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March 2011



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Archive for March 22nd, 2011

The Autism Show - 24-25 June 2011, ExCeL London


This June, The National Autistic Society will be a headline partner at The Autism Show, the UK’s first national event dedicated to autism for parents, carers, professionals and people on the autism spectrum.

This exciting new event has been developed by the parents of a child with autism in response to their own experiences and their determination to help bring together the growing autism community. The organisers uniquely combine their personal knowledge of autism with twenty years of organising some of the most prominent and successful exhibitions in the UK.

The National Autistic Society, along with the Hesley Group, is a headline partner at the event and we have been joined by many other organisations who are exhibiting at the event. Over 50 suppliers of learning tools, visual aids, residential care and education services, sensory products and legal services are expected at the event in June. Current exhibitors include Mike Ayres Design, Options Group, Widgit, The Priory Group, Safespaces, the Department of Work and Pensions and Tough Furniture.

An in-depth conference programme presented by leading professionals, advocates, government ministers and people with autism will explore topics such as Choosing the Right Intervention, Transitions in Education, Navigating the Statementing Process, Managing Challenging Behaviour, Supported Living Options and The Future of State SEN Provision.

Practical workshops, interactive forums and exclusive one-to-one professional consultation clinics hosted by Speech and Language Therapists, Educational Psychologists, Behaviour Analysts, Occupational Therapists, State Benefit Advisors and Legal Advisors complete an invaluable mix of content which promises to provide the answers which are often so hard to find.

NAS members can get advance tickets for a discount price of £8 (email our membership team for details). Group discounts are also available for bookings of 10 or more per order.

Book your tickets now.

You can also promote the event at your place of work by printing and displaying promotional A4 posters.

For more information about The Autism Show, visit www.autismshow.co.uk or email info@autismshow.co.uk




‘We want continuity. We want our children with their friends they’ve worked so hard to bond with over these six years,’ said Denise Ingrassia, a parent of a fifth grader in the Nest program. (Staten Island Advance/Jan Somma-Hammel)

Published: Friday, March 18, 2011, 6:28 PM

By Deborah E. Young

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — As their hard-earned friends in general education are already imagining life next year at Paulo Intermediate School, the fifth graders with Asperger’s Syndrome in the first graduating class from PS 4’s Nest program have yet to learn where they will spend their adolescent years.

For these youngsters with autism, who are prone to struggle with even the smallest transitions, it is unacceptable not to be heading into adolescence with familiar faces from elementary school, said parents, who are demanding the link to Paulo be established now and maintained for future classes.

Shouting “Nest is best” and “Our students will thrive at IS 75,” nearly 100 parents from the program and their supporters today gathered outside the Arden Heights school alongside Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio, state Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) and City Councilman Vincent Ignizio (R-South Shore) to push the city Department of Education to quickly make what they characterized as an intuitive, humanistic and educationally sound decision.

“Middle school can be a land mine for even the most well adjusted child. For a child with any social deficiency it can be ten times as difficult to navigate,” said Terry Ballou, whose fifth-grade son, Ryan, has been in the Nest program since kindergarten.

“We want continuity. We want our children with their friends they’ve worked so hard to bond with over these six years,” said Denise Ingrassia. “Our children need to be primed to transition,” she said, describing her son, one of six fifth-graders in the school with Asperger’s in the school’s Nest program.

Most children with Asperger’s Syndrome perform on grade level and are often intellectually gifted, but require instruction in the every day interactions that come as second nature to most people, such as making eye contact and engaging in the give-and-take of conversation.

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Written by Dan McFeely

When Jacob Barnett first learned about the Schrödinger equation for quantum mechanics, he could hardly contain himself.

For three straight days, his little brain buzzed with mathematical functions.

From within his 12-year-old, mildly autistic mind, there gradually flowed long strings of pluses, minuses, funky letters and upside-down triangles — a tapestry of complicated symbols that few can understand.

He grabbed his pencil and filled every sheet of paper before grabbing a marker and filling up a dry erase board that hangs in his bedroom. With a single-minded obsession, he kept on, eventually marking up every window in the home.

Strange, say some.

Genius, say others.

But entirely normal for Jacob, a child prodigy who used to crunch his cereal while calculating the volume of the cereal box in his head.

“Whenever I try talking about math with anyone in my family,” he said, “they just stare blankly.”

So do many of his older classmates at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, who marvel at seeing this scrawny little kid in the front row of the calculus-based physics class he has been taking this semester.

“When I first walked in and saw him, I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to school with Doogie Howser,’ ” said Wanda Anderson, a biochemistry major, referring to a television show that featured a 16-year-old boy-genius physician.

Elementary school couldn’t keep Jacob interested. And courses at IUPUI have only served to awaken a sleeping giant.

Just a few weeks shy of his 13th birthday, Jake, as he’s often called, is starting to move beyond the level of what his professors can teach.

In fact, his work is so strong and his ideas so original that he’s being courted by a top-notch East Coast research center. IUPUI is interested in him moving from the classroom into a funded researcher’s position.

“We have told him that after this semester . . . enough of the book work. You are here to do some science,” said IUPUI physics Professor John Ross, who vows to help find some grant funding to support Jake and his work.

“If we can get all of those creative juices in a certain direction, we might be able to see some really amazing stuff down the road.”

“My fear was that he would never be in our world”

Teenage college student?

Developer of his own original theory on quantum physics?

Paid researcher at 13?

This is not what Jake’s parents expected from a child whose first few years were spent in silence.

“Oh my gosh, when he was 2, my fear was that he would never be in our world at all,” said Kristine Barnett, 36, Jake’s mother.

“He would not talk to anyone. He would not even look at us.”

Child psychologists assessed Jake at the time and diagnosed behavioral characteristics of a borderline autistic child. He was impaired, they said, and had a lack of “spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment,” difficulty showing emotion and interacting with others.

Diagnosis: mildly autistic.

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