The South Carolina Autism Society is proud to be an affiliate member of the Autism Society of America. Current ASA President/CEO Scott Badesch sent the attached letter for us to share with SCAS families and supporters.
We are thankful for his ongoing confidence in organization, which started way back when SCAS was able to support his family during their early autism journey in South Carolina.
Click here to view the letter in PDF format.
Dear SC Families affected by ASD,
The Board of Directors of the South Carolina Autism Society has decided to revise the format of our Annual Conference, scheduled for Saturday, October 12, 2013.
Due to low registration numbers, we have cancelled the planned presentations and trainings that were originally scheduled. This is not a reflection on the fantastic speakers who had planned to come, but rather we feel it is a result of the issues the organization has faced this year.
Instead, we plan to host a Town Hall style meeting. The Town Hall format will provide a forum for you to present your questions and concerns to the Board of Directors, as well as offer networking opportunities with other families and professionals. We also want to know what services you find most helpful, wish we offered, and other ideas to help us determine what SCAS’s future programs will look like.
We’ll also conduct our Annual Meeting, including elections of Board members and officers.
The South Carolina Autism Society is committed to fulfilling our mission, to enable all individuals with autism spectrum disorders to reach their maximum potential. We will continue to collaborate with other organizations that provide training related to ASDs across the state.
The following training resources may be of interest to you:
SCAS has provided important services to people with autism spectrum disorders for over 40 years and we wish to continue supporting you, your families and loved ones.
We are still finalizing details about this Town Hall event and the Silent Auction. Please watch your e-mail and our Facebook pages for additional announcements.
August 28, 2013
Dear friends, families, supporters, and loved ones:
As many of you know, the South Carolina Autism Society (SCAS) has been undergoing a great deal of transition following the passing of our former president early this year. SCAS was investigated by the South Carolina Office of Inspector General (OIG). The investigation was closed and a report, which can be found at http://oig.sc.gov/Pages/Reports.aspx, was issued by OIG in July. The Board of Directors has been somewhat reticent to discuss this investigation because we had hoped to resolve some of the issues cited in the report, and be able to present clear, complete information to our families, partners, and supporters. This resolution is taking longer than we planned.
The report from the Inspector General indicated discrepancies in accounting for funds from the SC Department of Education (DOE) and the SC Developmental Disabilities Council (DDC). It also noted that a former SCAS employee used a company credit card for personal use, and that the expenditures were reimbursed and the employee was terminated. When OIG first approached SCAS, the only issue raised was the credit card theft. By that time, the employee had been terminated for many months because the theft was addressed swiftly after the organization learned of it. SCAS had received a clean audit report every single year prior to the credit card misuse.
Issues with grant accounting were identified later. Our records and the OIG report indicate that no money was stolen from SCAS, other than the reimbursed credit card theft. What we have identified is a failure to keep sufficient backup documentation to show what expenditures were for, and there were clearly some errors in SCAS' internal accounting. Still, we believe that we have evidence to prove that almost all of the grant expenditures referenced in OIG's report were used for the correct purpose.
As recommended in the OIG report, SCAS is working with both the DOE and the DDC to resolve these discrepancies. Additionally, it was recommended by the OIG that SCAS work with an outside accounting firm to oversee the process in working with DOE and DDC. SCAS is still in the process of going through an audit with DOE, and the two organizations are working diligently to resolve the issues in an effort to continue funding for vital programs such as the Parent-School Partnership that provides parent mentors for IEPs.
Please know that our agency wishes to be as transparent as possible and answer your questions, as well as put in place measures to ensure this does not happen again. SCAS has corrected our accounting system to make sure appropriate documentation is recorded, and backup records are also being maintained. We recognize that there were not enough accountability measures in place, as identified by OIG. SCAS is collaborating with the agencies involved to make sure safeguards are put in place. There were no findings of embezzlement of grant funds. However, it’s clear some funds were not accounted for correctly and it is possible some funds were not spent on the correct grant or program. We are working with DOE and DDC to determine these amounts and take appropriate steps to correct these issues.
SCAS has provided important services to people with autism spectrum disorders for over 40 years and we wish to continue supporting you, your families and loved ones. We have had to suspend some services, particularly the PSP program, while we address these issues. Service Coordination is not being affected at this point. We are working diligently to restore these services as quickly as possible.
Dealing with this situation is like dealing with autism spectrum disorder in some ways. We will likely never know the exact cause of the accounting discrepancies, just as most families will never know what caused their loved one to have ASD. With limited resources, we want to focus our attention on serving our families, not searching for answers that we likely will never find. This is the same suggestion we often give families regarding treatment for their child – move forward.
In moving forward we would like your input and will address your questions and concerns. Our annual SCAS meeting and conference will be held on October 12th and the Board of Directors plans to hold a town hall type meeting in effort to hear your feedback and address your concerns.
South Carolina Autism Society Board of Directors
Susan Kastner, Chair Alex Holbert, Vice Chair Rebecca Hughes, Secretary Mitchell Yell, Treasurer
Renee Collins Robert Hock Julie Kellett Richie Maldonado
Margaret Moore Joyce Nielsen Erik Norton Lisa Riddle
Roy Williams Don Wuori
The 2nd annual free Lowcountry Autism Forum will take place at the College of Charleston, SC next month, on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013. All are invited to attend and access up-to-date, relevant, vital information for their families and communities. Keynote speakers include Lorri Unumb (vice president for state and governmental affairs for Autism Speaks, Columbia, SC) and Peter Gerhardt, Ed.D. (education director for the McCarton School, New York City). Workshop leaders include James Emmett, a Chicago-based vocational and disability consultant, and Barbara J. Newman, the Michigan-based author of Autism and Your Church. Download the Forum brochure here.
Changes are on the horizon that will impact all individuals receiving service coordination through the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs and contracted service coordination entities. Changes have been in the works now for almost two years; however DHHS is at a point where soon there will be finalization to the changes they have been proposing with SCDDSN. The changes that are proposed involve what most of you know as service coordination or what DHHS is calling Targeted Case Management.
Most state agencies offer some version of TCM. In the DDSN system, this has been called Service Coordination. For years, service coordination has been considered to be much broader in its scope than is currently being defined by DHHS. The broader definition has been in place for many years and was agreed upon by DHHS and DDSN. However, this definition is no longer agree upon by the two agencies as DHHS wants to make it a much more restrictive definition of what is allowed through Targeted Case Management.
DHHS’s position is such that TCM is TCM regardless of the population being served. In essence, DHHS feels that TCM for a person with a disability is no different than TCM for an elderly person or TCM for someone being served by the Department of Juvenile Justice. DHHS has narrowed it down to only four core services that will be considered billable:
4. Referral and Linkage
Many other states have gone down this path and have ended up adding an additional service called Care Coordination by some states. Currently DHHS has not committed to adding this additional service and if it is not added, service coordinators will become even more limited in what they can do for families. Some examples of things service coordinators currently do that will no longer be allowed to do through the proposed changes are: attend IEP meetings, assist families in completing TEFRA applications, SSI applications, ABC Vouchers, and the list goes on, not to mention the countless hours service coordinators listen to families when they are distressed and going through critical situations.
Service coordination caseloads will be going from about 45 cases to over 100 once all of the changes are put into place. One has to ask themselves how their loved one can receive QUALITY service coordination when they are one of 100 cases that a case manager has on their caseload. This will increase burn out rates in case managers thus causing more turnover in case managers which again will lead to less quality in case management/service coordination.
I would like to ask you to please contact Anthony Keck, Director at DHHS (888-549-0820), and your local legislators, and let them know how this will impact your family. Such changes will make a significant difference in the quality of care service coordinators will be able to offer your loved ones. Time is of the essence so be sure to respond by August 7th, 2013!
Interim President and CEO
South Carolina Autism Society
We are excited to announce a wonderful, FREE opportunity for our families. Dr. Harari and Dr. Peterson of Comprehensive Psychological Services have offered to speak with our families on July 29th at 5:30 p.m. They will talk about Autism, services that are available to families, and will also discuss managing behaviors. They are here to be a support, so I am sure that they will be happy to answer any questions you may have. This event is open to everyone, but we especially would love to see our past and present camp families there. We will meet at Willow Ridge Church (the home of Camp T.A.L.K.) 104 Sycamore Tree Rd. Lexington, S.C.
Please help us spread the word. If you plan to attend this event, please let us know by responding to this e-mail so that we can have a general head count. It is our hope that this will be a great evening of not only information, but of sharing with one another. Please RSVP to email@example.com if you plan on joining us.
Hope to see you there!
Great News everyone! We have succeeded in getting a theatre to participate in the showing of the United States of Autism in Greenville. In order to ensure this showing, we need 70 people to commit to attending this showing. Please click on the link provided and reserve you seat today!
