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September 2011



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Archive for September 29th, 2011

ScienceDaily (Sep. 28, 2011) — Autism spectrum disorders, including Asperger syndrome, have generally been associated with uneven intellectual profiles and impairment, but according to a new study of Asperger individuals published in the online journal PLoS ONE, this may not be the case — as long as intelligence is evaluated by the right test. Both autistic and Asperger individuals display uneven profiles of performance in commonly used intelligence test batteries such as Wechsler scales, and their strongest performances are often considered evidence for deficits.


However, this study reports that Asperger individuals’ scores are much higher when they are evaluated by a test called Raven’s Progressive Matrices, which encompasses reasoning, novel problem-solving abilities, and high-level abstraction. By comparison, scores for non-Asperger individuals are much more consistent across different tests. Interestingly, Asperger participants’ performance on Raven’s Matrices was associated with their strongest peaks of performance on Wechsler.


A previous study by the same group found very similar results for autistic individuals as well, whose peaks of ability are perceptual, rather than verbal as in Asperger individuals. This suggests a common information processing mechanism applied to different aspects of information (verbal vs. perceptual).


According to co-author Michelle Dawson, “while we know autistics process information atypically, very little thought has gone into how to fairly assess their abilities. In fact there is so little understanding of what autistics do well that their strong abilities are often regarded as dysfunctional. Here we have again found that measurable strengths in autistic spectrum individuals are not “isolated islets of abilities” as previously thought, but are in fact representative of autistics’ intellectual abilities. This in turn raises questions about how we can provide autistics with the kinds of information they can process well, as we do with non-autistic individuals. We consider the effort to understand and encourage autistic strengths to be of paramount importance. “


Based on these results, the authors emphasize that autistic spectrum intelligence is atypical, but also genuine, general, and underestimated.




Journal Reference:

  1. 1.  Isabelle Soulières, Michelle Dawson, Morton Ann Gernsbacher, Laurent Mottron. The Level and Nature of Autistic Intelligence II: What about Asperger Syndrome? PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (9): e25372 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0025372

Zanny--Born to Run

Zanny–Born to Run


, Palo Alto Special Needs Parents Examiner September 22, 2011


Approximately 17% of all children have some type of developmental disability, and the number is growing every day.


We know that not all kids are the same, so each book by Extra Special Kids addresses a different symptom, not a disorder. Extra Special Kids  stories can benefit “typical” children who might have difficulties in one area while also helping kids diagnosed with learning disabilities.


Do you know a child who never seems to sit still?


Grab your running shoes and follow a day in the life of Zanny, a little boy who simply CANNOT stop moving!


These fun, witty, picture books and apps are a way of helping children with limitations understand their symptoms better in a positive and engaging way while trying to boost their self-esteem.


iPad app features include:


  • *Beautiful, hand-drawn illustrations
  • *Exciting sound and movement touch features to hunt for and discover
  • *Pictures that move by touch and animate with gravity as you tilt your iPad
  • *Professional and lively audio narrator
  • *Charming background music recorded specially by an award-winning producer


Bonus game attached!


“The Extra Special Feelings Game” is for kids with Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, PDD, young children, or anyone who needs help with recognizing feelings and facial expressions.


All kids go crazy for Zanny’s antics, but particularly “extra special” kids who love to see themselves in living color.


To purchase Zanny-Born to Run by Extra Special Kids, LLC, CLICK HERE.

Books to look forward to:


-Little Lilly’s Touch Book
-Timmy Tastes Textures




Albert Einstein


Reforming Gifted and Talented Programs
by: Terrence Falk | Friday 9/23/2011


Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Leonardo Da Vinci, Marie Curie, and a host of other famous individuals had two things in common: they were extremely gifted and probably had some special educational needs.  Asperger’s syndrome, autism, hyperactivity, and dyslexia are common conditions for gifted individuals.


Gifted children often get low grades and have poor behavior in school. Their special needs get in the way of learning. Even without special needs, gifted students are often bored with school work so don’t stay on task. Their minds often race ahead of their ability to act. Think of a race car engine in a VW Beetle body, and you begin to understand the challenges many gifted and talented children face.


