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Holly Correa has been an educator for over 20 years. She has a M.A. in Educational Leadership, a California Administrative Services credential, in addition to a Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential. Her experience teaching students with spectrum challenges such as Asperger’s and Autism, combined with her experience facilitating the IEP process, make her an excellent child advocate. On a personal note, Holly is the mother of a child with high functioning autism and has advocated on his behalf throughout his life. She understands first-hand the impact having a special needs child places on the family, and is passionate about finding just the right combination of support so that everyone thrives.

Please call Holly for your Southern California Advocacy needs. 805 512-2034

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Rene Thomas Folse, JD, Ph.D.

I am an attorney at law and licensed psychologist (PSY 11415) in California.

I have had over thirty five years of experience with disabled adults and children.

I have created this site to help provide useful news and information for parents, educators and advocates. I am retired from professional practice, however if you need further information you may contact Pause4KIDS my affiliated non-profit organization here.

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Recent Autism News as of Dec 18, 2014

Researchers Find Autism Biomarkers
Fri, 13 Jul 2012 08:31:35 - Pacific Time
University of Kansas researchers have found larger resting pupil size and lower levels of a salivary enzyme associated with the neurotransmitter norepinephrine in children with autism spectrum disorder. However, according to the article in Science Daily, even though the levels of the enzyme, salivary alpha-amylase (sAA), were lower than those of typically-developing children in samples taken in the afternoon in the lab, samples taken at home throughout the day showed that sAA levels were higher in general across the day and much less variable for children with ASD. "What this says is that the autonomic system of children with ASD is always on the same level," Christa Anderson, assistant research professor, said. "They are in overdrive."

The sAA levels of typically-developing children gradually rise and fall over the day, said Anderson, who co-directed the study with John Colombo, professor of psychology. Norepinephrine (NE) has been found in the blood plasma levels of individuals with ASD but some researchers have questioned whether these levels were just related to the stress from blood draws.

The KU study addressed this by collecting salivary measures by simply placing a highly absorbent sponge swab under the child's tongue and confirmed that this method of collection did not stress the children by assessing their stress levels through cortisol, another hormone.

Collecting sAA levels has the potential for physicians to screen children for ASD much earlier, noninvasively and relatively inexpensively, said Anderson.

But Anderson and Colombo also see pupil size and sAA levels as biomarkers that could be the physiological signatures of a possible dysfunction in the autonomic nervous system. "Many theories of autism propose that the disorder is due to deficits in higher-order brain areas," said Colombo. "Our findings, however, suggest that the core deficits may lie in areas of the brain typically associated with more fundamental, vital functions."

The study, published online in the May 29, 2012 Developmental Psychobiology compared children between the ages of 20 and 72 months of age diagnosed with ASD to a group of typically developing children and a third group of children with Down Syndrome. Both findings address the Centers for Disease Control's urgent public health priority goals for ASD: to find biological indicators that can both help screen children earlier and lead to better understanding of how the nervous system develops and functions in the disorder. Read More...

Autism Drug Clinical Trial Shows Promise
Sun, 8 Jul 2012 08:45:15 - Pacific Time
16-year-old Rebecca Singer has become the first patient in a clinical trial testing a drug that researchers hope could pull her out of her reality and eventually lead to a ground breaking autism treatment according to a report on NECN. In the study led by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and assisted by a research team from Rutgers University, the Tenafly girl is taking a growth factor hormone that was shown to reverse in mice some of the deficits associated with autism.

Researchers aren't expecting a cure but are hopeful for a "disease modifying" outcome, said Dr. Alex Kolevzon, one of the physicians working on the study and the pediatrics clinical director at the Seaver Autism Center at Mount Sinai. "We know that humans don't always respond the way mice do, but there's the potential for significant benefit," Kolevzon told (http://bit.ly/N5Sda0) The Record of Woodland Park.

