Autism Awareness: Training program on autism empowers families

April 29, 2011 by cpehrson

Learning that your child has autism is a difficult thing for parents.  Many families have expressed that when their child was first diagnosed, they felt overwhelmed and confused and didn’t know what to do first.

Knowledge is power, as the quote goes. For families, understanding autism, the challenges and treatments, is empowering and helps parents to move forward, making the decisions that will best benefit their child.

One CPD project has developed a caregiver education series for families of children with newly diagnosed autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).  The training curriculum provides information on key topics that will help families to understand their child’s diagnosis and the intervention options available.

The twelve-hour training program consists of six, two-hour modules and includes a trainer’s guide with accompanying DVDs featuring presentations by doctors, therapists, parents, special educators and others on ASD information, treatment, and resources.

Each module addresses key topics including:  Building Resilience; Behavior Management; Introduction to Autism and Early Intervention, Pre-school Education Services; Communication and Sensory Integration Issues; Interventions; and Finding Resources.

The curriculum, called the ABC’s of Autism, was originally developed by Lori Krasney, a Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neuro-developmental Disabilities (URLEND) trainee. Lori worked on the training modules for her leadership project at URLEND and in conjunction with the Utah ASD Development project.  Gina Cook and Marilyn Hammond of the UASD project continued to work on the curriculum in developing the training modules and piloting the training with families in St. George and Salt Lake City.

The trainings will be available in the fall through the Utah Family to Family Health Information Center in partnership with families and their local communities.

Note:  This is the last in a series of blog posts during April’s Autism Awareness Month of how the CPD is supporting and providing research, services, and resources for children with autism.


Reminder: Free UATP iPad Apps training–register by May 2

April 28, 2011 by cpehrson

The Utah Assistive Technology Program (UATP) will present a FREE online interactive training on Wednesday, May 4, 2011 from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.
Scott Baggaley, from The Computer Center for Citizens with Disabilities, will present: iPad Accessibility Communication Apps.
This FREE training by Scott Baggaley will explore using Proloquo2go, its different features and updates for using an iPad as a communication option.  He will also look at different communication app options that are not as famous as the Proloquo2go.

If you are interested in participating
please RSVP by May 2 to Storee Powell via email, or call 435-797-7412.


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Autism Awareness: Research–unlocking the mystery of ASDs

April 25, 2011 by cpehrson

Autism is one of a group of disorders know as autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).  ASDs are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that an average of one in 110 children in the U.S. have an ASD.

We do not know all of the causes of ASDs. However, scientists have learned that there may be many different factors that make a child more likely to have an ASD, including environment, biologic and genetic factors.

Most scientists agree that:

  • Genes are one of the risk factors that can make a person more likely to develop an ASD;
  • Children who have a sibling or parent with an ASD are at a higher risk of also having an ASD;
  • The once common belief that poor parenting practices caused ASDs is NOT true;
  • There is some evidence that the critical period for developing ASDs occurs before birth.

There is still a lot to learn about ASDs.  Research on ASDs has increased significantly in the last 10 years.

In 2000, Congress passed the Children’s Health Act, a legislation that mandated the establishment of a new autism research network.  Large studies are currently being done by several organizations including the National Institute of Health’s Studies to Advance Autism Research and Treatment (STAART) program , and the CDC’s Study to Explore Early Development (SEED).

The BioMedical Immunology/Genetic Laboratory at the CPD has been doing research on the genetic causes of autism for several years. One genetic study under Dr. Anthony Torres’ direction, Early Markers for Autism (EMA), is investigating prenatal and newborn biologic markers for autism

According to Dr. Anthony Torres, director of the BioMedical Lab, “The genetic studies [of ASD] are not anywhere near as simple as people thought they would be.”  The causes may be related to genes, the environment, or a relationship between the two.

The goal of the EMA study is to identify biologic factors that can be used to predict which children will have an ASD.  Researchers are analyzing maternal blood collected during mid-pregnancy of mothers who gave birth to children who developed autism in comparison to mothers who gave birth to children who did not develop autism, and infant blood collected at birth from children with ASD, children with other developmental disabilities, and typically developing children. Investigators are examining a wide range of factors including early biologic markers, genetic factors, immunologic (disease protection) factors, and environmental exposures during critical stages of fetal brain development.

