Saturday, February 9, 2008

Autism News Articles-SPECIAL NEWS Feb 4-8th 2008

Autism News Articles
February 4th, 2008-February 8th 2008

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By request
From a listmate
Here is a message from our coach, giving more accurate details and info regarding the coverage of the special needs hockey teams during Hockey Day in Canada on Saturday. Many of our listmates have children playing on these teams.


The National will be covering a story about the Special Needs Hockey League in Southern Ontario, featuring the Cambridge team, with a game played with Newmarket Nighthawks as part of the coverage - many listies have children on these teams. It is schedule to air this Friday night, February 8th.

Also, Hockey Day in Canada will be all day coverage on Saturday Feb 9th, at some point during the day a longer segment about Special Needs Hockey will be played, however, not sure on what time it is scheduled for.

I know some of you are anxious to know the following…….sources tell him that there will be something on the National either tonight or tomorrow night and then on Hockey Day in Canada which is this Saturday, sometime around 1:00pm to 1:15 pm on CBC there will be a feature.

The National broadcast regarding special needs hockey, featuring the Cambridge Ontario Ice Hounds.

Hi all,
If you missed the broadcast last night, here's the link to the National's website where you can watch a rebroadcast. The story is around the 44 minute mark, so you can scroll forward to see it.


And the facebook link

Man walks to Ottawa
UPDATE from Pat LaLonde
Just got an update. Mr. Marinoiu left Elgin this morning, and is nearing his destination for this evening, Smith Falls. He was interviewed by the Smith Falls this Week!!!!!!

I want to send out a huge THANK YOU to the local media!!! You have done an amazing job letting the public know about Stefan's Walk. Mr. Marinoiu's family is very grateful for all of your support. What an incredible individual Stefan is to be walking from Toronto to Ottawa to raise awareness for Autism. As a parent, I can certainly understand his frustration!!!!!!

Thank you to the Marinoiu family and in particular Stefan Marinoiu for enduring the cold, wind, snow and rain to help some of the most vulnerable individuals in our society.

Mr. Marinoiu's daughter Lia has started a Facebook Group for her father's walk. I believe the groups title is My Father is Walking to Ottawa for Autism. There were approx. 400 members yesterday and it is nearing 800 today!!!! Well done Lia....... Here's wishing your dad a safe journey!!!!!!

Pat La Londe
Laura from Kerry’s Place met him and Pat sends this update:
Hi All,

Here are some pictures of Mr. Marinoiu outside of Kingston on Hwy 15. Laura from Kerry's Place here in Kingston drove out to meet Mr. Marinoiu. He was able to use her cell phone to call his family. I have contacted the OPP in the Area. They are going to keep an eye on Mr. Marinoiu to ensure his safety. Apparently he will be spending the evening in Elgin and then continue his trek to Ottawa.....

Wow, I am so very proud to be part of the Autism Community. The community has really pulled together to help support this incredible individual. I am happy to report that this story was the lead on the 3pm radio news cast here in Kingston. It was also reported on by another radio station. I am hopeful the local newspapers will put something in as well as the local tv station.....

Thats all the info. I have for now!!! Well done Stefan!!! The Autism Community is extremely proud of you and thankful to you for your incredible effort to bring attention to Autism.

Pat La Londe

Father makes trek to shed light on autism

Posted By Sean Tomlinson
Posted 2 days ago
You can't really blame Stefan Marinoiu for wanting a shortcut to Ottawa, especially since he is walking there from Toronto.
When the Ontario Provincial Police picked him up near Oshawa he found out Highway 401 was the wrong choice.
"It's illegal to walk on the 401. I didn't know that," he said. "I thought it would be a better, straight, shorter way."
Marinoiu, 49, is making the 452-kilometre walk from Toronto to Ottawa to raise public awareness of autism.
His passion for autism is evident when he speaks and the sandwich board sign he wears which reads 'autism: time for a national solution' only reinforces that.
Marinoiu has a 15-year-old son who was diagnosed with autism when he was a child.
Marinoiu and his wife have struggled to provide proper support while their son's condition has deteriorated with age. He has now become aggressive, a common symptom in autistic children, and Marinoiu is afraid the Children's Aid Society may take him away, fearing he could hurt their younger six-year-old child.
"His autism has progressed to the point that communication is a struggle," Marinoiu said. "We just do not have the money to provide proper care for him."
Once in Ottawa, Marinoiu plans on going straight to Parliament Hill to speak with the federal government about increasing funding to support families like his who are dealing with autism. He also wants to urge the government to fund more research into autism.
"There are three types of governments: Governments that make things happen, governments that see things happen and the kind that asks what happened," he said. "We need to be the government that makes things happen."
Marinoiu, who has a plate in his left foot after breaking it two years ago, began his walk last Thursday morning from his home in Toronto. By Monday night he had walked the 171 kilometres to Trenton.

Autism activist treks through Napanee
Posted By Micah Luxen
Posted 1 day ago
With a bright pink sign for autism, one man, Stefan Marinoiu, walks alone down the highway, making his way from Toronto to Ottawa in the cold.
He’s already walked six days at three kilometres an hour with an injured foot, but Marinoiu is going all the way to Ottawa for his 15-year-old, who has autism. The determined father says autistic children need much more support from the government.
“[The government] is telling me they have no resources for us but as autistic children get older, life gets more difficult, so we need more help, and I’m going to the federal government to ask them for it,” said Marinoiu, as he walked though Napanee on Wednesday afternoon.
He went on to say that the United States government offers families with autistic children substantial support, something he hopes the Canadian government will adopt.
“I’m trying to do something for all those children in Canada who have autism, because they deserve the same happiness as the other children,” said Marinoiu of the illness that affects brain development in one in 1,000 children.
It’s been a hard walk for Marinoiu who’s kept on course, even during two blizzards.
“The snowstorm was really bad, but I kept walking, with the exception of a 10 minute drive by the OPP who said, ‘wow, you’re going to freeze to death.’
“And I’m very slow because I never did this before.”
The OPP picked up the walker on the 401, where it is illegal to walk – he’s now using Highway 2.
Marinoiu hoped to reach Kingston by Wednesday nightfall.
“I’m not a protester--I’m going to Ottawa in friendliness. I just want to find a solution for autism.”

Father makes trek to shed light on autism

Belleville Intelligencer - Belleville,Ontario,Canada

You can't really blame Stefan Marinoiu for wanting a shortcut to Ottawa , especially since he is walking there from Toronto .

When the Ontario Provincial Police picked him up near Oshawa he found out Highway 401 was the wrong choice.

"It's illegal to walk on the 401. I didn't know that," he said. "I thought it would be a better, straight, shorter way."

Marinoiu, 49, is making the 452-kilometre walk from Toronto to Ottawa to raise public awareness of autism.

His passion for autism is evident when he speaks and the sandwich board sign he wears which reads 'autism: time for a national solution' only reinforces that.

Marinoiu has a 15-year-old son who was diagnosed with autism when he was a child.

Marinoiu and his wife have struggled to provide proper support while their son's condition has deteriorated with age. He has now become aggressive, a common symptom in autistic children, and Marinoiu is afraid the Children's Aid Society may take him away, fearing he could hurt their younger six-year-old child.

