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Category Archives: Autism In the News

Autism in the national and local news.

Comic Book Stars World’s First Hero With Autism

Extraordinary superpowers, high-flying villains and fearless, world-saving heroes are the stuff of countless comic books. But the newest star to hit the comic circuit is different than most.

Michael is a comic book character with autism – a hero with a mathematical mind, artistic gift and an abundance of compassion. Face Value Comics says he is the first hero with the disorder among comic books.

 

The creator of the series, Dave Kot, hopes his books can help people on the autism spectrum better understand the world around them.

“Because some kids with autism may lack sufficient eye contact, they miss subtle cues growing up in life,” Kot said. “This is an opportunity for kids to have a hero like themselves.”

That’s why Kot and illustrator Sky Owens made sure Michael and the other comic book characters are drawn with vivid facial expressions, in order to provide a kind of playbook for those who struggle with social cues.

“When he was sad, who comforted him and how? Or why were they sad? How did other people respond? Can I do that, too, with my friends?” Kot explained. “In those small steps that a lot of us take for granted are very basic social building blocks.”

“One of [Michael’s] greatest powers and abilities is his own understanding of his emotions,” Kot said.

The comic books are resonating with people in the autistic community everywhere, helping kids like Brian Rasmuson understand they’re not alone.

“I think these comics help people see that autism isn’t just a disability,” Brian said. “It’s not all of who you are, but it’s a special part of who you are. Whenever I read this comic I think of that part of me.”

To read the original article published on NBC’s website, visit the link below.

https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/making-a-difference/comic-book-stars-worlds-first-hero-autism-n190321

 

 

President Obama Signs Bipartisan Autism CARES Act Into Law

WASHINGTON, DC (August 8, 2014) – President Obama signed the Autism CARES Act today, which dedicates $1.3 billion in federal funding for autism over the next five years. Autism CARES—introduced by Sens. Menendez (D-NJ) and Enzi (R-WY) and Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle(D-PA)—enjoyed broad bipartisan support in both the Senate and the House.

“Autism Speaks commends President Obama and our Congressional leaders for taking action on behalf of the millions of families affected by autism, which continues to rise at an alarming rate,” said Autism Speaks President Liz Feld. “These families are our champions and this critical legislation would not have been possible without the voices of tens of thousands of grassroots advocates from across the country.”

Autism CARES reauthorizes the landmark 2006 Combating Autism Act for another five years at an annual funding level of $260 million. The funding will be used primarily for autism research grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health. Autism CARES will also ensure the continued funding of autism prevalence monitoring; training of medical professionals to detect autism; and continued efforts to develop treatments for medical conditions associated with autism.

“Since 2006, the prevalence of autism has risen at an alarming rate to 1 in 68, including 1 in 42 boys. Given this epidemic, there has never been a greater need for these types of bipartisan efforts to make autism a federal priority,” said Feld. “We applaud Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Michael Enzi (R-WY) and Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA) for their continued leadership and commitment to autism families.”

Autism CARES also tasks the federal government with surveying the current landscape of adult services and reporting to Congress where gaps exist and how to most effectively address those needs.

“There is a particularly acute need to serve young people with autism as they transition to adulthood and need new housing, employment, transportation, and other services,” Feld added. “Autism CARES will be critical to identifying these challenges and the ways that the federal and state officials can address them.”

The bill also empowers the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) with the task of avoiding unnecessary duplication and making recommendations to implement a strategic plan. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is required to take charge of implementing the plan and reporting to Congress on progress.

Autism Act Wins Senate Approval

Just before leaving Washington for a month-long break, the U.S. Senate acted to renew the nation’s primary autism legislation, sending the measure to the president’s desk.

The autism bill was approved by unanimous consent late Thursday night. The move comes after the legislation, which cleared the U.S. House of Representatives in June, had been held up for weeks as some advocacy groups working as the Autism Policy Reform Coalition called for changes to the measure.

Known as the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education and Support Act, or Autism CARES, the bill authorizes $260 million in federal funding annually through 2019 for autism-related programs.

It serves as a reauthorization for what’s previously been known as the Combating Autism Act, which is set to expire at the end of September. Without the renewal, federal funding for research, prevalence tracking, training for professionals, early identification and other autism efforts would come to a halt, supporters led by Autism Speaks said.

“The Senate’s action today ensures these vital autism programs are reauthorized and continue providing research, services and supports individuals with autism and their families have come to rely on,” said U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., the legislation’s lead sponsor.

In addition to continuing federal funding for existing programs, the Autism CARES Act calls for an autism point person at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and spells out changes to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee. The bill also requires a new report be conducted focusing on the needs of young adults and youth during transition.

Aside from approving the autism legislation, lawmakers also moved forward on a bill that would establish a new way for people with disabilities to save money. A House panel unanimously approved the Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE, Act on Thursday, positioning the legislation to be considered by the full body as soon as next month.

The bill would allow people with disabilities to create special accounts where they could save up to $100,000 without risking eligibility for benefits like Social Security. Under the proposal, individuals would not lose Medicaid coverage no matter how much money is deposited in the accounts.

The ABLE Act has support from more than half the members of both the House and Senate, but key lawmakers said they would work together to find a way to pay for the measure before putting it up for a vote on the House floor.

Meanwhile, the Senate left town without voting on ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The treaty, which sets an international standard for disability rights similar to what’s already in place domestically through the Americans with Disabilities Act, was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in July and disability advocates had lobbied heavily for a floor vote before the August recess.

Both the Senate and House will return to Washington in September.

World-Renowned Artist with Autism and Mom Give Inspiring TED Talk

Tim Sharp is an Australian artist and the creator of  superhero Laser Beak Man. When Tim was diagnosed with autism at 3 years of age, doctors advised his mother Judy to institutionalize him. She did no such thing and worked with Tim at home in the hope of one day hearing him speak. After several attempts to communicate with Tim, she tried drawing – he was immediately enamored. Soon Tim began drawing. Then his love of superheroes led him to create his own caped crusader in the form of Laser Beak Man – a duck with a cheeky sense of humor.

Now at 25, Tim speaks eloquently and his art has been seen in galleries all over the world. Laser Beak Man was even turned into an animated series that aired in Australia and on Cartoon Network. Watch the TED Talk above to learn how Laser Beak Man became a global sensation.

To see the Ted Talk click the link below.

 

Beware of False or Misleading Claims for Treating Autism

April is National Autism Awareness Month, a fitting time to think about the growing need for concern and awareness about autism.

One thing that is important to know up front: There is no cure for autism. So, products or treatments claiming to “cure” autism do not work as claimed. The same is true of many products claiming to “treat” autism. Some may carry significant health risks.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plays an important role in warning these companies against making false or misleading claims.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 1in 68 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASDs are reported to occur in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups, and are almost five times more common among boys (1 in 54) than among girls (1 in 252).

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) describe autistic children as having difficulties with social interaction, displaying problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, exhibiting repetitive behaviors and having narrow, obsessive interests. These behaviors can range in impact from mild to disabling.

“Autism varies widely in severity and symptoms,” says Amy Taylor, M.D., M.H.S., a pediatrician at FDA. “Existing autism therapies and interventions are designed to remedy specific symptoms and can bring about improvement,” she adds.

In addition, FDA has approved medications that can help some people manage related symptoms of ASD. For example, the FDA has approved the use of antipsychotics such as risperidone and aripripazole to treat children 5 or 6 years of age and older who have severe tantrums or aggression and self-injurious behavior. Before using any behavioral intervention or drug therapy (prescription or over-the-counter), check with your health care professional.

The Association for Science in Autism Treatment (ASAT), a not-for-profit organization of parents and professionals committed to improving the education, treatment, and care of people with autism, says that since autism was first identified, there has been a long history of failed treatments and fads.

According to Gary Coody, R.Ph., FDA’s national health fraud coordinator, the agency has warned a number of companies that they are facing possible legal action if they continue to make false or misleading claims about products and therapies claiming to treat or cure autism. Some of these so-called therapies carry significant health risks and include:

  • “Chelation Therapies.” These products claim to cleanse the body of toxic chemicals and heavy metals by binding to them and “removing” them from circulation. They come in a number of forms, including sprays, suppositories, capsules, liquid drops and clay baths. FDA-approved chelating agents are approved for specific uses, such as the treatment of lead poisoning and iron overload, and are available by prescription only. FDA-approved prescription chelation therapy products should only be used under medical supervision. Chelating important minerals needed by the body can lead to serious and life-threatening outcomes.
  • Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. This involves breathing oxygen in a pressurized chamber and has been cleared by FDA for certain medical uses, such as treating decompression sickness suffered by divers. It has not been cleared for autism, among other conditions.
  • Miracle Mineral Solution. Also known as Miracle Mineral Supplement and MMS, this product becomes a potent chemical that‘s used as bleach when mixed according to package directions. FDA has received reports of consumers who say they experienced nausea, severe vomiting and life-threatening low blood pressure after drinking the MMS and citrus juice mixture.
  • Detoxifying Clay Baths. Added to bath water, these products claim to draw out chemical toxins, pollutants and heavy metals from the body, falsely offering “dramatic improvement” for autism symptoms.
  • Coconut kefir and other probiotic products. These marketed products claim to treat autism and gastrointestinal illnesses associated with autism. They have not been proven safe and effective for these advertised uses.

Coody offers some quick tips to help you identify false or misleading claims.

  • Be suspicious of products that claim to treat a wide range of diseases.
  • Personal testimonials are no substitute for scientific evidence.
  • Few diseases or conditions can be treated quickly, so be suspicious of any therapy claimed as a “quick fix.”
  • So-called “miracle cures,” which claim scientific breakthroughs and secret ingredients, may be a hoax.

The bottom line is this—if it’s an unproven or little known treatment, talk to your health care professional before buying or using these products.

This article appears on FDA’s Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.