New Online Course For Parents of Children With Autism Designed by Medical & Educational Experts






The University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center has launched an online course designed to help parents of children with autism better understand behavioral intervention, advocate for their child’s needs in school programs, and navigate the legal rights of disabled persons. The course is divided into ten-modules, allowing parents to set the pace, and is intended for use as early as diagnosis. The lessons follow six families of children with autism spectrum disorder through common scenarios to guide parents in the implementation of Behavioral Intervention strategies. The program manager, Maura Buckley, a mother of two young teenagers with autism, used her experience navigating the various systems of care and education to form this parental guide. Buckley notes having felt uninvolved and uninformed about her children’s daily lives while in school and therapy. She asserts the benefits of the new program saying, “Being able to interact with the professionals who are helping my child, and being able to advocate for what they need is so important.”[i] Seminars can be difficult to coordinate attending, especially for a parent of a child with autism, so an online program allows accessibility to up-to-date information on intervention strategies and educational approaches, bridging the gap between specialists and parents. Additionally, equipping parents with the knowledge of behavioral intervention will allow parents to reinforce their children’s progress from school and therapy programs, providing the most comprehensive care for individuals on the autism spectrum. Parents who take the course will know what and how to inform specialists of behavior at home as well as how to best respond in particular circumstances. The course is available for monthly, quarterly, and annual subscription The experts responsible for the course are in the process of creating an Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) course for paraprofessionals, to be released this summer.

[i] Meindersma, Sandy. “Medical School Launches Online Course for Parents of Children with Autism.” Worcester Telegram & Gazette. N.p., 26 May 2013. Web. 28 May 2013. <>.

Research Shows: Summer Sunshine Is Good For Children With Autism!






Recent research, conducted by Saudi Arabian Neurologists, found that children with autism have significantly lower levels of vitamin D—the sunshine vitamin—than their typically developing counterparts. These findings are another piece in the puzzle of causation and treatment for ASD and all the more reason to have some fun in the sun with your kids this summer! The study compared vitamin D levels of children with autism and typically developing children, finding that typically developing children showed no significant relationship to vitamin D while 40% of the study population with autism was vitamin D deficient. More strikingly, vitamin D deficiency and severity of autism symptoms appeared intrinsically linked—as vitamin D deficiency increased, so did the severity of ASD symptoms. The researchers contextualize these findings in recent literature linking vitamin D with autoimmunity disorders, suggesting further research into the relationship between autism, vitamin D, and the other known complications of vitamin D deficiency.

With safety precautions taken in the last few decades to prevent too much sun exposure and new research as to the importance of the sunshine vitamin, it is easy to get contradicting directions. We suggest meeting with your pediatrician to figure out the right amount of day play for you and your family!





“MNN – Mother Nature Network.” MNN – Mother Nature Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2013. <>.


New Research Shows RoundUp® Among Causes of ASD, ADHD, GI Disorders, & More–Safe Produce Tips For Parents!






A new research study published in the journal Entropy this April examines the long-term health effects of the popular herbicide Roundup®, a product of Monsanto, finding significant associations with a variety of conditions “associated with the western diet”[i] including Autism Spectrum Disorder, gastrointestinal disorders, ADHD, and other developmental malformations. The study holds the active ingredient of Roundup®, glyphosate, accountable for blocking the body’s natural detoxifying processes and making it more susceptible to other food born chemical residues and environmental toxins. The study authors chart glyphosate’s interference with crucial detoxifying enzymes, gut microbiota, and various protective mechanisms, asserting that the consequences of the popular herbicide “remarkably explain a great number of diseases and conditions that are prevalent in the modern industrialized world.”i Because glyphosate exposure builds over time, causing inflammation that disturbs cellular systems, the consequences of the long-used herbicide are becoming more and more evident. In addition to associations with ASD, ADHD, and gastrointestinal disorders, Roundup® was found to influence Alzheimer’s, inflammatory bowel disease, depression, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, and cancer.

Though herbicides and pesticides are overwhelmingly used in today’s commercial agricultural processes, there are plenty of resources to help parents steer clear of these dangerous substances.

Eating organic can be costly, but you can prioritize! The Environmental Working Group produces a yearly Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, listing the “dirty dozen” fruit and vegetables you should buy organic and the “clean fifteen” that are relatively safe regardless.

