April News

Medical staffing professionals can promote awareness of autism year-round

Medical staffing professionals can promote awareness of autism year-round

While you may be looking to promote autism in April, which is Occupational Therapy Awareness month, the message is relevant throughout the year. As a healthcare staffing professional, there are a number of things you can do year-round to spread the word about autism. In fact, Florida State University developed Students Promoting Autism Awareness, a program that aims to share knowledge of the disorder across campus. Regardless of if you are working independently or on a committee, there is plenty to do.

At work
Working as a travel nurse or physical therapist, you might want to consider spreading the word among your colleagues first. While many may be knowledgeable when it comes to autism, it's possible that they don't give it as much thought if it's not part of their daily routine. Up your co-worker's insight on the matter by handing out information material or even hosting a luncheon that celebrates patients you may work with who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

With friends and family
Even if you don't work with ASD patients, you may know more about autism than your friends and family members. While travel therapy jobs may place you away from home, you can use the Internet as an excellent resource for educational materials. Social media and blogging websites can provide you with the perfect way to share information on autism with those in your network. For those in the medical staffing profession who are on an assignment near loved ones, consider hosting a potluck dinner to raise ASD awareness.

Resources for families of patients
In addition to talking to those who are unfamiliar with autism, you can also make yourself a resource to families who are dealing with ASD. By keeping up to date with informational resources and other materials, you can act as a point of reference for moms and dads who are new to autism. There are a number of websites that provide advice and support for parents and other family members, such as the Autism Society of America and Peak Parent Center. Depending on where your travel therapy assignment has you living, different resources may be available in the local community.

Focusing discussions on OT and ASD throughout the month of April is a great start when it comes to spreading awareness to the public. However, if you can spend some time year-round to focus your attention on these matters, it will go a long way. Talk to your colleagues and start planning your awareness events for the year today!


We need a better explanation for the surge in autism

The latest numbers from the Center for Disease Control showing a steep rise in the number of children with autism are so off the charts that it’s hard not to come to one of two conclusions: There’s something wrong in the way that we measure the data or there’s something extraordinary going on. 1 in 68 American children now has autism, up from 1 in 88 children just two years ago, an increase of 30 percent. A decade ago, one in 166 children were diagnosed as having autism. In 1975, it was 1 in 5000. Plot this as a graph using CDC data and you get a hockey stick curve showing exponential growth in autism over just the past decade.

If you accept the first conclusion – that we’re simply not measuring autism correctly – there’s actually a fair amount of evidence to suggest that as much as 53 percent of the variation in data can be explained away by factors such as better diagnosis, better detection and better awareness. And it’s true that the very definition of “autism” continues to change to include a much wider description of symptoms along a spectrum, so it’s only natural to expect an increase in the number of cases if we’re making it easier to define people as having autism. There’s even a growing consensus in the scientific community that the current numbers are “no cause for alarm” and may actually underestimate the incidence of autism in the population, due to problems in collecting information in more rural areas and among some demographic groups. 

That still leaves approximately 50 percent of the rise in autism cases to explain through science.

It won’t be easy. There may be as many as 60 different disorders that are associated with autism, and a multitude of factors at work, with most of them thought to be linked to changes in our environment or genetic factors resulting from increasing parental age. As a result, even the Chief Science Officer at Autism Speaks concedes that what causes autism remains a mystery. And that’s compounded by the fact that, unlike other medical disorders, there’s no definitive way to test for autism. You can’t take a blood test. You can’t take a biopsy of the skin. In fact, only 10 percent of autism cases are “definitive.”

Thankfully, science is riding to the rescue. We know more about the human genome than ever before and we are on the cusp of understanding the workings of the human brain, thanks to new brain science initiatives. Put these two areas of science together, and we might be able to solve the mystery of autism. Instead of coming up with conspiracy theories of how changes in the environment are leading to autism – they’re putting mercury in our food supplies! – science will help us focus our energy on real answers to an important question.

