Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Puzzling Piece I Pad Challenge

The Puzzling Piece I Pad Challenge.......Everyone can receive an I Pad..

This year The Puzzling Piece is going to try something new that can help your child. We always work on fundraising to help Autism groups and Schools. This year we will keep doing that and help your child too.

Our challenge to you is ....if you sell 60 Puzzling Piece necklaces, key chains or combination of both.

We will give you a brand new I Pad for your child or your students. We want to offer this opportunity to everyone that we can help.

Qualifying Puzzling Pieces

If you would like to take part and receive your I Pad we ask that you email us or call Melissa Winter at 201-602-0547.

To get started, We would like the following information:

1. Full name.

2. Email address

3. Phone number

4. Address

5. The name and age of your child, or students that are going to receive the I Pad.

Once we receive this info we will send you the photos of the necklace and key chain. They each sell for $20 each.

If you ask your family and friends to help you sell, you can send them the photos. You don't need to lay out any money. When you are ready we will ship the product right to your home. Feel free to post our photos and pass out flyers.

Our son Max is touched by Autism and he is why we are doing this. Max loves computers and he is always willing to sit and learn if he gets to use a I Pad. The first time he saw the I pad his face lit up. "Wow that is awesome". We can't wait to get this challenge started. We will not stop sending out I pads. The best part is everyone is a winner. All you need to do is tell everyone you know that you need their help selling Puzzling Pieces, or get them to buy one. We think gifts that give back are the best gifts to give. "Studies are already indicating the iPad and the iPod Touch as good tools for autistic children. Because of the iPad and iPod Touch, some autistic children have been able, for the very first time, to communicate their feelings and thoughts to adults. Other autistic children have been able to learn the life skills that have escaped them for a long time." Please give us the chance to give your child a gift that can help them grow.

Please pass on this information to anyone you know who is touched by Autism.Thanks for giving The Puzzling Piece a chance to help you and your child.

Together we can give the gift of technology.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

From Jon Brock: Why null ain't necessarily dull.

Why null ain't necessarily dull

Something slightly unusual happened this week. In a paper in the journal Vision Research, Simon Baron-Cohen and colleagues reported that they had failed to find any statistically significant differencebetween the visual acuity of individuals with and without autism. The study was a follow-up to a 2009 paper that claimed to show enhanced (or "eagle-eyed") visual acuity in autism. Following two particularly damning commentaries by experts in vision science, the Baron-Cohen group got together with the critics, fixed up the problems with the study, and tried to replicate their original findings. They failed.

While it's slightly concerning that the original study ever made it to publication, it's heartening that the authors took the criticism seriously, the concerns were addressed, and the scientific record was set straight fairly quickly. This is how science is supposed to work. But it's something that happens all too rarely.

In a brilliant piece in last weekend's New York Times, Carl Zimmer highlighted the difficulty science has in correcting itself. Wrong hypotheses are, in principle, there to be disproven but it's not always that straightforward in reality. In particular, as Zimmer points out, scientists are under various pressures to investigate new hypotheses and report novel findings rather than revisit their own or other people's old studies and replicate (or not) their results. And many journals have a policy of not publishing replication studies, even if the outcomes should lead to a complete reassessment of the original study's conclusions. 

There is, however, a deeper problem that Zimmer doesn’t really go into.

Most of the time, at least in the fields of science I'm familiar with, we’re in the business of null hypothesis testing. We're looking for an effect - a difference between two conditions of an experiment or two populations of people, or a correlation between two variables. But we test this effect statistically by seeing how likely it is that we would have made the observations we did if our hypothesis was wrong and there wasn’t an effect at all. If the tests suggest that it’s unlikely that this null hypothesis can account for the data, we conclude that there was an effect.

The criteria are deliberately strict. By convention, there has to be less than a 5% chance that the null hypothesis can explain your data before you can confidently conclude that an effect exists. This is supposed to minimize the occurrence of people making grand claims based on small effects that could easily have come about purely by chance. But the problem is that it doesn’t work in reverse. If you don’tfind a statistically significant effect, you can’t be confident that there isn’t one. Reviewers know this. Editors know this. Researchers know that reviewers and editors know this. Rather than being conservative, null hypothesis testing actually biases the whole scientific process towards spurious effects entering the literature and biases against publication of follow-up studies that don't show such an effect. Failure to reject the null hypothesis is seen as just that - a failure.

This is something with which I'm well acquainted. My PhD was essentially a series of failures to replicate.  To cut a very long story very short, a bunch of studies in the mid 90s had apparently shown that, during memory tasks, people with Williams syndrome rely less on the meanings of words and more on their sounds. I identified a number of alternative explanations for these results and, like a good little scientist, designed some experiments to rule them out. Lo and behold, all the group differences disappeared.

Perhaps not surprisingly, publishing these studies turned out to be a major challenge. One paper was rejected four times before being finally accepted. By this time, I'd finished my PhD, completed a post-doc on similar issues in Down syndrome, and published two papers arising from that study. In some ways, they were much less interesting than the Williams syndrome studies because they really just confirmed what we already knew about Down syndrome. But they contained significant group differences and were both accepted first time.

So the big question. How do you get a null result published?

One helpful suggestion comes from Chris Aberson in the brilliantly titled Journal of Articles in Support of the Null Hypothesis. He points out that you can never really say that an effect doesn’t exist. What you can do, however, is report confidence intervals on the effect size. In other words, you can say that, if an effect exists, it’s almost certainly going to be very small.

Another possibility is to go Bayesian. Rather than simply telling you that there is not enough evidence to reject the null hypothesis, Bayesian statistics provides information on how likely it is that the null hypothesis versus the experimental hypothesis is correct given the observed data. I haven't attempted this yet myself so I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has.

The strategy I've found really helpful is to look at factors that contribute to the size of the effect you're interested in. For example, in one study on context effects in language comprehension in autism, we were concerned that group differences in previous studies were really down to confounding group differences in language skills. Sure enough, when we selected our control group to have similar language skills to our autism group, we found no difference between the two groups. But more importantly, within each group, we were able to show that an individual's language level predicted the size of their context effect. This gave us a significant result to report and in itself is quite an interesting finding.

This brings me neatly to my final point. In research on disorders such as autism or Williams syndrome, a significant group difference is considered to be the holy grail. In terms of getting the study published, it certainly makes life easier. But there is another way of looking at it. If you find a group difference, you’ve failed to control for whatever it is that has caused the group difference in the first place. A significant effect should really only be the beginning of the story.

From Rachel: A New Website on Autism and Empathy!

Introducing the Autism and Empathy Website

To autistic people, autism parents, family members, friends, and supporters:
In light of the prevailing mythology that autistic people lack empathy, and in response to the damage that this stereotype does to our lives and to our psychological well-being, I’ve created a new website.
Autism and Empathy: Dispelling Myths and Breaking Stereotypes exists to undo the myths about autism and empathy that have stigmatized autistic people for so long.
It will feature writing by autistic individuals, by autism parents and family members, and by others who understand that autistic people all along the spectrum experience the world in highly empathetic and sensitive ways. Telling our stories, describing our experiences, and speaking the truth in our own voices, we can break dehumanizing stereotypes and increase understanding.
I welcome all submissions, including previously published work. Please submit your piece or a link to your work to
If you have a blog, help spread the word! Provide a link to the Autism and Empathywebsite, and post an announcement. Together, we can make a difference.
© 2011 by Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg

2011 Upstate SC Autism Forum

From now until August 6th, we will be Spotlighting the Sponsors to the 2011 Upstate SC Autism Forum. It’s FREE and you get a free lunch. To learn more about each of the sponsors and Service Providers featured, please register today for this free forum and meet them in person on August 6th at Brookwood Church in Simpsonville. Today’s Resource Fair Participant Spotlight is on The LUCAS Network

The L.U.C.A.S. Network (Loving Unconditionally Children with Autism Support Network) was created in 2007 by Derrick and Sandrine Howle in honor of our son, Lucas, who has autism. We developed this network after the successful passage of Ryan’s Law in June of 2007. We feel compelled to share our story and experiences of Lucas’ battle with autism with other families and having other families share their stories as well in hope of making a difference in the lives of families struggling with this disorder and of making the journey down the path of autism a little easier.
Outside of our advocacy efforts in SC, The LUCAS Network has started a number of initiatives in the last few years and will continue to do so in the future. Because we believe that it takes a strong team to accomplish a goal,  we partner with other autism and special needs organizations locally, statewide and nationally. Below are a list of past and present initiatives along with our partnering organizations.
The South Carolina Autism Services Directory:
Sandrine and I created and maintain this directory that includes services and information about autism from all across SC. It is available free of charge in electronic format. Derrick is also the Community Services Liaison for Autism Speaks in SC.
Upstate SC Autism Forum:
In 2008, 2009 and again in 2011, we have partnered with Brookwood Church, The SC Autism Society, Family Connection of SC, Winston's Wish Foundation, The Greenville Hospital Systems Autism Division, and Autism Speaks to bring information from the experts and service providers about autism and autism services, free of charge, to the Upstate of SC. This event has had as many as 250 parents and individuals with autism attend and includes a Resource Fair.
Greenville, SC Autism Awareness Day Candlelight Vigil 2009:The Lucas Network partnered with the SC Autism Society and Family Connection to hold a candlelight vigil in  Greenville's Falls Park. Mayor White declared that day as Autism Awareness Day for the City of Greenville.
Annual Autism and Special Needs Turkey Drive:
Since 2008, The LUCAS Network has initiated and partnered with The SC Autism Society and the Christy Ruppert Delseni Autism Program to provide families having a child with autism or other disability in need with a turkey and dinner for Thanksgiving. We have been able to provide as many as 90 families a Thanksgiving Day meal.
Promoting Inclusion of Special Needs Students in the Public School System:
The Lucas Network is currently working with The Greenville County School District, The SC Autism Society, The Hope Foundation, The Christy Ruppert Delseni Autism Program, Family Connection of SC, The Greenville Down's Syndrome Society and The Circle of Friends, The Path to Inclusion Organization to start a Circle of Friends Chapter in 5 schools within the Greenville County School District.

The Lucas Network has also participated in the Autism Speaks Light it Up Blue campaign. In 2010, the Riverplace Office Building and NEXT Building in Downtown Greenville lit up in Blue. In 2011, along with last year’s participants, The BMW Zentrum Museum, Hubbell Lighting, Westin Poinsett Hotel, Addy’s Dutch Café, Coffee Underground and the Furman University Bell Tower and the West Columbia City Hall lit up in Blue for World Autism Awareness Day. The goal for 2012 is for all of Greenville’s Main Street to be lit up in Blue.
Derrick is also the Family Services Liaison for Autism Speaks in SC.
You can now register to attend the 2011 Upstate SC Autism Forum to be held on August 6, 2011. Click on the link to the SC Autism Societies website below to register and also browse their website while there. We ask that you please let us know you will be attending so that we can have the appropriate number of lunches available and to also choose which afternoon lectures you will attend. The forum begins at 8a.m. with the resource fair. Come have a seat about 15 minutes before the program starts (8:45 a.m.) to see the SC Faces of Autism Video featuring individuals with autism and their families from all across South Carolina and Autism Events from throughout this year.

The LUCAS Network, Brookwood Church, Family Connection of SC, Winston's Wish Foundation, The SC Autism Society, The Greenville Hospital Systems Autism Wonders Program, and Autism Speaks, are excited to present the Upstate SC Autism Forum,  set for Saturday, August 6, 2011, from 8 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. at Brookwood Church in Simpsonville SC.
This free event aims to bring together parents and professionals from across the Upstate region, to provide evidenced based information about autism, current autism research for the cause and treatment, and resources available in South Carolina to assist families affected by the disorder.
The Upstate Autism Forum will be a great place for families to learn more about the services available in the area and for service providers to meet and hear from families as to what they need and are looking for. The Forum will also feature a Resource Fair of booths and exhibits for family members and educators to continue their learning outside of the forum itself.
Forum speakers include medical professionals and Upstate parents Phil and Amy Parham.  Phil and Amy are the parents of three children, one with autism. In 2008, they were contestants on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” During their time on the show, they lost a combined total of 256 pounds. As a couple, they lost one of the highest percentages of any married couple in “The Biggest Loser" history. “ Out of 110 contestants to date, Amy holds the title of the 3rd-highest percentage of weight loss for all the women in “The Biggest Loser” history.
Phil and Amy will be sharing their story and the role that autism has played in their lives and talk about how the entire family can remain healthy even with the challenges that the diagnosis of autism can present.
2011 SC Upstate Autism Forum
August 6th, 2011
Agenda (Subject to change)

8-9am  Resource fair
8:45am SC Faces of Autism Video Presentation
9-910am  Opening and Welcome  (Derrick Howle and Dr. Lisa Castellani)
910-940am  Inspirational speakers Phil and Amy Parham from NBC’s The Biggest Loser
940-1030am  Main Session #1  Dr. Desmond Kelly reviewing top research in 2010
1030-1040am Q&A
1040-1130am  Main Session #2  Artistas Café, Vicky Westra
1130-1140am Q&A
1140-1230pm  Main Session #3  Dr. Jane Ford on Puberty and Sexuality in Adolescents with ASDs
1230-1240pm Q&A
1240-130pm  Lunch & Exhibits

130-225pm  Concurrent Session #1
A.    All Are Welcome, Susan Leiby, SC Autism Society
B.     ABCs of Functional Analysis, Mark Knight, BCBA, Hope Reach
C.     Ins and Outs of Insurance Coverage of ASDs, Julie Kellett, MA, Autism Wonders
D.    Autism Wonders (GHS Children’s Hospital Autism Program) Update, Lisa Castellani, MD, Autism Wonders
225-230pm  Move to next Concurrent Session
230-325pm  Concurrent Session #2
A.    Transition Issues in Autism, TBD
B.     Seizures in Autism, GHS Pediatric Neurology TBD
C.     Navigating the IEP Process in Autism: Natalie Smith, Autism Coordinator, Greenville County Schools
D.    Evaluating Research Articles and New Autism Treatments, Julie Kellett, MA, Autism Wonders
325-330pm  Move back to main session

330-4pm  Closing remarks

Autism Success Stories – Dylan Scott Pierce

Autism Success Stories – Dylan Scott Pierce.
In our Autism Success Stories series, courtesy of Autism Care UK, we have taken a look at people from wide variety of industries, from musicians to computer game programmes and economists to writers, but this week we are returning to common, art. We have previously covered a famous artist with our profile of Stephen Wiltshire MBE and this week we look at Dylan Scott Pierce.

Dylan Scott Pierce?
Born in 1986, Dylan Scott Pierce is an award winning American artist, particularly renowned for his use of watercolours who was diagnosed with high functioning autism early in his life. Dylan was a talented artist from a young age, and has been described by a child prodigy.  His mother Sandy Pierce says "I remember him drawing simple shapes like squares and circles. He would look at them until he 'saw' images in the shapes and then transform them into life-like sketches of his favourite animals - lions and dinosaurs!" (source: Aged just 10 Dylan was invited to the renowned Atlanta Arts Festival, a multi-day celebration of the visual arts. Here in 1996 Dylan won First Prize in a children’s art competition.
After this early success Dylan started travelling across the country to exhibit his fantastic water colours, usually depicting wildlife. Since 2007 Dylan has also started using oils alongside his traditional watercolours. In addition to wildlife he cites portraits as his other favourite topic. Currently working out of his Florida studio, these days Dylan exhibits at more than 40 shows a year including the International ArtExpo New York and the Safari Club International Reno. He has won numerous awards throughout his exhibition career, including Best of Show Awards, Merit Awards and People's choice. He has received local and national media attention, including, amongst others being profiled on National Geographic Today, Wildlife Art Magazine, QVC, and Teen People Magazine. Dylan photographs his subject matter on his various trips to Africa, zoos and wildlife parks and then
You can view pieces of his work by looking at his online gallery here

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Blogger to Say Hi to!

We've got a brand new blogger on the directory *and a brand new blogger*: It'd be really nice if readers could take a minute to go visit her and welcome her to the online autism community.


Friday, June 24, 2011

ICare4Autism International Autism Conference NYC

Conference program available here.
When: Conference Date: July 6th, 2011 8:30am to 4:30pm
Where: Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Robbins Auditorium
1855 Eastchester Rd
Bronx, NY 10461

Contact Kim Robinson at  


New Blogger!

From Jessy:

Hello, my name is Jessy and this is my blog. In it I talk about my journey as a mom of a child with special needs, about the disorders my son has and give info and resources about them. If you would check it out and recoment to friends that'd be great!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Miracle Project at The Help Group -- Now Enrolling The Summer Session

Does Your Special Needs Child Have the Acting Bug? 
The Miracle Project at The Help Group is now enrolling children ages 7-12 & 13+ for the July 11 - August 5 session. The program, which will take place at The Help Group Autism Center in Sherman Oaks, is for children with autism and their typically developing siblings and peers.  Coaches work as a team to bring the talents, voices and ideas of the students together to create an imaginative script and original music.  The session culminates in a fully staged musical in front of a live audience! The Miracle Project is a multi-platform socialization program that enables children and teens with autism and other special needs to express themselves through music, dance, acting, story, and writing. Contact Nicole Webb at 818-779-5188 or for more information.

Miracle project...

Does Your Special Needs Child Have the Acting Bug? 
The Miracle Project at The Help Group is now enrolling children ages 7-12 & 13+ for the July 11 - August 5 session. The program, which will take place at The Help Group Autism Center in Sherman Oaks, is for children with autism and their typically developing siblings and peers.  Coaches work as a team to bring the talents, voices and ideas of the students together to create an imaginative script and original music.  The session culminates in a fully staged musical in front of a live audience! The Miracle Project is a multi-platform socialization program that enables children and teens with autism and other special needs to express themselves through music, dance, acting, story, and writing. Contact Nicole Webb at 818-779-5188 for more information.

Autism Science Foundation: Give a Dollar!

You Can Make a Difference With Only $1
(Yes, That's One Dollar!)
Philanthroper post 2Can $1 really make a difference? You bet!  Today the Autism Science Foundation is the featurednonprofit on!

Philanthroper has been described as the "Groupon" of the nonprofit world.  Each day they raise funds $1 at a time for a selected nonprofit whose work they think is outstanding and today that's ASF!  

Philanthroper is about group giving.  If everyone gives a little bit it will add up to enough for us to fund another critical piece of autism research.  All funds raised through this project will go directly to research.

Please donate $1 today and then SHARE with all your friends. After making your donation, post this Facebook update or send an email to your family and friends. This is an easy and simple way to get even more support for ASF's work.

Facebook Update:
I just gave $1 to support the Autism Science Foundation on! Join me and give a little hope today! (Help spread the hope by reposting this to your Facebook status after you donate $1) 

I just gave $1 to support the Autism Science Foundation on Please join me! You can only donate TODAY, so please take a moment and give a little hope today! 

Thank you to all of you for supporting our work each and every day, and a special thank you to Phyllis Lombardi who sent a letter about our work to the creators of Philanthroper!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Autism success stories – Vernon L. Smith

Autism success stories – Vernon L. Smith

Each week, along with Autism Care UK we profile a famous face across the autism spectrum. This week we take a closer look at Nobel Laureate in Economics Vernon Smith.

