Archived News Entries

A vocational training program for students with autism and other disabilities in New Jersey is preparing young adults for jobs working with animals. In the program, students have the opportunity to interact with therapy and shelter animals in a supervised setting.

In a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medicinal Association (JAMA), lead investigator Eric Courchesne's team of researchers found an unusually high number of neurons in the prefrontal cortex of brain tissue from deceased children with autism. This area of the brain is crucial to communication and social/emotional functioning, and develops during the second trimester of pregnancy. In an interview with Rueters, Courchesne says that he believes that this points to a prenatal cause for autism. While the sample size of the study is very small, the magnitude of the difference in neuron count suggests a significant biological difference, and potential "wiring," between neurotypical and autistic children's brains. 

A 20-year-old Nebraska man with autism was sentenced on Monday to serve 20 to 60 months in prison for entering a private home and stealing underwear. Jacob J. Fisher, whose parents have legal guardianship, received the sentence after a plea bargain. In a statement to the press, prosecuting attorney Scott Tingelhoff commented, “The pre-sentence investigation revealed that the defendant has a lot of issues which, if they go untreated, could put the public at risk. We asked for jail time in hopes that the defendant can get treatment while incarcerated.” Fisher's attorney filed an appeal on Tuesday.

The New York Times reported this past week on the widespread nature of negligence in New York residential facilities for the developmentally disabled. The NYT investigation found that deaths due to negligence were often unreported and did not result in changes to residential operating or training procedures.

A San Diego Comfort Suites hotel has been ordered to pay $125,000 in damages for firing an man with autism without allowing him access to job coaching first. Hired as a clerk, the employee was eligible for job coaching services paid for by the state, but was not allowed this workplace accomodation. 

The science journal Nature turns its attention to autism in a special issue published this week. The issue includes an article by University of Montreal researcher Laurent Mottron in which he discusses the value of rethinking deficit-based assessments of people on the autism spectrum.

On Tuesay, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation mandating insurers cover autism tretment services. The bill will take effect in on November 1, 2012 and will allow up to $45,000 per year in coverage, with no age limit. New York is the 29th state to pass autism insurance legislation.

The Indiana Commission on Autism heard grim Medicaid Waiver statistics on Monday as part of a process of examining how to address the needs of people with autism in the state. Reports indicate that there are over 19,000 people on waiver lists, with the average wait time 10-12 years.

Florida's Agency for Persons with Disabilities is proposing to cut over $14 million in spending in an effort to control its budget deficit. The proposed cuts would include reducing rates of payment to certain service providers. In addition, the state agency intends to begin collecting fees from group home residents with income starting in 2012.

The Interactive Autism Network (IAN), housed at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, is launching a study to examine the impact of bullying on children with ASD. IAN has developed the Bullying and School Experiences of Children with ASD Survey in partnership with Dr. Catherine Bradshaw, Associate Director of the Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence and Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Prevention and Early Intervention, where she collaborates on research projects examining bullying and school climate.