Forms and Personalized Stories from Microsoft Office

Autism Speaks has partnered with Microsoft Office and the University of Washington Autism Center to provide a series of personalized story PowerPoint templates that parents and therapists can customize to explain social situations to children with autism. Customize these personalized story templates with your own pictures to help your child know what to expect in various situations!

via Forms and Personalized Stories from Microsoft Office | Family Services | Autism Speaks.

The Affordable Care Act and Autism

Health reform includes many changes that may affect you differently depending on where you live and what type of coverage you have. To help you better understand your options, Autism Speaks has developed some resources that we hope are helpful as you learn about the law and consider your options. These resources include key components of the Affordable Care Act, provisions that impact the autism community, and a series of fact sheets that provide more detailed information on specific health reform topics.

via The Affordable Care Act and Autism | Advocacy/Insurance | 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 –

Utah’s Shameful ABA Lottery

Not cool, Salt Lake. Not cool at all.

Thirty-two states require insurers to provide coverage for autism treatment, causing premium costs to rise an average of 31 cents per member per month, according to data gathered by Autism Speaks, a national advocacy group. But a bill that would have provided this much-needed therapy died in the Utah House this year, dashing hopes for thousands of families who want their children to live productive lives. The “pilot program” the Legislature approved temporarily helps only a few hundred. Openings exist now for just 35 more children, whose futures will be determined by lottery. In a state with a rate of autism twice the national average, the lack of compassion shown by legislators is shameful.

via Short takes on the news | The Salt Lake Tribune.

Seminar on New York’s Insurance Law Changes

Autism Speaks will host a workshop on changes to New York’s insurance laws and how they will impact families on the spectrum. Details below, via Judith Ursitti, Director, State Government Affairs for Autism Speaks:

Autism Speaks is hosting a workshop September 13 in Suffern to help you better understand New York’s new autism insurance reform law that goes into effect in November.

Many of you no doubt have many questions about the law Governor Cuomo signed late last year and how it will affect you as a parent or a provider. Some of the issues we will address, include:

  • What is covered under the new law?
  • How will the law impact your health plan?
  • How will healthcare benefits interface with benefits under an IFSP, IEP or ISP?
  • What do you do if your plan is self-insured?
  • How will potential changes in the DSM impact coverage?

The workshop is scheduled next Thursday, September 13, from 6 to 8 pm in the auditorium of Rockland Community College at 145 College Road in Suffern.

To learn more, click here. To RSVP, call 914-934-5138 or email

Former Larchmont Mayor Appointed President of Autism Organization – Larchmont-Mamaroneck, NY Patch

I’m curious about the reason for Mark Roithmayr’s departure, if only because no explanation has been given to this point. I hope this is simply a career change.

Autism Speaks today announced that Liz Feld, a respected executive with a strong track record of accomplishment in both the public and private sectors, has been named the organization’s new president. The appointment, which is effective immediately, was announced by Autism Speaks Co-founders Bob and Suzanne Wright. Mark Roithmayr has resigned as president after serving in the position since 2005.

via Former Larchmont Mayor Appointed President of Autism Organization – Larchmont-Mamaroneck, NY Patch.

Charity Miles Launches Game-Changing Mobile App | Blog | Autism Speaks

Charity Miles is a new iPhone and Android app that enables people to earn money for Autism Speaks while walking, running or biking. The app launches today, National Running Day, and allows people to earn money for ten of the world’s top charities, including Autism Speaks.

The app is free and simple to use. No special event is required. People just launch the app, where they can choose Autism Speaks and either walk, run or bike. The selected charities of the application then earns money for every mile covered. Walkers and runners earn 25¢ per mile; bikers earn 10¢ per mile, all up to an initial $1,000,000. Charity Miles, LLC is backing the initial $1,000,000 and issuing a worldwide challenge to see if people can earn it for the charities within a year.

via Charity Miles Launches Game-Changing Mobile App | Blog | Autism Speaks.

DSM-5 Update from IMFAR

An update on DSM-5 from Geri Dawson of Autism Speaks:

Rather than three categories of symptoms (social, communication and repetitive behaviors), only two types of symptoms will be required (social communication and repetitive behaviors). “Pervasive developmental disorder” will now be simply called “autism spectrum disorder.” In fact, all subtypes will be collapsed under the one broad category of autism spectrum disorders.

Why? Because even expert clinicians cannot reliably distinguish among the different subtypes when they make their diagnoses. What one clinician calls high functioning autism, another calls Asperger syndrome. This lack of consistency occurs because the diagnosis of Asperger syndrome, as defined in the DSM-IV, is based on recall of early language acquisition. Such recall can prove difficult, especially when a diagnosis is being made later in life.

Also worth noting: according to Dr. Sue Swedo, the concern that the DSM-V would lead to some higher-functioning individuals would be de-classified raised by Dr. Fred Volkmar and others may be unfounded, because those studies were based on diagnoses using the DSM-IV.

The DSM-V includes a number of symptoms that were not part of previous iterations.

via Geri’s DSM-5 Update from IMFAR | Blog | Autism Speaks.

Findings from DSM-5 Field Testing

There has been a lot of concern about how the new DSM-5 diagnosis criteria would impact the diagnosis of autism and autism spectrum disorders; many parents are concerned that the new standards will prevent some children from being classified – which could mean they’d miss out on much-needed services.

Autism Speaks chief science officer Geri Dawson is tracking that issue, and released some preliminary results today:

This week brought the first results of field trials conducted with nearly 300 children at four pediatric autism clinics to assess differences in diagnosis rates using DSM-IV versus DMS-5 criteria. The encouraging news is that the vast majority of children diagnosed with ASD using the old criteria retained their diagnosis under the proposed new criteria.

Approximately 5 to 10 percent received a different diagnosis. Some of these received the new diagnosis of “social communication disorder.” Others received a primary diagnosis of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Notably, the proposed DSM-5 criteria also “captured” some children who did not meet the definition of autism using the old DSM-IV criteria. This could be because there are some symptoms included in the new criteria (e.g. sensory sensitivities) that were not included in the old criteria. As a result, the overall rate of ASD diagnosis did not change between the DSM-IV and DSM-5 definitions of ASD.

via Findings from DSM-5 Field Testing | Science News | Autism Speaks.

For more information on the DSM-5 and how it impacts the diagnosis of autism and related disorders, check out GCTV’s interview with Dr. Fred Volkmar of the Yale Child Study Center.