This month, a shocking claim was made by the former chief of the American
Journal of Psychiatry, Nancy Andreasen, when she published her findings that
antipsychotic drugs, such as Risperadone, actually shrink the brain over time.
Ms. Andreasen began a long-running study in 1991 on schizophrenia patients
taking antipsychotics, periodically measuring their brain volumes with magnetic
resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Two years later, she reported "progressive
brain volume reductions" in her patients and initially concluded that the
shrinkage was associated with "a worsening of negative symptoms, functional
impairment and cognitive decline." At that time, her premise was that the
shrinkage was due to the disease and that the antipsychotics failed to stop it.
Concurrent to Andreasen’s findings, other studies in both animals and patients
with schizophrenia indicated that the drugs might very well aggravate or
possibly even cause the shrinkage. Further studies then concluded that the occurrences
of shrinkage were in fact caused by the drugs themselves and were dose-related. Her findings were recently published in the Archives
of General Psychiatry, a journal of the American Medical Association.
The reason these discoveries are so alarming is that antipsychotics are now
widely prescribed to control behavioral issues and treat other
"non-psychotic" conditions such as ADD and autism. Journalistic
investigations have shown that antipsychotics are widely dispensed to children
on Medicaid at a much higher rate, mostly in lieu of individual therapy and
family counseling. Additionally, Medicaid reimbursements for the drug are much
higher than that of traditional therapy, creating many instances of
overprescribing. Courts also often order the use of antipsychotics for those
within the criminal justice system.
Even more upsetting, antipsychotics generate huge profits for pharmaceutical
companies, to the point where they find it cost-effective to absorb the many
lawsuits and false advertising complaints that emerge from their widespread
Long-term use of antipsychotics must be stopped and their use on the still
developing brains of children should be banned. There can be no justification
for giving antipsychotics to someone who is not even psychotic.
Where is the public outrage and mainstream media coverage on this issue?
These findings, along with the horrible side effects of massive weight gain,
permanent tremors and diabetes that are already associated with antipsychotics,
should prompt an immediate review of their rampant, off-label use.
Additionally, the media needs to do a much better job of disseminating this
type of information to the public once it’s known, so individuals
with neurological disorders and their families are better informed of the
potential health risks associated with these types of drugs.
It’s that time of year again when parents will meet with their school districts
and write their Individualized Education Programs or IEPs. These are mandated by the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and outline the individual
educational needs for each child with special needs. My close friend, who has her Masters
in Education once told me, “if every parent knew their IDEA laws, the school systems would go broke.”
Parents and caregivers of a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) need to
be educated as an advocate in many areas of their child’s life. Picking up, reading and understanding the IDEA fundamentals from a recent copy
of “Wrightslaw: Special Education Law,” will give invaluable insight for
parents. There’s no excuse for being unprepared for these meetings, which will
ultimately play a large role in determining a child’s functionality and success.
I recently read about a mother whose argument with her school district was
related to her son’s handwriting. Her struggles to have her child
use assistive technology had merit.
A recent Japanese study involving middle and high school aged children showed that
children with autism, along with Tourette’s Syndrome, ADD and other co-morbid
diagnoses, had substantially lower grades when forced to handwrite their assignments. The implementation of computer keyboards and typing devices raised their grades from C and D
averages to A’s and B’s.
Furthermore, studies showed that by allowing these students to complete homework assignments at school and
not at home, grades also increased as a result.
Parents and caregivers who come prepared to IEP meetings are a far stronger force than most realize. By law,
they can never be excluded from these important decision-making meetings.
Parents have the right to be heard and research before meetings take place will prove to be invaluable.
Knowing when a transfer to another school or district is allowed is extremely important. Each state has its own interpretations of how and when they are willing to transfer or contract out for appropriate services. Knowing these rules will keep
parents from spinning their wheels and show school administrative teams that they
are well-informed and know their child’s educational rights.
