Our Facebook page and Twitter pages bring your autism news and human interest stories (almost) every day of the week. Now every Friday we’ll be rounding up the week’s biggest stories in one spot here on our website. If we’ve missed one, let us know and we’ll add it to the post.
Developments in autism research publicised this week suggest that:
- Autism might not just be a disorder of the brain. Some symptoms of autism may be caused by defects in the sensory nerves that run through the the whole body. Autism spectrum disorders are thought to be caused by an abnormality in brain development. Harvard researchers now think that genetic mutations might lead to defective sensory nerves. That may go some way to explaining why those with autism experience physical touch differently.
- An eye test could diagnose autism in babies by finding out how much they are attracted by social stimuli such as the sight of a face.
- The autism spectrum is probably broader than previously thought. Everyone possesses the genetic risk factors, some more, some less. In some people, those genetic factors affect their behaviour and development. So that’s probably why you sometimes feel like you might have autistic traits, but don’t have a diagnosis.
The National Autistic Society has created an immersive virtual reality experience that allows you to see and hear what it is like to be an autistic child in a busy environment. The VR demonstration is based on the Too Much Information campaign that was launched for this year’s Autism Awareness Month. It will be touring Intu shopping centres over the summer, visiting Eldon Square on August 10th and 11th, and the Metrocentre on August 13th and 14th.
The law firm Baker Small has apologised this week after posting gloating tweets about achieving ‘great wins’ over parents of children with special needs. The tweets boasted about having foiled parents in their attempts to win funding for their children’s special needs provision. At least eight local councils have now cancelled or are considering cancelling their contracts with Baker Small following widespread public outrage over their callous and flippant tone.
Dimensions and the Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians are working together to make England’s public libraries more welcoming for people who have autism. Research showed that being judged, stared at or told to be quiet are among the reasons that people with autism do not visit their local library. Dimensions are using the model they have developed with cinemas to create autism-friendly film screenings to work with libraries to make them more inclusive.
Hallee Sorenson became internet famous last week after her cousin posted a heartbreaking photograph of her celebrating her 18th birthday alone. Hallee, who has autism, sent out invitations to her birthday party last year, but nobody turned up to help her celebrate. Her cousin’s appeal on Facebook has led to her receiving more than 10,000 gifts, notes and cards to help her celebrate her 19th birthday, with more arriving every day!
Brightside Adult Services is starting a unique day service for adults with additional needs aged 18-35 in Ashington. They’ll be offering specially tailored activities, both at the Susan Kennedy Centre, and out in the community, with people of a similar age. There will be an open day on June 25th where you can find out more.