"His autism has progressed to the point that communication is a struggle," Marinoiu said. "We just do not have the money to provide proper care for him."

Once in Ottawa , Marinoiu plans on going straight to Parliament Hill to speak with the federal government about increasing funding to support families like his who are dealing with autism. He also wants to urge the government to fund more research into autism.

"There are three types of governments: Governments that make things happen, governments that see things happen and the kind that asks what happened," he said. "We need to be the government that makes things happen."

Marinoiu, who has a plate in his left foot after breaking it two years ago, began his walk last Thursday morning from his home in Toronto . By Monday night he had walked the 171 kilometres to Trenton .

He said it has been frigid at times, especially through the blowing snow, freezing rain and high winds of Friday's snowstorm. But he just kept walking.

"I'm making something happen," he said. "If it takes me 10 days that's nothing compared to a life of despair."

He has had some help along the way. On Friday night, a Newtonville couple invited him into their home, made him coffee and a hot meal, washed his clothes and gave him a bed for the night.

At 3 a.m. Sunday Marinoiu found himself at the door of the Pentecostal Church in Cobourg. The church not only welcomed Marinoiu but gave him bedding and made him a part of their Sunday morning service.

Although he has accepted several small donations along the way from supporters, he insists he is not doing this for money.

He said he was given the "run around" after writing letters to the federal government and grew frustrated, so he decided this was the only way to promote awareness of autism.

People have referred to him as a protester, but Marinoiu does not see himself that way.

"I'm a friend. I'm not a revolutionist, I'm just a simple man trying to get a point across."
Mr. Marinoiu's daughter, Lia, has set up a facebook page to promote her father's journey. She wants to try and find out from people around Ontario where her father is now.
The link for the Facebook group is:\?gid=8363327485
Mr. Marinoiu is doing this for all Canadians that are struggling to support their loved ones with a diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorder. He is right we do need our governments to do more. Let this motivate all of us to work harder.
Laurie Mawlam
Executive Director
Autism Canada Foundation


The heartbreak ...and hope of autism. Jason "J-Mac" McElwain inspired the world with his incredible shot-making at a high school basketball game. Larry talks to the teen and others about the disorder. Holly Robinson Peete, Doug Flutie and Toni Braxton join the discussion to bust myths and present breakthroughs. It's an uplifting hour with those who know!

good article about flying with someone that has a disability

From a listmate

No Link Between Autism and Vaccines?
Readers Aren't Convinced

By Carrie Stetler.

Many (NJ Star-Ledger) readers still believe there's a link between autism and vaccines, no matter what the American Academy of Pediatrics says.
The Academy recently pressured ABC to pull an epside of it's courtroom drama "Eli Stone" which centered around a suit against a pharmaceutical company that makes vaccines. But ABC refused.
On Sunday in the Star-Ledger PG section, we asked readers if the show should have been broadcast. They unanimously backed ABC. And they were united in their belief that studies disputing a relationship between autism and vaccines weren't conclusive. We'll publish more responses in the Feb. 24 issue of PG.
"I absolutely believe there is a connection between vaccinations and many other illnesses. The FDA and the pharmaceutical companies are all corrupt. We need more shows showing how corrupt the FDA and pharmaceutical companies are." Lonny Neely
"'Eli so eloquently compared the vaccine issue to the tobbacco industry. How many people for how many years swore that tobacco products were harmless? It took over thirty years from the first lawsuit to the first financial settlement...Why is the AAP so upset about this episode if they really do believe there is absolutely, undeniably no connection between vaccines and autism?" LaRonda Gumm
"I think that as with any fictional story that might air, why the caution (over) this one? The AAP group just will do anything to get the vaccine safety group to go away. People just do not want to acknowledge that there may be safety issues with the preservatives in vaccines. Most parents worry around vaccine time with their new infant. Why? There is something in the back of their heads that tells them they should be worried." Rita O'Grady
"More and more children have serious allergies and asthma. No wonder, when the vaccines they are injected with as newborns are full of allergens. Don't you think it makes sense to put a moratorium if not roll back on vaccine mandates and see if children get healthier, even if they have a bout of chickenpox?" Gabriella Landman

From a listmate

Don't Rule Out Mercury As A Factor In Autism
Column in today's Capital Times.

Dear Editor: Amazing what a silly television show can do to get the attention of the mainstream medical community.
Despite letters bordering on hysteria from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the March of Dimes, ABC went ahead with the show "Eli Stone." The first episode was about a case where the jury awarded a family compensation for a vaccine ingredient (thimerosal, 50 percent organic mercury) linked to their child's autism.
Because of this show we have now seen over 1,000 headlines that say "Once and for all, mercury does not cause autism." Who says it does? The studies I read are saying that mercury is a neurotoxin and causes/exacerbates neuroinflammatory disease. There are now 11 published papers that define the underlying medical condition of autism as neuroinflammatory disease.
The most in-depth paper, "Neuroglial activation and neuroinflammation in the brain of patients with autism," was done at Johns Hopkins University. It was done by analyzing brain tissue of deceased autistic patients.
One might think the most logical question would be: What is causing the neuroinflammation? If you go to the most popular health search engine and type in "mercury and inflammation," you will get 156 published papers to review. Many of these papers explain the role of mercury and activation of microglial cells in the brain. In a paper published in the Journal of Neuroinflamation, "Microglia and neuroinflamation: a pathological perspective," the authors define activation of microglial cells as being synonymous with neuroinflammatory disease.
We now know that primates exposed to ethyl mercury via vaccines retain twice as much inorganic mercury in their brains as primates exposed to equal doses of methyl mercury. These primates were exposed to mercury levels at a rate equal to what U.S. children received via standard childhood vaccines in 1991-2003.
Why has research in this area been stopped? Maybe someone from the National Institutes of Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can answer this question. They seem to have billions to waste on chasing that elusive, spontaneous, mutating autism gene.
- Michael Wagnitz

Michael Wagnitz is a Madison resident with over 25 years of experience evaluating material for mercury and other heavy metals.

From a listmate

Time For Honest Assessment of
MMR Vaccine's Risks

Another weak scientific research paper is paraded as definitive proof that no link exists between the controversial MMR vaccine, bowel disease and autism (The Scottsman, 5 February).
Accompanied by a barrage of well-orchestrated government propaganda this "new" research attempts to draw a line under what must be the longest-running public health scandal ever.
This latest paper is nothing but another layer of deceit in a litany of dissimulation. The wrong children have been tested, the wrong tests carried out, the wrong hypothesis explored and the wrong conclusion reached.
In contrast, parents should note that in 2006 an American medical scientific team (led by Stephen Walker MD, Wake Forest University School of Medicine) clinically examined 275 regressive autistic children with bowel disease (the target group). Of the 82 children tested, 70 proved positive for measles virus in the gut and/or gastro-intestinal tract. All were vaccine strain and none wild virus measles. I quote: "This research proves that in the gastro-intestinal tract of a number of children who have been diagnosed with regressive autism there is evidence of measles virus."
The reaction of public-health supremos in the UK to this confirmation of earlier-published scientific evidence, parental testimony and anecdotal reports from health workers regarding adverse reactions to MMR was the same old, same old: silence, denial, cover-up.
It is time for someone with integrity and compassion in politics or public health to take action to bring this shameful episode to an end.
- Bill Welsh President, Autism Treatment Trust Stafford Street Edinburgh

WORKSHOP from a listmate

A FA SE at school
Advocating For Appropriate Special Education

Saturday, May 3, 2008
10:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

This full-day workshop is designed to empower you by providing current special education
information, strategies, and skills that will enable you to advocate for appropriate special education
programs and services in a way that is both assertive and collaborative

Audience: Parents, Students, Teachers, Educational Assistants, and Community Organizations
Lindsay Moir who is retired from the Ministry of Education is considered to be an expert in special
education issues. He will present an interactive, discussion-based workshop on Current Issues in
Special Education.

