Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Vaccines & Autism - Some Sound Advice
Vaccination: Safer than the alternative
It takes less than a minute to vaccinate your child against the measles, a virus that has infected and killed thousands of children worldwide.
But some parents are unwilling to do so.
Not everyone believes the ample body of validated evidence that supports this Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's assertion: Vaccinating children against measles, mumps and rubella is the safe and responsible thing to do.
The National Vaccination Information Center is a parent-led organization that aims to prevent vaccine injuries and deaths. Its Web site warns that vaccines can cause their own problems, such as autism, and details cases of children who, the NVIC claims, became violently ill or died after receiving regularly scheduled vaccinations.
Much of its evidence is anecdotal.
But repeated studies confirm the vaccinations are safe for the overwhelming majority of children.
Last week the CDC announced that the largest U.S. measles outbreak in a decade had been traced to a Clinton County girl.
The girl had not received the typical round of childhood immunizations before she traveled to Romania in 2005, federal health officials said. She returned carrying the measles virus, prompting an outbreak that infected 32 people in Indiana and one from Illinois.
Most were children. Only two had been vaccinated against the disease. Three were hospitalized. And one spent time in the intensive care unit before recovering, the CDC said.
The CDC has determined there is no convincing evidence that vaccines, such as the one that prevents measles, cause autism or other related health disorders.
What's clear is that before vaccines were available, thousands of children became sick -- and some died -- from the measles virus before the vaccine became available in 1963.
At that time, U.S. health officials documented about 450,000 measles cases and about 450 measles deaths annually. Now, as more and more children routinely receive vaccinations, the number has dramatically dropped.
Science, not fear, should be the deciding factor in how we protect our children.
Refusing to vaccinate them is a dangerous practice that could endanger their lives.
Autism Heroes 2006
2. Andy Scott MP Fredericton NB - Andy Scott has worked for several years on a National Autism Strategy and "wheeled and dealed", lobbied and persuaded to get it under way in 2006 with private member motion M-172.
3. Peter Stoffer MP Sackville-Eastern Shore NS - Peter Stoffer has also laboured long in support of a National Autism Strategy, seconded M-172 and spoke eloquently in support of the need for a National Autism Strategy for Canada.
4. Shawn Murphy MP - Charlottetown PEI - Shawn Murphy brought his own motion calling for amendments to the Canada Health Act to specify autism and autism treatment. His efforts continued to highlight in Canada the need for a NAS.
5. Autism Society New Brunswick - the struggle for a National Autism Strategy has been long underway. The ASNB has been actively fighting and lobbying for a NAS for several years. Lila Barry, Nancy Blanchette, Jason Oldford, Luigi Rocca, Dawn Bowie, Brian Rimpilainen and many others at ASNB have fought long and hard to advance the cause of autism on the national level.
6. Andrew Kavchak, Sam Yassine, Mike Lewis, Jean Lewis, Shirley Hewko and the families in the Auton and Wynberg cases all of whom have lobbied, sued, advocated and fought for better conditions in the lives of their children and other persons with autism.
7. US Senator Chris Dodd (D) and former Senator Rick Santorum (R) for introducing and championing the Combating Autism Act. Also US President George W. Bush for signing the CAA into law.
8. New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham for his commitment to provide autism specific training to Teachers' Aides and Resource Teachers working with autistic students in New Brunswick schools.
9. Former New Brunswick Health Minister Brad Green who reversed a decision to discontinue pediatric tertiary care services for autistic children at the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation in Fredericton and committed to the funding of a new team dedicated specifically to the provision of autism services at the Centre. Director Ron Harris at the Stan Cassidy who provided well informed leadership to those who fought for the commitment to the new autism team and who is overseeing the development of the team.
10. Clinical Psychologist and Professor Emeritus (Psychology) Paul McDonnell who received special recognition from the Autism Society New Brunswick this year for his outstanding contributions to the cause of autism in New Brunswick. Paul works with autistic children in his practice and has been a primary source of knowledge, confidence and inspiration for parents advocating for better lives for their children with autism.
