Quarterly Global Newsletter Q2 2016

Music for Autism International

3 August 2016 13:52

Q2 2016

Inaugural Quarterly Newsletter – Background and Overview

For the past year, Music for Autism International has been contemplating producing a quarterly newsletter for schools/organisations we work with in key countries around the world. One of the goals of this newsletter is to raise global awareness among such schools/issues/programmes as we have found that most of these schools have been primarily focused on domestic matters. Hopefully this newsletter represents another step in more closely linking these schools/organisations together through global information flows.

In this inaugural issue, we attempt to highlight a blend of topics in Q2 2016 to include new academic research related to a prior publication, educational training, employment challenges, communication, a new book on autism and communication, effects on daily family life, updates on specific ASD government funding programme, a newly launched physical education/sports programme and events across the arts including symphonic/orchestral music, autistic art and theatre from schools/governments located in North America, Asia, UK/Europe, the Gulf and the Middle East. These were derived via a combination of MFAI’s own research efforts as well as input from our numerous friends and partners. 

April


Abu Dhabi University 2nd Art for Autism competition April 2016 (Art)

In conjunction with April as an Annual Awareness month for Autism Spectrum Disorder, College of Arts and Sciences at Abu Dhabi University held its ADU 2nd Art for Autism competition April 2016. Art for Autism is an art competition that celebrates the often overlooked creativity of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder and educates the community on their talent, dispelling several myths on Autism Spectrum Disorder. There were two categories of competition: Category A for ages 6-11 for 2D and Category B for ages 12-25. The focus in both categories was on 2D Art and Digital Photographs.

5th – UK: (Theatre, Television) Kathy Lette and son Jules on Autism Awareness

Amanda Holden interviewed author Kathy Lette and her son, Holby City actor Jules Robertson on living with autism. During the discussion it was noted that figures reveal that only 15% of people with the condition are in work. Jules quote from the interview was: ‘’It’s not a label, it’s a compliment if you have autism.”

10th – China: (Family Life/Teacher Training) “Families taking the strain of autism care”; China Daily

Article consists of selected Chinese parent’s thoughts discussing the family strains of having children with autism. Article also mentions Stars and Rain, China’s largest autistic research institute and China’s most well known autistic support center, founded by Tian Huiping in 1993. In the past decade Stars and Rain has helped train more than 2,000 teachers and parents from more than 9,000 families. This network now encompasses 230 branches nationwide. 

May

13th May – Israel: (New Book: Autism and Communication) “Novel explores how autism can teach a family to communicate”; The Times of Israel

Jem Lester’s novel “Shtum” centers around ten-year-old Jonah, who is non-verbal, doubly incontinent and requires constant attention. When frightened, anxious or frustrated he can harm himself and others — including those who love and care for him. His parents, Ben and Emma, are struggling to cope. At the heart of the narrative is communication — or rather the lack of it — between three generations of men: Ben, his father Georg, and Jonah.

Ranked as one of The Independent newspaper’s “10 Best Book Club Reads for 2016”.

15th – Vietnam: (New Asian Schools) “Violinist opens first school for kids with autism”; Vietnam News

In an interview with the Founder of the Passion Quartet, internationally known violinist, Bui Quiynh Hoa, discusses her autistic son and how she formed The School of Arts, Vietnam’s first school for autism in Vietnam in 2015. There are now 3 schools in Vietnam, with 45 students studying dance, speech drama, mathematics, vocational guidance and living skills.

24th – Jordan: (Spats: Physical Therapy) “The Star Project- Amman, Jordan”

A year ago, The Star Project (TSP) was just an idea; today, it is very much a reality. Affiliated with NBA, and nestled in a quiet street in the Al-Rabiah neighborhood of Jordan’s capital, Amman, the Star Project’s Center is now operational and expanding. TSP is off to a good start serving the needs of a wide range of children with autism and other disabilities, as well as their families, and broadening the scope of services in the country.

June


18th – Japan: (Academic Research) “Autism may not be confined to the brain”; The Japan Times

Thirteen-year-old Naoki Higashida describes his own personal feelings about having autism as follows: “I feel a deep envy of people who can know what their own minds are saying, and who have the power to act accordingly. My brain is always sending me off on little missions, whether or not I want to do them. And if I don’t obey, then I have to fight a feeling of horror. Really, it’s like I’m being pushed over the brink into a kind of hell. For people with autism, living itself is a battle.”

Naoki’s book, “The Reason I Jump”, was published in Japanese in 2007. The book, a memoir and personal insight into what life is like with autism, came to international attention when it was published in English in 2013, having been translated by Keiko Yoshida, the wife of English novelist David Mitchell. The book has been successful, deservedly so, because it offers “neurotypicals” — that is, people not on the autism spectrum — a flavor of what it is like to be on the spectrum. However, it has also changed perceptions of what it means to have autism. If you’ve ever read the book or have personal experience with autism, you may assume that the condition is entirely connected with how the brain is wired. Certainly that was my assumption.

However, a new study suggests that autism may be more complex. It turns out that some aspects of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) — notably, how the sensation of touch is perceived, how anxiety is generated and certain aspects of social interaction — seem to be linked to defects not in the central but in the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system contains nerves outside of the brain — in our hands and feet, in our limbs, and in all the regions that communicate sensory data to the brain.

28th – Canada: (Government Funding) “Wynne government backtracks on controversial autism funding change”; CBC News

Parents of children with autism rallied at the Ontario Legislature to demand that the province reverse a decision to stop funding treatment for children age five and older at the intensity they require.

Overview of MFAI

Music for Autism International (MFAI) represents the non UK and non US operations of UK charity Music for Autism, founded in 2002. We focus on bringing bespoke programmes in music- and soon to be dance and art- to ASD schools committed to sustainability to ASD schools in several countries throughout several continents. In order to deliver sustainability, we are also focused on research, both on our own as well as collaborating with ASD focused research organisations. 

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