My oldest son has a 504 plan, which is not as powerful as an IEP, but certainly provides for
appropriate accommodations. His 504 plan includes having no homework, the use of a keyboard instead of handwriting, allowing for quiet
time and allowing for frequent healthy snacks. These stipulations can all be a mandatory part of
a child’s program, but will rarely be offered. I even learned to bring in a supportive advocate at times when I knew it would be a
If the system does not provide, they must accommodate. Test scores and a specific diagnosis are the baselines for constructing a plan that will be therapeutic, stimulating and educational for
a child’s special needs. The IEPs and 504 plans also offer greater protection than those of typical students.
Leverage lies within the laws and a child with special needs is entitled to as much as double and triple the tax monies as the funding for a typical child.
This should put parents in a position of empowerment, not groveling.
I moved all the way across the country to New York where my son’s IEP would finally be written to accommodate his special needs.
He was then able to take advantage of New York’s five-day-a-week speech
program with a speech therapist who was fully acquainted with current autism research and
therapies, along with every other imaginable accommodating resource. My son went from mumbling
and speechless to fully conversational in two-months.
He also began playing board games, making eye contact, singing, dancing and most of all, was happy — all within only two months. I was completely in awe of the provisions given to my son
by the state of New York. I was also in disgust of the state where I came from.
If I had to pay out of pocket in my former state for the services he was receiving in the curricular year, it would
have cost me in excess of a half-a-million dollars. Very few families have this
type of money, which is why so many get deprived of services in non-friendly
states. By the time my son has finished his two years of Early Intervention before starting Kindergarten in NYS, he will have received well over a million dollars worth of therapy. I did not have to beg or
borrow, these services were given to my son on a silver platter.
Had we not moved, my son would not have received appropriate therapy and would have cost taxpayers anywhere between 3.7 and 77 million dollars in his lifetime, depending on the eventual long-term services he would have required such as assisted living, medical, educational, personal and
other therapeutic needs.
If I wasn’t educated about the laws, I wouldn’t have known what he could and should be
getting. It’s despicable and injurious that so many states allow for this. A fellow parent of a child with ASD in the state where I lived has
successfully sued the school systems at least four times. Despite this fact, the schools
have not changed and are still non-accommodating.
Clearly, knowledge and leaving the door open to move are essential. Keep in
mind, because of the imbalance of services across the country, the state a child
lives in will determine the rest of his or her life. In many cases, even just a move to another county will make the difference. In other cases, like mine, moving over 3,000 miles away did the trick. If you don’t know what your child needs and what you can and cannot ask for, in most cases they won’t tell you either. Therefore, you need to be
prepared and educated.
Many head-start programs are beginning to accommodate the early intervention needs of a child with ASD. Each program is unique, and each teaches a child with ASD in different ways.
Be prepared. A child’s autism diagnosis changes lives forever and getting accommodating therapies from school systems will typically ensure that
a child realizes his or her high functioning potential, which will prevent them
from falling between the cracks.
Knowledge of the IEP process and IDEA laws will enable parents and caregivers to be an excellent advocate and resource for
their child’s growth, future, functionality and ultimate success.
The Autism Society of Minnesota recently hosted an "Autism and
Employment" conference in which managers from 3M, Cargill and Best Buy took
to the stage in praise of their employees with autism, counting them "among
their very best."
With a looming shortage of workers due to the retirement of baby boomers, more
companies are finding it advantageous to make accommodations in the workplace
for their employees with ASD. In turn, those employees are becoming known for
their extreme focus, ingenuity and dedication in the artistic and technological
fields to which they are innately drawn. Their love of routines and specialized
interests become assets when applied to the workplace environment.
At the conference, Temple Grandin, celebrity author and autism spokesperson, was
on-hand to share her wealth of experience, even offering some advice to job
seekers with autism. Since reading social cues is difficult, she recommended
presenting a portfolio or examples of one’s work as the best course of action
during the interview process. "I never got a job based upon my
personality," she quipped.
