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January 2012



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Archive for January 30th, 2012

By Jenise Harmon, LISW

Being in a close, loving relationship is many things. It’s comforting, satisfying, challenging, enlightening, and fun. The one thing that a close relationship is not, however, is simple.

In the beginning of a new relationship, the time I think of as the Golden Days, your partner can do no wrong. Snoring is cute. Picking up the socks that end up all over the house is an act of love. The thought of a serious fight seems impossible — until it happens.

The person you love the most, to whom you are closest, becomes irritating, stupid, or irrational. Suddenly the Golden Days are replaced with reality. You and your partner are shedding your pretenses. Neither you nor your loved one feels the need to impress the other. You are committed to each other. You’re comfortable together.

But the snoring starts to drive you crazy, and you resent the socks you have to pick up. Conflict arrives.


All couples experience conflict, but there are ways to minimize its pain and maximize its growth. Instead of drawing you and your partner apart, conflict can bring your relationship to a new level of intimacy. This happens not by chance, but through learning new ways of relating to your partner and new relationship skills.

1. Decide on a topic and a time.

If there is an issue you want to resolve with your partner, decide together on a time and day to discuss it. Don’t plan it for when you’re tired, or likely to be stressed. If you can, make it for when you’ll have the privacy and time you need. For some, this means talking after the kids are in bed, or when you can hire a babysitter. It may mean planning time on the weekend, when your stress level is lower. Make it an appointment that you have thought about and agreed upon with your partner, and stick to it.

2. Keep on topic.

I can’t stress this one enough. If you’ve set aside time to talk about needed home repairs, don’t start discussing how your partner didn’t take down the Christmas lights until August. It can be very easy to try to get all of your complaints in at once, but resist that temptation. This time is for the agreed-upon topic only. Otherwise you will both become overwhelmed, angry, and frustrated.

3. Learn how to actively listen.

Active listening is more than simply hearing. It is listening with all your attention on what your partner is saying. It means not thinking of what you want to say next, but focusing your entire self on your partner.

As you actively listen, you want to make sure what you’re hearing is what your partner is saying. Saying something like “so, it sounds like you’re really angry that I didn’t go with you to your work party” gives your partner space to clarify — “no, it wasn’t that. It was that you didn’t even ask me how it went when I came home.” Then you try again with a statement such as “you wanted me to show interest in it.”

Ask and clarify until your partner feels like you get it. It might feel strange at first, but once you get a handle on active listening, you will find it is an incredible tool to have for all sorts of conflict in your life, not just in your relationship.

Read in Full:


Johnny Depp

15 Celebrity Quotes For Love, Laughter, And Life

By Alicia Sparks

The late historian and journalist Hendrik Willem van Loon once said, “Somewhere in the world there is an epigram for every dilemma.”

I think that’s why I love quotes so much. It might take a little digging, but you can almost always find a quote for every situation – the good, the bad, and the somewhere in between.

So, as we get closer and closer to 2011, I thought it might be fun to look at a few thought-provoking or inspirational quotes from some of our favorite celebrities.

After all, no matter what kind of year 2010 was, and no matter how we expect 2011 to go, each of us could use a line or two to make us pause, reflect, and plan – whether they’re quotes on love, quotes about friendship, funny quotes, or quotes about life in general.

After the jump, and in no particular order, check out 15 celebrity quotes that might inspire you for 2011.


Disclaimer: Each of these celebrity quotes was nipped from one of several garden variety quotation websites – www.thinkexist.com, www.brainyquote.com, www.goodquotes.com, and the sort. Any inaccuracies aren’t the responsibility of Celebrity Psychings, Psych Central, or anyone affiliated.

In other words, these are not exclusive and you can easily hunt your own celebrity quotes if you please. :)

1. “The greater your capacity to love, the greater your capacity to feel the pain.” – Jennifer Aniston

2. “The only rule is don’t be boring and dress cute wherever you go. Life is too short to blend in.” – Paris Hilton

3. “I try to believe like I believed when I was five…when your heart tells you everything you need to know.” – Lucy Liu

4. “You make mistakes, but I don’t have any regrets. I’m the kind of person who takes responsibility for it and deals with it. I learn from everything I do.” – Kim Kardashian

5. “I’ve just got to maintain my passion for what I do.” – Leonardo DiCaprio

6. “The truth is you don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. Life is a crazy ride, and nothing is guaranteed.” – Eminem

7. “You’ve got enemies? Good, that means you stood up for something in your life.” – Eminem

8. “We’re all damaged in our own way. Nobody’s perfect. I think we are all somewhat screwy, every single one of us.” – Johnny Depp

9. “Once you hit 40, you start re-examining the math of it all. I’ll trade wisdom for youth any day.” – Brad Pitt

10. “I’m my own person, and people can say whatever they want. I’m still going to be the person that I am.” – Lindsay Lohan

11. “You know, what can I say. If a relationship can’t work out, make a record.” – Miley Cyrus

12. “Sometimes you just need your privacy.” – Rihanna

13. “Sexiness is a state of mind – a comfortable state of being. It’s about loving yourself in your most unlovable moments.” – Halle Berry

Read in Full:


woman-low-self-esteem by mncoward

By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.
Associate Editor

I used to beat myself up for everything, even when I’d do a good job. Because, you know, I could always do better.

I also used to say “I’m sorry” when a) I wasn’t sorry and b) at the weirdest times, like when someone would bump into me or when I’d want to express a difference of opinion. (Blogger and author Therese Borchard can relate. She gave exposure therapy a try for eliminating her apologizing addiction.)

