Tag Archives: autism

What Type Of School Is Best For My Special Needs Child?

So many from which to choose
There are many school options for parents; brick-and-mortar public schools, public cyber schools, private schools, specialized alternative placements, and homeschooling to name a few. Parents are often left wondering which is the best option for their child, especially parents of children with special needs.

The Public Option
Public school has many advantages given that, by law, the public school system must provide a “free and appropriate education”, and implement special education services if the child meets special education criteria. Public schools are largely compelled to educate no matter the condition (as opposed to expel your child), and ultimately meet your child’s needs or transition to a facility that can, and pay for it.

The Cyber Option
There are situations where parents believe the public school system is failing their child, and the alternative specialized placements are not seen as appealing. Parents may then decide to cyber-school, which can be an excellent option if it’s important for your child to have an individualized environment, a more flexible daily schedule, and be able to work at their own pace. However, parents need to recognize that  the “individual attention” is likely going to be provided by them (the parent); and that you may find yourself in the challenging situation of being your child’s ‘teacher’; i.e. sitting with them and providing the prompting, praising, guiding, and cajoling to get your child through their school assignments. If you have the time and gumption, then this can work, but it can be quite an undertaking.

The Home Schooling Option
Whatever is indicated as challenging above under “The Cyber Option,” multiply that x2 for Home Schooling. Not only is the parent compelled to provide individualized attention, the parent also must investigate, obtain, and implement the proper curriculum. Sometimes this works just fine but, again, similar with cyber-schooling, a parent serving as both ‘Mom’ (or Dad) and ‘Teacher’ can be tough for both Mom and the child.

A Private School?
A Private School can be a wonderful option. Private schools typically offer smaller classrooms, sometimes are more flexible than public schools in modifying structure, and teachers are often very accommodating. Moreover, parents often appreciate the spiritual elements inherent in such a setting. However, private schools are not legally compelled to educate your child and can expel if proving to be too difficult, and they are not required to provide ‘special education’ services. Also, at times such schools have the attitude of ‘our way or the highway’, which may not work so well for special needs children.

What about specialized or typical preschools?
Children with developmental issues often thrive in specialized preschools such as through DART/IU programs. However, parents often appreciate their child being in a regular preschool setting so as to model after neuro-typical kiddo’s language and play skills, but have concern that their child may not do well with 15-20 other kids in that typical preschool class. Deciding between the two school options can be quite a dilemma, which is often resolved by doing both. In that regard, enrolling part-time in a specialized preschool, and part-time in a typical preschool but with individualized attention such as from Therapeutic Staff Support. In this way, the child gets the best of both worlds.

So which is best?
Of course, there is no singular answer to this question; it depends on your child, the situation, and the time-frame. In terms of time-frame, I often see parents of a child with an anxiety disorder, for example, ultimately choosing to home or cyber-school their child due to ongoing anxiety and school-refusal. These children often subsequently perform well in the home setting, but the problem is that their anxiety disorder is often not addressed given that the standard mode of treatment for anxiety is having the child confront their fear (go to school). Nevertheless, the cyber or home-schooling experience can be advantageous for a few semesters as the child receives therapy and bolsters their coping mechanisms. However, a return to a more traditional school setting, at some point, would be optimal. In the same sense, many children with special needs flourish in smaller private school settings and home/cyber-school situations and parents relish the opportunity to assist in meeting their child’s educational needs, and have no reservations about the time and energy if it’s seen as beneficial.  In those situations, everyone wins. It’s important, however, that parents know ‘what they are getting themselves into’ prior to undertaking the endeavor to avoid any regrets. It’s also vital to thoroughly interview school officials to be sure exactly and precisely what is expected, and what will be provided to meet your child’s needs. It’s also helpful to observe classrooms when possible.  These decisions are often complex and multi-faceted; I invite parents to contact me at DoctorC@AutismCenterofPittsburgh.com to discuss their child and help them with such decision-making. God bless you in your efforts to meet your child’s needs.

