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January 2011



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Archive for January 18th, 2011

First Published Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Mulder & Scully

By Erika Krull, MS, LMHP
April 8, 2009

Huh?? That’s probably what you thought when you clicked on this blog post. Depression….. The X Files….. Right. I’ll admit, I’m a scifi fan, and the X Files is one of my all-time favorite shows. I’m old enough to have enjoyed it the first time around in the ’90s, and now I’m watching the entire series again on DVD. Yes, I’m a big nerd, but I digress.

A couple of nights ago, I watched one of the many alien conspiracy episodes involving Agents Scully and Mulder, Assistant Director Skinner, Alex Krycek, and a host of other folks mixed up in a thick plot. This is somewhere in the last of nine seasons, so alien conspiracy and high drama are not new to the regular viewer by this time.

I had a few thought collisions today, leading me to compare depression with the X Files. I was briefly distracted from my normal writing tasks when I recalled what I was thinking during the episode I watched recently: “Geeze, it always seems like nobody believes these people, even when there’s clearly a huge problem.”

They can’t tell anybody, they don’t know who to trust, and whoever they do tell surely will think they are crazy. Really, who would ever believe that the informant who is trying to feed the agents helpful information really has the scar from a metal chip in his neck because he’s an alien hybrid? Even though all the viewers and the key cast members know all about this threat, the agents never seem to know who they can trust. They live in a world of worry, peril, secrecy, and confusion.

Ta-da. There’s my connection. I have often said to myself that my depression felt like an alien had taken over my brain, though the takeover wasn’t complete because I still knew that I was me. I was just disabled enough to have little control but aware enough to realize I wasn’t able to get the alien out by myself.

I needed help. This wasn’t normal; I knew something was different. But what? And how do I describe this? Would anyone believe me? And would I wish I would have kept my mouth shut once I said something? How will this affect my job, my kids, my marriage? I can’t keep going on like this, but I don’t know if I can tell anyone either. Which is more dangerous?

And all Mulder, Scully, and Skinner have is each other. They’ve witnessed and been through difficult things that would be hard to believe unless you’d been there. Depression often is that unbelievable, too. Unless you have felt the takeover of your mind, seen the lost look on your own face in the mirror, and begun to doubt everything you’ve known, it can be hard to understand from the outside.

Fortunately, there is much more support and help available for people with depression than there ever seemed to be for Scully, Mulder, and Skinner. Those aliens just kept coming at them and they kept fighting them tooth and nail. Suddenly, I’m feeling a fond kinship with these X Files heroes – alien fighters to the end.

First Published Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Kristen M. Kryskoa and M.D. RutherfordCorresponding Author Contact Information, a, E-mail The Corresponding Author

aDepartment of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON, Canada L8S 4K1

Accepted 15 October 2008.

Available online 25 November 2008.


Identifying threatening expressions is a significant social perceptual skill. Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are impaired in social interaction, show deficits in face and emotion processing, show amygdala abnormalities and display a disadvantage in the perception of social threat. According to the anger superiority hypothesis, angry faces capture attention faster than happy faces in individuals with a history of typical development [Hansen, C. H., & Hansen, R. D. (1988). Finding the face in the crowd: An anger superiority effect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(6), 917–924]. We tested threat detection abilities in ASD using a facial visual search paradigm. Participants were asked to detect an angry or happy face image in an array of distracter faces. A threat-detection advantage was apparent in both groups: participants showed faster and more accurate detection of threatening over friendly faces. Participants with ASD showed similar reaction time, but decreased overall accuracy compared to controls. This provides evidence for less robust, but intact or learned implicit processing of basic emotions in ASD.

Keywords: Threat-detection; Anger superiority effect; Face in the crowd; Facial visual search; Pop-out; Autism; Autism spectrum disorders

Article Outline

1. Introduction
1.1. Face processing in ASD
1.2. Emotion processing in ASD
1.3. The amygdala in ASD
1.4. Anger superiority effect
1.5. Anger superiority effect in ASD
1.6. Current study
2. Method
2.1. Participants
2.2. Stimuli and apparatus
2.2.1. Distracter development
2.2.2. Conditions
2.3. Procedure
3. Results
3.1. Target-present trials
3.2. Target-absent trials
4. Discussion
4.1. Limitations and future directions
4.2. Summary and conclusions

Source:  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6WBY-4V0VC3K-1&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=5161ac689aa5b8dfd480b479581dcc6d

Eiffel Tower, Paris


“Two held over suspicious fire which killed boy, 12 … The death of an autistic schoolboy who perished in a house fire in West Yorkshire is being treated as suspicious.. Officers later arrested five males on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life. “:


“More time to quiz death-blaze suspects”:


“Autistic child’s arrest fuels debate”:


“More with learning disabilities forced to wed”:


“Police probing alleged abuse of student”:


Dr Michael Fitzpatrick “It’s time to stop this ‘miracle cure’ madness”:


“New law comes into force to strengthen protection of vulnerable people, UK”:


“Teacher loses appeal in class vote case”:


“Homeless need mental health help”:


