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Archive for January 18th, 2011

First Published Wednesday, 15 April 2009


By Nancy Shute


Joe Steffy is off to Overland Park, Kan., this week to do a PowerPoint presentation on his business, Poppin’ Joe’s Kettle Korn. He’s a 23-year-old small-business man with a goal of $100,000 in sales by 2012. Joe also has autism and Down syndrome and is nonverbal. When he gives his talk, he will push buttons on an augmentative speech device to deliver the words. His audience will be parents who fervently hope their own special-needs children will be able to work, too.


Joe’s parents, Ray and Janet, of Louisburg, Kan., didn’t agree with the assessment of the school district in which they lived previously, which had said Joe would never be able to work or live independently. “I’m one who can easily get ticked off,” says Ray. “That ticked me off. We saw more in Joe than that. We set out to prove to the school that he had capabilities.” They came across kettle corn while on a trip to Alaska and realized that all that popping, scooping, and serving suited Joe’s love of work.


The path to Joe Steffy’s success was not an easy one; Ray Steffy worked closely with Dave Hammis, an advocate for self-employment for people with disabilities in Middletown, Ohio, who trains business owners, government employees, and parents on how to make use of state and federal programs. The Steffys wrote up a business plan and helped Joe secure $25,000 in grants from programs like Social Security Administration‘s Plan to Achieve Self-Support program (PASS).


In 2005, Poppin’ Joe’s Kettle Korn was born. Sales have grown from $16,000 in 2005 to $50,000 in 2008, both from selling at festivals and from delivering popcorn to local outlets. Joe has five part-time employees, and his parents help out with driving and other tasks. “Pop and everyone that works with him knows whatever Joe wants to do you let him do, because he’s the boss,” Ray says. “If he wants to pop, he’ll shove Dad out of the way and pop.”


If the business stays on track, it should be grossing more than $100,000 in three years, and the Steffys are seeking a business partner who can work with Joe to manage the business. Joe is no longer on Social Security disability payments; instead, he pays state sales tax and state and federal income tax. He rents his own house and is helped by caregivers who are paid by a state program.


“It’s been hard work, from the standpoint of physical work,” says Ray Steffy, who is 67. “But a parent with a child like Joe has a choice. You can either kick in and do this kind of thing, or you can sit and fret emotionally with the amount of energy, worrying about what’s going to happen to them.”


The payoff for that effort, as far as the Steffys are concerned, has been priceless. They see their son make a local popcorn delivery, accept payment, fold it, and put it in his pocket. When he walks out, his dad says, Joe looks 3 inches taller than when he walked in.


Source:   http://news.yahoo.com/s/usnews/20090403/ts_usnews/how1autisticyoungmanrunsabusiness




First Published Thursday, 16 April 2009


Collage of Axial MRI Scans

Article Date: 16 Apr 2009


Researchers at Rhode Island Hospital have found that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can reduce the frequency of seizures in patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES), along with improving their overall quality of life. The study was published in the April 2009 edition of Epilepsy and Behavior.


PNES is a condition that is marked by seizures resembling epileptic seizures. Unlike epilepsy, however, seizures in patients with PNES are not caused by the same brain cell firing that occurs with epilepsy. Estimates indicate that approximately 20 to 30 percent of patients who are seen in epilepsy centers actually suffer from PNES as opposed to epilepsy. Patients who suffer from PNES often exhibit a higher incidence of symptoms such as anxiety and depression than patients with epilepsy, along with a reduced quality of life due to the effect of the seizures themselves. It is recognized, however, that conditions such as anxiety and depression often respond well to CBT. To date, treatment trials for PNES are few, despite the disabling nature of the disorder.


With this in mind, senior author W. Curt LaFrance, Jr., MD, MPH, director of the division of neuropsychiatry and behavioral neurology at Rhode Island Hospital, developed a CBT for PNES treatment manual. Modified from a CBT for patients with epilepsy workbook, the treatment manual has been developed over the past five years to address core issues in patients with PNES. LaFrance, who is also an assistant professor of psychiatry and neurology (research) at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, worked with colleagues at Rhode Island Hospital’s comprehensive epilepsy center to conduct an open, prospective clinical trial assessing the outcomes of outpatients with video-electroencephalogram (EEG)-confirmed PNES who were treated using the CBT for PNES manual.


LaFrance and the researchers have outlined a clinical model for management of PNES, where a key component is to identify precursors, precipitants and perpetuating factors of the seizures. LaFrance says, “Based on the tendency of patients with PNES to somatize (to manifest mental pain as pain in one’s body), we hypothesized that identifying and modifying cognitive distortions and environmental triggers for PNES would reduce PNES.”