Dr. John Carosso, Psy.D. Licensed Psychologist

After the alleged cover-up, National Vaccine Info Center calls for removal of vaccine safety oversight from US Dept of HHS. Read more:

WASHINGTON–(EON: Enhanced Online News)–The non-profit National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) is renewing its call for oversight of vaccine safety to be removed from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), which is responsible for vaccine development, regulation, policymaking, promotion and serves as a legal respondent and administrator for the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). NVIC’s call comes after a senior scientist at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a public statement on Aug. 27, 2014 admitting that he and other CDC officials, including the current CDC Director of Immunization Safety, published an MMR vaccine safety study in 2004 that “omitted statistically significant information” and “relevant findings” and that “the final study protocol was not followed.”

“Congress needs to act now to eliminate conflicts of interest within the nation’s vaccination system. The health of our children is at stake”

“The latest statements made by a CDC senior scientist confirming that vaccine risk data was withheld from the public is more evidence that parents’ concerns about vaccine safety are legitimate,” said Barbara Loe Fisher, NVIC co-founder and president. “It is a conflict of interest for DHHS to be in charge of vaccine safety and also license vaccines, and take money from drug companies to fast track vaccines, and partner with drug companies to develop and share profits from vaccine sales, and make national vaccine policies that get turned into state vaccine laws, while also deciding which children will and will not get a vaccine injury compensation award. That is too much power for one federal agency,” she said.

Since the first vaccines for smallpox and rabies, vaccination has been known to cause brain inflammation and chronic brain dysfunction (encephalopathy). In 1991 and 1994, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) acknowledged that vaccination can cause brain inflammation and encephalopathy and, in 2012 and 2013, affirmed that some individuals are more susceptible to suffering brain injury from vaccination and that there are significant knowledge gaps in vaccine safety science. Symptoms of brain injury include developmental delays and disabilities.

“DHHS has a long history of limiting transparency and being less than honest with the American people about what it does and does not know about which individuals are at greater risk for suffering vaccine reactions,” said Fisher. “Last July, a RAND Corporation-conducted vaccine risk assessment study commissioned and funded by DHHS proclaimed that vaccines are ‘very safe’ but what was not made clear to the public is that the study was designed and peer reviewed by high-level CDC officials, including the CDC’s Director of Immunization Safety.”

In 2011, NVIC called for the creation of an independent vaccine safety monitoring agency modeled after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) and has also called for independent vaccine research into health outcome differences between children who are and are not vaccinated according to the federally recommended vaccine schedule. Since its founding in 1982, NVIC has advocated for informed consent protections in U.S. vaccine policies and laws, including flexible medical, religious and conscientious belief exemptions.

Congress needs to act now to eliminate conflicts of interest within the nation’s vaccination system. The health of our children is at stake,” said Fisher.

NVIC is a non-profit charity founded in 1982 and is dedicated to preventing vaccine injuries and deaths through public education and protecting the informed consent ethic. NVIC encourages well-informed vaccine decision-making and does not advocate for or against vaccination or make vaccine use recommendations. For more information, visit NVIC.org.

Link between SSRI’s during pregnancy and autism?

Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of drugs typically used as antidepressants in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, and some personality disorders. It is not uncommon for women to take SSRI antidepressants during pregnancy. A study published in August 2014 in the British Journal of Psychiatry is the latest to suggest an association between prenatal SSRI exposure with childhood autism.

The recently published study, entitled “Prenatal exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and social responsiveness symptoms of autism: population-based study of young children”, undertook to determine whether intra-uterine SSRI exposure is associated with childhood autistic symptoms in a population-based study.

The study concluded that children prenatally exposed to SSRIs also were at higher risk for developing pervasive developmental problems compared with unexposed children. Children prenatally exposed to SSRIs also had more autistic compared with those exposed to depressive symptoms only.

According to study’s authors, the results suggest an association between prenatal SSRI exposure and autistic traits in children. They suggest that long-term drug safety trials are needed before evidence-based recommendations are possible.