Karen Robinson the owner of AFASE at School will present Special Education Advocacy:
Everything you Should Know. Topics include: The Rules of Advocacy, The Special Education
Program, Needs Statements, IPRC's and the Appeal Process, The good IEP with Specific Goals,
Measurable Expectations and ABA methods.

Each presentation will allow time for Q & A

Coffee and pastries, and a light lunch will be provided
Peel Regional Police
Clarkson Community Station
Community Meeting Room
2057 Royal Windsor Dr.
Mississauga, Ontario N5X 1B6
N/W corner of Southdown and Lakeshore/Royal Windsor

Short walk from Clarkson GO Train Station


*Early bird rate: $80.00
*At the door: $100.00

To register use the registration form using this link
or e-mail:
or phone: 905-427-7524

*Fee includes refreshments and handouts for each presentation


Tutorwiz Education Centre is holding a Computer Day Camp March 10 through March 14 for children 7 to 14 years of age. Its runs from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM daily.

Campers will learn to effectively use many educational computer programs such as Dragon Naturally Speaking and Inspiration/Smart Ideas, in addition to MS Word and POWERPOINT. They will also become familiar with the basics of designing a website.

Although the camp is very educational, the main objective is FUN, FUN, FUN!!!!!

Activities at the camp include:

• Designing and creating business cards
• An Internet scavenger hunt
• Designing and creating a fully animated POWERPOINT presentation including sound and videos
• Movies and creating a Movie Review
• Designing and creating a basic webpage

Spaces are limited so act now – application forms are available on our website


from a listmate

I was a visitor to Planet Earth
Source: Sunday Times, 03 FEB 08
By Wong Kim Hoh
In the last instalment of New Asian Heroes, an eight-part series on Asians who lead inspiring lives, meet Eric Chen, who suffers from autism and wants to raise awareness of the illness.
Touching Base: Eric Chen used to describe people as "alien life forms" as they are unpredictable and shunned contact with them, but not anymore. After he was diagnosed with autism, he became determined to integrate himself into society and raise awareness of autistic people.

From a listmate

From - a story of a family where all six children are on the spectrum.....

The Mississauga News

Families sue to get autism therapists into school
2008-02-07 21:47:49.000
A Mississauga woman fighting to have her eight-year-old autistic son attend school, accompanied by his therapist, is taking her case to the Ontario Court of Appeal on Monday morning.
Lynn Shane, who last year pulled her son, Adam, out of Grade 2 at Ashgrove Public School in Clarkson because he was falling behind due to the rigours of balancing classes and 21 hours of weekly at-home therapy, has joined forces with five other Ontario families in hopes of launching a class-action lawsuit against Queen's Park and seven school boards. The Peel District School Board and Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board are among those named.
In essence, the parents want to be able to send their autistic children to school while also getting them the therapy they need. Because outside therapists aren't allowed in schools, though, Shane, and parents in the same situation, must choose between school or therapy.
"No one will give us a specific reason, and the only reason is that therapy cannot be done in school," said Shane, who more recently has been teaching her son at home and driving him to Burlington four times each week for therapy.
"These kids deserve the same opportunities as the rest of the kids who attend school in Canada."
Some 1,500 Ontario families find themselves in similar circumstances, and they could join the lawsuit if it moves forward.
Education Ministry spokesperson Patricia McNeil said there's no provincial policy that prohibits therapists in schools, but added it's the school boards that make such decisions.
"There are space issues with many schools," said McNeil. "They just don't have the area to enable the proper delivery of the therapy. Boards also have different policies regarding the use of their space by private service providers."
The Peel Board, under its special education operating procedures, forbids anyone or any agency from paying for in-class help for students.
It prohibits students from bringing private tutors to class, or autistic pupils bringing their therapists to school, said Brian Woodland, director of communications for the Peel Board.
"No matter what the role, the concerns are there because you have a child on a completely different program from anyone else, but you have a teacher employed to deliver that curriculum," said Woodland. "The operating procedure, because of the issues, is what serves the Board well."
Shane said Adam would need only to have a therapist by his side to walk him through the same work other students in class would be doing. His mother says he's a great learner.
"It makes me terribly sad that he's not given the opportunities," said Shane. "He's going to grow up and he's going to be a teenager, and he's going to miss out on everything."
David Baker, lawyer for the families, said an unfavourable ruling from the Appeal Court, which could derail the lawsuit, would be a huge disappointment for the parents.
"Most of them have mortgaged their houses, or sold their houses, and used up their RRSPs to pay for education to go with the therapy," said Baker.
One of the families, however, has made inroads. The Martinis' two autistic children, Noah and Jonah, receive on-site therapy while attending their York region school.
"Nobody else has been permitted to do it, and nobody can explain why they've been permitted to do it," said Baker.
McNeil said parents have to make a choice.
"At the end of the day...parents have to look at their child's needs and decide what's going to assist their child the best. Not all schools can accommodate that type of one-on-one therapy," she said.
Ideally, for Shane, her four-year fight would end without lawyers and judges.
"(Ideally), the school calls me up and says bring him in and bring anything he needs," Shane said. "We just need someone to sit with him and say, 'this is the lesson the other students are doing; let's break it down,' so he can learn it. It is not a big deal."
There could be hope on the horizon, though, from Queen's Park. In the Liberal platform from the 2007 election, the party promised to, "provide $10 million to prepare schools to deliver IBI therapy on-site for the first time."
That's the same therapy Adam and other autistic children receive.

12 Ways to Make a Difference for Your Autistic Grandchild

You are a grandparent! Nothing can compare with the boundless love that a grandparent feels for their grandchild. No longer limited by the need to juggle work, home, school and raising children into mature, self reliant adulthood, the gift of grandchildren is one of life’s greatest blessings. But life doesn’t always deliver it’s blessings in the package we expect. The diagnosis of autism is for many a jolt into a new world; one that many have not even heard of or at least have no knowledge. Autism is a mysterious and heart breaking neurological (occurring in the brain) disorder that occurs in 1 in 150 children. It shows itself most prominently in impairments in language, communication, behavior and social relationships. For parents, the diagnosis tears at our hearts and brings the future crashing down (at least for a time).