Unfortunately, the “Dirty Dozen” has grown to the “Dirty Dozen Plus”

Safer Snacks:  (EWG’s Clean Fifteen)

  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe
  • Corn
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Mangos
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Papayas
  • Pineapples
  • Sweet Peas (frozen)
  • Sweet potatoes

When To Splurge For Organic:  (EWG’s Dirty Dozen Plus)

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Grapes
  • Hot Peppers
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Kale/Collard Greens
  • Summer Squash

[i] Samsel, A.; Seneff, S. Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases. Entropy 201315, 1416-1463.

Reed, Genna. “Study Links Monstanto’s RoundUp To Autism, Parkinson’s And Alzheimer’s.” Prison Planetcom Study Links Monstantos RoundUp To Autism Parkinsons And Alzheimers Comments. N.p., 6 May 2013. Web. 09 May 2013. <>.

New Research Suggests Girls With ASD Need Different Treatment Approach Than Boys

Interesting new research for parents of daughters presented today at the International Meeting for Autism Research. The gender distribution of autism spectrum disorder has raised flags for researchers for years. Males are 4 to 5 times more likely to be diagnosed with ASD than females. The current diagnostic criteria for ASD were designed primarily from symptoms in boys, so if symptoms manifest differently in girls, then some girls may be slipping through the diagnostic cracks. Because more boys are diagnosed with ASD than girls, research populations often have imbalanced gender distributions—leaving us knowing less about autism for girls. Other studies pertaining to neuropsychiatries have proved that symptoms can be different for girls, and different symptoms require different treatment. This week, at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Spain, two new studies are presenting results on the association between autism and gender.

One study,[i] conducted by Yale University researchers, found that the extra X chromosome in girls is protecting from autism, so the diagnosed cases of autism in girls is often associated with higher-risk mutation that “overwhelmed” their “protective mechanism.”[ii] The second study[iii] tested the success of the computer-based intervention Let’s Face It! (LFI!)  in improving identity recognition with changes in expression, viewpoint, features, face process strategies, and attention or ability to ascertain information from eyes. The researchers found that while the intervention had overwhelming success for boys, it actually posed adverse affects for girls in the study. The chief of the division of autism and related disorders at Emory University elaborated on the findings, saying “In boys, the more they looked at the eyes, the less socially disabled they are. In girls, the more they looked at the eyes, the more disabled they are… we have to take gender as a mediating factor.”i

Both studies confirm speculation that ASD manifests diversely between genders. This information is a game changer for education, therapy, and other treatment practices for autism. The findings will propel research to design strategies better suited for the needs of girls with autism. At Shema Kolainu, we recognize that all of our children are on a spectrum and are sensitive to the nuances of the disorder. We will take this information to heart when designing the individualized plans for our kids and await eagerly new evidence of successful treatment strategies.

Parents, please share your feelings regarding these findings with us here or personally. Do you feel like your daughter’s symptoms differ from your idea of the typical autistic? Do you feel like treatment that improves others, upsets your daughter?

[i] Whole-Exome and CNV Data for ASD Sex Bias. S. J. Sanders* and M. W. State, Yale University School of Medicine

[ii] “Girls with Autism May Need Different Treatment | Health24.” Health24. N.p., 2 May 2013. Web. 03 May 2013. <>.

[iii] Effects of a Targeted Face-Processing Intervention On Visual Attention to Naturalistic Social Scenes. P. Lewis*1, J. M. Moriuchi1, C. Klaiman1, J. Wolf2, L. Herlihy3, W. Jones1, A. Klin1, J. W. Tanaka4 and R. T. Schultz5, (1)Marcus Autism Center, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta & Emory University School of Medicine, (2)Yale Child Study Center, (3)University of Connecticut, (4)University of Victoria, (5)Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia




Autism Goes Viral—On The Web, A Few of Our Favorite Blogs






The blogosphere has opened up a cyber-consciousness of daily reflections, trials, tribulations, and inspiring anecdotes. One man’s personal ramblings are another man’s insightful resource. But blogs can end up like locked diaries if lost in the internet-abyss, so we are passing on a few of our favorites to keep the dialogue going. Though blogs are relatively easy to produce through various blog-hosting sites, sharing personal stories and ideas may not be so easy. Non-bloggers can broaden the community of support by simply sharing a site name or commenting on a post. Yesterday’s flash blog event, #AutismPositivity2013, opened up the autism dialogue for non-bloggers even more, inviting anyone to share their thoughts or stories by submission and ensuring their additions would not sink into the abyss by promoting the blog site and flash blog event in advance.