This is not the first study to suggest an association between prenatal exposure to SSRIs and autism and is hardly the first to suggest that use of SSRIs during pregnancy may pose risks for the child. Researchers have found time and again that SSRIs pass through the placenta and impact the development of the fetus in serious ways, elevating the risk of a host of birth defects.

Prozac and Zoloft are among the antidepressants commonly prescribed for women during pregnancy. Both drugs are SSRIs. Such drugs have largely been assigned a “C” grade for safety during pregnancy by the FDA, meaning they have been known to harm animals taking them in large doses, but because researchers cannot ethically test any drug on a human baby, the FDA states that effects on unborn humans remain unproven. The FDA and the drug’s manufacturer do now warn women not to take Paxil during pregnancy.

One of the more serious birth defects being linked to SSRIs is persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). This is a rare problem that affects a newborn’s heart and lungs. Some scientists suggest that taking an SSRI during the second half of pregnancy may significantly increases the risk of a child developing this this condition.
Side Effects Caused By Dangerous Drugs?

When drug companies fail to warn parents about risk of pregnancy complications from prescription drugs such as Topamax, they may be placing children at risk of serious and potentially life-altering birth defects. Despite FDA warnings about the birth defect risk of countless prescription drugs—ranging from SSRI antidepressants such as Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, Effexor, and Lexapro; drugs containing valproate (valproic acid) like Depakote, Depakene, Depacon, and Stavzor; or the acne medication Accutane—thousands of children continue to be harmed each year by preventable complications caused by prescription medications.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson has represented numerous patients in pharmaceutical liability lawsuits after they suffered complications caused by prescription drugs. Our attorneys have tried hundreds of cases to verdict and reached settlements in hundreds more, achieving verdicts and settlements totaling more than $200 million. In the year 2010 alone, Heygood, Orr & Pearson settled personal injury and wrongful death claims totaling more than $50 million on behalf of our clients.

If your child was born with birth defects caused by complications from a prescription medication, you may be entitled to file a lawsuit and receive compensation to help with the costly medical expenses. For more information about your legal rights, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by following the link to our free case evaluation form located on this website.
– See more at: http://www.hop-law.com/study-suggests-link-between-ssri-antidespressants-during-pregnancy-and-autism/#sthash.GcsBXLR0.dpuf

Five (5) Things You Really Need To Know About Special Education

The School District Does not have to evaluate your child just because you submit a signed request to evaluate.

When you submit a written and signed request for an evaluation, the school district has 15 days to meet as a team, discuss your child’s educational needs, and provide a written response with indication of a game-plan to meet your child’s needs. That “game-plan” does not necessarily need to include a referral to the school psychologist for an educational evaluation. It may, rather, include any number of other options including modifications to how the classwork is assigned. However, you can appeal their feedback and request due process in that regard.

To determine eligibility for special education services, most Districts still use the 15 point discrepancy guideline

If your child is evaluated by the school psychologist, various tests are administered (IQ, Academic…). The scores are listed as “Standard Scores” with an average of 100 (average runs from 90 to 109). There generally needs to be a 15 point “discrepancy” or difference between the IQ score and the academic scores (reading, math…) for a child to be deemed eligible for special education (Specific Learning Disability). For example, if the child obtains an IQ of 100, then it’s expected the reading and math scores will also be about 100 (it’s expected that the child will achieve at the same level as their IQ). However, if the reading or math scores are 85, that’s a 15 point difference and would qualify the child for special education (under the classification of a Specific Learning Disability). Less than a 15 point difference would preclude qualification. Other factors are also considered including PSSA scores, grades, work effort, prior opportunity for being appropriately educated, and English language proficiency. However, the 15 point rule is often primary.

The 15 point discrepancy model is why many kids, who may need special education, don’t qualify

It can be quite challenging to obtain a 15 point discrepancy, especially in the lower grades, and even more-so if a child has a lower IQ, say in the low average range. For example, if a child has an IQ Standard Score of 82 (low in the low average range), then the reading and math standard scores would have to be as low as 67, which is quite deficient and unlikely except in the most severe of situations. So, kids who have a lower IQ, and who are often in most need for special education, are often excluded. Keep in mind that, in this scenario, a child with a Standard Score of 70 in Reading is clearly struggling, but does not qualify because there is less than a 15 point discrepancy. This is a situation that most school districts acknowledge as a problem and try to provide alternative options such as Title I and similar programs.

