Autistic people vary widely in their quality of life, a new study shows. Some report shortcomings in their physical health and school achievement, among other areas, but many do not.
To help autistic people improve their well-being and satisfaction with life, researchers need a better understanding of what matters to individuals, says lead researcher Eva Loth, senior lecturer in forensic and neurodevelopmental sciences at King’s College London in the United Kingdom.
“It’s really important to consider each person and their circumstances individually, understand what aspect of quality of life is affected, why, and then decide with them what may be the most useful support,” Loth says.
Autistic people often report having a lower quality of life than non-autistic people do, a trend driven in part by social isolation and a diminished belief in their own capabilities, according to a study published earlier this year. They are also more likely to have anxiety or depression, which can impact a person’s ability to function in society and achieve life goals.
The new work suggests that anxiety and depression, not autism traits, explain why many autistic people score lower than non-autistic people across various measures of quality of life. It also shows that this gap closes for some autistic adults and children within specific areas, including physical health, leisure activities and school achievement.
Despite overall differences between the two groups, “individual quality-of-life outcomes vary, with some individuals clearly doing well,” says Judith Miller, senior scientist and training director at the Center for Autism Research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the work. “We know we have a lot to learn about autistic individuals who are struggling. This paper shows we also have a lot to learn from autistic individuals who are doing well.”
Loth and her team analyzed survey data from 344 people with autism and 229 without autism who are part of a larger long-term European study. Adults completed a 26-item questionnaire about their physical health, psychological health, social relationships and opportunities for leisure activities. For children and teenagers in the study, parents completed a 45-item questionnaire that assesses physical and psychological comfort, risk avoidance, academic achievement and the availability of an adult to talk to about problems.
In every area, autistic people reported worse outcomes than non-autistic people, the study found. Two key areas showed the most dramatic group differences: Autistic adults reported higher levels of physical pain than non-autistic adults, and autistic children and teenagers lagged most behind their non-autistic peers in school achievement.
These differences did not reflect every autistic participant’s experience, though. On an individual level, almost half of the autistic adults reported levels of psychological health and satisfaction with friendships on par with those of non-autistic adults, and about 55 percent of autistic adults reported having similar opportunities for leisure activities as non-autistic adults.
For full article, please visit: https://www.spectrumnews.org/news/some-autistic-people-report-poor-quality-of-life-but-many-do-not/
Pan-seared Norwegian Salmon with herb roasted potatoes, soft shell crab spaghetti, grilled Australian ribeye beef steak topped with demi-glace sauce. These are entrées that would be typically served in a respectable restaurant, easily relished by any discerning patron.
And yet, at Iron Nori, these dishes might be tough sells for the common Singaporean diner.
You see, Iron Nori is a social enterprise that trains and employs differently-abled employees to prepare them for the F&B industry, with up to 50 per cent of its staff comprising people with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other intellectual disabilities. The front-of-house service is manned by special needs crew, who take on roles such as a cashier, server, waiter or cleaning steward.
It’s an uphill battle, taking on the expectations of Singaporeans, says Bernard Chan, a volunteer strategic operations consultant at Iron Nori. When asked about some of the challenges Iron Nori faced, Chan didn’t hold back about his thoughts on “demanding” diners.
“There is an expectation for low-priced food, fast table service, big portions, surplus of paper napkins and cutleries,” he observed, pointing us to a couple of negative reviews left behind by past Iron Nori patrons.
For full article, please visit: https://www.asiaone.com/singapore/how-iron-nori-and-carousell-are-inspiring-empathy-and-altruism-among-local-businesses
For years, researchers have known through numerous studies that hearing and other sensory systems of adults and children who have autism differ from children or adults without autism.
Now, University of Miami and Harvard Medical School researchers who explored responses to the standard hearing test administered to millions of newborns around the world, are closing in on a way to detect early indicators of autism–perhaps as early as at birth.
Published in the journal Autism Research, the findings could inform additional research and pave the way for evaluations that can better identify newborns with elevated autism risk by using standard hearing tests. The researchers note that such tests are already regularly and widely used to screen newborns for hearing loss. The tests work by measuring auditory brainstem response (ABR), which gauges how well a baby’s inner ear and brain respond to sound.
“We’re not at the point just yet where we’re telling clinicians to use ABR testing as a determinant for autism in babies,” said study co-author Elizabeth Simpson, an associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychology, whose research focuses on understanding infant social cognitive development. “But we are saying that this study presents a promising direction in how ABR testing can be used as a method for precise autism detection at birth.”
For full article, please visit: https://www.news-medical.net/news/20201112/Hearing-test-could-help-identify-newborns-with-autism.aspx
Autism is a development disorder in children which affects child’s behaviour and ability to communicate and interact. In this article, a child psychologist explains the symptoms of autism in children and what to so when diagnosed with autism.