Such words are remarkable to parents of children with autism. "I'm trying not to get my hopes up that this could be the miracle we've been waiting for," Rebecca's father, Jon Singer said. "But there is the possibility that it could be and even if this hormone only helps in a small way, it's a start." Autism rates are rising at a startling pace. One in 88 children nationwide now has the disorder. New Jersey's rates are even higher - one in every 49 children, including one in every 29 boys - according to a report released in March by the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Rebecca and two other children in the 7-month blind study are being injected twice a day for three months with growth factor IGF-1 or a placebo, separated by a four-week resting period. The insulin-like hormone is typically used for children not growing appropriately for their age. In a trial last year, IGF-1 was shown to reverse nerve cell communication damage in mice. People with autism seem to have the same type of deficits. All the trial participants have a mutated or missing gene on chromosome 22, which causes Phelan-McDermid Syndrome, a rare genetic disease that causes severe disabilities and, often, autism. Chromosome 22 is involved in processes crucial for learning and memory; the loss of it can impede neuron communication. People with Phelan, estimated at fewer than 700 worldwide, typically have profound intellectual disabilities, chewing and swallowing problems, no formal language, and autism.

Two years ago, scientists discovered how to create autism-like conditions in mice, altering the chromosome to disrupt nerve cell communication. Less than a year later, researchers gave the affected rodents IGF-1. By Day Six of the two-week treatment, they had reversed the damage. "IGF-1 promotes synaptic growth in nerve cells," Kolevzon said. "You can't compare the time frame between mice and humans but if IGF-1 is successful, this may shed a broader light on autism." Read More...

Autism, Bipolar, and Schizophrenia Linked In New Study
Mon, 2 Jul 2012 17:55:07 - Pacific Time
Autism spectrum disorder appears more likely for children with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder in their immediate family, suggesting common factors among the three, according to a researcher review published in MedPage Today. The autism risk was 2.9-fold higher with schizophrenia in parents and 2.6- to 12.1-fold elevated with schizophrenia in a sibling across various cohorts studied by Patrick F. Sullivan, MD, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues.

The links were similar but lesser in magnitude for bipolar disorder in a first-degree family member, the group reported online in the Archives of General Psychiatry.The findings suggest that schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism are different manifestations of the same root causes. The common factors could be shared DNA sequence variation, a common environmental risk factor the whole family is exposed to, or a gene-environment interaction, Sullivan and colleagues suggested. "Genetic effects may be more likely given substantial heritability estimates for autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder along with evidence for relatively lesser but significant environmental effects," they wrote. But that doesn't necessarily mean that all three should be lumped together into a single psychiatric classification just yet, the group pointed out.Rather, "it is tenable that these disorders are more similar phenotypically than currently appreciated, and it might prove interesting to reevaluate the degrees of demarcation between these three disorders," Sullivan's group wrote. Bipolar disorder has a well known etiologic and clinical overlap with schizophrenia. Autism used to be "regarded as childhood schizophrenia because the impaired social interactions and bizarre behavior found in autism spectrum disorder were reminiscent of symptoms of schizophrenia," the researchers noted.

While the two were separated diagnostically around 1980, they explained, "several lines of evidence suggest that this distinction is not absolute." The group examined histories of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder in first-degree relatives of individuals with autism spectrum disorder in three cohorts. The link between autism spectrum disorder and family history of the other psychiatric disorders was consistently significant across the cohorts and categories studied. The likelihood of autism spectrum disorder was 2.9-fold elevated with a parental history of schizophrenia in both the Swedish national cohort (95% confidence interval 2.5 to 3.4) and the Stockholm County cohort (95% CI 2.0 to 4.1).

Schizophrenia in a sibling raised the risk 2.6-fold in the Swedish national cohort and 12.1-fold in the Israeli conscription cohort, though with a larger 95% confidence interval of 4.5 to 32.0 that overlapped with the confidence interval of 2.0 to 3.2 in the national cohort. "We speculate that the higher sibling odds ratio from Israel resulted from subjects with earlier onset schizophrenia, which has a higher sibling recurrence risk," Sullivan's group wrote. Read More...

