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Autism News Round-Up: 25 November 2016

Diner staffed by young people with autism opens in North East

Davy Dukes Diner stafed by young people with autism at The Vault in GatesheadAn American style diner has become the first part of a £2m North East business project helping young people with autism.

Davey Duke’s is staffed entirely by young people with learning difficulties. The staff receive training and paid employment. Davy Duke’s Diner serves both American and English style breakfasts. Plus lots of USA favourites like hot dogs, burgers, mac and cheese, sticky ribs, Philly cheese steak sandwiches, and a selection of thick shakes and desserts.

The diner is currently open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 3pm but plans to expand opening hours in the future.

The Mitford Autism Unit at Northgate near MorpethNew North East inpatient unit to support adults with autism

A £10m inpatient unit to support adults with autism is to open in Morpeth. The Mitford unit at Northgate hospital, has been purpose-built and designed for people with autism who need highly specialist care.

The design includes features like smooth architectural lines with no protruding objects. That means that things like cupboards are hidden away behind flush panels. There are also temperature and lighting controls for each living area, sound-proofing throughout the unit to help reduce noise sensitivity, and high ceilings and windows to maximize natural light.

The unit has a sensory room, activity room and therapy room, as well as a garden, visitor room, multi-faith room and a sanctuary and quiet space. Staff working at the Mitford unit will provide support to residents, but the aim is to help them get back home to their families as soon as possible.

Smartphone app for early autism detection being developed by University of Buffalo undergradSmartphone app detects autism signs in less than a minute

Researchers at the University of Buffalo are developing a smartphone app that could help detect autism in children as young as two. The application tracks eye movement to determine if a child is showing signs of ASD. It takes just 54 seconds.

They studied 32 children ranging in age from 2 to 10. Half of the children had been previously diagnosed with autism.The other half did not have ASD.

The eye movements of someone with ASD are often different from those of a person without autism. The study found that the most significant differences in eye movement between children with and without ASD were demonstrated using photos of social scenes.The eye tracking patterns of children with ASD looking at the photos are scattered. Children without ASD tended to have more focused eye movement.

In the study, the app had an accuracy rating of 93.96 percent.

baby-looking-upResearch may explain why those on spectrum avoid eye contact

People on the autism spectrum largely avoid eye contact. This is usually believed to be because they find it stressful and negative.

However, a new study demonstrates that young children with autism do not necessarily avoid eye contact on purpose. Instead, they may be unaware of the significance of social information in others’ eyes.

“This is important because we’re disentangling very different understandings of autism,” said Jennifer Moriuchi of Emory University. “Depending on why you think children with autism are making less eye contact, you might have different approaches to treatment and different ideas about the brain basis of autism.”

Children born during the colder months of winter are more likely to be diagnosed with symptoms of autismWinter babies more likely to have autism

Children born during the colder months of winter are more likely to be diagnosed with symptoms of autism and other developmental disorders.

8.9 percent of children conceived between January and March have a developmental disorder. The figure for children conceived between July and September is 7.6 percent. The difference seems modest but it accounts for tens of thousands of babies.

The cause may be lack of Vitamin D during the winter months and an increased risk of influenza. (Flu during pregnancy is llinked to autism, and vitamin D deficiency is believed to be linked.)

Lauri love, autistic hacker to be extradited to USAAutistic hacker to be extradited to US

The UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd has signed an order for the extradition of a man with autism to the US. Lauri Love is accused of computer hacking offences.

He allegedly stole large amounts of data from US government agencies during 2012 and 2013. He could face up to 99 years in prison if convicted.

Love also has depression and severe eczema. He argues that these, combined with his Asperger’s syndrome, mean that a jail term in the US could lead to mental breakdown or suicide. His family are appealing the decision.

For more background on this story, see the links in a previous edition of our news round-up.

ben-carter-tommee-tippee-cup-twitter-large_transqvzuuqpflyliwib6ntmjwfsvwez_ven7c6bhu2jjnt8The story of the special blue cup

A father from North Devon is being overwhelmed with help in his quest to trace a cup for his autistic son. Fourteen-year-old Ben Carter will only drink out of one cup. This cup is now falling apart after being used all day, every day.

After Ben’s dad posted his plea on social media, the story went viral.

The blue sippy cup was made 12 years-ago for Boots by Cramlington firm Tommee Tippee. The company managed to find one cup at the back of a cupboard. Unfortunately they did not have any more. And they longer had the equipment to make new ones. They offered to reimburse postage costs to anyone who could send a matching cup to Ben. So far, about 300 cups have been donated.

However, even identical cups aren’t the cup and Ben hasn’t been taking to them well. Ben would prefer a new one.

Luckily, Tommee Tippee has found the mold they used to make the original cup in China. And they are going to make a new batch of Ben’s little blue cups!