The latest example of how innovations in genetics and brain science can help to unravel the mystery of autism comes from the BrainSpan Atlas project. As recently reported by Natureit might be possible to track the genetic markers responsible for autism and see how they are expressed in the brain. This could lead to a breakthrough in understanding the genetic origins of autism. What’s even more exciting is that the results from the BrainSpan Atlas project will be made freely available to both the public and researchers, meaning that we’ll soon all have a “brain map” as a road map for understanding autism.

By Dominic Basulto, The Washington Post

Chili's cancels fundraiser with National Autism Association

(CNN MONEY) -  Chili's on Monday canceled a fundraiser with the National Autism Association, a group that links autism to vaccinations, after the restaurant chain's Facebook page was barraged by a heated debate on the issue.

On its website, the NAA says, "Vaccinations can trigger or exacerbate autism in some, if not many, children, especially those who are genetically predisposed to immune, autoimmune or inflammatory conditions."

"The intent of this fundraiser was not to express a view on this matter, but rather to support the families affected by autism," wrote a spokeswoman for Chili's Grill & Bar Restaurant, in an email to CNNMoney.

In recent decades the decision of whether or not parents should vaccinate their children has become controversial because some have linked vaccinations to autism. Many opponents of vaccinations base their beliefs on a 1998 study that was declared fraudulent by a leading British medical journal.

The NAA says the link between autism and vaccination mentioned on its site is based on "parent reports."

"Though published mainstream science fails to acknowledge a causal link to any of these specific exposures, it's important that parental accounts be carefully considered," says the NAA on its website.

The NAA site also mentions that unvaccinated children have been diagnosed with autism.

The Chili's spokeswoman would not say whether the feedback had anything to do with the NAA's website promoting the view of some parents that autism is sometimes caused by vaccinations.

Chili's Facebook site was loaded with comments in support of and against vaccinations.

Wendy Fournier, president of NAA, said, "It was obvious that the comments [Chili's was] getting were a fight about vaccines. Everybody was all heated up and wanting to boycott. It was bullying. It was orchestrated by a small number of people who wanted to deny assistance to families that we serve through our program."

Fournier said that NAA is not anti-vaccination, and that she and her co-workers have vaccinated their children. She said that the statements on the NAA website about vaccinations and autism are the views of parents who "are entitled to their viewpoints without being attacked."

The Chili's spokeswoman said that the NAA was originally selected for the fundraiser "based on the percentage of donations that would go directly to providing financial assistance to families and supporting programs that aid the development and safety of children with autism."

Chili's, which is owned by Brinker International (EAT), went on to say, "While we remain committed to supporting the children and families affected by autism, we canceled Monday's Give Back Event based on the feedback we heard from our guests.

 CBS 19 -Tyler


Mother gets creative to support autistic child

LAWTON, Okla._ April is Autism Awareness Month and one mother here has started a new business venture to help provide further resources for her autistic daughter.

Michelle Floyd tapped into her creative juices to start a homemade T-shirt company. It's all in an effort to raise awareness of her daughter's diagnosis; a battle she knows so many other families struggle with everyday.

"I want to celebrate the fact that she's autistic," says Floyd, who has a three-year-old who was diagnosed one year ago with autism.

Now, with the power of Puffy Paint and a knack for art, Floyd turns a blank canvas into a masterpiece in order to help pay for the behavioral treatments her daughter needs.

"Learning how to make a sentence, learning how to have a conversation, wanting to make a conversation...," are skills Floyd hopes Maddy will learn with future therapy.

Floyd started MyMaddy Custom Shirts and Paintings a month ago, first on Facebook and then Etsy, and so far she has been successful.

"I never imagined when I first started this that it would be as successful as it is in a month," says Floyd. "They've been sent to New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire."

Floyd sees promise in her little girl despite her inability, and is hoping the demand for the shirts continues so Maddy's progress multiplies.

"I just want to do everything I can to make sure she can reach the potential that I know that she has."

All the profits from the shirts will go toward getting Maddy into future therapy sessions. If you would like more information, you can "Like" the MyMaddy Facebook page here.

By 7 News kswo.com