11. Autistic children and adults who have made our lives better in 2006 and all years and provide joy and strength to parents in our daily lives, including my son, Conor .
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Conor's Christmas Card
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Amnesty International: Police Use of Taser Convenes International Standards
The AI report can be found at this url http://tinyurl.com/yj6dzb
Fredericton Police, Tasers And Autistic Persons
"Taser use remains controversial.
The Canada Safety Council in 2005 said that 50 people in the United States died between 2002 and 2005 after receiving Taser shocks.
In Canada in 2005, there were five deaths after police used stun guns, including one in Moncton, although the Canada Safety Council hastened to add that the Taser was not named as the cause of death in those cases."
[Not named as the cause of death following TASER Fire? - If a heart stops beating after being fired upon by a TASER ; heart failure might be the medical cause but surely the TASER fire should be a suspect in bringing about the cause of death? - HLD]
Rendering a person unable to use their muscle systems to prevent falling or to allow falling in a protective manner victims of TASER attacks are vulnerable to injuries such as head injuries when falling on a hard surface such as a curb or road. Concerns have been expressed around the world about the indiscriminate use of these high voltage weapons and about their use on persons with autism and other mental disabilities. Hopefully the Fredericton City Police training will include training to recognize behavior characteristic of such persons and how to deal with them - short of firing upon them with TASERS."
From New Zealand:
" Injuries to officers highlight taser dangers
Keith Locke MP, Green Party Police Spokespon
13th September 2006
Green Party Police Spokesperson Keith Locke has written to the Police Minister asking her to reconsider her support for the taser trial following a disclosure that three New Zealand police officers had been injured during tests.
Two officers had received minor flesh injuries, and one was dazed after falling badly.
“Taser victims often ‘fall badly’ because they have no muscular control to cushion the impact,” Mr Locke says.
“Presumably the dazed officer was tasered on a soft surface, unlike many taser victims, who will knock their head on a hard road, a curb, or a protruding object.
“Overseas, such falls have caused death or serious injury. On June 4, 2004 Jerry Pickens was tasered in Bridge City, Louisiana. He fell backward, hit his head on his driveway, went into a coma and died.
“The taser is also dangerous to people with heart conditions, or those whose cardio-vascular system is affected by drugs. The police ‘guinea pigs’ would have been fit and healthy, unlike many of the people they will be tasering on the street.
“I have written to Police Minister Annette King to ask her to reconsider whether the trial should go ahead in the light of this new evidence,” Mr Locke says.
“The risk to the public is too great to justify the continued use of this weapon.”
The Associated Press
In a statement obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, police in Jerseyville, about 40 miles north of St. Louis, said 17-year-old Roger Holyfield would not acknowledge officers who approached him and he continued yelling, "I want Jesus."
Police tried to calm the teen, but Holyfield became combative, according to the statement. Officers fired the stun gun at him after he ignored their warnings, then fired again when he continued struggling, police said.
Holyfield was flown to St. Louis' Cardinal Glennon Hospital after the confrontation Saturday; he died there Sunday, police said.http://www.policeone.com/less-lethal/articles/1188114
By Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian
When Portland police encountered Sir J. Millage walking barefoot and shirtless in the chill December dawn, carrying what appeared to be a stick or metal rod, they thought he "might be unstable and possibly violent."
One officer fired four Taser shots at Millage, and then another struck him six times with his baton because he wouldn't stay on the ground. They thought Millage was high on drugs.
Millage's great-grandmother and legal guardian, Pastor Mary Overstreet Smith, said Millage didn't respond to police because he's autistic.
He's also 15 years old and can hardly talk. She said she can't understand what led to the use of physical force that Dec. 5 morning and is sickened by what occurred.