This is where grandparents come in. You have awaited the news of your grandchild for months, maybe years and now the gut wrenching truth is almost too painful. Your children are suffering. What could be worse?

I know you want to help because you are reading this. You want to find a way to ease the pain. Your adult children need you. You cannot cure the autism or somehow make it disappear, even though you would love to. But you play a role that is critical and you have the power to make life more manageable for your children and your grandchild or you can undermine their challenges and exacerbate an already fragile situation.

Autism cannot be cured. But, time will show that it is not a “death sentence.” Life will find a “new kind of normal” and life will take on new meaning. There are therapies, education programs, and dietary considerations that will make life much more controllable for a person with autism.

So, you want to play a positive role in the life of your grandchild with autism? Here are a few tips that will certainly get you started on the right track:

1) Support your children in their efforts to come to terms with and negotiate this challenging path. Listen, affirm and avoid offering quick judgments and /or solutions. What parents need most is to be supported and to feel affirmed that they are good parents and they will be able to cope; they are not alone.

2) Accept and love your grandchild for who they are now, not what you want them to be. This can be tall order when you are in public and a full-blown tantrum is underway! Remember, this is not a child that is misbehaving; he or she needs to tell you something and is not capable of it. Loving our children means interpreting their behaviour to find the message behind it.

3) Avoid judging or blaming anyone or anything. As humans we too often find ourselves searching for a reason or something on which we can lay blame. In the larger picture of your grandchild’s emotional, physical and intellectual growth, negative energy is simply wasted energy. Positive energy seeks to learn, to understand and to support what is. Autism is a neurological disorder. Parents cannot do anything or fail to do anything that would leave their child autistic. Suggesting otherwise is cruel and utterly wrong.

4) Support financially when possible. The education savings plan that you have begun may need to be used earlier than expected. Therapies, programs, resources and respite care are costly and yet they are the critical ingredients to making the lives of your children and their children with autism better. Listen to what your children are saying they need. Quietly reassure them that you will help in any way that you can.

5) Learn as much as possible about autism. There are many excellent resources on the market. The goal should be to increase understanding of the child’s communication, social and behavioral presentation NOT to find a cure. Information on how children with autism see the world and how they learn will do wonders for helping you to connect with your grandchild. One of my parent’s favourites is Autistic Thinking: This is the Title, by Peter Vermeulen.

6) Offer to spend time with the children or provide the financial means to have the parents have time on their own. Don’t wait to be asked. Your child’s marriage and mental health needs as much attention as does your grandchild. It is an investment for the whole family when you provide the regular opportunity for relief.

7) Gift certificates for movies, dinner, spa, and fitness clubs are a way to “force” a parent to take time for him or her self. Most parents will never quite get around to taking care of themselves. A homemade meal or a house cleaning can go a long way to easing stress. Take care of your child so they can care for your grandchild.

8) Spend time with the siblings of the child with autism. Or, provide care for the child with autism so that parents and typical children can reconnect! So often, life at home is centered on the child with special needs that siblings can get “lost in the shuffle.” Special days away or planned activities give siblings the relief that they need from a busy household. Our other children need to know that it is healthy to take a break from caring for a person that needs a lot from us.

9) Give your grandchild the opportunity to develop self esteem by teaching them how to do things for themselves rather than doing it for them. It is so tempting to do things for our special needs children. We can easily feel that “our babies” must deal with so much already that it seems cruel to say, “You can do it!” But be aware that being overly nurturing can sabotage a child’s opportunity to learn to do something and feel the sense of accomplishment and pride when they get it! No grandparent would want to chip away at a child’s self esteem. When you guide your grandchildren through each small step and encourage their attempts (even if they are off the mark) you are building their internal sense of self and that is a gift of a lifetime.

10) Communicate to the child with autism with short simple sentences. If you want your grandchild to do something it is best to state it specifically rather than ask a question. For example, instead of asking, “Do you want to rake the leaves with me?” it is more likely that you will get a positive response if you say, “Come rake the leaves with me. You can help me.” People with autism are often quite literal in their thinking and if we pose statements as questions, we may get a response that we did not intend. Avoid being loud, talking quickly and giving multiple steps. Your grandchild will most likely not be able to process all of your verbal instructions and they may ignore you or become very agitated.

11) Pictures, lists and diagrams are far more meaningful to most people with autism than words are. If your grandchild is upset or seems to lack understanding of something it is useful to draw a picture/diagram, list the steps that will happen or use a picture schedule. For example, a list might say: 1) Play at park. 2) Snack. 3) Brush teeth. 4) Bedtime. OR even more specific: 1) Eat snack. 2) Brush teeth. 3) Read story. 4) Sleep.

12) Respect the expectations and limits that parents set up. Raising a child with autism demands a structure and routine that is essential for the child’s peace of mind. Follow dietary restrictions, bedtimes, routines (no matter how odd they seem) and communication guidelines that the parents set. People with autism may have trouble coping with changes in routine, food, sleeping arrangements, toileting, etc when they are in your home. This is not because they are behaving poorly. This IS NOT a discipline (or lack thereof) issue. It is an autism issue and it needs to be treated as such.

Trust that you can make a deep and life changing impact on your grandchild by being the support that his/her parents need. As grandparents you may feel helpless and completely at a loss as to how to help. In reality, you do have the potential to make a huge difference whether you are physically near your children or not. Support, affirmation and love are what will get your child’s family through the challenge of raising a child with autism.

Jennifer Krumins is a full time teacher in Ontario, Canada with 18 years of experience in special education and the regular classroom. A mother of three (one of which has autism) I am currently teaching severely challenged teen boys with autism. Author of Been There. Done That. Finally Getting it Right. A Guide to Educational Planning for Students with Autism: Lessons from a Mother and Teacher

Feel free to visit my website at or email me at


Latest News as of February 5, 2008

It's Set!!!
Fall/Winter 2008 Cruise - Western Caribbean
We have chosen our Cruise for this coming Fall/Winter. Thank you to all who participated in our survey to help determine this cruise.
Click here to see what has been chosen and to learn more about it

Another Service...
Same Wait Staff for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Traditional cruising allows you to have the same Wait Staff for Dinner only. On "Autism on the Seas" Group Cruises, not only will you have a Private Dining Room/Area and will be seated with your family, friends and other Autism Group Families for Dinner, but you and your family will also have the SAME Table/Seating, with the SAME Wait Staff for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Other dining venues are provided as well, as it is your choice to dine where you please for every meal......

Autism Cruise Group Leader - Los Angeles, March 2008
We are pleased to announce that our Autism Group Coordinator for our March 2008 Group Cruise out of Los Angeles will be Jamie Grover, from the University Center for Developmental Disabilities at California State University - San Bernardino. You can read Jamie's bio here

Flexible Payment Plans
Did you know that you can establish your own payment plan? Click here for details

Referral Program and Group Pricing
Do you have a group of people that would like to go on one of our HotS Cruises? For just 8 or more people booked, you will receive cruise discounts and even FREE cruise fares!!!
Visit our website for more details:

Pick your Cabin
Did you know that you can pick your own cabin on our Group Cruises?
You can choose your deck and specific location of your cabin....
Click here to learn more

Disability Services
We have extensive services and facilities to accommodate most types of disabilities, which are all included in your normal cruise fare. Our "Access on the Seas" services can enable you, a family member or someone else you know who may have a disability, to enjoy cruising. All of these services are available on all of our group cruises, including "Homeschool on the Seas".