The results of this study will contribute to identifying factors that increase the risk for autism and may lead to the eventual prevention of autism and related disorders.

This study is being conducted as a collaboration between the California Department of Health Services, Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, and laboratory scientists at University of California Davis.  It is funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health and the National Alliance for Autism Research.


Note:  This is the 4th in a series of blog posts during April’s Autism Awareness Month of how the CPD is supporting and providing research, services, and resources for children with autism.

Let’s Talk! —about autism

April 25, 2011 by cpehrson

The new Let’s Talk! weekly blog gives you a chance to let us know how you feel about the issues and concerns that affect the lives of people with disabilities and their families and to hear what others think.

This week’s topic is for anyone who lives or works with individuals who have autism/Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD): parents, family members, friends, service providers/professionals.

What is the greatest need that you have that would help you as you work with someone with autism/ASD?

Are there things that you wished you would have known earlier about autism/ASD that would have helped you?

What is the greatest worry that you have about the future of someone with autism?

Ready, set….Let’s Talk!


Let us know of other topics that you want to talk about.

(Note:  All comments will be filtered to maintain confidentiality and appropriateness.)

Earth Day 2011…..A billion acts of green! The CPD is doing its part

April 22, 2011 by cpehrson

Happy Earth Day! It’s that day each when we are reminded to nurture our home planet and help build a clean environment that will last for generations to come.

The first Earth Day in 1970 led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. It was organized out of a need to “stem the tide of environmental disaster,” in the words of Senator Gaylord Nelson who was outraged at the horrible impact of an oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, California in 1969.

Earth Day is now observed on April 22nd each year by more than 500 million people and several national governments in 175 countries.

Often, people tend to go green at home but are not as likely to carry it over into their work environment.  To make the greatest impact, going green is a commitment that a whole organization must embrace. Recent employee surveys show that morale and employer confidence increases as businesses implement productive green initiatives.

Here at the CPD, we are doing our part to help keep the earth green.  Check  out our top “green” activities:

1.  Commute without polluting. Many of our staff use public transportation, carpool, walk, or bike whenever possible to reduce air pollution and save on fuel costs.  Those who are able to often telecommute once or twice a week. Emailing,  instant messaging, video conferencing, and other tools make effective telecommuting a reality.

2.  Recycle & reuse. Around here we recycle everything we can!  Paper, paper products, old batteries, used plastic bottles, used ink cartridges.  Staff print on the backs of used paper;  shred used paper for packaging material; break down cardboard boxes to recycle; using products that are made from recycled paper (i.e., tissue, napkins, paper towels).

3.  Save a tree. We try to use less paper whenever possible.  We email messages instead of writing on a post-it;  make copies on both sides of the paper; transfer paper files into electronic files; review documents online instead of printing them out; use misprints as notepaper; bring lunch in reusable containers instead of using paper plates;  use mugs instead of paper cups.

4.  Save water.  Signs in the restrooms remind us to make sure the faucets are turned off tightly so they don’t drip.  Water coolers and refrigerated water fountains are made available throughout the CPD to eliminate the need to bring bottled water from home.

5.  Save electricity.  Signs in the restrooms remind us to turn off lights when we leave and staff turn off lights when they leave their office areas.  Fluorescent lighting is used throughout the buildings.  Many use screen savers on their computers; use a laptop instead of a desktop computer; turn off their computers overnight.

6.  Save heat.  We keep the outside doors shut to maintain a constant temperature in the hallways and offices.  Many staff bring sweaters/jackets to put on if there is a chill in the air instead of turning up the thermostat.

7.  Create a healthy work environment.  Nontoxic cleaning solutions are used whenever possible.  Liquid hand sanitizers are available in each office area.  Live plants are found in many of the offices which improve air quality by adding oxygen, humidity, and removing toxins from the air.

8.  Minimize junk mail. Some staff have decreased the quantity of magazines and catalogs by asking to be removed from mailing lists and eliminating duplicate copies from being sent.

Kudos go to the CPD and our staff who are committed to keeping our environment green.

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