Archive for October, 2011

2011 Facebook Halloween Photo Contest

October 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Our 2nd Annual Facebook Halloween Photo Contest was another GREAT success! We received countless submissions and it was so hard to choose a ‘Top 7!’ This year, we were lucky to have our friends at Webkinz provide gift baskets for the winners!

Here are our winners!

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11 Questions Students on the Spectrum Can Ask their College

October 31, 2011 1 comment

This guest post is by Autism Speaks staffer Kerry Magro. Kerry, an adult who has autism, is a graduate student at Seton Hall University, and is actively involved with our college program. Autism Speaks U is an initiative designed to support college students in their awareness, advocacy and fundraising efforts.

Below are 11 questions students on the autism spectrum can ask their college/university.

1. As a college student affected by autism, what is one of the main things I need to know?

A big difference between college and high school is that in high school you generally have a structured plan for your accommodations called an “Individualized Education Program.” However, in college that no longer exists, meaning you must advocate to your Disability Support Group on campus to receive your own accommodations

2. What are some accommodations I can receive in my classes?

Individuals on the spectrum receive accommodations only if they register with their Disability Support Group. They will then receive accommodations based on their needs. This can include extended time on tests, tape recorders for classes, individual note takers, etc.

3. Do I have to pay for accommodations?

Under The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, colleges are required to provide all learning disabled individuals with “reasonable accommodations.” However, you should check the guidelines in regards to what is and what is not available on your campus.

4. Will faculty or fellow students be informed that I am on the autism spectrum?

Faculty members are not allowed to disclose any information about a student to others without consent from the student. However, students must register as a “disabled student” to receive accommodations – meaning your disability support group would be aware you have a disability. It is then up to you to inform your instructors.

5.  Is on-campus living for me?

Accommodations can also factor into your living arrangements on campus which will give you opportunities for a safer environment, like a single room. Ask if your resident assistant will be made aware of your living situation, since he/she can be of help in an emergency.

6. Will tutoring be available for my courses?

Most colleges provide tutoring for all students, but it is important to learn about those services early on to see if it is available and if you need additional support.

7. Are there any restrictions on how many courses I can take?

Some disability support groups require you take less courses in your first few semesters of college to make for an easier transition.

8. Is there a club on campus that raises awareness about autism and provides social opportunities for students affected by autism?

Autism Speaks college program, Autism Speaks U, works with students across the county to start chapters that raise awareness and funds. Some also establish mentoring programs for students and youth on the autism spectrum. To see if a chapter exists on your campus, visit

9. Will my professors have any previous training in educating individuals affected by autism?

There is no requirement at most college for professors to have education in teaching individuals with learning disabilities. You should be prepared to advocate for yourself when a situation deems itself appropriate to do so.

10. Will I be treated differently by fellow students because I have autism?

Like in any other situation where you are around people, there is the possibility of a lack of awareness on their part in dealing with people with learning disabilities. Therefore, spreading awareness is crucial for you and others affected by autism.

11. Is there anything on campus that focuses on post-college plans for individuals affected by autism?

Many colleges have a career program/center that focuses on helping you network with outside companies. You can also look under the Americans with Disabilities Act for information about job accommodations and workshops.

If you are interested in raising awareness on your college campus visit

Keep Going, Keep Making a Difference

October 31, 2011 Leave a comment

This guest post is by Autism Speaks staffer Kerry Magro. Kerry, an adult who has autism, is a graduate student at Seton Hall University. He started the club Student Disability Awareness on campus to help spread awareness and raise funds for those affected by autism. Autism Speaks U is a program designed for college students who host awareness, advocacy and fundraising events.

In late September, The Combating Autism Reauthorization Act (CARA) was passed through Senate and was then signed into law by our President Barack Obama. One of the champions in Senate who helped us get there was New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez. Almost 2 weeks ago he came to an autistic school called Regional Day in my hometown of Jersey City, New Jersey to give a speech about the significance of the act. What I was amazed at though was when I received a call from his office to speak at the event! In front of countless media, family, and friends I spoke about my story with autism and what the impact an act like this will have not only for me but for countless others who are affected by autism.

The Combating Autism Reauthorization Act as some may recall will grant 693 million dollars to the autistic community for the next 3 years. Even though this is a great feat we still most continue to push forward as I stress in my speech as autism never takes a vacation so neither can we.

Below is a Youtube clip of me speaking at the event that I hope you all enjoy. Thank you!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Autism in the News – 10.31.11

October 31, 2011 1 comment

Was autistic man really a Marine? Military court to decide (Miami Herald)
Los Angeles native Joshua D. Fry had been diagnosed as autistic and was living in a group home for people with mental disabilities when a Marine Corps recruiter signed him up for service. Read more.

Autistic Boy Survives 5 Days In the Woods (Doswell, Va.)
Miraculously, 8-year-old Robert Wood, Jr., survived for five days in the 80-acre North Anna Battlefield Park in Doswell, Virginia, near Richmond. The severely autistic boy, who is non-verbal, wandered away while his father, brother and a friend were taking a break on a walk last Sunday. Some 940 volunteers helped to conduct 74 search missions for Robert. Happily, on Friday night, a volunteer found him lying in a creek bed, with his shoes off; those were found nearby. Read more.

Aspects of autism might have helped boy endure (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
It’s hard to know exactly what was going through 8-year-old Robert Wood Jr.’s mind as he wandered for five days through the woods in Hanover County, but it’s possible that aspects of his autism helped him survive as much as they contributed to his disappearance. Read more.

Students with autism learn the trick-or-treat routine in time for Halloween in Bedminster (Bedminster, N.J.)
The routine seems simple enough: don a costume, ring the door bell or knock and say “trick-or-treat.” Read more.

The Up Beat: Eden marks 15 years of service (News-Press)
It began with one mom looking for some help for her daughter. Fifteen years later, Eden Autism Services is one of the largest autism service organizations in Southwest Florida, providing a wide range of community-based services to improve the lives of children and adults with autism and their families. Read more.


Categories: Autism in the News Tags: ,

In Their Own Words – My Neurotypical Costume

October 31, 2011 7 comments

John Scott Holman struggled with undiagnosed autism for nearly 25 years. His diagnosis has enabled him to embrace his individuality and move forward. He writes and speaks publicly about his life with autism, hoping to inspire greater understanding and acceptance. Visit his Facebook page here.

“I want friend like me.” – Frankenstein’s Monster, The Bride of Frankenstein

Most people enjoy taking one day out of the year to don a convincing mask or costume.    Halloween has always been my favorite holiday, not because I enjoy disguising my true identity, but because I get so tired of it.  October 31st is the one day of every year when no one expects me to pretend to be normal.

As a child, I divided each year into two categories – Halloween, and the 364 boring days. “Scotty boy, why are you still awake?” my mother would ask.  “It’s after midnight.  I knew you shouldn’t have eaten all that candy.  Halloween is over.  Get in bed.”

“I’m planning my costume for next year.  I’ll go to sleep when I’m finished.”

I’ve always been intrigued by the macabre, the supernatural, and things that go bump in the night.  I identify with the misunderstood outsiders (a.k.a. the villains).  The Wizard of Oz always made me cry – that poor witch!  She didn’t ask to be green and ugly.  Is it a crime?  Ask Kermit the Frog – “it’s not easy being green.”

At eight years-old, I became obsessed with Universal Horror Films of the 1930s; Frankenstein; The Wolfman; Dracula; The Mummy; The Invisible Man. These “monsters” were my friends and allies.  They too were mislabeled, misunderstood, and mistreated, and their stories helped me to feel less alone.

In sixth grade, I saved up my money and bought a very realistic, rubber Frankenstein mask.  I wore it to school on Halloween day and was teased relentlessly.  It probably didn’t help matters that the mask was entirely too big for me – I could barely see out of it and kept running into walls.

The next year, my parents helped me to throw a massive Halloween party.  My entire class was invited, and my mom made sure it was the kind of party that no seventh grader would want to miss.  I dressed up as Groucho Marx.  About a hundred costumed seventh graders were gathered around watching the infamous shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, when I dropped a fake body off the balcony and into the crowd!  That year was much more fun – serves the bullies right!

As I grew older and began yearning for the acceptance of my peers, I learned to hide my autistic quirks and blend in with the crowd.  It wasn’t easy, but I became very good at wearing a neurotypical disguise.  Abercrombie and Fitch?  Check.  Hair gel?  Check. Lack of interest in anything besides cars, beer and girls?  Well, it couldn’t hurt to pretend I was interested in those things.  Then I just peppered my language with sarcasm, curse words and inane remarks – voila, a neurtotypical teenager!

Pretending to be normal was exhausting, but there was always Halloween.  I still get excited when the leaves turn and the air bites.  By now, I’ve learned to stop pretending.  I accept myself for who I am.  The torch wielding villagers get annoying, but I don’t let them put a damper on my spirits.

Now that I have some autistic friends, I understand myself.  I love who I am, and if others are alarmed by my eccentricities, so be it!  It’s not easy being green, but I’ve learned to love every minute of it.

“In Their Own Words” is a series within the Autism Speaks blog which shares the voices of people who have autism, as well as their loved ones. If you have a story you wish to share about your personal experience with autism, please send it to Autism Speaks reserves the right to edit contributions for space, style and content. Because of the volume of submissions, not all can be published on the site.

James Durbin To Do List!

October 28, 2011 12 comments

This post is adapted from ‘JAMESDURBININFO.’

To Do List

In the spirit of supporting all things James, here is what you need to do today to support our favorite rocker.

    1. Check out the new website at You could get lost for hours there – it’s awesome. Think about your Christmas list and check out the merchandise section.
    2. Sign up for the Community on the website and flood James with congratulations.
    3. It is Follow Friday on twitter. Put #FF in front of James’ twitter name and tweet it. #FF @DurbinRock. While you are at it, add some of your other favorite celebrities and James fans.  
    4. Be sure you like James on Facebook if you haven’t done it yet already.
    5. Want mobile updates? Subscribe by sending text “james” to 30644 

Within a few weeks it will be time for voting for James video on VH1. This is going to be important for getting James’ video into the top 10. VH1 is watched… keep your voting fingers limber!


Autism in the News – 10.28.11

October 28, 2011 2 comments

Trick-or-Treat Safely with Autistic Children (Northhampton Patch)
The Central Pennsylvania Autism Resource Center has eight tips for parents taking children with autism spectrum disorders out on Halloween. Read more.

A hideout for kids with autism (Chicago Parent)
A big couch in one corner, a TV humming along and kids’ toys spread all around-it looks like just about any living room you’ve ever seen. Read more.

The Next Step: Memories and First Appointments (Brighton Patch)
World famous actress Kirsten Dunst is currently making headlines because she has obtained German Citizenship. We, Germany natives, are going the other way around: we want to become Americans. Read more.

Brain gene activity changes through life (ScienceNews)
Human brains all work pretty much the same and use roughly the same genes in the same way to build and maintain the infrastructure that makes people who they are, two new studies show. And by charting the brain’s genetic activity from before birth to old age, the studies reveal that the brain continually remodels itself in predictable ways throughout life. Read more.

Job Market Tough for Young Adults With Autism (US News)
More children are being diagnosed with autism than ever before and now many of these children are graduating from high school and entering, or at least trying to enter, the workforce. Read more.

Categories: Autism in the News Tags: ,
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