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F.E.A.T. - Chattanooga

PO Box 23731
Chattanooga, TN 37422
(423) 296-0092

Volume I
Issue 11
December 1999

      Upcoming Meetings

December 7, 1999 -
   No Meeting
Holiday Party on Dec. 10

January 11, 2000 -
Guest Speaker: Open Meeting

February 8, 2000 -
    Guest Speaker: To Be Announced

Meeting Time and Place
Second Tuesday of Each Month
 6:30 pm   Room 140
Massoud Pediatric Building
 T. C. Thompson
Children's Hospital

*Parking Directions
(see below)

(see our Group Information Page)

This Space Available

We need your information for the newsletter. Please fax, email or mail your submission to Phillip Deal prior to the 25th of each month.

Fax: 778-6837
Mail: PO Box 23731
Chatt, TN 37422

Welcome Packets

Welcome Packets are available at all meetings. If you have not received yours yet and are unable to attend the next meeting, please call our FEAT-Chattanooga phone number and leave your name and mailing address and we will send one to you.

Do You Have Ideas?

-Do you have any ideas for the newsletter?
-Would you like to see a column about a particu
lar topic related to your child that interests you and you think may interest others?
-Do you like to share ideas and opinions with others?
-Do you just want to see your name in print?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then submit your articles/idea/cartoons/opinions to the FEAT-Chattanooga Newsletter in care of the address above. Or email your contribution to Deadline for submission is the 25th of each month give or take a day or two. :-)


The ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education (ERIC EC) The Council for Exceptional Children

The NY Clinical Practice Guideline Report of the Recommendations, Autism / Pervasive Developmental Disorders, Assessment and Intervention for Young Children (Age 0-3 Years) is now online.

Another Good Autism Website:

SUBSCRIBE NO COST To FEAT's Daily Online Newsletter: Daily we collect features and news of the world of autism as it breaks. Subscribe:

Article from Seattle about Autism and ABA Therapy:

STORRS, Conn. Now, a team of researchers from the University of Connecticut's psychology department has introduced a screening device they hope will accurately identify children under the age of three who have autism. In a recent pilot study, the device detected autism in 22 young children. For the entire article, go to:

Meeting Location and Parking-

A The Massoud Pediatric Building now locks electronically at 6:00 p.m. The gravel lot (number 3) where several people parked is now closed. You should now park in the Erlanger Parking Garage and enter
T.C. Thompson Children's Hospital from the parking garage. There is a $1 charge. Below are detailed directions.

  • Enter the Erlanger Parking Garage from the Central Ave entrance (across from the Ronald McDonald House)
  • Park in the Garage (preferably on Level One)
  • While you are in the parking garage, walk toward the elevator on the right.
  • Take the elevator to the 1st floor if you did not park on that level.
  • On Level One, you will see the entrance to T.C. Thompson across a walkway next to the elevator.
  • Walk down the long hallway after you enter the Hospital.
  • At the end of the hallway, turn right.
  • Go through the double doors. (Someone will be posted at these doors starting at 6:15 p.m. to let you in the building. These doors lock electronically at 6:00 p.m. We will ensure these doors are open until 6:45 p.m.)
  • At Dr. Massoud's picture, turn right.
  • At the elevators, go to your left through the double doors. Our meeting room is the second room on the right.



Mark your calendars! The Outback Steakhouse Luncheon is scheduled for April 29, 2000, during National Autism Awareness Month.
The committee asks that each FEAT member think of potential sponsors for the event. The best target sponsors are probably individuals or business people that we know and/or work with. The sponsorship levels will remain at $100, $250, and $500. Please contact Susan Bollinger, Tammy Torres or Phillip Deal with your suggested sponsors. 

Letter to FEAT Chattanooga 
from Kristen Korb, Consultant , Tennessee Department of Education, Division of Special Education (615) 532-1636
FEAT received this letter via email on 
November 24, 1999.

