Periodically, I will be writing autism news updates on the site to keep us all as informed as I can about the current autism buzz. I am trying to be factual, so if you notice something that isn’t correct, please contact me and let me know ASAP! I’m not trying to contribute to the embarrassing mass of autism misinformation. Also, if you have news that you think should be added, please send it to me, or comment on this post.
Global Autism News:
In the UK, the Autism bill of 2009 has just passed in parliament, and becomes the Autism Act of 2009. In theory, this act officially commits the Secretary of State for Health to providing a set of best practices for autism services, including diagnostic practices, transition to adulthood practices, and staff training practices. This document must be finished by April 2010.
See the final bill
It is possible that the updated Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), due to come out in 2012, will not include Aspergers Syndrome. According to Catherine Lord, director of the Autism and Communication Disorders Centers at the University of Michigan (and part of the team who is updating the autism section of the new DSM), it has been difficult or clinicians to reliably separate Aspergers syndrome from ‘mild autistic disorder’.
The potential fallout from this change could affect the semantics of insurance coverage, service provision, and autism incidence statistics. Plus, Aspies who are proud of their label will have a dilemma too. : )
United States Autism News:
Amy Wetherby has been awarded a total of 2.4 million dollars in National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant money to develop a good ASD screening tool. Wetherby, a researcher at the Florida State University, believes autism can be detected in children 18-24 months old, but is frustrated by the lack of an effective screening tool for children that young.
Artist Stephen Wiltshire drew a huge line drawing from memory, of NYC (which he refers to as his ‘spiritual home’). He flew around over the city in a helicopter for less than an hour, and then busted out this spectacular piece. Oh yeah, he has autism.
Autism in the Media:
Amy Wallace, a writer for Wired magazine wrote an article which reported on the vaccine-autism connection, titled: An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All. The cover of Wired read “vaccines don’t cause autism”, and the kickback was unprecedented. Angry people who think vaccines caused their own, or their child’s autism wrote, called, emailed, and twittered themselves into a righteous frenzy about the article, prompting a follow-up article by James Rainey in the LA Times, called, Childhood vaccines, autism and the dangers of group think.