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The Autism Network for Deaf/Hard of Hearing
and Blind/Visually Impaired

Autism Research Institute
4182 Adams Avenue
San Diego, California 92116 USA


Article by Margaret P. Creedon, Ph.D. titled "Autism and Sight or Hearing Loss: The Diagnostic Challenges of Dual Disorders."



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This practical guide demystifies the research about biochemical abnormalities in individuals with autism and provides authoritative nutritional recommendations for addressing the medical symptoms associated with the disease.
This practical guide demystifies the research about biochemical abnormalities in individuals with autism and provides authoritative nutritional recommendations for addressing the medical symptoms associated with Autism.
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For many families, summer can be more hectic than the regular school year. However, we hope you have some plans for relaxing adventures. We also hope you had successful negotiations last semester regarding your child's IEP and transition plans. Note: Changes in resources may have occurred based on new DSM-5 definitions and funding sources. While we cannot directly assist you with determining and sourcing necessary educational and vocational services, it might be helpful to share concerns about how this year's changes impact our members.


Margaret Creedon, Ph.D., ABPP

and Steve Edelson, Ph.D. 

Dr. Creedon to Lead Network's Annual Meeting at AS Conference, July 11


Margaret Creedon, Ph.D., will be leading the Network's Annual Meeting at the Autism Society's conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Thursday, July 11 at 11 a.m. In addition to research and group updates, Dr. Creedon will be discussing "face blindness" or prosopagnosia. Recognizing facial features and the social and safety information that they convey is an important issue, especially for those who are deaf or hard of hearing and/or have low vision. There is much confusion about face blindness, which many individuals- especially those with ASD-have in varying degrees. It is important that we recognize that some of our members may have a biological basis for their facial recognition challenges, and understand that they may need additional and/or different support. Individuals using alternative and augmentative communication systems also need different strategies to include face-based information.
Helen L. Irlen, MA, LMFT, Director of the Irlen Institute International shared the following infor-mation with the Network.
Individuals with low vision, and those who are visually impaired or even legally blind, may experience stressors in their visual environments. When individuals are also on the autism spectrum, their reactions to visually stressful environments may be more complex.  Sometimes educators and therapists give these children a "multiply handicapped" label, leading to fewer expectations of success and less options for intervention. However, members of our Network have described how some individuals adapt or show behaviors making them question how things might be looking from their perspective. One component may be related to Irlen Syndrome.


Among persons who are visually impaired or blind, 67% to 71% report some difficulty with lighting, glare, visual distortions, strain, and/or discomfort. Persons with Irlen Syndrome often report light sensitivity, physical symptoms, and academic and environmental difficulties related to gaining and interpreting visual information. Symptoms can include increased difficulty perceiving under bright and/or fluorescent lights; glare; fatigue; headaches/migraines; eye pain/strain; difficulties with depth perception; problems seeing details in the environment; and difficulties in reading, math calculation, note taking, copying, and dealing with maps and other visual activities.


Looking or engaging in visual activities can lead to "over and under" activation, resulting in imbalances and changes in brain function and autonomic nervous system regulation which extend to other systems of the body. Modifications that are recommended range from specific diagnostic testing to changes in materials and environment. Changes in materials could include using non-glare paper (e.g., recycled paper); using different colors of paper suited to an individual's needs; using gray or brown boards (instead of whiteboards); using computers and iPads (and changing the background color, brightness, and font type and size); writing in columns; using a bookstand to present reading materials; and changing overall lighting.


Colored overlays can be used for reading as well as other academic activities. However, wearing the appropriate color filtered lenses, such as the Irlen Spectral Filters, provides opportunities for consistency and relief in many environments. Dr. Fritz Steiner, Director of the Institute for the Visually Impaired in Dornach, Switzerland, reported that nearly 60% of individuals who are visually impaired benefit from the use of Irlen Spectral Filters. Dr. Steiner stated, "Nearly all reported greater eye comfort, less muscle tension, greater ability to do visual work, and decreased disturbance from reduced contrast."
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Mirjana-Miri-Silvert, now 20 years old, is a young woman with numerous talents, and she has overcome many developmental health issues. Many neighbors in Indiana know Miri as a local country and western star at the Porter County Fair and an Indiana idol contestant. Miri also enjoys classic rock and older blues. Her favorite singer is Reba McIntyre.


Miri is blind, and she was medically monitored for her physical growth. She currently receives some rehabilitation services. Miri also has autism with sensory stresses, especially from auditory sources. She lives with her family, their pets, and her horse, Sam.
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