The researchers then identified patients who were referred to the Rhode Island Hospital neuropsychiatry/behavioral neurology clinic after being diagnosed with PNES and at least one typical PNES was captured on video EEG. Of the 101 patients who were assessed for eligibility, 21 patients met the criteria or agreed to participate. Of those 21, 17 completed the 12-week session of CBT intervention and were included in the analysis.


LaFrance notes that the results of the clinical trial showed the CBT to be effective in terms of reducing the frequency of PNES. He notes, “Upon completion of the CBT, 16 of the 21 participants reported a 50 percent reduction in seizure frequency, and 11 of the 17 who completed the CBT reported no seizures per week by their final CBT session.” He also points out, “treating the seizure is not the sum total of treating the patient with a seizure disorder, so we assessed other important measures, as well.” The evaluation of quality of life scores, as well as assessments of depression, anxiety, somatic symptoms and psychosocial functioning also showed statistically significant improvement from baseline to final session.


The doctor concludes, “In this small clinical trial, treatment with the CBT for PNES program appears to be a beneficial approach in helping patients with PNES reduce their seizure frequency and significantly improve quality of life. We have also seen patients referred with other somatoform disorders, such as psychogenic movement disorders, respond to the treatment.” The results of this trial will be used for an upcoming National Institutes of Health proposal for a multi-center randomized controlled trial for PNES.


Source:   http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/146297.php



First Published Friday, 17 April 2009


Numberjacks

LONDON – The National Autistic Society is to become the official UK charity of CBeebies show Numberjacks.


Autistic Society links with Cbeebies' Numberjacks programme

The charity has tied with Open Mind Productions, which created the children’s programme. The partnership will go beyond a simple endorsement of the charity to include a range of co-branded products to be made available through UK retail outlets in 2010.


Numberjacks has been a big hit with pre-school children since it launched in 2006 and it has particularly appealed to many children with autism.


The National Autistic Society works to champion the rights and interests of all people with autism and provide individuals with autism and their families with help, support and services that they need.


Source:  http://www.marketingmagazine.co.uk/channel/Television/article/898684/Autistic-Society-links-Cbeebies-Numberjacks-programme/



First Published Friday, 17 April 2009


TWICKENHAM, UK:  A group of youngsters – many of them with autism or Asperger’s syndrome – had an unexpected end to a day out when the back wheels of their coach fell off at Twickenham on their way home.


The 14 boys and girls, aged between 10 and 13-years-old and who have special needs, and their 14 carers from the North Somerset Disabled Team, based at The Firs in Weston had been to the Haynes Motor Museum in Yeovil for an Easter day out.


They had enjoyed their day but it was shortly after leaving the M5 at Clevedon that things went wrong. As the 57-seater coach was travelling along Clevedon Road, in Tickenham to Nailsea, the two rear wheels on the passenger side came off the axle. It collapsed and scraped along the road for about 20 metres before coming to a halt.


None of the youngsters were hurt and parents were called to the village to pick up their children.


People living nearby who heard a loud scraping noise as the wheels fell off rushed to see what had happened. Some then directed traffic as the children were taken off the bus to safety.


Eleven-year-old Harry Johnson and his dad Tim, 39, of Clevedon Road, saw the incident. Harry said: “When I heard this really loud noise we ran out to see what was happening and saw the coach and the tyres, which had shot off up the road. We were worried the tyres would hit the traffic so we grabbed hold of them.”


Harry’s grandmother, Pat Johnson, who lives next door, then urged all the children to go into her garden so they were away from the main road.


Gill Stokes, of the NS Day Care Team, praised everyone involved for their actions. She said: “The carers and the driver did a fantastic job of getting the children off the bus quickly. I am also very grateful to the neighbours who helped us. Coombes Coaches has always been terrific and the driver was very upset about what happened.”


(Source:  Thisissomerset.co.uk,  April 15, 2009)


http://www.awares.org/pkgs/news/news.asp?showItemID=964&board=&bbcode=&profileCode=&section=



First Published Friday, 17 April 2009


Buckner JD, Schmidt NB.


Department of Psychology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Los Angeles; Department of Psychology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida


Background: Individuals with social anxiety disorder (SAD) appear particularly vulnerable to marijuana-related problems. Yet, mechanisms underlying this association are unclear.


