January 2011



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Archive for January 9th, 2011

First Published Monday, 22 December 2008

Take Care of Your Heart

Smoking, physical inactivity the main factors

Amanda Jekowsky

Anyone will tell you that stress is bad for the heart. Many people also know about the toxic effects of anxiety and depression. But how exactly do these negative emotions cripple the cardiovascular system-and what can be done about it?

New research published in the December 16/23, 2008, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) offers some answers. It found that many people who experience psychological distress also slip into poor health habits, particularly smoking and physical inactivity. Over several years, these two factors alone may account for nearly two-thirds of the risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular illnesses in people with depression and anxiety.

Psychological distress is a growing problem,” said Mark Hamer, PhD, a senior research fellow at University College London, UK. “It’s very important that physicians try to identify psychological distress, but it’s also important to look at the behaviors and the risk factors that are associated with it.

Previous studies have established the link between psychological distress and heart disease, but so far there is insufficient evidence to show that treating depression and anxiety can reduce the risk of heart attack and death. The new research findings suggest a broader approach may be necessary.

Treating psychological factors on their own might not be the best way,” Dr Hamer said. “We’re suggesting that you might have to intervene in the more intermediate pathways, which is the behavior, in addition to trying to treat the psychological problems.

For the new study, researchers recruited 6,576 men and women who were participating in the Scottish Health Survey, a population-based study involving a typical group of people living in Scotland. At the beginning of the study, participants completed a 12-item standardized questionnaire designed to measure their general happiness, symptoms of depression or anxiety, and any recent sleep disturbances. Those with a score of 4 or more-approximately 15 percent of those participating in the study-were considered to be suffering from psychological distress.

At the same time a nurse took a blood sample that was later tested for common physical risk factors for heart disease, such as cholesterol and C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of arterial inflammation. Researchers also collected information on height, weight, physical activity, alcohol intake and smoking, and had access to each participant’s medical history, including information on blood pressure.

Researchers followed-up study participants for an average of more than 7 years, using hospital records to document death from heart disease, as well as the rate of heart attack, stroke, cardiac bypass surgery and coronary interventions (e.g., angioplasty). Over that time, there were a total of 223 such cardiovascular “events,” including 63 deaths.

Researchers found a significant and direct link between increasing psychological distress and increasing risk of cardiovascular illness and death. In fact, after age and sex were taken into account, people with depression and anxiety faced more than a 50 percent increased risk when compared to happier people.

However, when the researchers included unhealthy behaviors in the analysis, they found that smoking and physical inactivity alone explained approximately 63 percent of the increased cardiovascular risk. (Smoking had the greatest impact, accounting for nearly 41 percent of the risk.) Alcohol intake explained less than 2 percent of the risk, while high blood pressure explained 13 percent and CRP explained just under 6 percent.

This study helps us to better understand the relative contributions of stress-related changes in behavior and physiology leading to heart disease,” said Roland von Känel, MD, a professor of medicine and psychiatry, and head of the psychocardiology unit of the Swiss Cardiovascular Center at the University Hospital of Bern, Switzerland. Dr von Känel did not participate in the study but was invited to write an editorial comment in the same issue of JACC.

From a public health perspective, the findings encourage us to emphasize broad preventive strategies to target the behavioral and physiological pathways leading from stress to cardiovascular disease,” he said. “These may span from behavioral interventions targeting smoking cessation and increasing physical activity, to stress management and relaxation techniques previously shown to restore cardiovascular function and to reduce inflammation. Whether such interventions ultimately decrease the cardiovascular risk associated with psychological distress needs further study.”

Heart Disease

Hamer M, Molloy GJ, Stamatakis E. Psychological Distress as a Risk Factor for Cardiovascular Events J Am Coll Cardiol. 2008 Dec;52:2156-2162   [Abstract]

First Published on AE Monday, 22 December 2008

By T.J. GREANEY of the Tribune’s staff. Published Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sixteen-year-old Collin Driscoll sets up his grandmother Kay McCarthy’s new laptop computer Wednesday in her home. Collin, who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, has started his own computer consulting and repair business, HireTheBrain.com.

Sitting in front of a computer in his grandmother’s office this week, Collin Driscoll heard a cacophony of noise.

The whir of the computer fan, the sound of chattering voices in the next room, the buzz of electricity – each attracted his attention. Several years ago, it would have made it impossible for the 16-year-old with Asperger’s syndrome to work, but now he can ignore it.

