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  1. Boosting Social Skills in Autistic Kids With Drama

    June 1, 2016- "Boosting Social Skills in Autistic Kids With Drama"- This extensive article focuses on how schools are turning to the arts to teach high-functioning students with autism social skills. New research from Vanderbilt suggests that drama classes are particularly useful for improving these skills. Other research has shown that drama programs can help improve children’s facial recognition ability, their ability to play cooperatively, share, speak with respect, regulate anxiety, and more. Researchers plan to extend the research to a larger sample of students and to compare the benefits of drama therapy supplemented with other forms of therapy.

    • Jun 01 2016 09:10 AM
    • by brian
  2. Self-Injury in Autism May Be Sign of Pain

    May 19, 2016- "Self-Injury in Autism May Be Sign of Pain"- Two new research studies indicate that people with autism who engage in self-injurious behaviors may be experiencing heightened sensations to pain and acting out. A detailed explanation of each study and the impact of their findings are discussed in this article.  

    • May 20 2016 07:55 AM
    • by brian
  3. Parents are Creating a Neighborhood 'Utopia...

    February 3, 2016- "Parents are Creating a Neighborhood 'Utopia' for Adults with Autism"- Autism Breakthrough Knoxville spearheaded an initiative to develop safe and economical housing options for adults with autism. The autism-friendly neighborhood consists of seven homes plus an additional six homes in and around the Knoxville metro area, where staff transport and provide 24-hour support for residents.

    • Feb 04 2016 11:53 AM
    • by brian
  4. New State Program Planned for People with Disab...

    December 1, 2015- "New State Program Planned for People with Disabilities"- Tennessee will utilize the funds they save from the closure of two intensive, institutional care centers to fund a new program intended to serve people disabilities who currently receive no services. The budget proposals were presented by the state’s TennCare program and the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. More than 60,000 people are on a wait list for state services, with some having been on the list for more than a decade. The Employment and Community First CHOICES program will cost approximately $24 million in its year and serve up to 1,700 people in its first year. The program will provide job training and in-home services designed to keep people with disabilities as independent as possible in their own homes and with families. An outline of the entire proposal is available within this article.

    • Dec 03 2015 10:03 AM
    • by brian
  5. APSU Starts Pilot Program for Students with Autism

    August 11, 2015- "APSU Starts Pilot Program for Students with Autism"- Austin Peay State University is introducing a pilot program to assist students with autism known as Full Spectrum Learning. Earlier this year, a focus group was held that received input from professors, students, staff, and members of the community to help develop the program. The FSL program will not only focus on academics, but also on the social and extracurricular aspects of the college experience.  

    • Aug 14 2015 10:46 AM
    • by brian
  6. Tennessee Expands Autism Training for Educators

    July 6, 2015- "Tennessee Expands Autism Training for Educators"- The Tennessee Department of Education has been awarded a $10 million grant to be spread over 5 years. The grant allows a continued partnership between the TDOE and the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center’s Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD) to supply free services for educators involved in kindergarten through high school. TRIAD plans to provide 100 professional development and training opportunities annually to educators through statewide workshops, trainings, partnerships, and online education.  You can find education workshops like these for parents and special educators, as well as a number of other important events, in our nationwide Events Calendar.  

    • Jul 07 2015 10:31 AM
    • by brian
  7. See 15,000-piece Lego Model of Madison County C...

    December 14, 2014- "See 15,000-piece Lego Model of Madison County Courthouse, more Downtown Buildings from Weekend's Brick Blast"-  A recent Brick Blast in Huntsville, Alabama was not the result of a building demolition, but instead is the name given to the Tennessee Valley Lego Club’s biggest annual event in which 15,000-pieces of Legos were carefully snapped together to create a model of downtown Huntsville. The event drew about 500 on-lookers and the proceeds went to benefit Making Connections, a local, parent-led support network for families in the area. The event also included a hands-on activity center, where children on the spectrum could let their imaginations run wild as they completed their own Lego creations. One of the events’ highlights included a functioning Star Wars Imperial Walker created by Michael Lowder, who is on the autism spectrum. A video of his awesome creation is available for viewing within this article.

    • Dec 16 2014 10:29 AM
    • by brian
  8. Mothers of Children with Autism Benefit from Pe...

    July 23, 2014- "Mothers of Children with Autism Benefit from Peer-led Intervention: Study"-  In a recent study, Vanderbilt researchers examined two treatment programs and found that peer-led interventions that target parental well-being can significantly reduce stress, depression, and anxiety in mother of children with disabilities. Nearly 250 mothers of children with autism or other disabilities were randomized into one of two programs: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reductions (MBSR) and Positive Adults Development (PAD). The MBSR approach is more physical, emphasizing breathing exercises, deep belly breathing, meditation, and gentle movement. The PAD approach is more cognitive and uses exercises such as practicing gratitude. Mothers in the MBSR treatment saw the greatest improvements, but both treatments led to significant reductions in stress, depression, and anxiety and improved sleep and life satisfaction among participants.