And any time I’d make a mistake, big or small, I’d feel like I just committed a mortal sin. All mistakes were magnified and the guilt and shame made me want to crawl under a rock. Making mistakes became a gnawing cycle that also chipped away at my already unstable self-esteem.

Saying no to someone was painful, and there were many times that I just wanted to be alone.


“Pioneering self-esteem researcher Morris Rosenberg asserted that nothing is more stressful than lacking the secure anchor of self-esteem,” according to Glenn R. Schiraldi, Ph.D., author of The Self-Esteem Workbook and a professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Health.

In my case, this was certainly true. My low self-esteem led to several toxic relationships, extra stress and a sinking mood. And along the way, I just didn’t enjoy myself as much as I could have.

Rosenberg’s research, Schiraldi said, revealed the following signs of low self-esteem:

  • *Sensitivity to criticism
  • *Social withdrawal
  • *Hostility
  • *Excessive preoccupation with personal problems
  • *Physical symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia and headaches

“People even put on a false front to impress [others],” he said.

People with a shaky self-esteem also struggle with self-critical, negative thoughts, said Lisa Firestone, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and co-author of Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice. “These thoughts often criticize and hold them back from going after what they want in life.”

Read in Full:



Published: 23 Jan 2012

LITTLE Joshua Lindley has become a modelling sensation — despite a disability which means he can only speak through a COMPUTER.

The schoolboy, six, has cerebral palsy quadriplegia and communicates via a special talking machine in a similar way to renowned physicist and Motor Neurone Disease sufferer Professor Steven Hawking.

The bright youngster is unable to speak, suffers severe mobility problems and spends much of his time in a wheelchair.

He is able to understand everything, but was unable to respond until his mum got him the personalised digital talking aid, complete with pictures of his friends, family and favourite foods.

Since getting the machine 18 months ago, Joshua’s confidence has soared as he is able to do things many people take for granted such as telling his mum what he wants for tea or what he wants to watch on TV.

Despite his condition, Joshua loves being the centre of attention and has carved out a successful career as a child model, featuring in catalogues, trade magazines and adverts.

Mum Joanne Kendall, 36, a housewife of Wakefield, West Yorks, said: “Josh understands but he just can’t speak so he knows what he wants to say but just can’t say it.

“Going into school, the frustration was evident. I want him to have a choice and make his own mind up. Even just for dinner, I’d have to go to the cupboard and point to try and give him a choice rather than just cooking something.

“I’m glad I got the machine now, it was definitely the right decision because we still don’t know if he’ll be able to speak and it’s really helped.

“It’s a smaller one than the one Steven Hawking has but it’s a bit different — it’s to assist with his speech rather than overtake it.

School’s out: from her very first week, Jenn Ashworth knew she didn’t want to go back… ever. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

Jenn Ashworth

The Guardian, Fri 13 Jan 2012 23.00 GMT

‘Who wants to be locked into a room with 30 people dressed just like them, to be startled by a bell every 35 minutes, to queue for lunch for 40 minutes and be made to stand outside in the cold twice a day?’ Jenn Ashworth most definitely did not…

We were watching Family Fortunes. I was 11 – a late-blooming August baby who looked more like a nine-year-old. A Sunday evening: the end of my first week at high school. It was darkish: my dad liked to have the big lights off and only one of the fringed table lamps on at a time, either because the dimness made it easier to see the telly or because he wanted to save money on the electricity bill. I remember, certainly, lying on the sofa under a red tartan blanket that smelled like the car and the dog, and it being a few minutes before my mum noticed I was crying.

She asked what was wrong. I gave her the simplest answer I could think of: I didn’t want to go to school. What should I have said? That my rucksack wasn’t right? The other girls had different sorts of socks? My hair wouldn’t stay inside the clips? This sort of thing came up later as I searched for a reason they could accept, but the truth is that it started with a feeling I still have difficulty putting into words. I hated it.

I couldn’t get used to the bell – the noise hurt my eyes and filled my mouth with the taste of metal. There were so many people swirling around in those corridors, all wearing the same clothes, that I couldn’t tell anyone apart and was convinced that among them I would get lost, disappear or die. Sunday night school blues are not unusual. What is strange was that I then refused to go. I stayed in bed and refused to get dressed. I ran out of the house in the morning and didn’t come back until the bus had gone. I faked migraines, stomach bugs, phantom aches and pains. I cried and threw epic tantrums that lasted for hours. I’d threaten to kill myself and refuse to eat for days.

This went on for years.

I’m not the first or the last to do this. There’s even a name for it: school refusal. They distinguish it from common-or-garden truancy because there’s no attempt to deceive – I never pretended to get the bus. Us school refusers are normally academically bright or, if not bright, at least willing. That was me. When school, convinced that I was ill in mind if not in body, sent work for me to do at home, I’d sit up in my bedroom and complete it, arranging my books inside a bag that never left the house. When I did go outside (which was rare), I’d haunt the library. School refusers are, apparently, depressed. They are anxious. It’s a phobia, of a sort.

If they wanted to write off my refusal as the product of an anxious personality, there was plenty of evidence for that. In the previous year, my last of primary school, I’d refused to join a gang formed in order to bully a girl who’d fallen off her bike and broken off the ends of her two front teeth. The praise I received for my stance was addictive, but when the whole thing didn’t blow over in a few weeks, it started to look more like what it was: stubbornness. I sat on my own for a year and my hair fell out in clumps. Even when the gang disbanded and I was invited back into normal social circulation, I refused.

My mum told the education welfare officers this story, and together they looked back at it and told me my hair fell out because I was worried about going to high school and it proved I was already anticipating the change with dread.

