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Autism News

Article calls for universal two-year-old autism screenings
New York, NY— Writing for Slate, journalist Zoë Kirsch makes the case for universally screening all children for autism at age two. 


The sooner autism is identified, the sooner a child can start receiving services that might significantly shrink developmental gaps later in life, Kirsch points out.


Under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1990, states are required to locate and evaluate all kids with disabilities, including those as young as infants.


In 2007, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that doctors screen all toddlers for autism at their 18- and 24-month visits, when indicators start to stabilize.  Since then, the average age of diagnosis in some communities has dropped by roughly a year and a half, according to a 2016 study by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.


“We know that age two serves as a critical year for children’s intellectual and social development.  We can’t rely on all parents to be strong and knowledgeable advocates for their children,” Kirsch concludes.  “We need to fix the system.”


Country’s first live online ABA provider launched

Houston, TX — Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is a cutting-edge therapy for children with autism.  It is provided by Hamaspik and many other agencies across New York and the country.


But you have to bring your child to an ABA provider, or a provider to your child, to get it.


Now, however, Texas start-up CSERV is bringing live ABA services into private homes in underserved areas via Internet connection—the first U.S. company to provide telehealth services exclusively for autism.


Applied behavioral analysis focuses on changing behaviors and may require many hours of specialized therapy.  Time and distance can be obstacles.  But with CSERV, therapists and parents schedule regular appointments over a computer.  During appointments, therapists watch interactions and provide feedback.


Tax bill threatens disability services: groups

Washington, D.C. — In recent weeks, over one dozen disability advocacy groups lobbied the U.S. Senate against the now-passed tax bill that may bring up to $1.5 trillion in tax cuts, Disability Scoop reported.


The groups said that slashing such a huge chunk of federal revenue would spell trouble for programs relied on by Americans with disabilities.


“It is a significant threat to people with disabilities and would likely have a lasting impact on funding for critical services on which people with disabilities rely, including Medicaid,” said Alison Barkoff, director of advocacy for the Center for Public Representation.


Other groups opposing the bill include the American Association of People with Disabilities, the National Disability Rights Network and the National Council on Independent Living.


At Denver beer bar, autism workforce integration brewing

Denver, CO —Brewability Lab looks like any other artisanal beer brewery and bar—until you meet some of its employees.


An article in the Denver Post recently highlighted this lovely example of progressive mainstreaming and integration of individuals with disabilities, particularly those with autism.


Its founder, perhaps not surprisingly, comes from a disability background, knowing from first-hand professional experience the lives people with autism lead—and what would (and wouldn’t) work for a workplace setting.


That’s why Tiffany Fixter color-coded her brewery’s three in-house beers; to allow workers with autism who can’t read to take customers’ orders. 


The former director of a developmental disabilities day program, Fixter created Brewability to both create jobs for people with autism—and, equally significantly, to give them a social setting in which to begin coming out of their shells.  People with autism frequently have difficulty making eye contact, speaking, or otherwise socially connecting with other people. 


According to the Post’s report, though, one employee grew from only “a few words at a time when he started working at Brewability, and his shifts often ended after ten minutes” to now working ten hours a week as a “beertender,” during which he talks with co-workers and customers.


“I wanted a community space. I wanted (Brewability Lab’s employees) to be social in their active community, and it’s working,” Fixter told the Post.  “Every single one of them is significantly better than the day they started.”


It’s not the first time beer and disabilities have mixed, though.  In June 2016, a new California craft brewery dropped its original name of “Special Ed’s” after fierce online backlash.


Social status may influence autism diagnosis: study

Madison, WI — New research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison finds that the likelihood of getting diagnosed with autism remains largely tied to socioeconomics, even as autism prevalence has increased.


According to findings published this month in the American Journal of Public Health, kids from lower income neighborhoods are less likely than those from wealthier backgrounds to be diagnosed with autism.


The study reviewed data on 1.3 million 8-year-olds in 11 states that was collected between 2002 and 2010 through the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network.


Researchers cross-referenced this information with data from the U.S. Census Bureau on poverty, median household income and educational attainment, among other factors.


The findings indicated that lower socioeconomic status was consistently tied to reduced odds for autism, no matter what metric was used.  That finding true even as prevalence of the developmental disorder more than doubled during the eight-year period studied.


Researchers also noted that similar studies in Sweden and France, which both have universal health care, found no association between the odds of autism and socioeconomic background.