McKinley Village: A Focus on Public Health Outcomes

McKinley Village is a serious public health hazard because those who would live there, particularly children, would suffer significantly poorer health outcomes than those of us not living within 450 yards of a freeway such as I-80. . These outcomes include exacerbation of asthma, impaired lung function, increased heart disease, new-onset chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a faster progression of atheroschlerosis, increased risk of premature death from circulatory disease, and plenty more. Please refer to the research Dr. Harry Wang, The President of Physicians for Social Responsibility (700 local members), has cited in the response to the DEIR they provide to the city.  http://portal.cityofsacramento.org/Community-Development/Planning/Environmental/Impact-Reports/McKinley%20Village Also please see research provided by our very own UC Davis MIND Clinic, Keck School of Medicine of USC, and the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. See more at: http://news.usc.edu/#!/article/30614/Study-Points-to-Environmental-Factors-of-Autism “Children born to mothers living within 309 meters of a freeway appeared to be twice as likely to have autism,” said Dr. Heather Volk, the primary author of the study. With health outcome like this facing future residents, we must focus our priorities not on traffic mitigation, nor on mitigating the damage the project could cause to public schools such as Theodore Judah, but instead first and foremost on health.   Of course those and many issues are important things to consider; however, sick communities are costly to us all.  Costly for our […]

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Book Talk: National Poetry Month in Sacramento

If you thought last year’s National Poetry Month celebrations were hot in Sacramento, you haven’t heard about the happenings this month. Carlos Alcalá kicked the month off at the Sacramento Poetry Center on Monday, April 1, with some light verse. The Book Collector is offering a generous discount on all poetry books until April 30. Did you know that they have the largest collection of chapbooks by local area poets? Stop by and ask Debbie to show you the collection. Look at these highlights for the rest of the month. How many events will you attend? Head to Folsom on Wednesday, April 3, when Verse on the Vine features Indigo Moor. The Sacramento Poetry Center’s Literary Lectures series continues Thursday, April 4, with William O’Daly and “The Silence That is Great Within Us: The Many Voices of Our Poetry.” If you find yourself in Davis, you might want to stop by the Natsoulas Gallery to hear Joe Wenderoth and Oliver Jones. On April 8, the SPC 4th Annual Autism Benefit Reading: Poetry and Art at the MIND Institute will kick off with a viewing of art from the MIND Institute (UC Davis Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute), followed by a reading by poets who have a personal connection to autism. Mark your calendar for Wednesday, April 10, when several area poets, led by Allegra […]

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Book Talk: Connie Post to read in Davis and Woodland

Connie Post’s latest poetry collection, “And When the Sun Drops,” is also her third about autism from a mother’s point of view. Her first collection, “Seasons of Love, Seasons of Loss,” is “about discovering and accepting that her son has autism,” writes Post. Her second, “Letting Go,” is “about the difficult journey of placing her son with autism in a residential group home.” It is, Post continues, “a book about coming apart, and coming together.” About this third collection, Post writes, “I didn’t think I would write another book about autism. I had written individual poems about our continuing lives with autism. Mostly to serve as a catharsis for me to express the inexpressible. As Thomas neared his twenties, the flavor of my poems changed and I kept writing, and then began sending them to friends, and various journals.” Poet Lynn Knight encouraged Post to put those poems into a manuscript, but Post hesitated, unsure whether she wanted to do “another book of poems on autism.” After much thought, however, and the knowledge that “many people write about the early experiences of parenting/autism but not much about later in life,” she asked herself about “what happens to these kids with autism who become grown ups with autism and how does it affect our lives.” For the next year, Post wrote about a dozen more poems […]

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New documentary ‘Autism: Emerging from the Maze’ on KVIE

