Worth Repeating: More than Prenatal Genetics – The Search for Autism’s Origins

[Source:  Autism Speaks]


Guest post by pediatric neurologist Martha Herbert, of Harvard Medical School. Dr. Herbert is the author of The Autism Revolution: Whole Body Strategies for Making Life All It Can Be.

How and when does autism start?  Unfortunately we have no way of looking directly at the disorder’s early origins. Presumably autism’s origins begin significantly before the time of diagnosis. But we have no way of reliably predicting autism before its characteristic behaviors emerge in the second or third year of life.

This is a particular problem when we look at the cellular structure of the brain.  We can only put brain tissue under a microscope after death, when an individual or family has arranged to make a postmortem donation for research – a profoundly generous and important act. (Learn about registering your family with Autism BrainNet here.)

If the donation involves a child too young to have been diagnosed, we can’t know whether the brain was affected by autism. If the person died after diagnosis, it’s difficult to know whether or how brain differences relate to autism. What’s more, we don’t know with certainty when during brain development the differences developed.

Read the Rest of this Article on Autism Speaks

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Resources for Best Implementing AAC in the Classroom

[Source:  Portland Language Lab]

I’ve had a few teachers, families, and Speech-Language Pathologists ask me recently if I could recommend any quick and accessible resources that describe how to best integrate new AAC devices in primary-level classrooms. I looked around and didn’t find anything that I really loved, so I went ahead and made one myself. It only represents a small portion of possible ideas and so-called “best practices” (ugh), but I wanted to stick to one page to make sure that families, instructional assistants, and others who may not be steeped in the world of AAC would be willing to quickly read it. Let me know what you think!



Download ‘Alternative and Augmentative Communication in the Classroom’ by  Portland Language Lab


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Career Corner: 6 Reasons Candidates Are Choosing Contracting as a Lifestyle


by Debbie Fledderjohann

There has been a lot of buzz around contract staffing as the number of contract workers continues to break records.  However, the talk usually surrounds why companies are gravitating toward contracting.  The fact is of the matter is that candidates are also helping to drive this trend.

The days when contract work was taken only as a last resort when a direct hire job could not be secured are over.  Contract work is also no longer limited to “temps” in clerical and blue collar roles.  Contract staffing spans all industries in positions up to and including the C-suite.

So why are more contractors now considering contract staffing as a viable career option?  Below is a list of the six most common reasons:

1. Flexibility—Contractors often have more leeway in determining when and where they work, which is important to those seeking a better work-life balance.

2. Job satisfaction—Contractors are often more satisfied with their work because it is challenging and is often tied to a critical project or deadline.  This makes it easier for them to see the impact of their work.

3. Financial security—Workers are starting to realize there is no such thing as a “permanent” job anymore.  Contractors are more comfortable depending on their own skills to secure contract assignments that often give a tentative end date rather than relying on a single employer that could lay them off at any time.

4. Opportunity to travel—With contract opportunities spanning across the United States, many candidates use contract assignment as a way to explore new places and cultures while working.

5. Variety—Contract staffing is perfect for workers who quickly get bored of the routine of a traditional job.  They can enjoy a variety of projects, work environments, and experiences.

6. Enhanced resume—With that variety comes the opportunity to pick up new skills that may be attractive to future employers.

With this in mind, you don’t need to go out and find a new pool of candidates to fill contract job orders.  Your best contract candidates are likely some of your existing direct hire candidates.  Simply ask them if they would consider working on contract.  You may be surprised at just how many of your existing candidates are interested in contract staffing.

(Editor’s note: This article is intended for informational purposes only and should NOT in any way be construed as legal advice.)

About the Author –  Debbie Fledderjohann of Top Echelon Contracting

Recognized as the industry expert for technical, professional and healthcare contract staffing since transitioning to this growing industry in 1993. The primary focus is to help recruiters make contract placements. Top Echelon Contracting takes responsibility for all the back-office tasks associated with being the legal employer of record. Experience includes all areas of human resources, financial management, accounting, payroll, state and federal laws, legal contract reviews, benefit administration, and sales and marketing for the placement of professional contractors in 49 states. Eleven years experience as a primary vendor with the Federal Government for professional healthcare contract placements. Speaker and Trainer for industry conferences such as NAPS, CSP, and Top Echelon Network. In addition to writing for various magazines, newsletters, The Contracting Corner, and a Contracting Blog.

Posted in Career, OT, Psych, PT, SLP | Tagged , , , , , , ,

6-Year Old Gets 3D Printed Bionic Arm

[Source:  ABC News]

In just eight weeks a team of grad students at the University of Central Florida pioneered a prosthetic, created with a 3D printer,  that costs $350!

Watch this Wonderful Story on ABC News.com

Learn More About the Engineering Project, Also on ABC News

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Book Review: There Was A Speech Teacher Who Swallowed Some Dice

Book Review by Stepanie Long, MCD, CCC-SLP


Pat Mervine has written another great book for SLPs that can be used for therapy, loaned to parents as a fun resource for parents to read to their children, or as an icebreaker activity for an SLP to read with a new student starting speech therapy.  The book is a whimsical take on “There Was An Old Lady” series, and features an SLP  who first swallows dice, and then swallows various other materials commonly found in speech rooms such as sound card decks, tongue depressors, games, and more.  The colorful pictures help complement the fun, light tone of the book.  But, oh, there is so much more wonderful things in this book that should be mentioned!

First, this book would be great for doing a sequencing activity-  what did the SLP swallow first, second, and so on?  Second, there are a plethora of language goals that can be met with this book-   metaphors (“dark as midnight”), multiple meaning words (“Inside her insides”), and acquisition of new vocabulary words (uneasy, queasy, data, glistening, misery, doom).   The biggest benefit of this book is that it highlights how speech therapy can be fun, and through this fun atmosphere using the materials listed in the story, students can improve their communication (even the dedication is fun-  make sure to check it out.  Every SLP can relate to the quote from Johnny that is in the dedication).  I loved the ending and the final advice to not swallow the dice!

The book also has a few additional features including an index of some of the materials and items in an SLPs office/therapy room and a speech room scavenger hunt which is a great follow-up activity to the book.   This book is another wonderful addition to every SLPs toolbox!  Check it out at Amazon or in Pat’s on-line store today!

About the Reviewer:  Stephanie Long, MCD, CCC-SLP is a school-based speech-language pathologist and creator of the blog Cheerful Speech Chatter.  She received her B.A. and a M.A. in Counseling from UNC-Charlotte, and was awarded a MCD in Communication Disorders from the University of South Carolina at Columbia. 

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