Support Groups Manager
The Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership, Inc.
Help GRASP make a difference. Donate now by clicking the link below:
While growing up, Franklin resident Dena Gassner just didn’t feel like she belonged with the rest of her friends.
Even though she graduated, with honors, from high school and took on a full slate of college classes, her thoughts were often muddled and she didn’t react in many social situations as most would have.
But she’s here to say that an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis isn’t the end of the world. Those who have these brain functioning conditions, which are characterized by social impairments and communication issues, can lead productive lives, raise families and have successful careers.
Gassner, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome when she was 38 and studying at a children’s hospital program, wants to give that inspiration and hope to others as a contributor in a new book, Scholars With Autism: Achieving Dreams (Auricle Books, $19.95). It’s an anthology of eight “autistic scholars” who share their autobiographical stories of living with autistic challenges.
“My diagnosis allowed me to develop some integration,” Gassner said. “It allowed me to understand that I have autism. Getting past that involves me asking how can I bridge the gap with what I intend and what others perceive.”
Her journey to that point came after her son — her second child — was diagnosed with autism at age 3. That launched her into the world of advocating for those with autism. Only after she was misdiagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder did she discover that she, too, was on the autism spectrum, but at the opposite end from where her son is.
He’s sometimes aloof and shy while his mother is an extravert.
But her son has been successful in overcoming a lot, too. Now 22, he graduated from high school with a 3.1 GPA.
“He’s underestimated while I’m overestimated,” Gassner said.
In Chapter 6 of the book, Gassner goes into detail about her life, which was characterized with hardship, abuse and confusion in the early years. It’s a very inspiring read. Copies are available online at places such as Amazon.com and BarnesAndNoble.com.
Gassner, who has a master’s degree in social work, is a public speaker, a collaborator with the Autism Self-Advocacy Network and an advisory board member with the Autism Society of America and The Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership. In 2009, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean presented her with the Jo Andrews Award for outstanding disability advocacy by a person living with disabilities.
She also is the director and founder of the Franklin-based Center for Understanding, which provides programs that teach direct hand-over-hand systems navigation support to families, transition-aged teens and adults with Asperger syndrome.
For more information on the program, visit www.centerforunderstanding.net.
By Susan Cain, Special to CNN
updated 9:38 AM EDT, Sun March 18, 2012
Editor's note: Susan Cain is the author of "Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking." A writer who formerly practiced corporate law and worked as a negotiations consultant, Cain spoke at the TED2012 conference in Long Beach, California. TED is a nonprofit organization dedicated to "Ideas worth spreading," which it makes available through talks posted on its website. Follow @susancain on Twitter.
(CNN) -- The theory of evolution. The theory of relativity. The Cat in the Hat. All were brought to you by introverts.
Our culture is biased against quiet and reserved people, but introverts are responsible for some of humanity's greatest achievements -- from Steve Wozniak's invention of the Apple computer to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter. And these introverts did what they did not in spite of their temperaments -- but because of them.
As the science journalist Winifred Gallagher writes: "The glory of the disposition that stops to consider stimuli rather than rushing to engage with them is its long association with intellectual and artistic achievement. Neither E=mc2 nor Paradise Lost was dashed off by a party animal."
Introverts make up a third to a half the population. That's one out of every two or three people you know.
Faking it: How introverts succeed
Yet our most important institutions -- our schools and our workplaces -- are designed for extroverts. And we're living with a value system that I call the New Groupthink, where we believe that all creativity and productivity comes from an oddly gregarious place.
Picture the typical classroom. When I was a kid, we sat in rows of desks, and we did most of our work autonomously. But nowadays many students sit in "pods" of desks with four or five students facing each other, and they work on countless group projects -- even in subjects like math and creative writing. Kids who prefer to work by themselves don't fit, and research by educational psychology professor Charles Meisgeier found that the majority of teachers believe the ideal student is an extrovert -- even though introverts tend to get higher grades, according to psychologist Adrian Furnham.
The same thing happens at work. Many of us now work in offices without walls, with no respite from the noise and gaze of co-workers. And introverts are routinely passed over for leadership positions, even though the latest research by the management professor Adam Grant at Wharton shows that introverted leaders often deliver better results. They're better at letting proactive employees run with their creative ideas, while extroverts can unwittingly put their own stamp on things and not realize that other people's ideas aren't being heard.