Or perhaps the cause was a postviral depression: as a 10-year-old, I’d had a severe case of chickenpox, so severe I’d been hospitalised for several days. Perhaps I’d never been right since? For the adults working with me, these felt like adequate explanations, so all the interventions and “treatments” over the next three and a half years were about dealing with an anxiety disorder or a phobia. They suggested I just go to school in the afternoons, and build up over a few months to a full week. They tried cognitive behavioural therapy aimed at correcting the faulty thoughts that triggered the anxiety they told me I was feeling. It made sense to them.

But that is not how I felt.

It is true, though, that at 12 I was prescribed an antidepressant and later had a series of sessions with a child psychologist. I remember almost nothing except that she wore a brown leather skirt and told me it was not her aim to make me go back to school. I’m not sure I believed her.

I told them I would not take the antidepressants, and then I did because they told me they would help me sleep better. I pretended to fall asleep on the couch and listened to my parents talking about me. I didn’t take any more tablets after that. I didn’t sleep, not because I was depressed, but because I didn’t do anything to tire me out. My mum was advised not to punish me for refusing school, but not to make days at home an attractive treat, either. So I stayed in and read.

So, not depressed then. But unhappy, certainly. Catastrophically so. I cried every day and counted the months until I would turn 16. I thought, very often, about suicide as a preferable option to all that miserable waiting. My mum said the worst of the unhappiness came in the second and third years of my refusal, and that is how I remember it. It was all the education welfare officers, the endless meetings, the counsellors, the constant pressure to do something I’d already made up my mind not to do, the pressure to explain when my explanation was never, could never, be acceptable to them, that brought on this deep and immovable unhappiness. They kept asking why and the only thing I could tell them, like a stuck record, was that I didn’t want to. I knew without being able to say that that place was bad for me. I refused. But I prefer to think of it, all of it, as declining. I declined what was offered. I realise I’m not painting an attractive picture of myself. I’m sure I was hard to like, hard to love, during those years, but it felt like life and death to me.

The local education authority wrung its hands and eventually I was sent to Larches House, a pupil referral unit that specialises in children with behavioural problems at risk of being excluded. I was 13. There was a boy whose epilepsy, or the medication he took for it, made him unpredictable and aggressive. A girl who cut off her hair with a pair of kitchen scissors because she thought her mother wouldn’t send her to school if she looked like she’d been scalped.

There were swings. They were kind. They asked me what I wanted to read. They let me write stories. I was happy there. I made a friend, April, who was like me – clever and quiet and no trouble at all, so long as she was getting her own way. We walked around the gardens and decided to invent a new language. I remember my mum commenting on how bright and happy I looked, how she hadn’t seen me smiling, with my hair up, for months and months. But my placement there ended because I refused to carry on going when it was made clear that I could attend for only one term and the aim was to ease pupils like me out of their phobias and back into mainstream schools. I declined.

At 14 there was another unit for kids with behavioural problems who had been excluded. I can see now that they didn’t have a clue what to do with me. The lacklustre lessons were held in a storeroom above the changing facilities attached to a council-run sports ground. There were rickety tables, gym mats and hockey nets stacked against the walls, and two tutors who’d take us through English and maths for three hours every morning. I remember Julie, who dressed like a boy, was pleased when she was mistaken for one and always wore a hat because she had severe alopecia. And Emma, who’d corner the rest of us at break-time, smoking furiously, to gleefully tell us about the sex she was having with her uncle. The tutors told us not to pay any attention – she’d got kicked out of school for telling tall stories.

I read Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin, and because I told them I liked English and wanted to be a writer, they encouraged me to find the hidden metrical patterns in transcripts of Douglas Hurd’s speeches. Every now and again, the tutors would tell us what wastes of time we were.

This lasted for only a few weeks. I stopped going because I was bored and because a promise – if I kept up with the tutor, they’d let me stay out of school and take my GCSEs at a local college – was withdrawn. I was ferried to and from this place, and others, in black cabs. I must have cost the LEA thousands; much more expensive than a blind eye and a library ticket, which is what I wanted most.

A couple of months ago, I went back to Larches House and took a tour of rooms that were familiar, looked at the garden in the pouring rain. The head teacher spoke passionately about child-centred education, about literacy, about making a difference. Phobics and refusers aren’t lumped in with the naughty kids any more, she explained, which means that were I 11 again and starting my antics now, I wouldn’t get sent to Larches. The medical educational services would have taken me on. Perhaps being ill is better than being bad, but what if it’s neither? When I expressed this to the staff at Larches House, I could see I wasn’t making sense to them. “Children often refuse as a way of getting back at their parents,” one teacher said, “as a way of getting back at them for a divorce, or for putting too much academic pressure on them.” I am sure that is sometimes true.

But isn’t it also true that there are plenty of adults (most, perhaps) who would not choose to spend their days locked into a series of rooms with 30 people dressed just like them; to be startled by a bell every 35 minutes; to queue for 40 minutes of a 50-minute lunch break in order to eat; to stand outside in the cold for 15 minutes twice a day; to be told to “shoo” when standing in the wrong place; to be forced to sit on a sports hall floor in rows and be lectured at for 20 minutes twice a week; and, most of all, to be bored, bored, bored out of your mind – bored to the point of depression, to the point of rage.

I have worked in a prison. It is not that different. Most grown-ups would not volunteer to spend five years of their life like this. This is what I wanted to say then and what I still want to say now: disliking mainstream school and declining to take part in it is not an illness. It is not a mental health problem, or a behavioural problem.

But this is a story with a twist. Because, one day, I changed my mind.

“You just went,” my mum says, and she still sounds shocked. She tells me about the morning I came down the stairs with my hair tied back, cheery and chipper, my school uniform on, asking for a quick breakfast before I missed the bus.