The benefit of using grade-equivalents in addition to standard scores

A child may have a Standard Score of 87 in reading comprehension, which is at the upper end of the “low average” range and, on the surface, does not appear significantly deficient and often would not lead to a child meeting criteria for special education (under the classifiation of a specific learning disability). However, despite the low average score, the grade-equivalent (the grade-level on which the child is working) for that child may be two grades behind, truly revealing the degree to which the child is struggling. Most often, grade-equivalents are not listed in the report, and their importance tends to be down-played for various reasons I won’t bore you with today. However, I’ve found that grade-equivalents are important and need to be reviewed, discussed, and taken seriously during team meetings.

A classification of “specific learning disability” or “learning disability”, used by the school district, is essentially synonymous with “dyslexia”

The terminology used by school districts (Specific Learning Disability, Other Health Impairment…) comes straight from the Pennsylvania Department of Education in Harrisburg. This Department tells the Districts what terms they must use to receive funding. Consequently, school districts use the term “specific learning disability (SLD)”. It’s important to know that well over 90% of all kids who fall under the classification of SLD, have dyslexia (or dysgraphia, or dyscalculia…). In that regard, the reason they have a specific learning disability is because they have dyslexia. I’ve written at length about dyslexia, so feel free to read my prior posts about that disorder on the cpcwecare.com blog.

What does this mean for you?

In summary, there are lots of accommodation options besides directly referring to the school psychologist for an evaluation. In fact, you may find the process faster and smoother to receive feedback from the team regarding simple and efficient things they can do, now, in the classroom to help your child, and things you can do at home rather than waiting 60 days for the school psychologist to complete and present evaluation results. This is especially true given that a 15 point discrepancy is often needed for eligibility to receive special education services, and the chances are not great your child will have that discrepancy; especially in the lower grades. A 504 Plan may be more than sufficient and is much faster to develop. A 504 Plan is used for children who have a diagnosis for which various modifications can be used to ensure they have the same opportunity for an appropriate education as everyone else. It’s often used, for example, with kids who are diagnosed with ADHD. Ultimately, however, it’s vital to obtain information about what you can do at home to help your child learn. Again, see my prior posts about dyslexia (learning disabilities) for specific tips and suggestions. Also, feel free to email me at doctorc@autismcenterofpittsburgh.com.

How is ADHD Diagnosed? (and is it over-diagnosed?)


There is wide-spread belief that children are over-diagnosed and over-prescribed, which implies that some kids are ‘just being kids’ and we’re pathologizing them, i.e. giving them a diagnosis, counseling, and medication when we should, rather, be sensitive and accommodating to the wide-spectrum in children’s activity-level and ability to attend. Is this an accurate perspective?

Just the facts Mam’

First, lets look at the stats: Rates of children, ages 4-17, diagnosed with ADHD are at about 7.8% (according to a recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey), which is not especially high, and stimulant prescription rates range between 4.3% and 4.4%, which you can see is substantially lower than 7.8%. Also, in that same survey, it was found that only 48% of the ADHD sample had received any mental health care over the prior 12 months, which would suggest children are, actually, being under-treated.

How is the diagnosis made?

To make the point further, if a clinician uses a strict clinical protocol, false-positives (inaccurate diagnosis) should be kept to a minimum. I provide a thorough explanation of the evaluation process in my video on the ‘evaluation process’ (http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC57Fa3L2HSpQifNJAMBiVVA) but here is a quick overview of specifically what is needed for an ADHD diagnosis:

-The child must have a long-history of demonstrating the core ADHD symptoms of inattention, impulsitivity, and hyperactivity. ADHD does not suddenly ‘spring-up’ one day after years of attentiveness. It’s usually something teachers and parents see from as early as the pre-school years.

-The signs are seen in multiple locations (school, home, community…).

-The problem is really getting in the way of the child’s functioning.

-Someone else in the family also has a similar problem with inattention, impulsivity… (ADHD tends to run in the family).

The problem cannot be explained better by some other malady. For example, if the child is distressed, depressed, anxious, or has learning issues, that may explain the symptoms better than ‘ADHD’. In that regard, if a child is experiencing some sort of stress or serious problem, it’s likely he or she will be preoccupied and subsequently have trouble concentrating.

So you can see…

If this protocol is followed, it’s far more likely that there will be an accurate diagnosis, and an effective treatment plan can then be established. I’ve written at length about proper strategies to address ADHD (please see my prior blog posts) that include a consistent and predictable routine, visual reminders, an organized environment, extra attention and assistance, counseling to improve insight and coping strategies and, in some cases, a medication consultation.


If you have questions about this process or your child’s diagnosis, email me at DoctorC@autismcenterofpittsburgh.com or call the office. I’d be happy to answer your concerns.

Is Autism Risk Mostly Genetic? Read the Latest Here:

Researchers claim that nearly 60% of autism risk is genetic, with the implicated variant genes being common among the general population. They publish the results of their research in the journal Nature Genetics.

Autism risk is ‘mostly genetic,’ according to statistical analysis

Monday 21 July 2014 – 8am PST

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Researchers claim that nearly 60% of autism risk is genetic, with the implicated variant genes being common among the general population. They publish the results of their research in the journal Nature Genetics.

Autism is widely believed to be caused by an interplay of genetics and other factors. However, scientists have not reached a consensus on how much of an influence genes have on autism risk.

DNA magnifying glass
“We show very clearly that inherited common variants comprise the bulk of the risk that sets up susceptibility to autism,” say the researchers.

Recent evidence has suggested that the genomes of people who have autism are more likely to include de novo mutations – rare and spontaneous mutations with significant effects that are thought to account for particular cases of autism.

“Many people have been focusing on de novo mutations, such as the ones that can occur in the sperm of an older father,” explains Joseph D. Buxbaum, PhD, the study’s lead investigator and director of the Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment and professor of psychiatry, neuroscience and genetics and genomic sciences at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

“While we find these mutations are also key contributors, it is important to know that there is underlying risk in the family genetic architecture itself.”

By conducting a “rigorous analysis” of DNA sequence variations as part of the Population-Based Autism Genetics and Environment Study (PAGES) Consortium, Dr. Buxbaum’s team found that about 52.4% of autism cases can be traced back to both common and rare inherited variations. By contrast, spontaneous mutations were found to account for just 2.6% of total autism risk.

“We show very clearly that inherited common variants comprise the bulk of the risk that sets up susceptibility to autism,” Dr. Buxbaum says. “But while families can be genetically loaded for autism risk, it may take additional rare genetic factors to actually produce the disorder in a particular family member.”

The study used data from Sweden’s universal health registry to compare about 3,000 participants, including autistic subjects and a control group. The researchers say that PAGES is the largest study of its kind to date.

New statistical methods promise ‘more reliable results’

Limitations in sample size have previously made it difficult to ascertain the relative influence of common, rare inherited and rare spontaneous variations. Differences in the statistical models and methods used across studies have also presented challenges in obtaining a consensus view, with estimates of autism heritability varying from 17-50%.

In PAGES, new statistical methods – such as “machine learning techniques and dimension reduction tools” – were deployed, which the researchers claim allowed a more reliable method for assessing heritability.

The researchers were also able to access data from a parallel study of Swedish families that looked at twins, cousins, age of the father at birth and the psychiatric history of the parents.

Thomas Lehner, chief of the National Institute of Mental Health’s Genomics Research Branch, says:

“This is a different kind of analysis than employed in previous studies. Data from genome-wide association studies was used to identify a genetic model instead of focusing just on pinpointing genetic risk factors. The researchers were able to pick from all of the cases of illness within a population-based registry.”

Last month, Medical News Today reported on a study that suggested exposure to pesticides during pregnancy increases risk of the child developing autism.

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Do Weighted Blankets Improve Sleep in Children and Teens with Autism? See If You Are Correct.

Study finds that kids and parents like them, but weighted blankets don’t increase sleep time or decrease time it takes to fall asleep

Photo courtesy Cozy Comforter

New research finds that weighted blankets don’t significantly improve sleep in children and teens who have autism. Overall, however, the families who completed the study preferred the weighted blanket over a nonweighted one that otherwise resembled it. The findings appear today in the journal Pediatrics.

Weighted blankets have long been popular for calming individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Typically the blankets contain metal or plastic beads sewn into quilted layers. The idea is that the weight provides gentle, deep pressure that addresses the sensory-integration issues often associated with ASD. These sensory issues, in turn, may add to the sleep disturbances that are likewise common among those who have autism. Studies suggest that 40 to 80 percent of individuals with ASD have significant sleep problems – in particular difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.

During the first half of the study, 63 children – ages 5 to 16 – slept with either a weighted blanket or a nonweighted look-alike blanket for 12 to 16 weeks. After this first phase, the two groups switched blankets and used the other blanket for approximately two weeks.

During the study, the children wore sleep monitors each night and their parents completed sleep diaries. Parents and children also completed a questionnaire about the experience.

Overall, the researchers found no difference in overall sleep time, time needed to fall asleep or nighttime wakings with the weighted versus the look-alike nonweighted blanket. However most of the children reported preferring the weighted blanket. Their parents likewise reported preferring to use it with their children.

Autism, Vaccinations, and Aborted Fetal Cells: The Debate Continues

Just when the pharmaceutical industry thought the vaccine-autism controversy had been resolved, the National Vaccine Advisory Committee has recommended further study of vaccine safety. A perceived fear of the safety of the U.S. vaccination schedule has led increasing numbers of parents to opt out of full compliance. The numbers of children who are not fully vaccinated has now reached a point where “herd” immunity may be compromised, compelling the Centers for Disease Control to hold town-hall meetings and convene a Vaccine Safety Working Subgroup. Despite research ruling out mercury (Thimerosal) or the measles portion of one specific vaccine, autism continues to rise to a level of one in every 64 children in the UK.

The NVAC draft report recommends further study of the potential for vaccines to contribute to autism in children who have underlying mitochondrial disease, a worthwhile study given the clinical history of such children developing autism after vaccinations (see Poling case). What the NVAC has overlooked, however, in their recommendations, is that epidemic regressive autism is associated with the switch from using animal cells to produce vaccines to the use of aborted human fetal cells for vaccine production. Now when we vaccinate our children, some vaccines also deliver contaminating aborted human fetal DNA. The safety of this has never been tested.

Autism and autism spectrum disorder are polygenic diseases, meaning that multiple genes have been shown to be associated with these diseases. Studies have also clearly shown that there is an environmental component, a trigger, that is required. Vaccines are an obvious potential environmental trigger for autism because of the almost universal childhood exposure to vaccines in first world countries. The vaccine-autism connection was first hypothesized following the introduction of a new measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to the U.S. in 1979, with complete U.S. market share by 1983, and to the UK in 1988. Autism rates began to rise in the U.S. after 1979 and rose dramatically after 1983, and likewise rose in the UK after 1988, leading physicians to suspect a link. Initially, the measles component of this vaccine, MMR II, was suspected to be the culprit. Subsequent studies have also focused on the presence of mercury in vaccines, which incidentally, the MMR II vaccine did not contain.

Those studies have largely ruled out the new measles portion of the MMR II or mercury as the environmental trigger for autism. However, the compelling temporal association between this new MMR vaccine and autism cannot be ignored or explained away. What has been ignored is the fact that this new MMR vaccine introduced the use of aborted fetal cells for vaccine production. At one point, as much as 94 percent of children in the U.S. and 98 percent of children in the UK were given this vaccine.

Today, more than 23 vaccines are contaminated by the use of aborted fetal cells. There is no law that requires that consumers be informed that some vaccines are made using aborted fetal cells and contain residual aborted fetal DNA. While newer vaccines produced using aborted fetal cells do inform consumers, in their package inserts, that the vaccines contain contaminating DNA from the cell used to produce the vaccine, they do not identify the cells as being derived from electively aborted human fetuses. (See the Varivax—chicken pox—package insert for the presence of MRC5 residual DNA.)

In other words, they tell you what is in the vaccine, but they don’t fully inform you where it came from. The earliest aborted fetal cell-produced vaccines such as Meruvax (rubella) and MMR II do not even inform consumers that the vaccines contain contaminating DNA from the cell used to produce them. Furthermore, it is unconscionable that the public-health risk of injecting our children with residual contaminating human aborted fetal DNA has been ignored.

How could the contaminating aborted fetal DNA create problems? It creates the potential for autoimmune responses and/or inappropriate insertion into our own genomes through a process called recombination. There are groups researching the potential link between this DNA and autoimmune diseases such as juvenile (type I) diabetes, multiple sclerosis and lupus. Our organization, Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute, is focused on studying the quantity, characteristics and genomic recombination of the aborted fetal DNA found in many of our vaccines.

Preliminary bioinformatics research conducted at SCPI indicates that “hot spots” for DNA recombination are found in nine autism-associated genes present on the X chromosome. These nine genes are involved in nerve-cell synapse formation, central nervous system development and mitochondrial function.

Could genomic insertion of the aborted fetal DNA, found in some of our childhood vaccines since 1979, be an environmental trigger for autism? Could the fact that genes critical for nerve synapse formation and nervous system development are found on the X chromosome provide some explanation of why autism is predominantly a disease found in boys? Could the “hot spots” identified in these autism-associated genes be sites for insertion of contaminating aborted fetal DNA?

These questions must be answered, and quickly. Recent literature suggests that autism spectrum disorder may now impact one out of every 100 children. The pharmaceutical industry is also currently moving to replace more animal-produced vaccines with aborted-fetal-cell production and also to produce biologic drugs using aborted fetal cells.

The practice of using aborted fetal cells for vaccine and drug production creates wrenching moral dilemmas for parents and consumers, ignores informed consent rights, and exposes our children and ourselves to contaminants lacking safety evaluations. We cannot ignore this issue in good conscience, and we cannot afford to wait.
Dr. Deisher is president of Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute (www.soundchoice.org), as well as a cofounder and the research and development director for Ave Maria Biotechnology Company (www.avmbiotech.com), which promote pro-life biotechnology. This article is an adaptation and update of Sound Choice Pharmaceutical Institute’s June 2009 newsletter and is published with its kind permission. For more information on Dr. Deisher, see “Providing real choice: A conversation with Dr. Theresa Deisher” in American Life League’s Celebrate Life magazine (January-February 2009) .

Autism + Intense Interest = Career?

Matthew was just one year old when I noticed his intense interest in wheels at a Gymboree class.

“He’ll probably be an engineer someday!” I told my husband.

A few months later, a friend noticed Matthew’s fascination with lights. “Maybe he’ll be an electrician some day!” Over time, there were the drains,(“Plumbing!) the cows (“Farming!), the gates and the airplanes.

These cycles of intense interests came and went, but the one that stuck was lawn and garden maintenance. Matthew watched with great interest while garden crews in our neighborhood mowed, trimmed, pruned, raked and edged. He smiled and jumped gleefully for the finale as gardeners strapped on their gas-powered leaf blowers and cleared any stray grass , dirt or leaf trimmings before loading up their trucks and driving away.

Matthew got his first gas powered mower when he was eleven, and now, at 28, he works nearly every day maintaining the landscape at Camphill Communities California near Santa Cruz and other properties in the area.
First mower


As a child, Jonathan Murphy, who has Asperger’s, showed interest in (and a talent for) acting. His mother Jodi encouraged him to audition and perform in community theater. She wondered how she could help Jonathan leverage his talent in acting into a career as he approached adulthood. When Jonathan was 16, he tried voice over lessons.

Jonathan, now in his 20’s, has been in the voice over business for the 5 years.

Jodi pooled her family’s talents—Jonathan’s voice over, her daughter’s writing, her husband’s technical expertise and her own marketing skills—and collaborated with creative professionals to develop a children’s book and storytelling app series for the iPad.

Geek Club Books debuted in Fall of 2013 and has received many awards and acclaim since. Now Jonathan is performing the story telling series, Dorktales, live.

Watch Jonathan and book a show here.
Jonathan Murphy


Dani Bowman always loved to draw, and when she was 11 years old, she became extremely interested in Pokemon. Her aunt told her that the co-creator of Pokemon, Satoshi Tariji—who was also on the autism spectrum—created his company Game Freak, Inc. when he was 17. So Dani set out to beat his record and founded Power Light Animation Studios.

Read an Kerry Magro’s interview with Dani on Autism After 16.

“I believe that many with autism can lead fulfilling and successful lives doing what they love,” say’s Dani, “For me, that’s animation!
Dani Bowman

Dani Bowman

I share these stories with you today because I remember how anxious I felt as a young mom about “the future”. I would have felt better if I knew there would be a variety options not just for jobs, but for housing–and even a social life.

I encourage you to share your concerns and success stories, too, either in the comment section, or here.

Let’s all help each other.

In the next few weeks, I’ll also share stories about community resources and housing option for people with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Stay tuned…

You might also enjoy this post: In which I again wonder what he’ll do when he grows up.

It’s written by Ellen Siedman, author of one of my favorite blogs, Love That Max

Autism: Ten Ways to De-Stimulate Those ‘Stims’

Children with autism invariably demonstrate what are called ‘self-stimulatory behaviors’. These are compulsive rituals and behaviors that can be quite challenging to squelch; including hand-flapping, rocking, jumping, squealing, pacing, echoing, and obsessing. To manage these behaviors, parents must first realize that we all ‘self-stimulate’ to one degree or another; hopefully, we do so in more socially acceptable ways. Take a look around you, and you’ll see finger, pencil, and foot-tapping, pacing, biting fingernails, chewing on a pencil, rocking in a rocking chair… These are outlets for our anxiety and energy. It’s also important to note that, equally often, these behaviors tend to be self-soothing as opposed to stimulating. So, with those considerations in mind; here’s what to do:

  1. Determine the underlying purpose of the behavior. For example, is your child rocking after an over-whelming day (self-soothing), or pacing when bored (self-stimulating).
  2. Find more appropriate or less noticeable avenues of expression. This would include finger or hand-flapping as opposed to flapping the entire arm; going for a brisk walk or jog rather than pacing, using a trampoline rather than jumping.
  3. Teach more appropriate coping strategies, including teaching mindful breathing (deep breathing), healthy self-talk, and communicating thoughts and feelings to problem-solve.
  4. Limit these ‘stimming’ behaviors to certain times of the day, and particular places.
  5. Keep your child occupied with more appropriate activities. Children who are unoccupied are more prone to self-stimulate.
  6. Play music that is soothing, enjoyable, or with a fast tempo, depending on whether bored or anxious.
  7. Anticipate what causes your child stress, and prepare ahead of time either by avoiding the stressor, or helping your child to better-cope (deep breathing; allowing for breaks from the stressful activity, picture schedule…).
  8. If your child is obsessive, for example, on the military or the tornado’s, such can be limited to a particular time or place. However, another approach is to permit your child free indulgence as long as another topic is broached, in conversation, in less than two minutes, or some similar arrangement. Of course, this would need to be rehearsed and practiced.
  9. Reinforce (praise, stickers, hugs…) appropriate behavior; do not punish self-stimulatory behavior.
  10. In the event that the self-stimulatory behavior is self-injurious, or unresponsive to the aforementioned strategies, it’s important to seek professional treatment. Call us toll-free at 1-855 HOPE 360.

I trust you’ll find these strategies to be effective. Please provide some feedback regarding what you’ve found to be helpful. Also, feel free to ask any questions and don’t forget to subscribe to regularly receive our posts the emails. Also, if you found this helpful, why not forward to a friend. God bless.