Autism-Friendly Theatres

Autism Society has teamed up with AMC Entertainment to provide the “Sensory Friendly Films Program” at participating theatres. This program is making it easy for families with children on the spectrum to go to the movies. The theatres are being called “sensory friendly” because they make the theatre experience enjoyable for those children suffering from sensory integration issues, a common characteristic of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

The theatres are changing up the ordinary movie going experience, which can be very stressful for a child with sensory issues with the following features:

In order to provide a more accepting and comfortable setting for this unique audience, the movie auditoriums will have their lights brought up and the sound turned down, families will be able to bring in their own gluten-free, casein-free snacks, and no previews or advertisements will be shown before the movie. Additionally, audience members are welcome to get up and dance, walk, shout or sing”

Click here to find a Sensory Friendly Theater near you.
This collaboration is following in the footsteps of other chains, such as the Wyndham hotel in Austin, Texas which now offers special accommodations to families affected by Autism.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and Autism Spectrum Disorders

By Marlena N. Smith

In a recent review, Williams, Wheeler, Silove, and Hazel did not find selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to benefit children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). SSRIs, a common type of antidepressant, are often prescribed to persons with ASD. Williams et al. reviewed research studies exploring the use of SSRIs for ASD treatment.

Literature searches were conducted for randomized controlled trails comparing the use of SSRIs to placebo in participants with ASD. Seven relevant studies were identified. The studies included a total of 271 participants with ASD. Five studies included children, ages 3 to 13 years, and the remaining two studies included adults, ages 18 to 53 years. The studies evaluated various SSRIs including fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, fenfluramine, and citalopram.

Findings did not support the use of SSRIs in children with ASD. While SSRIs did demonstrate some beneficial effects on adults with ASD (e.g., improvements in compulsive behavior, anxiety, and aggression), research in this area is extremely limited.

Although SSRIs are commonly prescribed to persons with ASD, research evaluating the use of SSRIs for ASD treatment is lacking. Available research does not support the use of SSRIs in children with ASD. While SSRIs may be beneficial to adults with ASD, far more research is needed.


Williams, K., Wheeler, D. M., Silove, N., & Hazel, P. (2010). Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors(SSRIs) for autism spectrum disorders (ASD) (review). The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 8. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD004677.pub2.

Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh on CNN's Headline News - Local Edition

Founder and Executive Director Doreen Granpeesheh, PhD, BCBA-D discusses autism's rising rates and what's behind it, during this in depth interview, recently aired on CNN's Headline News - Local Edition.

Watch now, then share your thoughts with the community on CARD Facebook

Join Dr. Granpeesheh at CARD's
20th Anniversary Gala
Los Angeles - September 25, 2010
Click here for complete Gala details -

About Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh:
Dr. Granpeesheh has dedicated over thirty years to helping individuals with autism lead healthy, productive lives. Dr. Granpeesheh began her studies in autism as an undergraduate student at UCLA. While completing her graduate degree there, she worked with Dr. Ivar Lovaas on the world-renowned outcome study published in 1987 which showed a recovery rate of close to 50% among the study's research participants. She earned a PhD in Psychology from UCLA in 1990.

Dr. Granpeesheh is licensed by the Medical Board of California, the Texas, Virginia and Arizona State Boards of Psychologists, and the Dubai Healthcare City. She earned a Certificate of Professional Qualification in Psychology from the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

She is an active member of many boards whose mission is to advance the treatment of autism. She is on the Scientific Advisory Boards of the Autism File Magazine, Autism 360 and the 4A Healing Foundation. Dr. Granpeesheh is on the Practice Board of the Association for Behavior Analysis International , the Board of Directors of InCept and is a member of the Autism Human Rights and Discrimination Initiative steering committee, the North Los Angeles County Task Force of the Senate Select Committee on Autism, and the Oversight Committee of the Department of Developmental Disabilities for the State of Arizona. She also is the founding member and President of Autism Care and Treatment Today (ACT Today!), a non profit organization that helps families access effective treatment.

Dr. Granpeesheh is known throughout the world as an expert in the field of autism research and treatment. Specific areas of expertise and research include curriculum development from early intervention through the early stages of adulthood, diagnostic, developmental and behavioral assessment, higher order skill acquisition, long term outcomes, and the effects of medical interventions in conjunction with behavioral programs. She has trained thousands of professionals and families on her treatment techniques and curriculum, leading to a faster dissemination of quality treatment information.

Dr. Granpeesheh has not only helped tens of thousands of families, but has successfully helped many children and young adults attain their highest potential, giving further merit to the notion that autism is treatable and that affected individuals can lead independent, meaningful lives.

Autism Awareness Day event with The Lake Elsinore Storm

The Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc. (CARD), considered the world’s largest organization effectively treating children with autism, co-host an Autism Awareness Day with the Lake Elsinore Storm Baseball team on Sunday, August 22, 2010, when the Storm will play at home against Rancho Cucamonga Quakes at the ...Lake Elsinore Diamonds Stadium.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 110 children in America, is diagnosed with autism. Autism is more prevalent than AIDS, pediatric cancer and diabetes combined.

“With statistics like that, many Lake Elsinore fans may know someone with a child with autism,” says CARD Temecula Managing Supervisor Amy Caveney, MA, BCBA. “We were are happy to bring awareness to the issue of autism, share valuable resources, and show community appreciation with this fun filled family day with Lake Elsinore Storm baseball team.”

The CARD co-hosted Autism Awareness Day event with The Lake Elsinore Storm is one of 20 nationwide celebrations hosted by the Center for Autism and Related Disorders this year, to recognize its 20 years of leading the way in the successful treatment of autism.

An Evening with Grammy Winning Artist...Macy Gray

Macy is a proud supporter of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, and its efforts to provide effective treatment to children with autism around the world. She is helping to celebrate CARD's 20 year anniversary with an exclusive mini-concert at the Gala.

Macy Gray is an American R&B and soul singer-songwriter, record producer, and actress, famed for her distinctive raspy voice and a singing style heavily influenced by Billie Holiday and Betty Davis. To date, Gray has released five studio albums, one compilation album, and one live album, with her fifth studio album, The Sellout, released on June 22, 2010; and has received five Grammy Award nominations, winning one. She has appeared in a number of films including Training Day, Spider-Man, and Idlewild. Gray is best known for her international hit single "I Try", taken from her multi-platinum debut album On How Life Is.

Quality AND Quantity in ABA: Why it Matters! Presented by Dr. Jonathan Tarbox and Bonnie Yates:

Hundreds of treatments for autism exist and everyone has an opinion about which ones are best. Luckily, families do not need to rely on opinion alone – there is a lot of good quality scientific research showing what really works. Dr. Jonathan Tarbox, the Director of Research and Development at C.A.R.D., and Bonnie Yates, a special education attorney in Los Angeles, will review the most important findings of scientific research on autism treatment, including which treatments have evidence, how intensive treatment should be, how long it should be continued for, what it looks like, and who is qualified to provide it. Emphasis will be placed on giving parents realistic, practical advice on what to look for in their child’s treatment.

This event takes place on Thursday, August 26th from 5:00 pm – 7:30 pm at the Doubletree Inn at the Marina (200 Marina Blvd.) in Berkeley, C.A.

If would like to attend please RSVP to


The Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc. (CARD) 's Founder and Executive Director Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh sits down with CNN Headline News - Local Edition hosts to discuss autism, CARD's 20 years of serving the autism community, and the newly launched national campaign that supports military families affected by autism.

She's joined by Autism Care and Treatment Today (ACT Today!)'s Executive Director Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson.

This is a MUST-SEE news segment. Watch today through August 22nd!

Watch it. Then share your thoughts on CARD Facebook -

:24 and :54 minutes past the hour (4pm - 12am)
CNN HLN can be found on Channel 49 in most areas:
• Long Beach channel line-up - channel 49
• San Gabriel Valley channel line-up - channel 49
• Inland Empire, mountain & desert communities line-ups - channel 49
• Malibu channel line-up - channel 49
• Ventura line-ups - channel 49
• Glendale/Burbank channel line-up - channel 67
• Video on Demand service (VOD) on channels 999 or 01
Join Dr. Granpeesheh on September 25th in Los Angeles, as CARD celebrates 20 years of excellence.

For complete details, visit:

CARD Founder Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh Discusses the Future of Autism with LA Magazine

Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh
Executive Director, Center for Autism and Related Disorders Inc.

During the past two decades the incidence of autism has increased from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 100 children. While we are discovering the combined causes of genetic and environmental factors, the state of California is overwhelmed by its ongoing struggle to meet the needs of its residents afflicted with this disorder. These needs are continuously growing due to the sparseness of trained teachers in our schools as well as the desperate state of our budget, which results in ongoing cuts in funds allocated to the treatment and care of this disorder. As we search for ways to meet the demand for treatment and find early predictors that may help us remedy the problem at hand, we must not lose sight of the effectiveness of techniques already established and accepted, and we must focus our efforts on more efficient dissemination of these treatment modalities.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has been widely recognized as the single most effective form of treatment for autism. However, the proper use and administration of ABA depends on extensive training, which unfortunately leads to a deficiency of trained professionals. The only solution is a rapid and effective statewide training program that will enable our teachers to access and provide high-quality behavioral programs in our schools, thereby preventing the ongoing stress imposed upon our state budget. Such a training program can only be provided through the use of Internet technology. One such Web-based program—SKILLS (Shaping Knowledge Through Individualized Life Learning Systems)—has been positioned to provide online training for teachers, detailed assessment of each individual’s symptoms, and a comprehensive curriculum of lesson plans to address and improve each of these symptoms. Programs such as SKILLS are essential for our state to maintain its position as a leader in service provision for autism. We at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders have used this online system to train our therapists across not only our 12 California locations, but also our staff across our 20 sites nationally and internationally. It is our hope that through online training we will not only expand our team of 1,000 therapists, but we will also help equip our state’s school districts with the tools they need to meet the growth of autism in California.

In addition, continued efforts to bring health insurance coverage to California will reduce the financial strain on our educational system and will provide individuals with autism the care and treatment they have every right to receive.

Click here to read the article online -

Autism: iHelp Is On The Way

The iPad is Apple's latest gadget that has consumers raving. However, little did Steve Jobs and his team of creators knows that this hi-tech gadget would one day help children with Autism.

Figure 1 Imagine handing over the key to your child's communication skills?

The iPad is being called a “quiet revolution” in the world of Autism because of the difference it has made on the amount of communication children with Autism are able to convey to those in their surroundings and the progress it has allowed them to make in those skills they were lacking.

“Since the iPad's unveiling in April, autism experts and parents have brought it into countless homes and classrooms around the world. Developers have begun pumping out applications specifically designed for users with special needs, and initial studies are already measuring the effectiveness of the iPod Touch and the iPad as learning tools for children with autism… some of these children have been able to communicate their thoughts to adults for the first time.”

Shannon Rosa has experienced firsthand the positive effects the iPad has had on her son, Leo. Like Mrs. Rosa, for parents with children on the spectrum, the iPad is not only a positive reinforce but a new tool that is allowing her son to learn skills he was unable to learn without the iPad. The iPad is not only entertaining to Leo, but a custom-tailored tool for Leo and other children with Autism who occasionally have low fine motor skills. The iPad is easy for Leo to navigate despite his disabilities.

Please read the rest of Shannon Rosa’s account of the “near-miracle” effect the iPad has had on her son. Perhaps it can help your child too.

Tickets Now Available for Center for Autism and Related Disorders’ 20th Anniversary Gala

For tickets and complete Gala details, visit:
Questions? Contact – Daphne

Click Invitation To Enlarge.

Maternal Age and Child Social Development

By Marlena N. Smith

In a recent study, Koyama, Kamio, Inada, and Inokuchi found increased maternal age at childbirth to be associated with atypical social development in children. Increased parental age at childbirth is often regarded as a potential risk factor for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The purpose of this study was to investigate whether increased maternal age is linked to atypical social development and later ASD diagnosis in children.

Participants included 1460 children. At age 18 months, the participants’ social development was assessed using a Japanese translation of the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT). In addition, the participants received diagnostic evaluations at age 36 months.

While the results did not reveal a correlation between maternal age at childbirth and ASD, findings did indicate an association between increased maternal age and atypical social development. Children with mothers ages 35 years or older at childbirth were found to be 2.22 times more likely not to pass the M-CHAT than children with mothers ages 29 years or younger at childbirth.

Although findings indicate an association between increased maternal age at childbirth and atypical social development in children, causal factors can only be speculated. Further research concerning maternal age and social development in children is warranted.


Koyama, T., Kamio, Y., Inada, N., & Inokuchi, E. (in press). Maternal age at childbirth and social development in infancy. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. doi:10.1016/j.rasd.2010.06.008

CARD in L.A. Looking for Parents to Participate in Focus Group

Here at CARD (Center for Autism and Related Disorders) we have been developing SKILLS, a web-based comprehensive assessment, curriculum, and progress-tracking system for children with autism between the ages of 0 – 8 years of age. SKILLS is being formed because there is not one single system in existence that can act as a one-stop shop for individuals interested in improving the lives of children with autism. We plan to fill this need by offering an online program that will provide training and materials to consumers who want access to all the tools they will need to reach this mission.

We are looking for parents of children with autism to participate in a focus group on September 17th from 10am – 12pm at the CARD Tarzana office. The purpose of this focus group is to get feedback about SKILLS before we launch it worldwide. We will provide breakfast, childcare (if needed) and pay you $50 for your time. If you are interested in participating and would like additional information please contact Merrick Williams at

The Lovaas Effect

The effect that Ivar Lovaas had on the lives of Autistic children and their families is beyond measure. He is considered a pioneer in the field of Autism. This man dedicated 40 years to develop and improve the ABA treatments now used to treat children with ASDs.

Many people who have been touched by Dr. Lovaas have posted paid homage to his work on their sites. Visit the following sites to see the many wonderful ways he was able to touch so many lives.
By: Talya Vogel, B.A.

Given the complexity of human emotions, the ability to recognize facial expressions is essential in understanding and appropriately responding to another person’s mental state. A distinguishing feature of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is impaired socialization skills. It has been suggested that this weakness in social interaction stems from a difficulty in interpreting facial expressions (an impairment also common among individuals with ASD).

A recent study by Farran, Branson, and King investigated facial expression recognition in 20 males with high functioning autism (HFA) or Asperger syndrome (AS), compared to typically developing (TD) individuals. The study asked participants to search for a target face in a crowd based on six emotional expressions (happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, and disgust) to assess their speed and accuracy in recognizing facial expressions.

Results showed:

- HFA / AS individuals were slower to process fear, anger, and sad expressions
than the typically developing control group

- No difference between the groups in responses to happy, disgust, and
surprise expressions

While some previous studies have reported an anger superiority effect, this study demonstrates a happy face advantage in visual search tasks.
Past studies have looked at brain activity during facial expression processing, showing that different emotions activate separate cortical areas. The happy face advantage seen in this study suggests that the cortical area responsible for the detection of happy faces is not specifically impaired in ASD. The differences in recognition based on individual emotions also support Simon Baron-Cohen’s amygdala theory of autism.


Farran, E.K., Branson, A., & King, B.J. (in press). Visual search for basic emotional expressions in autism; impaired processing of anger fear, and sadness, but a typical happy face advantage. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. doi: 10.1016/j.rasd.2010.06.009

Hansen, P., & Hansen, R. (1998). Finding the face in the crowd: An anger superiority effect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 917-924.

Leppanen, J.M., & Hietanen, J.K. (2004). Positive facial expressions are recognized faster than negative facial expressions, but why? Psychological Research, 89, 22-29.

World’s Leading Autism Organization to Host Free Community Festival in San Diego August 07, 2010

San Diego, CA – August 07, 2010 The Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc. (CARD), considered the world’s largest organization effectively treating children with autism, will host a CARD Family Festival on Saturday, August 07th. The event will be held from 10am – 2pm at Kearny Mesa Park, located at 3170 Armstrong Street in San Diego, California.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 110 children in America, is diagnosed with autism. Autism is more prevalent than AIDS, pediatric cancer and diabetes combined.

“With statistics like that, many people in the San Diego community know someone with a child with autism,” says CARD San Diego Managing Supervisor Theresa Contreras, MA, BCBA. “We want to bring awareness to the issue of autism, share valuable resources, and show community appreciation with this fun filled family festival.

The free CARD Family Festival is open to the entire San Diego community, and will feature live performances by San Diego dance groups “Jr. Crew” and “Arms Wide Open”, carnival games, resource booths, food, music and raffle prizes. All proceeds of the raffle will benefit Autism Care and Treatment (ACT Today!), a non profit organization that provides grants for therapy, biomedical treatment, social skills groups, and helmets for children with autism whose families can not afford the necessary tools for their child to reach their highest potential.

The CARD Family Festival is one of 20 celebrations hosted by the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, this year, to recognize its 20 years of leading the way in the successful treatment of autism.

In Loving Memory of Dr. Ivar Lovaas

He Will Be Missed!

Ivar Lovaas, PhD passed away on August 2, 2010 after a long battle with illness. He was surrounded by his closest family.

Dr. Lovaas was a world-renowned autism expert. He devoted his career to improving the lives of children with autism and their families and instilled this passion in so many others, including Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh who he taught and collaborated with at UCLA in the 1980s. His approach to Applied Behavior Analysis-based treatments is backed by published studies that show half of children with autism who receive intensive treatment become indistinguishable from other children on tests of cognitive and social skills by the time they completed first grade. His remarkable achievements will live on and continue to help innumerable people lead their fullest lives.

Dr. Lovaas was the first scientist to study behavior analysis as a treatment for autism. His seminal work, published in 1987, provided evidence that the behavior of children with ASD can be changed through ABA, and that almost half of the children would achieve normal intellectual functioning.

There will be an official memorial service at the University of California, Los Angeles later this month.

Predictors of Early Intervention Effectiveness in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

By Marlena N. Smith

In a recent study, Itzchak and Zachor identified both child and parental traits that may predict the effectiveness of early intervention in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Research has shown that children with ASD receiving early intervention progress at different rates. Itzchak and Zachor set out to investigate various factors that may predict treatment outcome in children with ASD.

Participants included 78 children with ASD, ages 15-35 months. Evaluations were conducted prior to the introduction of early intervention and after one year of treatment. The participants were evaluated via measures of adaptive functioning, symptom severity, and verbal and nonverbal skills.

Following a year of treatment, the participants showed significant gains in verbal skills and demonstrated decreased symptom severity. Various characteristics were found to predict treatment success. Results indicated that:

• Greater verbal skills prior to treatment, specifically in children with more severe ASD symptoms, and older maternal age predicted stronger gains in adaptive functioning.
• Less severe ASD symptoms and younger child age prior to treatment, as well as older maternal age and greater maternal education predicted greater cognitive outcomes.

Various child and parental traits were found to predict the effectiveness of early intervention in children with ASD. Findings suggest that both biological and environmental features influence treatment outcome. Further research regarding predictors of treatment success is warranted.


Itzchak, E. B., & Zachor, D. A. (in press). Who benefits from early intervention in autism spectrum disorders? Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. doi:10.1016/j.rasd.2010.04.018.