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The State of Autism Research: TPGA Takeaways From IMFAR 2016

Shannon Des Roches Rosa with Carol Greenburg Your faithful TPGA editors spent most of last week in Baltimore, Maryland at IMFAR, the International Meeting for Autism Research. We gleaned as much as we could from the 2000 scientists, professionals, autistic people, and family members from all over the world who spent three full days talking about the most current findings and trends in autism research. But we didn’t cover everything or meet everyone we wanted to, because doing so is not physically possibly without a Time Turner. (If you ever want to experience abject FOMO — fear of missing out — by all means, go to IMFAR.) Overview Ninety-nine percent of the researchers at IMFAR are the nicest, most well-meaning scientists one could ever meet, which makes for a friendly atmosphere. We were happy to see significant progress on some research fronts: only a single presentation about vaccines, and it…

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Educating Autistic Students in Ghana: AACT’s Success Story

Shannon Des Roches Rosa www.squidalicious.com The Autism Awareness, Care, and Training (AACT) school in Accra, Ghana reminds me of my own autistic son’s school here in California. Both are places of peace, calm, and competence—plus the occasional whoop, shout, or “eeeee”—while students and staff radiate not just positivity but confidence. This is because students are encouraged to learn to the best of their abilities, and are appreciated for exactly who they are. AACT is a remarkable place. [image: AACT staff and students seated around a table.] It is refreshing to find an autism school anywhere in the world that focuses on helping its students gain skills and work towards greater confidence in themselves, instead of trying to make autistic kids into non-autistic kids—destroying square pegs by pounding them into round holes (to paraphrase writer and autism parent, Paul Collins). It was a delight to visit AACT, meet and interact with…