"He can't speak for himself. It tears me up when I read this," she said, flipping through the police report. "I just feel like what they did was unwarranted."http://www.policeone.com/investigations/articles/1198516/
As the father of a 10 year old autistic boy with limited verbal skills this story from Oregon is particularly disturbing to me as I contemplate Fredericton City police officers patrolling city streets armed with TASERS. I hope that our good officers are receiving training not just in firing TASERS but in recognizing characteristics of persons with autism and other mental disorders so that they do not mistake them for "unruly" criminals. And I hope that their excitement expressed by Police union represenetative Cst. Currie does not become an excitability and eagerness to use these new and dangerous weapons:
"Const. Ralph Currie, president of Fredericton Police UBC Local 911, said the union supports Taser use.
"The feeling is it's an absolutely necessary tool in our business ... We're excited about the fact that we're moving forward," Currie said."
Friday, December 22, 2006
Parenting (Behavior Modification) Therapy for Children's Mental Disorders
"In a study involving 128 families, psychologists at the university had found that about a third of parents who completed the program saw enough improvement in their children that they had decided that medication was unnecessary. The other two-thirds put their children on stimulant medication at school but at doses significantly lower those typically prescribed, said William Pelham, a psychologist who is director of the Center for Children and Families at Buffalo and the senior author of the study. Eighty percent of the families who participated in the program, with follow-up parent training, decided that their children did not need medication at home.
“Most parents seeking help for a child with a psychiatric disorder never hear about programs like this,” Dr. Pelham said. “The only option they’re given is medication. Now, it may be that the best treatment for that child is medication. But how do you know if you never try anything else?”
Behavior modification for A.D.H.D. and for related problems, like habitually disruptive or defiant behavior, is based on a straightforward system of rewards and consequences. Parents reward every good or cooperative act they see: small things, like simply paying attention for a few moments, earn an “attaboy.” Completing homework without complaint might earn time on a Gameboy. Parents remove privileges, like television and playtime, or impose a “time out,” in response to defiance and other misbehavior.
And they learn to ignore annoying but harmless attempts to win attention, like making weird noises, tapping or acting like a baby."
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Autism's Many Faces
Ped Med: The many faces of autismBy LIDIA WASOWICZ
UPI Senior Science Writer
SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Although all show some degree of difficulty in socializing, communicating and imagining, like snowflakes, no two cases of autism are exactly alike, researchers say.
Their newfound recognition of the condition's diverse complexity and multi-faceted nature carries over to the research field, where the seekers of causes and cures are starting to look for ways to subdivide the disorder and crack its armor of secrecy piece by piece.
"The analogy that I find most helpful is to childhood leukemia," said Dr. Judith Miles, professor of pediatrics, Thompson Endowed Chair of Child Health and Pathology and director of the Medical Genetics Division at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
"When I went to medical school, we thought it was one disorder, and only 5 percent of kids survived. Over the past 25 years, we realized it's a class of disorders. By separating the different types and learning how to treat each appropriately, we were able to make progress so that the survival rate is now 90 percent."
Miles is convinced all that looks like autism doesn't have the same cause and, therefore, will require a different therapeutic approach.
"If we can be more precise, we can do a lot of things," she said. "That would include the ability to prognosticate a child's future capabilities and design more specific and hence more efficacious treatments."
To that end, she has proposed the criteria for identifying autism, which currently are broadly based on social, communication and behavioral symptoms, be broken down into two further categories.
The recommendation is based on her finding that 20 percent of autistic children differ from the rest in both unusual physical features, such as an abnormal head size or malformed ear or hand, and autistic symptoms, which may include lower IQ, seizures or lack of speech after age 8. The researchers dubbed this subtype "complex autism."
They noted the much larger set of youngsters without the corporeal differences tended to be male and have siblings with a high risk for autism and other kin with the disorder. They called this subdivision "essential autism."
"It's very important for families to realize that autism is not a single disorder," Miles said, noting the two subgroups she has identified have different outcomes and recurrence rates.
"Separating essential autism from complex autism should be the first diagnostic step for children with autism spectrum disorders as it allows better prognostication and counseling."
Miles's five-year investigation sets the stage for exposing autism's genetic underpinnings, she said.
"By determining if there are differences between the children who have distinct physical markers such as a small head and those who don't, we can start to identify differences in their genes," Miles said.
