On the morning of Tuesday, May 27th, Shema Kolainu welcomed an incredible Autism advocate, Dr. Sunita Maleku Amatya, Chairperson for AutismCare Nepal. Dr. Sunita Maleku Amatya met with Dr. Joshua Weinstein, Founder and CEO of ICare4Autism and Shema Kolainu-Hear Our Voices, School and Center for Children with Autism, to discuss the importance of bringing Autism awareness to the nation of Nepal.
Dr. Sunita Maleku Amatya had previously attended a conference for ICare4Autism, as she had received a scholarship to the 2012 ICare4Autism International Conference in Jerusalem. She presented research entitled “Autism Diagnosis: A Challenge in Nepal”, which revealed the many difficulties facing those with Autism in her nation. Primarily, doctors and parents cannot easily distinguish if a child has Autism, and therefore they waste precious time that could be used for early intervention and other treatment opportunities.
AutismCare Nepal Society (ACN) is the only active Autism society in the country of Nepal that is run by parents of children with Autism. The society aims to provide help and support for individuals with Autism, in order to improve their quality of life, give them a sense of purpose, and include them into communities. Not only do they want to shed light on Autism, but they want to educate others about the disorder as well as serve as advocates for the rights of Autistic children in Nepal.
Dr. Sunita Maleku Amatya met with Dr. Weinstein to discuss the need to create more opportunities for those with Autism disorders in Nepal, which includes the development of inclusive educational programs for children with the disorder. Dr. Sunita Maleku Amatya was able to tour Shema Kolainu and see just how beneficial the programs are to the education and wellbeing of each child. ICare4Autism aims to work with ACN as part of a Nepal Autism Initiative. The collaboration will help provide information about Autism disorders to families and give suggestions for early intervention.
Like many children that have been diagnosed with Autism, 3-year old Daniel would refuse to communicate with words or even gestures. He would get frustrated to the point of tears, and would end up banging his head or pulling the hair of his teachers. They tried to get him to join in with social groups within his preschool class at Shema Kolainu, but he simply refused. Despite the fact that Daniel did not want to communicate, his teachers never gave up on trying, and were hopeful that one day he might find a way to express himself. What happened next was beyond what anyone would have expected.
Daniel learned to use a board that had photos of some of his favorite toys and things that he liked. His teachers hoped that he would repeat the names of these items after they said them, because he would not feel as threatened or afraid to communicate about an item that he truly enjoyed. Eventually, Daniel began repeating words regarding things he liked. He would speak one word, such as “iPad”, “truck”, or “ball”. His communication abilities expanded further when he began saying that he would “want” each specific item. His ability to convey his longing to hold a specific item, is truly astounding, and his journey from being non-verbal to being able to express himself, is nothing short of miraculous.
An occupational therapist explained in an interview with Marketplace on Tuesday that she has found video games to be helpful for those with autism.
Amanda Foran works with both autistic children and adults and is the director of occupational therapy at Motion Therapy in Rockville, Maryland.
Foran encourages families with an autistic child to look for video games with simple rules that also tend to be very interactive, such as tennis or boxing. Seek out “games that offer the motion capture technology, that shows the individual on the screen instead of an abstract character,” Foran says.
Video games can be a meaningful physical activity for those on the autism spectrum. Foran particularly likes the Xbox Kinect because it encourages full body motion. Also, it doesn’t require any handheld controller, which is good for autistic people who may have limited fine motor control or coordination.
Foran explains that video games can also help build autistic people’s social interaction skills if the games are played with a partner. Therefore, families should encourage them to play with siblings or peers. Foran points out that many people on the autism spectrum are already skilled at playing video games, so this may provide them with the opportunity to act as the expert.
When asked about any concerns for the competitiveness that naturally is part of video games, Foran states that it’s not face-to-face competition. They are looking at a screen, which makes the competitiveness less threatening.
Foran drives home her point by explaining that people with autism desire to engage socially, but they might not have the underlying skills to do so. Or perhaps their sensory and language differences create challenges in communication. Technology like video games can help to make this communication somewhat more comfortable for those with autism.
“People just blossom when they’re playing,” Foran says.
To listen to the interview go to: http://www.marketplace.org/topics/tech/mind-games-mental-health-and-virtual-reality/video-games-and-autism-spectrum
By Rachel Schranck
A week after he was declared missing by New Jersey police, Michael Karwan, a high-functioning autistic teenager, has been found in Cleveland, Ohio. Currently, the boy remains with the police, who have confirmed that he was found safe.
Michael had left his home late last Tuesday night, and various leads had placed him in Penn Station in New York City Monday morning. Reports also claimed Michael was at the Port Authority station last Wednesday, though neither of these sightings were verified to be true. It remains undetermined as to why or how Michael ended up in Cleveland. The investigation is still ongoing.
According to New York Congressman Michael Grimm, the teen had tried checking into an Ohio hotel with his ID. Once the hotel had found out the boy was missing, they notified police.