Brain Scan Detects Signs of Autism
Thu, 28 Jun 2012 09:08:32 - Pacific Time
A new study reported in an article in Science Daily shows significant differences in brain development in high-risk infants who develop autism starting as early as age 6 months. The findings published in the American Journal of Psychiatry reveal that this abnormal brain development may be detected before the appearance of autism symptoms in an infant's first year of life. Autism is typically diagnosed around the age of 2 or 3.

The study offers new clues for early diagnosis, which is key, as research suggests that the symptoms of autism -- problems with communication, social interaction and behavior -- can improve with early intervention. "For the first time, we have an encouraging finding that enables the possibility of developing autism risk biomarkers prior to the appearance of symptoms, and in advance of our current ability to diagnose autism," says co-investigator Dr. Alan Evans at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital -- the Neuro, McGill University, which is the Data Coordinating Centre for the study.

"Infancy is a time when the brain is being organized and connections are developing rapidly," says Dr. Evans. "Our international research team was able to detect differences in the wiring by six months of age in those children who went on to develop autism. The difference between high-risk infants that developed autism and those that did not was specifically in white matter tract development -- fibre pathways that connect brain regions." The study followed 92 infants from 6 months to age 2. All were considered at high-risk for autism, as they had older siblings with the developmental disorder. Each infant had a special type of MRI scan, known as diffusion tensor imaging, at 6 months and a behavioral assessment at 24 months. The majority also had additional scans at either or both 12 and 24 months.

At 24 months, 30% of infants in the study were diagnosed with autism. White matter tract development for 12 of the 15 tracts examined differed significantly between the infants that developed autism and those who did not. Researchers evaluated fractional anisotropy (FA), a measure of white matter organization based on the movement of water through tissue. Differences in FA values were greatest at 6 and 24 months. Early in the study, infants who developed autism showed elevated FA values along these tracts, which decreased over time, so that by 24 months autistic infants had lower FA values than infants without autism.

The study characterizes the dynamic age-related brain and behavior changes underlying autism -- vital for developing tools to aid autistic children and their families. This is the latest finding from the on-going Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS), which is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and brings together the expertise of a network of researchers from institutes across North America. The IBIS study is headquartered at the University of North Carolina, and The Neuro is the Data Coordinating Centre where all IBIS data is centralized. Read More...

EEG May Some Day Diagnose Autism
Tue, 26 Jun 2012 10:28:12 - Pacific Time
An article appearing on ABC news claims that a readily available brain test could someday be used to diagnose autism in children as young as 2 years old, offering the potential for earlier intervention. The new study was published online in the journal BMC Medicine. Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital used electroencephalograms (EEGs), tests that measure electrical activity in the brain, to compare the brains of 430 children with autism and 554 normal children between the ages of 2 and 12.

Children with autism showed reduced connectivity among a number of areas of the brain, and these patterns were different than the patterns observed in normal children. "Most of these patterns provide enough information to cleanly separate 2 to 12-year-old autistic children from neurotypical controls," said Dr. Frank Duffy, a study co-author and director of developmental neurophysiology at Boston Children's Hospital.

Part of what sets this research apart from other studies, Duffy explained, is that the subjects were children with classic signs of autism, including communication difficulties, compulsivity, impulsivity and problems engaging other people. As a result of these symptoms, research can be very challenging. "The problem with studying autistic children is that they aren't very cooperative," Duffy said. "Many of the studies have taken extreme cases, such as high-functioning autistics, adults with autism or people with Asperger's syndrome." Asperger's syndrome is a milder form of autism marked by language and communication difficulties.

While not yet ready for real-world diagnosis, Duffy said it's possible EEGs, which are easy to get and relatively inexpensive, could eventually be used to diagnose autism at younger ages. Read More...

