Home-Based Therapeutic Services Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention www.PerspectivesCorporation.com

Monday, December 16, 2013

Lighting Up the Season With the Spirit of Giving

Christmas-themed light displays have become a part of many families' Holiday traditions. And If you're from the Rhode Island area, chances are you've been to - or at least have heard about - the Christmas lights display at La Salette Shrine, just over the Massachusetts border, in Attleboro.

But did you know there are some truly impressive Christmas light shows right here at home?

One of the most dazzling displays of Christmas lights you may have never heard of takes place at "The Crazy Christmas House," located in Coventry, Rhode Island. For eight years running, Tyler Horrocks has been decking out his Coventry home with Christmas lights in impressive Holiday style. What began in 2005 as a 5,000-light display has grown with each passing year, and now boasts over 63,000 lights in 64 different computerized sections. And yes, it's all set to music, which you can hear from the warmth and comfort of your car thanks to Horrocks' creative technical innovation.

Every year, the "Crazy Christmas House" raises money for charity. In 2012 Horrocks raised $8,000 for the Make a Wish foundation; and this year, he's hoping to raise $13,000 to fulfill the Christmas wish of one local boy, 11-year-old Jacob Matarese.

Jacob, who has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, has himself done some extraordinary work for his community, raising money for multiple charities such as the Special Olympics and the American Heart Association. This Christmas, Horrocks is hoping to give Jacob the recognition he deserves, with your help, by raisings funds to provide him with an autism service dog through 4 Paws for Ability.

4 Paws for Ability is a non-profit organization whose mission is to enrich the lives of children with disabilities by training and placing task-trained service dogs, providing increased independence for children, and assistance to their families.

So whether you're looking for a way to get into the spirit of giving this Holiday season, or establishing a new Christmastime tradition for your family, don't miss this amazing spectacle for a good cause at the Crazy Christmas House this year.

The Crazy Christmas House is located at 9 Blue Spruce Drive in Coventry, Rhode Island, in the Wood Estates neighborhood. The light show runs every day, Monday through Saturday, now through January, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Donations to this year's charity can be given on site.

For operating hours and more information, visit www.crazychristmashouse.webs.com

Monday, December 2, 2013

Using the iPad as a Learning Tool for Children with Autism

According to a new study at the Vanderbilt Peabody College of education and human development, minimally verbal children with autism can learn to speak later than previously thought.

The study, completed in 2013, worked with 61 children with autism, ages 5 to 8, using speech-generating software on computer tablets to communicate. Researchers found that in addition to touching symbols on the tablets to generate speech, the children were encouraged to audibly verbalize the words themselves.

“For some parents, it was the first time they’d been able to converse with their children,” said the study's lead investigator, Ann Kaiser.

For years, Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) devices have been used to enhance, expand and develop communication skills for people with autism; from picture card exchange systems to portable word processors and speech-generating talk boxes.

Now with the increasing ubiquity of portable information technology, modern hand-held devices such as the iPad may offer a more accessible and affordable way to help minimally verbal children with autism to communicate.

The study at Vanderbilt Peabody College was funded by Autism Speaks, and conducted in cooperation with the University of California–Los Angeles and Johns Hopkins University. It will be published in 2014.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Maine Set To Lead Multi-State Autism Study

In October, Spring Harbor Hospital in Westbrook, Maine joined a new and wide-reaching autism research project, backed by a $1.2 million grant, to study cases of severe autism across six states.

The project, which this blog reported on in August, involves the recently founded Autism and Developmental Disorders Inpatient Research Collaborative (ADDIRC), consisting of hospitals in New Hampshire, Maryland, Colorado and Pennsylvania, as well as the Rhode Island Consortium for Autism Research and Study (RICART).

Perspectives Corporation joined RICART in August of 2013.

The grant comes from the Simons Foundation and the NLM Family Foundation. The study will be led by Dr. Matthew Siegel of the Spring Harbor Hospital and is expected to included between 500 to 1,000 children, each of whom will be tracked over a period of multiple years.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Discrete Trial Training for the Treatment of Autism

Discrete Trail Training (DTT) is one of several teaching strategies that are a part of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA); one of the most studied and effective therapeutic methods for helping children with autism and related developmental disorders.

DTT was developed in the 1970s by doctors at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) who designed this method of training on the principals of ABA; that when a behavior is rewarded, it is more likely to be repeated. While ABA looks at behavior in these terms of a cue, the behavior and consequence, DTT further compartmentalizes skills into small, or "discrete," components which are systematically taught one by one.

In a landmark study conducted at the UCLA in 1987, it was found that nearly half (47%) of children receiving ABA therapy were able to achieve normal intellectual and educational functioning by the end of first grade. Since then, ABA and DTT have become widely recognized as safe, effective, and proven treatments for autism, and have been endorsed by a number of state and federal agencies including the U.S. Surgeon General and the American Psychological Association.

Perspectives Corporation’s Autism Center of Excellence designs and develops highly effective treatment programs tailored to the unique nature of each individual, while utilizing Applied Behavior Analysis and Discrete Trial Training methodologies, for children and adults with autism throughout Rhode Island.

For more information about Perspectives Corporation's Autism Center of Excellence, visit perspectivescorporation.com/autism.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Autism Study Planned for Rhode Island

The Framingham Heart Study is perhaps one of the most ambitious long-term studies in medical history. Begun in 1948 under the direction of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute it has been in operation for upwards of a half century. In collaboration with the community, researchers for the study have documented the cardiac-related conditions of more than 5,000 residents of a single Massachusetts town; an effort which has helped to identify major causative factors and characteristics of heart disease.

This year, the Rhode Island Consortium for Autism Research and Treatment (RICART) has launched a ground-breaking effort comparable in scope. Backed by a $1.2 mllion grant by a New-York based scientific research firm, The Simons Foundation, RICART is set to establish a State-wide autism registry and network. The project will link families and researchers in an effort "to spur important and innovative research on the causes and treatments for individuals with autism and related conditions," according to Stephen Sheinkopf, Ph.D., a clinical researcher at Women & Infants Hospital and co-director of the RI-CART project.

Over the next three years, the project aims to enroll over 1,000 children and adults with autism. With just over one million residents over 1,000 square miles, it is estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there are about 10,000 people with autism in Rhode Island.

For more information about the RICART project, visit the Women and Infants Hospital website.

Friday, August 9, 2013

New Study Suggests Autism Affects Male and Female Brains Differently

Male and Female Autism Study According to a new study, autism may affect the brains of men and women differently.

The study, conducted by scientists at the Autism Research Center at the University of Cambridge, UK, used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine the brains of 120 males and females with and without autism.

The tests found that the brain anatomies of females with autism were substantially different when compared to the brains of their male counterparts, while at the same time exhibiting traits more closely related to males without autism.

"What we have known about autism to date is mainly male-biased, said Dr Meng-Chuan Lai, the lead author of the study. "This research shows that it is possible that the effect of autism manifests differently according to one's gender."

The discovery may also relate to an idea known as the extreme male brain theory of autism, which hypothesizes that autism is actually an extreme version of the typical male brain profile.

"The key message is that researchers should not really assume that what we know about autism in males will always be applicable to females."

For more about the study, see BBC News Health.

For a full text of this study, see the June issue of the Oxford Journal of Neurology, Brain.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Asperger's Syndrome, Then and Now

Perspectives RI - Autism Aspergers Syndrome Introducing characters with Asperger's syndrome in popular sitcoms seems to be trending these days. Television shows such as Parenthood and The Big Bang Theory may arguably be to account for bringing the disorder to light in living rooms across the country where disabilities might not otherwise be a commonly discussed topic. In fact - at least up until very recently - Asperger's syndrome has been considered to be a part of one of the most misunderstood neurological conditions in modern times: autism.

So what is Asperger's Syndrome?

Asperger's syndrome is a developmental disorder characterized by multiple symptoms including impairment in social interactions,; repetitive behaviors, a restricted range of interests and activities, and, sometimes, delayed motor development, leading to clumsiness or uncoordinated movement.

Unlike some other diagnoses now or previously on the autism spectrum, Asperger's syndrome has been understood to not entail any significant delay in cognitive development or general delay in language; indeed some children and adults with Asperger's even demonstrate a precocious vocabulary – often in a highly specialized field of interest.

Asperger's Syndrome was first identified in 1944 by Austiran peditrician Hans Asperger, for whom the disorder was named. The modern conception of the eponymous syndrome, however, came into existence in 1981 and, after going through a period of popularization, became standardized as a diagnosis in the early 1990s.

This latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) marks the first major revision in the definition of autism spectrum disorder in more than twenty years. Published by the American Psychiatric Association in March of 2013, the manual - relied upon by clinicians, researchers, and even insurance companies - officially eliminated Asperger's syndrome as a distinct diagnosis, in favor of using the "autism spectrum" as a catch-all for previously separate categories of autism.

It remains to be seen exactly how this change in the diagnosis of autism - and with it, the recognition of Asperger's as a distinguishable disorder - will affect the personal lives and professional fields of those affected by or concerned with it. It is certain, however, to continue the conversation about what autism, and Asperger's, is, and provide some commentary on how we, as a culture, address it; from the obscure screeds of clinical history to the television screen of the modern family.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Defining Autism

Chances are you've heard of autism; but unless you, a friend, relative or loved one has been affected by autism, you might not understand what it is.

Autism is a general term for a group of neurodevelopmental (brain development) disorders characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.

The word "autism" has been in use for about 100 years, but only since the 1940s has it been described in such detail that several distinct diagnoses of autism have been recognized. The fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published in 1994, has helped clinicians and researchers to define several different diagnoses of autism including autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome. The fifth edition of the DSM, published in 2013, has been the focus of some media attention as of late, for that it effectively eliminates these previously separate diagnoses, grouping them into a single category known as Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD.

Some Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder

The symptoms of ASD are myriad, including significant impairments in social interaction and communication skills, as well as the presence of extremely challenging behaviors. For instance, people with ASD might have delayed speech and language skills; they might repeat words or phrases over and over, or give unrelated answers to questions. They might show flat or inappropriate facial expressions, and may not understand jokes, sarcasm, or teasing.

People with ASD might also exhibit obsessive interests, an insistence on sameness, resistance to change and repetitive motor behaviors such as hand flapping or body rocking. Many individuals with autism spectrum disorder might also have significant cognitive impairments, although some have typical or even above average IQs.

These, of course, are just a few examples; a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder may depend on many other factors, as there is a wide degree of variation in the way it affects people.

Causes Of and Treatment For ASD

Although there is no known single cause for autism spectrum disorder, it appears to have its roots in very early brain development. Scientists are unsure what, if any, environmental triggers may be involved in autism, however the best available science points to important genetic components.

We do know that the most obvious signs and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 2 and 3 years of age. Furthermore, studies suggest that autism is four times more likely to affect boys than girls, and is found in all racial, ethnic, and social groups.

There is no known cure for autism, but early intervention with proven behavioral therapies can improve outcomes.

Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention, or EIBI, is a method of therapy based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), and has been shown to be effective in remediating the intellectual, linguistic, and adaptive challenges associated with autism.

Perspectives Corporation's Autism Center of Excellence offers both home-based and center-based EIBI services in Rhode Island, utilizing an ABA methodology which is designed and implemented by highly skilled, and experienced Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs).

Presently, no other form of intervention offers comparable evidence of effectiveness.

To enroll your child in Perspectives Corporation’s EIBI services, your application must be submitted to, and approved by, CEDARR (Comprehensive Evaluation Diagnosis Assessment Referral Re-evaluation) family center services, which is part of the Department of Human Services.

For more information on Perspectives' EIBI services, or to find a CEDARR Center near you, please visit www.perspectivescorporation.com/autism.

For more information on Autism Spectrum Disorder, a wealth of resources are available online. Autism Speaks, a leading autism science and advocacy organization, is a great place to start.

Friday, June 28, 2013

What is Applied Behavior Analysis?

The discovery that your child has an Autism Spectrum Disorder can be wholly overwhelming, leaving you with many unanswered questions. Perspectives Corporation’s Autism Center of Excellence helps to answer those questions, providing the tools you need to make important decisions regarding your child or loved one by developing and implementing highly effective, family-centric Autism treatment programs utilizing an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) methodology.

So what is Applied Behavior Analysis?

Behavior analysis is a scientifically validated approach to understanding behavior and how it is affected by the environment. On a practical level, one application of behavior analysis is the principle of positive reinforcement; when a behavior is followed by reward, that behavior is more likely to be repeated. ABA uses such principles and techniques to bring about meaningful and positive change in behavior, and can foster basic skills such as looking, listening and imitating, as well as complex skills such as reading and conversing.

Since the 1960s, therapists have been using Applied Behavior Analysis to help children with autism and related developmental disorders live happy and productive lives. Today, ABA is widely recognized as a safe and effective treatment for autism, and has been endorsed by a number of state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Surgeon General and the American Psychological Association.

In 2011, Rhode Island became the 27th State in the Union, and the 6th State in New England, to enact an autism insurance reform law, allowing families to access insurance coverage for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) including pharmacy, psychology and psychiatric care as eligible benefits.

For more information on Perspectives' home-based and center-based autism services, please visit www.perspectivescorporation.com/autism