“Down’s syndrome adults face cut in services … Services for adults with Down’s syndrome and other learning disabilities are underfunded by at least £200m a year, a consortium of 12 charities will tell the Treasury this week.”:


“Novelist slams autism scandal”:


“Prime Minister Gordon Brown on autism”:


“Autism specialist changed diagnosis on newsreader Alex Thomson’s son after pressure by schools”:


“The covering up of autism. Just what is going on?”:


“Pink Floyd’s Gilmour backs McKinnon protest gig”:



“New group to provide autism support”:

“Brown to meet autism campaigner”:


Care for the Carers “We Care Echo campaign”:


“Blind man is attacked and robbed”:


“Don’t say ‘blind as a bat’, diversity guide warns police”:


Australia “A4 Update 2009 (February)”:



“Cartoons to identify autism”:


“Abstract: A threat-detection advantage in those with ASD”:


“Talking in color: imaging helps social skills”:


“Autistic children pay attention to syncronised sound and motion”:



“Yale researchers discover mechanism for social development that is absent in autistic children”:


“Autism linked with stress hormone levels”:


“LENA Foundation announces the development of an automatic autism screen”:


“New light shed on male & female brain differences”:


“The amygdala in autism: Not adapting to faces?”:


“Anorexia Nervosa in autistic women/Disorders are common in adults who have had Anorexia”:


“Teenaged, depressed, and treatment resistant: What predicts self-harm?”:


“Summer jobs may help prevent suicidal tendencies in at-risk teens”:


“Abstract: Migraine in recurrent depression”:


“Working to understand men’s mental health”:


“How depression is like the X Files”:


Fears & Phobias “Study: Half of group free of phobia after a single treatement/Biochemical pathway for blocking your worst fears”:


Australia “Mental health needs must not be neglected after a disaster”:


“Genetic tests lead to claims of bias”:


“Reducing weight from antipsychotic drugs”:


“Tinnitus cure is a step closer”:


“A guide to getting through tough economic times”:


“Relationships: The attractions of humour/Long-term happiness/Marriage/When a friendship ends/Broken heart syndrome”:


“Loneliness harms health”:



“Teen commits suicide due to bullying: Parents sue school for son’s death”:


“Millom mum hits out over lack of support for autistic son”:


Cornell College “Cornellian’s article explores love for autistic brother … The article—published in Autism Advocate, an autism issues magazine—attempts to show that there’s more to being autistic than the “negative or pitying aspects of autism” through Rankowski’s own relationship with her brother, Jan.”:


“Family affair for Fiona”:


“Boundary Fury”:


“Unique class teaches autistic teens how to make friends”:


“Latest Education/Home Ed News Update”:



“Employment service first to gain autism accreditation … It points out that 17% of people with learning disabilities of working age have paid employment and this figure drops to 4% for people with autism. However, a study by the National Autistic Society found that suitable employment was the one thing that individuals with autism feel would benefit their lives more than anything else.

CIC Vocational Support can be contacted on 0151 709 1950 or vocationalsupport@c-i-c.co.uk. For more information visit www.c-i-c.co.uk.”:


UK Position Available: Chance to train as a support worker:


“No job for autistic Ashtead artist Tom Hurley … An Ashtead fine arts graduate who has won national prizes with his art work cannot even get a job as a street cleaner.”:


“Autistic winemakers crafting fine vintages in Japan”:


US News “Teenagers with autism: Want a job?”:


“Treatment by the book”:


Luxury Quality Scented Candles “Humbolt Candles – Autism & Disability Employment Company”:


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”:



Australia Rett Syndrome “Local researchers are leading the hunt to unlock the secrets of a rare genetic condition”:


“Airport launches guide for autistic children”:


Autism & Ageing What happens next? “Michael Baron Cockermouth … When Michael’s son Timothy was born, it was clear he was different to other children. But this was the late 1950s, when autism was still an obscure condition in the UK.”:


Boston “Strengthening the safety net for autism in adulthood”:


“NYTimes: A roller coaster to acceptance of a son’s autism”:


“Autism in China”:


India “Make a difference to their lives”:


Saudi Arabia “Autistic society sounds SOS for autistic children”:


“Documentary chronicles MB family’s journey to understand ‘autistic-like’ son”:


“Fire service rewarded for disability friendly website”:


“Mother of an autistic college professor reaches out to other parents”:


“Disabled model fronting campaign”:


“Emma Noble: Shoeshine the puppy has unlocked the world for my son Harry”:


Simon Baron-Cohen “Media distortion damages both science and journalism”:


“Autistic savants and Autism”:



Easter Sunrise

Easter Around the World


Easter Crafts

Easter & Spring Crafts





Easter Recipes

Easter Recipes





Easter cupcake


Beautiful Francais

Autisme France


The Louvre Museum

NAS – French


Mt Bego Summit

ASD Books in French


Arc de Triomphe

AbstractPlus Autism and social movements: French parents’ associations and international autistic individuals’ organisations


Petite France, Strasbourg

French autism organisation contacts all presidential election candidates to highlight country’s failings …”:



My Sister Sabine” Has Impact on Policy Makers/New Autism Plan


George V Cafe, Champs Elysees

Enquiry: Autism/Special Needs Schooling in France



French Home Ed Site
Les enfants d’abord:

Mont St. Michel

NAS: Gilles Trehin


French Riviera

VIDEO Gilles Trehin


Moulin Rouge



The River Seine

VIDEO (3:10) Destination France


Chanel No 5

France National Geographic-Style



“Treatment update for ADHD”:


“Study reignites debate over drugs for hyperactive youths”:


“Teva introduces first generic Adderall XR capsules in the United States”:


“Are smart drugs the answer to bad moods – and a bad economy?”:


“Shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists reaches crisis point”:


“Ten percent of Tennessee children now diagnosed with ADHD”:


“ADHD linked to obesity”:

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”:





“Student and Dad’s walk for centre”:


“Trek the Inca Trail – 22-31 May, 2010”:


“Trek Ben Nevis – 19-21 June, 2009”:


“Flora London Marathon 2009”:


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


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


“Racecourse Bike Ride – 12 July, 2009”:


“Trek Hadrian’s Wall – 7-9 August, 2009”:


“Trek Jordan 2009 – 10-14 September”:


“Cycle India – 27 November – 6 December, 2009”:


“Sky Diving”:



“Interactive music concerts for autistic children”:


“The AutisMusic Project”:



“Charlotte Moore on the talented autistic couple Gilles and Catherine”:


“Science centre cafe showcases autism talents”:


GLIMPSE – the talents of the autism community

They are painters, sculptors and photographers; poets and storytellers; musicians and creators of amazing video games. They are kids, teens and adults. Last year, a new online publication arose to celebrate the talents of autistic individuals and other developmental disabilities: GLIMPSE, offered by ICDL (The Interdisciplinary Council of Developmental and Learning Disorders). In late 2008, Volume 2 of GLIMPSE was released, and was expanded into a print book and notecards. The works are serious, humourous, deeply personal and illuminating. See it for yourslef, share it with others, submit your own/your child’s work for inclusion in Volume 3, to release later this year. Find information and ordering details at www.icdl.com

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



The Temple Grandin Movie – 9 years in the making. HBO Films is in post-production on a 2-hour biopic on Temple’s life, directed by Mick Jackson (Live from Baghdad). Golden Globe-winning actress Claire Danes has been cast in the role of Temple Grandin. Tentatively set to air on HBO, date TBA. Temple talks about the upcoming movie in an Oct. 2008 article in BEEF magazine, http://beefmagazine.com

“Award-winning film Ben X to be screened on April 26”:


“Actors for Autism”:


“Paul Dirac: The man who conjured laws of nature from pure thought”:


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

Author: Jan Starr Campito


coming soon “Outsmarting Explosive Behaviour – A Visual System of Support and Intervention for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders”

Author: Judy Endow, MSW

Foreword by Brenda Smith-Myles, Ph.D.


coming soon “The Power of Words”

Author: Judy Endow, MSW


“Ask and Tell: Self-Advocacy and Disclosure for People on the Autism Spectrum”

Edited by Stephen Shore

Foreword by Temple Grandin


“Many Shades of Success: Other Views of Post-Secondary Options”

Edited by Teresa Allissa Citro


“Practical Solutions to Everyday Challenges for Children with Asperger Syndrome”

Author: Haley Myles


“The Asperger Plus Child: How to Identify and Help Children with Asperger Syndrome and Seven Co-Existing Conditions – Bipolar Disorder, Nonverbal Learning Disability, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, High-Functioning Autism, Tourette’s Syndrome, and Attention Deficit Disorder”

Author: George T. Lynn with Joanne Barrie Lynn


“Mozart and the Whale”

Authors: Jerry Newport, Mary Newport, and Johnny Dodd


“The Out-Of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Integration Dysfunction”

Author: Carol Stock Kranowitz


“The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun: Activities for Kids with Sensory Integration Dysfunction”

Author: Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A.


“Music Therapy: Another Path to Learning and Communication for Children in the Autism Spectrum”

Author: Betsey King Brunk


New & Recently Updated Publications From The NAS

After diagnosis – services and support for children with autism and their parents and carers

After your child is diagnosed with autism, many parents and carers contact us to ask, ‘What next?’ Here, we detail some of the services and support that exist for children with autism and their families. We also offer some information about behaviour and tips on how to support a child with autism. This booklet replaces our leaflet Autism spectrum disorders: a guide for parents and carers.

Published by The National Autistic Society, 2009, 12pp, pbk, illustrated

(Code NAS 844) No ISBN £0.50


Environment and surroundings: how to make them autism-friendly

Anh Nguyen, NAS Autism Helpline

‘It is well written and clearly covers all the important issues of adapting the environment and making it safe. I also like the way it indicates methods of preventing stressful situations.’ Caroline Esdaile, mother of a child with autism

Published by The National Autistic Society, 2006, updated 2009, 24pp, A5, pbk, illustrated

(Code NAS 640) ISBN 9781899280940 £1.00


Moving from primary to secondary school: guidelines for pupils with autism spectrum disorders

Patricia Thorpe

A booklet aimed at teachers, support staff and parents of children with autism spectrum disorders, offering practical advice on the move to secondary school. A best seller!