Of course, we all fall at different points along the introvert-extrovert spectrum. Even Carl Jung, who popularized these terms in the first place, said there was no such thing as a pure introvert or a pure extrovert -- that "such a man would be in a lunatic asylum." There's also a term, ambivert, for people who fall smack in the middle of the spectrum.
But many of us recognize ourselves as one or the other. And culturally we need a better balance of yin and yang between the two types. In fact, we often seek out this balance instinctively. That's why we see so many introvert-extrovert couples (I'm an introvert happily married to an extrovert) and the most effective work teams have been found to be a mix of the two types.
The need for balance is especially important when it comes to creativity and productivity. When psychologists look at the lives of the most creative people, they almost always find a serious streak of introversion because solitude is a crucial ingredient for creativity.
Charles Darwin took long walks alone in the woods and emphatically turned down dinner party invitations. Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, dreamed up his creations in a private bell tower in the back of his house in La Jolla. Steve Wozniak invented the first Apple computer alone in his cubicle at Hewlett Packard.
Of course, this doesn't mean that we should stop collaborating with each other -- witness Wozniak teaming up with Steve Jobs to form Apple. But it does mean that solitude matters. And for some people it's the air they breathe.
In fact, we've known about the transcendent power of solitude for centuries; it's only recently that we've forgotten it. Our major religions all tell the story of seekers -- Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha -- who go off alone, to the wilderness, and bring profound revelations back to the community. No wilderness, no revelations.
This is no surprise, if you listen to the insights of contemporary psychology. It turns out that you can't be in a group without instinctively mimicking others' opinions -- even about personal, visceral things like who you're physically attracted to. We ape other people's beliefs without even realizing we're doing it.
Groups also tend to follow the most dominant person in the room even though there's zero correlation between good ideas and being a good talker. The best talker might have the best ideas, but she might not. So it's much better to send people off to generate ideas by themselves, freed from the distortion of group dynamics, and only then come together as a team.
I'm not saying that social skills are unimportant, or that we should abolish teamwork. The same religions that send their sages off to lonely mountaintops also teach us love and trust. And the problems we face today in fields like economics and science are more complex than ever, and need armies of people to solve them.
But I am saying that we all need alone time. And that the more freedom we give introverts to be themselves, the more they'll dream up their own unique solutions to the problems that bedevil us.
Click on link below for the video:
WHEN Philip Davis was just three years old, his mother saw an advert for a gymnastics club in the local paper. She decided to take him along – unaware he was to become one of the country's top gymnasts
Philip, 26, from Coulsdon, is now a twice British gymnastics champion, having earned the title at junior level in 2002 and senior in 2005. He came overall second at the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens last year, counting a gold among his seven medals.
Philip, who has Asperger's Syndrome and Dyspraxia, is now a coach at the Croydon School of Gymnastics, where he took his first class more than 20 years ago.
He said: "(Gymnastics) is a sport where opportunities are endless because there's lots of different skills to learn. So once you've nailed something there's always some way you can improve on it."
Philip has also been a gymnastic judge for ten years, and earned his Level 2 UK coaching certificate last year. Some of his pupils at Croydon School of Gymnastics have Asperger's Syndrome or a physical disability.
He said: "We include all people – adults, babies, you name it we probably do it.
"For the last year or two I've been teaching the parents and toddlers during the day. And then we've got our top class which goes up to about 16.
"I even help out with the adults sometimes as well. The oldest one there is 70, so it's a big age range. What you've learnt, you're putting it back into the community, passing on your knowledge to other people."
Colleagues at the Thornton Heath club recognised Philip's contribution when they nominated him to be an Olympic Torch bearer. He will carry the torch between Wandsworth and Lewisham on July 23.
Despite his Olympic success, Philip claims "not to be most naturally talented gymnast in the world".
He added: "Being that I have Asperger's, it's not just a learning disability, it can be a bit clumsy sometimes as well. So I suppose I have to overcome that a little bit."
His message to our Olympic and Paralympics athletes is that hard work pays off. He said: "It doesn't matter if you have a disability or not, you can always achieve if you really try."
'Intellectual disability is not intrinsic to autism,' say researchers
Autistic people should not be stigmatised for their condition but have their abilities recognised, scientists have said
Autism can be an advantage in giving people exceptional memories and visual skills, according to their research.
They can remember information they read weeks ago, and often outshine others in non-verbal intelligence tests, it was found.
By seeing autism's differences as defects, researchers are failing to fully understand the condition, claims Dr Laurent Mottron, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Montreal.