“What I’ve learned to do is kind of dissect sounds throughout the room, and I can say, ‘OK, that sound is the fan. I can ignore it. That’s my father, that’s my mother. I don’t need to be listening to that right now,’ ” Collin said. “That has helped me a lot.”

Collin, whose condition is on the autism spectrum, has made huge strides. Recently, he and his father started a computer consulting and repair business called HireTheBrain.com.

Collin’s parents say it has been a long road for their son to get to where he is today. They began to notice he was different in the fourth grade. Collin needed literal, concrete instructions from teachers and got in trouble for not paying attention. It was a tell-tale sign of Asperger’s, they say.

“If you tell a kid with Asperger’s to go empty the trash, you need to specify,” Collin’s mother Jeani Dricoll said. ” ‘Go outside, you need to empty the garbage can and then bring back the lid.’ “

Things got worse for Collin when he went to a middle school with an unusual setup. His classroom didn’t have full partition walls, and he could hear everything going on in adjoining classes. “They were basically really large cubicles,” Collin said. “Combined with the tile floors, the hanging ceiling everything just echoed.”

Things got so overwhelming that he stopped going to school and retreated into his own world. He spent most of his day in front of the computer – Colin is a computer prodigy who published his first computer program at age 11 – but he felt it was impossible to interact socially with others. His mother bought him special earplugs and took him to the grocery store for short periods of time just to be around people.

Eventually, Collin said, he started taking classes at the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders at MU. He learned how to overcome his sensitivity to sound and how to read social signs such as body language and facial expressions.

“Before, I wouldn’t even necessarily know if someone was upset with me until they said, ‘I’m upset with you’ or ‘You need to go to your room,’ ” he said.

Janine Stichter, associate director of the Thompson Center, said Collin is one of the highest functioning children on the autism spectrum, and with a slight regulation of his behavior he can learn to do anything.

“Their capacity to do things is unlimited,” she said. “For decades and centuries, mainstream society has had people with this very mild form” of autism “holding good jobs and maybe even as leaders.”

Stichter said the center provides classes that encourage children to emphasize their strengths, which often include focus and memory. “They might not make a good sales representative, but they might make a great computer programmer,” she said.

And that is precisely what Collin plans to do. Several months ago, his mother convinced him to take a trip by himself to his aunt’s home in Kansas and to help her trucking company fix its computer system. It was a big step for Collin, but he enjoyed it, and at his aunt’s encouragement decided he wanted to start the business with his father, Steve, an IT programmer who formerly worked for large companies but was forced into semi-retirement after suffering a stroke.

“I’ve gone from being the geek to being his driver,” joked Steve Driscoll, who marvels at his son’s ability with computers.

Collin hopes to grow the company and, through it, improve his social abilities. He hopes someday he can be an inspiration to others with the same condition.

“Hopefully, it will help bring an awareness in the public eye to get more resources for helping other kids like me,” he said.

Source:   http://www.columbiatribune.com/2008/Dec/20081220News007.asp

First Published Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Autism is no barrier to local small business owner

For the Cumberland Times-News
Cumberland Times-News

CUMBERLAND — Because of his autism, 22-year-old Andrew Pegg of Frostburg has not spoken a single word since he was 2 years old. Yet, he owns Andilla Designs & Graphics, a home-based business that personalizes gifts and advertising products.

The Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services and the Maryland Rehabilitation Association recently presented Pegg with its annual Personal Achievement Award at a statewide conference in Ocean City. Andilla Designs & Graphics is evidence that individuals with severe disabilities can build a future with the right mix of community programs and family support.

The award honors a former consumer of the Division of Rehabilitation Services who has overcome barriers to reach personal and economic independence.

Pegg has received assistance from his DORS counselor, Erin Shahan, and his family. Since certain aspects of his business are difficult due to his disability—marketing and driving, for example—he is assisted by Derrick Swandol, a job coach from Spectrum, a local non-profit agency.

A part of the Maryland State Department of Education, DORS, with initial consultation from its Reach Independence through Self-Employment Program, assisted Pegg with his start-up costs and purchase of the equipment he utilizes to make his creations. He continues to acquire new business from individuals as well as organizations.

Pegg communicates well in writing and brings a prepared slide presentation to numerous events, informing and teaching others what individuals with disabilities can accomplish.

Source:   http://www.times-news.com/business/local_story_354000741.html

First Published Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Employment & Support

The National Autistic Society is conducting research into a new benefit called Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). We are looking for autistic adults who have applied for ESA to be involved in research. If this applies to you or someone you care for with autism, and you would like to find out more information, please complete the form below.(see link)


First Published Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Letter in Braille

The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) is working on a project about visual impairment and autism. The project is now under way and will run until August 2010.