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Facts & Arguments: THE ESSAY
Four words you can't teach
It would be so easy for my autistic son to learn to say, 'I love you, too.' But I resist programming him
February 5, 2008
My son struggles with words, like most children with autism. Show him a picture and he understands. Give him numbers to add or subtract and he's a whiz. But try to explain an abstract concept and he is lost.
He doesn't get the nuances of social behaviour, so every interaction needs a rule. Over time, we teach him how to act in a variety of situations using lots of visuals and practice, practice, practice.
First we learn, "If someone says hello, then you say hello, too."
"Hello, too," he responds to people who greet him. We refine the lesson.
We visit the playground and practice saying, "My name is Thomas. Would you like to play with me?" After a while, he begins to introduce himself to everyone we encounter, rolling down his window at stoplights and calling out to the surprised occupants of the car next to us: "Hello, my name is Thomas and this is my sister, Emily."
His sister groans in exasperation. "My brother is ruining my life!"
That, I assure her, is what little brothers are for.
Every night as I tuck him in, I whisper, "Goodnight, Thomas, I love you so much."
I close his door partway. "Just to there, mommy. Okay, stop." I wonder if he will ever answer in kind.
It would be so easy to teach him to say it. "I love you, too."
But I've resisted. I can't bring myself to make this just another scenario. Some part of me worries that if I program my son to say he loves me, it will mean a little less. For better or for worse, I want him to stumble through the process of learning what love is all about for himself. The way the rest of us do.
Buckling him into his car seat one day, I forget one of Thomas's basic rules (he came with a set of his own, including, "Hugs only. No kisses."). I kiss him on the head and whisper, "I love you."
"Ouch!" he says, rubbing the spot furiously. "Mommy, you know I don't like kisses."
Then a dreamy look comes into his eyes. "I love Samana," he whispers. I hide a delighted smile. How normal is that? A seven-year-old with a crush on his big sister's best friend.
We share an elevator ride with another mother and her son. Thomas exclaims over the boy's handheld game. The boy shows Thomas through a car race, demonstrating the lifelike roar of the engines. Watching their heads bent over the toy, I think, "He's relating. They're having fun together, even if it's just for a few
The episode seems to have an effect on Thomas, too. As we wave goodbye to the boy and his mom, Thomas calls after them, "I love you. And I love your game." Which leads to a chat about what you should and should not say to people you've just met in an elevator.
One night at bedtime, I say, "Love you so."
"You forgot 'much,' " he
Every day after school, he creates pages and pages of intricate, colourful artwork.
"Whatcha drawin,' Thomas?" his sister asks one day.
He holds up his latest masterpiece, filled with characters from Thomas the Tank Engine, The Aristocats and Scooby-Doo. Each figure wears a Superman cape. "This is my real family," he tells her. She is outraged.
"You can't take it personally," I try to explain. Inside, I empathize. We are a messy work in progress, this family, with plenty more to colour in.
Another day, another 20 pieces of art. "Whatcha drawin,' Thomas?" I ask.
It's a picture of Superman, or rather SuperThomas. His chest is emblazoned with a bold ST. A streak of blue and red trailing behind him implies he is flying. In the background is the outline of a city, skyscrapers with rows and rows of lit-up windows. SuperThomas is carrying someone.
"Who's this?" I ask, pointing to a stick figure with a skirt, long hair and a wide smile.
He glances over. "That's you."
"Wow." (I have short hair and I'm not sure I've worn a skirt since my children were born.) "And what are we
"I'm saving you," he says, his tone implying, "of course."
As I look at this picture, a long-forgotten hymn from my childhood begins playing in my head: "Love lifted me, love lifted me. When nothing else could help, love lifted me."
We are often told by his therapists to "stop talking and show" Thomas what we want him to learn. Now, whether he meant to or not, he has shown me something. As SuperThomas carries mommy to safety, I see. I see.
"I love you, too," I say as I bend toward him.
"Ouch! Mommy, you know I don't like kisses!"
Tracey McGillivray lives
in Toronto .

end of mailing

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Autism News Articles January 30th - February 3rd 2008

Autism News Articles
January 30th 2008-February 3rd, 2008

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Autism Class Action Lawsuit
at the Court of Appeal for Ontario
(Appeal hearing on a preliminary motion)

A crucial day in court that will determine whether
we will be allowed to continue the fight for full and timely access
to ABA/IBI intervention and in the schools

Monday February 11, 2008
at 10:30am

130 Queen Street West, Toronto
(at University Avenue, just west of City Hall)

Please join us to show your support for the families

For more information, please contact:

The Details

Autism Class Action Lawsuit (Sagharian)

In 2004, five families representing six children with autism filed a class action lawsuit against the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Children and Youth Services, and seven school boards in Ontario for failing to provide or fund ABA/IBI (Applied Behaviour Analysis/Intensive Behavioural Intervention) in the education system or without excessive and detrimental delays.

The plaintiffs have spent their savings, mortgaged and down-sized their homes, borrowed money and taken extra jobs to fund the services that their children require. They have had to make tough decisions about which services to access when they could not get both.

The case highlights key short-comings of services to children with autism. The families are suing the government and school boards for forcing the families of children with autism to make the impossible choice between the specialized services that help children with autism develop, and their right to a public school education. The families are also challenging the extensive waitlists for the AIP (Autism Intervention Program). The families want to ensure better access to publicly funded and quality services for children with autism in Ontario . They seek a change to the current approach to autism services, as well as compensation for the expenses that they have incurred as a result of the government and school boards’ past errors.

In 2006, the government and school boards brought a motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim, and in March of 2007 a judge of the Superior Court of Justice, Mr. Justice Maurice Cullity, did strike portions of the claim. In response, the plaintiffs have appealed this decision to the Court of Appeal, with the hearing scheduled for February 11, 2008 at 10:30am.

In the aforementioned motion to strike, the government and school boards went after these families for $85,000 in legal costs. Fortunately for the families, Justice Cullity ruled in June 2007 that they should not have to pay these costs because they were raising an important public interest issue. In his decision, he stated:

"The public interest was involved not merely because this was Charter litigation but also because the community as a whole has a legitimate concern and interest in the welfare of disadvantaged children who are particularly vulnerable members of Canadian society.... It is not disputed that many of the parents have made significant financial sacrifices and have suffered serious financial consequences because of the lack of public funding for the programs they consider to be necessary for the educational and social development of their children. The fact that the Crown has now accepted a number of their contentions illustrates the value of this kind of public interest litigation and... the objectives of behavioural modification and access to justice are, I believe, sufficiently engaged to bear on the question of costs."

Autism Program in Ontario

In 1999, the province of Ontario, initially through the Ministry of Community and Social Services and now through the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, introduced the Intensive Early Intervention Program for Children with Autism (the “IEIP”, renamed the Autism Intervention Program "AIP" in August 2006) to provide services to children with autism. Initially, the program was only available to children under the age of six.

