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
Michael Giangregorio, Vice President of Trading Services at JP Morgan has a 12-year-old son who was diagnosed with autism at 18 months old. The costs for special schooling and speech and occupational therapy can rack up to the thousands as children get older. His current employer, JP Morgan, recently announced that they will be providing comprehensive autism coverage for expensive therapies such as Applied Behavioral Analysis in its 2014 health plan.
According to a 2012 research study done by the University of Pennsylvania and the London School of Economics costs for people with autism can amount to over $1 million in treatment over their lifespan. An increasing number of major companies, such as General Motors Co., Chrysler Group, and American Express Co., are also announcing this year that they will be including at least partial coverage in their company’s healthcare plan.
Congress is also making moves to implement similar coverage policies. The House took a vote on Friday to send a bill to the Senate that would make it mandatory for insurance companies to provide coverage and treatment for children in Kansas who have been diagnosed with autism. The results were 114-3, and the bill pushes on to the Senate where they will continue the debate on this legislation.
This coverage would help many families in coping with treatment costs for their children, including roughly 1,000 children in Kansas who would be covered under the law. The bill includes guidelines on the number of hours autistic children are allotted to receive these services as well as well as age limits. Insurance companies would have to provide coverage for applied behavioral analysis for up to 25 hours per week for four years after a child is diagnosed. Once the child approaches the age of 12, the number of hours covered is lowered to 10.
Some critics of this bill argue that it is unfair to mandate specific services for their insurance to cover. They believe that this legislation interferes too much into the policies that insurance companies already have. However, legislators, such as Rep. Stan Frownfelter, a Kansas City Democrat is pushing against this criticism by saying, “I didn’t know I worked for insurance companies…We’re here to represent the people.”
Although the future of this bill remains uncertain, we are excited to know that major companies at least have initiated and implemented this push for coverage, with stories such as Michael Giangregario paving the way. Giangregario has also voiced his support with our Director of Strategic Alliances at ICare4Autism, affiliated organization to Shema Kolainu- Hear Our Voices, in working together with industry professionals to implement positive change for autistic children.
Toys can have a very positive impact on the development of children with autism spectrum syndrome. Choosing the right toys that will entertain your child and at the same time encourage development could be challenging. Toys are a big part of the development program at the Shema Kolainu- Hear Our Voices.
Keep in mind that ability of the child is more important than age recommendation when you are choosing toys for kids with autism. Simple toys like puzzles and mazes will help your child to focus on completing tasks and will bring a sense of achievement. Any type of painting or drawing will be great because working with tools will help improve your child’s motor skills. Board games could be amazing entertainment for the whole family and it will improve the social skills of a child.
Besides regular toys, you can choose from a variety of electronic resources, apps and DVDs that are designed for children with special needs. Shema Kolainu- Hear Our Voices School use iPad apps such as Buddy Bear app and PlayHome.
Model Me Kids, www.modelmekids.
Generally any toys would be extremely helpful with connection, improvement of social skills and overall development.
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For parents of children with autism, the iPad has been a godsend. And now, thanks to the help of an electric cooperative, anIndianaschool has been able to get several of the devices to help students with autism learn. Continue reading
A Kansas State University graduate student is creating a schoolyard that can become a therapeutic landscape for children with autism.
Chelsey King, master’s student in landscape architecture, St. Peters, Mo., is working with Katie Kingery-Page, assistant professor of landscape architecture, to envision a place where elementary school children with autism could feel comfortable and included.
“My main goal was to provide different opportunities for children with autism to be able to interact in their environment without being segregated from the rest of the school,” King said. “I didn’t want that separation to occur.”
The schoolyard can be an appealing place for children with autism, King said, if it provides several aspects: clear boundaries, a variety of activities and activity level spaces, places where the child can go when over stimulated, opportunities for a variety of sensory input without being overwhelming and a variety of ways to foster communication between peers.
King researched ways that she could create an environment where children with autism would be able to interact with their surroundings and their peers, but where they could also get away from over stimulation until they felt more comfortable and could re-enter the activities.
“Through this research, I was able to determine that therapies and activities geared toward sensory stimulation, cognitive development, communication skills, and fine and gross motor skills — which traditionally occur in a classroom setting — could be integrated into the schoolyard,” King said.
King designed her schoolyard with both traditional aspects — such as a central play area — and additional elements that would appeal to children with autism, including:
- A music garden where children can play with outdoor musical instruments to help with sensory aspects.
- An edible garden/greenhouse that allows hands-on interaction with nature and opportunities for horticulture therapy.
- A sensory playground, which uses different panels to help children build tolerances to difference sensory stimulation.
- A butterfly garden to encourage nature-oriented learning in a quiet place.
- A variety of alcoves, which provide children with a place to get away when they feel overwhelmed and want to regain control.
King created different signs and pictures boards around these schoolyard elements, so that it was easier for children and teachers to communicate about activities.
“It is important to make the children feel included in the schoolyard without being overwhelmed,” King said. “It helps if they have a place — such as a hill or an alcove — where they can step away from it and then rejoin the activity when they are ready.
“Most children spend seven to nine hours per weekday in school settings,” Kingery-Page said. “Designing schoolyards that are educational, richly experiential, with potentially restorative nature contact for children should be a community concern.”
On Tuesday, April 24, New York City Council Member Mark S. Weprin invited Council Members, service providers, and families of children with autism to a rally on the steps of City Hall, in an effort to urge the New York City Council to continue funding for its citywide autism initiative. Continue reading
ICare4Autism conference call for posters from students in autism research
On August 1-2, 2012, more than 1,500 leaders in autism research, educationand policy from every continent will gather in Jerusalem, Israel, for ICare4Autism‘s 2012 International Conference, “Autism: A Global Perspective“.
Dr.Joshua Weinstein, CEO & Founder indicated that the, “Conference will highlight groundbreaking research into the causes and treatments of Autism Spectrum Disorders, and serve as a catalyst for powerful new collaborations to tackle the global autism crisis”.
Students from around the world are invited to present their autism research at a poster session. One poster will be selected by the review committee to receive a scholarship to attend the Conference. The scholarship will cover travel, hotel accommodations and conference registration fee. The scholarship winner will also be invited to participate on one of the Conference panels. The Poster Session consists of physical displays (aka posters) of information shown during a 60-90 minute session, with presenters standing by their poster reporting empirical research and pilot projects for future research. Attendees have the opportunity to speak with the presenters about their work.
Dame Stephanie Shirley, The British Government’s Founding Ambassador for Philanthropy, and Chairman of the Shirley Foundation, will deliver the Keynote Address and The First Lady of Panama Mrs. Marta Linares de Martinelli will be giving opening remarks.
They will be joined by distinguished researchers and practitioners from more than 20 countries who will unveil their latest biomedical discoveries andeducational innovations. Attendees will tour the campus where ICare4Autism will open the world’s first Global Autism Research and Education Center in 2015.
Be Like Buddy™ is a new, online video series for children with autism that stars a puppet, who learns important life skills with the help of parents, teachers and visual aids. The first episodes are set to launch in Summer 2012, but what happens next will depend on input received from the autism community. Continue reading