The project’s partners are the RNIB, Brookfields School, The National Autistic Society (NAS), and Sunfield. There is a steering group made up of staff from each of these organisations.

The intention is to develop resources that give practitioners information about approaches and strategies that have been used successfully with children who have both visual impairment and autism.

We have run a pilot survey at Brookfields School, looking at the strategies employed there with children in this group. Next, we will be surveying pupils in a number of other schools, including specialist schools for visually impaired children; local authority day special schools; and mainstream schools.

Many practitioners have contacted us to say that they work with pupils who have both visual impairment and autism. We hope to include these children in the survey as well.

While our primary concern is the strategies employed in schools, we will also ask parents and carers of the children who take part in our survey about any strategies they use at home.

For more information, visit the project’s website.

The project can be contacted

  • *by email: vi-autism.medina@tiscali.co.uk
  • *by post: Ian Bell
    Visual Impairment and Autism Project
    c/o RNIB Children’s Services
    RNIB Regional Centre
    58-72 John Bright Street
    Birmingham B1 1BN
  • *by telephone: 07920 252 383.


Brookfields School is a West Berkshire day school for pupils with learning difficulties, including needs associated with autism and sensory impairment.

The RNIB’s website is: www.rnib.org.uk

Sunfield, a UK charity, provides residential care, education and outreach support for children with severe and complex learning needs, many of whom have autism. www.sunfield.org.uk

Fireworks over New York

“Boy drowns in pool less than hour into holiday … The twins started school last September at St Eithne’s Primary School a few hundred yards from their home. But a few weeks ago the brothers, who were both autistic, were switched to the special needs unit at a nearby school.”:


“Girl dies from swallowing balloon”:


“Suitcase body mother Heather Wardle death’s death was suicide, coroner rules”:


“Medal for fireman who saved station”:


“Measles epidemic feared”:


“Leeds parents urged to get their children immunised”:


“Echo takes We Care manifesto to health chiefs in Westminster”:


“Halton Borough under fire over autism”:


“Anger at changes to services for disabled adults”:


“NAS response to £12m plan for children with communication needs”:


“Isle of Wight: Council job fears heighten”:


“Top donors step in to save charities … The philanthropist Dame Stephanie Shirley, whose foundation has given £1.25m this year to support people with autism, said: “We will maintain our grant giving, even if this means eating into our foundation’s capital. All our planned expenditure [on the scale of last year’s £1.25m] is held in cash.”:


“Community rallies behind Northumberland charity”:


Chariots of Fire Riding School “Disabled riding lessons hit by credit crunch”:


“Tories attacked for ‘posturing’ on benefits system”:


“New guidelines boost web access”:


“Dial-aRide scheme is under fire”:




“Health Q & A: Autism, dairy not scientifically linked”:


“Common mechanism which acts in both perception and movement”:


“LEGO helps social development of autistic children”:


“Visual Impairment & Autism Project”:


“Blind man sees his way past obstacles”:




ASAN President Ari Ne’eman co-authored a scholarly article with Columbia University Professor Alicia A. Broderick titled “Autism as metaphor: narrative and counter-narrative,” which was published in a special issue of The International Journal of Inclusive Education (Volume 12, Issue 5/6) devoted to Disability Studies in Education.

“MPs learn of schools fight”:


“AuSable has new High School principal”:


“Are special ed students getting the instruction they need in public schools?”:


“Report: State discriminates against autistic children”:


“Therapist hopes to open school for autistic children”:




HireTheBrain.com “Building brain power – Teen with Asperger’s turns computer skills into business”


Andilla Designs & Graphics “Autism is no barrier to small business owner”:


Individuality, Diversity, Equality, Achievement

Auties..org is an Aspie & Autie friendly site for all people on the Autistic Spectrum who are ready to dare reach out to occupation and employment, open the doors to the community and market their abilities directly to the public and for those interested in supporting these pioneers.



Linking job seekers with vacancies in work related to autism, Aspergers and ASDs

“Current job vacancies within the NAS”:

For further employment information, please view”:



Bulgaria “Karin Dom Exemplary Center for Disabled Children”:


“Pictures of Piers”:


“Billings boy wins award”:


“Dancers with big hearts”:


“Belle saddles up for new life on the farm”:


New York - yesterday, today, tomorrow...