They often outperform others in auditory and visual tests, and are less likely to misremember facts.
In one test by Mottron, which involved completing a visual pattern, people with autism finished 40 per cent faster than those without the condition.
'It's time to start thinking of autism as an advantage in some spheres, not a cross to bear,' Dr Mottron wrote in an article published yesterday in science journal Nature.
He said unusual activity in autistic people's brains should be seen as 'evidence simply of their alternative, yet sometimes successful, brain organisation.'
Dr Mottron said he did not want to underplay the challenges of autism, adding: 'One out of 10 autistics cannot speak, nine out of 10 have no regular job and four out of five autistic adults are still dependent on their parents.'
But people with autism can make significant contributions to society in the right environment, he said.
Several people with autism work in Dr. Mottron's lab, and one researcher in particular, Michelle Dawson, made major contributions to the lab's understanding of the condition.
Intellectual disability may be over-estimated among people with autism because researchers use inappropriate tests, Mottron said.
'In measuring the intelligence of a person with a hearing impairment, we wouldn't hesitate to eliminate components of the test that can’t be explained using sign language; why shouldn’t we do the same for autistics?'
'I no longer believe that intellectual disability is intrinsic to autism,' he added. 'To estimate the true rate, scientists should use only those tests that require no verbal explanation.'
But Rajesh Kana, an assistant professor in the department of psychology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, warned that autism should still be thought of as a disorder.
He said that people with severe autism have problems functioning in their day-to-day lives, and even people with milder autism can fall victim to deception, because of their limited ability to understand when someone is lying.
By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on March 12, 2012
Swedish researchers found that almost 70 percent of young Swedes with Asperger’s syndrome in a new study have suffered from depression.
Tove Lugnegård, a researcher and doctoral student at the University of Gothenburg, discovered that mood disorders and anxiety disorders are very common among young adults with Asperger syndrome.
Around 70 percent of the young adults with Asperger’s syndrome in the study reported at least one previous episode of depression, and up to 50 percent had had repeated episodes — a remarkable result given that the mean age of the group was just 27 years.
“The results mean that it’s important that psychiatric care staff keep an eye open for the symptoms of depression in young adults with autism spectrum disorders,” said Lugnegård.
“This goes for both clinics that carry out assessments for autism spectrum disorders, and for general psychiatric care.
“Depression and anxiety can be more difficult to detect in people with autism spectrum because their facial expressions and body language are often not as easy to read, and because they may have difficulties in describing emotions. It’s also important to find out more about how to prevent depression among people with autism spectrum.”
Lugnegård’s research also determined that around one-third of people with Asperger’s syndrome also have ADHD, a finding that confirms previous studies.
Her thesis looks at some of the psychiatric and social-cognitive similarities of Asperger’s syndrome and schizophrenia. Both individuals with schizophrenia and those with Asperger’s often have high levels of autistic traits and an impaired ability to interpret social interactions.
“So it would appear that people with schizophrenia and those with Asperger’s syndrome are more similar to each other than previously realized, in terms of both autistic traits and social-cognitive disability,” said Lugnegård.
Source: University of Gothenburg
Source: Nauert PhD, R. (2012). Depression Common in Young Adults with Asperger’s. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 27, 2012, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2012/03/12/depression-common-in-young-...
By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer Enid News and Eagle March 5, 2012
ENID — When Cody Buss was in third grade, school officials told his mother he never would finish high school because of his autism.
Cody, 18, now a senior at Pond Creek-Hunter High School and member of FFA, was the owner of the grand champion steer at the 78th annual Northwest District Junior Livestock Show.
Cody, the son of Steve and Donna Buss, has shown cattle four years. Out of the 20 Pond Creek-Hunter youths who brought livestock to this year’s show, his is the only animal that made it to Monday’s premium sale, agriculture instructor Tim Winter said.
His black crossbred steer, Cowboy, garnered a $1,200 bid from Security National Bank.
Cody said he’ll probably put the money toward going to school. He’s thinking of studying video game design or video game testing. Oklahoma State University at Oklahoma City has a game design program, Donna Buss said.
But for the moment, Cody said, he’s focused on summer.
“No more having to get up early to go to school,” he said.
Monday’s premium sale bought in $121,700. Last year’s sale earned exhibitors a total of $116,350.
