Thursday, June 27, 2013

Visit the SC Assistive Technology booth at the 2013 Life with Brain Injury Conference

Visit the SC Assistive Technology booth at the
2013 Life with Brain Injury Conference

-hosted by Brain Injury Association of South Carolina and South Carolina Brain Injury Leadership Council 

When: Friday, July 12, 2013
Where: Columbia Conference Center
169 Laurelhurst Avenue
Columbia, SC 29210
Information or questions803-731-9823 or 1-877-TBI-FACT

This year there are two tracks: one for survivors, caregivers, and family members and one for professionals. Topics include:

For the Survivor/Caregiver Track:
-The Power of Love: Relationship Fundamentals
-Stop in the Name of Love! Relationship Challenges
-Finding Joy
-I Want a Job! Practical Pointers to a Paycheck
-Comparison of SSA Work Incentives for SSI & SSDI

For the Professional Track:
-Functional Neuroanatomy as it Relates to TBI
-Brain Injury- The New Frontier
-Evidence-based Guidelines for Cognitive Rehabilitation
-Disentangling Depression from Dementia in the Brain Injury Patient Population

Keynote for the Day:
It's Not Just a Headache...Concussion Management in Secondary Schools
George S. Wham Jr., Ed.D., ATC/SCAT
Head Athletic Trainer, Pelion High School, Lexington, SC

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Minority children with autism lack access to specialists

Minority children with autism lack access to specialists

Editor's Note: Dr. Arshya Vahabzadeh is a resident psychiatrist at Emory University's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health.
African-American and Hispanic children are far less likely to be seen by specialists - for autism, but also other medical conditions - and also less likely to receive specialized medical tests than their white peers, according to a new studypublished Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
Dr. Sarahbeth Broder-Fingert and colleagues studied the records of 3,615 children with autism at the Massachusetts General Hospital,  specifically looking at the rates of both referral to specialists and medical tests undertaken.  They discovered that children from African-American and Hispanic families were far less likely to receive specialized care or specific medical tests such as a sleep study, colonoscopy, or endoscopy.
When compared to their white peers, African-American children were three times less likely to see a gastroenterologist or nutritionist, and half as likely to see a neurologist or mental health specialist, according to the study. The story is similar among children from Hispanic families.
If a child has autism, the best outcomes are achieved through a combination of early diagnosis of the disorder and early intervention with behavioral therapies.
Another important element is the treatment of conditions which often coexist with autism, such as  psychological, neurological, and gastrointestinal problems. A referral to a specialist is often needed.
Autism is a developmental disorder that affects between 1 in 50 and 1 in 88 children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is characterized by difficulties in communication and social interaction. Coexisting neurological problems such as seizures, and psychiatric disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), are common and affect up to a third of children with autism. Gastrointestinal complaints such as constipation, acid reflux, and abdominal pain are also frequently seen, with symptoms reported in 17% to 85% of cases.
What's to blame?
The exact reasons behind these findings remain unclear. One explanation may be that minority families face greater barriers in accessing specialist services. Lower numbers of local specialists, transportation issues, and lack of a regular health care provider have all been identified as problems for minority children.
Additionally. minority families may have beliefs that lead to the use of non-traditional services, or attribution of a child’s symptoms to non-medical causes. Even when obtaining referral to a specialist, children from minority families can face challenges in maintaining regular follow-up.
Another issue that remains to be clarified is whether the symptoms of autism are the same across racial and ethnic groups. Some evidence suggests that there may well be differences. For instance, one study has shown that children from minority groups may have more co-occurring symptoms of aggression. If aggression becomes the dominant issue during consultations, then other medical issues may be missed, and opportunities for specialist referral lost.
One final possibility is that children from white families are being referred too frequently to specialists, with subsequent unnecessary medical investigation. This could certainly be a problem given the lack of standardized guidance on how to treat and assess medically complex symptoms in children with autism.
“This is the first study to identify these disparities in specialist referral in children with autism,” said Dr. Christopher McDougle, director of the Lurie Center for Autism at Massachusetts General Hospital, who was not involved with the current study. “Autism is a medically complex condition and we must ensure that people with autism receive the specialist treatment they need, irrespective of racial and ethnic background.”
This study adds to the body of research showing race and ethnicity as being important factors in the diagnosis and treatment of autism. Studies conducted during the last decade have consistently noted that children from minority groups face substantial delays in obtaining an autism diagnosis.
African-American children in particular are more likely to be initially misdiagnosed, and face an average delay in autism diagnosis of 18 months compared to their white peers. Some have suggested that while white children may be diagnosed with autism when they have mild to moderate symptoms, African-American children tend to be diagnosed when they have severe symptoms, with milder cases going undetected.
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Monday, June 24, 2013

Autism And The DSM-5: Doorstop Or Diagnostic Tool?

