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January 2011



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First Published Sunday, 23 November 2008

Kim Miller

Kim Miller – Inspirational Artist

“Kim has been a gifted artist for over 17 years. She has won many awards throughout her career. A young lady of many talents, Kim has excelled in school and enjoys various academic pursuits. The theatre and animals are among her greatest interests. Her miniature dachshund is her constant companion.”

Kim’s Website:


(With special thanks to Lenni for sharing Kim’s site. – Julie)

The Girl Who Spoke With Pictures

Further Reference:


First Published Monday, 24 November 2008

Eric Scot Frydler

Unique perspective

Through isolation comes creation for playwright whose condition has always given him a different take

By James Hebert

10:21 a.m. November 23, 2008

On the days and nights when he was writing “The Magical Forest,” an original musical about the wonders and fragility of nature, Eric Scot Frydler only had to look out his back door for inspiration.

Frydler and his wife, Stephanie, live on Box Canyon, a natural preserve in the La Costa section of Carlsbad. For Frydler, the place’s appeal lies not just in its scenery, but its solitude.

“I’ll share a secret with you,” he says. “I don’t really like to be around people a lot, because it takes my energy away. To do what I’m doing, I need to get inside my own world in a sanctuary kind of setting. And that’s not always easy to do. But I really treasure that part of it, because it allows me to create.”

It’s not that Frydler, who describes himself as “50-ish,” doesn’t like people. It’s just that for much of his life, figuring out the complexities and nuances of social relationships has been a struggle, a grappling with mysteries maybe as deep as any in the fantasy world of “The Magical Forest.”

For a long time, Frydler didn’t know why human relationships were such a struggle. Then, through extensive counseling, it became apparent what was affecting him was an undiagnosed case of autism.

Though it typically presents challenges in three areas – social skills, language and stereotyped or repetitive behavior – autism encompasses a broad spectrum of disability and occurs in endless combinations of symptoms.

Frydler might be more mildly affected than many autistic people, but his accomplishments as a musician and writer – not to mention toy designer – speak to how little a label sometimes serves to define human potential. In Frydler’s case, ironically, the label of autism helped free him from years of frustration and confusion.

“The hard part is when you’re not completely clear what it is that you have,” he says. “It was hard to pin it down to one thing, because I was just normal enough to pass by.

“It came later, where it became clear looking backward. Like, ‘Oh my god, this is really what you’ve been coping with your whole life.’ “

As a boy growing up in Manhattan, Frydler admits, “I never conformed very well to any school environment. Which is a polite way of saying I had a lot of trouble in school.”

But he did have parents who took him to theater and musical performances and encouraged his interest in music, as well as myriad other pursuits. As Frydler puts it: “I spent as much time at the planetarium as at theaters.”

Starting in his late teens, Frydler worked with an off-off-Broadway theater called the Performing Gallery, becoming immersed in the world of writing, composing and performing.

He also says he learned much from Laszlo Halasz, the first director of the New York City Opera, who took an interest in the young composer (according to Frydler) and allowed him to audit graduate classes at the Juilliard School and Stony Brook University.

Eventually, Frydler moved to Los Angeles, where he “learned about the wonderful world of rejection” while trying to break into entertainment there. But he also made a name for himself in the toy field, developing hundreds of product concepts and creating comic books distributed with Mattel action figures.

After moving to Carlsbad 12 years ago and meeting his wife-to-be (who did the costumes for “The Magical Forest”), he continued composing and writing. “Dracula,” staged early last year, was his first show at Coronado Playhouse, paving the way for “The Magical Forest,” which has its final performance today.

The play is “not just a fairy tale,” he notes. “It’s a more involved story about environmental pollution, and saving animals and saving ourselves.”

Frydler is already deep into his next two projects: “Sumatra,” which he calls a “darker, deeper tableau” than “Forest”; and “Wingkind,” an opera based on genetic engineering.

“I seem to be flowing with the music,” he says of the work now. “I’m not even sure where that’s all coming from. It doesn’t flow all the time. So when it does, when the spigot is turned open, it’s not something you want to tamper with.”

In work, and maybe now in life, he can go with the flow.

James Hebert: (619) 293-2040; jim.hebert@uniontrib.com

THEATER ARTIST: Eric Scot Frydler

LATEST WORKS: “Dracula,” “The Magical Forest,” Coronado Playhouse.

IN PROGRESS: “Sumatra,” “Wingkind” (theatrical/operatic works)

OTHER ROLES: Playwriting, acting, toy design

WEB SITE: coronadoplayhouse.com

KEY QUOTES: “It was obvious something was different, because at 5, I was getting report cards saying, Eric is an enigma. Or a nonconformist. I was not following things the way I was expected. I was in my own world half the time, and nobody understood why.”


Source:   http://www3.signonsandiego.com/stories/2008/nov/23/n8719210216-unique-perspective/?zIndex=15337

Eric Scot Frydler in Dracula at the Coronado Playhouse

Eric Scot Frydler (Composer, Publicist, and Co-Producer) has a wide range of creative skills covering music composition, product design and feature writing. He was a founding member of the Performing Gallery in New York City. Recent credits include: playwright, composer, and lyricist of The Magical Forest, an original 3-act musical; composer Scarred, a film western; composer, lyricist, producer Vampyre, a music video; composer The Last Supper, a film, and Sweet Amazon, a documentary. In addition to his musical gifts (he was invited to audit graduate classes at Stony Book and Julliard while still a teenager), Eric is an advanced concepts inventor for both Hasbro and Mattel. As a visionary member of the Mattel Research & Development team, he created many characters, designing and writing “He-Man” and “She-Ra” comic books packed out with the action figures collected to this day.

Source:  http://www.coronadoplayhouse.com/dracula/crew/frydler.html

The Magical Forest ~ An Original Musical by Eric Scot Frydler

Eric Scot Frydler (Playwright, Composer, Lyricist, Music Director, and Executive Producer) Eric Scot Frydler, musical composer, playwright and lyricist, diagnosed with autism as a child, uses his inward focus to fuel his creative genius and share it with the world in his latest, wildly imaginative musical The Magical Forest. Eric Scot Frydler is pleased to bring his original new musical production The Magical Forest to the Coronado Playhouse and to be working with such a talented cast and crew. Aubrey Award-winner for Production of a Drama for Dracula with Rosemary Harrison, Eric also composed the original music score to the multiple award-winning 2007 production at Coronado Playhouse. His music score to The Last Supper aired on national television this past Easter. Eric’s surpassing talents encompass playwrighting, composing, designing and invention. He was on the brainstorming team that created “He-Man, Masters of the Universe” and “She-Ra, Princess of Power” at Mattel Toys, Inc. and is currently on the advanced concepts outside inventor list for Hasbro. As a teenager, Eric was discovered by Maestro Laszlo Halasz and invited to audit graduate music classes at The Julliard and Stony Brook universities. Eric is currently composing for film and theater, developing new musical enchantments, Sumatra, a new musical, and The Last Christmas Tree a new musical television play. He resides in San Diego with his partner, costume and creature designer, Stephanie Daniels Frydler and their cats Bodhi and Ellie May.

Source:   http://www.coronadoplayhouse.com/magical_forest/crew-bios/frydler-eric.html

The Magic Flower


First Published Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Alex Barton

Elementary school teacher suspended after autistic child voted out of class

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – A St. Lucie County teacher who let her kindergarteners decide whether an autistic child could remain in class has been suspended.

The county school board voted unanimously Tuesday night to suspend Morningside Elementary School teacher Wendy Portillo without pay for one year.

The incident arose one day in May, when a 5-year-old student in the process of being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome was referred twice to the principal for discipline problems.

Portillo then allegedly asked the class to vote whether the boy should stay in the class. He lost the vote 14-to-2.

The teacher’s attorney said she will contest the suspension. The boy’s mother said she should be fired.

Source:   http://www.gainesville.com/article/20081119/NEWS/811190952

Previous Reports

“In Support of Alex Barton & Family”:

“Update:  Alex Barton, autism diagnosis confirmed”:

First Published Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Classical guitar

David Massey, a finalist in the Young Musician of the Year competition and a successful classical guitarist, will be giving a guitar recital in aid of the NAS Enfield branch on 29 November.

The recital will feature music by J S Bach, Sor, Granados and Villa-Lobos. Tickets are available on the night or you can pre-order them by contacting our Enfield branch. Telephone Miranda McAllister on 020 8882 9202.

The recital starts at 7.30pm and takes place at:

United Reformed Church
Palmers Green
London N13 4AL

First Published Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Adam Godley

Actor Adam Godley, star of the West End stage version of ‘Rain Man’, joined the Mayor of Kensington & Chelsea, Councillor Joanna Gardner, to open The National Autistic Society’s flagship centre for people with autism in London on Thursday 6 November.

The Ladbroke Grove Autism Centre will provide much-needed help, support and information for children, young people and adults with autism and their parents and carers from across London. It will be a base for numerous projects, including youth clubs, play schemes, parent/carer support groups, social groups and employment and supported living advice.

Mark Lever, NAS Chief Executive said:

“Autism is a serious, lifelong and disabling condition, yet many people with the condition struggle to access the help they so desperately need. We are very excited about the launch of this centre, which will offer a safe and supportive environment for people with autism to develop their interests, confidence and independence. Autism is much more common than people think, so resources such as this are vital in helping people affected by autism achieve their full potential.”

Robyn Steward, a young woman with Asperger syndrome from London who spoke at the launch, said:

“People with autism can often feel isolated and ignored, so this centre is a lifeline for those of us living with this ‘hidden’ disability. The right help can make a huge difference and the fantastic support available here will go a long way in helping people with autism lead more independent and fulfilling lives.”

Facilities at the centre include a specialist information technology lounge, sensory room, activity and games room, training and drama room, art and craft area, teaching kitchen and communal garden.

The official opening was followed by an open afternoon for people with autism, their families, carers and professionals.

The new Ladbroke Grove Autism Centre is based at 73C St Charles Square, London, W10 6EJ. For more information about the Centre or its support groups and activities, please contact Samantha Lawrie on 020 8962 3010 or email LGautismcentre@nas.org.uk

Related Articles

“Rain Man Cast and Crew Visit NAS Service”:


“Review:  Rain Man Onstage … Under The Spotlight”:

First Published Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Disabled young people may face more challenges than their non-disabled peers during their transition from childhood to adulthood. They, and their families and carers, will require intensive support and person-centred planning around issues such as further education, housing, employment and leisure.

The Council for Disabled Children (CDC) has been awarded the contract to deliver the national support element of the transition support programme for Aiming High for Disabled Children.

The national transition support team, led by CDC, will work in partnership with relevant Government departments, local authorities, primary care trusts (PCTs) and regional advisors from a range of agencies to support the effective delivery of the programme. It will also support change at a local level through a combination of direct grants and regional adviser activity.

NAS Policy Manager Beth Reid said:

“I’m delighted to tell you that the NAS is part of the coalition that has won the tender to provide national support for the Government’s Transition Support Programme.

The Transition Information Network (TIN) coalition, which is co-ordinated by the Council for Disabled Children and of which we are a founding member, was awarded the contract.

The Transition Support Programme, part of Aiming High for Disabled Children, has £19million over three years to help local authorities improve their transition planning for young disabled people, working with a number of authorities in England to bring them to statutory minimum standards, and with others to develop best practice.

We lobbied the Government to get a specific focus on autism in this programme, and I’m pleased to say that this is now the case. We will be working with TIN to look at developing good practice on autism as part of the overall programme, particularly focusing on personalised planning and support.

Next steps include a survey of local authorities to identify those that will benefit from support through the programme, and support will begin in the new year.”

For more information visit:

The Transition Support Programme’s website: www.transitionsupportprogramme.org.uk/

Every Child Matters website: www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/socialcare/ahdc/transition/

First Published Wednesday, 26 November 2008

In May this year, the French Government announced a new ‘autism plan’, which is hoped will help improve conditions for autistic people in France.  French actress, Sandrine Bonnaire, has made an acclaimed film, Her name is Sabine, about her younger sister, who is autistic.  The film asks whether Sabine’s decline is an inherent part of her condition or a result of five years’ incarceration in a psychiatric hospital.

The film is an urgent plea to acknowledge, value, support and involve differently-abled individuals in society.

The following Film Review comes courtesy of Miranda Kemp, Editor of NAS’ Communication magazine and may be found in the Winter 2008 publication.

Sandrine Bonnaire

My sister Sabine

Sandrine Bonnaire’s directorial debut – a moving and beautiful documentary about her sister, Sabine, won the Film Critics’ Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007, and rightly so.  Modern footage of Sabine, now in her 40s and living in a care home, is intercut with home movies, taken by her famous sister, Sandrine, over 25 years.  We see a young Sabine – enthusiastic, positive and independent – swimming, dancing, riding her motorbike and travelling to America.  The juxtaposition of these images with those of her now – anxious, overweight, self-harming and agitated, her abilities clearly diminished – is terribly sad.

What has happened over that quarter of a century?  Well, a number of things.  Naturally enough, her loving siblings, upon whom she clearly relied for stimulating and caring support, moved away from home to get on with their lives.  Tragedy followed with the loss of a beloved brother, made all the more traumatic for Sabine as she witnessed his death.

A subsequent relocation to the Paris suburbs with her mother, herself increasingly unable to cope, all contributed to Sabine’s regression.  Despite frequent visits from her supportive family, after 27 years at home, the only solution seemed to be institutional care.  Undiagnosed as a child, she spent the next five years in a psychiatric hospital, during which, at times, her family were actively discouraged from visiting her.  Although Sabine’s behaviour prior to her incarceration had become increasingly challenging, it seems likely that her time in the hospital had a large part to play in her loss of ability and the crushing of her spirit, although Sandrine doesn’t say as much in her film.

However, the actress/director has used her celebrity to raise funds to open a second, specialist care home, as the one the family favoured for Sabine was full.  Now receiving appropriate support and care, Sabine continues to make slow progress and is beginning to regain some of her enjoyment in life.  “I am happy,” she states from the water at the local swimming pool.  If ever there was a graphic argument for accurate diagnosis, appropriate support, education and care for autistic people, it is this film.

Sabine, pictured right, as she is today, out with fellow residents of her care home

Since the film’s release, Xavier Bertrand, France’s minister for work and social affairs, has visited the home where Sabine lives and Sandrine has met with President Nicolas Sarkozy to argue her case.  So it does look as though the making of the film is having an impact on the French policy-makers who can make a difference to the lives of autistic people in France.

Her name is Sabine DVD cover

Her Name is Sabine is now available on DVD from ICA Films

First Published Thursday, 27 November 2008


Photosensitivity in panic disorder

Bossini L, Fagiolini A, Valdagno M, Padula L, Hofkens T, Castrogiovanni P.

Department of Neuroscience, Psychiatry Division, University of Siena School of Medicine, Siena, Italy; Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Background: The objective of this study is to evaluate abnormal light-related behavior in patients with panic disorder (PD).

Methods: We administered the Photosensitivity Assessment Questionnaire to 30 subjects with PD and to 40 healthy subjects. The Photosensitivity Assessment Questionnaire is a self-report questionnaire that evaluates two dimensions of photosensitivity: photophilia and photophobia.

Results: Compared to healthy controls, PD subjects reported significantly higher scores on the photophobia (P<.003) and significantly lower scores on the photophilia (P<.001) questions.

Conclusions: Subjects with PD indicated that they tolerate and seek light to a significantly lower degree than normal controls.

(Text has been reformatted for visual clarity; ed.)


© 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

First Published Thursday, 27 November 2008

Much is still unknown about the issues relating to autism and ageing what they are and what to do about them. The lead feature in the Winter 2008 issue of our NAS members magazine, Communication, (out 25th November), looks at our growing experience, here at the NAS, of supporting adults with autism who are ageing and the key issues relating to their health and wellbeing.

In the same issue…

The very things that many neurotypical people enjoy about Christmas are those that some people with autism find difficult – the changes to routine, the surprises, unexpected guests and so on. Other features in this issue include how to make your Christmas a happy one for all the family if you’re living with a person with autism who hates disruption. There are also features on useful equipment that can help to make a range of day-to-day situations easier, a report from the NAS International Conference and what to do if your child is faced with exclusion from school. There is also news, reviews, comment and advice.

Communication is received by all NAS members every three months. Join the NAS now to get your copy of this and future issues of the magazine.

Source:   http://www.nas.org.uk/nas/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=253&a=18215

Christmas bonus/tree midst forest

Extra ‘Christmas bonus’  for some people affected by autism

In his pre-Budget report, delivered on 24 November, the Chancellor announced an additional payment of £60 on top of the 2008 £10 Christmas bonus payment. The Christmas bonus is paid to people receiving Carer’s Allowance, Disability Living Allowance or Attendance Allowance, Incapacity Benefit (long-term rate) or Employment Support Allowance and state pension.

Head of NAS Policy and Campaigns, Amanda Batten, said:

“We welcome the Government’s recognition that Christmas is a difficult time for disabled people and their families. However, this is a one-off payment and if the Government is to meet its commitment to end child poverty then it is vital that it does more to support people with autism and their families. In particular we call for an uprating of Carer’s Allowance which is currently paid at the pitifully low rate of £50.55 per week.”

More information about this year’s Christmas bonus

The annual £10 payment will be paid from 1 December 2008 and the additional £60 will be paid between January and March, making a total Christmas bonus payment of £70 for Christmas 2008. It will be paid automatically so customers do not have to apply for the additional amount. Christmas bonus is a tax-free payment and is not taken into account in the income-related benefits.

The Government has set up a dedicated number, 0800 141 2591, to deal with customer enquiries about the additional payment.

Related resources

Relevant areas/articles elsewhere on this website Campaigning for change

Source:   http://www.nas.org.uk/nas/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=253&a=18223

First Published Thursday, 27 November 2008

Tunnel of Fish

By Janet Raloff

TAMPA, Fla. – In the fish world, baby is just another word for lunch. So it behooves aquatic larvae to be ever vigilant. Yet those who as embryos or hatchlings encountered water polluted with trace concentrations of an antidepressant are much more likely to become lunch.

Tons of medicine ends up in the environment each year. Much has been excreted by patients. Leftover pills may also have been flushed down the toilet. Because water treatment plants were never designed to remove pharmaceuticals, water released into rivers by these plants generally carries a broad and diverse array of drug residues.


© Society for Science & the Public 2000 – 2008 All rights reserved

There is not much that individuals can do about excreting drug metabolites but unwanted or expired medications should not be flushed down toilets. Many pharmacies will safely dispose of medications.