autism

  The documentary feature film, Life, Animated, will be The Berkshire International Film Festival’s opening night film in Pittsfield, MA at The Beacon Theatre on Friday, June 3rd at 7pm.

Life, Animated tells the story of how Owen Suskind, who is autistic, found a pathway through Disney animation to language and a framework for making sense of the world. This emotional coming-of-age story follows Owen as he graduates to adulthood and takes his first steps toward independence. Owen’s father, Ron Suskind, wrote a book of the same name to tell his family’s story of losing Owen.

The film interweaves classic Disney sequences with verite scenes from Owen’s life, the film explores how identification and empathy with characters like Simba, Jafar, and Ariel forge a conduit for him to understand his feelings and interpret reality.

Life, Animated won the Directing Award for a U.S. Documentary at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and director, Roger Ross Williams, join us now. Roger Ross Williams is an Academy Award winning documentarian -- winning in 2010 for the Documentary Short Subject, Music by Prudence.

  One of the biggest fears of parents with children with autism is looming adulthood and all that it entails.

In her new book, Autism Adulthood: Strategies and Insights for a Fulfilling Life, Susan Senator takes the mystery out of adult life on the autism spectrum and conveys the positive message that even though autism adulthood is complicated and challenging, there are many ways to make it manageable and enjoyable.

  It has long been assumed that people living with autism are born with the diminished ability to read the emotions of others, even as they feel emotion deeply. But what if we’ve been wrong all this time? What if that “missing” emotional insight was there all along, locked away and inaccessible in the mind?

In 2007 John Elder Robison wrote the international bestseller Look Me in the Eye, a memoir about growing up with Asperger’s syndrome. Amid the blaze of publicity that followed, he received a unique invitation: Would John like to take part in a study led by one of the world’s foremost neuroscientists, who would use an experimental new brain therapy known as TMS, or transcranial magnetic stimulation, in an effort to understand and then address the issues at the heart of autism? Switched On is the story of what happened next.

  Over the course of her career, psychologist Joanne Ruthsatz has quietly assembled the largest-ever research sample of child prodigies. Their accomplishments are epic. One could reproduce radio tunes by ear on a toy guitar at two years old. Another was a thirteen-year-old cooking sensation. And what Ruthsatz’s investigation revealed is noth­ing short of astonishing.

Though the prodigies aren’t autistic, many have autistic family members. Each prodigy has an extraordinary memory and a keen eye for detail—well-known but often-overlooked strengths associated with autism.

Each prodigy has an extraordinary memory and a keen eye for detail—well-known but often-overlooked strengths associated with autism. Ruthsatz and her daughter and coauthor, Kim­berly Stephens, now propose a startling possibility: What if the abilities of child prodigies stem from a genetic link with autism?

Their book is The Prodigy's Cousin: The Family Link Between Autism and Extraordinary Talent.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 68 children in the U.S. is born with autism. It’s recognized as one of the fastest-growing developmental disabilities in the country.

  Nearly seventy-five years ago, Donald Triplett of Forest, Mississippi, became the first child diagnosed with autism. Beginning with his family’s odyssey, In a Different Key tells the extraordinary story of this often misunderstood condition, and of the civil rights battles waged by the families of those who have it. Unfolding over decades, it is a beautifully rendered history of ordinary people determined to secure a place in the world for those with autism—by liberating children from dank institutions, campaigning for their right to go to school, challenging expert opinion on what it means to have autism, and persuading society to accept those who are different.  

We speak with John Donvan and Caren Zucker.

  Decades ago, few pediatricians had heard of autism. In 1975, 1 in 5,000 kids were estimated to have it. Today, 1 in 68 are on the autism spectrum. What caused this steep rise?

In his new book, Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, journalist Steve Silberman answers this question by peeling back the layers of medical history that radically altered the scope of autism diagnosis in the last century, and revealing the perfect storm of social forces that led to the sudden increase in diagnoses beginning in the late 1980s.

This summer, Steve’s TED Talk on The Forgotten History of Autism went live online and in less than 24 hours, it garnered over 400,000 views.