Many gifted and talented education experts believe that such gifted students have a higher percentage with exceptional educational needs than the general population. Whole organizations and websites are now devoted to “twice exceptional” or “2e” children.


Unfortunately, those are not the students that are often placed into gifted and talented programs. Instead, these programs are filled with “well-schooled” children who get high grades, do all their homework, and follow instructions of their teachers. Their parents push them along, support them with tutors, piano and dance lessons. These children may be bright and hardworking, but they do not meet the classic definition of gifted and talented.


Like many school systems, some Milwaukee gifted and talented programs have few if any 2e students. Instead 2e students are systematically eliminated from programs in favor of well-schooled children. Many gifted children are overlooked when school systems rely on teacher identification to find gifted children. 2e children may mask both their giftedness and their special needs by having their gifts compensating for their needs thus appearing to be fairly normal.


Severely physically handicapped children with gifts and talents may be especially hard to identify. Our most brilliant physicist, Steven Hawkins, can only communicate through eye movement directed to a special keyboard. He was fortunate that his paralysis slowly developed allowing him to completeh is university studies and have his genius recognized before he was immobilized.


Helen Keller was deaf and blind from birth. Her caregiver, Anne Sullivan, found a way to communicate with Helen and opened her gifts to the rest of the world. How many Steven Hawkins and Helen Kellers are out there that we will never know who will never make the contributions these two made to our society?


Read in Full:



WHEN Ethan Ling climbs into his go-kart, all his cares and worries are left behind.


The 10-year-old, who has Asperger syndrome, has just won his fourth trophy, despite only takingpart in his first race in February.


Ethan often finds school difficult because of his condition – a form of autism which can cause difficulties with communication and social skills, often leading to isolation and emotional problems.


But Ethan’s mother Tricia says her son’s go-karting success has been a breath of fresh air for the family.


The 34-year-old from St Mellons, Cardiff, said: “Ethan’s been struggling in school as some people don’t understand the condition and it’s difficult to get things across.


“He has learning difficulties but when he goes out on the race track he is just like every other child.


“I know we all say that we are proud of our kids, but he is really good and he really enjoys it.


“He struggles so much at school but this is just a breath of fresh air for us.”


Ethan won his fourth trophy at a race in Llandough and was also successful in races in Rissington and Yeovil.


Tricia said: “We have been travelling all over the country.


“Racing has been so good for him; he is very happy and relaxed when he his behind the wheel. He was five when he first went in a go-kart. We took him on holiday and the rules are more relaxed abroad. He loved it, he became obsessed with it.


“When he was eight we put him through race academy in Llandough and in January he passed his test so he could race competitively. We are very proud of him.”


Ethan now has plans for a career in racing driving and hopes to find a sponsor so he can continue his winning streak.


“He wants to be a Formula 1 driver,” Tricia said.


“He has got his own kart already. It’s a very expensive hobby but my husband Steven is a mechanic, so that makes it a bit cheaper for us.”


To sponsor Ethan, email patricia.ling@hotmail.com





A teenage girl thought by her father to have been possessed by an ‘evil spirit’ died from suffocation during an exorcism, it has been reported.


Tomomi Maishigi’s father and a monk performed a ‘waterfall service’ on the 13-year-old where she was allegedly bound to a chair by a belt and placed face-up underneath a water pump for five minutes at a Buddhist church in Kumamoto, south Japan.


The pair – 56-year-old monk Kazuaki Kinoshita and the girl’s 50-year-old father Atsushi Maishigi – were arrested yesterday on charges of inflicting injury resulting in death.


According to the Mainichi Daily News, her father held the girl down under the falling water while the monk chanted sutras in the early hours of 27 August.


When the victim fell unconscious, they called an ambulance but she was later pronounced dead.


Kumamoto Prefectural Police said the teenager died of suffocation and that she had undergone the ritual a hundred times before.


Mr Maishigi reportedly claimed that his daughter was possessed and found the monk to perform the ritual to exorcise the demons so she could get better. But she resisted and became violent.


“Our actions were aimed at exorcising evil spirits from her and were not physical abuse,” the men were quoted as telling investigators.


Tomomi had suffered from mental and physical illness since she was a senior-grade primary school student, and had not attended school since April.


A spokesperson for the Nakayamashingoshoshu’s (a sect of Buddhism) main temple in Kiyama said: “The water rite is done to bring one’s wishes to reality, but of course you cannot exorcise with it. We also do not instruct to bound the arms and legs when doing the ritual.”




By Paul Nelson

September 26th, 2011 @ 7:35am


SALT LAKE CITY — The transition from high school into being part of “the real world” can be hard for most people. It can be overwhelming for kids with high-functioning autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. But, a new support group is trying to change that.


Young adults with these disorders struggle for a number of reasons. Judith Zimmerman with the Jordan Family Education Center says they live in a literal world and don’t have the social skills many of us take for granted.


“Maybe their communication skills are poor. They have difficulty maintaining eye contact. Those things don’t go over well,” she said.


She says these social problems can keep someone with either of these disorders from finding a job or dating, and they can become overwhelmed, feeling like a failure.


“Some kids get frustrated and angry, but I do see a lot of them withdrawing to mom’s basement and hanging out there and just being OK with that,” Zimmerman said. “Then, they don’t have to deal with these problems. As a parent, that’s not what you want to see.”


The Jordan School District offers classes that help elementary and middle school students. But Zimmerman says many parents wanted more.


“The request came out of the parents’ needs, saying, ‘Gee, too bad you don’t offer something for my kid who just graduated from high school but continues to struggle.”


Read in Full:


Published: Tuesday, September 27, 2011, 8:44 AM    

Updated: Tuesday, September 27, 2011, 8:49 AM


Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism being diagnosed in a growing number of children, may soon disappear from the official psychiatric diagnostic manual.


Under a proposed revision, Asperger’s would be eliminated as a diagnosis and be replaced by autism spectrum disorder — a label that would apply to all types of autism, from the mildest form to the most severe. The proposal also would eliminate another autism diagnosis — pervasive development disorder — not otherwise specified.


The proposed change is generating controversy. Experts revising the manual for the American Psychiatric Association say the Asperger’s diagnosis is confusing and that the distinction between Asperger’s and “high-functioning” autism is often meaningless. Some patients and their families, however, want Asperger’s to remain in the manual because they believe the diagnosis is part of their identity and differentiates them from more severely disabled autistic people.


“I see lots of young adults who enjoy this label and diagnosis,” says Dr. Kevin Antshel, a clinical psychologist at Upstate Medical University. “They say, ‘So what if I’m quirky? I’m an Aspy.”


The revised edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual is due out in 2013.


The various forms of autism affect about 1 of 110 U.S. children, according to federal estimates.


There are now three different autism diagnoses:


*Autistic disorder or classic autism, characterized by significant language delays, social and communication challenges, and unusual behaviors and interests. Some individuals in this category also have intellectual disabilities.
*Asperger’s, characterized by milder symptoms of autism, but typically no problems with language or intellectual disability.
*Pervasive developmental disorder — not otherwise specified. Individuals in this category have some, but not all of the symptoms that accompany the other two diagnoses.


Under the proposed revision, clinicians making the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder would rank the symptoms by severity.


Asperger’s has been an official diagnosis since 1994, 50 years after the condition was first described by Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger.


Antshel believes getting rid of the Asperger’s diagnosis is a good move. Research shows there’s a lot of overlap between the different forms of autism, he says. “Some people who have an autism diagnosis eventually morph into Asperger’s and vice versa,” Antshel says. “I think it would help reduce some confusion.”


The autism spectrum disorder diagnosis may make it easier for some youngsters with Asperger’s to get services in school. “There are a lot of individuals with Asperger’s I see who are not getting services in school because they are considered too high functioning,” he says. “They may be doing well academically, but they are not functioning well socially.”


Marylee McClaskey of Baldwinsville has 13-year-old twin sons — one with Asperger’s, the other with autism. She believes getting rid of the Asperger’s diagnosis would be a big mistake.


Read in Full:



Related Articles

“Asperger’s May Be Dropped From Diagnostic Manual”:


“Fwd: Please Take Action – The DSM-V – An Opportunity For Improved Practice”:


“You do make a difference in the DSM-V”:


“Autism’s Enfolding of Aspies”:


“A Look at the DSM-V Draft”: