November 2006, Vol.6, No.11
Starting January 1, 2007, AAMR F.Y.I. will have a new name—AAIDD F.Y.I.! As you may have heard, the American Association on Mental Retardation (AAMR), publisher of AAMR F.Y.I., has changed its name to the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) and this newsletter will reflect the new name of the association. AAIDD F.Y.I. will continue to carry news and information that you have come to rely on for the past six years. Thank you for your readership!Click here to read a press release on the name change of AAMR.
Dear AAMR Friends and Colleagues:
NEW REFERENCE SUMMARIZES DIVERGENT VIEWS FROM EXPERTS ON HOW MENTAL RETARDATION SHOULD BE DEFINED IN THE 21 ST CENTURY
A new reference titled What is Mental Retardation? Ideas for an Evolving Disabilityedited by noted experts Harvey N. Switzky and Stephen Greenspan, provides a rare peek into the divergent, and, at times contentious, points of view among the world’s leading researchers on what the condition of mental retardation is and how it should be defined, measured, and implemented in the 21st century. This collection of essays features issues ranging from whether mental retardation really is a slowing of mental development and what the disability should be called, to how cultural norms affect the definition of the condition worldwide. The book is published by the American Association on Mental Retardation. To read an excerpt from What is Mental Retardation?visit http://bookstore.aamr.org/BookChapterExcerpt/Frontmatter.pdf
The book is available for purchase in hardback and paperback formats through the new online bookstore of the AAMR at http://bookstore.aamr.org. Look under “Recent Releases.” The bookstore site also features two online specials, including the latest AAMR Definition Manual available at a much-reduced rate.
NEW NATIONAL COUNCIL ON DISABILITY REPORT IDENTIFIES SIX STRATEGIES TO MAKE AMERICAN COMMUNITIES MORE LIVABLE FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
Third in the series of reports by the National Council on Disability (NCD) on how to make American communities more livable for people with disabilities, Creating Livable Communities presents six strategies that can be implemented at the federal and local levels in the U.S. to promote community living for people with disabilities. Each strategy is illustrated by actual initiatives being practiced at federal and state levels. The report also contains eight recommendations for the legislative and executive branches of the federal government and states, so that they can proactively adopt strategies and policies that invest in livable community outcomes.
The two previous NCD reports include Livable Communities for Adults with Disabilities(2004) and The State of 21st Century Long-Term Services and Supports: Financing and Systems Reform for Americans with Disabilities (2005).
USE OF THE SUPPORTS INTENSITY SCALE WITH INDIVIDUALS WITH ASPERGER'S SYNDROME RESULTS IN SUCCESSFUL SUMMER JOB PLACEMENTS
The use of the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS) with 40 individuals ages 16-21 with Asperger’s syndrome to assess support needs required to successfully place them in summer jobs, has resulted in a dramatic decrease in support needs in the areas of employability and social skills after the 8-week duration of the program. This pilot program was conducted by the Children’s Services Council of Broward County, Florida in conjunction with Work Force One. The project demonstrates that given the right kinds of supports, which can include assigning a full-time job coach or providing verbal instructions to perform certain activities, for example, skill levels of the individual increased over the 8-week period, and support levels consequently decreased.
Says Dr. Herm Fishbein of the Children’s Services Council, “Instead of the usual summer camp, this pilot program with SIS gave kids a chance to explore real career opportunities and pick up valuable employment and social skills in real life situations.” Click here to read more about the program and future directions.
The Supports Intensity Scale is a planning tool that is based on the premise that providing appropriate daily, medical, and behavioral supports to persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities enhances the functioning of an individual over time. Learn more about SIS at www.siswebsite.org.
NEW STUDY SHEDS LIGHT ON HOW ONLINE DISCUSSION GROUPS ARE HELPING PEOPLE WITH AUTISM FIND A VOICE AND IDENTIFY FOR THEMSELVES
A new study of 39 people with autism and Asperger’s syndrome using online discussion groups over time to communicate with each other reveals how the Internet helps people living with these conditions communicate with each other and discuss their lives and identities in an online environment. The study titled “Constructing an Autistic Identity: AS Voices Online” is published in the October 2006 issue of the journalMental Retardation, and is conducted by Charlotte Brownlow and Lindsay O’Dell from the United Kingdom. Based on a careful study of the messages exchanged during several online sessions, one of the major discussion themes identified by the authors was, “Who are the experts?”—researchers or people living with the condition. The authors conclude that while online environments have limitations, conducting research in such a manner can provide a rich pool of data and give a voice to an otherwise marginalized group, and hence should be recognized within the professionally dominated discourse on autism.
Read “Constructing an Autistic Identity: AS Voices Online” athttp://www.aamr.org/Reading_Room/pdf/ASVoicesOnline_MR_October2006.pdf
In other autism news, new research from the National Institutes on Health shows that a version of a gene has been linked to autism in families with more than one child with the disorder. Visit http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/oct2006/nimh-17.htm to learn more.
INFANTS BORN BELOW 4.5 LBS IN WEIGHT ARE LIKELY TO FACE COGNITIVE DIFFICULTIES AS ADULTS, NEW STUDY SHOWS
While it is known that low birth weight increases the risk for major disabilities such as cerebral palsy and mental retardation, researchers now suspect that low birth weight may also contribute to minor cognitive difficulties, including motor skills and thinking, learning, and memory skills. A study has found that sixteen-year-olds who weighed less than 2,000 grams (about 4.5 pounds) at birth and are not disabled are still more likely than the average teenager to have physical and mental difficulties, according to a report in the October issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
To read an abstract of the article “ Motor and Cognitive Outcomes in Nondisabled Low-Birth-Weight Adolescents” visit http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE OR MUST-HAVE RESOURCE?
If you are a professional in the intellectual or developmental disability field, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us what the one (or two!) resource is that you cannot do without, and why you like it. It can be a book, a journal, a newsletter, a website, a blog or any other tool that contains information you can use or refer to regularly! We will share your findings in a future edition of AAMR F.Y.I. and your colleagues will undoubtedly be thankful for sharing this information with them! Findings can be kept anonymous.
AAMR F.Y.I. is compiled by Anna Prabhala, Editor and is published by the American Association on Mental Retardation. Please submit comments, suggestions, tips, and news to email@example.com. For more information on becoming an AAMR member, visithttp://www.aamr.org/Membership/index.shtml.
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