    • Jul 24 2014 10:22 AM
    • by brian
  9. More Independent Work Environments May Lead to...

    January 15, 2014- "More Independent Work Environments May Lead to Reductions in Autism Symptoms"- More independent work environments may lead to reductions in autism symptoms and improve daily living with the disorder, according to a new study. Researchers examined 153 adults with autism and found that greater vocational independence and engagement led to improvements in core features of autism, other problem behaviors, and ability to take care of oneself.

    • Jan 16 2014 04:41 PM
    • by brian
  10. Children with Autism may have Trouble Linking S...

    January 14, 2014- "Children with Autism may have Trouble Linking Sights with Sounds, Researchers Say"- According to research at Vanderbilt University, children with autism have difficulty with sight and sound because their brains do a poor job of linking what they see with what they hear.  One of the researchers compared the sensation to watching a badly dubbed foreign movie. For the study, researchers compared 32 typically developing children with 32 high-functioning children with autism. Participants underwent a number of computer tests that displayed audiovisual cues, flashes or beeps with speech and pictures, and then asked the participants to tell them whether the sights and sounds happened at the same time. They discovered the children with autism had a harder time associating the visual and sound cue quickly. On average, the neurotypical children’s brains were able to link a sight with its sound in 150-200 milliseconds. By contrast, the autistic children sometimes took as long as a half-second to link input from the two senses.

    • Jan 16 2014 03:29 PM
    • by brian
  11. Autistic Karate Student Ryan Rogers Makes Histo...

    November 21, 2013- "Autistic Karate Student Ryan Rogers Makes History 4 Times"- Ryan Rogers is a karate student with Asperger’s and recently won a number of awards. Ryan recently won a number of medals at the U.S. Karate Nationals and also became the first person in history with autism to become a U.S. National Judge with the USA- NKF. Ryan is the student of Sensei Corey Green, who has helped to teach a number of students on the spectrum.

    • Nov 25 2013 11:41 AM
    • by brian
  12. Theatre Offers Promise for Youth with Autism

    October 22, 2013- "Theatre Offers Promise for Youth with Autism"- A novel autism intervention program using theatre to teach reciprocal communications skills is improving social deficits adolescents with the disorder. Called SENSE Theatre, the Social Emotional Neuroscience & Endocrinology (SENSE) program evaluates the social functioning of children with autism and related neurodevelopmental disorders. The article concludes with a dissection of the positive results of the study.

    • Oct 24 2013 08:42 AM
    • by brian
  13. What OBSTACLES? Autistic and Blind 12-Year Old...

    October 17, 2013- "What OBSTACLES? Autistic and Blind 12-Year Old to Sing Before World Outreach Church"- 12-year-old Christopher Duffey, who is blind and has autism, is preparing the release of his debut album with a series of performances this weekend throughout Middle Tennessee. A video of this YouTube sensation and his kid's choir is available at the bottom of this article.

    • Oct 18 2013 10:31 AM
    • by brian
  14. Transporter Linked to Autism Risk

    September 19, 2013- "Transporter Linked to Autism Risk"- Researchers at Vanderbilt have for the first time linked a non-inherited, or de novo, mutation in the dopamine transporter to autism spectrum disorder. This finding suggests that altered dopamine signaling caused by a spontaneously occurring transporter malfunction may be a risk factor for ASD.

    • Sep 24 2013 04:56 PM
    • by brian
  15. Deputies Attend Autism Recognition and Response...

    August 20, 2013- "Deputies Attend Autism Recognition and Response Training"- The Autism Society Bayou Chapter recently hosted an autism recognition and response training session for members of the Ten St. Mary Parish Sheriff’s Deputies office. During their training, deputies learned to better recognize basic behaviors and characteristics of children and adults with ASD. Officers also learned effective approaches when interacting with individuals affected by autism, such as enhancing communications and managing sensory influences.

    **Original article no longer available by publisher

    • Feb 12 2014 12:31 PM
    • by brian
  16. Autism 24/7: A Parent's Crusade

    August 18, 2013- "Autism 24/7: A Parent's Crusade"- This article discusses the purpose of the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and why as a parent and an advocate you should familiarize yourself with the laws regarding IEPs. The article includes a couple of scenarios of what can happen when IEP plans are not properly implemented and followed.  

    • Aug 19 2013 01:30 PM
    • by brian
  17. Pieces of Autism Puzzles Slowly Coming Together

    August 15, 2013- "Pieces of Autism Puzzles Slowly Coming Together"- This article discusses how far research into autism has come over the past decades and highlights the drawbacks of research into ASD. Small sample sizes, failing to include control groups, and inability for self-reporting has hindered past autism research studies. Another complication is the incessant touting of unproven treatments promoted over the internet.

    • Aug 19 2013 10:42 AM
    • by brian
  18. Training Pediatricians to Fill Need for Earlier...