The numbers are staggering: 1 out of every 88 children in America has autism. Statistics show, it is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S. Autism: Emerging from the Maze, a new documentary produced by KVIE Public Television examines the daily journeys of local families as they seek to understand autism and explores the latest research and services. In the documentary, insights on early behavioral markers for autism from experts at the UC Davis MIND Institute; STAND, Sutter Transition for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, a clinic helping adults living with autism; and services provided by the Alta California Regional Center are explored. Amanda, a 22-year-old woman living with autism, is profiled through her work as a member of A Touch of Understanding—a group that connects with thousands of students every year to help others understand what it’s like to live with disabilities. The 30-minute program, scheduled to debut on KVIE-TV (channel 6) on Wednesday, June 13 at 7pm, features powerful stories from family members and those living with autism, including from national broadcast personality Sarah Gardner and her husband Chuck, and Rick Rollens, parents of children with autism who launched the MIND Institute, a collaborative center for finding the causes of and new treatments for autism. MIND Institute Researcher David Amaral discusses where that search has led. “What really is becoming clear is that children […]

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Beer tasting to raise funds to send children with autism to camp

Local residents can sample new Pyramid brews at a fundraiser for UCP of Sacramento and Northern California’s Autism Center for Excellence summer camp. The tasting event will take place 5-8 p.m. on April 19 at Pyramid Alehouse, 1029 K Street, Sacramento, and will include unlimited samples of Pyramid’s new beer releases, light snacks and live music from local band Secret Argyle. Tickets cost $25 and must be purchased at http://ucpacecamp2012.eventbrite.com. The event will help raise funds to send 15 children with autism to summer camp at Grizzly Creek Ranch in Portola. All 15 campers have been learning the skills to interact with other children with autism, as well as typically developing children, at UCP’s Autism Center for Excellence at Sacramento State. A.C.E. Camp will give them the chance to put those skills into practice. “We rely on the community to fund this wonderful experience for kids,” said Doug Bergman, president and CEO, UCP of Sacramento and Northern California. “Summer camp is a rite of passage, and we want to make sure all kids have the chance to enjoy this experience, regardless of having a developmental disability. We hope everyone will come out to Pyramid and enjoy some new beers and ensure all these kids have a summer they’ll never forget.” A.C.E. campers will learn swimming, arts and crafts, kayaking, archery, volleyball, scooter hockey, fishing, soccer […]

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Transition Time for Teens with Autism

Now that an autism diagnosis is 10 times more common than it was in the 1980s, more children than ever before are undergoing effective early interventions and treatment plans. However, one aspect of the disorder that has yet to garner attention is the scarcity of support for young adults transitioning out of high school and into adulthood. “There is a severe lack of knowledge for educators and parents regarding available options after the public K-12 system,” says Rodger Stein, M.A., an instructor at UC Davis Extension and professor of psychology with the Los Rios Community College District who specializes in behavior supports for youth with high-functioning autism or Asperger syndrome. “We have to get to the point where our students are the ones driving their own transitions based on their own futures.” Susan Bacalman, LCSW, a clinical social worker with the UC Davis MIND Institute, also understands the importance of preparing students for their transition to higher education or the workforce. “In high school, many students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) had academic accommodations implemented by an Individual Education Plan team comprised of their parents, teachers, school counselors and resource-room specialists.” But once students leave high school or other district programs for young adults (through age 21), they are on their own. To address this concern, Bacalman has spent the past few years co-leading a […]

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Sacramento State Student Fashion Association runway show benefits Autism Center for Excellence

The Midnight Masquerade Charity Fashion Show flaunted a cornucopia of fashion designs and styles – from pop art-inspired dresses to “Star Wars” costumes – by Sacramento State students Tuesday at the Sacramento State University Union Ballroom. More than 200 people attended the two-hour charity event, which helped raised funds for the Autism Center for Excellence at Sacramento State or A.C.E., a program by United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Sacramento that provides socialization training programs for children ages 8-12 diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. SFA donated part of the proceeds from the event in the amount of $300 to UCP. To welcome guests, while keeping with the midnight masquerade theme, the Student Fashion Association (SFA) members donned black clothing, and some of them wore Mardi Gras-style masks. At the ticket booth, attendees bought the Mardi Gras-style masks for $5 and had the opportunity to get their pictures taken at a designated photo booth. "It’s more or less a chance for other people in the club to get to have more fun with it," SFA member Lacey Taylor, a 22-year-old apparel and design marketing student, said about the theme of the fashion show and how everyone got to dress up and show their creative side. Hosted by Miss Asia America Sacramento Princess Emily Tang, the club holds a charity fashion show each semester, with a new theme […]