Autism And The DSM-5: Doorstop Or Diagnostic Tool?

“I use it as a doorstop.” That was the response I got from a psychiatrist when I gestured at his copy of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)-TR-IV and asked what he thought about it. If you read news stories about this book and its update, the DSM-5 (they’ve abandoned the Roman numerals), you might think that a clinician keeps at hand a much-used, heavily notated, dogeared version of this tome, the so-called “bible” of psychiatry. But from what I can see, the general inclination regarding this particular bible is apostasy.
And for good reason. By the time the DSM version du decade appears, its assumptions and conclusions are often passé, and if they haven’t been ground into dust by biological and medical sciences by publication, give it a few years. Anyone remember when this “bible,” like another book with that name, said that homosexuality was abnormal?
Even in the absence of debunking from basic science, the DSM can tilt the earth under its own characterizations of disorders. Possibly no other example of this ever-shifting diagnostic ground has led to more controversy than the upcoming version’s treatment of autism. As the parent of an autistic child and as a scientist who’s been writing about autism for almost exactly 8 years, I’ve watched these controversies closely. My top take-home message is quite similar to the one the psychiatrist I quote above sent. In fact, I currently do use my copy of the DSM-IV-TR as … a doorstop.
In spite of my inclination to dismissiveness, however, the DSM also carries weight because it’s one benchmark people use, diagnostically and in research, to identify and characterize autism. The just-mothballed version (IV) split autism diagnoses into categories of autistic disorder, Asperger’s, and the ever-muddled PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified). The new version, the DSM-5, groups all autism into one category but sort of grandfathers in the previous categories. With the new version, for evaluating autism as a diagnosis, clinicians are expected to consider two domains of behavior— (1) social communication/interaction difficulties and (2) restricted/repetitive behaviors and interests—and rank them on severity scales. The idea is to create a snapshot of a person’s place on an autism spectrum and thus that individual’s level of “severity” and need for support.
Also for this new version of the DSM is a category of “social communication disorder.” Note above that “social communication/interaction difficulties” constitutes one of the behavioral domains for an autism diagnosis. Presumably, if a person presents with problems in this domain but without manifesting symptoms in the restricted behaviors domain, the intention is for that individual to be shunted into the social communication disorder category. Problem is, it’s one that no entity currently providing services—or paying for them—recognizes.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Milestones Annual Autism Spectrum Disorder Conference

Wednesday, June 19 & Thursday, June 20, 2013

7:30 am – 5:00 pm

NEW VENUE | Cleveland I-X Center

National Keynotes | Jed Baker, PhD & Stephen Shore, EdD

70+ Evidence-Based Workshops for All Ages, Stages & Abilities!

    Learn how to:
  • Reduce challenging behaviors at school, home, and in the community
  • Increase verbal and non-verbal communication skills
  • Differentiate instruction so all students can meet the new standards
  • Collaborate as a team to improve student outcomes
  • Build social skills across all environments
  • Maximize technology and apps to improve quality of life
  • Teach daily living skills in and out of the classroom
  • Create transition plans for college and employment bound students

If you know someone with Autism, don’t think twice,
attend the 2013 Milestones Autism Conference.

Professional Benefits:

  • Earn CEU’s
  • Catch up on the latest research
  • Attend evidence-based workshops
  • Network with other leaders in the field

Parent Benefits:

  • Discover practical strategies
  • Find new tools and resources
  • Meet local autism experts
  • Connect with other families
To learn more, please click on the above title.
To access the CDR Library catalog, please click on this link.

