Thursday, April 30, 2009

Autism Genes Discovered; Help Shape Connections Among Brain Cells

research assistant
A research associate inspects robotic equipment during the DNA labeling process.
 (Credit: The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia)

ScienceDaily (Apr. 29, 2009) — A research team has connected more of the intricate pieces of the autism puzzle, with two studies that identify genes with important contributions to the disorder. One study pinpoints a gene region that may account for as many as 15 percent of autism cases, while another study identifies missing or duplicated stretches of DNA along two crucial gene pathways. Significantly, both studies detected genes implicated in the development of brain circuitry in early childhood.

"Because other autism researchers have made intriguing suggestions that autism arises from abnormal connections among brain cells during early development, it is very compelling to find evidence that mutations in genes involved in brain interconnections increase a child's risk of autism," said study leader Hakon Hakonarson, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Applied Genomics at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He is on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, as is his main collaborator, neuroscientist Gerard D. Schellenberg, Ph.D.

To view entire article, please click on link above.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pickens County Area Connection

family connection logo
Join us for coffee and snacks on
Thursday, April 30th
6:00 pm
St. Matthias Lutheran
Church Annex
501 Powdersville Road
Easley, SC 29640

Please call 331-1340 to register.

Brain Works Best When Cells Keep Right Rhythms, New Studies Suggest

ScienceDaily (Apr. 26, 2009) — It is said that each of us marches to the beat of a different drum, but new Stanford University research suggests that brain cells need to follow specific rhythms that must be kept for proper brain functioning. These rhythms don't appear to be working correctly in such diseases as schizophrenia and autism, and now two papers due to be published online this week by the journals Nature and Science demonstrate that precisely tuning the oscillation frequencies of certain neurons can affect how the brain processes information and implements feelings of reward.

"A unifying theme here is that of brain rhythms and 'arrhythmias'," said Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD, associate professor of bioengineering and of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and senior author of both papers.

To view entire article, please click on link above.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Meditation Provides Hope For People With Depression

ScienceDaily (Apr. 27, 2009) — People with severe and recurrent depression could benefit from a new form of therapy that combines ancient forms of meditation with modern cognitive behaviour therapy, early-stage research by Oxford University psychologists suggests.

The results of a small-scale randomised trial of the approach, called mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), in currently depressed patients are published in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy.

28 people currently suffering from depression, having also had previous episodes of depression and thoughts of suicide, were randomly assigned into two groups. One received MBCT in addition to treatment as usual, while the other just received treatment as usual. Treatment with MBCT reduced the number of patients with major depression, while it remained the same in the other group.

To view entire article, please click on link above.

Monday, April 27, 2009

New families of children with disabilities center opens Thursday

Family Connection logo

Staff Report
Published April 15, 2009

Family Connection will hold a grand opening of The Connection, South Carolina’s first full-service support center dedicated entirely to families raising children with special needs at 10:45 a.m. Thursday at 2712 Middleburg Drive.

More than $250,000 in in-kind contributions of materials and labor was given by local corporations, companies, community service groups and individuals to create the center.

The space was designed with families and children with disabilities in mind: Support groups, workshops and other parent gatherings can take place in a large meeting room; two rooms are specifically for children with disabilities and teens with disabilities; children can safely play in designated areas while parents meet for coffee, attend a workshop or visit a support group.

Family Connection has partnered with the University of South Carolina’s Center for Disability Resources, and the center’s entire library of more than 5,000 volumes will be available to parents.

Founded by parents and professionals in 1990, Family Connection is a statewide, nonprofit organization that helps thousands of children in South Carolina by providing parent-to-parent connections, linking families to community resources and sponsoring educational and support programs.

To view entire article, please click on link above.

When should Alzheimer's patients stop driving?

man driving a test car
Yahoo! News (April 6) WASHINGTON – Scientists are creating tests to show when it's time for people with early Alzheimer's disease to stop driving. It's one of a family's most wrenching decisions, and as Alzheimer's increasingly is diagnosed in its earliest stages, it can be hard to tell when a loved one is poised to become a danger.

Factor in that much of the country lacks public transportation, and quitting too soon restricts independence for someone who otherwise may function well for several years.

"That's a real cost to the individual and family and society," says Jeffrey Dawson of the University of Iowa. "You have to have some sort of trade-off between the individual's independence along with the safety of the driver and with other people on the road."

