A school district that takes the isolation out of autism

The family of the autistic teen in this New York Times story moved from Tennessee  to Madison, Wis., because Madison is known for including children with autism in mainstream classrooms.

Madison, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., and Clark County, Nev, are the three districts nationally recognized for including children with disabilities in regular classes, the head of the Urban Special Education Leadership Collaborative told the newspaper.

MADISON, Wis. — Garner Moss has autism and when he was finishing fifth grade, his classmates made a video about him, so the new students he would meet in the bigger middle school would know what to expect. His friend Sef Vankan summed up Garner this way: “He puts a little twist in our lives we don’t usually have without him.”

People with autism are often socially isolated, but the Madison public schools are nationally known for including children with disabilities in regular classes. Now, as a high school junior, Garner, 17, has added his little twist to many lives.

via On Education – A School District That Takes the Isolation Out of Autism – NYTimes.com.

College students with Asperger’s; Teach independence in high school

Education of autistic students and preparing them for life after school were the big topics at the National Autism Conference at Penn State last week. More than 2,000 teachers, people with autism, parents of autistic children and others attended the five-day Pennsylvania conference. One researcher told attendees that high school is the time to start teaching the independence needed for college and beyond.

Dr. Janet Graetz, assistant professor of human development and child studies at Oakland University in Michigan, presented a session on her study that followed 19 college students with Asperger’s syndrome.

Graetz found that students living with Asperger’s exercised less, had high anxiety levels and failed to take advantage of campus disability resources as the school year went on.

She stressed the importance of teaching independence in high school to students with disorders like Asperger’s syndrome.

“Students in high school must be taught self-advocacy,” Graetz said. “The best thing you can do for your student who is younger is to teach them about self-advocacy.”

via Autism Conference Held at Penn Stater

Autism Back-to-School: Autism at college

Some colleges have set up programs to assist autistic students.

Here are three universities that have set up three campus programs to assist students with autism:

At the University of Arizona, students with autism can register with The SALT Center, or The Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques Center. There, they receive monitoring and help with everything from planning and assistive technology to coursework.

Farleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey has a support program for students with Asperger’s syndrome.

The University of Alabama also offers a college transition program for autistic students.

via SALT Center.

Missouri severe autism day program opens

Tommy Ney, 21, rolled an exercise ball back and forth to his caregiver, Ed Calvin, on a recent Thursday afternoon at a physical therapy room in Maryland Heights.While it seemed so simple, the action brought a smile to the face of Tommy’s mother, Christy Ney, of Overland.

“I didn’t know what we’d do when Tommy graduated from SSD’s Neuwoehner School this spring,” Ney said. “He has severe autism, and his behaviors are too disruptive for him to be in a sheltered workshop or other day programs. But MAAP will give him a stimulating environment and consistency.”

Tommy will be one of the first three or four clients to participate in the new Midwest Adult Autism Project (MAAP) day program, set to open Sept. 13, in the headquarters of the Center for Head Injury Services, 11786 Westline Industrial Drive. They will attend the program from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. It can presently accommodate up to eight adults.

MAAP will provide individualized, stimulating physical activities and behavioral therapy for adults with severe austistic behaviors.

It will allow Tommy and others like him to remain in their homes, rather than being institutionalized, while providing a much-needed respite for their caregivers.

via Suburban Journals | News | Day program opens for those with severe autism.

New book, ‘Autism Tomorrow,’ helps parents guide autistic children into adulthood

Dr. Temple Grandin, Dr. Tony Attwood and 14 other autism experts contributed advice in a new book on facing adulthood with autism. The book, “Autism Tomorrow: The Complete Guide to Help Your Child Thrive in the Real World,” addresses independent living, employment, puberty, sexuality, bullying, social skills, communication, financial planning and more.

Autism Today, a leading autism spectrum disorder education and awareness organization, announced that the unique comprehensive book, “Autism Tomorrow, The Complete Guide to Help Your Child Thrive in the Real World,” is now available. The book is a compilation of advice from leading experts in autism spectrum disorders with each author adding valuable insight to help parents, care providers and educators guide children into adulthood.

via Essential New Book, ‘Autism Tomorrow’, Helps Children Transition into Adulthood.

Elgin’s Winfred Cooper honored as inspiration to teens with autism

Winfred Cooper of Elgin, Ill., was honored over the weekend by the HollyRod Foundation at a Los Angeles red-carpet event where Holly Robinson Peete said he is an inspiration to teens with autism. You may be one of the thousands of people who saw Cooper’s amazing touchdown at a high school football game last fall. He’s now in college in Elgin.

Calling him an inspiration to teens with autism, the HollyRod4kids Foundation honored Elgin’s Winfred Cooper with its Champion Award this past weekend.

The awards were given out at a large, celebrity-filled fundraising gala called DesignCare, held at billionaire businessman Ron Burkle’s estate in Beverly Hills.

After walking the red carpet into the party, Cooper, 19, and his father, Winfried, met several celebrities, including Marcus Allen, Sugar Ray Leonard and Samuel L. Jackson. They also spent time with the foundation’s founders, actress Holly Robinson Peete and NFL star Rodney Peete.

via Daily Herald | Elgin’s Winfred Cooper honored as inspiration to teens with autism.

Florida teen swims his way to 2011 Special Olympics in Greece

The sky is spitting an afternoon shower as Michael Tuason arrives for practice at the New Port Richey Rec Center pool with his mom. The tall, lanky teenager greets his waiting dad with a brief “hi,” then quickly strips to his bathing suit and tucks his black, shoulder-length hair under his navy blue cap.

Before long, the star of the Pasco Piranhas Special Olympics swim team is in the water, ready to go.

“How many?” Michael, 18, asks his coach, Rita Miller.

She barely gets out, “Give me 20,” before he’s off, swimming the freestyle and easily lapping the two other swimmers sharing the lane.

“Just look at him go,” Miller says, “He won’t stop till he’s done all 20 laps and then he’ll ask me again, ‘How many?’

“Now you see why he’s going to the World Games.”

via Autistic Pasco County teen swims his way to 2011 Special Olympics in Greece – St. Petersburg Times.

Autistic adults, advocates, visit Washington

The  Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism recent Congressional briefing brought together policymakers and advocates, including this young man with autism who described his goals and college dream.

Joey Rosenbloom, 22, uses a “life writer” to communicate. Sharen Rosenbloom assists her son in every task, from tying his shoes to combing his hair. But the reality Joey faces is what will happen when his mother is gone – an issue that 500,000 autistic children growing into adulthood must figure out. Autism spectrum disorder ranges from mild to severe developmental disabilities. ASD affects people in social and behavioral ways. Some are unable to develop life skills because they cannot speak and are unable to interact with people, while others cannot control their actions. Autism is not just a childhood disease – it never goes away. The Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism consortium met in Washington on Thursday to urge policymakers, advocates and others to make numerous changes. Those include training service providers how to interact with autistic people, new funding to meet individual needs and expanding incentives for housing. Joey and five other autistic people, ages 22 to 54, told the audience of 250 people what they face now and what’s ahead.”My goal is to find a university longing to house and educate individuals living with autism,” Joey said, using his device. “I dream of living on a campus and learning from professors and not just special educators.” via Autistic adults face insecure future.

Autistic teenager finds voice through social media

The Internet and social media have raised awareness of autism and helped build strong autism communities worldwide.

Here’s a story about an autistic Canadian teenager who is not verbal but uses social media to communicate with thousands of people. Check out Carly’s Twitter feed,  her Facebook page (which she updates frequently!), and her Carly’s Voice blog.

Carly Fleischmann — a young woman whose autism left her mute — has found her voice through the use of the Internet.

Fleischmann is able to type her thoughts into a computer, and now communicates with thousands of people through her Twitter and Facebook pages. She has found a way to use the social networking phenomenon, along with e-mail, to communicate with people all over the world — many of whom are curious about autism or have a friend or family member with the disorder. Carly says she does what she can to teach others about autism and what it is like for her — a message that she says comes “straight from the horse’s mouth.”

via Autistic Teenager Finds Voice Through Social Networking | The Autism News.

Autism and karate: An autistic teen’s black belt

Wondering about the benefits of martial arts for children with autism? Read this story about a teenager in North Carolina who gained enormous confidence along with his black belt. Congratulations, Nick! (And congratulations to his parents for finding an activity that suited him and that he grew passionate about.)

If you met Nick Talent four years ago, he probably didn’t look you in the eye.

Shy, muted, insecure – for most 14-year-olds, those traits come with the territory.

Nick has autism.

Now he’s 18.

Extend your hand, and he’ll shake it.

Look him in the eye, and you’ll meet his gaze.

Smile and give small talk, and he’ll do the same.

Throw a punch, though, and you’ll find yourself on the ground.

Just ask his karate instructor.

via Autism didn’t knock out this athlete.