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  1. Chemicals Banned Decades Ago Linked to Increase...

    August 23, 2016- "Chemicals Banned Decades Ago Linked to Increased Autism Risk Today"- A study from  A.J. Drexel Autism Institute found that children born after being exposed to the highest levels of certain compounds of chemicals, called organochlorine chemicals, during their mother’s pregnancy were roughly 80 percent more likely to be diagnosed with autism when compared to individuals with the very lowest levels of these chemicals. The team looked at a 1,144 children born in Southern California between 2000 and 2003. It was determined that two compounds in particular – PCB 138/158 and PCB 153 – were found to be significantly linked with autism risk. Children with the highest in utero levels of these two forms of PCBs were between 79 and 82 percent more likely to have an autism diagnosis, relative to those exposed to the lowest levels.

    • Sep 01 2016 08:19 AM
    • by brian
  2. Training Program for Those with Autism often Re...

    May 3, 2016- "Training Program for Those with Autism often Results in Low-Paying Jobs: Study"- The Vocational Rehabilitation system is one of the nation’s largest sources of public assistance for people with disabilities seeking work. A recent study by the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute in Philadelphia found that over half of the people with autism who used VR services got jobs. However, more than 80 percent of these individuals have part-time jobs earning a weekly median income of $160, well below the federal poverty line of $224. The 20 percent with full-time jobs had a weekly median income of $380, according to the institute’s National Autism Indicators Report.

    • May 05 2016 08:51 AM
    • by brian
  3. Pa. District Judges take Course on How to Ident...

    February 28, 2016- "Pa. District Judges take Course on How to Identify, Work With Autistic Defendants in Court"- A welcomed new trend of autism training for professionals seems to be sweeping across the country as more often police, firefighters, and other first responders are provided training to improve interactions with individuals on the spectrum in emergency situations. Following this trend, a recent law in Pennsylvania mandates that district judges in the state take a training course on how to interact with defendants of all ages with autism . The training is being met positively with Washington Township District Judge Jason Buczak calling it “eye-opening.”

    • Mar 02 2016 11:52 AM
    • by brian
  4. Maturity of Brain's Sound Processors May La...

    February 8, 2016- "Maturity of Brain's Sound Processors May Lag in Autism"- A key part of the brain’s sound processing machinery appears to mature slowly in children with autism, according to a large study of auditory processing in autism. The findings may help explain the language impairments often associated with autism. In the new study, researchers explored the structural and functional underpinnings of sound processing in 52 children with autism and 63 controls. The findings suggest that the auditory cortex develops more slowly in children with autism than in typically developing children. The researchers also found that with age, typical children gradually start responding to beeps in the right ear more quickly than to beeps in the left. Children with autism do not appear to develop this preference, further suggesting that auditory development is off-track in these children. The article goes on to discuss how the study was conducted and its findings in detail.

    • Feb 10 2016 01:01 PM
    • by brian
  5. 'He is the Best Teammate You Could Ever Ask...

    February 4, 2016- "'He is the Best Teammate You Could Ever Ask For: Boy with Autism Makes Big Plays in Basketball Game"- Sean Branning’s teammates cheered, his mother was almost brought to tears, and both sections of the crowd roared when he made the first baskets of his varsity basketball career. Sean, who has Asperger’s and a love for basketball, has been described as “the best teammate you could ask for,” and is supportive of everybody in the program, whether they are freshman or experienced seniors.

    • Feb 08 2016 04:46 PM
    • by brian
  6. Military Spouses say Needs for Children with Au...

    February 5, 2016- "Military Spouses say Needs for Children with Autism Unmet"- All of the military spouses who recently participated in a Penn State survey reported having at least one incident of a need for intervention or service going unmet for their older child for autism. The most common unmet need reported by military spouses was social skills therapy at 88 percent, followed by behavioral management intervention, speech-language therapy and physical or occupational therapy. The 189 families in the sample reported relocating between two and 11 times since the birth of their oldest child with autism. In response to the study’s findings, lead researcher Jennifer Davis is working to develop a mentoring program to link military spouses with children with autism and individuals with varying levels of relocation experience. This will create a support system for families that may improve their experiences with relocating.

    • Feb 08 2016 10:08 AM
    • by brian
  7. Federal Suit Says State Provides Inadequate Men...