    August 7, 2013- "Training Pediatricians to Fill Need for Earlier Autism Diagnosis"- The average age of autism diagnosis in this country remains at 4-5 years of age, while most children with ASD are able to be diagnosed by age 2. To help lower the age of diagnosis researchers are examining the value of training primary-care pediatricians to diagnose autism within their own practices and they have also developed a training model for pediatricians. The new training model teaches diagnostic interviewing and interactive assessment procedures. Ideally, all children should be granted the opportunities to be seen by a team of experts, but unfortunately there are not enough specialty providers and multidisciplinary teams to provide rapid, early diagnosis for ASD for all children.

    • Aug 08 2013 11:03 AM
    • by brian
  19. Autism Help: A Robot for Robbie

    August 1, 2013- "Autism Help: A Robot for Robbie"- Robbie Pruitt, a child with autism, is being taught how to focus on people and objects in his environment by a specialized robot developed at Vanderbilt University. Children with autism tend to be drawn to technology, which makes robot instructors a possible solution for teaching a variety of skills to children with the disorder. The article concludes with an interview with Zachary Warren, clinical psychologist, autism researcher, and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University.

    • Aug 02 2013 08:52 AM
    • by brian
  20. Socially Vulnerable Need Specific Interventions...

    July 22, 2013- "Socially Vulnerable Need Specific Interventions to Stop Abuse"- Understanding the differences between patients with autism, Williams syndrome, and Down syndrome might help tailor specific interventions to keep these populations safe from abuse and exploitation. The study found that the physical differences of someone with Down syndrome made them especially vulnerable to social exploitation and abuse. Individuals with autism were likely to have friends or be part of a group, and therefore more vulnerable to the victimization that preyed upon this weakness (physical abuse, theft). Since all groups were victimized in different ways, the researchers determined that antivictimization strategies should be developed separately for each disorder.

    • Jul 25 2013 09:52 AM
    • by brian
  21. Musical Theater Helps Kids with Autism Develop...

    July 14, 2013- "Musical Theater Helps Kids with Autism Develop Social Skills"- The University of Nashville recently hosted the third annual SENSE Theatre Summer Camp, a research program for improving the social and emotional functioning of children with autism. Children who attended participated in therapy while rehearsing a play written by the camp director and publicly performed it on the last two days. SENSE Theatre places the kids in roles suited for their needed therapy and surrounds them with peers – with and without autism – to encourage that imitation.  

    • Jul 15 2013 10:49 AM
    • by brian
  22. Pediatrician Training May Speed Autism Diagnosis

    July 15, 2013- "Pediatrician Training May Speed Autism Diagnosis"- According to researchers, a training program designed to teach pediatricians to better identify kids with autism may be an effective way to decrease wait times and flag children with developmental disorder at younger ages. In a three-year study, researchers at Vanderbilt University trained 27 pediatric providers, including doctors and nurse practitioners, across the state of Tennessee to conduct brief evaluations in their practices of children who screened positive for autism. After participating in the two-day trainings, the researchers found that the health care providers reached the same diagnosis conclusions as specialists 90 percent of the time.

    • Jul 15 2013 09:21 AM
    • by brian
  23. Brainerd United Methodist Church Helps Parents...

    July 8, 2013- "Brainerd United Methodist Church Helps Parents of Special Need Kids Keep Days Structured during the Summer"- Charlie Post is a 7-year-old with autism who is prone to temper tantrums when left alone for an extended period of time. For Charlie’s mother, summertime is not a relaxing period since she is constantly looking for new ways to occupy her son’s time in a constructive manner. Fortunately, a new program at Brainerd United Methodist Church is available to help special needs kids bridge the gap between May and August. The Reinforcing Education and Charting Horizons, or the REACH program, furthers special needs children’s education while giving their parents a break from providing around-the-clock attention.

    • Jul 09 2013 10:01 AM
    • by brian
  24. Money for Autism Research Donated

    May 29, 2013- "Money for Autism Research Donated"- Organizers helped raise almost $5,000 through the Sadie Lou Bike Run and live auction for autism for the Kevin Jr. Autism Foundation. The check was handed to Goldie M. Ross, the mother of Kevin Jr, who is a 22-year-old with autism. The fundraisers decided to give the money to Kevin’s mother after she participated and helped raise money at their event.

    • May 31 2013 10:32 AM
    • by brian
  25. Autism Conference is First of its Kinds in Sevi...

    May 7, 2013- "Autism Conference is First of its Kinds in Sevier County"- The Autism Society of East Tennessee recently held an educational conference aimed towards parents of children with autism. Parents were first treated to a large group section, and then disseminated into smaller seminars that were most relevant to them. Topics included sleep interventions for children with autism, strategies to prevent problem behaviors, prioritizing treatments for young children with autism, food aversions and nutrition, keeping the family strong, and self-management procedures for individuals with developmental disabilities.

    • May 09 2013 11:42 AM
    • by brian