"Once you start splitting the disorder into subgroups, you start seeing specific trends and the water is not as muddy as it once was."
For example, Ohio State University investigators observed genetic changes found in certain cancers -- including of the breast, thyroid, uterus, endometrium and brain -- also appear in some types of autism.
They detected a mutated version of the so-called "PTEN" protein in three of 18 individuals with larger-than-normal heads and autism-spectrum disorders, including the severely impairing classic autism and Rett syndrome, a type that affects primarily girls.
Although it was based on a small study, the observation raises the possibility some people with autism and large heads may face an increased cancer risk, the authors said."
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
President Bush Signs Combating Autism Act into Law
- President George W. Bush, 12/19/06
Today, President Bush Signed The Combating Autism Act Of 2006. This Act authorizes expanded activities related to autism research, prevention, and treatment through FY 2011. There are more than 1.5 million cases of autism in the United States.
- Since The President Took Office, National Institutes Of Health (NIH) Funding For Autism-Related Research Has Increased By Over 80 Percent From $56 Million In FY 2001 To An Estimated $101 Million In The FY 2007 Budget, Including Support For Autism Centers of Excellence. In addition, the Budget includes approximately $15 million at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for autism surveillance and research, including five regional Centers of Excellence for Autism and Developmental Disabilities Research and Epidemiology. In October, CDC initiated a $5.9 million study to help identify factors that may put children at risk for autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities.
The Combating Autism Act Enhances Research, Surveillance, And Education Regarding Autism Spectrum Disorder
The Act Authorizes Research Under NIH To Address The Entire Scope Of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Autism, sometimes called "classical autism," is the most common condition in a group of developmental disorders known as the autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Other ASDs include Asperger syndrome, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS).
The Act Authorizes Regional Centers Of Excellence For Autism Spectrum Disorder Research And Epidemiology. These Centers collect and analyze information on the number, incidence, correlates, and causes of ASD and other developmental disabilities. The Act also authorizes grants to States for collection, analysis, and dissemination of data related to autism.
The Act Authorizes Activities To Increase Public Awareness Of Autism, Improve The Ability Of Health Care Providers To Use Evidence-Based Interventions, And Increase Early Screening For Autism. The Act authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to:
- Provide information and education on ASD and other developmental disabilities to increase public awareness of developmental milestones;
- Promote research into the development and validation of reliable screening tools for ASD and other developmental disabilities and disseminate information regarding those screening tools;
- Promote early screening of individuals at higher risk for ASD and other developmental disabilities as early as practicable;
- Increase the number of individuals who are able to confirm or rule out a diagnosis of ASD and other developmental disabilities;
- Increase the number of individuals able to provide evidence-based interventions for individuals diagnosed with ASD or other developmental disabilities; and
- Promote the use of evidence-based interventions for individuals at higher risk for ASD and other developmental disabilities as early as practicable.
The Act Calls On The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) To Enhance Information Sharing. The IACC provides a forum to facilitate the efficient and effective exchange of information about autism activities, programs, policies, and research among the Federal government, several non-profit groups, and the public. The Combating Autism Act requires the IACC to provide information and recommendations on ASD-related programs, and to continue its work to develop and update annually a strategic plan for ASD research.
Monday, December 18, 2006
US President Bush About to Sign Combating Autism Act into Law
" The bill was presented to the President on Monday, December 11, and now awaits his signature, which is expected within the next ten days.