    December 1, 2015- "Federal Suit Says State Provides Inadequate Mental Health Care"- A disability-rights group has filed a federal lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, claiming three people with autism and mental illness remained institutionalized solely because of the state’s failure to provide sufficient community-based services. The suit claims the state does not have enough beds in community-care programs for all those needing autism and mental health services, which include more than 1,000 on wait lists. The suit is the third in as many years alleging the state inadequately cared for people with mental illness.

    • Dec 02 2015 11:56 AM
    • by brian
  8. Blue Cross Must Cover In-School Autism Care, Pa...

    November 16, 2015- "Blue Cross Must Cover In-School Autism Care, Pa. Judges Say"- The Burke family recently won a suit they filed in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas in 2010 to overturn a decision made by IPRO, an independent certified review agency, that affirmed Independence Blue Cross’ denial of coverage for ABA services. On Friday, a decision from the Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld the Autism Insurance Act, requiring the insurer to cover the Burke’s family for autism-related services despite a policy exclusion in the even that care was provided by other facilities, such as schools. The details of the case are fully discussed in the conclusion of this article.  

    • Nov 18 2015 09:27 AM
    • by brian
  9. Medications, Parent Coaching Quell Hyperactivit...

    October 2, 2015- "Medications, Parent Coaching Quell Hyperactivity in Autism"- A drug called atomoxetine eases hyperactivity in children who have both autism and ADHD. A parent-led therapy also improves symptoms, but to a lesser extent than either the drug alone or a combination of the two. This latest study is the third largest clinical trial of the drug in this population, and the first to test the drug alongside parent coaching.

    • Oct 02 2015 10:39 AM
    • by brian
  10. State Law Mandating Police Training on Mental I...

    July 30, 2015- "State Law Mandating Police Training on Mental Illness and Autism Makes Everyone Safer"-  A new Pennsylvania state law makes it mandatory for police officers to be trained in recognizing mental illness, intellectual disabilities, and autism, and in de-escalating confrontations with people who exhibit certain characteristics. The need for this type of legislation is illustrated by the fact that as of June 30, police nationwide had shot and killed 124 people “in the throes of mental or emotional crisis,” according to a Washington Post analysis.

    • Jul 31 2015 08:39 AM
    • by brian
  11. 'The Dragon Master' Donates $2,500...

    June 2, 2015- "'The Dragon Master' Donates $2,500 to The Center for Autism"-  Recently, we brought you the story of south Philly’s Dragon Master,  Santino Stagliano. His affinity for dragons inspired his mother to buy him some t-shirts to draw out his dragons onto and she then posted his creations on Facebook. They garnered interest on social media and the pair decided to sell Santino’s works. Earlier this week, Santino helped present The Center for Autism, a place where he’s received treatment for more than two years, with an oversized check of $2,500, which is a portion of his proceeds from just seven weeks of t-shirt sales.

    • Jun 04 2015 11:21 AM
    • by brian
  12. Study Finds Fine Particulate Air Pollution Asso...

    May 24, 2015- "Study Finds Fine Particulate Air Pollution Associated with Increased Risk of Autism"- A University of Pittsburgh study has found that exposure to the pollution caused by such things as car exhaust and coal-fired power plants may be associated with an increased risk of autism. Researchers examined exposure to a type of fine particulate air pollution known as PM 2.5, which includes dust, dirt, soot, and smoke. Researchers interviewed the families of 211 children with autism and 219 children without autism born between 2005 and 2009 and living in a six-county southwestern Pennsylvania region. The researchers found that children who fell into higher exposure groups had an approximate 1.5-fold greater risk of autism. That’s also after accounting for other risk factors, such as the mother’s age, education level, and smoking during pregnancy. The article concludes with a discussion of research findings and how to reverse these troubling trends.

    • May 26 2015 09:37 AM
    • by brian
  13. Dragon Master Soars in South Philly Village

    May 5, 2015- "Dragon Master Soars in South Philly Village"- Santino Stagliano is “The Dragon Master.” He is also a 10-year-old boy on the autism spectrum who, with the help of his mother, Lisa Stagliano, has turned into quite the entrepreneur. Santino has always had a proclivity for dragons, particularly drawing them. This past April, Santino had been teased and got into a fight in the park. As a means of cheering him up, his mother went and bought some T-shirts for him to express himself on by drawing dragons. According to Bethany Barney, Santino’s outpatient therapist, “it was easier for [Santino] to talk about feelings by drawing dragons with those feelings.” In fact, Lisa says the first time Santino expressed his love to his mother was through a drawing of a mother dragon holding its baby. On a whim, Santino’s mother posted a picture of him working on his dragon T-shirt creations to Facebook. From there, people inquired how they can purchase one, and the two began selling their shirts for $5 a pop. In little under a month, 150 T-shirts have been sold with an additional 500 ordered, with some orders coming from as far as Minnesota and Illinois. Graciously, Santino is donating half of the money he earns to the Center for Autism, which his mother credits for teaching her son how to communicate his feelings, problem-solve, and understand social cues.  