Oxytocin May Be An Effective Autism Treatment
Fri, 15 Jun 2012 09:03:37 - Pacific Time
In a preliminary presentation of new research summarized in an article in The Atlantic, doctors said a nasal spray containing the hormone helped activate "social" regions of the brain. Oxytocin, the "mother-infant bonding hormone," holds even more promise for helping treat the social deficits that are often part of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Where earlier work piqued interest in oxytocin as a possible treatment, a new study goes further to support its role in treating the disorder, which now affects one in 88 children born today, according to the CDC.

In the new study, the authors conducted a double-blind placebo-controlled trial, the gold standard of scientific research. The team gave half of a group of children aged 7-18 a single dose of a nasal spray containing oxytocin. The other half of the group received a placebo - a nasal spray with no active ingredient in it.

The brains of the children who had received the oxytocin showed that areas of the "social brain," were activated. These included the medial prefrontal cortex, the temporal parietal junction, the fusiform gyrus and the superior temporal sulcus, all areas involved in processing social information coming from sight, sounds, and cues from other people.

Oxytocin is secreted in large amounts during and after childbirth, and is thought to help a mother and her baby bond. It also appears to support other, non-maternal social behaviors, like feeling more open and trusting towards other people.

"Our findings provide the first, critical steps toward devising more effective treatments for the core social deficits in autism, which may involve a combination of clinical interventions with an administration of oxytocin," said study author Ilanit Gordon. "Such a treatment approach will fundamentally improve our understanding of autism and its treatment." The findings are preliminary, however, and the treatment will need more rigorous investigation before it could be recommended for use in the general public.

The study was carried out at Yale University, and the findings presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research in May. They are not yet scheduled to appear in a peer-reviewed journal. Read More...

Autsm America Radio Announces New Partnership
Wed, 13 Jun 2012 07:07:15 - Pacific Time
After a year of autism lifestyle programming featuring autism stars Holly Robinson Peete, Temple Grandin, Ed Asner and many others, Autism America Radio became the official radio show of Autism Speaks on June 9, 2012. Co-host Matt Asner, who has a sibling and a 9-year-old son with autism, teams up weekly with talk radio veteran Nick Geber to deliver a message of hope, and to provide the most up-to-date information on autism every Saturday from 3 - 5 p.m. PT on Sirius/XM Family Talk Channel 131.

Autism America began on one AM radio station in Los Angeles. It has since grown to be a nationally syndicated show, carried by multiple affiliates, and boasts over 14,000 Facebook fans. The growth of Autism America reflects autism's rise in prevalence of and need for more education, awareness and information for families impacted by the disorder. Today, an estimated 1 in 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum -- a 1000 percent increase in the past 40 years that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis.

As part of the new partnership, Autism America will air public service announcements to promote upcoming Walk Now for Autism Speaks events and provide information on resources available to families on www.AutismSpeaks.org , such as the Autism Speaks 100 Day, Transition, and Family Support Tool Kits; and Autism Resource Guide and Video Glossary.

Autism Speaks will provide interviews with experts from its Science and Family Services teams on the latest research and advocacy efforts, announce upcoming shows on its social networks, and post full podcasts of Autism America on the official Autism Speaks Blogtalk radio channel at www.blogtalkradio.com/autismspeaks .

"This isn't some dry show. It is an autism town hall where our listeners drive the show as much as we do," says Matt Asner, an entertainment industry veteran and advocate within the autism community who serves as Autism Speaks executive director for Southern California. "It provides a forum for parents and individuals affected by autism to have their voices heard and engage in an ongoing dialog about the issues they're dealing with on a daily basis." Read More...

Brain Bank Freezer Failure Limits Autism Research
Mon, 11 Jun 2012 07:25:40 - Pacific Time
The Boston Globe reports that a freezer malfunction at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital has severely damaged one-third of the world’s largest collection of autism brain samples, potentially setting back research on the disorder by years, scientists say. An official at the renowned brain bank in Belmont discovered that the freezer had shut down in late May, without triggering two alarms. Inside, they found 150 thawed brains that had turned dark from decay; about a third of them were part of a collection of autism brains.