At this point they’d nearly given up. I’d certainly given up on myself. The education welfare officers told me I was wasting my life and I’d never amount to anything if I didn’t go to school. I’d started to think they were right. And then I decided to decline this version of events, too. It looked like an impulse decision to my mum, to everyone else, because the most important thing I had given up on was discussing what went on in my head. But I wrote about it in my diary. “I will go to their shitty fucking school,” I wrote, and the handwriting is recognisably mine, in 15-year-old ballpoint pen that is fading but scratched through two pages, “I will get these stupid exams and I will go away to university and NEVER COME BACK.”

My mum spent the next months on tenterhooks – getting up before me and crossing her fingers that, when I came down the stairs, I’d be in uniform. And I always was. I didn’t approach it gradually, as people with phobias are supposed to. (Clue: it wasn’t a phobia.) I changed my mind, and plunged into the cold and filthy water of my mainstream, one-size-fits-all comprehensive high school.

The boys were strange. Six inches bigger than when I’d seen them last, and with cracked, booming voices. Something had happened to everyone else that had not happened to me and I didn’t know what it was. They smelled like sweat and fags, and they called me Mouse. I remember a sex-education lesson, and telling one of them off for talking about girls like they were “nothing but orifices”. What a way to make friends. What a prude I was. There was a silence. None of them knew what “orifice” meant. We were 15. I’d been the one at home wasting my life, neglecting my brain. What had they been doing? (Another clue: they went out at night and kissed each other. Some of them were “doing it”.)

It was not easy, but I never refused again. I was a terrified little stiff who could quote Shakespeare and The Book Of Mormon, who knew what “oestrogen” and “orifice” meant but not “blow job” and “getting off”. I’d never tasted Coke, never mind White Lightning. There are some things, I realised, I could not learn from books, and though I was fearless and driven about those exams (on the morning of my French oral, my mum was shaking, not me), I blushed and trembled and looked around for the teacher when someone said “fuck”.

Never mind, I thought. I’ll just get these exams and then I’ll get out. I had a hope for university – the farthest away, if not the best – but I guessed that I’d missed too much and would fail these exams; guessed that no uni would want me, with my school file bulging with notes about sparse attendance, the minutes of mental health panels and the psychologist’s reports.

On the day I got my GCSE results, I went to a friend’s house to open the envelope. I got kissed. It was going to be all right. But first there were A-levels, and uni couldn’t come soon enough. At just 17 I moved into a flat with a clever, unsuitable boy who had a ponytail, a leather jacket and a Faith No More T-shirt. My FE college put up with an ordinary amount of truancy, and during my days off I did what teenagers who are bunking off are supposed to do – ignored my books and nursed my hangovers.

What they also did was send me on a Sutton Trust visit to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, with a bunch of other no-hopers. They took us to the Fitzwilliam Museum, read us Blake, showed us what a lecture theatre looked like. I asked about Measure For Measure and was given a book with a list of 16th-century laws about marriage and left to figure it out on my own. I went home, did those A-levels, and a year later I went back. Life began. It was brilliant.

In preparation for writing this, I had a long conversation with my mum. She told me it would be hard for anyone to trust an 11-year-old to know what was best for her, that the education welfare officers and other suits involved with the case threatened her – regularly – with prison if she didn’t get me to school, without giving her any useful information about how. She reminded me of our shared snigger when a stumped psychiatrist suggested I was depressed over the death of Kurt Cobain (except on the phone my mum said, “Curt Curtain”). She told me when I did decide to go and take the exams, the uniform she’d bought for me at 11 fitted me when I was 14 because I didn’t grow, because I wouldn’t eat.

She reminded me, without saying anything, that she knew me. That if she’d have found her confidence, she probably would have given me a library ticket and left me to it. I told her I wanted to set up a school that was more of a museum or a library where the children were set free, and she told me why not, why shouldn’t I, what was stopping me?

*Cold Light, by Jenn Ashworth, is published in paperback by Sceptre.


Top Ten Legal Drugs Linked to Violence

By Maia Szalavitz

2011 Archives

When people consider the connections between drugs and violence, what typically comes to mind are illegal drugs like crack cocaine. However, certain medications — most notably, some antidepressants like Prozac — have also been linked to increase risk for violent, even homicidal behavior.

A new study from the Institute for Safe Medication Practices published in the journal PloS One and based on data from the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System has identified 31 drugs that are disproportionately linked with reports of violent behavior towards others. (More on Time.com: New Hope For An Anti-Cocaine Vaccine)

Please note that this does not necessarily mean that these drugs cause violent behavior. For example, in the case of opioid pain medications like Oxycontin, people with a prior history of violent behavior may seek  drugs in order to sustain an addiction, which they support via predatory crime. In the case of antipsychotics, the drugs may be given in an attempt to reduce violence by people suffering from schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders — so the drugs here might not be causing violence, but could be linked with it because they’re used to try to stop it.

Nonetheless, when one particular drug in a class of nonaddictive drugs used to treat the same problem stands out, that suggests caution: unless the drug is being used to treat radically different groups of people, that drug may actually be the problem. Researchers calculated a ratio of risk for each drug compared to the others in the database, adjusting for various relevant factors that could create misleading comparisons.  Here are the top ten offenders:

10. Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq) An antidepressant which affects both serotonin and noradrenaline, this drug is 7.9 times more likely to be associated with violence than other drugs.