The Combating Autism Act authorizes nearly $1 billion over the next five years to combat autism, increasing federal spending on autism by at least 50%. The bill includes provisions relating to the diagnosis and treatment of persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and expands and intensifies biomedical research on autism, including an essential focus on possible environmental causes. "
Hopefully increased autism research in the US will benefit all persons with autism including those in Canada.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
David Roberts - New Assistant Deputy Minister (Student Services)
Mr. Roberts has previously served in a number of capacities with the Province of New Brunswick in Education, Service New Brunswick and other areas. A press release detailing his background upon his appointment as General Manager of Service New Brunswick in 2004 describes his background in some detail:
General Manager, Service New Brunswick
David Roberts was appointed, General Manager of Business Development, Marketing and Sales for Service New Brunswick in 2004. This position has a mandate to leverage current Service New Brunswick expertise and technologies in pursuit of e-government opportunities locally, domestically and internationally. David previously worked with the provincial department of Intergovernmental Affairs building relationships and brokering strategic partnerships between the New Brunswick Government and the Government of Canada that enhanced economic and social opportunities for New Brunswickers. Prior to this as Executive Director with New Brunswick’s Information Highway 1993-2000, he was part of a team that received many local, national and international awards for community capacity building and civic entrepreneurship through the creation of New Brunswick’s “culture of technology”. David has consulted and been a guest speaker in most provinces in Canada as well as in locations around the world such as Cienfuegos/Cuba, San Luis/Argentina, Kuala Lampur/Malaysia, Tasmania/Australia, Scarborough/Tobago, Beijing/China and Washington/USA. He has been a teacher, guidance counselor, Ministry of Education administrator and interim federal Director of Industry Canada’s Community Access initiative. He has worked in both the public and private sector and is know for his creativity and the capacity to “think outside the box.”"
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Autism Team Update from the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation
(Click on pictures to englarge)
Top - (L) Kim McKeigan, Speech Language Pathologist SCCR Autism Team and (R) Barb Dugas, Dietitian SCCR Autism Team
Top - Ron Harris, Director SCCR and Dawn Bowie, Representative Autism Society New Brunswick
Bottom - New Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation facility adjacent to the Chalmers Hospital in Fredericton
Today was another positive day for the autism community in New Brunswick. I had the privilege, as a parent advocate, of attending the meeting of the Autism Stakeholders group (working group) to receive an update on the present status and future plans of the autism team at the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation.
Two members of the five person autism team are now in place - dietitian Barb Dugas and speech language pathologist Kim McKeigan. The search continues for the three remaining members of the team an occupational therapist, a behavioural analyst and a clinical developmental psychologist. In the meantime some services will be provided by the current members of the team in appropriate cases. The development of the new autism team at the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation is a huge plus for the autism community in New Brunswick. Thanks to everyone involved.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Conor's View of ABA
My son Conor is 10 years old and is "profoundly" autistic as his pediatrician who diagnosed his Autism Disorder described him. He does not appear before Senate Committees, make representations to Courts of Appeal or fashion a career for himself as a professional autistic person. He struggles with the fundamentals of language but he has, with the help of ABA interventions, learned some language and communication skills, even some reading skills. Conor's view of the "ABA is abusive" rhetoric can be best summed up in this picture of him poised before the window waiting for his therapist to arrive, an event for which he waits with great joyful anticipation. In this picture Conor moved a dining room chair into the living room 10 minutes before his therapist arrived waiting for her to show up. When she did he bounced off of his chair - happy.
No amount of persuasion will change the minds of the Anti-ABA crowd. They are welded to their opposition to ABA. They will choose to disbelieve all scientific study pointing to the efficacy of ABA as an autism intervention. They will rely on long outdated incidents to justify their caricature of ABA as abusive. They will disbelieve my comments. But Conor won't buy their nonsense. Let them tell Conor that ABA is abusive as he waits for his therapist to arrive.
(Click on picture to enlarge)
The Oxytocin and Autism Buzz
Dec. 13, 2006
Special to World Science
Last year, one group identified it as a hormone that helps us to trust. Now, researchers say it may also aid us with “mind reading,” or the ability to gauge other people’s emotions based on subtle social cues.
The Mount Sinai researchers worked with 15 people diagnosed with either autism or Asperger’s Syndrome, a similar condition often viewed as a mild form of autism. In the study, the patients received oxytocin infusions and, on a separate day, infusions of an inactive substance for comparison.
The scientists found that both treatments led to better scores on a test that involved discerning the emotional tone of pre-recorded statements, but the improvements lasted longer with oxytocin treatment.
A previous study, published in the June 2, 2005 issue of the research journal Nature, found that a whiff of oxytocin made people more likely to trust someone else to look after their cash.
Some commentators started to dub oxytocin the “trust hormone” after that. But the newest findings suggest that its powers in social functioning extend well beyond trust, into “mind-reading” ability as well, wrote researchers with Rostock University in Rostock, Germany, in Biological Psychiatry’s Nov. 28, 2006 advance online edition.
This group tested 30 healthy men on the “Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test,” which involves judging people’s emotional state based on photographs of their eyes. The participants sniffed either oxytocin or an inactive substance, one week apart, and were found to do better with the oxytocin.
Like the two previous studies, it was double-blind, meaning investigators weren’t aware at any given time of whether participants had gotten the real or the sham treatment.
“The ability to ‘read the mind’ of other individual, that is, to infer their mental state by interpreting subtle social cues, is indispensable in human social interaction,” the researchers wrote. Because autism is characterized both by low oxytocin and “by distinct impairments in mind-reading,” they added, “oxytocin should be considered a significant factor in the pathogenesis [cause] and treatment of autism.”
Monday, December 11, 2006
Combating Autism Act Now Goes to President Bush
Keep Your Autism Promise Premier Graham
Keep those promises
As published on page A4 on December 11, 2006Political parties campaigning after years in opposition tend to follow a similar pattern. They come on strong during the campaign, offering up a range of promises that go further than what the party in government was prepared to do. Then, once they've been elected, they audit the province's finances, announce there isn't as much money available for new spending as they thought, and blame the previous government for their decision not to follow through on key election promises.
Surely this is one of the most pathetic spectacles in federal or provincial politics - the moment when the incoming government opens the door of the treasury and says, disingeniously, "Oh-oh! There isn't much money here!" It always sounds lame, because it is.
New governments are necessarily lying. There isn't a major party in Canada, federally or provincially, that has not fudged its financial results at one time or another when in government, a fact that is usually discovered after the party in question has left office. And budgets, after all, are just projections. Circumstances change, and with them, the cost of supplying public services. Fuel prices go up. The Canadian dollar rises or falls. What's left in the bank account can be radically different than what was projected months before, without any fudging whatsoever.
What infuriates the taxpaying, voting public is not the way the volume in the public purse can change between governments, but the ease with which new governments excuse themselves from carrying out their election commitments. The practice has become so common, it is predictable - and its predictability feeds public cynicism in the political process.
The only way to beat that cynicism is for a political party to be driven by performance and governed by integrity. That means keeping one's political promises, even if the cost is higher, or the balance in the public treasury lower, than expected.
New Brunswick voters gave the provincial Liberal Party a slim majority in September's election. If Premier Shawn Graham and Finance Minister Victor Boudreau want to inspire the public confidence required to win a more secure majority, they must live up to their election promises.
In recent weeks, senior Liberals have been conspicuous in cautioning New Brunswickers to lower their expectations. They might as well walk around wearing signs that read, "In four years, kick me!"
Wake up, gentlemen. Look at last week's headlines: "Liberals prepared to break promises"; "Government still treating seasonal workers like party favours." These are two of the biggest clichés in provincial politics.
It doesn't matter who is in power, the Liberals or the Conservatives. An incoming premier should be ashamed to renege on political commitments or accept pork-barrel, partisan hiring practices in government, even at the level of casual employment.
New Brunswickers expected better of Shawn Graham, and many still believe he can do better. We certainly do.
Come on, Mr. Premier. Shuck those clichés and prove it's possible to succeed by putting integrity first. That, above all else, is what New Brunswickers voted for."