Monday, June 10, 2013

APSE 24th Annual National Conference

24th Annual APSE National Conference - June 25-27, 2013
Race to Success - Employment Comes in First!
Pre-Conference Day - June 24, 2013

Regular registration ends May 24, 2013

Now Available for Download:

Download Conference Brochures here:

Conference Overview:
Happy 25th anniversary to APSE! APSE will be celebrating our 25th year as a national organization promoting the advancement of integrated employment for individuals with disabilities at this year’s conference! We are excited to invite you to our 24th annual conference with our host chapter, Indiana ASPE to celebrate our accomplishments in the great city of Indianapolis!
This year’s theme Race to Success: Employment Comes in First! embodies both our host state and where we are heading with Employment First around the country. 2013 has been dubbed the "year of the chapter".  As we know, APSE has always been a grass roots organization and our chapters are critical to our success. In order to continue to move Employment First (and make sure it comes in first!) we need to really come together to support the work of our chapters! At the conference, we will have several presentations focused on chapter work and we encourage all members to participate and learn how to work with your chapter.
You won’t want to miss the pre-conference this year with presentations focusing onJob Development and Customized Employment, OFCCP Section 503 changes, Employment First initiatives, Technology, and National Public Policy Developments.
Opening our conference will be Handicap This, a provocative look at friendship, breaking down barriers, living with disabilities and most of all about living to your potential. This stage show is the true story of Mike Berkson and Tim Wambach! Allan Bergman will open our Town Hall meeting on day two and closing our conference is a fantastic speaker I heard at the Alabama APSE Conference (thank you Alabama!), John Riley who will help us focus on our “Year of the Chapter” by talking about how we can work together, with a positive attitude to bring about sustainable results.
Our tradition continues with our 24th Annual Awards Lunch where the best in the nation will be in the spotlight for their work in integrated employment. This year, we will honor another doctoral student with the “Got Mike! Educational Leadership” Award honoring Dr. Michael McAllister – this award includes a $1000 scholarship!  In memory of our friend Dave Hammis, we have established the Dave Hammis Innovation Award. To honor Dave’s contributions to APSE and the employment of people with disabilities, this award is offered to individuals who demonstrate innovation in the area of technology, customized strategies, and/or self-employment for individuals with significant disabilities.
Our sessions this year highlight state-of-the-art practices in integrated employment, transition,   public policy and funding, leadership and personal development, consumer, family and self-advocacy, and many hot topic open discussions! This year we have several presenters from other countries to add an international flair! We also will have our 2nd annual Students for APSE sessions focusing on middle and high school aged students with and without disabilities.
Once again, APSE will be holding two CESP exam sessions on Thursday June 27th which will pilot our version 2.0, so people who did not pass the first exam can take the exam again. 
We invite you to join us in the race for an exciting conference that is sure to energize everyone and continue the Employment First conversation! See you in June!

To learn more, please click on the above title.
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Friday, June 07, 2013

Able SC Summer Series Training

Able SC is a Center for Independent Living (CIL), an organization not about “helping” people with disabilities, but built on the central concept of self-empowerment. It’s a consumer-controlled, community-based, cross disability nonprofit that provides an array of independent living services.
We do everything it takes to empower people with disabilities to live active, self-determined lives: advocacy, service and support. More than half of our staff are persons with disabilities, as are over half of our Board of Directors. We didn’t just learn this; we live it.
Able SC serves the following counties: Chester, Clarendon, Calhoun, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lee, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg, Richland, Saluda, Sumter, York, Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Greenville, Greenwood, Laurens, Oconee, Pickens, Spartanburg, Union.

Training & Events

Able South Carolina offers monthly trainings on various topics. Find out more about our upcoming trainings here!

Summer Series Part 1: Self Advocacy & Effective Communication(June 11th)

To learn more, please click on the above title.
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Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Developers Dive in to Create a Wealth of Autism Apps

Developers dive in to create a wealth of autism apps

Parents, therapists and developers are eager to tap into what they view as a powerful tool to reach people with autism.

At times, Andy Shih still finds himself overwhelmed by the groundswell of interest in autism apps he's seen in the three years since Apple Inc. released the first iPad.

In his role as senior vice president for scientific affairs at Autism Speaks, a national advocacy organization based in New York, Shih helped organize a "hacking autism" event in San Francisco with cosponsor AT&T Inc. that drew 135 developers. It was the group's third event, following previous hackathons co-sponsored with Hewlett-Packard Co. and Microsoft Corp. Over the course of 24 hours, teams built prototypes for more than a dozen apps.

