Brock panel available to discuss ASD, Wednesday

By Bullet News
April 1, 2014

By NICK FEARNS, Special to Bullet News

ST CATHARINES – Some Canadian health experts are calling autism a “public health crisis.”

World Autism Day, Wednesday, April 2, comes just as word from the United States Centres for Disease Control and prevention that there was been a 30 per cent increase in the number of children living with autism since 2012. That’s one in every 68 children in the United States.

 “All you need to do is look at the extensive waiting lists on these existing autism services,” said Maurice Feldman, a psychologist from Brock University. “The waiting lists are astronomical.  Even for the short term [programs] I’m hearing anything from one to three years.”

Brock University’s expert panel will be available Wednesday for people who have questions about autism spectrum disorder.

Psychologists Feldman and Rebecca Ward have developed a scale for parents to monitor the behavioral development of infants who might be at biological risk for ASD, or autism spectrum disorder.

Feldman will be able to answer questions on how to identify ASD right away as well as some of the early signs of the disorder.

“There’s more and more research coming out that signs of ASD can be predicted in the first year of life,” said Feldman.

Ward has developed and is evaluating a transition to adulthood program for teens and young adults with ASD and Aspergers called “My Life as an Epic Win.”

Ward will take questions on the lack of services and funding in Ontario for youth with ASD or Aspergers syndrome, ages 16 to 25 who are transitioning to adulthood.

Also on hand will be educator Kimberley Maich. Maich’s background includes being a resource teacher for students of all ages, a parent of a now-grown son with ASD and a clinical co-ordinator for school consultation, training and resource development.

Maich wrote Ontario’s first Additional Qualifications course in ASD.

“I think more than public health, it has had a huge effect on our educational system, our families and the critical supports that follows all of that too,” says Maich.
Maich will be able to give parents advice on how to navigate the special education system and steps parents can take to find support in their communities for children diagnosed with ASD.

“A school has its own culture, like anything else, its own set of vocabulary, and special education in Ontario is rife with acronyms for everything and it can be really intimidating for parents,” says Maich.

Ping Liang, biologist, is part of a research team pioneering an approach to the genetic study of ASD by dividing autism into four or five sub-groups, which have different genes. Liang can discuss the characteristics of the sub-groups’ genetics and using genome-sequencing tools when studying autism.

Liang says the study is not yet finished and will need additional funding to be fully completed.

Contact Brock’s panel via email or phone. Their information is as follows:

* Maurice Feldman at maurice.feldman@brocku.ca;

* Rebecca Ward at 905-931-1136 (cell);

* Kimberly Maich at kmaich@brocku.ca and

* Ping Liang at 905-688-5550, ext. 5922; pliang@brocku.ca.


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