Lucas Willard / WAMC

 

Note: The audio and text of this story has been updated 5/8/14

When Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo came into office in January of last year, he said he had never heard of “Project Lifesaver.”

Autism Awareness Begins At Home

Apr 2, 2015

Every summer my family takes a road trip to New York City for just a few hours. This trip is to bring my younger brother, Ben, down to a bus stop where he, and about one hundred other kids, pack in together and then drive to a camp in Utica. There, he’ll spend seven weeks working, camping, learning and living with other adolescents and kids, who have been diagnosed with different levels of autism.

Sites Go Blue For Autism Awareness

Apr 2, 2015
Courtesy of Greystone Programs

April is Autism Awareness Month and Thursday is World Autism Awareness Day. A bridge in the Hudson Valley will be among many sites lit up in blue.

Landmarks across the world – from the Sydney Opera House in Australia to the Empire State Building to the Great Buddha Statue in Japan -- are lighting blue to shine a light on autism. Michelle Hathaway is with Poughkeepsie-based Greystone Programs.

“And right here in the Hudson Valley, at Greystone Programs’ request, the Mid-Hudson Bridge will be lit up blue tonight.”

  Founded in 1954, Berkshire County Arc provides a broad range of community-based services to 650 individuals with developmental disabilities, brain injuries and autism throughout Berkshire and Hampden Counties in Massachusetts. The agency offers three day programs, 35 residential programs, employment services, citizen- and self-advocacy programs, respite services, an adult family care program and Zip 'N Sort Mail Services.

On Saturday, March 28, the Berkshire County Arc Down Syndrome Family Group will host the 2015 Berkshire County Sprout Film Festival at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, Mass. The Festival begins at noon and will feature short films about individuals with various disabilities, their lives and personal achievements.

Here to tell us more are Jessica Dennis, Adult Family Care Case Manager at Berkshire County Arc and Amy Robandt, Director of Family Services at Berkshire County Arc.

Anderson Center Holds Reunion

Aug 16, 2014
Anderson Center for Autism

An autism center in Dutchess County celebrates its 90th anniversary this year, and there is a reunion Saturday afternoon. 

 

   Barrington Stage Company will be presenting the world premiere of Dancing Lessons, the new romantic comedy by playwright and BSC Associate Artist Mark St. Germain from August 7th – 24th.

Directed by Barrington Stage Artistic Director Julianne Boyd, Dancing Lessons stars John Cariani and Paige Davis. John Cariani made his BSC debut as ‘Dogberry’ in last summer’s Much Ado About Nothing. Cariani is also the playwright of the play Almost, Maine. Paige Davis is known for Broadway’s Chicago and TLC’s Trading Spaces.

    

  Woodstock Chimes offers a unique variety of high quality, affordable musical gifts from around the world that inspire, entertain and bring pleasure to people of all ages. Their most recent endeavor, Woodstock Chimes for Autism, was inspired by several uplifting stories shared by loyal Woodstock Chimes customers.

One aspect of autism is hypersensitivity to sound. Studies have found that music therapy can assist with some of the challenges attributed to autism. Mozart's music, in particular, has been a blessing for some individuals living with autism. The Woodstock Chimes for Autism features a specially designed clapper, so its soothing tones ring more gently. The chime is musically-tuned to a melody from Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21. The Woodstock Chimes for Autism also features a bright, nickel-plated windcatcher with the symbolic, multi-colored puzzle pieces. This recognizable and distinctive logo was first created in 1963 by the National Autistic Society.

As our understanding of the minds of children with autism continues to grow, new methods are being used to both evaluate and nurture those children. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about research published last summer from scientists at Indiana University about new ways to interact with these young people.

We’ll also go to a science fair.  And not one of those Mentos and Diet Coke volcano science fairs.  This one has actual science.  Plus we’ll spend an academic minute finding out how mosquitoes smell.

    Kristine Barnett’s son Jacob has an IQ higher than Einstein’s, a photographic memory, and he taught himself calculus in two weeks.

But the story of Kristine’s journey with Jake is all the more remarkable because his extraordinary mind was almost lost to autism.