Archive for January, 2011

Play date activities for children with autism spectrum disorders

January 28, 2011

Participating in play dates can help children with autism gain invaluable social skills.  The best way for children on the autism spectrum to learn how to manage their emotions and make friends is to practice those skills over and over with their peers.

A sample list of play date activities designed to improve social-emotional, play, cognitive, and motor skills is below.  The description of ideas is just a guide.  The list of potential games, sports, and other activities is endless.  The list below includes activities that in some cases require a minimum level of education and communication.

Activities should be customized to the interests and needs of students.  A list of ten or so major activities can be given to kids who should have some leeway to take turns choosing activities.  In a two-hour play date, usually about six activities can be accomplished.

To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

 

Will Terps be NIT-bound? Maryland loses to Virginia Tech at home, 74-57

January 21, 2011

This was embarrassing.  It doesn’t matter that Virginia Tech is better than usual and Maryland is young.  It doesn’t matter that the Hokies may finish the season in the Top 25.

Maryland lost by 17 points to a football school at home Thursday, falling to Virginia Tech, 74-57.

At least the game was on TV.  Maryland football fans had to squint at their computer screens last season to see some of the Terps’ football games.

For a team that won the national championship in 2002, the Terps have fallen hard.  If Maryland fails to make the NCAA tournament this year, it will be the fourth time in the last seven seasons Maryland will go to the NIT.

After Maryland won the national title, instead of challenging Duke and North Carolina for ACC supremacy, Maryland slipped back to the also-rans of the conference, which is to say the Terps have been pretty good but not great.  It’s as if the Terps didn’t think they belonged with the ACC’s best.

Instead of capitalizing on increased exposure by getting star recruits, Maryland’s recruiting became worse after the title than it was before, when the Terps had stars like John Lucas and Tom McMillen in the 1970s; Albert King, Buck Williams and Len Bias in the 1980s; Walt Williams, Joe Smith and Keith Booth in the 1990s; and Dixon, Baxter and Blake in the early 2000s.

When Greivis Vasquez was selected at the end of the first round last summer by the Memphis Grizzlies, it was the first time since Dixon in 2002 that a Terp was picked in the first round of the NBA draft.

Vasquez, who scored 41 in a win last year over the Hokies, led the Terps to the NCAA tournament in three of his four seasons, but only once, in 2010, did Maryland make the field convincingly.

And don’t buy into the fake, overhyped “rivalry” that Maryland allegedly has with Duke.  Guess what Gary’s record is against Mike Krzyzewski?  He has beaten Coach K 12 times in 49 games.  Despite a handful of incredible games, that’s not a rivalry – it’s a joke.

Of course, the Terps are in the Washington, D.C. area, so naturally they stink.  If it’s not the Wizards (0-20 on the road), it’s another failed season for the Redskins and Nationals, another playoff upset by the Caps, and a lost season by D.C. United.

To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

 

John Wall and Nick Young lead Washington Bullets over Utah Jazz 108-101

January 18, 2011

I’m going to start referring to the Washington Wizards as the Bullets on my blog, because the name never should have been changed.  I’ll continue to refer to the team as the Wizards on Examiner.com and Guysnation.com, but here on my blog they will be the Bullets.

John Wall had 19 points and a career high 15 assists, and Nick Young scored 22 of his 25 points in the second half to lead the Bullets to a 108-101 victory over the Utah Jazz Monday at Verizon Center.

The Bullets led almost the entire second half as their athleticism was enough to get by the discipline and defense of Utah. Washington raised its home record to 12-8 in front of an announced crowd of 14,925.  The Bullets are winless in 19 games on the road.

The Bullets pulled away from the Jazz in the third quarter during a 21-8 run.  Wall, the number one pick in the NBA draft last summer, threw an alley oop pass to Javale McGee who threw down a windmill dunk with his right hand.  McGee’s free throw gave Washington a 62-55 lead.

For the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

15 articles from 2010 every parent of a child with an autism spectrum disorder should read

January 15, 2011

One of the major educational and therapeutic trends in autism in 2010 was an increase in meaningful, developmental autism therapies that incorporate social, emotional and cognitive skills to enhance traditional behavioral methods.

On the research front, scientists increasingly recognized and acknowledged that autism is largely environmental and not solely genetic.

And while devastating tragedies occurred, out of those heartbreaks came greater awareness and safety measures that will ultimately save the lives of vulnerable children.

Examiner.com‘s Mike Frandsen takes a look back at some of the articles from 2010 that reflected critical issues in the world of autism.

Mason Alert would help prevent wandering, drowning deaths of kids with autism

Mason Alert to be combined with Take Me Home program to prevent autism wandering

Dr. Stanley Greenspan dies, founded Floortime and developmental approaches to autism therapy

Teaching, coaching sports, playing with children with autism: rewarding, but also a whole lot of fun

Play dates for kids with autism can enhance social skills, emotional awareness, and learning

Using humor, puppets in play therapy can enhance social, communication skills for kids with autism

Understanding and managing emotions are important life and social skills for children with autism

Sports and exercise for children with autism can improve social and cognitive skills

Top 10 mistakes, lessons learned from therapy programs for children with autism spectrum disorders

Landrigan calls for more research into pesticides, toxic chemicals, environmental causes of autism

Autism advocate Lyn Redwood discusses mercury vaccine controversy, chelation, treatment and recovery

Interview with Dan Olmsted, Mark Blaxill: ‘Age of Autism-Mercury, Medicine, and a Manmade Epidemic’

Congress: CDC misled public about Washington, D.C. lead in water crisis, lead was toxic for some

Facilitated Communication (FC) enables non-verbal people on autism spectrum to communicate by typing

HHS, NIH and other federal agencies should hire more employees with autism and other disabilities

For the rest of the article on Examiner.com, click here.

