Music for Autism – Orchestrating Stronger Lives

Music for Autism is enhancing quality of life and raising public awareness through autism-friendly, interactive concerts developed specifically for individuals with autism and their families. The concerts, held in the United States and the United Kingdom, feature professional musicians, including Tony Award winners, Grammy-nominated classical artists, and Pulitzer Prize winners. To ensure equal access for all, every Music for Autism concert is fully subsidized. Families note that the concerts help fill a major psychosocial void, enabling them to enjoy enriching activities that are inclusive and to experience the joy and power of music as a family.

Washington Post: Autistic boy allegedly abused by two girls in St. Mary’s considered them friends, mom says

By Ian Shapira and Dana Hedgpeth, Published: March 12
He thought they were his friends.The 16-year-old autistic boy allegedly assaulted by two teenage girls in Southern Maryland is perplexed by the criminal charges they are facing and even considers one of them his girlfriend, according to the boy’s mother. “He doesn’t appear to be traumatized. He thinks these girls are his friends and is surprised the police are involved,” said his mother, who works for a local health department. “But I am glad they are investigating. I am glad someone brought this out.”

The Post is not naming the mother to protect the identity of the victim, who is a minorNews of the criminal charges in mostly rural St. Mary’s County has rippled across the Internet, creating a furor. Police said the two girls — ages 17 and 15 — assaulted the boy repeatedly between December and February and used their cellphones to record the attacks. The videos allegedly show them holding a knife to the victim’s throat, forcing him to perform various sexual acts, kicking him in the groin and dragging him around by his hair. Continue reading Washington Post: Autistic boy allegedly abused by two girls in St. Mary’s considered them friends, mom says

NYT Magazine: Reaching My Autistic Son Through Disney


In our first year in Washington, our son disappeared.

Just shy of his 3rd birthday, an engaged, chatty child, full of typical speech — “I love you,” “Where are my Ninja Turtles?” “Let’s get ice cream!” — fell silent. He cried, inconsolably. Didn’t sleep. Wouldn’t make eye contact. His only word was “juice.”

I had just started a job as The Wall Street Journal’s national affairs reporter. My wife, Cornelia, a former journalist, was home with him — a new story every day, a new horror. He could barely use a sippy cup, though he’d long ago graduated to a big-boy cup. He wove about like someone walking with his eyes shut. “It doesn’t make sense,” I’d say at night. “You don’t grow backward.” Had he been injured somehow when he was out of our sight, banged his head, swallowed something poisonous? It was like searching for clues to a kidnapping.

After visits to several doctors, we first heard the word “autism.” Later, it would be fine-tuned to “regressive autism,” now affecting roughly a third of children with the disorder. Unlike the kids born with it, this group seems typical until somewhere between 18 and 36 months — then they vanish. Some never get their speech back. Families stop watching those early videos, their child waving to the camera. Too painful. That child’s gone.

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Parent Tips: Competing in the Autism Olympics

By Shelly McLaughlin, Director of Communications, Pathfinders for Autism

Marathon movie watching
Today’s technology has really enhanced this sport. Long gone are the days when you had to visit a video store and then return your movie – REWOUND – within a certain time period. Or harken back to the Stone Age, back when you had to wait for a movie to come to theaters, and once it was gone, it was GONE FOREVER. Now, you can download your favorite movie of the moment to your mobile device and carry it with you 24/7. My son is on his 83rd consecutive hour of “Weird Science.”

Directionless fast walking
This activity requires more cardio stamina than previously credited. This pacing-related movement also necessitates a great deal of mental endurance as I believe that it is during this time that solutions to the world’s problems and life-altering inventions are being formulated.

LEGO® building
Seriously, how is this NOT an Olympic event??? It calls for the precision of biathlon shooting, the creativity of slopestyle, the beauty of ice dancing, and the swiftness of speed skating. Lego building also includes the risk of serious injury like downhill skiing from stepping on a LEGO® brick.  Continue reading Parent Tips: Competing in the Autism Olympics

“Avonte’s Law” Looks to Fund Tracking Devices for Children with Autism

New York (January 26, 2014) – U.S Senator Charles Schumer today at a Press Conference in NYC announced new legislation called “Avonte’s Law” that will look to start and fund programs to provide voluntary tracking devices for families with children with autism. “Avonte’s Law” was named after Avonte Oquendo, a 14-year-old boy with autism from Queens who bolted from his Long Island City school on October 4, 2013 . Last week Avonte’s body was found in the East River in Queens.

Those who attended the press conference with Senator Schumer included Avonte’s mother Vanessa Fontaine, grandmother Doris McCoy, their Attorney David Perecman, and Executive Vice President of Strategic Communations at Autism Speaks Michael Rosen. In addition, Michael had his son Nicky with him who’s 26 and on the autism spectrum.

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Jan Wintrol – Washingtonian of the Year: Leading the Way in Autism Education


[from the Washingtonian] Kids come to Ivymount from 11 local jurisdictions—and often have been bullied. The education plans they’re required to follow are based on a variety of emotional and educational needs, and no two are the same. One-on-one attention and data tracking to evaluate programs are of the utmost importance to Wintrol. Some students attend Ivymount for a short time before they’re mainstreamed; others stay till they’re 21. Those 16 and older do community work so they can develop skills that might help them land jobs once they leave.

Students and graduates who can are working—helping with hospitality and security at NIH, tracking down delinquent tax revenue for Montgomery County, labeling ice-cream containers at Moorenko’s warehouse. “They have to live in the community,” Wintrol says. “They can’t stay in the Ivymount bubble forever.”

The school’s programs aren’t kept in the Ivymount bubble, either. Staff does outreach to teachers and families, and in the next few years a program at the historic Stevens School in DC’s Foggy Bottom will train local special-education teachers.

Some people who hear about Ivymount tell Jan Wintrol she’s a saint, but she says, “It’s not magic, just a lot of hard work.”

In the ‘silent prison’ of autism, Ido speaks out

The high school student’s ‘Ido in Autismland’ is part memoir and part protest, a compelling message to educators on how to teach people such as him.

By Thomas Curwen, LA Times, 8:00 AM PST, December 21, 2013

I  t-h-i-n-k …

Ido Kedar sits at the dining room table of his West Hills home. He fidgets in his chair, slouched over an iPad, typing. He hunts down each letter. Seconds pass between the connections.

… A-u-t-i-s-m-l-a-n-d …

He coined the word, his twist on Alice’s Wonderland.

“C’mon,” says his mother, Tracy. “Sit up and just finish it, Ido. Let’s go.”

He touches a few more keys, and then, with a slight robotic twang, the iPad reads the words he cannot speak.

I think Autismland is a surreal place.

For most of his life, Ido has listened to educators and experts explain what’s wrong with him. Now he wants to tell them that they had it all wrong.

Last year, at the age of 16, he published “Ido in Autismland.” The book — part memoir, part protest — has made him a celebrity in the autism world, a young activist eager to defy popular assumptions about a disorder that is often associated with mental deficiency.

He hopes that the world will one day recognize the intelligence that lies behind the walls of his “silent prison,” behind the impulsivity and lack of self-control.

I want people to know that I have an intact mind.

Yet Ido gets nervous easily and likes to retreat to his room or to a cooking program on television. At one point, after answering a few questions, he steps outside to pace beside the family swimming pool.

He plucks a rose and puts its petals into his mouth.

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“What Causes Autism?”

Saturday, September 28, 2103, 10am – 12:00pm

Towson University presents An integrated approach towards understanding what causes autism.

Dr. Valerie Hu is a Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, DC as well as a mother of a son with ASD.

Dr. Hu will discuss the multiple factors contributing to autism which require the integration of the different types of large-scale genomics studies in order to develop a better understanding of the underlying pathobiology as well as the sex bias in autism. This comprehensive level of understanding is critical to the development of novel treatments that are based on correcting specific deficiencies in different individuals with ASD. She will also stress the need to focus studies on subgroups of individuals with similar symptomatic and behavioral profiles in order to tailor treatment strategies to specific individuals or subtypes of ASD.

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