June Special-Needs News

The Help Group Opens New Culver City Campus

Help Group 8700

Dr. Susan Berman, COO of The Help Group (at left), shares a smile with President and CEO Dr. Barbara Firestone and a Help Group student.

On May 21, The Help Group, a nonprofit serving children with special needs related to autism spectrum disorders, learning disabilities, ADHD, developmental delays, abuse and emotional problems at specialized day schools, celebrated the ribbon cutting for its new educational facility in Culver City. The building features state-of-the-art classrooms; science, media/computer and “innovation” labs; an arts studio and an 8,000-square-foot rooftop recreation area. The event featured a special performance by Louis Price, former lead singer of The Temptations, and The Help Group Children’s Choir.

Study Seeks Parents of Teens With Autism

Teen Autism StudyWendy Williams, a doctoral student in the psychology department at Northcentral University, is seeking parents of teens ages 13-17 with an autism spectrum disorder to participate in an online research project. The study seeks to understand the impact of raising an adolescent with ASD on caregiver relationships and quality of life. The child with ASD must be living at home, and participants must be in a committed relationship, living with their spouse or partner. The survey takes approximately 20-30 minutes to complete. Click to participate.

VFX Insider Shish Aikat Joins the Team at Exceptional Minds

shishExceptional Minds, the world’s first digital arts academy for young adults with autism, announced recently that visual effects industry pioneer Shish Aikat, whose film credits include Life of Pi and Snow White and the Huntsman, will manage the school’s three-year vocational program that prepares young men and women on the spectrum for careers in movie post-production and related fields. Aikat has an extensive background in education and post-production, including experience as a digital arts instructor at Loyola Marymount University and as the global learning manager for post-production studio Rhythm & Hues near Los Angeles.

UCLA Study Explores Touch and Sound Sensitivity in Kids With Autism

puzzleChildren with autism are five times more likely than other children to be overly sensitive to everyday sounds, temperatures, tastes and textures, and a new study from UCLA helps explain why. When researchers took MRI images of the brains of 16 children with autism and 16 typically developing children, the brains of the children with autism reacted much more strongly to recordings of loud traffic noises or the touch of a scratchy wool sweater than the typical children’s brains did. Both the primary sensory cortex, which processes sensory information, and the amygdala, which regulates emotions, were especially hyperactive. Researchers suggest that this indicates the children with autism interpreted the stimuli differently, and then also were not able to regulate their emotional response. The research was presented May 14 at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Atlanta.

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