Grandin also exhorted parents to help their kids build skills well before they
would be entering the job market, such as having them order their own food at
restaurants, purchasing their own items at stores or having them run their own
small businesses such as mowing neighborhood lawns.
Fostering independence for children with autism is creating a promising trend of
doors being opened that were once closed. The intersection of employer
need and autism enlightenment is heartening news and will have a ripple-effect
throughout our society. For example, a parent with a co-worker on the autism
spectrum will be less likely to object to their child having a classmate with
autism. And since children mirror their parents’ attitudes, bullying at school
will be also diminished as well.
Another myth currently being dispelled about individuals with autism involves
their inability to sustain meaningful marital relationships.
Autism expert Tony Attwood has laid this falsehood to rest by quoting studies on
the attitudes towards marriage. Asking what marriage meant to them, neurotypical
individuals typically responded with "being in love," while those with
autism consistently cited the elements of having a lifelong friend and helpmate.
Many marriages come undone when one or the other spouse falls out of love or
becomes bored. People with autism, whose core values in a mate are an abiding
friendship and routines, are actually much better suited for the lifelong
commitments of marriage than their neurotypical counterparts.
Dr. Attwood believes that people with autism are the forerunners of a higher
evolution and that it is incumbent upon the rest of us to realize this fact.
Their burgeoning and continuing success, both professionally and personally,
bears out this wisdom.
And as our society continues to embrace the widespread acceptance of those with
autism, we will continue to see shattered stereotypes and misconceptions laid to
rest, as is currently taking place in the areas of employment and marriage.
Last night, viewers didn’t get to see much of James Durbin, other than a
quick glimpse of him emotionally celebrating in Room One, where he, along with a
few dozen other American Idol contestants, learned they would be advancing to
the next round, which will take place in Las Vegas.
Durbin’s performance was not aired, which was most likely a tactical move on
the part of the Idol producers (less is more).
James Durbin continues to be a frontrunner for the show, however, after viewing
some of last night’s performances, it appears he will have his work cut out for
him. One would find difficulty in finding another American Idol season
that was so stacked with this much talent. In fact, there’s a good chance
some of the contestants who don’t even make the Top 12 this year could have been
winners in previous seasons (i.e. Taylor Hicks).
As for Durbin, his heartfelt story of overcoming Asperger’s Syndrome, Tourette’s,
unemployment and the death of his father, coupled with his high ranging vocal
performances, still make him a strong contender to win it all. However, it
remains to be seen if he can continue his strong performances — singing in
front of millions of people on live TV is quite different that what the
contestants are currently doing. But regardless, Durbin still
has a significant amount of people supporting him, including a lot within the
special needs community, making him a strong Season 10 favorite.
Next week’s round will incorporate songs from The Beatles and it appears Durbin
already has a head start in performing songs from the band. Posted below
is a performance that has surfaced of Durbin performing "While My Guitar
Gently Weeps," recorded in his hometown when he was 19-years-old.
Craig Nicholls (Courtesy: thevines.com / Sophie Howarth)
In the Spring of 2004, an Australian group known as The Vines quickly became one of the hottest bands in the world, topping charts and mentioned in the same
breath as bands such as Nirvana. Lead singer/songwriter Craig Nicholls was
well-known for his unpredictable behavior and marijuana smoking, as well as his unhealthy
burger-only diet. Rude and uncommunicative in interviews, Nicholls was prone to messing up photographs with goofy
faces and his wild-eyed, guitar-smashing antics, enthralling a new generation of young music fans.
In support of a new album release, The Vines launched a grueling US tour followed by gigs in Japan. Nicholls’ onstage antics grew more out-of-control and dangerous as the tour wore
on. He verbally abused the crowd, even kicking at a photographer, smashing her camera.
Assault charges followed.
