Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Helping Families of Autism Get Organized

MeadWestvaco and Autism Society of America Launch 2008 ASA Autism Awareness Cambridge Planner

Special Planner Designed to Help Families Organize, Navigate the Complicated Medical, Education Needs of Autism

BETHESDA, Md. (March 6, 2008) – Today, the Autism Society of America (ASA) and MeadWestvaco's Consumer & Office Products Division announced they have partnered to design an autism-themed Cambridge Planner in honor of this April’s National Autism Awareness Month. The Planner will go on sale at 1,000 Wal*Mart stores nationwide starting April 1.

MeadWestvaco and ASA – the nation’s leading grassroots autism organization – partnered on this effort to promote awareness about this fast-growing neurological condition, which affects every 1 in 150 births. The Cambridge Planner was specially designed by ASA for parents and caregivers who have to manage the many informational and scheduling challenges of caring for an individual with autism. Features include a specialized notes page with space for care provider contact information, current prescriptions, and a checklist of important documents, as well a page of stickers for doctor’s appointments, support group meetings, and other important events throughout the year. The Cambridge Planner also includes general information about the disorder, early signs, and how to find help and support.

“When my son was diagnosed with autism, I began managing a schedule that rivaled a small business,” said ASA President and CEO Lee Grossman. “The lack of services and supports for families in America today means that parents have to juggle an extraordinary amount of doctors and therapists appointments, calls to insurance carriers and educational information in addition to the demands of families and jobs. This Cambridge Planner is more than a product; it’s a pocket roadmap for navigating autism.”

“We're proud to partner with the Autism Society of America to create this special planner for families living with autism,” said Neil McLachlan, president, MeadWestvaco Consumer & Office Products. “We know that managing any family's schedule is a daunting task, but in the case of individuals with autism, schedules are particularly busy with therapy, medical appointments, and more. We hope that this planner eases the scheduling burden for these families.”

A portion of all proceeds from the sale of the Cambridge 2008 ASA Autism Awareness Planner will benefit ASA’s awareness and support programs for families with autism nationwide.

About Autism

Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum disorder” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause for autism, but increased awareness and funding can help families today.

About the Autism Society of America

ASA, the nation’s leading grassroots autism organization, exists to improve the lives of all affected by autism. We do this by increasing public awareness about the day-to-day issues faced by people on the spectrum, advocating for appropriate services for individuals across the lifespan, and providing the latest information regarding treatment, education, research and advocacy. For more information, visit www.autism-society.org.

About MeadWestvaco

MeadWestvaco Corporation (NYSE: MWV) provides packaging solutions to many of the world’s most-admired brands in the food and beverage, media and entertainment, personal care, home and garden, cosmetics, and healthcare industries. The company has market-leading positions in its Consumer & Office Products and Specialty Chemicals businesses, and operates in more than 30 countries. MeadWestvaco manages all of its forestlands in accordance with internationally recognized forest certification standards, and has been named to the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for the fourth consecutive year. For more information, please visit us at www.meadwestvaco.com.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

BronX Marks the Spot

For families in the Bronx (and those willing to travel to the Bronx) you can find a safe place to share your experiences and learn how others cope with an ASD diagnosis at Parents of A.N.G.E.L.S. A non-profit based out of the Bronx. Parents of A.N.G.E.L.S. was a Godsend for me after confirming my fear that my handsome five-year-old son had Autism. In existence since 1999 Parents of A.N.G.E.L.S. helps families with members on the spectrum network with other parents and professionals. Parents of A.N.G.E.L.S. holds monthly meetings that cover topics that a very prevalent to ASD families.

Their next meeting will be April 19 2007 with guest speaker Attorney Dean Bress who will discuss the latest Medicaid rules that started February 08, 2006. He will also speak with the group about Supplemental Needs Trust

To learn more about Parents of A.N.G.E.L.S. and their monthly meeting schedule please check out their websites at:

Parents of A.N.G.E.L.S.

The Bronx Autism Parents of A.N.G.E.L.S Meetup Group

Friday, March 23, 2007

* Autism is a developmental disorder that is characterized most notably by difficulty in acquiring normal language, leisure, and social interaction skills.
* Autism is neurological in origin and occurs as a result of abnormal brain function.
* People with autism may also suffer from physical ailments such as difficulty in feeding, sleeping, and integrating sensory input received from the environment.
* Autism is known as a spectrum disorder because there is a range of possible symptoms and severity levels that a person may exhibit.
* Autism is the most common of five distinct disorders that belong within the category of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD).
* The four other Pervasive Developmental Disorders include Asperger's Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Rett's Disorder, and PDD-Not Otherwise Specified.
* Although each of these disorders has a specific diagnostic criteria, the Pervasive Developmental Disorders are similar in that multiple areas of development are greatly impacted.

* The symptoms of autism are often evident by the time a child reaches age three.
* Autism occurs significantly more often in boys than in girls.
* Autism equally affects people living in all areas of the world, regardless of race or socio-economic status
How do I know if my child has autism?
* Autism can only be diagnosed by a medical professional such as a developmental pediatrician, a pediatric neurologist, a pediatric psychiatrist, or a pediatric psychologist
* Conventional medical tests such as drawing blood or scanning the brain cannot be used to diagnose autism
* A diagnosis of autism is made through observing the child and interviewing adults who are familiar with the child

* No one knows for sure what causes autism
* There is no conclusive evidence, but some studies have attempted to link autism to childhood vaccinations
* Intrauterine exposure to harmful substances and infections is also being investigated as a possible cause of autism
* Although no specific genes have been isolated, researchers are investigating the possibility that there are genes which could make a child more susceptible to autism.

* There is no cure for autism
* The disorder will remain for life, but the symptoms of autism can sometimes be greatly improved
* There is no single way to treat autism
* Autism is typically treated with a combination of therapies that is best determined by analyzing the individual's strengths and weaknesses
* Treatment approaches often include sensory integration, occupational, speech, physical, vision and behavioral therapies
* These therapies typically target the elimination of inappropriate behaviors and the addition of appropriate or compensatory behaviors
* Individuals with autism may also demonstrate improvement when medical and physical treatments such as chelation therapy, dietary intervention, or hyperbaric oxygen therapy are applied
* Non-medical approaches to autism could include pet therapy, music therapy, or canine therapy


Autism Society of America
Mayo Clinic

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Dan Marino Foundation



Friday, February 09, 2007

Autism Disorders Affecting 1 in 150 by Anita Manning, USA Today disscuses Autism rates in several states and gives a profile of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).