapons, all weapons kept in locked closets, and all store unloaded away from ammunition. She hopes that the addition of a gun safe will grant her the right to keep her guns and feels that autism is not any reason to disarm an American citizen.

    • Feb 25 2014 02:34 PM
    • by brian
  16. Identification of Gene that Influences Joint At...

    February 5, 2014- "Identification of Gene that Influences Joint Attention in Chimpanzees Provides Insight into Autism Spectrum Disorders"- A recent study has given researchers insight into the biology of disorders in which receptive joint attention is compromised, such as autism, which may ultimately lead to new diagnosis and treatment strategies. According to the researchers, receptive joint attention is important for developing complex cognitive processes, including language and theory of mind, and poor joint attention may be a core feature in children with or at risk of developing ASD. Previous research indicates that the vasopressin receptor gene was necessary for remembering individuals and for social bonding in male rodents. The researchers studied chimpanzees and found that about two-thirds of chimpanzees are completely missing the RS3 element that seems to influence social relationships in humans, while the remaining one-third has the human-like sequence. The researchers found that male chimpanzees with the human-like RS3 sequence displayed higher levels of joint attention, and, therefore, needed fewer social cues to elicit a response.

    • Feb 06 2014 10:35 AM
    • by brian
  17. Deal Proposes Autism Coverage in State Health Plan

    January 16, 2014- "Deal Proposes Autism Coverage in State Health Plan"- Gov. Nathan Deal of Georgia has proposed the state employee health plan cover the treatment of autism through the allocation of $2.4 million in funds for coverage. State officials believe the funds could be collected through a combination of department funds a minimal per-member, per-month premium increase.

    • Jan 20 2014 11:15 AM
    • by brian
  18. Georgia Panel Blocks Health Coverage Expansion

    November 19, 2013- "Georgia Panel Blocks Health Coverage Expansion"- In Georgia, a commission created to review requiring new coverage on health plans voted overwhelmingly Monday to reject three proposed mandates. The appointee doctors, administrators, insurance executives, and legislators voted to recommend that the General Assembly not order individual and small-group plans to cover early treatment of autism, children’s hearing aids, and physician-prescribed diets.

    • Nov 19 2013 11:37 AM
    • by brian
  19. Vision or Hearing Loss Ups Autism Risk

    October 31, 2013- "Vision or Hearing Loss Ups Autism Risk"- Children with poor vision or a hearing loss are more likely to be diagnosed with autism than are those in the general population, according to a recent study. The study looked at more than 230,000 children in Atlanta who reached the age of 8 years between 2000 and 2008. The study found that 6 percent of children with hearing problems and 7 percent of those with visual impairments have autism, compared with 1 percent of the general population.

    • Nov 01 2013 09:04 AM
    • by brian
  20. Sweet Music to Their Ears

    September 23, 2013- "Sweet Music to Their Ears"- In May of last year, Georgia became the third state in the nation to require licensure for music therapists. Now, when music therapy is a prescribed by a physician and practiced in a goal-oriented treatment plan in the state of Georgia, it is reimbursable by insurance plans and Medicare. The American Music Therapy Association has been pressing states to pass insurance coverage for the evidenced-based therapy for years, and applauds Georgia for being a pioneer in the movement.

    • Sep 25 2013 09:38 AM
    • by brian
  21. Partnering with Black Churches to Raise Autism...

    June 25, 2013- "Partnering with Black Churches to Raise Autism Awareness"- Autism Speaks has recently launched a partnership with the National Black Church Initiative in an effort to spread autism awareness to African-American families. Studies suggest that African American families tend to be diagnosed later than Caucasian children and experience an increased gap in accessing early intervention services. The current goal is to bring the Autism Speaks Early Access to Care initiative to 150 Atlanta-area churches in the pilot phase of this program.

    • Jun 26 2013 08:43 AM
    • by brian
  22. Business Lobby Opposes Health Insurance Mandate...

    June 5, 2013- "Business Lobby Opposes Health Insurance Mandate for Autistic Kids"- This article discusses the National Federation of Independent Business' opposition to insurance mandates in the state of Georgia, including those that benefit individuals with autism. At the heart of the debate lies the conflict between taxpayers and business owners and those who require coverage and whether new insurance mandates would drive up taxes and the costs of doing business.

    • Jun 06 2013 10:16 AM
    • by brian
  23. Emory to Conduct Study of Possible Autism Blood...

    May 29, 2013- "Emory to Conduct Study of Possible Autism Blood Test"- SynapDx Corp. has chosen Emory University as one of the 20 sites of what will be the largest diagnosis study to date. The clinical trial will test the viability of a blood test to help doctors identify children with autism at a younger age. The blood test measures differences in RNA gene expression which can help families assess their child’s risk factor. This knowledge will potentially allow for clinicians to make faster, more accurate referral decisions.

    • May 30 2013 11:16 AM
    • by brian
  24. Miracle Puppy Has Impact on Boy with Autism

    April 16, 2013- "Miracle Puppy Has Impact on Boy with Autism"- Jonny Hickey, a young boy with autism, and his family recently adopted a puppy aptly named Xena the Warrior Puppy for her ability to survive in the Georgia wild before being found and nursed back to health. Jonny’s new puppy friend has helped Jonny develop socially and inspired the child to make an anti-animal abuse/anti-bullying video to promote April’s status as both Autism Awareness Month and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month.

    • Apr 16 2013 08:36 AM
    • by brian
  25. Unlikely to get a Vote, Autism Bill gets a Hearing

    March 11, 2013- "Unlikely to get a Vote, Autism Bill gets a Hearing"- Ava Bullard, an eight-year-old girl for whom Ava’s Law is named, was able to testify to before a Georgia Senate committee. The bill, which is unlikely to receive a vote this year,  would have mandated that insurance companies to provide coverage for autism spectrum disorder in the state of Georgia.

    • Mar 15 2013 08:44 AM
    • by brian