Thrown off both Jay Leno and David Letterman for tearing up their sets, no one would book Nicholls. By May 2004, it was all over for The Vines and their great promise was laid to ruins by the seemingly inexcusable behavior of their twenty-seven-year-old
Then fate and a perceptive friend intervened. Having seen his share of crazy rock n´ rollers, the band’s guitar technician felt that Nicholls had an actual neurological problem and hypothesized it
was Asperger’s Syndrome. Dr. Tony Attwood, the pre-eminent authority on the subject, was brought in and confirmed the layman’s diagnosis.
Nicholls expressed relief at finally being able to make sense of his life. While growing up, his obsessive and reclusive behavior concerned his parents enough that they took him to see a psychologist at age fifteen, but no mention of autism had ever been made.
Called as an expert witness in court the following November, Dr. Attwood announced his diagnosis and explained that after performing, Nicholls suffered from sensory overload and physically lashed out as a result.
He did not intend to hurt the photographer, he just couldn’t bear her intrusion into his personal space. Assault charges were dropped on condition of immediate therapy.
Dr. Attwood explained to Nicholls that the lifestyle of a touring rock musician with its erratic schedule, constant
changes and sensory overload was the worst career he could have possibly chosen
for someone with his condition. He then recommended that Nicholls curtail his touring, create a recording studio in his home, improve his
diet and stop smoking pot. Attwood emphatically stated that smoking marijuana
was one of the worst things a person with Asperger´s can do to themselves.
Nicholls has spent the last seven years coming to terms with being a rock star on the
autism spectrum. He’s taken long breaks, punctuated by the release of excellent new music and a smattering of live performances. No longer a pot smoker, he can’t even recall the many incidents that lead to the turning point in his life. When told of them, he is contrite.
Some of Nicholls’ best work came after his diagnosis, such as his ¨Get Free¨ performance two years
ago, which is posted below. His amazing stage presence is a testament to the gifts that autism bestows, even as he continues to shoulder its burdens.
Look for the release of The Vines’ new album ¨Future Primitive,¨ in April of 2011.
It’s no secret that most children with autism are heavily drawn to video
games. It provides an outlet for them, develops hand-eye coordination and satisfies
their need for stimulatory behavior. I often follow upcoming game releases on
behalf of my son, who is an avid Nintendo Wii fan.
Today, I came across something very disturbing that reminded me of the urgent need to monitor what we allow our children to access and what they can be exposed to.
"Dead Island" is a soon-to-be-released video game for XBox 360,
Playstation 3 and Windows. Its developer, Techland, just released a trailer for
the game, which can be seen below.
It is an "open world" game that requires its players to survive on a
zombie-plagued island. Undoubtedly, this game will be slapped with an
"M" for Mature rating by the ERSB when it’s finally released — and
for good reason. The opening sequence of the game’s trailer features an
incredibly realistic CGI animation of a dead girl, presumably around
8-years-old, who has just been thrown out of a six-story building by her own
father. The trailer goes on to show a sequence of events in reverse to
depict the circumstances that led to the little girl’s plunge.
I am not an advocate of censorship and I believe that companies have the right
to publish what they want. However, there are many things that clearly
cross the line of decency and "Dead Island" is one of them. The
depiction of a dead girl, clearly intended for shock value to sell a product, is
a testament of just how far our society has stooped within the last 30 years.
When I was younger, the extent of my game violence exposure entailed Pac-man
eating some colorful ghostly figures.
Techland is certainly free to release whatever they want and ultimately,
the indictment will fall upon the hundreds-of-thousands of people who will
eventually purchase this game as a form of "entertainment."
For parents of special needs children (and all parents for that matter), advocacy and protection should not end
with the education and health care systems. They need to continue inside our
homes and it is our responsibility to closely monitor what they are watching,
what they are reading and what they are playing.