    • May 07 2015 12:44 PM
    • by brian
  14. Councilman Releases Comprehensive Autism Report

    February 3, 2015- "Councilman Releases Comprehensive Autism Report"- Councilman Dennis O’Brien recently shared the report from the Philadelphia Autism Project before a committee on the disabled and special needs hearing onf the issue.  The project created a citywide task force to examine the services and supports for individuals and families who are living with autism in Philadelphia. The report identifies the most effective, efficient, and comprehensive system of care for individuals with ASD and their families living in Philadelphia.

    • Feb 04 2015 10:06 AM
    • by brian
  15. Noisy Patterns of Connectivity Mark Autism Brains

    January 29, 2015- "Noisy Patterns of Connectivity Mark Autism Brains"- According to a recent study, a mix of abnormally strong and weak brain connections is a hallmark of autism spectrum disorder. The same individual can exhibit both strong and weak connections, depending upon where you look within the brain. Researchers analyzed fMRI scans from 68 adults with high-functioning autism and 73 age-matched controls. As a group, people with autism showed the opposite pattern of connectivity to that seen in controls. On an individual level, researchers found noisier patterns of connectivity in the brain of people with autism than in controls. The more these patterns deviate from those of the controls, the more severe a person’s autism symptoms tend to be.

    • Jan 29 2015 10:57 AM
    • by brian
  16. Taking a Look at Anxiety in Autism

    December 28, 2014- "Taking a Look at Anxiety in Autism"- Although often overlooked in favor of treating more pressing autism-related issues, anxiety is highly prevalent in individuals on the spectrum. A new trial at Temple University hopes to treat the disorder by examining the effectiveness of two behavioral treatments with researchers from UCLA and the University of South Florida. The study will determine which of the two interventions is most effective and observe if improvements in anxiety lead to a reduction in other deficit areas common with autism.

    • Dec 29 2014 12:24 PM
    • by brian
  17. Autism Doesn't Stop Geneva College Student...

    December 11, 2014- "Autism Doesn't Stop Geneva College Student from Thriving on Field, Classroom"- This article begins with a description of Geneva College’s Senior Day, but the real story is Travis Rogan and his inspirational journey to get to the college’s Senior Day. Travis was diagnosed with autism at a young age, didn’t speak for the first five years of life, and experienced sleep difficulties throughout childhood. Although Travis is clearly intelligent, at the time he reached middle school the thought of college seemed like a dream due to his inability to perform socially. Travis credits his parents support and football as having a major impact on his ability to manage his anxiety. Travis began his football career in elementary school and excels as long snapper due to the repetitive nature of the position. Travis has come a long way since being non-verbal, initially applying for Geneva College without disclosing his autism. After going the first semester without telling anyone, he gradually told his professors, friends, and teammates. Admittedly, there are still times when he experiences high levels of stress and has to be alone, but that has not hindered him from performing academically and on the field of play.

    • Dec 12 2014 10:06 AM
    • by brian
  18. Study: More Pennsylvanians with Autism 'Get...

    November 19, 2014- "Study: More Pennsylvanians with Autism 'Getting Tangled Up' in Criminal-Justice System than Ever"-  In the state of Pennsylvania, the rate of juvenile justice-system contact among those with autism increased from 659 contacts per 10,0000 people in 2005 to 1,423 in 2011. According to a survey that included judges, district attorneys, children, youth and family workers, probation officers, correctional facility staff, and lawyers, 75 percent said they had not received autism training. This is disheartening when you consider how an individual with autism’s actions can be misconstrued as a side of disrespect or non-compliance if interpreted incorrectly by an individual who is ignorant to the disorder.

    • Nov 21 2014 11:28 AM
    • by brian
  19. The Medical Minute: Services for Adults with Au...

