Anti-Bullying “Relentless Tour” Comes to New York: Tuckahoe, Bronxville, and Eastchester

Former MSU basketball player Anthony Ianni fighting bullying in schools nationwide

TUCKAHOE- The Michigan Department of Civil Rights and the Autism Alliance of Michigan today announced the Relentless Tour – a first-of-its-kind anti-bullying initiative − will come to New York during Autism Awareness month, April 28-April 30, 2015.

Motivational speaker Anthony Ianni, a member of Michigan State University’s 2010 and 2012 Big Ten Champion and Tournament Championship teams and the 2010 Final Four team, facilitated by Tuckahoe SEPTA, will speak at assemblies held at three schools, grades 3-12, in the Tuckahoe Union Free School District, on April 30, 2015. He also visit the Eastchester schools on April 29, 2015.  He will also act as assistant celebrity coach for the South East Consortium Hawks in an exhibition basketball game against Bronxville J.V. at Bronxville High School at 7pm on April 28, 2015.  This event is free and open to students, families, and the general public.  Younger attendees will have a chance to do a shoot around with Ianni at halftime.

Ianni was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of four and was the victim of bullying as a child. He graduated from Michigan State University and became the first known individual with autism to play Division 1 college basketball. Under legendary MSU coach Tom Izzo, Ianni played with the 2010 and 2012 Big Ten Champion and Tournament Championship teams, and the 2010 Final Four team. He has won a number of awards including MSU’s Tim Bograkos Walk-On Award, the 2012 MSU Unsung Player Award, and was named a 2013 Detroit Pistons Community Game Changer finalist (

Through the Relentless Tour, Ianni seeks to raise awareness of autism and the problem of bullying. Students with autism are frequently targeted by bullies, with an estimated 65-90% of individuals with autism having been victims of bullying at some point in their lives.

Michigan Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley and Ianni kicked off the Relentless Tour in October of 2013 and announced the tour’s mission of reaching 659 schools statewide with their anti-bullying message.

In addition to Lt. Governor Calley and MSU Basketball Coach Tom Izzo, the Relentless Tour has generated the support of Detroit Red Wing Niklas Kronwall and former Detroit Lion Nate Burleson, all of whom are working to spread the anti-bullying message.

“Bullying is something we must put an end to, not only in Michigan but across the country,” said Ianni. “Everyone is affected by bullying in some way and students with autism are at incredibly high risk to be victimized. Our hope is that through my story and spreading our message we can not only inspire kids to take a stand against bullying but also make bullies rethink their actions.”

For more information on Anthony Ianni and the Relentless Tour, and to submit a request to bring Anthony to your school or event, visit For more information about the upcoming visit to New York, contact Tuckahoe SEPTA Co-Chair Tara Zegers at

Google’s John Lyman Delivers Keynote at Autism Speaks Autism Investment Conference | Science News | Autism Speaks

John Lyman, head of partnerships for Google for Entrepreneurs, delivered the Day 1 keynote address at Autism Speaks 2014 Autism Investment Conference, in San Francisco, March 4. “Let me describe how Google thinks about new services and products,” he said….

via Google’s John Lyman Delivers Keynote at Autism Speaks Autism Investment Conference | Science News | Autism Speaks.

Message from Tyrion Lannister – and it’s for a good cause!

Is a message from Tyrion Lannister worth $300? What about Luke Skywalker? Or Lieutenant Worf?

Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, announced today the launch of its second annual “Sound Off For Autism Speaks.” This exciting fundraising effort will give fans the opportunity to order a limited number of custom-recorded messages from Jack Black, Adam West, Bryan Cranston, Cher, Jim Parsons, Mark Hamill, Michael Dorn, Peter Dinklage, Vin Scully and Zachary Quinto in return for a $299 donation. All proceeds will support Autism Speaks’ research and advocacy efforts.

via Make a Donation to Autism Speaks for Custom Celeb Message –

Autism center to open in White Plains

The Center for Autism and the Developing Brain will celebrate its official opening Monday at the Westchester Division of New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

The 11,000-square-foot facility was carved out of an old gymnasium on the White Plains campus. It cost $11 million and began accepting its first patents earlier this week.”

This is the signature program we’ve created for children and adults suffering from autism spectrum disorders,” Dr. Philip Wilner, vice president and medical director for behavior health at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, said Thursday in an interview.

via Autism center to open in White Plains.

Autism spectrum diagnoses: The DSM-5 eliminates Asperger’s and PDD-NOS

Nice breakdown of the controversy – and parental concerns – surrounding the rollout of the DSM-5:

Certain states provide services for children diagnosed with autism but not for those diagnosed with Asperger’s. “It was difficult to get kids with Asperger’s services because their deficits can be subtle, so they were left on their own to some degree,” says Matthew Siegel, director of the Developmental Disorders Program at Spring Harbor Hospital in Maine. And it’s not just those with Asperger’s who have been shortchanged by the current system, says Stewart Newman, who treats kids from all parts of the spectrum at Mind Matters PC in Oregon. He has spent many hours advocating for his patients with educators who had “a lack of clarity about what the diagnosis of PDD-NOS in particular meant, and how the children should be characterized for special services.” Newman says the DSM-5 criteria “will create a common language we can use when we talk with school systems, parents, and other doctors, and it will mean the same thing for everyone, which will be really helpful.”

But outside the psychiatric field, many people defend the current diagnostic distinctions. Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the Autism Research Center at Cambridge University, wrote in a 2009 editorial in the New York Times that Asperger’s may be a biologically distinct syndrome; his team identified 14 genes that might be associated with the condition. A 2012 study of more than 540 Australian health and education professionals found that 93 percent thought there was a real difference between autism and Asperger’s. Just over half of the respondents were opposed to the consolidation of the diagnoses, while less than a quarter supported it.

And the parents I spoke to all felt that the old system worked just fine. There is real mistrust on the part of some, who suspect the new criteria were designed to exclude higher-functioning kids from a diagnosis and thereby deny them services.

via Autism spectrum diagnoses: The DSM-5 eliminates Asperger’s and PDD-NOS. – Slate Magazine.

Prom pins a rose on Staten Island’s autism community

It was a “Night Under the Stars” for members of Staten Island’s autistic community, as they turned out Wednesday to celebrate a first-ever prom held in their honor.

The night was filled with all the pomp and trappings of a traditional high school prom, except that the evening was tailored to the autistic students served by both the G.R.A.C.E. Foundation and EDEN II.

At the Staaten in West Brighton, a total of 70 students, ages 14 to 23, appeared in their finery: Beautiful dresses, sparkling jewelry and elaborate hairdos for the girls, tuxedos and three-piece suits on the guys.

The event was sponsored by the North Central Kiwanis Club. The club has a long history of contributing to both organizations, said President Joe Cafiero, noting this was just one more effort designed to bring smiles to the eyes of the students.

via Photos: Prom pins a rose on Staten Island’s autism community |

Autism Speaks Hosts World’s First Autism Investment Conference

On Thursday, Autism Speaks hosted the world’s first conference focused entirely on investment and product development in the field of autism services and therapies. The one-day conference brought together more than a hundred attendees, including investors, business executives, entrepreneurs and product developers.

via Autism Speaks Hosts World’s First Autism Investment Conference | Science News | Autism Speaks.

Special Needs and Newtown

Too much, probably, has been written about the connection between autism spectrum disorders and what happened last week at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Here’s an angle that hasn’t been covered nearly enough… an aside in a story about the funeral of Anne Marie Murphy, one of the teachers killed in the massacre.

Murphy’s body was found shielding the body of one of her special-education students.

via Newtown school massacre: Faith is keeping family together; slain teacher mourned in Katonah wake | The Journal News | |

Guilt By Association:Troubling Legacy of Sandy Hook May Be Backlash Against Children with Autism |

Amid unconfirmed media reports that alleged gunman Adam Lanza, 20, had Asperger’s, a high-functioning form of autism marked by social awkwardness, autism experts are mobilizing to combat misconceptions about the condition. Parents are reaching out to school principals to ensure that students with autism aren’t being taunted. Advocates have issued statements disavowing any link between autism and premeditated aggression. And children — more often than not the siblings of kids who have autism — are standing up for others.

via Guilt By Association:Troubling Legacy of Sandy Hook May Be Backlash Against Children with Autism |