9. Venlafaxine (Effexor) A drug related to Pristiq in the same class of antidepressants, both are also used to treat anxiety disorders. Effexor is 8.3 times more likely than other drugs to be related to violent behavior. (More on Time.com: Adderall May Not Make You Smarter, But It Makes You Think You Are)

8. Fluvoxamine (Luvox) An antidepressant that affects serotonin (SSRI), Luvox is 8.4 times more likely than other medications to be linked with violence

7. Triazolam (Halcion) A benzodiazepine which can be addictive, used to treat insomnia. Halcion is 8.7 times more likely to be linked with violence than other drugs, according to the study.

6) Atomoxetine (Strattera) Used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Strattera affects the neurotransmitter noradrenaline and is 9 times more likely to be linked with violence compared to the average medication.

5) Mefoquine (Lariam) A treatment for malaria, Lariam has long been linked with reports of bizarre behavior. It is 9.5 times more likely to be linked with violence than other drugs.

4) Amphetamines: (Various) Amphetamines are used to treat ADHD and affect the brain’s dopamine and noradrenaline systems. They are 9.6 times more likely to be linked to violence, compared to other drugs.

Read in Full:


SSRI Stories
Antidepressant Nightmares
“We Speak for the Dead to Protect the Living”


Early signs of autism detected at six months

© Sebastian Kaulitzki – Fotolia.com

Early signs of autism detected at six months


Different brain responses found

Fri 27 Jan, 2012 12:00 am GMT

Early signs of autism can be detected in babies as young as six months old, according to new research.


A study found that babies who go on to develop autism show different brain responses when someone looks at them or looks away.


The scientists, from Birbeck College London, said that measuring brain activity in infants may help identify infants most at risk of developing autism, so they can be helped at an earlier age.


There are more than half a million people in the UK with autism, a lifelong developmental condition which affects how someone communicates and interacts with other people.


Currently, a diagnosis of autism in children is not made until after the age of two, when behavioural signs linked to the condition are more apparent.


The research team looked for early signs of the disorder in 104 infants aged between six and 10 months old. Half of the infants were known to be at higher risk of developing autism because they had an older brother or sister with the condition, and the remaining half were used as a control group for comparison.


It’s already known that older children with autism can show different patterns of eye contact and brain responses when interacting with people.


So the scientists placed sensors on the babies scalps to monitor brain activity while they looked at pictures of faces that switched from looking at them to looking away from them.

Read in Full:


Anxiety, other disorders more common in autism

By Genevra Pittman

NEW YORK | Mon Jan 23, 2012 2:13am EST


(Reuters Health) – Autism tends to go hand in hand with a variety of other mental and behavioral conditions in kids, suggests a new study that highlights the fuzzy nature of autism diagnoses themselves.


Researchers said that other disorders that often go along with autism — such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or learning disabilities — may complicate the diagnosis, or slow down any improvement in kids who do get diagnosed and treated early.

“The most important message that (the study) underscores is that these children tend to have multiple disabilities, not just autism,” said Johnny Matson, who studies autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disabilities at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge but wasn’t involved in the new research.

Dr. Andrew Zimmerman from Massachusetts General Hospital for Children in Lexington and his colleagues found that the conditions they typically saw occurring together with an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis varied depending on the age of the child.

Learning disabilities were more common in the youngest kids with an autism spectrum disorder, while anxiety, speech problems and seizures were more often seen in elementary school kids and teens.

The study also found that one-third of kids who had ever been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder no longer had the diagnosis at the time their parents were surveyed.

The researchers note in their report, published in Pediatrics, that past studies have also found that some kids who originally have an autism spectrum disorder eventually lose that diagnosis and are no longer considered autistic.

Whether that’s due to a mistaken first diagnosis or actual changes in kids’ brains and behaviors is controversial.

Read in Full:


New Definition of Autism Will Exclude Many, Study Suggests



Proposed changes in the definition of autism would sharply reduce the skyrocketing rate at which the disorder is diagnosed and might make it harder for many people who would no longer meet the criteria to get health, educational and social services, a new analysis suggests.

The definition is now being reassessed by an expert panel appointed by the American Psychiatric Association, which is completing work on the fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the first major revision in 17 years. The D.S.M., as the manual is known, is the standard reference for mental disorders, driving research, treatment and insurance decisions. Most experts expect that the new manual will narrow the criteria for autism; the question is how sharply.

Read in Full:


Psychiatric Group Push to Redefine Mental Illness Sparks Revolt

January 27, 2012, 10:41 AM EST

By Elizabeth Lopatto

Jan. 24 (Bloomberg) — An effort that promises to broaden the definitions of mental illnesses is spurring a revolt among health-care professionals in the U.S. and the U.K.

A panel appointed by the American Psychiatric Association is proposing changes to the industry’s guide for mental illnesses, which determines how patients are diagnosed and treated, and whether insurers pay for care. The new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is scheduled to be published next year.

The draft is sparking a backlash among practitioners concerned the expanding mandate will increase the number of patients treated with drugs. The guide would loosen diagnostic criteria on some existing ailments and brand as mental disorders some common behaviors, including having temper tantrums three times a week or a lack of sexual arousal. The changes may spur unneeded and dangerous treatment of the healthy, said Allen Frances, a psychiatrist who helped write the current guidelines.

“Everyday disappointments, sufferings and eccentricities are being redefined as psychiatric disorders, and that could lead to medication treatment,” said Frances, a professor emeritus at Duke University who lives in San Diego, California. “This is expanding the boundaries of psychiatry.”

In many cases, family doctors will use the new definitions to treat patients, Frances said by telephone. Pressure from drugmakers to use medications can combine with media representations to create “an epidemic,” he said. “Once primary care doctors and patients have the idea that they saw a certain condition on TV, it becomes real.”

‘Medicalizing Normality’

Darrel Regier, the psychiatric group’s research director, characterized critics as being unconvinced medical treatment is better than counseling. The idea of “medicalizing normality comes from a perspective that there are no psychiatric disorders, and you need to avoid stigmatizing people by giving them one,” he said in a telephone interview.