Who is Vernon L. Smith?
Born in 1927 in Wichita, Kansas, Vernon Lomax Smith is a professor of economics at Chapman University.  He is also a research scholar at George Mason University Interdisciplinary Centre for Economic Science, and a Fellow of the Mercatus Centre based in Arlington, Virginia.  One of his greatest achievements to date came in 2002 where he shared the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with Daniel Kahneman. Other prominent achievements include being the founder and president of the International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics and a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington D.C. As well as his bachelor’s degree, M.A and Ph.D.  Smith was awarded an honoury doctorate from  the Universidad Francisco Marroquín, an institution that has also named the Vernon Smith Centre for Experimental Economics Research,  after him.

In the Spotlight
Smith attended high school in his home town Wichita North High School and Friends University before he received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Caltech in 1949, this was supplemented first by a M.A in economics from the University of Kansas and then a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.
In his first role after University Smith joined the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University, which he held between 1955 and 1967. As well as this at the same time Smith was also teaching at the prestigious Stanford University as a visiting professor. Following from these roles Smith moved to Massachusetts to work first at Brown University and then University of Massachusetts. These were followed by tenures at the Centre for Advanced Study in the Behavioural Sciences and then Caltech.
It was during his time at Caltech that Smith was encouraged to, in particular by Charlie Plott, to formalize his methodology of experimental economics, which he did with the publication of two articles. His first article, published in 1976 in the American Economic Review (AER) Experimental Economics: Induced Value Theory. This was the first articulation of the principle behind economic experiments. Six years later, these principles were expanded in his second article Microeconomic Systems as an Experimental Science also in the AER.
Much of Smith’s research that earned Smith his Nobel Prize took place between 1976 and 2002 while Smith was based at the University of Arizona. After his tenure in Tucson Smith left to take up a post at George Mason University. This was followed by Smith founding the Economic Science Institute at Chapman University. In total Smith has either or co-authored over 200 articles and books, primarily examining capital theory, finance, natural resource economics and experimental economics.
Veron’s experience of Ausperger’s.
In February 2005 Smith spoke out publicly about his Asperger syndrome. To watch Vernon’s appearance on CNBC then click here to watch the video.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Advance LA College Workshop at The Help Group in Los Angeles

Do you have a young adult with special needs in college or heading to college? If so, ADVANCE LA’s Summer 2011 College Transition Program being held August 8th-12th and August 15th-19th, from 10am-4pm is a great option. The program will focus on strategies, skills and supports needed to ensure a successful college experience. Throughout the year, ADVANCE LA provides young adults with individualized guidance from a life skills coach to support their advance toward independence . For more information please contact Lee Chernotsky at (818) 779-5247 or visit

Showcase: Scott Shea from Job Sink

Impaired Cortisol Awakening Response can change your whole work day

The Cortisol Awakening Response is an increase of the cortisol levels in the blood in the first 20 to 30 minutes after waking up in the morning. The exact reason for this increase is unknown but it is theorized to be a response to the anticipated stress of the day. For those under heavy workloads or even waking up on a work day as opposed to an off day the increase is greater.

This is relevant to those of us on the ASD Spectrum when viewed in light of a scientific study published in the August 2009 issue of Psychoneuroendocrinology (by Brosnan, et al) demonstrating that adolescent males with Asperger's Syndrome presented a higher than normal incidence of impaired cortisol production. It may be that from the time we wake up we have a different response to the day's stress than the NT population.

Cortisol replacement is a difficult process. Unless a patient presents with severely impaired adrenal gland function most doctors will not prescribe cortisol replacement. Still changes like making sure to waking up in daylight, waking up earlier, selective sleep deprivation and caffeine use may fight the lack of cortisol awakening response. Investigate these and see if any make sense to try in a limited fashion.

[with apologies to Dr. Brosnan for misspelling his name the first time around]



Autism Blogs Directory

Related Sites

General Science-Related Blogs