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Archive for May, 2006

NAAR-Autism Speaks Seattle Walk - June 11, 2006

Monday, May 8th, 2006

2005 NAAR WalkThe Autism Allstars team was created by TeachTown and we will be walking along with many other members of the autism community in the Puget Sound area. TeachTown has participated in this walk for the past 3 years and we are expecting a much bigger team this year! Bring your friends and kids too - this walk is for everyone.

Please sign up for the team today and help us reach our goal of $50,000 to help fund autism research for Autism Speaks. Also, TeachTown will have a large booth there with information about our company, product, general autism information, and research - as well as hands-on demo’s for you and your child.

CLICK HERE to sponsor me!

CLICK HERE to join the Autism Allstars Team - you do not have to walk with us - you can join as a “virtual walker” and just help us in the fundraising efforts.

New Location! More Energy! More Success! Magnuson Park

2004 NAAR Walk

Walk-Day Details:

  • Sunday, June 11, 2006
  • Magnuson Park -
    7400 Sand Point Way NE - Seattle 98115
  • Free Parking On Site
  • Beautiful 3K Walk
  • Fun Entertainment for the Entire Family
  • Check-In: 9:00am
  • Start Time: 10:00am
  • Treats for All to Enjoy

Why Walk for Autism Research?95105.jpgWalk for Autism Research is the signature fundraising event of Autism Speaks. It is the nation’s largest Walk program dedicated to autism research, with events spanning the United States and now, the globe - with new events scheduled in Canada and the U.K!

Walk for Autism Research is a volunteer-led and volunteer-driven event. Just as Autism Speaks’s origins are grassroots, so are the Walks! All it takes is one (or 2, 3 or 10) individuals coming together and saying “We want to bring Walk for Autism Research to our community.”

Planning for the 5th AnnualWalk F.A.R. for NAAR is in full swing! There will be quite an entertainment line up, so be sure to let people know they should bring the whole family and lots of friends!

Help spread the word about the Seattle/Puget SoundWalk F.A.R. for NAAR event.

Download this “Save the Date” (8.5 x 11) flyer. Share it with your family, friends and neighbors. Why not ask your child’s schools to send it home in student’s backpacks? Copy and circulate it within your compay. Are you attending an autism related conference, seminar, or group meeting? If so, please bring copies with you. If you need a large quantity of copies for a large conference or school, please don’t hesitate to contact us to arrange for adequate supplies to be sent to you.

Remember, Walk F.A.R. for NAAR is a grassroots campaing, and each of you can help us reach our goals step by step.

Walkers should bring their donations and Walker Sponsor Forms with them prior to the start of the Walk.

The Seattle/Puget Sound Walk will take place rain or shine! When has a little rain ever stopped us!?! Get ready to Walk F.A.R. for NAAR - even with umbrellas.

129447.jpgYou can also show your support by ordering an Autism Speaks car magnet (looks exactly like the blue puzzle piece shown here).

Autism Prevalence - New Findings!

Monday, May 8th, 2006

50249.jpgNew research supports an increase in autism prevalence over the past 10 years, but controversy still exists about why such a sharp increase. Many still feel that mercury in vaccinations is to blame while others point to new diagnostic criteria established in 1994.

Research supports genetic factors but environmental factors are the controversy - the truth is, we just don’t know yet why there has been such a dramatic increase in prevalance. The article below shows the new findings (which are similar to those published 5 years ago). .

While it is important for doctors and researchers to look for the cause and the cure, it is also important for us to talk about what we can do for these children today. The fact is, we have too many children who are in need of treatment and not enough resources to help them all. So, while we research the cause and wait for the cure, we must have solutions in place today (check out Autism Speaks, Autism Society of America, and TeachTown for information about treatment).

US Survey Shows Autism Is Very Common (copied from The Financial Express)

autistic_child_556.jpgWASHINGTON, MAY 5: The first national surveys of autism show the condition is very common among US children —with up to one in every 175 with the disorder, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday. This adds up to at least 300,000 US schoolchildren with autism, a condition that causes trouble with learning, socialising and behaviour, the CDC said.

The CDC analysed data on 24,673 children whose parents took part in two separate government surveys on in the United States to generate its first national estimate of the prevalence of autism.

“Together, these two national surveys of parents indicate that at least 300,000 children aged 4 to 17 years old had autism in 2003-04,” the CDC said in the report.

The surveys came up with similar results — that autism has been diagnosed in anywhere between 5.5 per 1,000 and 5.7 per 1,000 children aged 4 to 17. This translates to between one in every 175 to one in every 181 children.

“(The surveys) affirm that autism is a condition of major public health concern that affects many families,” Dr. Jose Cordero, director of CDC’s National Centre on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, said in a briefing.

He said the findings fit in with previous estimates of autism, which were based on local surveys done in Atlanta and New Jersey. A survey in 1996 had showed autism had been diagnosed in 3.4 per 1,000 of the 3- to 10-year-olds included, or one in every 296.


TeachTown: Basics Ranking System

Sunday, May 7th, 2006

topbg.gifWhen you begin the TeachTown: Basics program, you are asked several questions about your child’s skills.  This ranking questionnaire is used to help place your child at their initial starting point in the curriculum.  Refer to my recent posting about Getting Started to get more information about how to use this initial ranking system.

learning-domains.jpgThe “ranks” refer to a developmental level with the curriculum for each domain.  For instance, a rank of 1-20 shows that your child is at the early learning stages for that particular domain (developmental age around 2-3 years), a child whose rank is between 121-160 is at the higher end of the curriculum for that domain (developmental age around 6-7 years).  There are 4 learning domains and your child may have very high rankings in one area and lower rankings in another.  The program automatically adjusts not only to your child’s performance but to their developmental rankings.  It “balances” the child’s skills by focusing first on the areas where the child needs the most help and then adding in the more advanced skills as the child catches up in other domains.  Version 1.1 or higher will let you see the entire curriculum and the rankings - note that these rankings are within developmental ranges and do not represent exact developmental “ages.”  At this very moment, our developers are working on new updates for the program that will allow for customizing your child’s program - this new feature will be available this summer. 

For Parents: Getting Started with a TeachTown: Basics Home Program

Friday, May 5th, 2006

starting_home_program.jpgTeachTown was designed to be used in the home, clinic, or school setting - preferably in all of these so that the entire team can stay up to date on the child’s program. To use the TeachTown: Basics program in a home setting, you should first sign-up for an account and evaluate the child’s starting skills. TeachTown: Basics includes a questionnaire which you need to fill out on each child before starting - if you are unsure of the answers to any of these questions, you should quit out of the software and test your child on these skills so that the software program will accurately place your child where he or she needs to be to get started. Once you have completed the ranking questionnaire and identified who on your team will be working with the program, you should add those people as facilitators and have everyone take a look at the program and practice sending notes to each other before having the child begin using the software. You should also print out some of the initial off-computer generalization activities so that you can begin using those when you start the program with the child. Next, you and your team should determine how many hours a week you will use the TeachTown program and how that will fit into the child’s other programs and services. Keep in mind that TeachTown was designed to be on and off computer - you should plan a 50:50 ratio - for every 10 minutes the child uses the computer, you should have a minimum of 10 minutes planned for off computer naturalistic activities.

To start the child on the program, you must first determine whether or not the child can use the mouse. If not, you will either need to purchase a touch screen monitor or teach the child to use the mouse (I recommend easy computer programs that are repetitive - they do not need to be instructional). You can also use the “virtual touchscreen” technique which I have done with my child at home. 


Once your child is using the mouse or touchscreen, he or she is pretty much ready to get started. I recommend starting with 10-minute sessions on the computer with an adult present. Having the adult present is critical in the beginning to identify any problems, but I recommend sitting with the child whenever possible as our research suggests this might create language and social opportunities! When the child is done with their session, be sure to enter in session notes while it is still fresh in your mind.

For off-computer activities, do these throughout the day in 10-minute chunks at first. Be sure to enter in session notes into the computer about the off-computer activities so that you have a nice record of your child’s program.

As your child becomes more familiar with using the program, you can increase the session times on and off the computer to whatever level you feel is appropriate for your child. Stay tuned for more postings about the particular domains and using the off-computer generalization activities.