Archive for the ‘Autism’ Category

Sirius Satellite Radio Receivers have chemicals “known…to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.”

March 1, 2014

I have a to do list a mile long but I felt compelled to post this. Sirius Satellite Radio Receivers have a warning on the box that says “This product contains chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.” That’s pretty startling. First, for people who dismiss this type of information, if a company actually posts a warning such as this, you know it’s serious. Second, what are you supposed to do? Should a woman who is about to get pregnant or already pregnant stay away from it? How far away? What about men? What are the dangerous chemicals?

We need much more, not less, regulation when it comes to safety. A quick google search found that no one seems to be caring or looking into this – all that came up was PDF documents and user guides.

Here’s info on another item. I just bought a “Mabis/DMI Healthcare Body Positioner, White” from Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Mabis%2FDMI%20Healthcare%20Body%20Positioner%2C%20White)

It turns out that this foam wedge, designed to help people sleep on their side, has the following warning:

“We are providing the following warning for products linked to this page:

WARNING: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.”

About California Proposition 65

California’s Proposition 65 entitles California consumers to special warnings for products that contain chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm if those products expose consumers to such chemicals above certain threshold levels. We care about our customers’ safety and hope that the information below helps with your buying decisions.

Thank God for California, requiring companies to post these warnings, but the warnings are hard to see. You’d think the company, knowing its item contains chemicals that are “known to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm,” would at least sell the item with a cover, but no.

Best autism articles of 2012: Vaccines, environmental causes, social skills and play dates

January 6, 2013
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Activities for play dates include books, sports equipment and games. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

Autism news in 2012 once again centered on the dramatic increase in autism rates. In March, the Centers for Disease Control estimated that one in 88 children has autism, up 78 percent from 2002.

Scientists increasingly learned through research that autism is largely caused by environmental and man-made factors, a departure from the view held years ago that autism’s causes were nearly all genetic.

Meanwhile, educational and therapeutic interventions continued to evolve, with a strong emphasis on play skills as a way to improve social and life skills for children on the spectrum.

Links and excerpts from 10 autism articles from 2012 are below.

Autism advocates, NIH, CDC testify to Congress about research, autism increase

Autism advocates and government officials testified in front of a congressional committee Thursday about the federal response to the dramatic increase in autism diagnoses in recent years.

One in every 88 babies born in the U.S. will develop autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control, a 23 percent increase since 2009 and a 78 percent increase since 2007. In the 1960s, autism was believed to affect one in 10,000 children in the U.S.

Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee questioned representatives of the National Institutes of Health and CDC about research priorities and subsequent results. A second panel of autism advocates testified about concerns ranging from research to services for people with autism. See the video here.

Numerous congressmen on the committee harshly criticized the NIH and CDC for a lack of effective research results, while agency officials at times struggled to come up with answers. The safety of vaccines was discussed, an issue that NIH and CDC insists is not linked to the rise in autism. However, many parents still steadfastly believe vaccines are one of the causes of the disorder. Members of the House committee recounted instances in which parents told them of children developmentally regressing immediately after being subjected to vaccines.

To read excerpts from the articles on Examiner.com, click here.

Autism advocates, federal officials testify to Congress about autism rates, vaccines, and research

December 2, 2012

Autism advocates and government officials testified in front of a congressional committee Thursday about the federal response to the dramatic increase in autism diagnoses in recent years.

One in every 88 babies born in the U.S. will develop autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control, a 23 percent increase since 2009 and a 78 percent increase since 2007. In the 1960s, autism was believed to affect one in 10,000 children in the U.S.

Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee questioned representatives of the National Institutes of Health and CDC about research priorities and subsequent results. A second panel of autism advocates testified about concerns ranging from research priorities to services for people with autism. See the video here.

Some of the committee members harshly criticized the NIH and CDC for a lack of effective results, while agency officials at times struggled to come up with answers.

Some highlights from the hearing:

Congressmen, led by Rep. Dan Burton (R-IL), a longtime proponent of vaccine safety, urged NIH and CDC to get mercury out of all childhood vaccines. Thimerosal, a mercury preservative, was removed from most, but not all childhood vaccines by 2003.

Representatives of NIH and CDC claimed that much, and possibly all of the increase in autism rates can be accounted for by better detection, a claim that was questioned by many congressmen and disputed by Mark Blaxill of SafeMinds.

“Some observers have claimed this rise is not real,” Blaxill told the committee. “That numbers are going up because of ‘better diagnosing.’ While it is true that we now diagnose autism with better tools, that doesn’t mean there is some ‘hidden horde’ of overlooked autism cases. The old surveys didn’t just miss 99% of children with autism. Anyone who reads them will see the obvious: it’s clear the researchers were diligent in finding cases and confident that they found the vast majority of children. It’s horrible but true; reported rates of autism have risen simply because there are more cases of autism.”

Blaxill also urged the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee to focus on environmental causes of autism instead of genetics.

Vaccine critics have also questioned why the government hasn’t conducted studies of vaccinated versus unvaccinated populations. Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), asked this very question of Collen Boyle of the CDC.

She talked about vaccines in general, then was interrupted by Posey, who clarified the question: “So clearly, definitely, unequivocally, you have studied vaccinated versus unvaccinated?”

“We have not studied vaccinated versus unvaccinated,” replied Boyle.