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Wine, cheese and ‘Art with the Arc’ at Studio 700 on Friday

“These shows allow our artists to feel genuinely appreciated by people who don’t see them for what they lack, but see them for what they have," says Jessica Dore, of Studio 700 Center for the Arts. Twice a year, the artists of Studio 700 have the chance to open the doors of their studio to the community and display their work, in a public recognition of exactly who (and what) they are. Artists. “I think there’s a general climate of sympathy rather than appreciation that surrounds this population,” Dore said, “but there’s something raw and unique and wonderful about someone who isn’t ‘classically trained’ putting something down and creating art." A program of Placer ARC, Studio 700 is the home to nearly 90 artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including conditions such as cerebral palsy and autism. Studio 700 offers a variety of creative mediums that encourage personal development and expression, from performing arts to clothing design, from graphic design to digital 3D animation. Studio 700 artists have created everything from portraits to letterhead to this D.I.Y. video for "Codes & Keys" by Death Cab for Cutie. Studio 700 Center for the Arts (700 Douglas Blvd., Roseville) will be hosting "Art with the Arc," a fundraising event and art show on Friday, November 4th, 2011 from 5pm to 8pm. All proceeds from "Art with the […]

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WHAT is FEAT?

Throughout my ‘radio’ years here in Sacramento, people have asked me about my involvement with FEAT–a non-profit organization of parents, family members, and treatment professionals dedicated to providing best outcome Education, Advocacy and Support for the Northern California Autism Community. FEAT stands for Families for Early Autism Treatment. My answer is simple. Someone in the media needed to help. When I first started to help FEAT the term autism was still relatively unknown to the mass audience. Back then, when one would say, autistic–people thought we were saying, artistic. I knew I needed to help with the enlightenment of autism. I realized then, these parents needed more than a bake sale. My involvement with FEAT started in 1993 when I was with radio station Y92. I was walking by a store front and a few ladies were holding a bake sale. I was curious what the sign, FEAT, meant. They explained the non-profit organization and it’s infancy. They enlightened me about autism and it’s necessity for early treatment. Having a friend in L.A. who’s nephew has autism, I was curious and offered my services to the non-profit organization. Along with Y92′s reach to the public, I helped FEAT put on their first "Night of Caring" dinner and auction. I invited local celebrity Tim Busfield to assist me in Master of Ceremonies. From 50 attendees to over one […]

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The reality of budget cuts in Children’s Services

My name is Melissa Mendoza, and my family and I live in a lovely neighborhood called Woodlake in Sacramento. We are your typical family of four, married for eight years with two beautiful children, a daughter and a son. Our lives seemed typical and ordinary until two years ago when our son was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2 ½. We were thrown into a world of psychologists, neurologists, speech therapists, occupational therapists and so many unanswered questions. My husband and I had just started our own web and database design business and were now spending countless hours in doctors’ waiting rooms and searching for answers to why our son was still not talking at the age of 2. Why was he spinning in circles and flapping his arms? Why would he entertain himself by slamming a cabinet door over and over? Why did his words stop? Why wouldn’t he answer to his name? The answer was autism. We were shocked! We told the psychologist, “But he’s a loving kid. He loves hugs, he loves to be touched. He loves to be with other people. How could it be autism?” We didn’t know anything about an “autistic spectrum.” We learned that his diagnosis placed him somewhere in high-functioning but not Asperger’s syndrome, and that many kids with autism love hugs and squeezes and […]

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