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December 2014



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Archive for December 8th, 2014


Dr Elisabeth Hurley, Research Officer at Autism West Midlands, will co-chair the NAS conference ‘Women and Girls on the Autism Spectrum’ in October. In the following article, she outlines some of the issues to be addressed at the conference. 

Dr Hurley has delivered a number of workshops and conference talks on women and girls with autism. She has also recently produced the book Ultraviolet Voices: Stories of Women on the Autism Spectrum, a collection of personal experiences written by women and girls with autism. 

That there are on average four or five times as many boys with autism than girls,1 is a commonly used statistic when it comes to autism. But when you dig deeper this statistic turns out to be much more complicated and reveals some interesting possibilities to consider when thinking about girls with autism.


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The National Autistic Society has pledged support for the Justice for LB Bill. 
The campaign for the Bill was set up following the death in hospital of Connor Sparrowhawk – also known as Laughing Boy (LB).
Connor had autism and epilepsy, which sometimes caused seizures, but his family describe him as “generally a fit and healthy young man, who loved buses, London, Eddie Stobart and speaking his mind”.
On March 19 2013, he was admitted to an assessment and treatment unit – a type of hospital. He drowned in the bath on July 4 2013, a death which has been described as “entirely avoidable”’ as his condition meant he should have been supervised.
His story alongside other stories of people with a disability being moved out of their homes into unsuitable accommodation, led to the setting up of the Justice For LB campaign.
Organisers of the campaign have written a draft law which would give clearer legal rights to people with complex needs to have greater choice and control over where they live.
The law also seeks to ensure that local councils develop better support locally so people do not have to live far away from their families and the communities they know.
It further looks to amend the Mental Health Act so that having autism is not in itself a reason to be sectioned.


The campaign is seeking comments on the first draft of their Bill and we will be feeding our thoughts into the draft Bill setting out how we think it should be improved. They are also encouraging individuals, MP, members of the House of Lords and organisations to pledge their support.


To find out more, to comment on the draft and to pledge your support, see: https://lbbill.wordpress.com/





by: Mary E. Stewart, Louise Barnard, Joanne Pearson, Reem Hasan, Gregory O’Brien


Autism, Vol. 10, No. 1. (1 January 2006), pp. 103-116, doi:10.1177/1362361306062013  Key: citeulike:12220121



Depression is common in autism and Asperger syndrome, but despite this, there has been little research into this issue. This review considers the current literature on the prevalence, presentation, treatment and assessment of depression in autism and Asperger syndrome. There are diagnostic difficulties when considering depression in autism and Asperger syndrome, as the characteristics of these disorders, such as social withdrawal and appetite and sleep disturbance, are also core symptoms of depression. Impaired verbal and non-verbal communication can mask the symptoms of depression. Symptoms associated with autism and Asperger syndrome such as obsessionality and self-injury may be increased during an episode of depression. There is a clear need to develop specific tools both for diagnostic purposes and for measurement of depression in autism and Asperger syndrome in order to help alleviate the distress caused by this treatable illness.


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by: Jinah Kim, Tony Wigram, Christian Gold


Autism, Vol. 13, No. 4. (1 July 2009), pp. 389-409, doi:10.1177/1362361309105660  Key: citeulike:5393385




Through behavioural analysis, this study investigated the social-motivational aspects of musical interaction between the child and the therapist in improvisational music therapy by measuring emotional, motivational and interpersonal responsiveness in children with autism during joint engagement episodes. The randomized controlled study (n = 10) employed a single subject comparison design in two different conditions, improvisational music therapy and toy play sessions, and DVD analysis of sessions. Improvisational music therapy produced markedly more and longer events of `joy’, `emotional synchronicity’ and `initiation of engagement’ behaviours in the children than toy play sessions. In response to the therapist’s interpersonal demands, `compliant (positive) responses’ were observed more in music therapy than in toy play sessions, and `no responses’ were twice as frequent in toy play sessions as in music therapy. The results of this exploratory study found significant evidence supporting the value of music therapy in promoting social, emotional and motivational development in children with autism. 


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In the play (and movie) "Steel Magnolias," the character, Shelby, sits in a beauty salon chair while others discuss her medical condition. Autistic people often report this same type of treatment from those around them.


