Monday, June 4, 2012

UMass Autism Study Looking for Volunteers

From time to time I've posted calls for volunteers for research studies in the New England area.  Here's one from my home town school: UMass:

A doctoral student in the Communication Sciences and Disorders program at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst is completing her research in the area of speech differences in children with autism spectrum disorders. Part of her dissertation work is the development of a screening tool that Speech and Language Pathologists can use to identify potential motor difficulties that lead to language problems in children with autism. That knowledge could have important implications for planning effective treatment.

She is seeking two groups of volunteers: children with an autism spectrum diagnosis (this means autism, Asperger’s, or PDD-NOS), plus neurotypical children for her control group. 

Volunteers must be 4-11 years old, with a vocabulary of at least 50 words. Children should have no cranio-facial or other structural differences, such as cleft palate, or uncorrected visual or hearing deficits (hearing aids and glasses are acceptable).

Participation in the study will involve two visits to the Amherst campus. The first visit will include a hearing screening, followed by a variety of speech tasks, like imitating sounds and phrases, singing a song, telling a story, and talking about a favorite topic.

The second visit will include more such tasks, followed by a brief review meeting with the clinician.  Parents or guardians will also be provided with a brief report outlining their child’s strengths and weaknesses on our instrument.

This is an observation-only study where the kids will be in a one-on-one setting with the clinician.  There are no experimental therapies or treatments, and nothing unpleasant.  Praise and rewards are provided, and participants will receive fifty dollars for completing the study.

Appointments will be scheduled at mutually agreeable times.

Please contact Dr. Mary Andrianopoulos at (413) 545-0551, or her doctoral student at if you have questions, or if you’d like to enroll your child.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Raising Cubby is coming soon!

There were eleven cars scattered about the front yard, and he judged three of them likely to run. The old Budweiser sign was where he remembered it, to the right of the door. It sagged a little, like maybe the fasteners were finally pulling out of the rotted siding.

Up on the roof, chunks of tree branch lay there, mouldering; left over from last season's hurricane. The shingles were covered in moss; a first step in nature's reclamation of a once-proud property.  When the wind was right you could smell the freshness of growing things.  When it was wrong, there was just the stench of the trash pit out back. That was enough to make a dog gag.

As soon as old Jeb opened the door, he knew he was home.  He'd lost a few teeth since the last time he'd seen him, and he was a little more stooped, but otherwise the old sonofabitch hadn't changed a bit.

My newest book, Raising Cubby, is on sale in just six more months . . . .