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January 2012



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Archive for January 20th, 2012

ScienceDaily (Jan. 19, 2012) — Although the genetic basis of autism is now well established, a growing body of research also suggests that environmental factors may play a role in this serious developmental disorder affecting nearly one in 100 children. Using a unique study design, a new study suggests that low birth weight is an important environmental factor contributing to the risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

“Our study of discordant twins — twin pairs in which only one twin was affected by ASD — found birth weight to be a very strong predictor of autism spectrum disorder,” said Northwestern University researcher Molly Losh. Losh, who teaches and conducts research in Northwestern’s School of Communication, is lead author of the study that will be published in the journal Psychological Medicine and is now available online.

Prior twin studies have shown that when one identical twin had ASD, the other twin was much more likely to have ASD than not. “Because identical twins share virtually 100 percent of their genes, this is strong evidence for the role of genetics in autism,” said Losh. “Yet it is not 100 percent the case that ASD affects both identical twins in a twin pair.”

“That only one twin is affected by ASD in some identical twin pairs suggests that environmental factors may play a role either independently or in interaction with autism risk genes,” she added. “And because autism is a developmental disorder impacting brain development early on, it suggests that prenatal and perinatal environmental factors may be of particular importance.”

The researchers found that lower birth weight more than tripled the risk for autism spectrum disorder in identical twin pairs in which one twin had ASD and the other did not.

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Photographs of Buffalo’s landmarks and architectural detail are the main attraction of Summit’s 2012 calendar which is now available for $10 at Tops Markets in Erie County. Featured landmarks include Our Lady of Victory Basilica, the Ellicott Square Building, the Guaranty Building, and Delaware Park among others.

Students from Summit Academy, ages 5-18 and diagnosed with autism, took the photographs with little or no help from their teachers and aides. They were given brief instruction on how to use a camera and asked to photograph whatever they wanted. The results are compiled in a beautiful, four-color calendar. Proceeds from the sale will benefit Summit Educational Resources.


Order 2012 Summit Calendar




Related Article

Amazing Calendar From Autistic Individuals(Includes Video):



Posted On: January 10, 2012 – 5:31am

These days, we hear a lot about the disorder of autism, but researchers at the University of Utah have created a program that helps kids with autism focus on building their skills and utilizing an aptitude for visual-spatial thinking, computers and other electronic media.

One of the program participants is 12-year-old Christopher Charles, who was diagnosed with what’s now known as high-functioning autism when he was 18 months old. His parents started him in therapies early on, but hadn’t found something that seemed to hold Christopher’s interest or accommodate his behaviors.

Chris has participated for the past year and a half in workshops at the University of Utah to teach 3D modeling software by Google called SketchUp. Cheryl Wright, associate professor of family and consumer studies, coordinated the workshops in partnership with Google’s Project Spectrum, an initiative to teach job skills to kids with autism. Steve Gross, a certified SketchUp instructor and designer for Universal Creative theme parks, leads the workshops.

Wright and her team soon found far greater benefits to these workshops than acquiring a skill set for potential employment, however. The sessions facilitated social engagement among the students and their peers, parents, siblings and even grandparents.


They have published a study about these findings in the December issue of Family & Consumer Sciences Research Journal. The study focuses on the effects of the workshops on individual students involved as well as on multiple generations within their families—an uncommon opportunity in the research on social interactions of people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

After just weeks in the workshops, Christopher Charles’ parents noticed a big difference. “Christopher spends hours on his design projects,” says his father Nik. “There are few activities that have been able to hold Christopher’s attention like SketchUp.” In fact, Christopher once noted that he wouldn’t miss the SketchUp sessions “even if aliens invaded the Earth.”

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Project Spectrum- Strengths of Autism Shine Through In 3D:


Sketch-A-Space Competition: Design The Perfect Room For An Autistic Person:


Gary McKinnon

Gary McKinnon

Martin Bentham,

Home Affairs Editor


16 January, 2012.

Theresa May is preparing to abandon efforts to rewrite the Government’s extradition treaty with the US despite claims that it is unfair to British citizens.

The Home Secretary is understood to have concluded that altering the way that the law is written would have little practical effect.

Insiders say that she also accepts that the treaty, which was introduced in 2003, is not unbalanced and that critics’ accusations about flaws in the legislation are largely misplaced.

Mrs May’s decision follows the publication last year of a government-commissioned report on extradition law by the former Court of Appeal judge Sir Scott Baker.

It found that the “widespread perception” that arrangements with the US were unfair was “not justified” by the facts.

Despite the conclusions, a series of high-profile cases, including that of London computer hacker Gary McKinnon, have continued to prompt calls for reform.

The Home Secretary, whose party joined criticism of the legislation before the election, has concluded, however, that Sir Scott’s findings have shown that the law does not need significant changes.

Sources say that ministers acknowledge that they will have to “take a few hits” politically because of the decision, but that they feel bound to accept the former judge’s verdict because of the detailed way in which he conducted his analysis of the law.

The most crucial finding in Sir Scott’s report was that although different language is used in the legal tests applied by British and American courts, the hurdle that prosecutors must clear to secure extradition is equally high in both countries.

