A joyous celebration of past achievements for Shema Kolainu – Hear Our Voices: School and Center for Children with Autism took place at our 2015 Reunion Banquet. Continue reading
ABC’s Action News in Brandon, Florida helped a mother of two win a bike that is also a remarkable therapeutic device for her autistic son. Continue reading
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
If I told you a 16 year old wrote a book that is being assigned in university classrooms, would you believe me? Maybe. What if I told you that 16 year old is a nonverbal autistic? Ido Kedar, a California teen with Autism Spectrum Disorder, has escaped the “solitary confinement”[i] of his body through mastering the motor skills necessary for communication tools like IPad apps. Ido is now able to express his feelings, opinions, and self-interest—insisting on inclusion in a regular education program and challenging experts’ assumptions about his condition. Ido describes the difficulty of his silent half-life saying, “It was terrible having experts talk to each other about me, and to hear them be wrong in their observations and interpretations, but to not be capable of telling them.” i
Ido advocates for integrated education through his blog and book, “Ido In Autismland,” and leads by example as an honor roll student. In his blog post Truth Over Theory, Ido describes his conversation with an open-minded professor as refreshing because, “more often, I think, people get used to their theories and stay there their whole professional careers.”[ii] Ido’s book has been assigned to college classrooms and is available on Amazon. In the personal statement of Ido’s Blog, he states his intent is to “help other autistic people find a way out of their silence too.”
Ido’s story was featured as an NBC News special, in which Ido was interviewed and able to respond via IPad, more articulately, in fact, than many people his age. The insight Ido has provided into the mind and condition of nonverbal autistics is monumental for the future of education and intervention strategies. Ido’s literary voice is unique and engaging—a true joy to read. Through his advocacy efforts and personal successes, Ido is altering the stigmas associated with autism. In an interview with NBC News Ido asserted, “I want people to understand that not speaking is not the same thing as not thinking.”i
At Shema Kolainu, we believe all children have a voice. With understanding and support, we can hear the voices of all of our children too— whether through mediating tools like tablets, their own vocalization, or caring attention to the nuances of their behavior. Share your stories of communication barriers and successes here!
[i] Lin, Daisy, and Bruce Hansel. “Autistic Teen Uses Tech to Break Silence: “I Escaped My Prison”” NBC Southern California. N.p., 35 Apr. 2013. Web. 06 May 2013. <http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Autistic-Teen-Writes-Book-on-an-iPad–204775591.html>.
[ii] Kedar, Ido. “Truth Over Theory.” Ido In Autismland. N.p., 13 Feb. 2013. Web. 06 May 2013. <http://idoinautismland.blogspot.com/>.
A new research study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives this March found a direct correlation between Autism Spectrum Disorders and exposure to air pollution, particularly from traffic. Researchers from the Department of Epidemiology of University of California, Los Angeles, and the Department of Preventive Medicine of University of Southern California, estimated exposure to toxins for a controlled population of children diagnosed with ASD between 3-5 years of age, born in Los Angeles. The study utilized data from air monitoring stations and a land use regression (LUR) model to identify each specific child’s exposure rate. The findings suggest a 12-15% increase in risk for autism when exposed to ozone and 3-9% increase when exposed nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide.[i] A mother and, now, clean air activist, shares the story of her son’s autism diagnosis and recovery. Bridget James was concerned about the poor air quality surrounding her home in Utah before becoming pregnant, but was relieved when her son, Park, demonstrated a pretty strong immune system in his first couple years. It was not until Park was diagnosed autistic at 2-years-of-age that Bridget’s suspicions were confirmed. However, the diagnosis did not last. Bridget, having worked with autistic youth prior to becoming a mother, new the signs and symptoms of autism and took a proactive approach. She researched toxic exposure and took every possible precaution to relieve and prevent pollutants for Park. She altered his diet, administered heavy metal detoxes, and tried her best to protect him from the harsh Utah air. Soon, Park was making eye contact with Bridget again. He began to socialize and had a greater attention span. Bridget describes her son’s changes as “coming back”[ii] to her. While researchers believe there are a variety of causes for Autism Spectrum Disorders, the study ‘Ambient Air Pollution and Autism in Los Angeles County, California’ provides further evidence of environmental contributions to the onset of ASD. Bridget and Park’s story is hopeful, perhaps for prevention, but certainly for the easing of symptoms associated with ASD. To read me about Bridget’s detoxing strategies and success, click here. For the full report of research findings, click here.
[i] Becerra, Tracy A., Michelle Wilhelm, Jørn Olsen, Myles Cockburn, and Beate Ritz. “Ambient Air Pollution and Autism in Los Angeles County, California.”Environmental Health Perspective 121.3 (2013): 380-86. Mar. 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2013. <http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/pdf-files/2013/Mar/ehp.1205827_508.pdf>.
[ii] James, Bridget. “Autism, Air Pollution, And My Son.” Care2. N.p., 20 Apr. 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2013. <http://www.care2.com/greenliving/autism-air-pollution-and-my-son.html>.