Both an Ontario Ombudsman report released in April 2004 and the report of the Office of the Provincial Auditor for Ontario in November 2004 identified several significant problems with the administration of the IEIP, including the difference between what it pays to the families and the actual cost of the treatment.

When Justice Kitely ruled in Wynberg/Deskin that the IEIP age cut-off violated the Charter’s equality guarantee under section 15(1), the government suspended the age cut-off (as of April 2005). This decision was over-turned by the Court of Appeal. Nevertheless, the IEIP/AIP has operated without discriminating based on age since Justice Kitely’s decision.

Unfortunately, the IEIP/AIP has long had a considerable waitlist that continues to result in eligible children not receiving necessary services. When the age cut-off existed, the waitlist was already so long that children would become ineligible for the program based on their age before ever receiving services. Since the elimination of the age six criterion for cut-off, the waitlists have become much lengthier, with the result that children with autism continue to be effectively denied necessary care.

The province spends millions of dollars every year on special education. In Ontario , all other children who require therapeutic or medical services are able to access services in a harmonized fashion alongside or with their education. However, when children with autism reach school age, they must either, enter a public school system that does not provide adequate education or support, where they will inevitably fail to improve and may regress, or enrol in a private program at considerable expense to their families and without the benefit of an integrated classroom setting. In contrast, children with autism in the United States are able to access ABA/IBI through the education system until the age of 21, and have been doing so for over 15 years.

Following the February 2007 recommendation in the Report of the Ministers’ Autism Spectrum Disorder Reference Group, Education Minister Kathleen Wynne announced that the Ministry would be directing school boards to provide ABA in their schools. This was an acknowledgment by the Minister that ABA was not previously being provided in school, that it could be, and that it should be. However, in a memo to school boards shortly afterwards, the Ministry indicated that ABA was already being used in some schools and that it would not be directing the use of IBI.

Then during the election campaign in the fall of 2007, the Liberal Party included in its party platform document the following promise:

“Helping more students with autism by providing $10 million to prepare schools to deliver IBI therapy on-site for the first time, a step forward made possible by our earlier decision to scrap the age-six limit for children with autism.”

Previous Autism Litigation in Canada

Auton: In 1998, families in British Columbia filed a lawsuit arguing that ABA is a medically necessary treatment and should be covered through the health care system. Although this case succeeded in the two lower courts in BC, it lost at the Supreme Court of Canada . The Supreme Court stated that the government did not have to provide ABA as ABA professionals are not registered health care practitioners and ABA is not delivered in a health care setting such as a hospital. Under provincial health care legislation, ABA could only be included as an add-on health service, in which case it would be at the discretion of the province as to how much to fund, which children would receive funding, and whether the province would fund the service at all.

Wynberg/Deskin: In Ontario, the Deskin case was filed in 1999 by a single plaintiff. This was followed by the Wynberg case filed in 2000, which eventually included 28 families. The cases were against the Ministries of Health, Education, and Social Services and were based on the Auton case. The families challenged the age cut-off in the IEIP as discriminating based on age and disability. They argued that the government acted negligently in the design and implementation of the IEIP. They also argued that the government breached their rights to life, liberty and security of the person by denying their children the benefit of an education.

When the 2004 Supreme Court decision in Auton was released, the Ontario cases had to reframe their claims, removing health and refocusing on ABA as an education issue. The Court allowed them to refocus their case, but prevented them from bringing evidence in support of this change in focus.

The Wynberg and Deskin cases succeeded at the trial court but then lost at the Ontario Court of Appeal. In denying their claims, the Court of Appeal specifically noted that it lacked significant evidence relevant to the case, including evidence related to ABA and education. It also stated that it was unfair for the comparatively small group of families participating in the case to get compensation while other families of children with autism languished. The trial judge, Justice Kitely, noted that the government had indicated that the school boards were the proper defendants to the claim and should have been a party. The families sought and were denied leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada .

From Taline

Thanks to all of you who've shown an interest in our case. It's been wonderful to see so many families come forward and offer support. We look forward to meeting you in person one day, perhaps at the hearing next week.

We're sending this mailing in an effort to respond to some of your requests asking us to provide information on how you can support our case and the cause in general.

Here are just a few ideas:

Come down to the courthouse next week and attend the hearing. This will give an opportunity for the court to see the many faces of our community. The hearing is at the Court of Appeal for Ontario, 130 Queen St. West in Toronto.

Contact your local MPP by mail, email, telephone (see for contact info) and share with them your situation and how you'd like them to help ensure that children with autism in Ontario have the publicly funded appropriate programs and services they need. Tell them about the ridiculous waitlists and how IBI and Education are mutually exclusive. Let them know that families are going to be in court next week on this matter and refer to our case.

Contact MPP Andrea Horwath, NDP autism critic with the same information:
Andrea Horwath, MPP
Queen's Park Office
Room 112, Legislative Bldg
Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1A5
tel: (416) 325-2777
fax: (416) 325-2770

Contact MPP Frank Klees, PC autism critic with the same information:
Frank Klees, MPP
Queen's Park Office
Room 447, Legislative Bldg
Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1A8
tel: 416-325-7316
fax: 416-325-1573

Write to media about your situation. It is important for the public to be aware of what's going on right here in our Province with our children who are some of the most vulnerable citizens we have. This will encourage them to research and report to the public. You can also reach out to media by writing letters to the editor in response to articles they write about autism. They appreciate feedback from the public and occasionally print the letters they receive. Here is the contact info for the editors for a few of the major papers:

We know many in our community are financially limited due to having to provide for our children's programs but if any of you have the ability and would like to contribute financially to the case, you may do so by mailing in a cheque to our lawfirm:
Please indicate clearly on the cheque that the funds are for the Autism Class Action Lawsuit

672 Dupont Street
Suite 400
Toronto, ON
M6G 1Z6

Thank you for your support!

The Plaintiffs in the Autism Class Action Lawsuit

From AO

Subject: FOR DISTRIBUTION: Weekly News
Date: Fri, 1 Feb 2008 09:58:29 -0500
This message has been sent to all Chapter Presidents and Staff.
Please distribute it to your members.
Jobs at Autism Ontario
Make a difference in the lives of individuals with ASD and their families.
Discover the exciting opportunities to work with Autism communities across the province.