In the play (and movie) “Steel Magnolias,” the character, Shelby, sits in a beauty salon chair while others discuss her medical condition. Autistic people often report this same type of treatment from those around them.
Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images




December 1, 2014


In the movie, Steel Magnolias, Shelby, following a reaction to an excess of insulin, struggles to blurt out the sentence, “Don’t talk about me like I’m not here!”


Autism Speaks controversial video, “Autism Every Day” features a scene where a mother briefly discusses committing suicide in her car with her autistic daughter. The girl is seen playing in the background as she says this.


It would seem impolite to talk about someone when they are standing within earshot, yet autistics experience this behavior on a regular basis.


In today’s world, a quick assessment of a person’s intelligence is often made on the basis of social skills.


Failure to respond in a “typical” way is equated with a failure to understand.


Autistics at every level of the spectrum can understand. Some with exceptionally high I.Q.s may understand a situation better than the person who is speaking to them.


They, simply, do not know how to respond.


A condition such as selective mutism, or apraxia of speech might be behind this failure to respond. A person with Asperger’s syndrome might be able to respond, but is reluctant to do so due to past social failures.


Non-verbal autistics who communicate with keyboards will report understanding what was being said around them, including being called “damaged” or a “burden.”


Many in the autistic community would call this a form of discrimination.


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Sara Krulwich/The New York Times


Tim Teeman


Alex Sharp is 25, fresh out of Juilliard, and suddenly the hottest star on Broadway, receiving raves for his role in ‘The Curious Case of The Dog In The Night-Time.’

If Alex Sharp is in the middle of a “dream come true,” as he puts it, he is also suffering for it. When the 25-year-old British star of Broadway hit The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time takes his seat in the midtown Manhattan restaurant what is immediately apparent is the mauve-colored bandage covering Sharp’s left palm and wrist.
His Broadway debut has been universally acclaimed, and audiences electrified, by his performance as Christopher, a 15-year-old English teenager with Asperger’s syndrome, who discovers a neighbor’s dead dog, and becomes determined to discover how it died.
The words “Asperger’s” and “autism” are never mentioned in Simon Stephens’ brilliant adaptation of Mark Haddon’s 2003 novel, in which the audience is plunged, like Christopher, into a world of clashing sounds, images, and movement.
Bunny Christie’s stage design—a stunning matrix of lights, tracks, maps, and grids—means Curious Incident is, as the New York Times’ rave review put it, “one of the most fully immersive works ever to wallop Broadway.”
The injuries are the inevitable result of Sharp’s deeply committed performance: in Marianne Elliott’s enveloping production, he clambers, jumps, leaps, crouches, literally throws himself around a stage that convincingly transforms from an English suburban street, to high-speed train, a terrifying London Underground station, and the teeming, jostling streets of the British capital.
All the time Sharp, wittily and movingly, takes us inside Christopher’s mind, as it struggles to impose order—and keep its owner safe—as the world around him clatters and moves. He cogitates maths problems, and sees things absolutely literally, in a world that is far from orderly and layered with meanings we are all too aware of.


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Raising Three Children W/ Disabilities Alone

by JTeam  |  Posted December 6, 2014  |  Chatham, Illinois


You think raising one special needs child can be hard. I am a single father who worked full time and raised three boys with three different disabilities. While I got divorced when the kids were 8 and 11, it was not because of their disabilities that we divorced but my wife’s mental condition that was getting worse.



My oldest son (r) has Angelman Syndrome, can’t communicate with his voice or hands, sleeps 8 hours in a 36 hour day, can’t stand on his own, feed himself, dress himself and has seizures. He is now in a group home because I locked him in his room at night for his own safety and the state felt that it was a danger to him and offered to pay for his care in a group home if I wouldn’t fight it.



The son in the middle has Autism. He can talk but most of his words are “scripted” or “parroting” what he had heard. When he was younger, he would have violent outbursts clearing off tables, shelves and hitting himself. But with patience, I have taught him how to deal with the things in life that would trigger these outbursts. He would leave the house and run off to do his own things which I also addressed and he no longer does.



And my youngest son (l) had Asperger’s Syndrome which is a social disorder in the Autistic Spectrum.. I say had because through my putting him into social situations and many discussions, we have worked on his issues and while he still has concerns about social situations, he is in college, living in a dorm and seems to be doing very well. Not a social butterfly but he has made some friends.


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