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Friday, July 31, 2015

Letter on Speech Therapy

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Michelle Diament reports at Disability Scoop:
In a letter to states, officials from the U.S. Department of Education say they’ve heard that an increasing number of kids on the spectrum may not be receiving services from speech-language pathologists at school. Moreover, such professionals are frequently left out of the evaluation process and are often not present at meetings to determine what services a child should receive under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the department said. 
“Some IDEA programs may be including applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapists exclusively without including, or considering input from, speech-language pathologists and other professionals who provide different types of specific therapies that may be appropriate for children with ASD when identifying IDEA services for children with ASD,” wrote Melody Musgrove, director of the Education Department’s Office of Special Education Programs, in the guidance sent this month.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

"Economic Burden"

At the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, J. Paul Leigh, Juan Du have an article titled "Forecasting the Economic Burden of Autism in 2015 and 2025 in the United States."  The abstract:
Few US estimates of the economic burden of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are available and none provide estimates for 2015 and 2025. We forecast annual direct medical, direct non-medical, and productivity costs combined will be $268 billion (range $162–$367 billion; 0.884–2.009 % of GDP) for 2015 and $461 billion (range $276–$1011 billion; 0.982–3.600 % of GDP) for 2025. These 2015 figures are on a par with recent estimates for diabetes and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and exceed the costs of stroke and hypertension. If the prevalence of ASD continues to grow as it has in recent years, ASD costs will likely far exceed those of diabetes and ADHD by 2025.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Effort to Recall Pan

Sharon Bernstein reports at Reuters:
The California lawmaker who made it harder for parents to opt out of vaccinating their children, a stance that earned him death threats, is now launching a campaign to save his job, days after the state certified a recall effort against him.

Democratic State Senator Richard Pan, a Sacramento pediatrician who introduced a measure eliminating California's personal beliefs exemption to vaccination requirements for schoolchildren in response to a measles outbreak at Disneyland, plans to go public on Wednesday with a website and social media campaign aimed at fighting off the recall drive, a spokeswoman said.
The measure generated vociferous opposition from some parents, many who feared a now debunked link between childhood vaccinations and autism and others who feared intrusion on their freedom of religion.
Katherine Duran, who filed the recall request along with 49 others, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters. 
But she earlier told the Sacramento Bee that the effort was "about the defense of liberty." 
“The government, as a creature of the people, doesn’t have the right to tell the people what they can and can’t put into their bodies,” she told the newspaper.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

More on Prevalence

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the likelihood that the increase in autism diagnoses and educational determinations at least partially the result of increased awareness and changes in diagnostic criteria. At Education Week, Christina Samuels writes:
Using federal special education data to judge autism's true prevalence is problematic, however. Schools and districts are not staffed by medical professionals. While one district may evaluate a child as having an autism spectrum disorder, another district could see the same child, with the same set of behaviors, and come up with a different disability—or find no disability at all. 
However, those special education figures were the best we had until 2000, when the CDC started its monitoring program and attempted to bring some rigor to the diagnosis. 
The time it takes to examine all this data is the reason the latest report was released last year but uses information gathered in 2010, said Jon Baio, an epidemiologist for the CDC and principal investigator for the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network. The next report will use data collected in 2012, he said.  
Baio agreed that relabeling could have played a role in some of the autism rate increases. But CDC data show that the fastest-growing group of children with autism are those with normal to above-average intelligence. These are children who presumably would not have been misidentified as having an intellectual disability, he said.  
"When you peel away all that has changed over time, what has changed to put children today at an increased risk of having autism? We really don't know what that may be at this point," Baio said.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Autism and Euthanasia

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the dangers to the lives of autistic people. Alex Schadenberg writes at LifeNews:
The British Medical Journal (BMJ) will publish a “study” on July 27, 2015 examining 100 requests for euthanasia for psychiatric reasons in Belgium. Link to the early release of the study
Four of the six authors of the study are connected to the euthanasia clinic in Belgium.
The “study” examines 100 consecutive requests for euthanasia at a psychiatric out-patient clinic between October 2007 and December 2011. The analysis of the data closed in December 2012. The data states:
  • 77 euthanasia requests were woman, 23 were men,
  • 48 of the requests were approved and 35 died by euthanasia,
  • 1 died by palliative sedation (sedation with withdrawal of water),
  • the average age was 47,
  • 58 were depressed, 50 had a personality disorder,
  • 12 were autistic, (I have an autistic son), 13 had post traumatic stress, 11 had anxiety disorder, 10 had an eating disorder, etc

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Disability Studies

Scott Jaschik writes at Inside Higher Ed:
The University of Toledo is starting the nation's first full undergraduate major in disability studies, an interdisciplinary field that already has considerable scholarly interest and graduate options.
The disability studies major at Toledo will be based on a 21-credit set of required courses. They include an introduction to the field, courses on disability culture and a course on the history of disability in the United States. Students will then select electives from options that include deaf studies, gender and disability, and autism and culture.
The program at Toledo will join minors at such colleges asOhio State University, Pennsylvania State University and theUniversity of California at Berkeley. Toledo will also continue to offer a minor. City University of New York offers an online bachelor's in disability studies for those who have already completed some course work elsewhere.
The creation of a full major at Toledo is "a big deal," said Lennard J. Davis, a leader in the field of disability studies and a distinguished professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, which offers a doctorate in disability studies.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Is Genetic Information Useful?

Jessica Wright writes at SFARI:
At a conference in March, I heard one perspective from a scientist who has a son with autism. Having spent her career searching for answers, she instinctively wanted to know as much as she could about her son. In a spectacular coincidence, she learned that her son has a mutation in the same gene she had studied for years. The findings didn’t guide treatment decisions, but she said knowing the origin of her son’s autism was hugely gratifying.
Another researcher, Thomas Bourgeron, once told me about a mother who learned years after her son was diagnosed with autism that he has a mutation known to cause a severe form of the disorder. Before getting this information, she had succeeded in teaching her son to talk, which is unusual for people with this mutation. Had she known this earlier, she told Bourgeron, “I would not have fought like this. I wouldn’t have thought I could fight the genome.”
As with the scientist I met, parents who have a child with a risk factor were relieved to have some understanding of the disorder's origins. One parent, for example, used the result to refute a teacher who believed her son was “just arrogant.” Another regretted having looked for easy solutions in alternative treatments: “I would have never considered doing half the stuff to [the] poor [child] that we did,” she said, citing chelation treatments, purported to rid a child of toxins.