The United States of Autism
Presented by The LUCAS Network, SC Autism Society and Project Hope Foundation
Tuesday, July 30 7:00pm - 8:55pm
In Greenville, SC at Camelot theater - Greenville $11.00 General
In order to ensure this showing we need 70 people to commit to attending.
My name is Danielle Feerst. Phone number (843) 437-6910. I'm a rising sophomore at Tufts University studying Engineering Psychology and Child Development. I live in Mount Pleasant and I'm an Ashley Hall graduate.
I am developing an iOS app for increasing eye contact and presentation skills in higher functioning individuals with ASD --the product iPresentWell is in its very beginning stages. Please contact me if you think you or your family member with an Autism Disorder could benefit from this application. We would love to meet with you, share the idea and receive your feedback. Then we would keep in touch with you and your family until the application is successfully on iTunes so that you all could get a discounted price on its first version!!!
Problem Solved: Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders have difficulty making one-on-one eye contact, socializing and engaging, and presenting their ideas fluently. This hinders professional success, school success, and relationship development.
Other apps for speech-making and presentation focus only on one aspect like improving language or reading skills. This app targets all aspects of delivering a speech, but focuses mainly on improving eye contact skills. Also, other applications for individuals with Autism Disorders are targeted for the use or supervision of caretakers.
With this app, users with higher functioning Autism Disorders will overcome anxiety of eye contact while presenting a speech, virtually, with real images of peoples' eyes. So the user's practice of a presentation assists them directly in a real world situation. The application could also incorporate a running dialogue with open-ended questions that the user would have to answer. Then, his or her responses could be rated and critiqued.
This application is user-friendly and targeted for higher functioning individuals who recognize their social anxiety and want to improve on their own.
The application monitors eye contact while the user practices delivering a speech out loud. The user can synch his or her recorded videos (visual and audio) onto his or her iPod, iTunes, or social networking accounts for later practice or peer-to-peer feedback.
The user must download text to read out load and choose to turn on the camera on the device for video recording and feedback. If the user makes eye contact, then the eye tracking software will keep track of missed attempts throughout the speech when the user should have made eye contact with the top of the screen. If the user makes a mistake while practicing the speech, the Speech-to-text software will detect the mistake and record sections of the speech for the user to retry or practice again on the home screen.
My website is http://www.autismsees.com/.
Thanks so much
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Lori Bassett, 864-388-1061, firstname.lastname@example.org
Greenwood Genetic Center Researchers Report Autism Discovery
Advancement paves way for early blood test and therapeutic options
Greenwood, SC (June 5, 2013) - Researchers at the JC Self Research Institute of the Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC), along with collaborators from Biolog, Inc. in California, have reported an important discovery in the understanding of autism which was published this week in Molecular Autism.
The study, led by GGC’s Director of Research, Charles Schwartz, PhD and Staff Scientist, Luigi Boccuto, MD, found that individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) showed significantly decreased metabolism of the amino acid L-tryptophan when compared to both typical controls and individuals with other neurodevelopmental disorders. Cells from individuals with autism metabolized L-tryptophan at a decreased rate whereas cells from individuals without autism did not show this change.
Researchers also measured the expression of genes that are known to be involved in L-tryptophan metabolism in a small subset of patients with autism and found they also expressed some of the genes at lower levels than those without autism.
“The important and immediate implication of this work is the development of a simple, early blood screening test for autism by measuring the metabolism of L-tryptophan using Biolog’s technology,” shared Dr. Boccuto. Biolog’s assay method, called Phenotype MicroArray technology, allows researchers to measure the ability of cells to generate energy from various biochemical nutrients, including L-tryptophan.
Currently there are no laboratory tests that can accurately diagnose ASDs, which are estimated to affect 1 in 50 school-aged children in the US. Current diagnosis depends upon a developmental evaluation and parent interviews and can often not be made prior to 2-3 years of age. “A screening, and eventually, a diagnostic blood test for autism would be of immense value to families,” explained Dr. Schwartz. “An early, accurate diagnosis is key to providing effective and timely therapies for these patients and their families.”
Dr. Boccuto added, “We also see tremendous potential that these findings will aid in our understanding of the molecular and metabolic bases of autism. Once we have a clear vision of what has gone awry within the tryptophan metabolism pathways, we can develop therapies to target and correct those problems at the biochemical level.”
L-tryptophan is one of twenty amino acids used by cells to make protein. It is one of eight amino acids that cannot be made by the body, so it must be obtained from the diet. More importantly, L-tryptophan plays an important role in brain development and function as it is the precursor of key neurochemicals such as serotonin and melatonin which have already been linked to behavioral and neurodevelopmental problems.
“This discovery leads us toward a possible unifying biochemical mechanism for ASDs which could ultimately lead to a treatment,” shared Dr. Schwartz. “Now that we have additional evidence that the features of ASDs may be related to the metabolic pathways involving L-tryptophan, we can focus further studies on determining at what point along those pathways the disruption occurs, which may vary from one patient to another. With treatments that target various points along the pathway, a modality that works for one patient may not work for another.”
GGC’s autism research has been supported by funds from the South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs. Additional funding has been obtained from the National Institutes of Health to explore transitioning the research finding into a simple blood test for autism. Drs. Schwartz and Boccuto are currently evaluating the tryptophan metabolism in fresh blood samples from patients with ASDs and controls, utilizing customized Biolog plates.
“We are thrilled that Biolog’s technology helped Dr. Schwartz in his pioneering research and that it has led to this breakthrough discovery,” said Barry Bochner, PhD, CEO at Biolog, Inc.
About Greenwood Genetic Center
The Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC), founded in 1974, is a nonprofit organization advancing the field of medical genetics and caring for families impacted by genetic disease and birth defects. At its home campus in Greenwood, South Carolina, a talented team of physicians and scientists provides clinical genetic services, diagnostic laboratory testing, educational programs and resources, and research in the field of medical genetics. GGC’s faculty and staff are committed to the goal of developing preventive and curative therapies for the individuals and families they serve. GGC extends its reach as a resource to all residents of South Carolina with satellite offices in Charleston, Columbia, Florence and Greenville. For more information about GGC please visit www.ggc.org.
About Biolog, Inc.
Biolog is a privately-held company based in Hayward, CA, that continues to lead in the development of powerful new cell analysis tools for solving critical problems in biological, pharmaceutical, and biotechnological research and development. It is the world leader in phenotypic cell profiling. Biolog’s advanced phenotypic analysis technology is unique in its broad applicability to cells – this includes bacterial cells and fungal cells as well as animal cells. More than 260 scientific publications and presentations document the effectiveness and productivity of PM technology. The PM product line adds to the innovative microbial identification products offered by the company, such as the new GEN III System. Biolog products are available worldwide, either directly from the company or through its extensive network of international distributors. Further information can be obtained at Biolog's website, www.biolog.com.
May 15, 2013
For immediate release. For additional information, please contact:
Kim Thomas, Interim Director, 803-750-6988, Kim@scautism.org
South Carolina Autism Society Statement on DSM-5 Changes
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) will release the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) this weekend at their annual conference. The DSM-5 will include significant changes to the criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs).
According to the APA, “The revised diagnosis represents a new, more accurate, and medically and scientifically useful way of diagnosing individuals with autism-related disorders.” While the DSM-IV included separated diagnoses for Asperger’s, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Autistic Disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), the DSM-5 eliminates the separate diagnoses.
The APA expects that, “Anyone diagnosed with one of the four pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) from DSM-IV should still meet the criteria for ASD in DSM-5 or another, more accurate DSM-5 diagnosis.”
The South Carolina Autism Society has been in communication with both state and national professionals regarding the DSM-5. We are working with DDSN, MUSC, USC, and GHS to assess how these changes may affect individuals affected by autism. It is expected that those qualifying for DDSN services under the DSM-IV will continue to qualify under DSM-5. We anticipate no disruption in services.
We urge every government agency and service provider to at a minimum maintain current levels of service, and not reduce or eliminate services to any individual currently getting services due to the DSM-5 changes. If you or a family member are denied services, or experience a reduction in services as a result of the DSM-5, please contact us at 803-750-6988 or 800-438-4790.
It will take some time for medical professionals, and others qualified to diagnose ASDs, to fully incorporate the new DSM-5 criteria. As such, the full impact of the DSM-5 may not be known for some time.
Rest assured that the South Carolina Autism Society will continue to stay on top of this situation, and provide updates as appropriate. We will continue to advocate on behalf of families affected by autism, to ensure that all individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders can reach their maximum potential.
To view the APAs fact sheet on Autism Spectrum Disorder under the DSM-5, visit http://www.psych.org/File%20Library/Practice/DSM/DSM-5/DSM-5-Autism-Spectrum-Disorder-Fact-Sheet.pdf.
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