    November 19, 2014- "The Medical Minute: Services for Adults with Autism 'A Pressing Priority'"- Earlier this month, the latest Pennsylvania Autism Census Update found that autism has more than doubled from the last census, done five years ago. Alarmingly, the growing number of individuals on the spectrum are not children, but adults who have very little the in the way of government services and supports.  In Pennsylvania, there are currently only two programs that serve adults with autism. One is the Adult Community Autism Program, which is only available in a handful of counties. The second is the Adult Autism Waiver, which is a funding stream available to access services that focus mostly on behavioral health needs and community living and serves just over 400 people.

    • Nov 21 2014 10:32 AM
    • by brian
  20. Pennsylvania Autism Census Highlights Dramatic...

    November 13, 2014- "Pennsylvania Autism Census Highlights Dramatic Increase in Numbers"- A census from the Pennsylvania’s Autism Services, Education, Resources & Training Collaborative (ASERT) has found that the number of children and adults receiving services in Pennsylvania has tripled since 2009. The original Pennsylvania Autism Census found almost 20,000 individuals with autism receiving services across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but now that number has risen to over 55,000 individuals. The census also found that adults with autism receiving services were the fastest growing group in Pennsylvania.

    • Nov 14 2014 02:04 PM
    • by brian
  21. 16 Year Old Boy with Autism Duct Taped to Goal...

    October 13, 2014- "16 Year Old Boy with Autism Duct Taped to Goal Post"-  Austin Babinsack, a 16 year old boy with autism, was found duct taped to a goal post at Highland High Soccer Field as a victim of a bullying episode. Trapped in the hot sun, Austin was tied up for about 15 minutes before a State Trooper found him. The bullies in this instance are allegedly two soccer players and a coach.

    • Oct 13 2014 01:34 PM
    • by brian
  22. Computer Game Could Help Adolescents with Autis...

    September 25, 2014- "Computer Game Could Help Adolescents with Autism Improve their Social Skills"- Teenagers with autism may commonly suffer from social challenges and typically gravitate towards video games. With this in mind, students at Penn State have worked to develop a video game that can help teens learn social skills as they play. The team set out to create a game that asks teens to pay attention to others’ body language during social interactions, while also making it enjoyable to play through a simulation of fighting crime in an underground maze to catch criminals. In the game, players must seek out directional hints from silent tunnel dwellers that point, turn their heads, or move their eyes to deliver a clue. Not only must players seek out these social interactions, but must be able to interpret and act on the clues to advance in the game.

    • Sep 29 2014 10:17 AM
    • by brian
  23. A.J. Drexel Autism Institute Receives $3.6...

    September 10, 2014- "A.J. Drexel Autism Institute Receives $3.6 Million Gift to Launch Life Course Outcomes Research Initiatives"- An anonymous donor awarded the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute a $3.6 million grant to launch four major initiatives of its “Life Course Outcomes” research program, which is focused on understanding and improving quality of life issues for people one the autism spectrum at all ages. The four major research initiatives include the Indicators Initiative, which assesses community and national indicators of services and outcomes, the Promising Practices Initiative, which examines innovative approaches to service provision and policies, the Research Leader Initiative, which expands the field of useful research by training additional scholars, and the Long-Term Knowledge Initiative, which consists of doing studies that discover how life unfolds over a long period of time for with ASD and their families.  

    • Sep 12 2014 09:58 AM
    • by brian
  24. Despite Laws, ABA Therapy Often Hard to Come By

    August 12, 2014- "Despite Laws, ABA Therapy Often Hard to Come By"- This article details the large gaps in coverage many families from Pennsylvania and New Jersey are experiencing when trying to obtain ABA services for autism. Furthermore, the laws that do mandate insurance coverage only do so for children, which means an ever-growing population of individuals are aging out of coverage for services. This article details the lapses in coverage for each of these states using real families’ struggles as examples of the horrid mess that is occurring due to convoluted autism insurance laws.  

    • Aug 13 2014 09:24 AM
    • by brian
  25. Brothers Display Comic Book Series about Autism...

    April 30, 2014- "Brothers Display Comic Book Series about Autism at Indian Valley YMCA"- Kambel and Kantai Smith recently had their artistic comic book series showcased at the Indian Valley YMCA. Kambel and Kantai do the illustration, design, and behind-the scenes works, while their father, Lonnie Smith, writes the stories. Kambel was diagnosed with autism during his adolescent years and has used his artistic side to help quell past feelings of rage and depression. The pair have four “Survivor” series comic books on display and they even have plans to expand the franchise into a video a game.

    • May 02 2014 11:13 AM
    • by brian