Published by The National Autistic Society, 2003, updated 2009, 12pp, A5, leaflet, illustrated

(Code NAS 492) ISBN 9781899280902 50p


Understanding difficulties during break and lunchtime at secondary school for pupils with an autism spectrum disorder

Patricia Thorpe

Break times can be the most difficult times for young people with autism as they are much less structured than lessons and offer opportunities for bullies. Patricia spoke to her own pupils with autism and found out what had worked for them.

Published by The National Autistic Society, 2004, updated 2009, 16pp, A5, leaflet, illustrated

(Code NAS 540) ISBN 9781899280865 £1.00


We’re also very pleased to have a new book on sexuality from Autism South Africa

I’m growing up – relationship and sexuality education for young people with autism spectrum disorders

Rebecca Johns – written for Autism South Africa

A comprehensive guide to sexuality, relationships and sex, aimed at anyone working with teenagers and young adults on the autism spectrum, with advice on communicating about sexuality, growing up, puberty, personal hygiene, masturbation, relationships, abuse, HIV and AIDS. Contains graphic pictures and an excellent activity guide on a wide range of issues.

Published by Autism South Africa, 2007, 64pp, A4 pbk, illustrated

(Code NAS 858) ISBN 978 0620 386 388 £7.99


Please order online @ www.autism.org.uk/pubs or send orders directly to our distributor:

Central Books Ltd

99 Wallis Road

London E9 5LN

T 0845 458 9911

F 0845 458 9912

E nas@centralbooks.com

10% discount for NAS members and staff!


Coraline poster

Coraline PG

Worldwide Release Dates


Coraline is a 2009 animated stop-motion 3-D fantasy film based on Neil Gaiman‘s 2002 novella Coraline. In the film, a young girl (voiced by Dakota Fanning) walks through a secret door in her new home and discovers an alternate version of her life. On the surface, this parallel reality is eerily similar to her real life – only much better. But when this wondrously off-kilter, fantastical adventure turns dangerous, and her counterfeit other mother (voiced by Teri Hatcher) tries to keep her forever, Coraline must count on her stubborn determination, bravery, and the aid of her neighbours and a talking black cat to save her real parents and some ghost children and get back home.


Why are 3D films back and how do they work?

“Cinema’s third attempt at 3D”


“Toy Story films get 3D makeover”



de Blob cover

de Blob (Wii) 3+

de Blob is an action puzzle title that allows players to explore and liberate an alien city from the evil, monochromatic I.N.K.T. Corporation that has taken over the city and outlawed all color and fun from daily life. Playing as de Blob, gamers will embark on a quest to re-animate the city of Chroma, and bring spunk and character back to the oppressed, by splattering buildings, landmarks, and citizens with color. de Blob features an intricate single player campaign as well as a multiplayer experience that supports up to four competitors via split screen. The game was conceived for the Windows PC by a team of nine students studying Game Design & Development at Utrecht University’s School of the Arts in the Netherlands. At the time of conception, sections of Utrecht were being rebuilt and the principal task in creating the game was to convey how the railroad station area of Utrecht would look in 10 years. The city of Utrecht has since adopted the character of de Blob to be its mascot.


Official Website


de Blob Review for Wii


“Action Games Improve Eyesight”

Playing a certain type of videogame can help to improve adult eyesight, a study conducted by a North American university has concluded.


“Video Game Playing Associated With Surgery Skills”



Dominance of Computers

Science’s Most Powerful Computer Tackles First Questions

“In cult sci-fi tale Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the most powerful computer in the universe was charged with finding the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

In the real world, a newly built supercomputer that is the most powerful ever dedicated to science will be tackling questions about climate change, supernovas, and the structure of water.”




Chocolate Eggs Under Threat From Fungus Witches’ Broom

“It’s chocolate egg season again, and sales of the pagan and Christian symbols of rebirth are as strong as ever. But the hunt for Easter eggs may truly be on next year, because chocolate trees are in increasing trouble.”


Chicks on a ribbon

Wishing all a safe and happy Easter!

Take Care,


Parisian Sunset

First Published Monday, 13 April 2009

Awareness Week Tackles Fear Head-On, England

All of us sometimes feel anxious or afraid, but for some people, these feelings can start to take over daily life. This year’s Mental Health Action Week, run by charity the Mental Health Foundation from 12th-18th April, is designed to draw attention to the impact anxiety and fear can have on our lives.

Anxiety is an uncomfortable feeling of worry that we experience about something negative that hasn’t happened yet, but may do so. Fear is the natural response we feel when faced with a threat, and can help us survive by influencing our actions in an emergency situation such as a fire or if we are being attacked. It also affects us in non-physical situations when we are under pressure, such as performing on stage or having a job interview.

The mental symptoms caused by anxiety include preoccupation with worrying thoughts, feeling irritable, difficulty in concentrating and problems sleeping. A pounding heart, breathing quickly, feeling weak, having a churning stomach, vomiting, diarrhoea and losing your appetite are just some of the physical effects anxiety can have.

