Autism

Behavioral Health
3:30 am
Wed April 23, 2014

For Latino Children With Autism, Additional Barriers Exist

Astrid Arroyo with her 13-year-old son Kai.
Credit Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

The only thing Kai Arroyo eats is butterscotch pudding. He only drinks milk from a bottle. When he speaks, you get the sort of language that you expect from a kindergartener – not a seventh grader. And he can’t go to the bathroom on his own. 

"He’s still wearing pull-ups at 13," said his mother Astrid Arroyo. "I know! He’s actually a little more vocal about letting us know when he needs to go to the bathroom, but he’s still not fully there, so he’s still dependent on us to remind him and take him to the restroom."

Read more
Behavioral Health
5:13 am
Tue April 22, 2014

How This Little Robot Could Make A Big Difference For Kids On The Autism Spectrum

Tess Lojacono holds Romibo, a social therapy robot designed to aid therapists and teachers working with children with special needs.
Credit Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Ethan Welker is a 15-year-old freshman at the University School, a private college prep school in Shadyside. His mom Michele Welker says he’s a smart and curious boy.

“Around the age of 7, he was diagnosed on the autism spectrum with Asperger’s,” Michele said. “(Asperger’s is) one of the higher functioning levels of the spectrum.”

Read more
Autism Awareness
3:21 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Cathedral Of Learning To Shine Blue For Autism Awareness

If you’re traveling around Pittsburgh next Wednesday, you might be seeing blue, as more than a dozen buildings across the city are shining a light on autism, including the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning.

The cathedral is one of more than 8,400 buildings and landmarks around the world are participating in this year’s “Light It Up Blue” campaign to raise autism awareness, including Pittsburgh’s Gulf Tower, BNY Melon Building, and the Carnegie Science Center.

Read more
Theater
12:45 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Autism-Friendly Production of 'The Lion King' Comes to Pittsburgh

Adults and children on the autism spectrum will soon be able to enjoy a special performance of the musical version of Disney’s "The Lion King." It’s is the highest grossing Broadway show in history, but with bright lights and loud noises, the performance is not ideal for theater-lovers with autism.

Read more
Health
5:37 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

Educating ER Personnel About Treating Autistic Patients

Dr. Arvind Venkat says that hospital emergency rooms are basically an autistic person’s worst nightmare.

“I think if you were to purposefully design an environment that was going to be difficult for an autistic patient, you could not do worse than what we do day to day in emergency medicine,” he said.

Read more
Behavioral Health
6:26 am
Thu April 25, 2013

With New Licensing for Specialists, Concern About Impact in the Autism Community

Emma, 11 (left) and Lily, 7, play with their mother Leslie Walter at their home in Shaler. Lily has autism, and according to Leslie, her daughter would be in a completely different place without the dedicated assistance of a behavior specialist. Leslie worries about what could happen with an interruption of services.
Credit Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

Behavior specialists in Pennsylvania who work with autistic children have a soon-approaching deadline to apply for licenses to keep doing their jobs. But parents and advocates say that the requirements and the process to apply are arduous. 

When Act 62 passed, those in the autism community saw it as a victory. The 2009 legislation required private insurance companies to pay for services for those with autism — up to $36,000 a year. But it also required the Pennsylvania Department of State to license behavior specialists.

Read more
Essential Pittsburgh
12:50 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

Living with Autism and Revising the DSM

Dorene Ciletti and her autistic high school aged daughter Sabrina Filipek.
Credit Alexis Eperjesi / 90.5 WESA

April is Autism Awareness Month and if you or your child has autism you've likely heard of the DSM, published by the American Psychiatric Association. DSM stands for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual and the main purpose of the manual is to provide standard guidelines for clinicians to use when diagnosing psychological disorders and conditions. The manual outlines criteria that must be met to receive a diagnosis, as well as labeling and coding sometimes used by insurance companies to identify the diagnosis. The DSM is periodically revised and this spring new revisions to the manual will be published.  

Read more
Behavioral Health
3:30 am
Fri April 19, 2013

Redefining Asperger's: With a Diagnosis, Often Comes An Identity

Caitlin Freeman and Phil Garrow have Asperger's syndrome. When the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual comes out, they will be labeled as being under the umbrella of an autism spectrum disorder.
Credit Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

When the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is published next month, there will be several changes to psychiatric diagnoses.

Many of these changes are controversial — especially the one made to autism spectrum disorders. 

Phil Garrow has Asperger's syndrome. It's what’s written on his medical chart. He says the social struggles that come with the diagnosis is why he hasn’t been able to hold down engineering jobs despite his proficiency in the field.

Read more