Illinois Autism Bill Passes

The Illinois Autism Insurance bill has finally passed, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of Pete DiCianni, a dad who took this on almost a year ago and worked tirelessly ever since to get this done. Efforts were also made by Senator James DeLeo, Representative Skip Saviano, Representative Karen May, and many other sponsors in the General Assembly, in addition to Governor Blagojevich, Speaker Madigan, and Senate President Emil Jones.

Originally SB1900, the autism insurance bill got caught up in some political back and forth for a while, but persistence pays off--and the fact that so many of you called and urged your legislators to pass this bill.

This Tuesday, the insurance language was reintroduced by Rep. May as an amendment to SB934 and on Wednesday passed the House 109- 0. Today, the Senate voted in favor 45- 6. Immediately after the Senate vote, Governor Blagojevich issued a statement applauding the action:

"I would like to commend the Illinois General Assembly for making the right choice and voting in favor of families with autistic children. By approving Senate Bill 934, the members of the legislature have shown they overwhelmingly support my position that these families have a right to the treatment their children need and deserve. This is a cause for which I have fought diligently and I could not be more pleased that both chambers of the General Assembly have now affirmed that making treatment available to parents of autistic children is a priority we all share."


What the bill does

This landmark bill will cover up to $36,000 per year for diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders, including applied behavior analysis, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, psychological/psychiatric care. All Illinois group and individual policies are included.

Please read the bill's language for specifics and consult your employer's insurance/human resources person with any specific questions.

Click here to view Chicago News Story.

NOTE: Self-insured companies are not subject to state laws, so they are not required to provide this coverage. However, we expect that more self-insured companies will begin to offer this coverage--if you are employed by a company that is self-insured, present them with this bill and advocate for them to cover your child to the same extent.

The Center for Autism and Related Disorders on Autism

video

Nasty Gut Bug Spikes in U.S. Hospitals

Summary: An Arizona researcher found 40 percent of meat products tested from three national chain stores were contaminated with bacteria normally associated with severe hospital infections. Federal health officials, however, say more study is needed to determine whether C. diff is transmitted through food.

Complete Article:
Tainted meats point to superbug C. diff in food
Study finds gut germ in 40 percent of grocery meats; CDC says not to worry

By JoNel Aleccia
Health writer/msnbc.com

A potentially deadly intestinal germ increasingly found in hospitals is also showing up in a more unsavory setting: grocery store meats.

More than 40 percent of packaged meats sampled from three Arizona chain stores tested positive for Clostridium difficile, a gut bug known as C. diff., according to newly complete analysis of 2006 data collected by a University of Arizona scientist.

Nearly 30 percent of the contaminated samples of ground beef, pork and turkey and ready-to-eat meats like summer sausage were identical or closely related to a super-toxic strain of C. diff blamed for growing rates of illness and death in the U.S. — raising the possibility that the bacterial infections may be transmitted through food.

These data suggest that domestic animals, by way of retail meats, may be a source of C. difficile for human infection,” said J. Glenn Songer, a professor of veterinary science at the Tucson school, who talked with msnbc.com about work now under review by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But specialists from the CDC and scientists who study C. diff said the connection between the presence of C. diff bacteria and infection has not been established and that there’s not enough evidence about food transmission to warrant public alarm.

“There are no documented cases of people getting Clostridium difficile infection from eating food that contains C. difficile,” said Dr. L. Clifford McDonald, chief of prevention and response for a division of the CDC. “However, because C. difficile has been found in some retail meats, that possibility does exist.”

Songer's samples included brands sold in grocery stores across the nation. Contamination ranged from 41 percent of pork products and 44 percent of turkey products to 50 percent of ground beef samples and more than 62 percent of samples of braunschweiger, a type of liverwurst.

Nearly three-quarters of the C. diff spores were toxinotype V, a type linked to illness in pigs and calves and, increasingly, in humans, Songer noted.

80 percent of infections occur in hospitals
C. diff has long been a common, usually benign bug associated with simple, easily treated diarrhea in older patients in hospitals and nursing homes. About 3 percent of healthy adults harbor the bacteria with no problem. But overuse of antibiotics has allowed the germ to develop resistance in recent years, doctors said, creating the toxic new type that stumps traditional treatment.

About 80 percent of C. difficile infections now occur in hospital or health care settings — and the number of infections is rising. About 13 in every 1,000 hospital patients is infected or colonized with the bacteria, a rate between 6.5 and 20 times higher than previously estimated, according to figures released last week by the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, or APIC.

Every day, those infections likely cost $32 million, on average, and claim more than 300 lives, the study showed.

Especially worrisome has been a new, more virulent strain, called NAP1, which produces about 20 times the toxins of ordinary strains. It can cause severe, repeated diarrhea that resists all but the most powerful drugs. In worst cases, C. diff infection can destroy the colon and lead to blood poisoning and death.

It’s not clear, however, where the remaining infections — those that occur outside health settings, in the community — originate. Recent victims have included a 10-year-old girl with no history of antibiotic use who became very ill but recovered and a 31-year-old woman pregnant with twins who spontaneously aborted her babies and then died after becoming infected, according to a 2005 review by the CDC.

“For these community-associated sources, there has to be a source outside the hospitals,” Songer said. “It may well be that retail meats are a source or the main source.”

C. diff is a tricky bug, hard to kill with anything but bleach in the hospital and able to survive most cooking techniques in the kitchen. And, unlike scary infections like E. coli 0157:H7, which has transmitted illness through foods from ground beef to fresh spinach, C. diff can't be traced quickly to its source.

"With difficile, you can eat a nice, thick braunschweiger sandwich today, then two weeks from now you get strep throat, take antibiotics and develop difficile-related disease," Songer explained. "You're weeks separated from the event."

Songer detected C. diff in every type of meat he tested, including uncooked ground beef, pork and turkey; pork sausage and chorizo; and ready-to-eat products including beef summer sausage and pork braunschweiger, a spreadable liver sausage luncheon meat.

He collected 88 samples of retail packaged meats bought from large chain stores near Tucson on three occasions during a two-month period in 2006. Earlier analysis indicated that about 30 percent of samples showed C. diff, but that percentage increased under closer review, Songer said.

Thirty-seven of the samples, or nearly 42 percent, showed evidence of C. diff, including about 40 percent of the cooked products and nearly 48 percent of the ready-to-eat products.

Meat by the pound
In 2007, the average American consumed
— 84.9 pounds of chicken
— 63.5 pounds of beef
— 48.2 pounds of pork
— 17.5 pounds of turkey
— 1 pound of lamb and mutton

Source: National Turkey Federation

Contamination could be nationwide
All of the samples collected were national brands available in grocery stores across the country, except the pork chorizo, which was locally made. Songer declined to identify the specific brands, saying that it would unfairly target a single producer when the problem is likely endemic to all.

“My perspective on this is not to blow the whistle on the meat production or meat processing agencies but to point out that we may have a problem and if we do we should work together to solve it,” he said.

At least one meat industry official said Songer’s findings served as a warning to producers, but that the research hasn’t been replicated. Liz Wagstrom, assistant vice president of science and technology for the National Pork Board, said she’s awaiting confirmation from the CDC and other sources.

“I feel very confident in the safety of our product,” she said. “If there is any animal-to-human transmission, it is a very small part of the picture.”

James “Bo” Reagan, chairman of the Beef Industry Food Safety Council, declined to discuss specific strategies for addressing C. diff. Instead, in an e-mail to msnbc.com, he said beef producers have spent $27 million on research to identify new food safety technologies and processes.

“Our efforts have resulted in new safeguards throughout the beef production chain and we continue to work with our partners in beef production to find ways to ensure beef is safe,” Reagan wrote in an e-mail.

‘Yes, it's there’
Songer’s study follows a 2007 report in the CDC journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, which showed Canadian researchers detected C. diff in 12 — or 20 percent — of 60 retail meat samples collected in 2005.

Neither report, however, definitively answers questions about C. diff in the food supply, said the study's lead researcher J. Scott Weese, an associate professor of pathobiology at the University of Guelph in Ontario , Canada. “Yes, it’s there,” he said. “But we need to find out how much is there.”

Processed meats like those Songer studied may be more likely to show contamination because they combine sources of meat and because they require more handling than, for instance, a pork chop from a single pig, Weese said.

In addition, scientists don’t know when C. diff exposure sparks infection in people —or how much of a dose is necessary to cause infection, said Dr. Dale N. Gerding, a national expert in C. diff epidemiology and a professor with the Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University in Chicago. “With a real susceptible source, it only takes a few spores,” he said.

Bug might be in water, soil — even vegetables
But Gerding also noted that C. diff has been found in many places other than hospitals and meat counters, including water sources and soil.

“We actually wouldn’t know if a carrot in the dirt would have it just as much as hamburger,” Gerding said.

That's little comfort to Mary Woodard, 51, of Rock Falls , Ill. , whose 6-year-old granddaughter, Nichole Lilly, contracted a C. diff infection in October. The child hadn't had antibiotics for six months and she'd been nowhere near a hospital or health center. But she wound up doubled over on the floor with severe cramps and diarrhea for nearly two weeks, until a clinic cultured her stool and diagnosed the illness.

Woodard is scared the infection will return, or that it will strike one of her other grandchildren. Word that C. diff has been detected in meat made Woodard think twice, despite CDC assurances to the contrary.

"I'll cut back, probably, on my meat eating," she said. "After seeing her with the bad cramping, I don't want to see her like that again."

Most consumers worried about C. diff infection should pay closest attention to hospitals and health care settings, Gerding said. Lax hand hygiene, improperly cleaned hospital rooms and overuse of antibiotics are far more likely to transmit C. diff than food products.

Although C. diff spores can be hard to kill, even Songer said most healthy consumers don’t need to change their diets because of the bug.

“To bring it right down to personal terms, I haven’t changed my eating habits one bit,” said Songer, who admits he’s a lifelong braunschweiger fan. “I’ve got about 40 pounds in my freezer that I’m eating.”

Further research will clarify the link between C. diff detection in food animals and infection in humans, Gerding said.

“The connection between the animal, the food and the disease has not been made,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean it’s not there.”

© 2008 msnbc.com

CARD Phoenix Celebrates One Year of Successful Service!

Click here to read the complete story and view video.

RECOVERED Takes Top Honors


Staten Island, New YorkRecovered: Journeys Through the Autism Spectrum and Back wins Best Documentary in the 2008 Director’s Chair Island Arts Expo and Film Festival, in Staten Island, New York.

RECOVERED is a film by one of the nation’s leading autism researchers and psychologists, Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh, and seasoned videographer Michele Jaquis. The film tells the story of four children diagnosed with autism, who achieved success using treatments rooted in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).
The documentary takes viewers inside of therapy sessions along with interviews of the children who are now teenagers, their parents, therapists, and Dr. Granpeesheh.


“Many people don’t believe it is possible to recover from Autism. Our intention in providing proof of Recovery and in identifying a course of action toward that goal is only to bring hope and determination to those families who feel it is in the best interest of their child to learn new skills in order to better access the rewards of life. We feel every child has the right to be healthy, to be taught the skills they need to interact appropriately with their peers and to be allowed to demonstrate their strengths, instead of fight their weaknesses. We feel confident we have found the path to make this a reality.” Says Dr. Granpeesheh.

The combined stories families of Nick, Janna, Brett, and Ruffin illuminate both their struggles and triumphs while providing hope to families of newly diagnosed children that recovery is indeed possible.

“It is also our intention to bring awareness of this fact to the general population, medical practitioners and government funding agencies so that the needed support for the treatments of
Autism becomes a priority. As an artist I am interested in producing work that engages its audience on an emotional level and sometimes that means delving into difficult subject matter. It is challenging to go back and relive a part of one's life that was difficult, and Doreen and I asked these families to do that. It is my hope that the families who are featured in RECOVERED have found their involvement to be both cathartic and rewarding.”
Says Michele Jaquis, Director,
Videographer/Editor.

RECOVERED was released in April 2008, by the Center for Autism and Related Disorders. The film has been introduced in nearly 20 cities across America. Critics call the documentary …”eye
opening”…”candid”…”inspirational”…and “informative.” The celebrated, original documentary.For more information about RECOVERED, visit: http://www.recoveredautism.com/.

About Doreen Granpeesheh, PhD, BCBA: Executive Director/Producer, RECOVERED
Dr. Granpeesheh is the Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc., and has dedicated over 30 years to the study and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Dr. Granpeesheh earned her Ph.D. in Psychology from UCLA under the guidance of Dr. Ivar Lovaas. She is a licensed psychologist and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

A highly recognized psychologist in the field of autism, Dr. Granpeesheh recently earned one of the Autism Society of America’s highest honors – the Wendy F. Miller National Recognition Award for Professional of the Year (2007).The award recognizes significant contributions made by a psychologist, psychiatrist, physician, and other professionals in the autism field. That same year, Dr. Granpeesheh was elected to the Autism Society of America (ASA) Board of Directors. She also serves on the Defeat Autism Now (DAN!) Executive Council and the US Autism and Aspergers Association (USAAA) Scientific Advisory Board.

About Michele Jaquis: Director/Videographer/Editor, RECOVERED
Michele Jaquis is an interdisciplinary artist and educator, with over 10 years experience working within the field of Autism, first as an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapist and most recently as a videographer and editor for the Center for Autism and Related Disorders. Jaquis earned her BFA in sculpture and experimental studio with a minor in psychology from Hartford Art School/University of Hartford and her MFA in sculpture from Rhode Island School of Design. She is an Assistant Professor and Coordinator for the Artists, Community and Teaching Program at Otis
College of Art and Design, where she developed and teaches an Integrated Learning course called "Creative Solutions to Living Through Autism." Jaquis is also the co-founder of Rise Industries: Interdisciplinary Projects. Her installations, performances, videos and digital prints have been exhibited across the U.S.

About the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc:
The Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc. (CARD) was established in 1990 and is headquartered in Tarzana, California. CARD is among the world's largest and most experienced organizations effectively treating children with autism and related disorders, operating 18 satellite offices throughout the United States and abroad. CARD has treated thousands of children around the world. Its services include assessments, supervision, parent/teacher training, and one-to-one therapy.

About the Director’s Chair Island Arts Expo and Film Festival:
The 2008 Director’s Chair TV Island Arts Expo strives to applaud the independent filmmakers, photographers, musicians and artists of Staten Island. This is the festivals third year.

Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh Speaks in Florida

AUTISM EXPERT PRESENTS WHY BEHAVORIAL AND BIOMEDIAL INTERVENTIONS ARE CRITICAL TO GROWTH AND RECOVERY AT NATIONAL AUTISM CONFERENCE

Media Contact:
Daphne Plump November 03, 2008
Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.
19019 Ventura Blvd, Ste 300, Tarzana, CA
(o) 818.345.2345 x 270 / (c) 661.478.6512

Ft. Lauderdale, Florida – Doreen Granpeesheh, PhD, BCBA, Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc. (CARD) will speak at the National Autism Conference (NAC) on Friday, November 14, 2008, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Weston, Florida. Her presentation begins at 3:00pm.
Dr. Granpeesheh, one of the nation’s leading autism researchers and psychologists, will present, “The Child as a Whole: Why Behavioral and Biomedical Interventions are Both Critical to Growth and Recovery.”

Treatment approaches grounded in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) are now considered to be at the forefront of educational interventions for children with autism. However, research supports a biomedical etiology for autism and while studies are conducted to identify exact biomedical pathways, many case studies point to successful outcome with biomedical treatments. While ABA and Biomedical practitioners have individually helped provide successful treatment models for autism, in developing a “Best Practices” Model, Dr. Granpeesheh has discovered these interventions must work together to provide the best possibilities for successful outcomes.

During the presentation, Dr. Granpeesheh will show case studies in support of the behavioral-biomedical treatment model. The recent research she will present will also show successful outcomes with these protocols.

Her presentation will be followed by an evening screening of her award-winning documentary, Recovered: Journeys Through the Autism Spectrum and Back, held in the Hyatt’s amphitheater at 8:30pm. The film tells the story of four children diagnosed with autism, who achieved success using treatments rooted in Applied Behavior Analysis. The documentary includes clips of therapy sessions along with interviews of the children who are now teenagers, their parents, therapists, and Dr. Granpeesheh.

About Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh:
Doreen Granpeesheh, PhD, BCBA is world renowned for her therapy method and recovery rates. She has treated tens of thousands of children with autism in her career and has seen significant recovery rates.

A highly recognized psychologist in the field of autism, Dr. Granpeesheh recently earned one of the Autism Society of America’s highest honors – the Wendy F. Miller National Recognition Award for Professional of the Year (2007). The award recognizes significant contributions made by a psychologist, psychiatrist, physician, and other professionals in the autism field. That same year, Dr. Granpeesheh was elected to the Autism Society of America (ASA) Board of Directors. She also serves on the Defeat Autism Now (DAN!) Executive Council and the US Autism and Aspergers Association (USAAA) Scientific Advisory Board.

“I am truly humbled and gratified to be recognized for the work that CARD does to help children and young adults with autism attain their highest potential,” Dr. Granpeesheh said. “The work we do at CARD is the epitome of a team effort, and so the credit for any recognition that comes our way must go to our hardworking and highly committed therapists, supervisors, and researchers.”

About Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.:
The Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc. (CARD) was established in 1990 and is headquartered in Tarzana, California. CARD is among the world's largest and most experienced organizations effectively treating children with autism and related disorders, operating 17 satellite offices throughout the United States and abroad. CARD has treated thousands of children around the world. Its services include assessments, supervision, parent/teacher training and one-to-one therapy.

About Recovered: Journeys Through the Autism Spectrum and Back:
RECOVERED is a newly released documentary by filmmakers Doreen Granpeesheh, PhD, BCBA, and Michele Jaquis. The film won BEST DOCUMENTARY at the Director’s Chair Film Festival 2008, in Staten Island, New York. The documentary ends all debates on whether or not it is possible to recover from autism. This documentary offers a behind the scenes look at the lives of families with children with autism, children on the autism spectrum, and offers unprecedented insight and resources for parents navigating their way around the world of autism. “Our aim in producing this documentary is to provide hope to families of newly diagnosed children that recovery from the Autism Spectrum is indeed possible. It is also our intention to bring awareness of this fact to the general population, medical practitioners and government funding agencies so that the needed support for the treatments of Autism becomes a priority. As an artist I am interested in producing work that engages its audience on an emotional level and sometimes that means delving into difficult subject matter. It is challenging to go back and relive a part of one's life that was difficult, and Doreen and I asked these families to do that. It is my hope that the families who are featured in RECOVERED have found their involvement to be both cathartic and rewarding. “Says Michele Jaquis, Director/Producer/Videographer.


For more information about Recovered: Journeys Through the Autism Spectrum and Back, visit:
www.recoveredautism.com.

Workshop for Men, Florida

CARD Research Director Presents One of a Kind Workshop at the National Autism Conference November 13, 2008


Media Contact:
Daphne Plump
Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.
19019 Ventura Blvd, Ste 300 / Tarzana, CA 91356
(o) 818.345.2345 x 270 / (c) 661.478.6512


Ft. Lauderdale, FloridaJonathan Tarbox, PhD, BCBA, Research and Development Director at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc. (CARD) will speak at the National Autism Conference (NAC) on Thursday, November 13, 2008, held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Weston, Florida. His presentation begins at 7:00pm.

Dr. Tarbox will present, “It’s Dad Time: A Seminar on Parenting, Playing, and Coping for Fathers of Children on the Spectrum.” Parenting is the toughest job anyone can have. The hopes, fears, anxiety, exhaustion, frustration, and happiness that parenting brings are unmatched by any other human activity.

In this seminar especially for fathers of children on the autism spectrum, Dr. Tarbox will discuss strategies for successful day-to-day parenting, ways to have more fun with your kids, and strategies for coping with the challenges men face, all with respect to the unique experience of being a dad. Mothers often do much of the parenting, and often get the most recognition for it, but dads have a very unique experience - equally challenging and stressful in its own ways - this seminar is designed to address some of the things that make a dad’s experience what it is. “I’m excited to have the opportunity to do a seminar specifically for fathers. Fathers of kids on the spectrum are a group that is not directly addressed very often so it should be a nice opportunity to disseminate useful information and for attendees to share their unique perspectives.” Tarbox says.


About Dr. Jonathan Tarbox:
Dr. Tarbox received his PhD in Psychology from the University of Nevada, Reno. He began his services with CARD in December 2004. Dr. Tarbox has presented at numerous national and international conferences, and has published multiple research articles in scientific journals. Dr. Tarbox’s research and development team’s mission is to conduct empirical research on treatments for autism and to disseminate the research findings and derived technology through publication and education of professionals and the public. The CARD Research and Development team is committed to science as the most objective and reliable approach to evaluating effective treatments for autism. For more information about CARD’s Research and Development team, visit: www.centerforautism.com/research.

About Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc.:
The Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc. (CARD) was established in 1990 by Doreen Granpeesheh, PhD, BCBA. CARD is headquartered in Tarzana, California. CARD is among the world's largest and most experienced organizations effectively treating children with autism and related disorders, operating 19 satellite offices throughout the United States and abroad. CARD has treated thousands of children around the world. Its services include assessments, supervision, parent/teacher training and one-to-one therapy.