Age 6 may represent key turning point in autism

Published by: Spectrum
Written by: Charles Q. Choi

Autism trait severity decreases from age 3 to 6 in most autistic children, but that progress then stalls for nearly three-quarters of them, according to a new long-term study.

The findings suggest that age 6 — when elementary school usually begins — is a key turning point for autistic children, when families, clinics, schools and communities can provide extra support.

“We can think about making sure these turning points turn out positively instead of negatively for kids,” says lead investigator Stelios Georgiades, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada.

The results jibe with a 2020 study showing that autism traits are not stable in young children with autism. But they run counter to the long-standing idea that these traits don’t typically ease with time.

“Most children with autism do show some improvement, in contrast with a lot of the literature,” says David Amaral, professor of medical psychiatry at the University of California, Davis, who led the 2020 study but was not involved in the new work. “Change in the severity of symptoms over time is more likely than ever thought before.” Click here to read the rest of the story.

What Parents Misunderstand About Executive Function

Published by: ADDitude
Written by: Ryan Wexelblatt

A 7-year-old with ADHD has the executive functioning skills of a 4- or 5-year-old. A 13-year-old’s EF age is between 10 and 11. Your expectations for your child need to align with their EF age, and your strategies for scaffolding probably need to change accordingly. Executive functioning is a term used to describe the processes that happen in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain — its operating system. Anybody who has ADHD has lagging executive function skills. Sometimes it can appear that they do not if they are really motivated and learn how to compensate early, but essentially ADHD is lagging executive function skills. Click here to read the rest of the story.

Trader Joe’s Eyes Improved Shopping Experience For Those With Special Needs

Published by: Disability Scoop
Written by: Shaun Heasley

Trader Joe’s is looking to make it easier for people with autism and intellectual disabilities to shop in its grocery stores.

The company said that it has partnered with the life-skills app MagnusCards to feature five different “card decks” to guide shoppers through various aspects of a visit to Trader Joe’s.

The card decks include one focused on “checking out your items” and another about “sensory experiences in the store,” among others. Each provides visual cues, step-by-step instructions and audio to walk users through tasks.

“Grocery stores can be challenging places for individuals with autism, but the basic necessity of buying food and the simple pleasure of selecting what you plan to eat is vital for all people,” said Nadia Hamilton, who was inspired by her brother with autism to create Magnusmode, which makes the free app. “Trader Joe’s MagnusCards provide support for a critical skill set that everyone needs and a fun experience that everyone deserves.” Click here to read the rest of the story.

New Push Underway To Eliminate Subminimum Wage

Published by: Disability Scoop
Written by: Michelle Diament

Government investigators say that a lack of resources is one of the main reasons people with disabilities continue to work for less than minimum wage. Now, some lawmakers want to change that.

A bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives this month would phase out what’s known as subminimum wage over five years and provide the means to support people with disabilities in the transition to competitive, integrated employment.

The legislation introduced by Reps. Bobby Scott, D-Va., and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., seeks to do away with a federal provision dating back to 1938 that allows employers to obtain special 14(c) certificates from the Department of Labor authorizing them to pay people with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Click here to read the rest of the story