Phil Plait, who is known for his “Bad Astronomy” Web presence (and let’s not confuse that with astrology, which is bad, forsooth!), hit the Internet with a critique of Jennifer “Jenny” McCarthy’s appointment to host a television show. Over on his Slate blog, Mr. Plait (he has a Ph.D. from the university where I teach, so I could say “Dr.” but we refer to each other as “Ms.” or “Mr.” in this neighborhood) provides what I might describe as something close to a blistering indictment of the appointment:
I was hoping I wouldn’t have to write this post, but here we are: The daytime talk show The View has indeed hired Jenny McCarthy as a co-host. I wrote about this last week, alerting people to the possibility, and now it’s now been confirmed. She’ll find her spot on the program this fall.
Continue reading ‘Bad Astronomy on bad TV programming’
Over on Scientific American, Janet D. Stemwedel reprised a blog post she ran in 2009 about how people who refuse to vaccinate their children against major diseases are taking advantage of the efforts by others to protect their children and their neighbors. She refers to people who adopt this strategy as “free-riders” (and I’ll leave it up to readers to review the full discussion of the term), while making the important arguments about people considering staying out of the herd, if they’re not willing to do their part for the herd.
Read the newer version entitled “The ethics of opting out of vaccination” and the original entitled Trust and accountability in the vaccine-autism wars as well as the follow-up piece with her discussion of comments “Vaccine refuseniks are free-riders” (beware: the link to the second post that appears in the last post goes 404).
Yesterday I wrote about how, when people consider individual cases, the possibility of improvement for children with Autism might make otherwise inert therapies appear to be beneficial. In yesterday’s post I referred to research by Molly Helt and colleagues (2008) about recovery among individuals with Autism, and I hinted about an important recent study by Deborah Fein and her colleagues (2013) related to that phenomenon. Today I discuss that second study.
The more recent study is just another among many by Professor Fein, who was a principal author on the Helt et al. (2008) study, and who has been doing exemplary work about Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) for many years. In this one she provides new data about “recovery,” a word they rarely use in the course of their article.
Continue reading ‘Can a child recover from Autism?’
Liza Long is the author of the post, “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother,” that has gone viral in the few days following the mass murder that Mr. Lanza apparently committed at Sandy Hook Elementary School 14 December 2012. In it, Ms. Long—who obviously is not the deceased mother of Mr. Lanza—makes an important, impassioned, and strong case for focusing on mental health issues among children and youth. Here’s the beginning of that post.
In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.
Continue reading ‘Mothers agree on helping children with mental illness and their families’
In Nature a group of researchers from Denmark and Iceland report the results of their studies of mutation rates of Icelandic parent-child groups. They found that the level of new mutations, called a “de novo mutations,” in their samples when father’s average age was 29.7 was 1.20?X?10?8 per nucleotide per generation, but that number increases by two every year. In round numbers one might estimate that at about 20 years of age a father’s single sperm cell could carry 25 new spontaneous mutations, but at 40 years of age it might carry more than 65.
Continue reading ‘Nature: De novo mutations, autism, and schizophrenia, redux’
The US Department of Education (ED) published Restraint and Seclusion: Resource Document today. After the extensive discussions the last few years about abuses of management procedures (see , especially those used with children and youths with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, ED contracted with an agency to create this document that provides guidelines for the appropriate use of restraints and seclusion.
The foundation of any discussion about the use of restraint and seclusion is that every effort should be made to structure environments and provide supports so that restraint and seclusion are unnecessary. As many reports have documented, the use of restraint and seclusion can, in some cases, have very serious consequences, including, most tragically, death. There is no evidence that using restraint or seclusion is effective in reducing the occurrence of the problem behaviors that frequently precipitate the use of such techniques.
Continue reading ‘US ED resource on restraint and seclusion’
My colleague, Annie McLaughlin, who is the Outreach Supervisor for the Virginia Institute of Autism (VIA), will be hosting a Webinar on toilet training 15 May 2012. Annie—who completed teacher education work at the University of Virginia’s Curry School and Ph.D. studies at the University of Washington and has doctoral-level certification from the Behavior Analyst Certification Board—told me that the focus won’t be on rapid toilet training a la Azrin and Foxx, but more on a data-based, schedule training that increases the likelihood that the individual will learn that the toilet is the stimulus for voiding.
Dr. Annie McLaughlin will lead an online, interactive parenting workshop on toilet training individuals of all ages with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other related disabilities. Learn how to recognize if your child is ready for toilet training, design a toilet training plan for your child, and learn practical tips for overcoming common problems. Cost $65. Limit space. After registering, participants will receive instructions on how to view the online lecture and live chat.
Registration for the Webinar is available on the Web as is a contact for additional information. Here’s a link to an antique post about toilet training
In articles published online by Nature, Professors Stephan Sanders and colleagues and Brian J. O’Roak his colleagues reported additional evidence that rare mutations contribute to risk for Autism. By analyzing genetic material from parents who had children with Autism, the researchers were able to focus on differences in specific genes, what changed from one generation to the next. One team, working in the research lab of Professor Matthew State at Yale University, found strikingly unusual matches for a specific mutation at SCN2A. The other team, under the direction of Professor Evan Eichler at the University of Washington, found several candidates (including SCN1A) and a strong (4 to 1) relationship for older fathers.
Continue reading ‘De novo mutations and Autism redux’