A wide range of reasons can cause some people to feel anxious and fearful all the time. These may depend on factors such as your life experiences, how you were brought up, the ways in which you have learned to cope with life and even your genetic makeup.

People experience anxiety in different ways. Panic attacks are episodes of extreme anxiety where the sufferer may find it hard to breathe and think they are having a heart attack. Phobias are an extreme fear of a specific thing or situation such as being in a crowded place (agoraphobia) or being in an enclosed space (claustrophobia).

If anxiety lasts for more than a few weeks, it is advisable to visit your doctor.

Emily*, a small business owner in her late 30s from north Leeds, realised a year and a half ago that she had developed some unhealthy lifestyle patterns linked to anxiety. She found she could no longer bring herself to stay away overnight or go on holiday, and she felt panicked if her parents went away as she relied on them for emotional support.

Although no specific event triggered her anxiety, Emily had increasingly developed a ‘safe routine’, living alone as a single woman in a big city.

Realising that this routine was beginning to limit what she felt able to do, Emily began to worry she was becoming agoraphobic and developing a fear of going anywhere she didn’t feel safe. When she found she was frequently upset to the point of being in tears, Emily decided to see a psychotherapist.

As this treatment wasn’t successful, Emily visited her GP who diagnosed acute anxiety. Emily found it difficult to cope with telling family and friends, which made her condition worse. Her doctor prescribed medication and suggested hypnotherapy, which helped alleviate Emily’s symptoms for a short time.

After a year of seeing her GP, Emily was referred to psychiatrist Dr John Nehaul at Spire Leeds Hospital in Roundhay. Dr Nehaul was able to give Emily a firm diagnosis of panic disorder. He also increased her dosage of medication and referred her to a cognitive behaviour and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapist.

Emily’s EMDR therapy involves her bringing up anxious thoughts and then following moving lights, produced by a light machine, with her eyes. This helps neurotransmitters in her brain to reprocess the anxious feelings, reducing the intensity of Emily’s symptoms.

Dr Nehaul commented: “It was essential that Emily acknowledged in the first place that she had a problem she couldn’t solve by herself. Too often, people struggle on alone. It often helps just to be able to pin a name to a condition, because people realise they are not alone in what they are experiencing and that treatment is available.”

Having reached the end of her cognitive behaviour therapy treatment, Emily is feeling much more confident now, to the point where she recently went for an enjoyable day’s spa treatment, which she couldn’t have done before. Emily also finds she no longer panics if her parents are not immediately at hand.

Emily is planning to continue with her medication until she has her full confidence back. She says: “The treatment I’ve had has really improved my quality of life and allowed me to take control again and enjoy life.

“I feel that there is not enough awareness about anxiety, and a lot of people suffer in silence without realising what help is available. It’s really important to talk about what’s happening, because then you can start to tackle the problem.”

*Not her real name

The content of this release is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional.


Spire Healthcare is the second largest private hospital provider in the UK with 36 hospitals and a total of 1,983 beds. It was formed in 2007 by leading private equity company Cinven.

Spire Healthcare provides services for private and insured patients as well as NHS funded patients under the government’s Free Choice initiative. It also offers cosmetic and weight-loss surgery. It treats 930,000 patients a year, employs 7,600 staff and works with over 3,000 medical consultants. For more information visit http://www.spirehealthcare.com.

More information on Mental Health Action Week and mental health issues can be found at http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk.

Spire Healthcare


First Published Monday, 13 April 2009

Please Feel Free To Share Message:

I will be speaking with LaDonna Hale Curzon on SarahPalinRadio. com on Monday
between 7:45 and 8:00pm EST 4:45 and 5:00pm PST for Autism Awareness Month.
I will be discussing my illustrated children’s story, “Michelangelo the
Diver”, talking about parents taking a more positive view of autism and some
of the hot issues affecting the disability community like education and
abuse. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network will be mentioned several times.


First Published Tuesday, 14 April 2009

By Bill Hendrick
WebMD Health News

April 9, 2009 — Tension, backbiting, and poor team spirit at the workplace may increase the risk for depression, a new study says.


Job promotion can be bad for mental health

Peter Dunn

Research by University of Warwick economics and psychology researchers has found that promotion on average produces 10 percent more mental strain and gives up to 20 percent less time to consult a physician.

Chris Boyce and Professor Andrew Oswald questioned why people with higher job status seem to have better health. A long-held assumption by researchers is that an improvement to a person’s job status, through a promotion, will directly result in better health due to an increased sense of life control and self-worth.

The researchers tested this using the British Household Panel Survey data set, collected annually between 1991 and 2005, with information on approximately 1000 individual promotions. They found no evidence of improved physical health after promotion – nor that self-assessed health status declined.

What they did find, however, was significantly greater mental strain. After a job promotion, there was on average a 10 percent decrease in people’s mental health measured in a standardized way across the British population. Intriguingly, those promoted at work also reported on average a 20 percent fall in their visits to a doctor following their promotion. On first sight this drop does not match the lack of change in the reported health of promoted individuals. But the increased stress levels of promoted workers may provide an explanation — part of the stress of their promotion may be more constraints on their time and they simply have less time to see a doctor.