New York

Archived New York Magazine “The New Wave of Autism Rights Activists”:


Miss Liberty

“Center for Autism and Related Disabilities”:


New York Blue Hour

“New Jersey/New York Schools: Gersh Academy, Learning Spring Academy, and The Y.A.L.E. Schools”:


Carriage ride in Central Park

New York Daily Photo: Winter Wonderland


Times Square, New York



“Teen prescription drug abuse continues increase”:


“Filmmaker takes common-sense approach to kids and medication”:


“Inhibition, ADHD, and computer games: The Inhibitory Performance of children with ADHD on computerized tasks and games”:


“Dopamine, learning, and impulsivity: a biological account of ADHD”:


“ADHD: from brain dysfunctions to behaviour”:


“Adult ADD/ADHD often tied to childhood”:


“Workers, employers make adjustments for ADHD”:


Riyadh “Struggle with ADHD helps Leena grow older than her age”:


“Southeast teacher shares expertise with Saudis”:


“Holiday medical myths debunked”:


“Child’s ADHD diagnosis is tied to mother’s health status”:


ADRES “Adverse Drug Reaction Electronic System(Adverse Drug Reactions Website)”- This website provides patients, doctors, and other medical professionals with a comprehensive examination of adverse drug reactions (ADRs), side effects, and other safety information for both prescription and over-the-counter medications. Our goal is to allow users of our website make informed decisions when taking (patients) or prescribing (doctors) drugs. We are providing unmatched information and analysis tools.


Our objective is to promote awareness to AD/HD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) and to provide information and as much free practical help as we can to those affected by the condition, both adults and children, their families in the UK and around the World via this website.

“ADDISS” The National Attention Deficit Disorder Information and Support Service…



“hi2u ADHD Pages”:




“Trek the Inca Trail – 14-23 May, 2009”

Be part of this breath-taking open challenge and trek to Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas. http://www.nas.org.uk/nas/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=1863

“Trek Ben Nevis – 19-21 June, 2009”:


“Flora London Marathon 2009”:


“It’s back! The London to Paris Bike Ride 2009 – 15-18 May”:


5-8th June, 2009 “Five Countries Bike Ride – England, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany


“Trek Jordan 2009 – 10th-14th September”:


“Sky Diving”:




“Rudely Interrupted work their senses overtime”:


“Stars Shine for Autism 2009 – 12th March, 2009

Featuring Alfie Boe and the London Chamber Orchestra”:


“The AutisMusic Project”:




Artist: Katie Miller

ASAN Activist Katie Miller won the prestigous Wynn Newhouse Award, an award granted by the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation to highly accomplished fine artists with disabilities. Miller’s winning portfolio consisted of a selection of her artwork and an essay about her life as an autistic artist with other disabilities.

“Art Auction – 26 February 2009”:


“ARTROOM …….where under 17s can make and display art online”:




“Exclusive screening of The Black Balloon”:


“Actors for Autism”:



New “Challenges to the Human Rights of People with Intellectual Disabilities”

Edited by Frances Owen and Dorothy Griffiths

Foreword by Orville Endicott


New “Supporting Young Parents: Pregnancy and Parenthood among Young People from Care”

Authors: Elaine Chase, Ian Warwick, Abigail Knight and Peter Aggleton

Foreword by Ann Phoenix


New “Personality Disorder: The Definitive Reader”

Edited by Gwen Adshead and Caroline Jacob


“How To Be Yourself in a World That’s Different: An Asperger Syndrome Study Guide for Adolescents”

Author: Yuko Yoshida M.D.

Foreword by Lorna Wing

Translated by Esther sanders


“Supportive Parenting: Becoming an Advocate for your Child with Special Needs”

Author: Jan Starr Campito


“Wishing On the Midnight Star: My Asperger Brother”

Author: Nancy Ogaz


“The Dragons of Autism: Autism as a Source of Wisdom”

Author: Olga Holland


“Xpress Reviews – First Look at New Books”:




Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa



Planet Rescue Wildlife Vet


Planet Rescue



One laptop per child prototype


“One Laptop Per Child Ready For Version 2.0”



Fireworks exploding in storm cloud


“Great Fireworks, Shame About The The Toxic Fallout”



I, Robot


VIDEO “The Year In Robots”



Happy New Year!

Here’s to adventure and discovery, to challenge and journeys new.

Here’s to rising to challenges as they present, to learning, to growth, to keeping the spirit of ‘caring’ alive throughout not just one, but all seasons.

Very Best Wishes,


New York fireworks