Methods: This study examined the role of marijuana effect expectancies in the relation between SAD and marijuana problems among 107 marijuana users (43.0% female), 26.2% of whom met Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders – Fourth Edition criteria for SAD. Anxiety and mood disorders were determined during clinical interviews using the Anxiety Disorders Interview Schedule – IV-L (ADIS-IV).


Results: Analyses (including sex, marijuana use frequency, major depressive disorder, and other anxiety disorders) suggest that SAD was the only disorder significantly associated with past 3-month marijuana problems. Compared to those without SAD, individuals with SAD were more likely to endorse the following marijuana expectancies: cognitive/behavioral impairment and global negative expectancies. Importantly, these expectancies mediated the relations between SAD status and marijuana problems.


Conclusions: These data support the contention that SAD is uniquely related to marijuana problems and provide insight into mechanisms underlying this vulnerability.


Source…



First Published Friday, 17 April 2009


Ian Dose


Exercise is being under-used as a treatment for depression according to the Black Dog Institute, a leading Australian authority on mood disorders. It is calling on health professionals to place a greater emphasis on physical activity for patients with the disorder.


Described as a neglected strategy, the Institute is joining forces with Australian sports people to lead a drive to raise awareness in the community and amongst health professionals on the benefits of exercise to treat some forms of depression.


Olympian John Konrads, long distance swimmer Brendan Capell and golfer David Spindler helped launched the Exercise the Mood initiative.


They were joined by the Executive Director of the Black Dog Institute, Professor Gordon Parker; Research Psychologist, Joanna Crawford; Director of the University of NSW (UNSW) Lifestyle Clinic, Chris Tzar and author, Graeme Cowan.


Speaking at the launch, Professor Parker said exercise was particularly useful for reducing depression amongst people with mild/moderate depression who were previously inactive. “Two-thirds of Australians do not meet the minimum physical activity recommendations, and people experiencing depression have even lower levels of activity.


He said that last year the Black Dog Institute conducted an innovative survey of 500 people at a major Sydney fun run (Blackmore Sydney Running Festival). The aim of the study was to examine the impact of exercise on mood and the relationship between exercise and the symptoms of depression.


This study found that while most people (95 percent) reported that exercise improved their mood, even mild symptoms of depression were associated with reduced fitness, less confidence in exercising and added obstacles to exercise.


Over 90 percent of those people surveyed with current symptoms of depression agreed that exercise “gives me more energy” and “makes me feel better if I am feeling depressed.”


This Australian study, along with recent overseas research, has demonstrated the benefits of exercise for improving mood and energy levels in depression,” reported Professor Parker.


While regular moderate exercise can be an effective way to assist some forms of depression, it can be very difficult for people experiencing depression to find the motivation to get started.


Professor Parker launched the Institute’s program encouraging exercise as a strategy for assisting people with depression.


Health professionals, he said, had an important role to play in assisting depressed patients to become more active.


He said the Institute was developing free customized educational programs and workshops for health care professionals, including GPs, psychologists and allied health professionals to assist them in using exercise as a strategy for treatment of depression.


This new initiative will include evidence-based strategies for promoting physical activity in people experiencing depression and train health professionals in:


  • *Current evidence for the role of exercise in the treatment of depression
  • *Physical activity assessment and tailored education on exercise
  • *Development of individualized exercise plans for depressed patients
  • *Identifying and overcoming barriers to exercise
  • *Specific strategies found to increase exercise participation, including ‘motivational interviewing’ counseling, written exercise prescriptions from doctors, goal setting and self-monitoring
  • *Referral options and relevant Medicare rebates available (e.g. referrals to exercise physiologists under Enhanced Primary Care Plans)


First Published Friday, 17 April 2009


Columbine High School

By Greg Toppo, USA TODAY


They weren’t goths or loners.


The two teenagers who killed 13 people and themselves at suburban Denver’s Columbine High School 10 years ago next week weren’t in the “Trenchcoat Mafia,” disaffected videogamers who wore cowboy dusters. The killings ignited a national debate over bullying, but the record now shows Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold hadn’t been bullied – in fact, they had bragged in diaries about picking on freshmen and “fags.”


Their rampage put schools on alert for “enemies lists” made by troubled students, but the enemies on their list had graduated from Columbine a year earlier. Contrary to early reports, Harris and Klebold weren’t on antidepressant medication and didn’t target jocks, blacks or Christians, police now say, citing the killers’ journals and witness accounts.


(Emphasis added; ed.)


More…

Copyright 2009 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.




First Published Friday, 17 April 2009


INSERT DESCRIPTION
Erin Trieb for The New York Times “The Horse Boy” author Rupert Isaacson and his son Rowan in Elgin, Tex.