University of Warwick researcher Chris Boyce said, “Getting a promotion at work is not as great as many people think. Our research finds that the mental health of managers typically deteriorates after a job promotion, and in a way that goes beyond merely a short-term change. There are no indications of any health improvements for promoted people other than reduced attendance at GP [physicians] surgeries, which may itself be something to worry about rather than celebrate.

The research will be presented at the Royal Economic Society’s conference later this month.

Boyce CJ, Oswald AJ. Do People Become Healthier after Being Promoted? IZA Disc. Paper 3894, IZA – Institute for the Study of Labor, 2008 Dec.   [Full text (PDF)]

First Published Tuesday, 14 April 2009

New Horizons

Article Date: 14 Apr 2009

The millions of people who suffer from or might face mental illness at some point in their lives will be the focus of a new strategy, Care Services Minister Phil Hope announced today. “New Horizons” is a new strategy that will promote good mental health and well-being, whilst improving services for people who have mental health problems. It will build on the National Service Framework for mental health – widely acknowledged as the catalyst for a transformation in mental health care over the last ten years – which comes to an end in 2009.

A series of New Horizons ‘listening events’ starts this month hosted by Phil Hope and Louis Appleby, National Director for Mental Health. They will seek views on what the new Strategy should cover from a wide range of people. The Strategy is expected later this year.

New Horizons recognises that:

– Around one in four people will suffer from a form of mental illness at some point in their lives.

– One sixth of the population suffers from a common mental health problem at any time.

– 1 in 100 people suffers from a serious mental illness such as psychosis. – More than 1.3 million older people suffer from depression or other mental illness.

– 6 million people in Britain have depression and/or anxiety disorders – few get effective treatment.

– One in ten mothers suffers from post-natal depression.

New Horizons heralds a dynamic new approach to whole population mental health. The focus on prevention and maintaining good mental health is particularly relevant today with people leading more hectic lifestyles and going through the economic downturn.

Phil Hope said:

“Mental illness affects us all. Whether it is ourselves, a family member or a friend, lots of us will experience a mental health problem at some point in our lives.

“Over the past ten years we’ve made great strides in transforming the way mental health is dealt with. But we need to do more. I’m particularly interested in looking at how we can help people to look after their mental health and prevent them from becoming ill. And I’m keen to tackle the stigma that’s associated with it – this isn’t something we can shy away from, mental ill health is as serious as physical illnesses such as heart disease and cancer.

“Individuals, employers and all sorts of organisations have a role to play in helping to achieve good mental health for all. So, we’re going around the country to hear people’s views and hope to publish our new vision later this year. My ambition is to create a strategy that will improve services and promote public mental health and wellbeing for years to come.”

Simon Lawton-Smith, Head of Policy at the Mental Health Foundation, said:

“We strongly support this new focus on whole population mental health. Mental ill health is one of the biggest challenges currently facing the UK. Good mental health should be an achievable goal for everyone and mental health promotion needs to take its rightful place at the centre of public health efforts.

“A strategy that encourages people to protect themselves against mental illnesses like depression and anxiety will be of immense benefit. Mental ill health not only causes untold personal suffering and distress, but also affects people’s relationships, ability to work, family life. It can lead to a range of physical health problems.

“Both the consultation and the final strategy must address the needs of those who experience disproportionately high levels of mental ill health including older people, those living in poverty and people from black and minority ethnic communities.”

Many services are already in place, which aren’t normally considered as mental health services, but which could help promote public mental health and wellbeing and prevent future problems. It is these types of services that New Horizons could help promote. Examples include:

– Mother and toddler groups
– School health initiatives that promote self-respect or better relationships.
– Older people’s lunch clubs
– Community arts projects – there is evidence that improving the built environment is good for mental health and well-being.
– Reading initiatives which improve literacy, social skills and self-esteem. An example is the “Get into reading” project in the Northwest.
– Inner-city sports projects which promote team work, self-respect and physical health.

New Horizons ‘Listening Events’ are currently planned as below. Formal consultation on New Horizons is also planned, following these events.

April 22 – London
April 29 – Yorkshire
April 30 – South Central
May 12 – West Midlands
May 15 – East of England (tbc)
May 22 – East Midlands
June 2 – South East Coast (tbc)
June 10 – South West

Over the past ten years, the Government has put in place measures to protect people’s mental health. Measures include:

– More money: Since 2001-02, real terms investment in adult mental health services increased by 44 per cent (or £1.7 billion) putting in place the services and staff needed to transform mental health services. The NHS spent £5.53 billion on these services in 2007-08 (£3.844 billion in 2001-02).

– More patients helped: In the year 2007/08, crisis resolution teams provided over 106,000 episodes of home treatment for patients who would otherwise have been admitted to hospital.

– Improved safety: In 2006/7, the Government made available £130 million capital for improvements in the environment, including safety, on psychiatric intensive care units and adult acute mental health wards. This included £30 million targeted at acute wards for improvements in safety particularly for women service users. Allocation of this money has been phased over 2006/07-08/09.

