News and Notes from The Johnson Center

Because Being a Teenager is Tough Enough ... Social Skills Training for Adolescents with ASD

JCCHD | Thu, April 12, 2012 | [Applied Behavior Analysis][Autism Treatment][Community][Events]

Being a preteen or teen is hard under the best of circumstances. We have often heard people say they couldn’t be paid enough to go through that time in their life again; this might (or might not) be an exaggeration, but we do know being a teen is even harder for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Reports have shown that adolescents with an ASD are more likely to experience intense feelings of loneliness and frustration over their inability to fit in, and lack of or poor quality friendships than their typically developing peers. Good friendships are important because they help kids establish independence, deal with the stress that can come with being a teenager, and they build confidence and self-esteem. The good news is that social skills can be taught and positive peer interactions and friendships can be established with the right tools and support, leading to a sometimes dramatically improved quality of life.

The Johnson Center provides social skills groups using ...

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DSM-V – What do the changes mean?

JCCHD | Tue, April 10, 2012 | [Assessment Corner][News]

If you have a child with autism you have likely heard of the DSM-IV.  The DSM-IV stands for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-Fourth Edition (DSM-IV). It is published by the American Psychiatric Association and it’s the primary manual used by clinicians to provide a formal diagnosis of autism and related disorders. The manual outlines the specific criteria that must be met to receive a diagnosis, as well as the corresponding label and numerical code that is sometimes used by insurance companies to identify the diagnosis. The main purpose is to provide standard guidelines for clinicians to use for the diagnosis of different psychological disorders and conditions.

The DSM-IV currently identifies a set of Pervasive Developmental Disorders that are considered “autism spectrum disorders” (ASDs). These include Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). The DSM-IV has been under revision for ...

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Autism in the News: How do they know it is 1 in 88?

JCCHD | Mon, April 09, 2012 | [Assessment Corner][News]

Last week, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its most recent update on the rates of autism in the United States.  The numbers are staggering, indicating a rate of 1 out of 88 eight-year-old children (1 out of 54 of boys and 1 out of 252 of girls). Review of rates over the past several years indicates a skyrocketing increase—the CDC data shows an increase of 78% in autism rates from 2002 to 2008. While unanswered questions remain regarding the cause of this increase, one thing is very clear: public health action is needed to help children and families dealing with autism.

How were these numbers determined? The CDC developed the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (ADDM) in the year 2000 to…

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Sibling Support

JCCHD | Fri, April 06, 2012 | [Events][Sibling Spotlight]

When children are diagnosed with autism it not only affects the child, but the entire family. Specifically, brothers and sisters of children with autism face many challenges—they may become overwhelmed with feelings of jealously, resentment, loneliness, or inadequacy. Many siblings of children with autism report being bullied or feeling embarrassed when in a public setting.  In a recent book titled Siblings: The Autism Spectrum Through Our Eyes (2010) children talked ...

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Q & A: How do we know what to do?

JCCHD | Thu, April 05, 2012 | [Autism Treatment][Q and A ]

It seems like every day there is a news story about autism research that says this is good, this is bad, don’t do this, do this. It is hard to make sense of it all. How can parents make the right choice for what their child needs?

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World Autism Awareness Day

JCCHD | Mon, April 02, 2012 | [Community][Events][News]

Today, April 2, is World Autism Awareness Day. The Centers for Disease Control recently released data that in 2008, one eight-year-old out of every 88 in the US had an autism spectrum diagnosis – this was an increase of 23% from the previous two years. There are many layers to understanding and discussing this complex issue, but one thing is clear: many people either have autism or love someone who does.

So how does one commemorate World Autism Awareness Day and what is it we want people to be aware of? The answer ...

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Research Update: Survey Analysis of Gluten and Casein Free Diet in ASD Population

JCCHD | Thu, March 29, 2012 | [Research]

Surveys are used to gather information such as current opinions on political issues or on the latest summer movies. Though not a true experiment, a survey is a useful research tool for determining behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs. However, individual surveys rarely provide strong evidence of cause and effect. In the latest study on ASD and GFCF diets published in Nutritional Neuroscience, researchers relied on parental report survey data to identify what is believed about elimination diets in relation to behavior and health. The authors of the study concluded that parents who were the most rigorous in administering a GFCF diet to their children are more likely to report improvements in health and ASD and social behaviors.

Penn State scientists developed a 90-item questionnaire for 387 caregivers to answer concerning their child’s health and diet. This questionnaire ...

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