A member of the #AutismPositivity2013 flash blog team happens to be one of our favorite autism bloggers: Ariane Zurcher of Emma’s Hope Book, an inspirational and informative personal saga written by the parent of an autistic. Zurcher is writing is so honest, poignant, and fluid that we would not be surprised to see these posts laced together in a book sometime down-the-road.

While moms, like Zurcher and Kristina Chew of the heartwarming—and religiously updated—We Go With Him, tend to blog more often than pops, one dad’s blog brightens our day. Austintistic is a dad’s love note to his son, Austin, who has autism and osteogenesis-imperfect, ODD, ADHD, RLS, OCD… you get the idea? Austintistic puts life into perspective with humbling humor and fatherly audoration. The blogger, Scott LeReette, has recently published a book “The Unbreakable Boy,” which you can find at

With awareness growing and autism topical, doctors are diagnosing high functioning variations of autism among adults more and more. Often these diagnoses are spurred by a child’s diagnosis drawing attention to a parent’s behavior.  Writer of another favorite of ours, A Quiet Week In The House, reflects on the life of an autistic mother of an autistic child, accentuating the “ausome” characteristics of autism and providing insight from a variety of perspectives. Blogger Lori’s son was diagnosed with autism in 2009, followed a year later by her father with Asperger’s, and then, herself. Lori creatively expresses and tracks her emotional experience with beautiful scrapbook style graphs and charts.

Art expresses the autistic experience so often better than words. Autism advocate, matt, illustrates the inside scoop on what it is to be autistic in a different medium and style than Lori, with cartoons and comics on his blog Dude, I’m An Aspie. This blog is charming, honest, and just plain funny—definitely an SKHOV favorite.

Share your favorite autism blogs here!


ICare4Autism Adviser Advocates With “1000 Ausome Things” Flashblog Today







Today, Ariana Zurcher is hosting the Autism Positivity 2013 Flashblog event where anyone can contribute, seasoned blogger or not. This year’s theme is 1000 Ausome Things. The community-building project is a beautiful way to conclude Autism Awareness Month. Ariane Zurcher champions autism rights across the blogosphere with her personal writings, Emma’s Hope Book, and her contributions to widely circulated resources like the Huffington Post. Zurcher began her saga with autism when her daughter, Emma, was diagnosed. She works to expose the mistreatment of autistics, dissemination of misleading resources for caregivers of autistics, and the cultural assumptions of disability as unable, rather than differently able.

In her Huffington Post article, “What I Wish I’d Been Made Aware of When My Daughter Was Diagnosed With Autism” and her journalistic writings shared in Emma’s Hope Book, Zurcher accentuates the “ausome” qualities of autism. She demands that autism not be seen as a disease, but a people, like any other, with there own strengths and strangeness. She encourages skepticism of experts who claim knowledge of causes or treatment. Throughout Zurcher’s writings, she maintains a motto of confidence: confidence in your child’s competency, confidence in non-verbal communication (whether guided or intuitive), and confidence in your ability as caregiver.

The International Center for Autism Research & Education feels blessed to have Ariana Zurcher among our advisory committee, providing her scrupulously honest opinions.

To read the inspiring, reflective contributions of a community of caregivers, advocates, and autistics themselves or to share something ausome—visit Autism Positivity today.


Performing Arts Promote Inclusion





England pilots an autism-family-friendly performance program, The Relaxed Performance Project, to be produced at 10 prominent theaters throughout the country. While autism awareness is growing, it is still all too easy for others to confuse a child’s behavior as bad, and many parents of children with autism are discouraged from attending cultural events. Some parents, even, report having been asked to leave productions because of disturbance. England’s collaborative theater project is not only promoting inclusion, but also integration: inviting families to attend performances without restrictions on smartphone/tablet use, entrance/exit during the show, or noise. The production, an adaption of the best-selling book The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, relates the autism experience with a central character that demonstrates an unspecified behavioral condition. Among the theaters partaking in this pilot program is The Royal Shakespeare Company, whose actress Kelly Hunter began the Hunter Heartbeat Method utilizing Shakespeare’s rhythm (iambic pentameter) to aid autistics with communication. Ohio State University has adapted The Royal Shakespeare Company’s model and is piloting a ‘Shakespeare and Autism’ study. The theater community is redefining performance, utilizing the potential for interactive stimulation and structured stories to aid autistics and include them in the world of culture and arts. This April, for World Autism Month, William Paterson University in New Jersey held a sensory-friendly production in their children’s theater and requested that ushers loosen up on rules and regulations for behavior. At Northwestern University in Illinois, students have created a “Theater Stands with Autism” program. The first production will take-stage this May. The show, “Diving In,” will be an interactive performance tailored to sensory sensitivity associated with autism. The set is similar in affect to a snoezlen room, allowing the audience to engage in various sensory stimulants. These performances open up shared cultural experiences for the family, but also provide opportunities to meet and share in experiences with other families of children with autism. To read more about these projects or find out how to attend, visit the links below. Share your experience with theater here!

Relaxed Performance Project

Ohio State University ‘Autism and Shakespeare’

“Autism-friendly Theatre That Welcomes Curious Incidents.” The Independent. N.p., 24 Apr. 2013. Web. 26 Apr. 2013. <>.

“Performance Offers Sensory-friendly Theater for Children with Autism.” N.p., 30 Mar. 2013. Web. 26 Apr. 2013. <>.

“Theatre Stands with Autism Prepares for Cross-spectrum Adventure.” Daily Northwestern. N.p., 24 Apr. 2013. Web. 26 Apr. 2013. <>.


Arizona Governor Takes Stand Against Schools’ Mistreatment of Autistics

An expose of institutional mistreatment of autistics in schools across America has changed policy in one more state. Arizona Gov. Janice Brewer has signed a law restricting the use of “seclusion rooms,” euphemistically titled padded closets that students have been routinely confined in for nearly whole school days. The expose was featured in November as part of ABC News Investigation. The feature targeted other harsh restraint tactics such as electric shock and firm holds that have resulted in injury and, in a few cases, death of students. The shock and outrage of parents has echoed across the country after the death of Corey Foster, 16, an autistic boy who was being restrained for refusing to stop playing basketball. Proactive parents and autism advocates have taken video and photographs of “seclusion rooms,” “sensory bags,” and encounters with abusive school officials. Arizona’s new human rights law protecting children from abuse under the guise of discipline is similar to protection imposed in 30 other states. However, there is no federal guideline for school discipline practices and many state systems are unsupervised, leaving disabled children particularly vulnerable. At the core of this problem is a lack of understanding and awareness of autism spectrum disorders and other developmental and psychiatric disorders. Gov. Brewer of Arizona has taken a step toward preventing these violations saying, “Our goal must be to ensure Arizona children—especially those with special needs—are treated in a way that provides for both their safety and dignity.” Shema Kolainu—Hear Our Voices promotes inclusion in our community and worldwide. By fostering understanding and sharing evidence-based therapy and education practices, we can prevent this atrocious mistreatment of vulnerable people. To see the full expose, visit ABC News. Share your opinion below!


Smartphones Put Healthcare In The Palm Of Your Hands





Having trouble managing your child’s healthcare schedule? Is it difficult to engage your child in interactive games or educational material? Does family travel seem like more trouble than it’s worth? What ever your particular concerns may be, it seems “there’s an app for that.”â From Autism to Alzheimer’s, smartphone applications are making care easier, more affordable, and portable. New applications are being released faster than they can be downloaded. There are so many, in fact, that there is now a free app that is just a comprehensive list of other autism apps with reviews by parents and specialists, simply named ‘Autism Apps.’ Apps aid in everything from communication development to healthcare scheduling, or, just offer sensory friendly amusement like the popular game Angry Birds. Many apps are replacing sophisticated, costly devices. Apps like First Then Visual Schedule (FTVS) can make everyday a little easier, with quick pictorial to-do lists for the day, preventing upsets from unexpected activities with just the drag of a finger. Proloque2Go provides augmentative and alternative communication solutions for autistic children with difficulty speaking by utilizing symbolic communication to develop literacy, drawing from a library of over 14,000 symbols. Apps even offer promising solutions for healthcare and research professionals, allowing long term tracking of patient behavioral patterns and environmental exposure through programs like Autism Tracker Pro. Check out the most recent reviews of Autism apps at LAPTOP reviews. Share your favorite apps or ideas for useful apps below!