– More staff: There are now 64 per cent more consultant psychiatrists, 71 per cent more clinical psychologists and 21 per cent more mental health nurses than in 1997, providing better care and support for people with mental health problems.

– More services: Because of the National Service Framework and increased funding, there are now more than 740 new community mental health teams offering home treatment, early intervention, or intensive support for people who might otherwise have been admitted to hospital.

– The suicide rate: The latest available data for the three year period 2005/6/7 show a rate of 7.9 deaths per 100,000 population – a reduction of 10 per cent from the 1995/6/7 baseline, which is now at an all time low

Department of Health (UK)


Family Support

Family ties protect young adults against suicidality

Joel Schwarz

Adolescents and young adults typically consider peer relationships to be all important. However, it appears that strong family support, not peer support, is protective in reducing future suicidal behavior among young adults when they have experienced depression or have attempted suicide.

New research to be presented April 17 at the annual meeting of the American Association of Suicidology shows that high school depression and a previous suicide attempt were significant predictors of thinking about suicide one or two years later. But, those individuals who had high levels of depression or had attempted suicide in high school were less likely to engage in suicidal thinking if they had strong family support and bonds. In addition, having a current romantic partner also reduced suicidal thoughts.

Our findings suggest that the protective quality of family support and bonding, or having an intimate partner, are not replaced by peer support and bonding in emerging adulthood. In fact, it appears that older adolescents – 18- and 19-year olds – who maintain strong family ties are less likely to engage in suicidal thinking, regardless of their peer relationships,” said James Mazza, a University of Washington professor of educational psychology and the lead researcher on two posters about the research being presented at the meeting.

By bonding, the researchers are referring to a person’s closeness with his or her family, or a partner, enjoying spending time with them, and the ability to talk with them about important issues.

Peers don’t provide the same type of safety net that comes from a family or by having an intimate partner. When it comes to suicidal behavior, young adults may feel that their family or partner may be more accepting and less judgmental than perhaps some of their peers,” said Mazza, who is past president of the American Association of Suicidology.

This study suggests getting the family involved in adolescent treatment for depression or past suicidal behavior may be very important. It’s also important that parents shouldn’t give up on their adolescents because our work indicates they still rely on them in this kind of situation.

Data for the research was drawn from a larger National Institute of Drug Abuse 15-year study of youth in a Seattle-area school district that looked at risk factors for marijuana and cigarette use, binge drinking, depression and past suicidal behavior.

Mazza and his colleagues will also present data from a second study that shows 18- and 19-year olds are accurate in reporting their previous childhood suicide attempts. Using the same group of students, data showed that 67 of them reported attempting suicide while in high school. The researchers found that the students’ scores for depression were elevated in the same year they made their first suicide attempt.

Collecting information about suicidal behavior in minors is difficult because of liability issues, and Mazza said “depression scores are a pretty decent proxy for suicide. But we should be asking directly about suicidal behavior, not looking for a proxy or a substitute.

First Published Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Cycling in Australia

19:21 AEST Wed Apr 15 2009

A 15-year-old Brisbane boy with Asperger’s syndrome who went missing for two weeks has been found in Sydney, after riding his bike more than 950km down the Pacific Highway.

Police found Ethan Johnson of Kingston, south of Brisbane, at Merrylands train station, in western Sydney on Good Friday.

He had slept at truck stops and under bridges, and ate at fast-food restaurants during his six-day, dawn-to-dusk ride to Sydney.

He had as good a reason as any for the epic journey down the east coast on one of Australia’s busiest highways – because he thought he could.

“I just wanted to see if I could get down to Sydney on a bike and how long it was going to take,” Ethan told the Nine Network’s A Current Affair program on Wednesday.

Ethan said he had planned the adventure since November last year and made no apology for failing to call his mum to let her know he was okay.

“At the time, I didn’t want her to know where I was,” he smiled.

His mother, Tammy Johnson, said they had to keep putting a little bit of money in his keycard account each day so that he could continue to eat, but not enough so that he could get further away.

Ethan decided to make the trek because he didn’t get to see enough of the city during a school excursion when he was 12, she said.

He was last captured on closed circuit television about 9.20am (AEST) on March 30, leaving the Robina train station on the Gold Coast.

“Because we had the CCTV footage, we knew he was safe and the fact that he kept using his keycard as he went along we knew where to find him when he hit Sydney,” she told AAP.

“We kept putting a little bit in his account each day so he could buy food but not too much so he couldn’t get too far.

“We got him on the morning he took the last bit of money from his account.”

Ms Johnson said that when she was finally reunited with her son, she gave him a big cuddle and he started crying.

“However, he’s quite happy. He just didn’t think to tell anyone he was going for a bike ride to Sydney,” she said.

“He got a bit disappointed because he was found a bit quicker than he thought he would be. He didn’t get to explore too far.

“He had ventured into the heart of the city but there were too many people so he left the city area – he doesn’t like crowded areas.”

Ethan told his mum it was good to be back home and he wouldn’t do it again.