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Jurisdiction Over Autism
[I use the term "representatives" loosely. ] argue that because health care is a matter within provincial jurisdiction the federal Canada Health Act should not be amended to include autism. This superficial argument would, if taken literally, require the repeal and abolition of the Canada Health Act. It would also require that we ignore the whole concept of cooperative federalism which has seen the development of federal-provincial sharing of resources and information to tackle issues which could overwhelm governments acting alone and strictly within their constitutional jurisdiction. Autism is exactly the type of problem which is too much for some jurisdictions to handle effectively and which requires federal financial support. Families are literally moving to rich Alberta, from across Canada, to seek treatment available to age 18 for their autistic children. In the face of this national situation the jurisdiction argument crumbles.
The development of cooperative federalism means that the federal government could make funds available to assist treatment of autistic Canadians without regard for their place of residence. Right now the federal government and the provinces are haggling over the receipt of federal monies to reduce wait times under provincial health care jurisdiction. There is no reason treatment of autism could not be required as a condition of receiving federal health care dollars under the Canada Health Act.
Clement says provinces still need convincing on wait-time guarantees
Sat Dec 9, 4:15 PM
By Chris MorrisMONCTON, N.B. (CP) - Federal Health Minister Tony Clement admitted Saturday that some of his provincial and territorial colleagues still need convincing on the issue of guaranteeing wait times for medical care, but he said he's confident it can be achieved.
Clement said a federal-provincial health ministers meeting in Moncton, N.B., underscored the fact that although money is a major sticking point, all jurisdictions agree on the need for timely access to quality health care for their citizens.
"It's not as if we're on Venus and they (the provinces and territories) are on Mars," said Clement as the two-day health ministers meeting concluded.
"We're all talking about making the system better. The provinces are doing a lot of work right now to reduce wait times. The issue is if we are going to go ahead with wait-time guarantees, how exactly would that work? What are the implications? We won't know the answers until we try some things out."
Clement wants the provinces to move forward with pilot projects on wait-time guarantees, but he said some of them still need convincing.
The federal Conservative government promised the guarantees, which are supposed to ensure patients can go to another jurisdiction at the government's expense if timely care is not available at home.
Clement said the federal government is moving ahead in health areas where it has jurisdiction, but the guarantees are supposed to be available to all Canadians.
"I suggested we are willing to work with provinces to run pilot projects to get information," he said.
"Right now we are operating in a vacuum. We have many questions but few answers because of our lack of experience in running wait-time guarantee programs."
New Brunswick Health Minister Mike Murphy, chair of the conference, said the issue is money.
"Mr. Clement is very clear as to his agenda and we'd like to partake in many of those things on his agenda but proper financing is in order," Murphy said.
The New Brunswick minister said some argue money from the 2004 health-care accord, which was supposed to fix medicare for a generation, is simply allowing the provinces and territories to keep pace with the inflationary cost of health care.
A recent report from the Canadian Wait Time Alliance says it is impossible to track the impact of the $41-billion health-care accord because the provinces aren't posting sufficient data.
Experts who worked on the report said it's regrettable that the provinces use inconsistent methodology to report results, making it impossible to identify leaders or laggards.
Two provinces - Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland - have not set up wait-time websites.
Prince Edward Island Health Minister Chester Gillan said the province is working on improving access.
"We're looking at any and all innvoative ways to get to the benchmarks," Gillan said.
However, critics maintain that benchmarks without guarantees are just empty promises.
Clement said a major federal and provincial meeting on wait-time guarantees will be held in February in Toronto.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Autism & Familiy Ties
Ped Med: Studies eye autistic kids' kinBy LIDIA WASOWICZ
UPI Senior Science Writer
SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- A number of studies have shown parents and siblings of autistic children sometimes share some of the anatomical and behavioral anomalies characteristic of autism, even though they themselves do not have the disorder.
The studies were carried out to circumvent the difficulties inherent in investigations of brain and cognitive development in autistic children, many of whom have limited communication skills, among other challenges, researchers said.
In one investigation, scientists at the University of Colorado, Colorado State University and the University of Denver pored over three-dimensional brain images of the children's kindred for signs of heritable abnormalities.
In comparing the scans of 40 parents with autistic offspring and 40 without, they found size differences between the two groups in a multitude of regions, each of which regulates behaviors that are affected in autism, the authors said.