Date Posted: January 10, 2008
Position: Bilingual Realize Community Potential (RCP) Program Supervisor – Revised posting to a one year contract.
Organization: Autism Ontario
Closing Date: Revised closing date of February 1, 2008
Posting attached as a PDF file.
Date Posted: January 10, 2008
Position: Office Administrator (part-time)
Organization: Autism Ontario Toronto Chapter
Closing Date: February 8, 2008
Possibilities Fund Committee Update
The successful volunteers have now been named to our Possibilities Fund Committee. We are pleased to welcome Linda Gibson and Micole Ongman to the committee.
March Break Programs
Thank you to all who submitted a proposal for March Break activities. We will be notifying the Chapters of the status of their proposals over the next couple of business days. We are thrilled by the number of children and youth with ASD that will be able to take part in March Break activities as a result of this competition.
Vaccine news

Controversy over vaccine-autism link endures
Updated Sat. Feb. 2 2008 11:42 PM ET
Angela Mulholland, News
The belief that routine childhood vaccines can lead to autism remains one of the most stubbornly enduring.
The mainstream medical community insists there is no evidence to support the theory, and cite study after study that have found no link. Yet the Internet is filled with groups and organizations who insist that vaccines are causing children to become autistic.
The controversy returned to the headlines this week, when the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a call for ABC to cancel the debut episode of "Eli Stone," a new legal drama that also airs on CTV.
The episode featured a lawyer who argued in court that a vaccine caused a child's autism. The episode ends with the jury awarding the mother US$5.2 million after it is revealed the CEO of the vaccine-maker kept his own daughter from getting the company's vaccine because of autism concerns.
The AAP, which represents 60,000 U.S. pediatricians, noted that while the show included statements that numerous studies have refuted any link between autism and vaccines, the episode's conclusion leaves audiences "with the destructive idea that vaccines do cause autism."
ABC chose not to cancel the episode, but ran a disclaimer at the opening of the show stating the story is fictional. A message at the end referred viewers to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control website for information about autism.
The AAP has long campaigned against the misinformation linking vaccines to autism and has even dedicated a section of its website to clarify its position on the controversy. So how did this debate begin?
Study ignites controversy
It started in February, 1998, in the highly prestigious, British-based medical journal, The Lancet. There, British gastroenterologist Dr. Andrew Wakefield, along with 12 co-authors, published a small study on 12 children in which he claimed to have found a link between inflammatory bowel disease, autism and the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine introduced across the U.K. in 1988.
Most agreed that further research was needed and that parents should continue to have their children vaccinated with MMR. But, in the huge media feeding frenzy that followed, Wakefield suggested that parents should stop taking the vaccine and opt instead for each vaccine on its own.
That led to an almost immediate drop in immunization rates. Within a few years, MMR vaccination rates sunk to 75 per cent in Britain, well below the 95 per cent authorities say is needed to keep these diseases from circulating.
While the rate has since climbed to about 85 per cent, Britain continues to suffer outbreaks of these three diseases. In fact, it's suspected that a recent widespread outbreak of mumps in Canada was sparked by a single infection from Britain. And in March, 2006, a 13-year-old boy who had not been given the MMR vaccine became the first person in Britain in 14 years to die of measles.
Wakefield's research was attacked as flawed almost from the beginning. In fact, even his collaborators changed their minds. In 2004, 10 of Wakefield's 12 co-authors retracted their conclusions in the Lancet study. They stated:
"We wish to make it clear that in this paper no causal link was established between (the) vaccine and autism, as the data were insufficient. However the possibility of such a link was raised, and consequent events have had major implications for public health. In view of this, we consider now is the appropriate time that we should together formally retract the interpretation placed upon these findings in the paper, according to precedent."
Shortly before publishing the retraction, Lancet editor Dr. Richard Horton declared Wakefield had a "fatal" conflict of interest that his team was not aware of. Wakefield was doing paid research for a group of parents of autistic children who were trying to mount a class-action suit against the makers of the MMR vaccine.
Conflicts of interest?
Had his team known about those conflicts, Horton said he would never have published the study.
But even while Wakefield's theory on the cause of autism was losing credibility, a revised theory was emerging.
In 2003, David and Mark Geier, a father-and-son research team began publishing studies in a number of small journals in which they reported finding an association between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism. They concluded that it wasn't the vaccines itself causing the illness, but the mercury-based thimerosal, which is used as a preservative.
The Geier studies might have been ignored if not for the fact that a few years earlier, in 1999, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) asked vaccine-makers to remove thimerosal from vaccines as quickly as possible. This move came after they realized that since 1991, children receiving routine vaccines had been getting amounts of thimerosal that might push them over accepted levels of mercury.
The move was said to be simply cautionary. But it sparked confusion and led some to declare there had been a government cover-up of a widespread health risk. Shortly after, the lawsuits against vaccine-makers was launched.
The debate moved mainstream when such celebrities as Jenny McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy Jr. began insisting that the link between vaccines and autism was clear and that vaccine-makers were refusing to accept responsibility.
Since then, numerous large, peer-reviewed studies have been published that have found no link. The most recent came earlier this year. Researchers from the California Department of Public Health Autism found that the reporting of autism cases in that state continued to climb even after from 1995 to 2007 -- long after thimerosal was removed from routine childhood shots. Doctors noted that if the vaccines really were causing autism, rates should have dropped.
Despite the many studies pouring cold water on the anti-vaccine side, the debate continues 10 years later, with dozens of websites across the Internet encouraging parents to refuse to allow their children to be vaccinated.
Sadly, while the voices of those parents who have defied general medical advice ring loud, the voices of those parents who have watched their children die or become disabled from such diseases as polio, meningitis, and hepatitis are rarely heard. Vaccination has been called the single greatest medical intervention over the past century and has saved so many lives that most of us have never seen the diseases they prevent. Yet, many parents still choose not to vaccinate their children.
Since his 1998 study, Wakefield has lost his position with the British National Health Service and now works for a non-profit centre for autistic children in Texas, called Thoughtful House. While he continues to assert that the results of his 1998 study are still valid, the General Medical Council, the British body that investigates alleged malpractice by doctors, decided to take action.
This past July, the GMC began hearings into allegations that Wakefield and two colleagues behaved unethically and dishonestly in conducting their research. The hearings had been expected to last months but after the prosecution case was presented, the panel suspended proceedings and defence presentation until March, 2008.
Shortly before those hearings began, Wakefield agreed to an interview with U.K.'s The Observer, which he ended by declaring: "My colleagues and I won't be deflected by the interests of public health policymakers and pharmaceuticals. I want to help children with autism; they are my motivation. If the work ultimately exonerates the vaccines, that's fine. If not, we need to think again."

From a listmate
York Region

Family hopes study will shed light on autism

The Bond family of Stouffville, Joshua (from left), father, Stewart, mom, Lisa, and daughter, Rebecca, 14 stand outside their house during the holidays. The Bond’s son, Joshua, suffers from autism and the family hopes to learn what causes the disease. The family participated in a study.

Jan 30, 2008 09:13 PM

By: Michael Power
For Lisa Bond and her husband, Stewart, simply learning what caused their son’s autism is more than fair trade for their participation in a recent study.

“Until now, nobody has been able to tell us why this is happening or put a label on it,” said Ms Bond, a Stouffville resident. “Just knowing changes things; it’s just more peaceful.”

The Bonds’ son, Joshua, 12, was one of only four Canadian children whose condition was linked to missing information in his 16th chromosome. That absence is associated with some of the traits associated with his autism, including difficulty with speech and some of his gross motor skills.

The study, which included about 400 subjects, began five years ago, said Ms Bond, who also has a daughter, Rebecca. It involved blood work, answering several questionnaires and detailing their family history for researchers. Joshua's inclusion in the study happened with his ties to the Hospital For Sick Children.

