Roundup: New Autism Research Gives Hope to Earlier Diagnosis

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New autism research recently conducted at Boston Children’s Hospital could signal a potential change to how soon a diagnosis can be determined — as early as two years of age through electroencephalogram tests, or EEGs, wrote Education Week in a blog last week. This early detection can have a huge effect on how students progress and develop if they get early-intervention services to match their needs.

EEGs measure and record the electrical activity of the brain, and is used to help diagnose neurological disorders. Researchers compared the raw data from EEGs of approximately 430 children with autism and 554 other children ages 2 to 12. They found that children with autism had consistent EEG patterns showing reduced connectivity compared with other children’s brains. The altered connectivity in  children with autism stood out in the left side of their brain, which controls language. Only certain autistic children were a part of this research and did not include those who are high-functioning.

Details about how the EEGs were conducted and diagnosed are explained in the blog. Researchers believe their findings could lead to a diagnostic test for autism, particularly at younger ages when behavior-based measures are less reliable.

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After 1,000 days of extensions since SAFETEA-LU, the 2005 federal transportation highway bill the funds state projects, expired in September of 2009, Congress last week approved a $105 billion federal funding law through the end of September 2014. The funding for transportation programs is contained in MAP-21, short for Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century. The Congressional Budget Office reported last week that MAP-21 would reduce budget deficits by $16.3 billion over the next 10 years.

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Several teen-driving safety advocacy groups are turning to a driving simulation program that focuses on the long-term consequences of distracted and drunken driving. The program, called One Simple Decision, combines simulated driving and interactions with police, judges and emergency medical personnel in an intense, 20-minute experience that features a real judge, actual sheriff’s deputies and EMTs.

According to a USA Today article, the Ohio Department of Transportation purchased four of these simulators, made by Virtual Driver Interactive, one of the nation’s largest driver simulator manufacturers, and uses it at such events as school days, football games and county fairs around the state. The article also details a teenager’s experience using the simulator, which told him to text while driving to see what would happen. It was an eye-opening experience for now 19-year-old, who was quoted saying the program put everything into perspective and makes the driving and texting scenario realistic.

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A new report produced by the New Media Consortium, the Consortium for School Networking, and the International Society for Technology in Education, provides a snapshot of some of the significant challenges schools have of integrating technology with learning that must still be addressed. More and more we’re seeing technology infiltrate schools, creating a digital learning environment. However, it remains a challenge on multiple fronts.

The NMC Horizon Report: 2012 K-12 Edition shows that even K-12 institutions eager to adpt new technologies may be constrained by school policies, lack of necessary human resources, and the financial wherewithal to realize their ideas.