With mental health issues on the rise and with pandemic adding to it, one of the neglected sections has been children especially children with special needs. Adding to their misery are closed schools, therapy centers, no social interaction and mental pressure due to the time-loss. With parents worried about taking care of their children, this is high time that we get more vocal about the challenges faced by individuals and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Medical professionals tend to see a lot of cases where the ideal time period for intervention and treatment has already passed. As a result, treatments get tough and highly complicated for all parties involved thus resulting in further delay. It becomes more pertinent in children with autism as early diagnosis and early intervention is the key and most important aspect. So how does one prevent such delays as a parent and ensure that their child gets the necessary treatment at the right time?
In autism early signs of the illness can be seen in babies by 9 to 12 months, however, formal diagnosis is not given before the age of 24 months (2 years).
Many children with autism symptoms show regression in developmental mostly by the age of 18 months (30 months) or so even after having typical milestones until then. These children show a typical developmental pattern until first or two years of life but then there is a loss of previously acquired social emotional and communication skills. Therefore, being aware of your child’s behavioral traits, at least for the first couple of years, is extremely important.
Some of the early signs of autims that parents should look out for, and these are listed by the ‘The National Autism Association’, are:
- The child avoiding eye contact
- The child not playing ‘pretend’ games or imitating actions
- The child wants to be alone
- The child flips their hands, rocks their body and/or spins in circles
- The child has no to low social skills or social interactions
For full article, please visit: https://doctor.ndtv.com/children/autism-know-the-signs-and-symptoms-of-autism-in-children-2318743
President’s Challenge Volunteer Drive rallies more than 2,200 volunteers despite Covid-19 limitations – AutismSTEP
SINGAPORE – Technology is allowing more people to get involved in volunteer work and continue helping others despite restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since the start of the year, the President’s Challenge Volunteer Drive (PCVD) has rallied more than 2,200 volunteers from over 20 organisations to support its beneficiaries.
Online activities such as hand yoga sessions, digital literacy training workshops and singing sessions have been held by volunteer groups this year.
President Halimah Yacob on Wednesday (Oct 14) noted that technology will bring change to the social service sector.
“This year, many volunteering activities cannot take place in their usual forms due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But I am glad that many volunteers have leveraged technology to continue their volunteering activities,” said Madam Halimah during her visit to the Metta Welfare Association.
“I hope PCVD will build on this positive momentum and create more regular volunteering opportunities through the use of technology to help the vulnerable groups in Singapore – in line with the theme of President’s Challenge 2021 on ‘Building a Digitally Inclusive Society’,” she added.
For full article, please visit: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/presidents-challenge-volunteer-drive-rallies-more-than-2200-volunteers-despite-covid-19
With the coronavirus pandemic raging, Ms Sherry Soon, 39, founder of local ground-up movement Be Kind SG, wanted to give front-line healthcare workers an extra boost.
In early February, she galvanised corporate sponsors, schools, non-profit groups and the Singapore Prison Service to put together 7,000 care packs containing items such as snacks, toiletries and thank-you notes for healthcare staff.
That was one of more than 10 initiatives led by Ms Soon amid the Covid-19 period.
For her efforts, Ms Soon was among 31 recipients presented with an award by President Halimah Yacob at this year’s President’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Awards (PVPA) ceremony held at the Istana yesterday.
A record 236 nominations were submitted for the PVPA this year, more than twice the number received in 2018.
In her address at the ceremony, Madam Halimah noted that despite the Covid-19 pandemic posing a great challenge, it has also brought out the best in many Singaporeans.
“Over the past few months, I have seen many Singaporeans from all walks of life coming together to help others. It inspires me greatly to know that in the most difficult of times, humanity still prevails,” she said.
“This is why I have decided to dedicate this year’s PVPA to recognising these unsung heroes who have given selflessly during the Covid-19 outbreak.”
Organised by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre, the PVPA recognises individuals and organisations that have achieved excellence in giving to the community.
The award recipients made contributions in various domains such as food security, accommodation, procurement and distribution of medical supplies, and dissemination of critical information to those without access.
For full article, please visit: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/community-heroes-hailed-for-kind-acts-amid-covid-19
One lost child at Our Tampines Hub devised a rather creative — and hilarious — way of attempting to find his family.
Tried finding mother on directory
In a story shared on POWER 98 Love Songs’ Facebook page, the person who took the photo revealed that it was a primary school kid around the age of 11 or 12.
The child was looking for his or her parents.
Some kids might wander around, head to the information counter, or perhaps ask other passers-by for help.
This particular child, however, ingeniously decided to search “mom” in the mall’s digital directory.
Naturally, the directory stated that no result is found.
It is uncertain if the person who took the photo decided to help the kid out, or how the kid was reunited with his parents in the end.
For full article, please visit: https://mothership.sg/2020/10/lost-kid-find-mother-directory/
It is encouraging that Singapore is taking steps to include and support the community of people with disabilities in tangible ways (New accreditation for firms hiring people with disabilities, Oct 9).
One gap that has yet to be addressed is that of enabling people with disabilities to make a living from providing services to support their community.
These can range from professional services such as occupational and speech therapy, peer support services such as those from counsellors and adult educators, as well as other useful services such as remote IT support and video production.
Many of us understand inclusion as a dependent relationship where abled people are responsible for supporting people with disabilities and integrating them into mainstream society.
People with disabilities are seen as being unable to contribute meaningfully to determine their future; plans, training and initiatives are undertaken by abled people on their behalf.
I propose shifting to a relationship of inclusive equality, where both abled and disabled people work together as equal partners to create change – with the Government forming a quadripartite alliance with service providers (including employers), caregivers and disabled people.
For full article, please visit: https://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/forum/empower-people-with-disabilities-to-stand-as-equals
She found it hard to cope with work as well as taking care of her two young sons at home.
Her older boy Sotaro, especially, was a source of concern and stress as he had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism, and was doing poorly in school.
For a year, Madam Nami Ogata, 41, felt depressed – losing 8kg and suffering panic attacks that overwhelmed her.
Then, on the morning of Nov 14 last year, the Japanese national strangled Sotaro, then five, put his body in a car and drove to a secluded spot on a hilltop in Bukit Batok, where she stabbed herself to death.
On Sept 21, State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam ruled the deaths as murder-suicide.
In her findings, which were released yesterday, the coroner said Madam Nami had made preparations to carry out a series of acts, clearly intending their tragic consequences.
On Nov 11, three days before her death, Madam Nami told a doctor about her stress. She also saw a psychiatrist in the same clinic and revealed that she was depressed with suicidal thoughts.
When she was referred to Singapore General Hospital, she was found to be of low risk of suicide and given insomnia medication.
The next day, she saw another psychiatrist and was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and given more medicine.
She told him she had briefly thought of suicide the week before but had not made preparations and would not harm herself on account of her children.
Madam Nami and Sotaro were last seen alive by their domestic helper at 9pm on Nov 13.
She was reading storybooks to her sons and slept with them in their room. The helper said she did not hear unusual sounds or commotions that night.
At 6.10am the next day, the helper woke up to find Madam Nami and Sotaro missing. She then saw a message from Madam Nami that she was taking her son to the hospital.
The unsuspecting helper continued with her usual chores, said State Coroner Kamala, including taking Madam Nami’s younger son to school.
But investigations indicated that Madam Nami had strangled her older son in the living room of their condominium unit in Bukit Timah using a long elasticated band with three knots and a raffia string with tape.
Madam Nami then left home with Sotaro’s body, which she covered with a white blanket.
This was likely to hide the ligature marks on the boy’s neck, said the coroner. She also took along a kitchen knife.
Madam Nami drove out of the condo at 5.40am and arrived in Lorong Sesuai in Bukit Batok 10 minutes later.
She drove off but returned a few minutes later, going past the Bukit Batok Transmission Station (BBTS) and stopping at a grass verge near lamp post 15.
After turning off the engine, she alighted, walked into the forested area next to the car and stabbed herself with the knife.
At 6.20am, two auxiliary police officers stationed at BBTS saw the car and went to check on it. They saw Sotaro’s body on the backseat. Thinking he was asleep, one of them knocked on the door to wake him. When he did not respond, the officer called the police.
For full article, please visit: https://www.asiaone.com/singapore/depressed-mum-sought-help-killing-autistic-son-and-herself
Rejected by talent shows, S’porean with autism organises online concerts for youths with special needs – AutismSTEP
23-year-old musician Muhammad Arshad Fawwaz introduces me to his home recording studio setup with gusto.
He effortlessly rattles off the brands and model numbers of each of his pieces of equipment, which include microphones, a set of reference speakers, headphones, an audio interface, and a Macbook Pro.
He shows me how he’s been recording different parts of an acapella cover and stitching them together on his laptop, using audio production software.
Aside from the fact that the equipment looks fairly new, with some of their boxes neatly stacked under the IKEA table, I could hardly tell that it had only been set up in August this year.
Arshad is no ordinary producer. You see, he was diagnosed with autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) when he was in primary school.
His home setup has been made possible by the Mediacorp Enable Fund, which provides funds to persons with disabilities in support of, among other things, “their aspirations that are currently beyond their families’ financial means”.
Previously, Arshad says, he would do recordings on his phone, which he also used to edit and splice together video clips for an online concert that aired on YouTube on May 24.
Arshad has gone on to organise another two editions of the online concert, and, equipped with his new gear, has been working on his singing portfolio by recording covers as well as original songs, which he uploads on various social media platforms.
For his efforts, he found himself in the company of 30 other recipients of the President’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy Awards (PVPA) on Oct. 16.
All this would have been unimaginable before the Covid-19 pandemic.
For full article, please visit: https://mothership.sg/2020/10/arshad-fawwaz-inclusivity-4-all/