"This was a priceless collection," said Dr. Francine Benes, director of the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center, where the brains were housed. "You can’t express its value in dollar amounts,’’ said Benes, who is leading one of two internal investigations into the freezer failure.

The damage to these brains could slow autism research by a decade as the collection is restored, said Carlos Pardo, a neuropathologist and associate professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University.

The collection, owned by the advocacy and research organization Autism Speaks, "yields very, very important information that allows us to have a better understanding of what autism is, as well as the contribution of environmental and immune factors," said Pardo, whose 2004 study of brains stored in the bank was the first to find that autism involves the immune system. "The benefit has been great." With that understanding, more effective treatment or prevention becomes possible.

The McLean freezer, one of 24 in the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center, was protected by two separate alarm systems, and staff checked an external thermostat twice a day to ensure that the tissue samples were maintained at about minus-80 degrees Celsius. But on May 31, center Assistant Director George Tejada opened so-called Freezer U and wasn’t greeted by the expected blast of cold air. Though the alarms had not been triggered and the external thermostat read minus-79, the actual temperature was 7 degrees, roughly equivalent to a refrigerator. Based on the condition of the brains, Benes estimates the freezer had turned off three days earlier.

Benes said the situation is so unusual - the perfect storm of alarm and thermostat failure and the concentration of samples - that she cannot rule out foul play. She said she has not spoken to law enforcement officials, pending the completion of the internal investigation. Read More...

Antioxidant Treatment for Autism
Wed, 30 May 2012 09:18:04 - Pacific Time
A specific antioxidant supplement may be an effective therapy for some features of autism, according to a pilot trial from the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital that involved 31 children with the disorder.

According to the summary published in Science Daily, the antioxidant, called N-Acetylcysteine, or NAC, lowered irritability in children with autism as well as reducing the children's repetitive behaviors. The researchers emphasized that the findings must be confirmed in a larger trial before NAC can be recommended for children with autism.

Irritability affects 60 to 70 percent of children with autism. "We're not talking about mild things: This is throwing, kicking, hitting, the child needing to be restrained," said Antonio Hardan, MD, the primary author of the new study. "It can affect learning, vocational activities and the child's ability to participate in autism therapies."

The study appears in the June 1 issue of Biological Psychiatry. Hardan is an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford and director of the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Clinic at Packard Children's. Stanfordis filing a patent for the use of NAC in autism, and one of the study authors has a financial stake in a company that makes and sells the NAC used in the trial.

Finding new medications to treat autism and its symptoms is a high priority for researchers. Currently, irritability, mood swings and aggression, all of which are considered associated features of autism, are treated with second-generation antipsychotics. But these drugs cause significant side effects, including weight gain, involuntary motor movements and metabolic syndrome, which increases diabetes risk. By contrast, side effects of NAC are generally mild, with gastrointestinal problems such as constipation, nausea, diarrhea and decreased appetite being the most common.

The state of drug treatments for autism's core features, such as social deficits, language impairment and repetitive behaviors, is also a major problem. "Today, in 2012, we have no effective medication to treat repetitive behavior such as hand flapping or any other core features of autism," Hardan said. NAC could be the first medication available to treat repetitive behavior in autism -- if the findings hold up when scrutinized further. Read More...

News Archive


New Head Lag Test for Autism: Sun, 27 May 2012 15:41:56 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Fevers During Pregnancy Linked to Autism: Sun, 27 May 2012 15:35:42 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Autistic Children Diagnosed at 5 or Older: Sun, 27 May 2012 15:29:40 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Nobel Laureate Joins Anti-Vaccination Crowd: Sun, 27 May 2012 14:09:24 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Court Ruling Denies Quick Resolution of Autism Therapy Issue: Fri, 26 Aug 2011 11:05:56 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Sibling Autism Risk is Higher Than Previously Thought: Thu, 25 Aug 2011 07:59:13 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Jaundice at birth may be linked to autism: Tue, 12 Oct 2010 06:45:05 - Pacific Time: Read More...


