14-Year-Old Autistic Boy Finds Happiness through Art

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John was having a difficult time trying to communicate and demonstrated a tendency to act rather aggressively. However, this all changed once he discovered his passion towards painting. Continue reading

Dogs May Be Able to Increase Concentration and Socialization in Children with ASD

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Studies have shown that autistic children that take part in therapies involving animals, particularly dogs, tend to be more relaxed and can have a better ability to concentrate. Continue reading

AutismCare Nepal Collaborates with ICare4Autism

Dr. Sunita Maleku Amatya meets with Dr. Joshua Weinstein to discuss Autism awareness initiatives.

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.

Dr. Sunita Maleku Amatya receives a tour of the classrooms at Shema Kolainu. (From L-R: Gili Rechany, Educational Director for Shema Kolainu, Dr. Joshua Weinstein, Founder and CEO of Shema Kolainu and ICare4Autism, Suri Gruen, Program Director for Shema Kolainu, and Dr. Sunita Maleku Amatya of AutismCare Nepal.)

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.

Dr. Sunita Maleku Amatya discusses Autism initiatives in Nepal with Dr. Joshua Weinstein, Suri Gruen and Gili Rechany.

 

Years of Silence Broken Through Use of IPad

Watson Dollar was born typical, but at the age of two regressed and was eventually diagnosed with autism. Although not seen or discussed everyday, there are many children who develop “normally” the first two years of life—socializing, learning language, communicating, showing emotion—and then eventually, slip away. Watson’s parents, Pam and Don, reflect on his first years as being an active child, singing and dancing around the house, until he became distant and his 150 word vocabulary was no longer there. Watson was enrolled in different therapy programs and learning facilities, but to no avail. He was silent until November 11, 2011 when he communicated his first words with his mother, typing on an IPad.

Both confused and excited, Pam tested her son’s ability to communicate and was impressed to learn he was able to express emotion and recall memories of his childhood to his mother. He remembered growing up, naming names of classmates who were both nice and mean to him, and recalling experiences with his childhood friend, Chaneka Roby. This new-found communication came especially handy, as Watson was now able to express why he was feeling agitated and expressing his wants, rather than having emotional and behavioral meltdowns.

When asked if there was anything he wanted people to know about autism he responded, “For people (to) try to understand me. Then they will be nicer to people with autism.” [i]

The use of non-vocal communication is becoming more prevalent in the autism community, and even here with our students at Shema Kolainu-Hear Our Voices. Using non-verbal communication tools, such as the IPad, enables the child to express his or her needs, and therefore reduce unwanted behaviors.

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[i] “USA Today” Autistic man breaks through the silence. 14 Jul 2013. Web. <http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/07/14/autistic-man-breaks-through-the-silence/2516527/>

The Next Monet: A 3-Year-Old Girl with Autism?

Non-verbal and diagnosed with autism, 3-year-old Iris Grace Halmshaw of Market Horborough, England, has learned to express her emotions through painting. Iris Grace exhibits social dissociation, struggling to interact with others and making poor eye contact. But when painting, she is fully concentrated and focused. Her parents had tried other therapies to help her find something she is passionate about, but to no avail. Social groups also made Iris Grace anxious, and she would tend to have tantrums and meltdowns. Her mother, Arabella Carter-Johnson, said they even turned their home in a play house for their daughter,

“We put a paddling pool in my home office and filled it with plastic balls and installed a trampoline in the sitting room. Play, fun and laughter were the goal, and I wanted to teach Iris to interact with me, instead of being immersed entirely in her own world.”[i]

Eventually, the 3-year-old started painting. Her mother, comments,

“Her autism has created a style of painting which I have never seen in a child of her age. She has an understanding of colors and how they interact with each other. She beams with excitement and joy when I get out the paints, it lifts her mood every time.”

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Iris Grace’s painting is therapeutic for her, and copies of her work are being sold for hundreds of dollars. The original paintings are going on display in November for auction, and the profits will go to Iris Grace’s therapy.

Art therapy is an effective technique used for children with autism spectrum disorders. Here at Shema Kolainu- Hear Our Voices, we have individual and group art therapy classes. The students have the opportunity to express their emotions through their work, while working on their fine motor skills as well.


[i] “Mail Online” The miracle of Little Miss Masterpiece: Astonishing talent of autistic Iris, three, whose paintings have stunned the world. 30 Jun 2013. Web. < http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2352055/Iris-Halmshaw-Astonishing-talent-girl-3-paintings-stunned-art-world.html>

[ii] “Huffington Post” Iris Halmshaw, 3-year-old with autism, can’t talk; But her beautiful painting sell for hundreds.03 Jul 2013. Web. < http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/01/iris-halmshaw-paintings-autistic-thousands_n_3530466.html?view=screen>

Overall Functioning in Adults with Autism Significantly Improves with Antidepressant Treatment

Repetitive Behaviors Also Significantly Decrease

NEW YORK, NY. (December 8, 2011) — A new study led by Dr. Eric Hollander, Chairman of the Advisory Council of The International Center for Autism Research and Education (ICare4Autism), demonstrates for the first time that the antidepressant fluoxetine produces an improvement in overall functioning and a decrease in repetitive behaviors in a significant number of adults with autism spectrum disorders.

The study, funded by the Orphan Products Division of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), will be published this month in The American Journal of Psychiatry, the official journal of the American Psychiatric Association.  Its findings have important clinical implications.

To read the full article in The American Journal of Psychiatry, click here.

Notes Dr. Hollander, Director of the Autism Spectrum Program of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, “While research on medications for the core features of autism spectrum disorders is still in the early stages, successful treatments could greatly improve the daily lives of patients and their families.”

ICare4Autism founder and CEO Dr. Joshua Weinstein hailed the new study as “groundbreaking work that will lead to novel therapeutic interventions with the potential to help the vast and rapidly growing population of adults with autism all over the world.”

Contact: Kim Robinson krobinson@icare4autism.org