Jenny Brorsen, 18, a Perry senior and FFA member, netted $600 at the sale for her grand champion doe. Jenny said although this is her third year exhibiting at the show, her doe, Fancy, did the best of the animals she has shown.
She might put the money toward a vehicle, or she might apply it toward the cost of going to school. Jenny said she has not decided what she degree she wants to earn, but she’ll likely choose a two-year school close to home.
Jenny had thanks for her former ag teacher, Tommy Milligan, who now has found a different position.
“He helped me find the goat and buy the goat,” Jenny said.
The supreme champion heifer, owned by Cammi Gregory, of Cimarron, brought a bid of $5,000 at the sale. The supreme champion ewe, owned by Amber Cox, of Morrison, brought a bid of $2,000.
Additionally, the grand champion wether, owned by Duke Kelln, of Fairview, garnered $1,200; the grand champion barrow, owned by Skyler Compton, of Lomega, brought a bid of $1,100; and the supreme champion gilt, owned by Kyle Benham, of Okeene, garnered $1,400.
via Disability Scoop by Michelle Diament on 3/20/12
In what's being billed as the largest single autism research investment ever, academics, advocates and drugmakers are teaming up in an effort to develop medications to treat the disorder.
The $38.7 million effort is being spearheaded by Autism Speaks, King’s College London and Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche. Other drugmakers on board include Eli Lilly, Servier, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Pfizer and Vifor Pharma.
Over five years, organizers of the Europe-based initiative say they hope to make major strides toward developing drugs specifically to treat autism.
Currently, a handful of medications are federally approved to treat symptoms of the disorder, but no drug addresses the core features of autism itself.
“The lack of effective pharmacological treatments for ASD has a profound effect on patients’ lives,” said Robert Ring, Autism Speaks’ vice president of translational research, in a statement announcing the new effort.
“We are excited that with this unique collaboration we may see a real shift in future treatment for this devastating disorder,” added Ring, who served as head of Pfizer’s autism research unit before joining Autism Speaks last year.
Specifically, the new initiative known as European Autism Interventions — A Multicentre Study for Developing New Medications, is expected to help establish research databases in Europe that are compatible with those in the United States.
Additionally, organizers said they plan to create a clinical trial network so that new treatments can be tested on individuals with autism.
By Alexandra Ludka Mar 20, 2012 8:05pm
When 6-foot-5 Elena Delle Donne, the number one recruit in the country, chose the University of Connecticut, it seemed like a perfect fit of star player and powerhouse team, but just 48 hours after she arrived on campus, Delle Donne left. Nearly four years later, Delle Donne says it was the best choice she could have made.
Instead of joining the most dominant team in women’s college basketball back in 2008, she moved back to her home state and immediately enrolled at the University of Delaware, just 20 minutes away from her family in Wilmington, Del.
Many were stumped by the superstar’s choice to give up playing for a top team like UConn, but Delle Donne’s reasons had nothing to do with basketball.
Her older sister Lizzie, 27, is both blind and deaf and was born with cerebral palsy. So when Delle Donne moved to Connecticut, she could no longer communicate with her sister at all.
“Skype, cellphone, texting, email — doesn’t work with Liz,” she said. “We’ve never spoken a word to one another so the only thing we have is our physical contact. So that’s our whole relationship. It’s everything.
“She knows me by my smell and my feel, so, physically, physical contact is the only thing she knows,” she said. “So when I did leave, I lost Lizzie basically. Well, she lost me and I wasn’t OK with that when I left.”
And even though Lizzie can’t come to many games, she is always with her sister, even on the court.
“I have a tattoo right on my rib and it says ‘Lizzie’ and is inside angel wings,” she said. “And during the games, I even tap my side right before the game or when the game gets tough just to know Lizzie is out here with me to keep fighting.”
Lizzie does more than just give her luck on the court, Delle Donne said.
“She teaches me that you just fight no matter what,” she said. “And on the court when things aren’t going our way, you just never give up and that’s something I’ll never do and you’ll never see me put my head down and give up.”
“I would watch her struggle and I would watch her persevere through her struggles and that was something that always helps me put my life in perspective,” she said. “She overcomes battles that I will never face and thank God I will never face those, because I’m nowhere near as strong as Lizzie. And only someone like Lizzie can get through those battles.”
And even though Delle Donne didn’t end up where she thought she’d be, she says it was worth sacrificing a place on a top team for her family.
“They’re definitely my rocks and when I went away from my rocks, I realized that it wasn’t the right thing,” she said. “I wasn’t going to be happy if I was separated from my family.”