The Help Group Summit 2010: Tue, 28 Sep 2010 06:34:22 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Little evidence antidepressants helpful for autism: Tue, 10 Aug 2010 02:22:39 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Screening speech may aid autism diagnosis: Tue, 20 Jul 2010 04:04:14 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Canadian Study Uncovers DNA Changes In People With Autism Spectrum Disorders: Tue, 22 Jun 2010 07:41:51 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Preliminary settlement reached in autism lawsuit: Fri, 18 Jun 2010 05:41:58 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Genetic Errors Linked to Autism: Thu, 10 Jun 2010 06:51:08 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Slightly early births linked to autism, dyslexia: Wed, 9 Jun 2010 06:09:47 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Distinctive Bacteria Could Enable Urine Test for Autism: Tue, 8 Jun 2010 07:45:58 - Pacific Time: Read More...


UK doctor at heart of vaccine row banned from practice: Tue, 25 May 2010 05:54:13 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Studies Link Infertility Treatments to Autism: Thu, 20 May 2010 07:12:18 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Study: Gluten-free diets do not improve autism behavior: Thu, 20 May 2010 07:09:31 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Callifornia Special-Ed Teachers Back to School on Autism: Mon, 17 May 2010 06:42:29 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Autistic Kids and GI Problems Linked: Wed, 5 May 2010 07:37:02 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Dr. Stanley Greenspan dies, founded Floortime and developmental approaches to autism therapy: Wed, 28 Apr 2010 08:45:27 - Pacific Time: Read More...


How and when autism symptoms appear dictate illness severity: Thu, 22 Apr 2010 06:54:42 - Pacific Time: Read More...


The Debate Continues on Autistic Enterocolitis: Fri, 16 Apr 2010 06:41:16 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Grandparents key for autistic children: Fri, 9 Apr 2010 08:13:38 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Autism Susceptibility Genes Identified: Mon, 5 Apr 2010 07:16:38 - Pacific Time: Read More...


1 in 4 Parents Link Autism to Vaccines: Tue, 9 Mar 2010 08:01:38 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Do Toxins Cause Autism?: Mon, 1 Mar 2010 07:00:20 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Autism signs appear in babies' first year, but parents don't notice: Wed, 24 Feb 2010 06:53:09 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Curemark CM-AT Autism Treatment Granted FDA Fast Track Status: Mon, 22 Feb 2010 07:21:00 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Hormone May Help Autism Symptoms: Tue, 16 Feb 2010 07:04:52 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Proposed Autism Diagnosis Changes Anger "Aspies": Thu, 11 Feb 2010 07:51:13 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Older mothers' kids have higher autism risk, study finds: Mon, 8 Feb 2010 07:10:54 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Andrew Wakefield responds to article about journal retraction of autism study report: Thu, 4 Feb 2010 07:29:54 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Andrew Wakefield found to have Acted Unethically in Autism Study: Sun, 31 Jan 2010 07:54:02 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Hotel includes suite outfitted for parents of autistic child: Mon, 25 Jan 2010 06:44:05 - Pacific Time: Read More...


OSR#1: Industrial chemical or autism treatment?: Sun, 17 Jan 2010 07:51:15 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Families of autistic kids sue over therapy's elimination: Fri, 15 Jan 2010 08:51:47 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Startup Tests Drugs Aimed at Autism: Mon, 11 Jan 2010 10:00:08 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Misconnections in Developing Brain May Cause Autism: Mon, 11 Jan 2010 08:48:55 - Pacific Time: Read More...


Brain Imaging May Help Diagnose Autism: Sat, 9 Jan 2010 06:30:04 - Pacific Time: Read More...

Please See Our Catalog of Books About Autism for More Information Please See Our Catalog of Free Online Videos About Autism for More Information