*WARNING* Video contains graphic and violent CGI animation sequences:
Despite greater awareness and a better understanding of the disorder, autism
rates continue to climb at an alarming rate, with more parents than ever before receiving the devastating news of an autism diagnosis.
However, while the maze of a loved one’s diagnosis can be quite overwhelming, there is some
potentially great news. As the first wave of children from the initial autism
epidemic transition to adulthood, we are seeing many of them leading very functional
and happy lives. Autism is a lifelong condition, insofar as affecting a person’s
need for support, special accommodations or assisted living (to lesser or greater
extents). However, things such as college, a career, marriage and family are
proven to be very much attainable.
Autism will be typically first diagnosed according to code 299.00 of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV),
which falls under the category of "Autistic Disorder." The diagnosis will
then go on to list specific areas of delays or disturbances and there is typically
no stated degree such as "mild" or "severe" in the initial diagnosis of
an autism spectrum disorder.
In most cases, the level of severity depends on what age a diagnosis occurs, how much
accommodating therapy will be received and the amount of growth an individual will show with given therapies.
Low functioning autism is determined by an IQ (Intelligence Quotient) of 80 or below. This number is very low and is typified as those needing complete assistance in almost every area.
With that being said, many cases that appear to be stereotypical, classic or
severe, turn around in a relatively short period of time.
In order for this to take place, a tremendous amount of work must be carried out in the home or
natural environment, which includes intensive applied behavior analysis (ABA)
therapy. My four-and-a-half-year-old son was a stereotypical, wall-staring, head-banging, speechless child less than 2 years ago. Today, he is a happy, functioning child with
only a severe speech impairment, inability to transition well and some social
Conversely, what often appears to be a "mild" case of autism can
quickly regress into something much worse without the proper therapy and ongoing treatment, both in a therapeutic environment and
There are no "middle functioning" children and in actuality, there is a very small percentage of
"low functioning" children, with the greatest proportion having the ability to be
In some cases, autism can be misdiagnosed as Landau-Kleffner Disease, Rett’s Syndrome, Heller’s Disease,
Hyperlexia or Tourette’s Syndrome. Regardless, all neurologically-based delays and deficiencies are best treated as
early as possible with behavior modification and accommodating therapies holding the greatest weight.
Not long ago, roughly 50% of all children with autism spectrum disorders were thought to be low functioning. As was pointed out to me today, Temple Grandin was thought to be mentally retarded and was earmarked for institutionalization. Now, Dr. Grandin is an acclaimed writer and speaker on the subject of ASD and
animal behaviors. She also has attained her PhD and teaches at Colorado State University.
It’s a good thing her mom ignored the doctor’s recommendations.
With the early screening and diagnosing capabilities now currently available, the percentage of
those with "low functioning" autism should be less than 15% if the correct behavioral therapies are
administered at the appropriate time.
This should provide comfort to the wave of parents who have recently received
their child’s autism diagnosis, as well as those who are yet to come.
In the end, the child diagnosed with autism today is likely to be joining the ranks of some of the most
brilliant, creative and talented minds our society has ever produced.
According to her blog, an incident occurred this past New Year’s Eve while on
a trip to Orlando, Florida when her and her family were dining at the ABC
Commissary restaurant in Hollywood Studios (part of the Walt Disney World
Resort). Broadfoot claims that while eating
at the restaurant, a group of "aggressive, rude and possibly drunk teenagers"
began blowing noisemakers directly at her 4-year-old child with autism, causing
him to repeatedly hit himself in the head. Apparently, the teens found this
reaction amusing and continued their actions to the point where they
"targeted" her child. When the boy’s uncle asked them to stop, stating
that they were "torturing an autistic boy," one of the teens
responded, "That’s not my problem." Broadfoot said
the incident was a classic case of bullying.
When a manager was called over to intervene, she too was unsuccessful at getting
the rowdy teens to stop and then stated there was nothing else she could do.
There are a couple of troubling elements to this story. The first involves the
actual incident itself and the other involves Disney’s response once they
learned of the ordeal.
Assuming everything happened as Broadfoot claims, the restaurant manager should have
immediately escalated the incident to security when the teens were defiant of
the requests to stop their actions. However, it appears as if the manager didn’t want to be inconvenienced by
escalating the situation and that is totally unacceptable.
But the most concerning part of this incident came after it occurred, when
Broadfoot communicated with a Disney guest communications service
representative through telephone, then email. Upon learning the details of her
story, the Disney rep emailed her the following:
"…I am very sorry for the disappointment you experienced
during your family’s New Year’s Eve celebration at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
I wanted to personally assure you that your feedback has been considered
taken seriously [sic]. The safety and well-being of our guests are of the utmost
importance to us in all aspects of our operation. Our Cast Members are
instructed to assist Guests requiring assistance and their families to our
First Aid stations located in each of our four theme parks. These locations
are established areas where your family can seek comfort during experiences
like the one you encountered from the actions of other Guests…."
So if a child with special needs (or anyone else for that
matter) is being harassed by other guests at Disney World, it is the family’s responsibility
to flee to a first aid station for "comfort?"
Even if Broadfoot had been instructed by the restaurant manager to do so, the
family would’ve had to uproot themselves in the middle of a meal — all
because they were unfortunate enough to sit next to some obnoxious teens.
happened to the concept of security?
In response to the Disney email, Broadfoot followed up on her blog with the following:
"The idea that we should have to take our dinner to the first aid station,
one of the "safe havens," in order to ensure our children weren’t
bullied, is nothing short of ridiculous."
Disney World has always been a pleasant place for our family to
visit. The parks do an excellent job at accommodating our son with autism and
ensuring we have a great time.
However, it appears from this incident that Disney needs to review how they
handle these types of incidents in future, both when they occur and after they’ve happened.
The burden should not be placed on the guests (particularly those of special
needs children) to seek a first aid station when they are being harassed or
Many children with autism endure bullying on a regular basis and we need to do a
much better job, regardless of where that may be, to ensure our kids our
protected by those who get amusement by preying upon the weak and vulnerable.
The New York Daily News reports that Brandon Strong, a ten-year-old student with autism and ADHD, has been systematically punished at
a New York charter school for exhibiting symptoms of his conditions. He has
reportedly been detained during lunch and after school for behavior that
includes talking to himself, failing to look teachers in the eye and fidgeting.
Strong was once a successfully mainstreamed student, but is now having problems
sleeping and throwing fits when it’s time to go to school.
Meetings with school officials have brought no resolution and they have maintained that
the parents are exaggerating the issues and not on board with the school’s
methods of preparing their son for college.
My two sons, who both have high functioning autism, have been in similar scenarios
all of their lives. A few years ago, I was told by a teacher that my one son
"would never be successful in his class or any other" because he was unable to take handwritten notes,
wouldn’t talk when called upon and didn’t make eye contact with the teacher.
Outraged, I transferred him to another school, where his new teacher recognized his charm and potential. She made
it a point to show him great respect in front of all her students and they ended
up following her lead. My son eventually ended up receiving the top citizenship award at his grade school graduation, thanks
in large part to his caring and compassionate teacher.
Although it sometimes can be effective, changing schools in the middle of the year or during a critical time in a student’s life is not the answer. It
is the school that must conform to the child, not the other way around. Accommodations for students with disabilities is the law, but the reality is that classroom
policies can be shockingly regressive. Many teachers and administrators just don’t understand autism or the laws surrounding it.
Often when problems arise with a teacher, administrators take a defensive
posture instead of working in conjunction with parents to create a program that works for
As for young Brandon Strong, toys made specifically for fidgeting exist and can
be handled without causing a distraction. Specialized cushions allow for undetectable squirming. Eye contact is to be encouraged, but
failure to do so should never be met with punishment. Additionally, the teacher
should let it be known to the class that they are to be supportive of everyone, and if Brandon needs to talk to himself sometimes, then
Getting a student with autism ready for college does not entail forcing them to
behave like a neurotypical person. It means giving them a level playing field and a safe
environment to develop intellectual and social skills.
Time and time again, private and public schools fall short in providing the quality of education mandated by the
law and parents are forced to fight for the rights of their child. If the
situation leads to an adversarial battle, it is best to bring in outside help from an autism advocacy organization.
Many times, teachers will view special needs students as a nuisance and will do
whatever they can to force a child out of their class. But what our schools need are
more teachers who genuinely care about all of their students, regardless
of the issues they may have.
In the end, the most successful outcomes occur when all parties sit down together and brainstorm about what
is best for the student and then implement that plan.
With the meteoric rise of social media Web sites such as Facebook and
Twitter, many individuals and groups now have the opportunity to reach large
numbers of people to promote awareness, advocacy and attention for their causes.
Such is the case with autism, where a dramatic spike in prevalence over the last
10 years has prompted many people to the take to the Internet to help, support
and encourage others through the popular online social networks.
Stuart Duncan is the father of a five-year-old child with autism and one such
example of how Twitter can be effectively used for advocacy efforts. Operating
under the handle @autismfather, Duncan has amassed nearly 2,000 followers in the
last year and has since been interviewed by CNN and recently helped raise
thousands of dollars when Samsung offered $5 for every tweet that contained the
Duncan has a loyal online following and is currently planning to use Twitter and
other Web sites as ways to implement an "upgrade" to Autism Awareness
Day this coming April 2nd.
"My goals are quite lofty," he said. "The world is already aware
of autism, but doesn’t truly know what it is. We feel the message of awareness
is not enough, so the plan is to implement something known as Autism
Understanding and Acceptance."
Duncan says there are already twenty charities and companies on board to help
support the cause, with more to follow.
Duncan’s story is just one example that shows how the Internet has leveled
the playing field for normal, everyday people. In year’s past, awareness efforts
were typically reserved for the large multi-million dollar organizations such as
the American Red Cross or the Muscular Dystrophy Association, requiring lengthy
telethons and big budgets to raise funding and awareness. However, the Internet,
via Facebook and Twitter, has completely changed the landscape of how people are
reaching out to others.
Zoey Roberts is a British Columbia resident on the autism spectrum who has
taken to Facebook over the last 3 years to promote autism awareness and also
give others insight into her Asperger’s Syndrome. With social situations a
challenge, Roberts is able to use Facebook as a tool to connect with others to
both receive and offer support.
Roberts has over 3,000 friends (Facebook.com/AutismRights) and runs multiple
Facebook groups that allow her to share her experiences and unique perspectives.
"Through my online advocacy, I’m able to accomplish not only autism awareness,
but also give others the opportunity to see things from the point of view from someone on the
autism spectrum," said Roberts. "Using Facebook, my goal is to
eventually create autism awareness, peace, unity and hopefully acceptance as
With more than 500 million active users on Facebook and over 200 million Twitter
users, social media has become the vehicle of choice to promote causes and
awareness. As recent events in Egypt and the Middle East have demonstrated, a
voice that was once drowned out can now be heard loud and clear through the use
of these types of sites.
And with autism rates continuing to climb at exponential levels, we can expect
to see many more emerging voices on behalf of autism in the near future.
All information in this site is presented for support and educational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for medical treatment or visiting a licensed medical physician. Visitors who desire to apply or use any information listed herein are urged to consult with licensed healthcare professionals first. All information is deemed reliable but its accuracy can't be guaranteed.
Autism strikes a family’s heart, soul and wallet. Estimates by The Autism Society puts a lifetime of care for an autistic child at $3.2 million. Autism parents know firsthand the brutal toll to the family coffers of therapies that can run $40,000 to $50,00 per year. Families tangle with insurance companies, invariably ending up with […]