When she arrived at Delaware, she said, she was burnt out, so she took her freshman year off from the game she once loved and instead played volleyball for the school, where she studies early child education.
The following season, she started playing basketball again and has helped turn the Blue Hens into a team to be feared.
“I love everything that is involved in this sport,” she said. “It’s just a lot of fun. And when I stopped enjoying it, I stepped away from the game because I wasn’t going to do something that wasn’t for me. Now I play it for the passion and love of the game.”
The women’s team won a NCAA tournament game for the first time in the school’s history Sunday night, defeating the University of Arkansas Little Rock, 73-42, and giving the team a record of 31-1.
Delle Donne, a junior, scored 39 points against Arkansas, just three less than her opponents total score. She led the nation in scoring with an average of 27.5 points a game, three more than anyone else this season.
But she knows she stands out as much for choice as for her basketball skills.
“It’s the poem ‘The Road Not Taken.’ And that’s kind of my theme here,” she said. “And that poem really means a lot to me and my family. And this really has been the road not taken. And it’s been incredible.”
Click on link below to view video.
Rory Fanning reports on how one family and community are grappling with a horrific episode of police violence against a mentally ill Black teenager.
STEPHON WATTS suffered from autism, but he was like other 15-year-olds in many ways. He loved to fix computers, watch YouTube and read Dr. Seuss books.
On the morning of February 1, Stephon was having an emotional meltdown because he didn't want to go to school. His father, Steven Watts, called the hospital and described the situation, and they told him to call police.
This wasn't unusual. The local Calumet City, Ill., police had been to the home 10 times under similar circumstances, and Stephon's social worker had also counseled the family to call police in various situations.
Stephon had calmed down soon after his father called the police, and by the time four white police officers arrived, he was sitting quietly in the basement of his home. But the sight of the officers frightened him, so he raised a butter knife and lunged at the gun-toting men, according to his father.
That's when police shot and killed the African American teenager.
Police say they drew their weapons and yelled for Stephon to drop the butter knife. He didn't. Moments later, two officers ended Stephon's life. One of the officers received a superficial cut to the arm.
"I want people to know that I'm grieving," Stephon's father told reporters. "I want police to know that they really hurt me. I just called the police to help. That's all I did. I didn't call them for any other reason than to have them help me calm down my son. It led to his death."
Shortly after the killing, 80 people, including family members and civic and religious leaders, gathered outside the Calumet City Police Department headquarters to protest the murder. On February 25, the community held a second march and rally that covered the two-mile stretch from police headquarters to Calumet City Hall.
Local and state police have so far been unresponsive to the Watts family's requests for information about the investigation into Stephon's murder, and the family has a meeting with the U.S. Department of Justice scheduled for March 9.
"The one thing that we look for our police to do is serve and protect," said Alicia Murchison, one of the protesters who also has a child with autism. "To think of this is just unjustifiable."
Stephon's father and one of his uncles, Minister Aaron Watts, stood in front of the entrance to the police station, holding a picture of Stephon, and Minister Watts pledged to organize sit-ins each Wednesday at the Calumet City police station, starting at the hour Stephon was shot. The family and church members are also calling for a boycott in Calumet City until the racism and brutality within the police department is purged.
Sam Anderson, the president of the Chicago local of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU)--Stephon's mother works for the post office--acknowledged the link between fighting against police violence and the attack on public-sector unions. "I am not comparing losing a son to losing a job, but we [the African American community] are being attacked from all angles," said Anderson. "I want the family to know that the APWU will do whatever it takes ensure Stephon and his family receive the justice they deserve."
According to Wayne Watts, another of Stephon's uncles, Stephon's father told him, "Wayne, I keep seeing the smoke [from the cop's gun]. It's the first thing I see in the morning, and the last thing I see at night before I go to bed. It's even in my dreams."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
LIVING IN the impoverished and predominantly Black community of Dolton, Ill., Stephon and his parents didn't have access to the schools and social services that children and parents have in more affluent communities.
"Children in poor African American communities, on average, are diagnosed with autism at the age of six," according to Joshua Krasne of the Resource Center for Autism and Developmental Delays, who has worked with children with autism for 20 years. "The average white child living in a more prosperous neighborhood is diagnosed at the age of three. This is evidence that these communities do not have access to the resources more wealthy communities have access to."
Stephon was diagnosed at the age of nine with Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, as well as restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.