When it was all done, the winning application was a review service called RevTilt that combined Yelp listings with the ability to provide specific comments and ratings about which businesses were the most friendly to autistic families. It's an example of just how rich and diversified autism apps have become, Shih said.

"For me, it's extremely gratifying to walk into a room and you have a couple of hundred developers there to support families," Shih said.

Even as researchers just begin the process of trying to determine how effective such technologies are, parents, therapists and developers are racing ahead in their attempts to tap into what they view as a powerful tool to reach people with autism.

While there also has been a surge — albeit smaller — in apps for devices running Google Inc.'s Android operating system, researchers and families credit Apple's iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone for being the catalysts. As a result, Apple's iOS platform remains far and away the most popular platform for autism families and developers of apps for people with special needs.

As the annual National Autism Awareness Month comes to a close, a search for "autism" in Apple's App Store brings up 1,449 apps for the iPad, and 1,259 for the iPhone. And Apple has even created a "Special Education" section of the App Store.

The range of these apps has expanded well beyond the initial focus of helping people with autism communicate and improve social skills to learning about emotions and delivering basic educational lessons in a format that's better suited to autistic learners, Shih said.

The creators appear to be drawn by a mix of instincts to help others and the sense that there is potentially a sizable market for these apps since, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 50 school-age children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with some form of autism, an increase of 72% from five years ago.

Shih cares less about the motivation and more about the effect. To that end, Autism Speaks and others are trying to take a broader perspective on the initial and unexpected outpouring of interest in creating apps for people with autism.

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Monday, June 03, 2013

The reality of finding a job with autism

The reality of finding a job with autism

(CNN) -- Smiling is something 30-year-old Sarah Still constantly has to remind herself to do, especially when she is going into a job interview.

Still has Asperger's, a high-functioning form of autism. For the past 10 years, she has experienced the highs and lows of being on the autism spectrum while trying to work in professional settings.

It is not as though Still cannot get a job -- in fact, her resume is full of them, ranging from room attendant at Yellowstone National Park to receptionist at a massage parlor. It's keeping the jobs that has been the issue.

"Some days it is really hard to function ... things like fluorescent lighting can even bring my systems down," she said, meaning the lighting depresses her mood easily.

Still is not alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says as many as one in 50 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.

Many of those children will grow up and eventually try to enter the workforce.
Still said she's had a range of job experiences. Her worst, she recalls, was working as a room attendant at Yellowstone National Park, because she had a hard time remembering her tasks. She has memory issues because of her Asperger's, she said, and often loses track of time.

"It was really hard for me to remember how they wanted me to clean the rooms. They were really fast and I had an awful time keeping up," she said. She only stayed at that job for two months.

 Ann Cameron Williams, chief research and innovations officer withThe Arc, a national organization of and for people with intellectual and related developmental disabilities, asks what will happen to those one in 50 children once they enter adulthood.

"How will these children impact our schools, our offices? It is something that we have to open our eyes to. It is something that we really have to embrace," she said.

"We don't have a choice of turning away -- we have to employ these people."
One of the main challenges The Arc faces is educating employers about the benefits of hiring those on the autism spectrum, according to Williams. She said some employers are hesitant because they are unfamiliar with how such workers will perform on the job.

"When it comes to questions from businesses, it is just communicating to them the facts. Giving someone with autism a chance to work, many employers will discover that those on the spectrum are great at working with numbers, computers and spreadsheets," she explained.

Besides advocating for those with autism disorders, The Arc and other national organizations have work-training and placement programs. One company that specializes in job placement for those on the spectrum is Nobis Works, a nonprofit organization based out of Georgia.

Becky Ketts, the director of rehabilitation services at Nobis Works, finds jobs for people on the autism spectrum while they go through the organization's training program. These training programs last anywhere from three months to a year, and teach everything from anger management to customer service.

These "soft skills" are essential for success in the workplace, Ketts explains, especially for those with autism disorders.

"Even the thought of interviewing for a job can be overwhelming for someone on the autism spectrum. That is such an intimate setting. That alone can keep people from finding a job," Ketts said.

Still can relate. "I don't tell employers I have Asperger's," she said. She worries that employers will be immediately turned off from hiring her. "But I think when I do interviews I seem a bit strange and people don't hire me."

She also has difficulties "being social," she said. It is those little things that ultimately build stress for her in the workplace.

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