Royal Caribbean Deemed Autism-Friendly

This may be an idea if you’re trying to figure out your next vacation spot…Royal Caribbean has become the first cruise line to be certified as “autism-friendly” by Autism of the Seas.

Royal CaribbeanSpecifically, its entire fleet now has Bronze Level certification, which means it will offer sensory-related toys, autism-friendly modification to youth activities (where appropriate), autism-friendly movies (sound is lowered, you can talk/walk around, etc.), as well as priority boarding and dietary offerings (such as gluten-free and diary-free).

They plan to take it even further and reach Silver Level certification by the end of the year – which means that all of their youth staff will receive basic awareness training in autism and other developmental disabilities.

It’s great to see more and more companies and organizations making an effort to provide better offerings for families touched by autism. Hopefully others will follow in their footsteps.

Lynsey, Community Manager 

Homecoming King and Queen

Twitter

Twitter

We want to send a big ‘Congratulations!’ to Seth Knox and Kelsey Roeser, who were named homecoming king and queen Tri-West High School in Indiana. And as noted here, the teens, both of whom have autism, didn’t win by a little – it was a landslide with Seth getting nearly 100% of the votes while Kelsey had 80%.

Students praised Seth and Kelsey’s cheerful and kind nature. And that had obviously made quite an impression on those students, many of whom have gone to school with Seth and Kelsey since kindergarten.

So one more congratulations to Tri-West High School’s newest Homecoming King and Queen!

Lynsey, Community Manager

Happy Birthday, Colin!

coliniseleven

coliniseleven

When Colin, who is 10 years old and has a sensory processing disorder, was asked by his mom if he wanted a birthday party this year, he said there wasn’t a point because he had no friends. As his mom explained, because of his disabilities, social skills are not easy for him and at school he eats lunch alone in the office everyday because no one will let him sit with them. With this heartbreaking response from Colin, his mom decided to do something about it to lift his spirits.

So, Colin’s mom set up this Facebook page where people could send him positive thoughts and encouraging words. And, it’s got quite the response! The page has since received over 1 million ‘likes’ (along with many sweet messages)! In fact, it’s received such a response that Colin’s mom is concerned he will find out about all of this (which was planned as a surprise until his birthday on March 9)!

So we invite everyone to send some birthday cheer to Colin on his page or even send him a card (his mom set up this PO Box for him):

Colin –  PO box 756, Richland, MI 49083-0756

But make sure to do it before March 9!!

We wish Colin a very happy birthday!!!

 

Lynsey, Community Manager

Say Yes, Ellen!

 

We love this – 17-year-old Esteban, featured in this YouTube video, would like to ask Ellen Degeneres to his prom. And we think he makes a good case! Check out the video (and you can support him by typing the comment ‘Ellen!! Say YES!! to Esteban’ on Ellen’s facebook page). As his parents said, having a disability does not stop you from dreaming!

Lynsey, Community Manager

Will New Diagnostic Criteria Lower Autism Rates?

According to a new study, the answer could be – yes. As we talked about here, DSM-5 was released last year – which included new diagnostic criteria for autism. Some experts have said that the new criteria set a higher threshold for autism than the previous version (DSM-4).  This may be true.DSM-5 Manual of Mental Disorders

As noted in this article, researchers applied the new symptom checklist to more than 6,000 children who already met the old definitions for autism and related disorders, the study team found that about 19% of kids would not get an autism diagnosis today. The difference between the new and older criteria is that the new criteria use seven diagnostic criteria (versus 12 criteria in the previous edition) and the new version takes historical behavior into consideration along with current behavior.

When the criteria first came out last year, there was already concern from the autism community that the new criteria would potentially impact – even remove — an existing diagnosis – and strip someone of the therapy (at least financially) that was proving beneficial.  (there was also reaction over the fact that Asperger’s is now falling under the general umbrella of autism versus being separated out.)

So is this study supporting those concerns? Although there are professionals in the field that have said parents and caregivers shouldn’t worry that they’ll need to get their children ‘re-diagnosed,” there are some parents out there already saying this exact thing has happened – and they are now fighting to get back the services their children need.

Lynsey, Community Manager