An Oct. 22 letter critical of the changes, sponsored by units of the American Psychological Association in Washington, was signed by more than 10,800 people, including psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, and community activists. The British Psychological Association, based in Leicester, England, sent a similar letter in June 2011.

The letters identify changes such as the one affecting ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, a long- identified illness that involves hyperactive people who have difficulty staying focused and controlling behavior, according to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

ADHD Changes

In the present manual, a diagnosis for ADHD requires six symptoms to be identified in adults, including some present before age 7. The new manual requires only four to be identified and the disorder no longer must present itself in childhood.

Read More …


Gary McKinnon

Gary McKinnon

The High Court has expressed concern over how long it is taking the case of computer hacker Gary McKinnon to come back to court.

Two judges attempted to speed matters up by listing it for a hearing in July.

They acted after hearing that Home Secretary Theresa May is “considering afresh” whether Asperger’s sufferer McKinnon should be extradited to the US to face trial for hacking into military computers in 2002.

Edward Fitzgerald QC, appearing for McKinnon, told the judges it was hoped Mrs May would now block extradition so there would be no more need for court action. He said medical evidence before her showed McKinnon, 45, was “suffering from a serious mental disorder and there is a serious risk of suicide if extradited”.

Glasgow-born McKinnon, now of Wood Green, north London, admits hacking but claims he was looking for evidence of UFOs.

His mother Janis Sharp recently called for him to be tried in Britain. She said he was facing his tenth Christmas since his arrest and suffering severe depression amid predictions he could be jailed for 60 years in America.

Arrested in 2005, an order for his extradition was made in July 2006 under the 2003 Extradition Act. That triggered three successive applications for judicial review and questions about the fairness of the UK-US extradition treaty, which critics claim is “one-sided”.

Lord Justice Richards, sitting with Mr Justice Cranston, said the case had been “dragging on for a very long time” and could not be allowed to do so indefinitely.

Hugo Keith QC, appearing for Mrs May, said the delays were caused by the change of government, the new home secretary’s decision to look at the case and difficulties in gathering new psychiatric evidence.

He said: “She does acknowledge the very considerable lapse of time already passed in this case. She will, of course, immediately turn to considering her position when these representations have been received.”


Hearing set for July in hacking extradition case


Judges have set a date for July to hear the case of Gary McKinnon who the US wants extradited for breaching US military security.

The judges are attempting to speed up the process of deciding Mr McKinnon’s fate, which has been dragging on since his arrest in June 2005 for hacking into top secret US military computers in 2002.

The case has thus far proved highly controversial because Mr McKinnon suffers from Asperger’s and is said to be a potential suicide risk if extradited and jailed in the US.

Instead, his mother Janis Sharp wants him to be tried and “given a proportional sentence” in the UK. 

The case is currently being considered by the home secretary Theresa May, but Lord Justice Richards said he needed to fix a date “to concentrate minds”.

He told the Telegraph: “[The case] would just drag on indefinitely [without a date being set], allowing the secretary of state an indefinite period for further decision-making.”


Gary’s supporters mark ‘decade of torment’ with visit to Downing Street 10 years after his arrest

  • *Gary McKinnon’s family battling against his extradition after he hacked into Nasa and Pentagon
  • *Doctors warned Aspergers sufferer could kill himself if extradited to the U.S.

Last updated at 10:47 AM on 8th February 2012

Gary McKinnon’s supporters meet at 10 Downing Street today to mark a’nightmare’ decade since his arrest for computer hacking.

His family have been battling against extradition after the Asperger’s sufferer hacked into NASA and Pentagon computers looking for evidence of aliens.

The Americans are demanding Gary be extradited despite medical experts warning he could kill himself if sent to the U.S.

His mother Janis Sharp said last night:’Ten years have gone by and still Gary lives in a nightmare world – unable to control the terror that consumes his every waking moment.

‘This endless pressure on an Aspergic man with severe mental health issues is barbaric. And for what?

‘A foolish act that has caused embarrassment to the US.

‘Where has our sense of proportion gone?’

Mrs Sharp will be handing in poems at Downing Street received after Gary’s supporters set up the Poetic Justice Campaign marking his ten years of’fear and torment.’

Mrs Sharp, who will be joined by long-time supporter Trudie Styler, Gary’s MP David Burrowes, former Tory shadow Home Secretary David Davis and Lord Maginnis said: ‘In March David Cameron is visiting President Obama to discuss our “ special relationship”. What an opportunity for our PM to finally announce an end to Gary’s ordeal.‘This act alone would prove that the “special relationship” has true meaning and is one of mutual respect.’ 

Read in Full:


McKinnon lives in ‘nightmare world’

London computer hacker Gary McKinnon is “unable to control the terror that consumes his every waking moment” as he fights extradition to the US, his mother has said.

Janis Sharp said the treatment of her son, who admits hacking into military computers but claims he was looking for evidence of UFOs, was “barbaric”. She urged Prime Minister David Cameron to raise the issue with US president Barack Obama when the two leaders meet at the White House next month.

Ms Sharp said: “10 years have gone by and still Gary lives in a nightmare world – unable to control the terror that consumes his every waking moment. This endless pressure on an Aspergic man with severe mental health issues is barbaric. And for what? A foolish act that caused embarrassment to the US. Where has our sense of proportion gone?”

The High Court expressed concern over how long McKinnon’s case was taking to return to court last month, with two judges listing the case for July in a bid to speed matters up.