And although the results, which the Bonds learned in early January, won’t change Joshua’s condition, it might help families understand the condition and get autistic children the right treatment sooner.

“It doesn’t mean things will get better, but now we know how to help him,” Ms Bond said.

Autism is now diagnosed by looking at a person’s communication, behaviour and developmental skills. Characteristics of the disorder vary and a child should be evaluated by a team that can include a neurologist, psychologist, speech/language therapist and others.

So the earlier children are diagnosed, the earlier therapy can start, said Bruce McIntosh, a Concord resident whose son, Cliff, is autistic.

“If the kid isn’t talking at two, there’s some concern, but it doesn’t necessarily mean autism,” said Mr. McIntosh, who is active in promoting autism issues with the federal and provincial governments.

Any tools that can be used to help diagnose the condition earlier would help get treatment started sooner, he said. Research indicates starting treatment early can help autistic children benefit from therapy.

Along with existing tools for diagnosing autism, information revealed through the study will help test for changes in genes, said Stephen Scherer, a senior scientist at Sick Kids and lead researcher on the study.

A test scanning a person's genes can show if they are carrying a change in DNA that could lead to the development of autism.

That could help families get an earlier diagnosis of a child’s autism, which would help parents get children into related programs.

“It’s really an eye-opening set of experiments for us,” Dr. Scherer said. “We now have a much better understanding of what’s going on with respects to the genetics in autism.”

When they got the results of the study, Joshua's parents didn't want their son to think he was missing something, Ms Bond said. So they reminded him of the trips they took to Sick Kids while the study was going on.

Researchers were able to learn some important stuff from the tests performed on him and other children, they told Joshua. But the information Joshua provided was just a little bit more helpful.

“They were able to learn something extra special from you,” they told him.

From a listmate
Ask Lindsay Moir:
High school preparation for an exceptional student
Friday, February 01, 2008
We have just recently come from a "High School Orientation Night" for our Grade 8 daughter. Although she is exceptional, she is relatively high functioning and with support she is capable of doing grade appropriate work. At this meeting we had 10 minutes with the high school Special Education Resource Teacher who spent our time telling us of the many severely-challenged students she is suppoting. The "implied" message is that our daughter is not likely to get support because she is "not severe" enough!
In the presentation to the whole Grade 8 there was a strong pitch about academic standards and "meeting the challenge and not lowering the bar". Again, this suggested to us that accommodations and modifications were not going to be provided. Our daughter has been supported with resource time and accommodations for the past 5 years. Her Grade 6 EQAO testing was Level 4 (above grade expectations).
We have a meeting with the high school next month — any strategy tips?
--"worried parents"
I want to assure you that:
the board's obligation to meet your daughter's needs does NOT end after Grade 8. High Schools have the same obligation to provide support as your elementary school.
The "IEP Resource Guide 2004" on the Ministry of Education website provides many excellent examples of what a High School Individual Education Plan (IEP) should look like. Become familiar with these examples BEFORE your meeting.
There are many different ways to support your daughter beyond the Resource Teacher. Student mentors, peer tutors, college placement students are some of the possibilities. Just because paid board resources are limited or dedicated to "more severe" students, does not excuse the high school from meeting your daughter's needs
Her are some general pointers for special education in a High School:
• The way that high schools are organized (subject departments) is an impediment to effective communication. Make sure that a meeting of all your daughter's teachers is scheduled for the first week of EACH semester. The purpose of this short meeting is to alert the teachers to the accommodations necessary — your daughter's IEP is in the Guidance Office or the Special Education Resource Office — her Math teacher ot Phys Ed teacher will likely never see it unless you create a forum to share key strategies. Most teachers will follow through if they are made aware. Write this meeting into her plan.
• Consider "pre-teaching" rather than "remediation". If your daughter was taught key points ahead of time she would be able to learn and participate in class discussions and activities. Sitting through a class when you aren't "getting it" can be very frustrating. The teacher and classmates may form unconcious negative thoughts about her abilities. Your daughter may lose confidence and develop a negative self-image. Studies in the USA support the fact that "pre-teaching" is effective in a high school special education environment, particularly when it comes to motivation and self-esteem. Use resource time or senior students to "prep" your daughter so she can do well in class
• Reduce the load. Students can take till age 21 to complete high school - there is lots of time to get enough credits to graduate!! If a student takes 4 credits each semester, then extra help has to be done outside of class time. If the student takes 3 credits and 1 resource period ( NOT a "SPARE"), then there is 76 minutes each day for pre-teaching and extra help.
• Have specific goals and objectives for Resource Time. Make sure that we have a specific plan and clear expectations for this period. It is not a "Homework" period — it is not a "Spare". It is not "Free Time". It is not up to your daughter to "ask for help if sghe needs it". This is expensive "instructional time" You need to identify the specifics of this instruction — who does it, what kind of instruction will it be, what resources need to be in place, how will classroom teachers communicate to the resource teacher about what needs to be done? Lack of a written plan, often means that this time is "frittered away"...
• Have high (but realistic) expectations. There is an unfortunate tendency to have academically-competent special education students drop to the Applied or Life Skills stream because they can function there without support!! It is easier for the school to do this, but your expectation has to remain that your child needs to be challenged and supported at the highest level they are able to learn. Your daughter's EQAO results suggest she is capable of taking the Academic stream with support. There is nothing wrong with taking Applied, Essentials, or Life Skills courses if they are appropriate for the student's level of functioning or interests. Insist that choosing courses is about "what the student needs" not about"what is easy to provide".
• Find a "Case Manager". Because high schools are large and organized in subject departments, and students deal with many teachers every year, and because the average high school teacher teaches close to 180 students every year, special education students can easily be lost in the numbers. In elementary schools there is "collective memory" about your child and what works and what doesn't. Usually, last year's teacher can easily coach this year's teacher. Even in Grade 7 or 8, there is a homeroom teacher who teaches your child for a large chunk of the day. "Ownership" and responsibilty tends to clear... This is not automatic in the high school. Try to identify the "case manager" who will manage your child through their high school years. Build that person's knowledge base about your daughter and her exceptionality. Use this person as your key contact and on-site manager. In the everchanging rotary system, develop a consistent, informed supporter. Advocating from within is very effective.
• Teach self-advocacy. High school is a good place to ensure that necessary self-advocacy skills are taught. Yes, this should have begun earlier, but let's face it parents and elementary teachers tend to "smooth out the bumps" and solve all the problems for many exceptional pupils. The Learning Disabilities Association (LDAO)has many excellent resources and "curriculums" on teaching self-advocacy. These materials are applicable to many other exceptionalities. Self-Advocacy is a developed skill and needs to be taught over time. We cannot assume that exceptional students will instantly acquire this skill through "osmosis" simply by entering the high school environment. Self advocacy is a "life skill" that your child will need as an adult. Develop it.
I hope that these tips will help you to develop a relationship with your high school that will ensure the success of your exceptional child.
Lindsay Moir retired from the Ministry of Education in 1997 and has been assisting agencies, associations and parents in obtaining appropriate special education services for exceptional pupils.
Family Net welcomes your questions about special education in Ontario.
E-mail Lindsay at He will answer as many questions as possible.

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