Playing Xbox AT SCHOOL?

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Xbox Kinect is being used an educational device for students with ASD and is having incredible results thus far. Continue reading

Talk Focuses on Art Therapy to Help Autistic Children

An autistic child is afraid of letters, but loves drawing faces.

So Patrick Allred, a registered behavior technician who works with the Utah Autism Academy, used to help him learn. Drawing faces on each letter helped him get over his anxiety about letters, said Allred, “With these letters, he was able to learn the alphabet because they were nice to him, they weren’t scary.”

Art, and how it can help children with autism, was the topic of an art talk Tuesday evening at the Woodbury Art Museum, where three professionals who utilize art therapy talked about how children who have difficulties vocalizing needs can learn to use art to communicate.

Allred has involved students in projects where they will draw what they’re afraid of, or will listen to music and draw how the music made them feel. He shared with a small audience how a child learned to draw faces with different expressions and emotions, and would mimic each face as he drew it.

Jenny Elizabeth, an artist who has used art therapy to help children, spoke on how art can be used to help with trauma. She has witnessed that some art mediums are seen as safer than others, like watercolors, which can evoke more emotion than pencils.

“You can tell a lot about where a person is and what they need to work on if you look at the media they’re using and what they are drawing,” Elizabeth said.

George Cepull, a professional artist who volunteers as an art instructor at local elementary schools, is known to his students as “Mr. Cepull, the man with the robot leg.” When he enters classrooms, he dresses so the students can see his prosthetic leg.

“I am something different to them, and I think that helps them adapt to the real world,” Cepull said.

He teaches the children that everything is made up of shapes, and making a picture is like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. At the end of his lessons, he projects their drawings onto a screen.

“I think this is a way they can feel good about themselves and see what they can do,” Cepull said. “They can see their art on the wall.”



Emma Zurcher-Long Inspires at ICare4Autism Conference

Ariane Zurcher & Emma Zurcher-Long at ICare4Autism Conference

Ariane Zurcher, popular blogger and writer for the Huffington Post, along with her daughter Emma Zurcher-Long sat down to have a very intimate talk with the audience on Wednesday for Day 3 of the ICare4Autism International Autism Conference. Their presentation … Continue reading

Doctors Hope That New Drug Will Treat Autism

Katie Mills is a 7-year-old-girl who suffers from tuberous sclerosis complex, a rare genetic disorder which causes half of those afflicted to develop autism.

Katie recently joined a clinical trial at Boston Children, where she was offered several multivitamin-size white pills which, caused her to speak in complete sentences for the first time, and also extended her 30-second attention span to several minutes. Her mother, Susan, said that she was finally able to retain information from one day to the next.

“We’d had a child who had basically been 2 years old for four years,” said Mills.  “But after four months, she was communicating in ways she had never done before. It was amazing. It was like it was a totally different child.”

Doctors hope that if this treatment can work for children with tuberous sclerosis, then it can also work for those on the autism spectrum.  But Dr. Mustafa Sahin points out that a solution would not be so simple.  So many genes underlie autism that “you would need 500 different drugs to help [them].”  On a more optimistic note, Sahin says that it’s possible that the 500 genes “converge on certain common pathways and they can be rescued by common drugs.”

Autism advocates anticipate that rapamycin (the medication which Sahin’s team is testing) will be one of those common drugs.  “I keep my fingers crossed,” said Daniel Smith, who is the senior director of discovery neuroscience at the research and advocacy organization Autism Speaks, which helped fund the research.

Scientists conducted tests that showed that mice with tuberous sclerosis gene mutations behaved more normally and their tumors shrunk when they were given rapamycin.

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