They acted after hearing that Home Secretary Theresa May is “considering afresh” whether Asperger’s sufferer McKinnon should be extradited to the US to face trial for hacking into military computers in 2002. Ms Sharp was speaking ahead of meeting supporters outside Number 10 on Wednesday to hand over poems of support for her son to mark the 10th anniversary of his first arrest.

She said: “In March David Cameron is visiting President Obama to discuss our ‘special relationship’. What an opportunity for our PM to finally announce an end to Gary’s 10-year ordeal.This act alone would prove that the ‘special relationship’ has true meaning and is one of mutual respect.”

Read in Full:

Previous Updates

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


Disability rights campaigners blocked Regent Street in central London on Saturday in a protest over welfare reform.


Protesters chained their wheelchairs together across the road, bringing traffic to a standstill on one of the capital’s busiest shopping streets.

They told Sky News they felt they were being ignored by the Government over changes to disability allowance, which they claim will directly disadvantage vulnerable people.

One wheelchair user, Andy, 37, from Islington, said: “The whole raft of cuts that are being carried through will affect all of the services that support disabled people – public services, social care, the voluntary sector.
“To reform one would have a big impact, but reforming them all is going to be devastating for those who depend on them.”

He added: “The Welfare Reform Bill does nothing to address the real issues facing disabled people. There is high unemployment already, problems with lack of access, workplace discrimination and a lack of pre and in-work support. Disabled people are already at the end of their tether.”

Disabled activists had travelled from across the UK to take part in the protest and members of direct action group UK Uncut campaigned alongside them in solidarity.

Josie McDermot, from the group, said: “The Welfare Reform Bill is cruel and unnecessary, and this protest is an essential way to persuade the Government to scrap their plans.

“It is great to be part of such a broad and powerful campaign against the Welfare Reform Bill and to keep building the pressure that has already been piled on with the Spartacus report.

“It is typical bully tactics by the Government to force marginalised people in society to pay for the economic downturn, while letting bonuses run wild and rich companies continue tax-dodging to the tune of £25bn.”

The Welfare Reform Bill , which is currently going through Parliament, would see the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) replaced next year with a new entitlement called Personal Independence Payments (PIP).

The changes would involve upfront medical tests and regular assessments for working people aged 16 to 24.

The Government says it will reform an outdated benefit and make the system simpler and fairer, but campaigners claim it could mean 500,000 people losing their allowance and some single disabled people in cities like London being left with as little as £25 a week after paying their rent.

Multiple gold medal-winning paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson said the protest highlighted the “real fear” among disabled people about their future.

“The changes to disability allowance has left an awful lot of people feeling very frightened. It would be great if we didn’t need that benefit but it is there because of the cost of being disabled,” she said.
“People need a little bit more help in terms of getting to work and around the house and I think we’ve got a long way to go before we have a system that works for everybody.”

“The Government’s own figures have said that half a million people could lose out when they are being transferred from DLA to PIP. We just need greater clarity about who those people are and how they are going to be affected.”

The Government said the coalition is “absolutely committed” to supporting the disabled and pointed out that any households where someone received DLA would be exempt from the benefit cap.

A spokesman insisted the reforms would mean that “disabled adults in greatest need and severely disabled children will receive more support than now”.

The protesters moved off of their own accord after a couple of hours but warned they would be back and would do whatever it takes to stop the reforms being implemented.


Johnstown, Pennsylvania

Autreat is a retreat-style conference run by Autism Network International
(http://www.ani.ac), for autistic people and our families, friends,
supporters, and interested professionals. We are accepting presentation
proposals for Autreat 2012, to be held Monday-Friday, July 2-6, 2012, in
Johnstown, Pennsylvania (approximately 75 miles from the nearest major
airport at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania).



If you want to submit a proposal but you have trouble reading these
instructions and putting your proposal in the requested format, contact
proposals2012@autreat.com (proposals -at- autreat.com) for help. Please
send only plain text messages, with no attachments.


Autreat is very different from typical autism conferences:



Parents and professionals do attend, and most who attend find the
presentations to be of interest, but Autreat is basically autistic space.

Be sure your information is being presented in a manner that is both
helpful to and respectful of autistic people.

We expect that you will be speaking *to* us, not speaking to non-autistic
people *about* us.

We are interested in presentations, by either autistic or non-autistic
people, about POSITIVE WAYS OF LIVING WITH AUTISM, about functioning as
autistic people in a neurotypical world, and about the disability movement
and its significance for autistic people.

We are interested in educational and informative presentations, not in
sales pitches for a presenter’s products or services. If you are
representing a commercial enterprise and would like a forum to sell
products or services at Autreat, please contact exhibitors (at)
autreat.com for information about attending Autreat as a vendor.

We are *not* interested in presentations about how to cure, prevent, or
overcome autism.

We do *not* appreciate having non-autistic people come into our space to
talk to each other about how difficult we are to deal with, or how heroic
they are for putting up with us.

If your presentation is geared toward the interests of parents or
professionals, it should focus on positive ways of appreciating and
supporting autistic people, not on reinforcing negative attitudes about
autism and autistic people.



Autreat is attended by autistic people who speak and by autistic people
who do not speak;

by autistic people who communicate fluently and by autistic people who
have limited communication;

by autistic people who live independently and by autistic people who need
intensive support with daily living;

by autistic people who have jobs and by autistic people who live on
disability benefits;

by autistic people who are able to present as “socially acceptable” and by
autistic people who require support to help them manage their behavior;

by autistic people who have been labeled “high-functioning” and by
autistic people who have been labeled “low-functioning”-including some
autistic people who have had *both* labels, at different times or under
different circumstances.

While it is not expected that any one presentation will be of interest to
each and every autistic person, we do look for presentations that will
appeal to the widest possible audience.