To view entire article, please click on link above.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Lack Of Key Molecule Leads To Deafness

Inner ears with normal mouse hair cells (left) and without (right). (Credit: Amiel Dror)

ScienceDaily (Apr. 19, 2009) — Despite modern medicine, one in 1,000 American babies are born deaf. The numbers increase markedly with age, with more than 50% of seniors in the United States experiencing some form of hearing loss.

But the era of the hearing aid, and shouting at aging in-laws, may soon be over. A new study by a geneticist and hearing loss expert at Tel Aviv University has uncovered one of the root causes of deafness.

Prof. Karen Avraham of the Department of Human Molecular Genetics, Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University, has discovered that microRNAs, tiny molecules that regulate cell functions, help us hear. Found in “hair” cells of the ear, this discovery opens an entirely new window for possible treatments, and a cure for all types of deafness, age-related or genetic.

To view entire article, please click on link above.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Maternal Immune Response To Fetal Brain During Pregnancy A Key Factor In Some Autism

ScienceDaily (Apr. 20, 2009) New studies in pregnant mice using antibodies against fetal brains made by the mothers of autistic children show that immune cells can cross the placenta and trigger neurobehavioral changes similar to autism in the mouse pups.

A report on the research from investigators at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center published online in the Journal of Neuroimmunology expands on a 2008 report from the same team showing that mothers of autistic children tested positive for fetal brain antibodies. Antibodies are proteins the body naturally makes to attack foreign tissues, viruses or bacteria. Because a growing fetus is not "rejected" by the mother's immune system even though some of its DNA is "foreign" (from the father), scientists have long suspected that some combination of maternal and fetal biological protection is at work. The new research from Hopkins, however, suggests that the protective system is not perfect and that antibodies are not only made but are re-circulated back to the fetus through the placenta, possibly triggering inflammation in the brain and leading to a cascade of neurological changes resulting in neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism.

To view entire article, please click on link above.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Neurodegeneration Study Reveals Targets Of Destruction

ScienceDaily (Apr. 19, 2009) — Scientists are reporting the strongest evidence to date that neurodegenerative diseases target and progress along distinct neural networks that normally support healthy brain function. The discovery could lead to earlier diagnoses, novel treatment-monitoring strategies, and, possibly, recognition of a common disease process among all forms of neurodegeneration.

The study, reported in the April 16 issue of the journal Neuron, was conducted by scientists at the University of California, San Francisco and the Stanford University School of Medicine, who characterized their finding as "an important new framework for understanding neurodegenerative disease."

To view entire article, please click on the title above.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New Wireless Sensor First For Instant Monitoring Of Brain Oxygen

oxygen symbol
ScienceDaily (Apr. 20, 2009) — Scientists in Italy and Ireland are reporting development of the first wireless sensor that gives second-by-second readings of oxygen levels in the brain. The new microsensor — smaller than a dime — could become the basis for tiny devices to help test drugs and other treatments for patients with traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, and other conditions.

In the new report, Pier Andrea Serra and colleagues note that the most common method for monitoring brain neurochemical levels is microdialysis, a technique that requires insertion of a relatively big probe into the brain. That technique, however, has several disadvantages including low sample rate and the necessity of a complex analytical apparatus.

To view entire article, please click on the title above.

Monday, April 20, 2009

ABA Workshop: Teaching People with Autism: Evidence-Based Practices for Promoting Independence and Enjoyment

Autism Society logo
This workshop will summarize evidence-based practices for teaching meaningful skills to children and adults with autism. A particular focus will be on teaching strategies that are usually enjoyed by learners with autism, as well as specific ways to help make teaching sessions enjoyable in general. Following a summary of basic teaching procedures that have a scientific evidence base to support their effectiveness, new developments in teaching processes will be presented. The latter will include, for example, how to teach skills in a rapid or intensive fashion, embedding brief teaching procedures within ongoing interactions in natural settings, preference-based teaching, and simulation teaching for helping adolescents and adults with autism acquire skills to succeed in supported work. Teaching approaches will be described in a step-by-step manner followed by instructor demonstrations and where relevant, audience practice in role-play situations.

Dennis H. Reid, Ph.D., BCBA
Dr. Dennis Reid is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and has worked with children and adults with autism for 35 years. He has published over 100 journal articles and authored or co-authored seven books. Dr. Reid is a Fellow in the Association for Behavior Analysis International and recipient of the 2006 International Research Award of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. He is the founder and director of the Carolina Behavior Analysis and Support Center in Morganton, North Carolina, and currently works with people who have autism in schools, residential centers, and community living. His company has also employed adults with autism in a supported work capacity for the last 14 years.

June 08, 2009 
Columbia Conference Center, 169 Laurelhurst Ave., Columbia, SC 29210 

 Workshop 9:00am - 4:00pm (registration at 8:00am)

Registration fee            $75 (for workshop only & includes lunch)
CEU fee (optional)       $20 (for 6 CEU's from BACB)

For more information, please click on the title above. 

Test Quickly Assesses Whether Alzheimer's Drugs Are Hitting Their Target

ScienceDaily (Apr. 15, 2009) — A test developed by physician-scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis may help assess more quickly the ability of Alzheimer's drugs to affect one of the possible underlying causes of Alzheimer's disease in humans, accelerating the development of new treatments.

Scientists used the test to show that an Alzheimer's drug given to healthy volunteers reduced production of a substance known as amyloid beta (A-beta), a normal byproduct of human metabolism that builds to unhealthy levels forming brain plaques in Alzheimer's patients. The drug candidate, LY450139, which is also known as semagacestat, is being studied in clinical trials by Eli Lilly and Company.

To view entire article, please click on the title above.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Eye Exercises Help Patients Work Out Vision Problems, Optometrist Says

girl doing eye exercise
ScienceDaily (Apr. 9, 2009) — You've probably been there. In a doctor's office, being advised to do what you dread – exercise. You get that feeling in your gut, acknowledging that, indeed, you should exercise but probably won't. Now imagine that the doctor is your optometrist.

Don't clean your glasses. You read that right. Eye exercises are used to treat a variety of vision disorders, according to Dr. Janice Wensveen, clinical associate professor at the University of Houston's College of Optometry.

To view entire article, please click on the title above.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Family Connection' s Open House is a Huge Success!

On April 16th, Family Connections of Columbia, SC, celebrated the grand opening of "The Connection," South Carolina's first full-service support center dedicated entirely to families raising a child with special needs. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at 10:45 am, and the event included a steel drum band from Dent Middle School, a speech by Executive Director Andy Pope, and even some talks by children and a parent who regularly participate in the Family Connections' services.

The School of Medicine Library and the Center for Disability Resources Library were proud to help sponsor the new support center with the purchase of computers and equipment through a $5,959 grant awarded from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine Southeastern/Atlantic Region to Roz Anderson and Steven Wilson for their "Creating the InfoAble Portal" project. The grant will improve access to information technology and library and information services by creating the InfoAble Portal, which will become the default homepage for the new multimedia computer system and a new product feature on the Center for Disability Resources Library web site.

NOTE: Click the title above to go to the Family ConnectionSC web site.

SSA Hiring Plans for 2009: Linking Candidates with Disabilities to SSA Jobs

Date: April 21, 2009, 1:00-2:30 pm Eastern

The Social Security Administration has recently received funding to hire a significant number of employees throughout the country. This hiring initiative offers a unique opportunity for individuals with disabilities who may want to get a job with SSA. These jobs will be at various skill levels including a number of entry-level positions.


For more information, please click on the title above.

Yoko Ono Auctions Art for Autism

BBC News, New York By Tom Lane
If you have ever wanted a piece of art by Yoko Ono, now is your chance.

The Japanese artist and widow of John Lennon unveiled a new work on the occasion of the United Nation's World Autism Awareness Day.

Her seven-foot (2.1m) mural, entitled "Promise", currently stands in the lobby at the UN in New York, but will be auctioned for an autism charity.

To view entire article, please click on the title above.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Photovoice: The Issue, The Image, The Voice, The Solution

image of photo exhibit

The University of South Carolina Photovoice project has a display of photographs that depict the experiences of students with disabilities through photography and creative writing. It features the work of give students who participated in the university's Photovoice project during the academic year. The photographs are now housed in the Office of Student Disability Services in LeConte College off of the horseshoe. They are open during the business day.

For more information, contact Lauren Hastings by phone (803-777-3656) or email at

An Evening with the Office for Civil Rights

Pro Parent logo
Alexander Choi, Attorney
US Department of Education
Washington, DC

Evening Session: April 21, 2009-5:30-8:30pm
Location: PRO-Parents of SC Office
652 Bush River Road
Suite 203
Columbia, SC 29210
(In Person & Conference Call)
Telephone Number: 1-877-275-6071
Pass Code: 9138031


Morning Session:

April 22nd, 2009 9:00am-12:00pm
Location: William S. Hall Psychiatric Institute
1800 Colonial Drive
Columbia, SC 29203
(In Person Only!)

Q&A session with Office of Civil Rights
Get your questions answered in these sessions.

Free Workshop - open to the public!

652 Bush River Rd., Suite 203-Columbia, SC 29210
(803)772-5688/1-800759-4776 Fax: 772-5341

To view entire article, please click on the title above.

New Options For People With PKU

chemistry set
ScienceDaily (Apr. 7, 2009) — For people with the genetic condition known as phenylketonuria (PKU), diet is a constant struggle. They can eat virtually no protein, and instead get their daily dose of this key macronutrient by drinking a bitter-tasting formula of amino acids. Yet drink it they must; deviating from this strict dietary regimen puts them at risk of developing permanent neurological damage.

In the near future, fortunately, a better option may become available.
In April, a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers will publish the second of two key papers showing that a unique protein derived from whey — known as glycomacropeptide, or GMP — is safe for people with PKU to eat. 

To view entire article, please click on the title above.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Young Adults At Future Risk Of Alzheimer's Have Different Brain Activity, Says Study

ScienceDaily (Apr. 6, 2009) — Young adults with a genetic variant that raises their risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease show changes in their brain activity decades before any symptoms might arise, according to a new brain imaging study by scientists from the University of Oxford and Imperial College London. The results may support the idea that the brain's memory function may gradually wear itself out in those who go on to develop Alzheimer's.

The research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides clues as to why certain people develop Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and it may be a step towards a diagnostic test that identifies individuals at risk. The degenerative condition is the most common cause of dementia and it affects around 417,000 people in the UK.

To view entire article, please click on the title above.

Monday, April 13, 2009

family connection logo
Please join the Family Connection and friends for:

The Grand Opening of 

The Connection
Mashburn Family Center

An education, information, and support center for families of children with special needs

Thursday, April 16

Ribbon-cutting at 11 a.m.
followed by a tour and reception
2712 Middleburg Dr., Suite 103B
Columbia, South Carolina 29204

We are especially gratefule to the following: United Way of the Midlands, Mashburn Construction Company, Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolinsa, The Junior League of Columbia, Hood Construction, USC Medical School Center for Disability Resources Library, Becky Patrick, Mcwstart, Derick Plumbing, EF Martin Mechanical, Powell Electric, Echara Painting, Collins & Wright, Palmetto Metal, Mill Creek Greenhouses, Brabham Fence Company, Souper Bowl of Caring, and Jeffers-McGill, LLC

When a community comes together, anything is possible!

Providing Information and Support to families with children with special needs

Save The Dates:
April 16 - Grand Opening of The Connection, ceremony at 11 a.m.
April 26 - Benefit Dinner at the Columbia Museum of Art
2009 Family Voices National Conference
Looking Forward, Keeping Families at the Center of Children's Health Care
May 3-5, 2009, Washington, DC

To see Family Connection website, please click link above

Touch Helps Make The Connection Between Sight And Hearing

girl touching a number card
ScienceDaily (Mar. 25, 2009) — The sense of touch allows us to make a better connection between sight and hearing and therefore helps adults to learn to read. This is what has just been shown by the team of Édouard Gentaz, CNRS researcher at the Laboratoire de Psychologie et Neurocognition in Grenoble (CNRS/Université Pierre Mendès France de Grenoble/Université de Savoie).

These results, published March 16th in the journal PloS One, should improve learning methods, both for children learning to read and adults learning foreign languages.

To view entire article, please click on the title above.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Family Therapy May Help The Depressed Patient

family walking on beach
ScienceDaily (Apr. 8, 2009) — A study published in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics suggests that single-family and multi-family therapy may benefit hospitalized patients with major depression, and may help the partners of the patients to become aware of the patient's improvement more quickly.

Family-based interventions have been shown to be effective in the treatment of depression, but they have seldom been studied in hospitalized depressed patients.
This study assesses the value of the additional use of single-family or multi-family group therapy within this patient population.

To view entire article, please click on the title above.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Teaching Autistic Teens To Make Friends

cartoon teens standing in group
ScienceDaily (Apr. 8, 2009) — During the first week of class, the teens' eyes were downcast, their responses were mumbled and eye contact was almost nonexistent. By Week 12, though, these same kids were talkative, responsive and engaged.

That's the result of a special class designed at UCLA to help teens with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) learn to interact appropriately with their peers. ASD includes a range of pervasive developmental disorders characterized by problems with communication and socialization; it's estimated that one in 150 children born in the United States has some form of ASD.

To view entire article, please click on the title above.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


family connection logo

Please Join us Sunday, April 26th


Cocktails, Hors'Doeuvres & Dancing

With Music by the O'Kayslons


Columbia Museum of Art

Hampton at Main Street

$75/per person 6 P.M. Spring Attire RSVP by April 20th

Celebrating Abilities
An Evening of Jazz And Art
Friday, May 1, 2009
6:00 p.m. ~ 9:00 p.m.
Nelson Mullins
The Meridian Building, 17th Floor
1320 Main Street, Columbia, South Carolina

Capital Jazz ~ Silent and Live Auction
Wine ~ Hours d'Oeuvres ~ Dessert & Coffee Bar
P & A Annual Awards

~50.00 Per Person~

For More Information, call 803-782-0639 or 1-866-275-7273

Monday, April 06, 2009

pro parents logo

A Evening and a day with the Office for Civil Rights
Sponsored By PRO-Parents of
Alexander Choi, Attorney,
U.S. Department of Education
Office for Civil Rights
Washington, DC
Evening Session
April 21, 2009
PRO-Parents of SC Office
652 Bush River Road Ste 203
Columbia SC 29210
(In person and conference call)
dial in 1-877-275-6071 access code 9138031
Morning Session/In person only
April 22, 2009
William S. Hall Psychiatric Institute
1800 Coloinal Drive
Columbia SC 29203
Please call PRO-Parents of SC to register
803.772-5688 or 800.759.4776

Friday, April 03, 2009

Dealing With Dwarfism

Image of World
ScienceDaily (Apr. 1, 2009) — A popular cable reality television show, Little People, Big World, focuses on the daily lives of short stature individuals. This series bring achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism, into the spotlight. According to a literature review published in the April 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS), treating patients with dwarfism is an extremely complex process. Orthopaedic surgeons and others caring for people with this disorder should be aware of its many manifestations.

For example, limb lengthening treatments for those living with achondroplasia have been met with mixed results.
"Not only is limb lengthening a huge time commitment for the families involved, but children with achondroplasia are taken out of the environment where they play, interact and have fun to be placed in treatment for several years," said study co-author Michael C. Ain, MD, associate professor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Neurosurgery, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland.

To view entire article, please click on the title above.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Silicone Ear Looks Just Like The Real Thing

picture of ear
ScienceDaily (Mar. 19, 2009) — To look at Matthew Houdek, you could never tell he was born with virtually no left ear. A surgery at Loyola University Health System made it possible for Houdek to be fitted with a prosthetic ear that looks just like the real thing.

Ear-nose-throat surgeon Dr. Sam Marzo implanted three small metal screws in the side of Houdek's head. Each screw is fitted with a magnet, and magnetic attraction holds the prosthetic ear in place.

It takes only a few seconds for Houdek to put his prosthetic ear on in the morning and take it off when he showers or goes to bed. It doesn't fall off, and it's much more convenient than prosthetic ears that are attached with adhesive.

"I'm extremely happy with it," said Houdek, 25, who lives in Chicago. "It turned out better than I expected."

To view the entire article, please click on the title above.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Quinn Bradlee, Son of 'Post' Power Duo, Writes of Disabilities

Image of Quinn Badley and familyUSA Today (March 31, 2009) --By Craig Wilson -- WASHINGTON — Quinn Bradlee was born with more than a few advantages. He has famous parents, former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee and journalist Sally Quinn, and grew up in a historic mansion here in tony Georgetown. An ivy-covered life of fancy New England prep schools and summer houses were his for the taking.
But he had a hole in his heart at birth. And that was only the beginning.

After years of medical problems, Bradlee, 26, was diagnosed with velocardiofacial syndrome (VCFS), a genetic disorder. Harvard, the alma mater of his father, grandfather and great-grandfather, was not in his future.

Not that it has slowed him down.

He has written a refreshingly honest memoir, A Different Life: Growing Up Learning Disabled and Other Adventures (Public Affairs, $24.95), in which he talks about everything from his overprotective and hard-charging mother — "she can be a little high-strung at times" — to feeling as if he's always fighting an uphill battle.

To View Entire Article, Please Click on the Title Above

Autism Skews Developing Brain With Synchronous Motion And Sound

flower faces
ScienceDaily (Mar. 30, 2009) — Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) tend to stare at people's mouths rather than their eyes. Now, an NIH-funded study in 2-year-olds with the social deficit disorder suggests why they might find mouths so attractive: lip-sync—the exact match of lip motion and speech sound.

Such audiovisual synchrony preoccupied toddlers who have autism, while their unaffected peers focused on socially meaningful movements of the human body, such as gestures and facial expressions.

To View Entire Article, Please Click on the Title Above