In the autistic children's kin, they reported observing:
-- A shrunken cerebellum, the coordinator of motion and regulator of speech, learning, emotions, attention and other cognitive thinking;
-- A shriveled prefrontal cortex, also referred to as the "theory of mind area" because of its pivotal role in interpreting intentions, motivations and feelings of other people;
-- An oversized motor cortex, the controller of voluntary movement;
-- A bloated basal ganglia, a center for planning and imitating motion that also is associated with compulsive and ritualistic behaviors, and
-- An undersized somatosensory cortex, a site critical to comprehending facial expressions and other social cues.
The team is planning to confirm the findings in studies of twins.
At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, investigators used advanced imaging and eye-tracking technologies to peek at ocular activity and measure brain structures in nine boys with autism, their nine non-autistic brothers and nine unrelated healthy youngsters.
They said they found the sibling pairs shared the autistic proclivity to avoid eye contact with strangers, friends and even family members.
In addition, the researchers said, the boys had an abnormally small amygdala, an almond-shaped, multi-task area that holds the key to reading facial expressions and experiencing fear at social situations.
None of these features appeared in the "control" group of non-autistic boys with non-autistic relatives, the study authors said.
Because the deficits observed in the typically developing brothers of autistic children did not result in any noticeable symptoms, the researchers reasoned other brain areas must be compensating for the shortfalls. That suggests autism touches multiple brain systems to make itself known, the investigators said.
Parental genes may affect a baby's growth in other unforeseen ways, scientists said.
In one surprising finding, investigators from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., noted the nutritional composition of a woman's breast milk -- which has a bearing on the nursing infant's development -- may depend not only on what she eats but also on what she's inherited.
In the first study to show a genetic effect on human lactation, the researchers discovered having a certain variant of a gene -- which some one-third of the U.S. population does -- can boost by 40 percent the amount of a needed nutrient that enters a mother's breast milk, the team reported.
A shortage of the substance -- a type of omega-3 fat called decosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, found mainly in cold-water fish such as tuna, salmon and mackerel -- has been implicated in autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, learning disabilities and other developmental disorders.
(Note: In this multi-part installment, based on dozens of reports, conferences and interviews, Ped Med is keeping an eye on autism, taking a backward glance at its history and surrounding controversies, facing facts revealed by research and looking forward to treatment enhancements and expansions. Wasowicz is the author of the forthcoming book, "Suffer the Child: How the American Healthcare System Is Failing Our Future," to be published by Capital Books.)
Friday, December 08, 2006
Bill C - 304 National Strategy for the Treatment of Autism Act
Both the Conservatives and the Bloc are bolstered too by public statements made by some representatives of the Autism Society Canada. Although autism advocates across Canada have fought for years for amendments to the Canada Health Act to specifically address autism treatment some officials of the Autism Society Canada have taken it upon themselves to appear before House and Senate committees and state that the Autism Society Canada does not seek amendment to the Canada Health Act. In doing so they pursue their own personal agendas and interests, such as preserving charitable tax status of ASC, ensuring the receipt of federal government grants for ASC and ensuring peace with the Quebec wing of the ASC. They do not represent the vast majority of autism advocates across Canada who have sacrificed time, money and sweat seeking amendment of the CHA to cover autism treatment. Advocates in the autism community have been betrayed by these public statements of select ASC officials. Government and Bloc politicians and bureaucrats with whom they lunch in Ottawa are undoubtedly pleased though with their actions.
Here is the debate on December 7 2006 on MP Shawn Murphy's C-304:
39th PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION
EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 093
Thursday, December 7, 2006Private Members' Business
[Private Members' Business]
* * *
National Strategy for the Treatment of Autism Act[Table of Contents]
|Section 2 of the Canada Health Act is renumbered as subsection 2(1) and is amended by adding the following:|
|(2) For the purposes of this Act, services that are medically necessary or required under this Act include Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) and Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) for persons suffering from Autism Spectrum Disorder.|
[Translation][Table of Contents]
[English][Table of Contents]