We are *not* interested in presentations that reinforce what we consider
to be artificial distinctions between members of our community who are
labeled “low-” vs.”high-functioning.”


Be aware that everyone at Autreat either knows what it’s like to be
autistic, or knows what it’s like to care about someone who is autistic.

All of us have our own personal stories. Presentations about the
presenters’ personal stories are not going to generate much interest,
unless you’re able to use your story in a way that will help other people
to share and understand their own experiences in a new way.

Your proposal should describe what participants can expect to get out of
your presentation, not just what personal experiences you’re going to talk


Please review the ANI web site (http://www.ani.ac) and the past Autreat
brochures (http://www.autreat.com/past-workshops.htm) to make sure you
understand ANI’s philosophy and what Autreat is about.

If you have never attended Autreat before, you may wish to consider
attending first, before submitting a proposal to give a presentation. In
our experience, presentations usually get more positive feedback when
presenters have some familiarity with Autreat and its participants before
they give presentations there. Active participation in ANI’s online
community, and attendance at other self-advocacy events run by and for
autistic people, are other good ways to get a feel for how Autreat is
different from typical autism conferences. If you wish to submit a
proposal and you’ve never been to Autreat before, please give us as much
information as possible about your past experience with other autistic-run
activities and events.


If you submit a proposal, we expect you to be available to attend Autreat
if we accept your proposal, and to give your presentation on the day and
time scheduled. We make every effort to accommodate presenters’
preferences in setting the Autreat schedule, but it is not always possible
to give every presenter his or her preferred time slot.

Presenters are expected to send advance copies of any handouts or slides
they plan to use, so that we can prepare alternate format copies for
print-impaired attendees.

Presenters are expected to consent for their presentations to be recorded,
and for the recordings to be sold by Autism Network International.

Presenters are invited to attend all of Autreat. If presenters opt not to
attend the entire event, they are expected to arrive on-site by 8:30 a.m.
for afternoon presentations, and to arrive the night before for morning

Please be prepared to meet these expectations if you decide to submit a

Presenters are also encouraged to submit an article on their topic for
inclusion in the program book. Like handouts and visual aids, articles
need to be submitted in a timely manner so we can prepare copies in
alternate formats.


Individual Autreat presenters receive free registration for Autreat,
including on-site meals and lodging in a shared (2-person) room. (A
private room may be available at the presenter’s own expense.) This free
registration is for the presenter *only*, not for a presenter’s family
members or support staff.

In the case of panel presentations consisting of three or more presenters,
we offer one complete four-day Autreat registration, plus a single-day
registration (including three meals and one overnight, if desired) for
each additional panelist. Therefore, a panel of X presenters is entitled
to a total of 4+(X-1) free days/overnights. Panelists may divide these
free days amongst their members as they wish. Panel presenters are of
course welcome to register and stay for additional days if they wish.

ANI is a volunteer-run, member-supported grassroots organization with
minimal funding. We cannot reimburse for off-site expenses, nor can we pay
travel expenses or honoraria. If your proposal is accepted, we will send
you a formal letter of invitation if this would help you in raising your
own travel funds.

Presenters are entitled to receive one free copy of the recording of their


* Your name and title (if any) exactly as you want them listed in program
materials should your proposal be accepted

* Contact information (address, phone, fax and/or email if you have them)

* Title of your proposed presentation

* Detailed description for consideration by the Planning Committee

* Brief (5 sentences or less) abstract exactly as you want it listed in
program materials should your proposal be accepted

* Indicate ONE theme that BEST relates to your proposed presentation:

[ ] Advocacy skills
[ ] Life skills/adaptive strategies
[ ] Helpful support services
[ ] Communication
[ ] Social/interpersonal issues
[ ] Personal/self-awareness/self-development issues
[ ] Autistic community and culture
[ ] Education
[ ] Employment
[ ] Family issues
[ ] Residential issues
[ ] Disability rights and politics
[ ] Autism research and theory
[ ] Other (describe):

* Indicate which group(s) you believe would find your proposed
presentation of interest. Check as many as apply. Briefly describe what
your presentation would offer to each group:

[ ] Autistic adults
[ ] Autistic teenagers
[ ] Family members of autistic people
[ ] Educators
[ ] Clinicians
[ ] Service providers
[ ] Other (specify):

* Brief (5 sentences or less) presenter bio exactly as you want it listed
in program materials should your proposal be accepted

* Any audiovisual equipment you would need for your presentation

If you have never presented at Autreat before, please also include an
introduction for the Planning Committee summarizing your relevant
experience, including any presentations or other education/advocacy
activities elsewhere, and the nature of your interest in autism and/or in
general disability issues.




Proposals can be submitted via email to proposals2012@autreat.com
(proposals2012 -at- autreat.com), or submitted online at
http://www.ani.ac/aut12cfp.php or sent via postal mail to

Autism Network International
P.O. Box 35448
Syracuse NY 13235

When your proposal is received via the online form, you will be sent a
brief acknowledgment confirming that we have received your proposal. If
you have not received this confirmation within 48 hours of submitting your
proposal, then we may not have received your proposal! If you haven’t
received confirmation within 48 hours, please write to
proposals2012@autreat.com (proposals2012 -at- autreat.com) and let us
know. Please save a copy of your proposal, so you can resend it if



If you want to make suggestions for Autreat presentations, or make
comments about previous presentations or presenters, please fill out the
questionnaire available at http://www.ani.ac/autplan2.php .


You can find a lot of general information, including a link to join the
Autreat Information mailing list, at http://www.autreat.com . If you have
specific questions and can’t find the answers on the web page, you may
send email to info (at) autreat.com.