2010 DC sports year in review: great regular season for Caps, not much else to cheer about

January 7, 2011

Stephen Strasburg struck out 14 in his major league debut in 2010. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

2010 was another typical year for D.C. area sports teams. That is to say, there wasn’t a whole lot to cheer about, other than a great regular season by the Capitals and some above-average seasons by local college teams.

2011 may end up being brighter for the Redskins, Capitals, Nationals, Wizards, D.C. United, Maryland and Georgetown, but first Examiner.com takes a look back at the year in D.C. sports that was 2010.

Redskins

It was a disappointing debut for coach Mike Shanahan, whose Redskins finished 6-10, losing seven of their last nine games.  Shanahan traded a second and a fourth-round pick to Philadelphia for Donovan McNabb, who had his worst season since his rookie year.

Capitals

The Caps won the President’s Trophy for the most points in the NHL during the regular season, but then crashed and burned in the playoffs, losing to the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadiens in seven games.

Nationals

The Nats finished with a losing record (69-93) for the fifth time in their six-season existence.  Rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg did not disappoint, striking out 14 in his major league debut en route to a record of 5-3 and an ERA of 2.91 with 92 strikeouts in 68 innings.

To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

Chemical safety reform expected to be on Congressional legislative to do list in 2011

January 1, 2011

America needs legislation to improve the safety of toxic chemicals, according to a coalition of advocates, scientists and health experts.

Chemicals and other environmental toxins have been implicated in diseases and disorders as varied as autism, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, and asthma.

Two bills were introduced in Congress in 2010 to improve the safety of toxic chemicals and reform the 34-year old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  The outdated law only authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency to call for safety testing for chemicals that have already been shown to pose health risks.

The Toxic Chemicals Safety Act in the House and the Safe Chemicals Act in the Senate would not only empower EPA to take steps to minimize risks from chemicals proven to be dangerous, but would also require safety testing of all industrial chemicals, and require businesses to prove chemicals are safe before using them.  Currently, only 200 of the more than 80,000 chemicals in existence have been tested for safety.

Dr. Philip Landrigan of the Mount Sinai Medical Center has said environmental causes are strongly associated with autism.

“Over the last decade, we’ve developed very good scientific information that links three or four classes of chemicals to brain injury in babies if the exposure occurs during pregnancy,” Landrigan told Examiner.com in 2010. “We’ve found that phthalates, brominated flame retardants, and certain pesticides are linked to loss of intelligence, attention deficit disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder in children.”

Dr. Sarah Janssen, a scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, told Examiner.com in 2010 that chemicals play a role in autism. “There are concerns that many chemicals in the environment are linked to autism, in particular, heavy metals and pesticides,” Janssen said. “The passage of this (Toxic Chemicals Safety) act would make a major impact not just on autism but all neurodevelopmental disorders in children and adults.”

And at a press conference sponsored by Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families last month, a panel of experts told reporters that toxic chemicals, already linked to autism, cancer and other health problems, have also been linked to an increase in reproductive health ailments such as infertility, early puberty, decreased sperm counts, breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Tracey Woodruff, a scientist with the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment at the University of California, San Francisco, told reporters that chemicals such as phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA), which are pervasive in many plastic products, can interfere with reproductive health and normal hormone function.

When asked about the role of chemicals and other environmental toxicants in autism, Woodruff told Examiner.com that the developing brain is especially vulnerable to certain chemical substances.

“Chemical prenatal exposures can adversely affect the developing brain in some way whether affecting behavioral or cognitive function,” Woodruff said.

“Mercury is an identified neurodevelopmental toxicant, meaning that a number of studies show that exposures that occur prenatally can adversely impact neurodevelopment. Phthalates have been implicated in affecting brain development in terms of how the children behave when they’re older.”

To see the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

 

Caps-Penguins Winter Classic Preview

January 1, 2011

The Winter Classic outdoor hockey game between Alex Ovechkin’s Washington Capitals and Sidney Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins has been postponed from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday because of rain.

More than 60,000 fans are expected to attend the NHL’s fourth annual Winter Classic at Heinz Field. Rain is expected to taper off in Pittsburgh during the early part of the game, which will be telecast nationally on NBC. Temperatures at game time are expected to be in the low 40s.

The Penguins have the best record in the NHL, while the Caps have won four of five games after an uncharacteristic eight-game losing streak.  Despite the losing streak, the Caps are still tied for first place in the Southeast Division with 48 points.

Ovechkin has two MVP trophies to one for Crosby, but Sid the Kid won a Stanley Cup championship in 2009 and an Olympic goal medal while playing for Canada last February.

Washington won the President’s Trophy for the best record in the league last season, which was highlighted by a 14-game winning streak.  However, the Caps’ season came to a crashing halt with a shocking upset in the first round of the playoffs to eighth-seeded Montreal.

To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.


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