In today’s New York Times, reporter Motoko Rich writes about a new book, “The Horse Boy,” that chronicles a father’s trip to Mongolia to ride horses and visit shamans as part of an effort to heal his son’s autism. Ms. Rich asked several top autism experts whether the book offers important insights or false hope for families coping with autism. Here’s what they said: Read more.


Source:   http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/



First Published Friday, 17 April 2009


*Please share announcement with colleagues and peers.*


*Comment Period: March 27 – April 17, 2009 – 3:00 P.M. E.D.T.*


*Voting Period: April 22 – 29, 2009*


*Web site: www.icdr.us/stakeholders*


This year for the first time, the federally mandated Interagency Committee
on Disability Research (ICDR) is utilizing an innovative Web-based approach
to collect online disability research comments to assist in developing a
federal disability and rehabilitation 2010 research agenda.  This
technology-driven approach gives the public a three-week timeframe from
March 27th through April 17th to submit their recommendations.
Additionally, registered participants will be invited to review all comments
submitted and vote on their top 10 concerns in each topic area during the
one-week period from April 22nd through April 29th.  Public comments from
stakeholders are the focal point of the disability research recommendations
in the ICDR Annual Report to the President and Congress.  For more
information, please review the attached press release and visit
www.icdr.us/stakeholders.



Ari Ne’eman
President
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network
1660 L Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC  20036
http://www.autisticadvocacy.org
732.763.5530



First Published Sunday, 19 April 2009


By Erika Krull, MS, LMHP


In a mere six days, Susan Boyle from Scotland has become a multi-million-view sensation on YouTube. Her rendition of “I Dreamed A Dream” from Les Miserables has been a phenomenon, growing steadily by the minute as more and more people see the video.


Clearly, Susan has an amazing voice. She owned this song, and the audience before too long. In my opinion, “I Dreamed a Dream” is one of the most gorgeous songs ever written, and it’s difficult to sing well. It has a musical range much like the “Star Spangled Banner” (ever have to sing that one by yourself in front of people?). To really pull it off, you need to have some good singing chops. Boy, does she.


But here’s the thing, the real secret to why this woman is getting so much attention and so many cheers. She is not what you expect when she isn’t singing. Susan sang this song on a British talent TV show in front of a large studio audience and and even larger audience watching at home. Though she was just using her voice, so much of a show like that is a visual experience.


She had a lovely dress on, but she wasn’t particularly pretty. Her hair wasn’t anything special, she’d never been married, and she didn’t look like she had a chance. She looked like someone you should feel sorry for, giving it her darnedest but a certain failure about to unfold on stage. As she was being introduced, you could hear sarcastic catcalls and see expressions of disbelief that this woman could ever succeed. A woman like that? Yeah…. right. Looks of confusion, giggling, pity. Expectations of what they thought was about to unfold.


And that’s when the magic happened. At one singular moment about 3 seconds into her singing performance, the entire audience saw how wrong they had been and dropped their expectations straight to the floor. One half second later, they embraced this unbelievable reality of a plain looking unknown woman singing like a Broadway legend. So wrong one second, so emotionally overwhelmed the next.


The crowd eagerly went on the emotional ride with Susan. She hushed them with the sincerity of the lyrics in quieter parts, then shot them through the roof during the climax near the end. Just her voice alone was enough to be thoroughly enjoyable. If this were only an audio clip with no video, the impact would not be as strong. You needed to see her appearance, make your own prejudiced judgment, then go on the ride yourself. To understand how the audience transformed in less than 2 seconds is to understand the miracle of being open to change.


Two of the judges had great courage to speak aloud what the audience had been thinking before Susan’s performance. They were honest to admit that they themselves had been surprised, one saying they were all somewhat “cynical” before she started. The entire audience traveled such a great distance between their initial expectation and the emotional reality, and they did it in a snap. What a rush! That made everyone a bit more humble, and made their satisfaction even deeper. The floor of that performance hall had to be wet with tears.


I even knew there was supposedly something amazing about this video and it still blew me away. Yeah, but how good is she really? Everyone thinks they’re good on these shows. Because of those thoughts, I didn’t watch it until last night even though I’d seen other people commenting on the clips since Monday. Certainly opened my eyes. Go ahead and watch the video, even if you’ve watched it 50 times already. Can’t hurt to do it again.


Here’s the takeaway — who are you misjudging that could blow you away if you gave them the chance? Who is a hidden gem in your life? Who do you minimize in your mind because of your own skewed expectations?


Source:   http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/04/17/susan-boyle-a-lesson-in-expectations-and-emotion/