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April 3, 2012
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News for special education professionals

  Special Report Intro 
CEC Special Report -- Autism Awareness Month (Part I)
CEC SmartBrief is taking a closer look at autism in recognition of Autism Awareness Month. Autism Spectrum Disorder is a complex developmental disability that causes a wide range of social, communication and behavioral challenges. Just last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new estimates that 1 in 88 children in the U.S. has autism.

Autism more often is diagnosed in boys than girls and knows no racial, ethnic or social boundaries. Family income, lifestyle and educational levels do not appear to change the chances of a child having autism. After diagnosis, the disorder can have a profound impact on the families.

Part I of this Special Report looks at some classroom innovations and technology programs used by special-education teachers that benefit children with autism. We also look at a pilot program in Utah that will fund treatments not otherwise covered by insurance. We also look at the new CDC data on children with autism.

Part II of the report, which will be published Thursday, includes news about autism research, the impact of autism on families, teacher-training programs, and services and supports that enrich the lives of individuals with autism. We also examine two views on the controversial rewriting of the criteria for diagnosing autism in the American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic guide.

If you don't receive CEC SmartBrief daily, we urge you to sign up for our timely e-newsletter. CEC SmartBrief delivers the essential stories in special education directly to your inbox -- for free.

  In the Classroom 
  • Okla. district aims for inclusion of students with autism
    Educators in the Oklahoma City School District in Oklahoma are working to transition students with autism into inclusion classrooms, as the number of students with the disorder grows. In addition to reading and math, educators say they teach life and social skills designed to help each individual child succeed. "Everything is based on the child and who they are," said Michelle Miller-Hayes, the district's director of special education. The Oklahoman (Oklahoma City) (2/10) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • School play is a learning experience for children with autism
    Students with and without autism at a Chandler, Ariz., elementary school are part of the school's inclusive drama club. The students performed singing and dancing roles together in a recent school play. Special-education teacher Amy Miller created the club to help students with autism reach their full potential and improve their social skills. The Arizona Republic (Phoenix) (3/8) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Educator uses drama to teach students social skills: The Manitoba Theatre for Young People in Canada has a drama program aimed at teaching social skills to children with autism. Demetra Hajidiacos, whose son has autism, teaches the course she created as part of a master's in education program. "It took me a while to figure out that the piece that was missing in my son's therapy program was something I could contribute as a drama educator," she said. Winnipeg Free Press (Manitoba) (3/6) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Students with autism cultivate new skills in school garden
    Students in an autism program at Cherry Ridge Elementary School in Louisiana are gaining valuable skills as they help cultivate the school's new garden. The students, whose work planting and tending the garden is a form of horticultural therapy, have shown improvements in grades, communication skills and self-esteem since they started gardening, educators said. Bastrop Daily Enterprise (La.) (3/8) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
 FREE Exclusive Article: Technology Transforms the Autism Classroom
Download a free exclusive article from Autism Spectrum Quarterly (otherwise only available via subscription) on how to tap into the power of technology to transform your special education program.

  • Laptop program has many benefits for student with autism
    A school laptop program has helped Ontario, Canada, student Matthew Doherty, who has autism, succeed in high school. Doherty uses his computer to organize his school work, interact with teachers and keep up with his academic calendar -- all tasks that had caused him difficulties without the technology. "We weren't sure he was even going to make it through high school and he's on the honor role now," his mother, Sandra Doherty, said. The Sault Star (Ontario) (3/15) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Young children with autism find success with iPads
    Therapists at the Center for Child and Family Research at Siskin Children's Institute in Chattanooga, Tenn., are using iPad 2 tablet computers as part of a pilot program to help children with autism and other developmental disabilities improve their communication and social skills. Applications, such as iCommunicate on the touch-screen devices, can be used with children as young as 2, and can help keep them engaged and focused on exercises aimed at improving their verbal skills, therapists say. (Chattanooga, Tenn.) (3/13) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
Announcing new Phonics+ Template from VizZle – NEW visual supports for literacy skill development. Click here to Sign up for FREE Trial NOW. Come see us at CEC in Denver at booth 835.
  Policy News 
  • Budget woes hit programs for students with autism
    State budget problems, along with other factors such as a rising number of students with autism, have some parents and teachers in Illinois concerned about the continued availability of high-quality services and programs. The Illinois Center for Autism, which works in partnership with schools to provide services to students with autism, is struggling to meet growing demands. "We are busting at the seams, period, with all our programs. More services are necessary. They aren't as available as they should be," said Rachel Newsome, a spokeswoman for the center. Belleville News-Democrat (Ill.) (3/25) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Utah to launch pilot program to cover autism therapy
    The state of Utah and private businesses will collaborate on a two-year pilot program to fund the treatment of an estimated 350 children with autism ages 2 to 6. The program will target children covered by the Public Employees' Benefit and Insurance Program or Medicaid and children who are uninsured or whose private insurance does not cover autism treatment. The Salt Lake Tribune (Utah) (3/18) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
  Research and Trends 
  • CDC estimates 1 in 88 U.S. children has autism
    New estimates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that roughly 1 in 88 American children has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, representing an increase of more than 20% over previous estimates. It is unclear why the number of diagnoses are on the rise, though some say the higher numbers are attributable in part to changes in strategies for screening, diagnosing and serving children with the disorder. "One thing the data tells us with certainty: There are many children and families who need help," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC. Education Week/On Special Education blog (3/29), Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model) (3/30), CNN (3/29) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  CEC Spotlight  
  • Find ASD resources within the Journal Gateway
    CEC presents more than 10 years worth of rich information on autism through the Journal Gateway, the online portal for the special-education journals Exceptional Children and TEACHING Exceptional Children. Download PDFs to your computer or ebook reader, build a go-to library of articles to inform your practice, and more. Enter the Gateway and read articles today! LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • CEC books and products on autism
    CEC's catalog of titles offer a wealth of knowledge regarding strategies and interventions to help you enhance your instruction of learners with autism. Visit the CEC Store today for research-based books, webinars and other tools for educators. Find autism resources today. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

Product announcements appearing in SmartBrief are paid advertisements and do not reflect actual CEC endorsements. The news reported in SmartBrief does not necessarily reflect the official position of CEC.
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