This is a very special time of year – with the significance of giving onto others being celebrated.
With that in mind, we are asking you to join us in a special event to support friends of KTH, Scott and Cherrie Sanes. Scott and Cherrie have an adult son with autism, and in thinking about their son’s future, they came up with a beautiful idea – create tea shops that employ adults with special needs. ExtraSpecialTeas will be a wonderful win-win for everyone!
To help Scott and Cherrie get their concept up-and-running, we are asking you to help us raise $5,000 by next Tuesday — #givingtuesday – December 23. And, KTH plans to match every dollar raised up to $5K, meaning we could give ExtraSpecialTeas $10,000 before the holidays!
Maybe a little closer to understanding a bit more about autism…a new study published in Nature Communications is showing that the brains of people with autism share a common pattern of inflammation related to an overactive immune response.
As discussed in this article, researchers from Johns Hopkins and University of Alabama at Birmingham analyzed the data from autopsied brains of 72 people – 32 of whom had autism – and of those that had autism, they found genes for inflammation permanently activated in certain cells. This was the largest ever study of gene expression in autism.
The inflammation is not likely a root cause of autism, but possibly a consequence of a gene mutation. In order to better understand the inflammation’s effects, researchers will need to determine whether treating it will make an impact on symptoms.
As one of the researchers involved in the study points out, the current findings highlights how much we don’t know about the way our immune systems affect brain activity.
Okay, everyone, here’s your chance to make a young boy’s Christmas…William Thomas is a twelve-year-old from Blaine, Washington. William, who is nonverbal but signs and writes his thoughts, usually crafted his Christmas list with things like art supplies, snacks and movies (check out this article). But this year he asked for something different – mail.
Every day William takes a walk with his teacher to drop off mail, and he something he really enjoys doing. So knowing how happy mail made her son, William’s mom, Kay, made a simple request through Facebook to family and friends asking them to send William a card or letter to make his Christmas wish come true.
As Kay wrote on her page, I have been racking my brains for a couple weeks. I want to make this year special for this most special boy. He has nothing but love in him and I want him to feel the love from others. If you want to help a kind soul this year, I am asking for strangers to send him mail. I want him to know the world loves and values him in a way that he understands and feels.
Kay’s request went on to be shared by thousands and now William is getting mail from people all over the country, and even abroad. He’s so excited to get the mail that his mom lets him open a few a day (while leaving a bigger box to open on Christmas!).
For many children with autism, a simple trip to visit Santa at the mall (or any public place) can be a complete sensory avalanche. Bright lights, loud music, long lines, bold decorations…the list could go on…can cause many children (and not to mention, parents) a lot of distress. So much distress, in fact, a lot of families have given up this family tradition altogether.
The good news is that many malls and other places that Santa visits are now making special accommodations to meet the needs of those that have sensory concerns. These sensory-friendly Santa events used to be less common, but over the years they’ve grown in popularity because of their success and now most places are holding such events. Often malls will designate a time in which they’ll lower lights, turn down/off the music, and just make it a more calming environment so that you can worry less about a potential sensory overload.
So if this is something you want to try out, now is the time to start looking around for such an event in your area because they are often scheduled early in the holiday season (and sometimes there’s only one day/time, so we wouldn’t want you to miss out!).
If you want to get an idea about how one of these sensory-friendly Santa events works, check out the video above for a good example.