The lack of resources for poor and working-class children with autism will only be intensified in the wake of new austerity measures in Illinois that cut into the already limited access to mental health facilities.
"Emotional eruptions are considered a behavioral symptom of the diagnosis of certain cases of autism," according to Krasne. "In many cases they are considered normal. These officers should have also realized that the aggressor is in fact the victim when it comes to autistic aggression. There was absolutely nothing justifiable about this killing."
"Emotional standoffs escalate when there is a lack of significant communication [with the person with autism]," continued Krasne. "If the officers were loud and aggressive, this would have certainly escalated the situation. The child needed to be distracted. If going to school was the issue of the day, he should have been calmly asked what else he wanted to do."
Dawn La Brose, a clinical social worker with 15 years of experience working with children with autism, pointed out: "These officers had previous knowledge of this child and should have received crisis prevention intervention (CPI) training. The training is available and out there. If the officers had CPI training, they would have known that the last thing a child with autism needs is an audience. One person, not four, should have been talking with the child."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
SOME 400 people attended the four-hour funeral for Stephon on February 18, and about 30 people spoke, many battling to choke back their grief. One after another, they expressed their deep love and affection for Stephon. "Stephon was shy and quiet, but showed great love for those he trusted," said his pastor J.B. Dillon, who along with nine other pastors, bishops and elders presided over the service.
The event was filled with a palpable tension. On the one hand, there were calls to forgive the officers and to find peace in the Bible's assurances that Stephon is now in a better place. On the other, there was broad recognition of the need to fight back against a blatantly racist system of law enforcement that enabled two police officers to draw and fire their weapons at a mentally disabled Black 15-year-old armed only with a butter knife.
The comments that generated the most applause from the family and community expressed simple outrage. "We didn't come up here from Mississippi and Arkansas to be gunned down by ignorant racist cops," said one of the bishops presiding over the funeral. And Wainwright Powell, Stephon's uncle, condemned a system that has "legalized the murder of Black folks.
Near the end of funeral, Stephon's 13-year-old cousin Michael recited a poem he wrote the day he found out about Stephon's murder. The name of the poem is "They Say":
They say a black man isn't good for nothing.
They say a black man likes to kill.
They say a black man likes to steal.
They say a black man doesn't create anything.
Well, a black man didn't create the pain I am feeling right now.
By Michelle Diament , Disability Scoop March 7, 2012
First-ever national data released Tuesday indicates that students with disabilities are significantly more likely than others to be restrained at school.
The new statistics come from a survey of 72,000 schools, representing 85 percent of the nation’s students, that was conducted by the U.S. Department of Education.
In all, 38,792 of the students represented in the survey were physically restrained by an adult at school during the 2009-2010 academic year. The vast majority of those restrained — 69 percent — had disabilities, even though students with special needs made up just 12 percent of the survey sample.
This is the first time that information on restraint and seclusion was solicited as part of the Education Department’s regular civil rights data collection. The government agency began releasing findings this week broken down by location as well as some results from the national sample. However, a full picture from across the country is not expected for another month, officials said.
In addition to the disproportionate use of restraint on students with disabilities, the Education Department data indicated that boys are more likely than girls to be subject to restraint and seclusion. What’s more, students from some racial groups were more frequently subject to the disciplinary tactics.
Meanwhile, students with disabilities were more than twice as likely to receive out-of-school suspensions as compared to their typically developing peers, the survey found.
The findings were released the same day disability advocates at the National Disability Rights Network issued a report blasting the Education Department for failing to do more to rein in the use of restraint and seclusion in schools.
The organization first brought concerns about the tactics to the forefront in 2009 with a report that found dozens of cases of injury and even death resulting from the practices.
Since that time, members of Congress have attempted to pass legislation to limit restraint and seclusion in schools, but to no avail. (Read all of Disability Scoop’s coverage of restraint and seclusion »)
“(The Department of Education) has not provided any meaningful leadership to reduce the use of restraint and seclusion — despite the fact that students are continuing to be confined, tied up, pinned down, battered and nearly killed on a regular basis,” said Curt Decker, executive director of the National Disability Rights Network, in the organization’s latest report.
The group is urging federal education officials to issue “strong national guidance” to schools about the use of restraint and seclusion much like they have done to address concerns about bullying.
Last year, Alexa Posny, the Education Department’s top special education official indicated that such guidance would be forthcoming, but it has yet to be released.