“This is truly a Thanksgiving blessing,” Grimm said in a statement to the public. “Thanks to the efforts of concerned citizens, countless volunteers, media coverage and prayers from the community, Michael Karwan has been located and will be reunited with his family just in time for the holidays. I am very proud of Michael’s father, Walter Karwan, for his strength, faith, and perseverance throughout this trying time.”
Shema Kolainu-Hear Our Voices is holding a Chanukah fundraiser to support children with autism. People who donate over $100 or more will receive a $25 gift certificate for Michal Negrin Jewelry.
With the tagline, “Help Light Up a Child’s Life,” this fundraiser allows donors to offer any amount they can to help support children diagnosed with autism. On each day of Chanukah, donors have the option to support a child and donate to their therapies.
If you’re interested in more information on sponsoring a child for Chanukah, follow the link here: http://www.hear-our-voices.org/chanukah_donate.html
Hear Our Voices is a non-profit school that works in collaboration with ICare4Autism. For more information about ICare4Autism, their initiatives, and ways you can donate and get involved, follow the link here: http://www.icare4autism.org/get-involved/
Michael Karwan, a 19-year-old high functioning autistic teenager, has been declared missing by Marlboro, NJ police after he voluntarily left his home late Tuesday night.
Michael was last seen in the area of School Road West, after trying to check into Freehold hotel Tuesday night. He was turned away due to lack of proper identification.
Police believe that the teen is traveling by foot. The initial K-9 search produced no results, so police have expanded their search area.
When a child or teen with autism goes missing, it can be particularly dangerous due to lack of verbal skills. In New York, Senator Chuck Schumer has even proposed funding tracking devices through the Department of Justice for children with ASD, given the recent disappearance of 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo.
“Unfortunately, this is not uncommon among children with autism spectrum disorders,” Schumer said while promoting this initiative.
Michael, a Brookdale Community College student, is about 220 lbs at about 6 ft. tall. He has brown eyes and hair, and was last seen wearing a black jacket, blue jeans and green sneakers.
According to his parents, Michael has a strong interest in comic books and movies, so he may gravitate towards locations offering these things. If you see him please contact the Marlboro Township Police Department at 732-536-0100.
Sources: Asbury Park Press- http://on.app.com/
Marlboro-Colts Neck Patch- http://bit.ly/1axzRP5
The Verge- http://bit.ly/1apkELm
KOTRA, Korean Trade & Investment Promotion Agency, is a South Korean government based organization, dedicated to promoting trade and direct investment in various Korean industries. Their representatives reached out to introduce Goodis, a Korean company that promotes collaborations with special needs art students, to develop commercial designs from their original works of art.
This morning, the representatives joined our students at Shema Kolainu for what turned out to be a wonderful and meaningful experience. The students took part in an art session, created beautiful projects with markers and pastels. Both parties enjoyed watching our children learn about different shapes and colors. Each student received a gift bag filled with art materials to continue their art education at home.
Art has been proven to be an effective intervention for children with autism because they are visually centered in their learning. This means they understand what they see better than what they hear. Art can also enhance their communication skills, improve cognitive and motor skills, and helps improve their sensory integration.
The staff was extremely happy to take part in such an experience, as everyone at Shema Kolainu – Hear Our Voices is dedicated to promoting art education.
Today, October 15, 2013 at 4:30pm EST, Dr. Weinstein, Founder and CEO of ICare4Autism, Ari Knoll, Esq., Head of Legal Aid of ICare4Autism, Dr. Stephen Shore, Advisory Board Member of ICare4Autism, and Sharie Manon, Director of Strategic Alliances of ICare4Autism will be in a Google Hangout to discuss the recent disappearance of 14-year-old non-verbal autistic boy, Avonte Oquendo. The group will address safety procedures that should always be in place for all children, especially those with special needs. The Google Hangout will be moderated by Kathleen B. Tehrani of AutismBrainstorm.
14-year-old non-verbal autistic boy, Avonte Oquendo, has been missing since last week.
The New York City Police Department is asking that if ANYONE has any information on Avonte’s whereabouts, to please come forward. Imagine how frightened Avonte must be in a strange location and unable to verbalize his fear.
Avonte’s parents say he loves trains, and the police have checked over 400 train stations, tunnels, abandoned stations and bathrooms for the teenager, but to no avail.
At Chief of Department Phil Banks’ request, if you have any information, call the department’s hotline at 800-577-TIPS. Any information is useful, and every lead will be followed.
Roc Conti, Avonte’s cousin spoke out, “If somebody does have him, release him, because he can’t even tell on you. Write a note, put it in his pocket, write a note on his forehead, send him off.” [i]
There is a substantial reward for information provided on Avonte Oquendo’s current location, but the most important thing is getting this boy home safe to his family.
[i] “ABC News” NYPD asks for help in finding Avonte Oquendo. 14 Oct 2013. Web. < http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/local/new_york&id=9276035>