Autism Spectrum Disorder is a complex developmental disability that causes a wide range of social, communication and behavioral challenges. Just last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new estimates that 1 in 88 children in the U.S. has autism.

Autism more often is diagnosed in boys than girls and knows no racial, ethnic or social boundaries. Family income, lifestyle and educational levels do not appear to change the chances of a child having autism. After diagnosis, the disorder can have a profound impact on the families.

Experts debate changes to autism diagnostic criteria
Fred Volkmar, of the Yale University School of Medicine and Francesca Happé, of the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, offer in this article their thoughts on the effort to rewrite the criteria for diagnosing autism in the American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic guide. Volkmar, author of an upcoming study on the subject, expresses concern that the changes could cause some individuals with higher cognitive abilities to lose their autism diagnoses. However, Happe defends the change, which she says is designed to streamline a contradictory system.

Study considers social skills of individuals with autism
People with autism may have difficulties with social skills because of differences in the "mirror neuron" system of their brains, new research shows. In people without autism, this area of the brain is stimulated when the individual is watching others, leading the individual to learn new skills. This same area was seen as less active in people with autism, the researchers found, suggesting their ability to mimic others' behavior may be compromised.

Mass. school has successful program for students with autism
A Massachusetts elementary school's program for children with autism is being recognized as a model for others in the state. The Creating Opportunities for Autistic Children, or COACH program, is aimed at helping students with autism transition back to inclusion classrooms using data-based instruction and one-on-one lessons.
Okla. district aims for inclusion of students with autism
Educators in the Oklahoma City School District in Oklahoma are working to transition students with autism into inclusion classrooms, as the number of students with the disorder grows. In addition to reading and math, educators say they teach life and social skills designed to help each individual child succeed. "Everything is based on the child and who they are," said Michelle Miller-Hayes, the district's director of special education.

School play is a learning experience for children with autism
Students with and without autism at a Chandler, Ariz., elementary school are part of the school's inclusive drama club. The students performed singing and dancing roles together in a recent school play. Special-education teacher Amy Miller created the club to help students with autism reach their full potential and improve their social skills.

Students with autism cultivate new skills in school garden
Students in an autism program at Cherry Ridge Elementary School in Louisiana are gaining valuable skills as they help cultivate the school's new garden. The students, whose work planting and tending the garden is a form of horticultural therapy, have shown improvements in grades, communication skills and self-esteem since they started gardening, educators said.

Laptop program has many benefits for student with autism
A school laptop program has helped Ontario, Canada, student Matthew Doherty, who has autism, succeed in high school. Doherty uses his computer to organize his school work, interact with teachers and keep up with his academic calendar -- all tasks that had caused him difficulties without the technology. "We weren't sure he was even going to make it through high school and he's on the honor role now," his mother, Sandra Doherty, said.

Young children with autism find success with iPads
Therapists at the Center for Child and Family Research at Siskin Children's Institute in Chattanooga, Tenn., are using iPad 2 tablet computers as part of a pilot program to help children with autism and other developmental disabilities improve their communication and social skills. Applications, such as iCommunicate on the touch-screen devices, can be used with children as young as 2, and can help keep them engaged and focused on exercises aimed at improving their verbal skills, therapists say.

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Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.

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