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Previous Updates

Gary McKinnon Update: David Cameron and Barack Obama’s Press Conference: The Main Points:


January 18, 2012

Bullies at the Malverne middle school have kicked, taunted, chased and harassed autistic eighth-grader Joel Luna Menjivar, according to his mother, Ana, who called the Herald in a desperate attempt to get help.

School administrators have given Luna Menjivar plenty of lip service, but taken little to no corrective action, said the Guatemala native, who is not a fluent English speaker. She said the problem has persisted throughout her son’s time in the middle school, but in recent months it has escalated. Two incidents in particular, both occurring in the Howard T. Herber Middle School cafeteria, stand out for her because they resulted in either physical injuries or trauma. In one case, she said, a student struck Joel in the face with a glass bottle and in another, a student tried to pull down his pants.

“He did not take it off … because Joel run away,” Luna Menjivar said, “but I don’t know where is the one-to-one [aide], where is the security, where is everybody, where is the teachers? For 20 or 25 minutes he [was] very scared.”

Joel speaks English well and can communicate at a relatively high level despite his autism, but he is still a special-needs student who has trouble socializing, his mother said, adding, “He is a good boy, he listens, he is respectful.” She praised the Malverne school district, its special education program and its teachers, who have helped her son achieve high grades. Joel is particularly gifted in math and takes an honors class. Luna Menjivar’s daughters, Angie, 11, and Giovanna, 8, also do well in school. But while the classrooms are safe places, Joel is subject to bullying in the hallways, the cafeteria, outside and after school, she said.

Caullum, pictured with his mother Lynne and a defibrillator, which gives the heart an electric shock in cases of cardiac arrest

Caullum, pictured with his mother Lynne and a defibrillator, which gives the heart an electric shock in cases of cardiac arrest

  • *Callum Massey stopped breathing after fight
  • *Doctors detected life-threatening heart condition and fitted him with pacemaker

By Sadie Whitelocks

Last updated at 5:19 PM on 18th January 2012

A schoolboy has revealed how a playground fight that left him unconscious, helped to unearth a life-threatening heart condition.

Callum Massey, 13, stopped breathing when he was punched by a fellow pupil and paramedics rushed to his rescue.

Unable to revive him fully for two days, doctors discovered he had an irregular heartbeat and he was fitted with a pacemaker-style device.

After a three month recovery Callum is now well enough to return to lessons although his illness has yet to be diagnosed.

His school has been given a mobile defibrillator by the British Heart Foundation, which can be used to give the heart an electric shock in during cardiac arrest.

His mother Lynne, 35, from Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, said: ‘The playground fight was what helped us find out that Callum had this condition in a strange kind of way.

‘It was a nightmare when it happened. It shows how fragile life can be.

‘I had a phone call saying there had been an accident. When we got to the school gates it was so terrifying.’

After the incident Callum was rushed to King’s Mill Hospital, and then transferred to Glenfield Hospital, in Leicester, where he spent more than three weeks being treated.

During that time doctors found Asperger’s Syndrome sufferer Callum had a potentially fatal heart condition which had previously been undetected.

He was fitted with an internal defibrillator to shock his heart if anything should happen again and prescribed with a daily dose of beta-blocker drugs, which are used to treat irregular heart conditions.

Hospital check-ups are also required every three months and his family have been warned it is a life-long condition.

Mother-of-three Mrs Massey, said she and her husband, Andrew, 35, were thankful for the actions of school staff.

The school’s caretaker and teaching assistant were among those who came to Callum’s aid.


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Posted: January 18, 2012 – 11:04am

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The parents of a 3-year-old New Jersey girl say she’s being denied a kidney transplant because of her mental disabilities, but experts caution the situation may be much more complex.

The girl’s mother, Chrissy Rivera, last week posted a blog entry that described an encounter she claimed happened at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She said she was there to discuss treatment for her daughter, Amelia, who was born with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome, a rare genetic defect that can cause physical and mental disabilities.

Rivera wrote that a doctor, whom she did not name, told her and her husband, Joe Rivera, that Amelia wouldn’t be eligible for a transplant because of her quality of life and her mental condition.

“I put my hand up. ‘Stop talking for a minute. Did you just say that Amelia shouldn’t have the transplant done because she is mentally retarded. I am confused. Did you really just say that?'” she wrote. “I begin to shake. My whole body trembles and he begins to tell me how she will never be able to get on the waiting list because she is mentally retarded.”

Rivera’s story was seen by Sunday Stilwell, the mother of two severely autistic boys, and she began an online petition last Friday, demanding that the hospital give a transplant to the girl. By Wednesday morning, nearly 25,600 people had signed it.

“I read Chrissy’s original blog post, and I just cried. I couldn’t believe it,” said Stilwell, whose boys are 6 and 9. “I shared it on Twitter with all my followers and on Facebook.”

Children’s Hospital said in a statement that it “does not disqualify potential transplant candidates on the basis of intellectual abilities.”

“We have transplanted many children with a wide range of disabilities, including physical and intellectual disabilities,” it said, adding that it is “deeply committed” to providing the best possible medical care for all children, including those with disabilities.

The hospital did not comment further, citing patient confidentiality laws, but noted the debate on its Facebook page.

“We’re listening. We hear your concerns and take seriously your posts, emails and phone calls,” it wrote, adding, “Please know that you have been heard and that your feedback is appreciated.”

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