By Allen Frances, MD | February 22, 2012
Until yesterday, there were only 2 reasons to stick with the projected date of DSM-5 publication (May 2013):
1. The need to coordinate DSM-5 with ICD-10-CM coding, which was scheduled to start Oct 2013.
2. The need to protect APA publishing profits in order to meet budget projections.
The first reason just dropped out. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen G. Sebelius has announced that the start date for ICD-10-CM has been postponed. It is not yet clear for how long, but most likely a year (see http://www.dhhs.gov/news/press/2012pres/02/20120216a.html).
This latest delay in implementing ICD-10-CM is the government's response to pressure by medical providers worried about the cost of changing systems. ICD-10 was available 20 years ago and has been official around the world for some time.
The long US lag has been a cost saving measure—it will take billions of dollars to get all health system computers to switch coding systems. Indeed, there are many who would like to take this delay one giant step further by canceling ICD-10-CM altogether and leap frogging to ICD-11 (which will be ready around 2015 or 2016).
This means there is only one reason left to rush DSM-5 to print—the prospect of publishing profits. This would be a shame because DSM-5 is nowhere near ready to be born. Why do I say this—and what needs to be done before it can responsibly turned loose on the field?
1. During the past month, there have been well over 100 highly critical news articles in major media outlets all around the world decrying the many risks of DSM-5 proposals. (For a representative sample see Suzy Chapman's post at http://wp.me/pKrrB-1R8 ). APA's internal scientific review of these DSM-5 proposals is being conducted in secret and has absolutely no credibility to the outside world. DSM-5 will continue to be ridiculed and ultimately will be rejected unless its extremely controversial proposals are dropped or are subjected to independent scientific review. . . and such outside review will take time.
2. DSM-5 made a great mistake when it cancelled the crucially important second stage of its field trials. This was made necessary because constant delays in completing its first stage left no remaining time for its second—that is assuming that the May 2013 publication date had to be met at all costs. DSM-5 also warned us that its imprecisely written criteria sets performed so poorly in the first stage of the field trials that historically unacceptable reliabilities (barely better than chance) will now be accepted for DSM-5. This is simply unacceptable. DSM-5 should complete both stages of its field trials as originally scheduled. This means rewriting and retesting the poorly performing diagnoses. And this will take time.
3. The planned DSM-5 clinician's field trial appears to be almost completely dead in the water—plagued by disorganization, constant delays, and a ridiculously high attrition rate. If this is to be done properly, it too will take time to complete.
The original publication date of DSM-5 was 2011. This had to be delayed for a year and then again for another year because of poor planning and disorganized implementation. Continued unexplained delays again have DSM-5 so far behind its own schedule that May 2013 can now be met only with a third rate product that cannot possibly gain the wide acceptance enjoyed by previous DSM's. The only responsible APA action is to delay DSM-5 publication yet again until it has successfully accomplished all the steps planned in its own original timetable.
The only reason for APA to prematurely rush out a poor DSM-5 product is profit—and given its importance this is simply no excuse at all.
A study has found that people who appear to be constantly distracted have more “working memory”, giving them the ability to hold a lot of information in their heads and manipulate it mentally.
Children at school need this type of memory on a daily basis for a variety of tasks, such as following teachers’ instructions or remembering dictated sentences.
During the study, volunteers were asked to perform one of two simple tasks during which researchers checked to ask if the participants’ minds were wandering.
At the end, participants measured their working memory capacity by their ability to remember a series of letters interspersed with simple maths questions.
Daniel Levinson, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States, said that those with higher working memory capacity reported “more mind wandering during these simple tasks”, but their performance did not suffer.
The results, published online in the journal Psychological Science, appear to confirm previous research that found working memory allows humans to juggle multiple thoughts simultaneously.
Dr Jonathan Smallwood, of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Science in Leipzig, Germany, said: “What this study seems to suggest is that, when circumstances for the task aren’t very difficult, people who have additional working memory resources deploy them to think about things other than what they’re doing.”
Working memory capacity is also associated with general measures of intelligence, such as reading comprehension and IQ scores, and also offers a window into the widespread, but not well understood, realm of internally driven thoughts.
Dr Smallwood added: “Our results suggest the sorts of planning that people do quite often in daily life — when they are on the bus, when they are cycling to work, when they are in the shower — are probably supported by working memory.
“Their brains are trying to allocate resources to the most pressing problems.”
Help GRASP make a difference. Donate now by clicking the link below: