Autism News Roundup, October 2015

A lot has been going on in recent weeks related to autism awareness and the ASD Community, from events to support and improve the everyday lives of autistic individuals to research that may some day help reduce the affects of the disorder and improve the quality of their lives dramatically. We thought a look at and summary of some of the recent news reports from around the world might be appropriate.

In the News

Surfers for Autism event draws 1,000 volunteers and participants
By Frank Gluck,

Surfer 5Surfers for Autism returned for their fifth annual Gulf Coast Beach Festival, and Fort Myers Beach (FL) was once again transform into an oasis of acceptance and inclusion, Saturday, October 31, 2015. Around, 200 children, young adults and their families experienced a day in the water, paddle boarding and surfing. Volunteers took the participants out for 25 minutes at a time and the reactions and the results are consistently staggering.

Surfers for Autism began as a Deerfield Beach event in 2008 with 40 surfers, including Damian, and raised $10,000. The idea quickly took off. And events are now held in 14 communities in Florida and elsewhere. These events draw families from throughout the country and occasionally, internationally, he said. Nearly 200 surfers registered for Saturday’s event. Event organizers said that another 800 family members and volunteers participated.

Surfers for Autism is a nonprofit organization based in Boca Raton. For information on the program, or to donate, visit You may also contact Kim Ryan, executive vice president at The organization is also on Facebook.

Read the complete article, complete with a video and some great photos of the event: “Surfers for Autism event draws 1,000 volunteers and participants

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Digital credit union donates $15,000 to Autism Resource Central

WEST BOYLSTON, MAHMEA’s Autism Resource Central has received $15,000 to continue its mission from Digital Federal Credit Union at the suggestion of the bank’s employees.

The funds donated by Digital Federal Credit Union will be used to fund family fun activities such as movies, bowling, sporting events, dinner dances, camp during the summer. During school vacation weeks in December, February and April the center offers events to help fill the unstructured days that vacations create.

Read the complete article: “Digital credit union donates $15,000 to Autism Resource Central

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Get Fit for Autism to combine exercise, fundraising to benefit autistic children
FromThe Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle

Flossmoor residents Katie Larocca and Tricia Butcher are teaming up to raise funds that benefit their sons and others affected by autism.

Get Fit for Autism will raise money for the Communication Development program through the Southwest Cook County Cooperative Association for Special Education.

The event will be from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, at the Homewood Flossmoor Racquet and Fitness Club. It will offer two hours of yoga and indoor cycle classes for one great cause.

“We want people to be able to exercise a little or a lot. Indoor cycle and yoga are two ends of the fitness spectrum but a great complement to each other. We hope people will mix and match for an amazing workout,” said co-chair Tricia Butcher.

For more information about this event, read the Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle article: “Get Fit for Autism to combine exercise, fundraising to benefit autistic children

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Young children with autism may benefit from oxytocin treatment
By Stephen Feller for UPI

Autism BlocksYoung children with autism in a small study who were treated with the synthetic hormone oxytocin showed improvement in social, emotional and behavioral issues. It is thought to be the first effective drug treatment for social impairments associated with autism.

Researchers worked with 31 children with autism, giving them either an oxytocin or placebo nasal spray twice a day for five weeks. Compared to the placebo, researchers said more parents reported improvements in behavioral issues with children who were given oxytocin.

Read the full UPI article: “Young children with autism may benefit from oxytocin treatment

[Editor’s Note: The recent study, “The effect of oxytocin nasal spray on social interaction deficits observed in young children with autism: a randomized clinical crossover trial,” was published by Molecular Psychiatry. Click here for the complete report.]

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Johnston County family battles school system over child with autism
By Jonathan Rodriguez for WNCN-TV in Raleigh, North Carolina

[Editor’s Note: This article addresses an important issue that many parents of autistic children in Indiana and across the country deal with, sometimes on an almost daily basis.]

Hollands 1

Ben Holland playing the violin.

The parents of a child with special needs say the staff at Johnston County Schools violated federal law and made plans to have their son removed from school.

In the end, the school settled with the family for $200,000. Their story is complicated, but they say it’s a warning to parents with special needs.

“You never suspect a school system to stoop to something like this,” Tanya Holland said. “This represents one of the most egregious violations of a parent’s trust imaginable.”

Ben had a federally mandated and protected Individualized Education Plan, or “IEP,” that they say had been working wonders.

“I delivered it three weeks before school started so the district would have enough time to train the teachers and to make certain they had enough staff,” Tanya Holland said.

But the couple says from the start, staff at Johnston County Schools seemed to have their own plans.

“They made a unilateral decision to place him in the autism classroom and access him for what they believed his ‘true’ needs to be, which is a clear violation of IDEA,” Tanya Holland said.

“IDEA” is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the federal law ensuring children like Ben get the help they need.

Read the complete article: “Johnston County family battles school system over child with autism

Read more about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) here

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More About Autism In the News:

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Commentary / Blogs

Book Review: Eli Gottlieb’s novel about autism rings true
By Jacqueline Cutler, NJ Advance Media

“Best Boy”
By Eli Gottlieb
(Liveright Publishing Corp., 256 pp, $24.95)

When we’re deeply involved in a book, we live inside the characters. All too often that’s familiar territory.

If a book is well written, I can happily take up temporary residence in the psyche of any character. But it is enlightening to see the world from a completely new perspective.

And Eli Gottlieb offers that with Todd Aaron, an adult autistic man from suburban New Jersey. He has lived in an assisted care facility for over 40 years…

… The tiny details, Todd’s tics and phobias, his obsessions and desires all feel so on point that this is not a book just drawn from imagination. In fact, Eli Gottlieb, who grew up in Cedar Grove, has an autistic brother living in a New Jersey residential community for the disabled.

Read Jacqueline Cutler’s complete review of “Best Boy” by Eli Gottlieb: “Eli Gottlieb’s novel about autism rings true

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The flickering lights and photosensitivity
By Pamela Gross Downing, for

Have you ever noticed how much calmer you feel in an unlit room? Natural light tends to have a soothing effect on most people, especially children. Many years ago, the teacher remembered one of her students who had photosensitivity. The flickering of lights in the classroom seemed to possibly trigger seizures in the girl.

Michelle was one of her students that had severe autism. The girl had very limited communication, was hyposensitive (lack of sensitivity to unexpected stimuli in the environment) and always seemed to have a smile on her face.

Michelle came into Room 623 as a third grader. She required some potty training and a lot of one to one assistance. One of the amazing things about the child was her incredible balance…

Read the full article by Pamela Gross Downing, “The flickering lights and photosensitivity” on

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The best tech jobs for individuals with autism
By Robert J. Szczerba for TNW News

Temple Grandin

Famed autism advocate Temple Grandin made her career in the area of animal sciences, but she also has insights for individuals with autism wanting to enter the tech sector.
(Image Credit: Steve Jurvetson via Wikimedia Commons)

The transition between adolescent to adult is a difficult process for anyone. It can be even more challenging for individuals on the autism spectrum, especially when it comes to finding a meaningful vocation.

As the father of a wonderful 10-year-old boy with autism, much of my time is spent worrying about what opportunities will be available to him once he reaches adulthood. According to some estimates, the unemployment rate for adults on the autism spectrum exceeds 90 percent.

Recently this problem has been combated with rising interest on individuals with special needs in the workforce. With proper training, support and opportunity these individuals with developmental disabilities are able to maintain and even excel at professions in the mainstream workforce.

Read Robert J. Szczerba’s full commentary: “The best tech jobs for individuals with autism

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