Asperger’s syndrome is a autism-related disorder which inhibits a person’s ability to socially interact.

Source:   http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=801603

First Published Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Sleeping Child

A study in the April 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine determined that over-the-counter melatonin medication can shorten the length of time it takes for children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), Fragile X Syndrome (FXS), or both to fall asleep at the beginning of the night.

Results of the study indicated that children who received over-the-counter melatonin treatments experienced significant improvements in total night sleep durations, sleep latency times, and sleep-onset times. Mean sleep duration was longer on melatonin than placebo by 21 minutes, sleep-onset latency was shorter by 28 minutes and sleep-onset time was earlier by 42 minutes.

According to the senior author, Beth L. Goodlin-Jones, PhD of the M.I.N.D Institute at the University of California Davis Health System in Sacramento, Calif., treatment with over-the-counter melatonin supplements benefits children of all ages, which helps alleviate some of the additional stress that parents of special-needs children experience.

“Sleep onset problems at the beginning of the night are very troublesome for children and their families,” said Goodlin-Jones. “Sometimes children may take one to two hours to fall asleep and often they disrupt the household during this time.”

Authors report that sleep problems are reported in up to 89 percent of children with autism and 77 percent of children with FXS, the most common form of inherited mental impairment ranging from learning problems to mental retardation, and also the most commonly known cause of autism. Dyssomnia (difficulty falling asleep and frequent nighttime awakenings) are among the most commonly reported problems. Researchers hypothesize that difficulty sleeping in these children is increased due to abnormal levels of melatonin, a natural hormone secreted from the pineal gland that is believed to promote sleep at night.

The study included information from 12 children between the ages of 2 to 15.25 years. Sleep quality and quantity were measured both objectively and subjectively. Five participants met diagnostic criteria for autism, 3 for FXS, 3 for FXS and ASD, and 1 for FXS alone.

Participants were given two weeks’ supply of either melatonin or a placebo. After they completed the two week dosage they were then crossed over to the alternate treatment for an additional two weeks. All participants were assessed for autism and received DNA testing for the diagnosis of FXS.

Authors recommend that in addition to the use of over-the-counter melatonin supplements, behavior therapies and sleep hygiene practices should be used to manage sleep problems in children with autism and FXS.

By American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Source:   http://www.huliq.com/11/79725/melatonin-can-treat-sleep-problems-children-autism

1. Joe left…

Friday, 1 May 2009 8:38 pm

i use melatonin in a product for energizing the body. I found out about it at the live forever blog chat room: http://letslivelonger.blogspot.com/2009/04/sleep-better-you-can-do-it.html

but it works great. I’ve also learned to keep a more steady schedule and eat at regular times.

thanks guys!

First Published Wednesday, 15 April 2009


*ASAN Southwest Ohio sent the following statement to the Cincinnati Flying
Pig Marathon regarding language used on their
website<http://www.flyingpi gmarathon. com/>to promote fundraising for
autism research:

http://asansouthwes tohio.blogspot. com/2009/ 04/opposing- alarmist- rhetoric. html

I am writing to express my concern about alarmist statements on the
Cincinnati Marathon website regarding autism, which could have the effect of
increasing society’s unfounded fear of autistic people and inciting
prejudice and discrimination. On your front page, promoting the Run/Walk for
Autism, there is a comparison of autism to cancer, diabetes, and AIDS, which
misleadingly causes people to view autism as a disease that their family
members are at risk of catching. A reader who follows the link to the page
promoting the Autism Run/Walk event will be informed that those who “haven’t
had a close connection with autism” are “fortunate” and that autism is a
“horrible epidemic.”

In fact, autism is a developmental condition, not a disease; it does not
make anyone sick or kill anyone, and it cannot be acquired from contact with
autistic people. Comparing autism to deadly diseases such as AIDS can cause
uninformed people to shun autistic individuals out of a groundless fear that
they or their family members will somehow catch autism. For the same reason,
autism should not be characterized as an “epidemic,” which is a term that
usually refers to an outbreak of contagious disease.

For a more detailed explanation of why such language is harmful to autistic
people, please read the public statement by Jim Sinclair and Susan J.
Golubock asking those who are concerned about helping the autistic community
to oppose the use of alarmist rhetoric about
autism<http://autism. change.org/ actions/view/ oppose_the_ use_of_alarmist_ rhetoric_ about_autism>

I personally have a close connection with autism, in that I am an autistic
person myself and have several relatives who are also autistic. This will be
my seventh year running in the Flying Pig Marathon with my husband, and I
find it very offensive that your website would suggest that my existence is
horrible and that those who have no close connections with families such as
mine are fortunate. Please think about how you would feel if you and your
family belonged to a minority group that was being described in such terms,
and edit your website accordingly.


Meg Evans
Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Southwest Ohio

*Update:* In response to our concerns, the Cincinnati Marathon has edited
its front page so that its link to the event’s website does not contain the
cancer/AIDS analogy or any other language reposted from the event’s website.
The event’s organizer, Janet Leiter of the Autism Society of Greater
Cincinnati, can be contacted at info@autismrunwalk. com regarding the
language on the event’s website.

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