“Never mind. Stop there. That was the meaning of my question. You wasted two minutes of my time,” said Posey.

To read the entire article on Examiner.com, click here.

Traffic pollution, air quality linked with increased risk of autism

December 2, 2012

Babies in the womb and during their first year are two to three times more likely to develop autism if exposed to high levels of traffic-related air pollution and poor air quality, according to a recent study.

Researchers at the Keck School of Medicine at USC published the study in the November issue of Archives of General Psychiatry. The study compared 279 children with autism and 245 control children with typical development in California.

Metals and chemicals may be part of the toxic stew that affects fetuses and babies, which are more susceptible to toxins in the environment.

To read the entire article on Examiner.com, click here.

 

Tips to keep children with autism and other disabilities safe from sexual abuse

July 8, 2012

Keeping children and adults with autism and other disabilities safe from sexual abuse is a critical topic that people don’t like to talk about, but warrants more attention than it often receives. Several studies have indicated that children with disabilities face a higher risk of sexual abuse than those without disabilities. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, women with disabilities are sexually abused at a rate at least twice that of the general population.

Children with autism and other disabilities can be especially vulnerable because of communication problems or a lack of fear. Incidents may go unreported because children with disabilities may not be able to convey what happened, may not fully understand what is inappropriate, or may not be seen as credible because of communication problems.

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

Use flashcards to prompt reading and speech for children on autism spectrum

July 8, 2012

One of the most frustrating and heartbreaking problems for children with autism and their families is when kids have poor verbal communication skills, or even an outright inability to speak. Despite trying every therapy under the sun, some children may never communicate verbally. However, for those who do learn to communicate out loud, identifying the words that go with particular items can give them a jump-start to understanding the concept of communication.

One simple intervention that can be accomplished in the home, even without a professional therapist, involves labeling household items. This may make the home look tacky, but the potential gains trump those concerns a thousandfold.

If children see the words that are associated with objects day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year, they should eventually learn them. If done in conjunction with a reading program, kids can learn words in a concrete way in a natural environment.

To read my entire article on Examiner.com, click here.

Use Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences for special needs play date activities

May 5, 2012

Learning involves more than just numbers and words, especially for children on the autism spectrum. Harvard researcher Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Theory states that eight distinct types of intelligences can be developed to help students reach their potential. This is in contrast to traditional approaches that focus solely on logical-mathematical and linguistic/verbal intelligences, which may underestimate the intelligence of students with special needs.

For a well-rounded approach to learning through play dates that may incorporate hidden strengths of students, click here to read an article on Examiner.com.

For students with autism and other disabilities, continuity enhances learning

May 5, 2012

Have you ever seen a sports team flounder because it had so many different coaches and systems? The same can apply to special needs students – continuity can improve learning. To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

Play Beatles songs for autism music therapy

May 5, 2012

Beatles songs such as “Here Comes the Sun,” “Yellow Submarine,” and Octopus’s Garden are perfect candidates for music therapy for kids with special needs. These songs are fun, simple, and easy to visualize. To find out more, please see my article in Examiner.com.

‘Wretches and Jabberers’ autism documentary one of the best movies of 2011

January 11, 2012

A groundbreaking documentary helped debunk myths in 2011 and showed that even – especially – non-verbal people with autism have a lot to say.  On the movie review site www.rottentomatoes.com, 82 percent of reviewers and 91 percent of the pubic liked the movie.

I included an excerpt of my article about the movie in my wrap up of autism articles from 2011 on Examiner.com. Excerpts and the link to the article are below.

‘Wretches and Jabberers’ documentary opens April 1 for Autism Awareness Month

Wretches and Jabberers: And Stories from the Road is a powerful, moving documentary that follows two men with autism as they travel the world, visiting friends with autism and changing attitudes about disabilities along the way.

Many people with autism have extremely limited verbal skills or no speech whatsoever.  It has long been assumed by the general public, and even by many parents, educators, and caretakers that scant speech equals low intelligence.

In Wretches and Jabberers, the movie’s protagonists dispel this myth.  The two men and the four friends they visit show the world that they are in fact exceedingly intelligent, eloquent in their writings, and charmingly funny.  Like Helen Keller before them, the “wretches” in the movie are pioneers, blazing trails for others to follow.  The message of the movie is to show the world that there are others like them who are vastly underestimated and whose potential is untapped.  It is a message of hope.

The central figures in the film are all either non-verbal or possess limited speech, and they also struggle with many of the sensory and motor issues common to others with autism.  What is unique about the stars of this movie, however, is that all of them communicate by typing.  They type on keyboards that speak the words and show the text they type.  The microphone picks up the tapping of the typing, which can be a time consuming process.  But it’s well worth the wait to find out what they say.

In his Wretches and Jabberers blog, Tracy Thresher, one of the stars of the film, exhorts people with autism to keep their heads held high even when they struggle:

“I would like to let everyone know that things do not always meet your expectations. The important thing is to keep plugging along. The world is a tough place and change comes slowly when we are dealing with discrimination that is so entrenched. There are those times when you may struggle and feel down. I know that feeling very well. I have had to push very hard to make change in my life. There have been many heartaches along the way. I have often thought things would remain terrible. The best advice I can give is to keep your chin up and tell everyone your story.”


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