The Tennessee Department of Education, Division of Special Education takes very seriously it's opportunity and responsibility to support the provision of quality educational services and supports to children of all disabling conditions who are eligible for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). We believe that these children, like their more typically developing peers, are individuals with individual learning abilities and styles and therefore a range of educational methods and supports are necessary. Our latest initiatives to ensure these supports for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders include the following activities.

The Tennessee Department of Education, Division of Special Education is pleased to announce a contract with the Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD) at Vanderbilt University to provide training throughout the state, beginning June 1999. The contract includes hands-on training for local school system's personnel in six regions of the state, one one-day school or student-specific training in each of those six regions and a one-day seminar in the three large regions. 

Also, Starting in June 1999 we will conduct the TRIAD Teacher Training (TTT) at various sites across our state. These TTT's will create regional training teams, who will then be responsible for training additional people over the next few years. In order to provide the most global hands-on training possible, each regional training team is composed of six educators, two each from three local school systems. By using this "train the trainers" model we will provide a variety of personnel with intensive, hands-on training that they can then bring to their own system and to other systems they will train. 

The sites are as follows and these TTT's will be complete by the end of October. Upper East TN: Johnson City; Lower East TN: Bradley County; Upper Middle TN: Trousdale County; Lower Middle TN: Williamson County; Upper West TN: Carroll County; Lower West TN: Jackson-Madison County.

Our spring conference with TRIAD this year will focus on social skills and the child with autism. A variety of topics will be covered, including the needs of non-verbal child, older children with autism and the use of peers. This conference will be held in Knoxville, Nashville and Jackson during April or May. Admission will be on a first-come, first-served basis and will be open to parents, educators and other personnel with an interest in children with autism.

There are several other items that the Division is working on. First, we have re-constituted the Autism Task Force and had our first meeting November 1st and 2nd, 1999 in Nashville. The task force will consist of 18 members, with equal representation from each of the three large regions. The membership consists of parents, local providers, university personnel and relevant Division personnel. Additionally, we are creating a technical assistance manual for school systems and parents. The completion manual will be an initial goal for the task force. As always, we continue to be available for both parents and school systems to provide technical assistance and training as necessary.

As Lead Agency for the State's Early Intervention System of services for eligible children ages birth through two, the Department will also be working with Dr. Wendy Stone at TRIAD to provide training and consultation to ea
rly intervention providers. In addition, the Office of Early Childhood is beginning the pilot of an Early Intervention Resource Center project in the Memphis area in July which will place particular emphasis on services to infants and toddlers who have been determined to have disabilities within the autism spectrum. Dr. Stone will provide training for the staff and partners of that project in the screening of two year olds for characteristics which indicate that the child my be suspect for autism and in a range of early intervention methods that are appropriate for very young children. We will utilize our experience with that project to develop plans for supporting similar initiatives in other areas of the state.




Target Christmas Tree Giveaway

The Target Store in Hixson has donated a Christmas Tree to benefit F.E.A.T.-Chattanooga again this year. The 7 1/2 foot decorated Christmas tree with a retail value of over $1,000 is on display at the Northgate location of Target. As a fundraising event, FEAT is giving away the tree for a $5.00 donation to F.E.A.T.- Chattanooga. The winner of the Christmas Tree, including all the decorations, will be selected on Monday, December 20th.

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FEAT Family Holiday Party

On December 10th F.E.A.T. of Chattanooga will celebrate the holidays with a FEAT Family Holiday Get-Together. This gathering for the entire family will occur at Bayside Baptist Church on Highway 58 in Chattanooga from 6:30 pm until 8:30 pm. This location worked out very well last year because each "step" of the party took place in several different rooms in order to help alleviate over-stimulation for our children. There will be pictures with Santa, holiday videos and music, craft gifts for the kids to make including ornaments for the tree and a personalized welcome mat. Bring your favorite holiday dessert or finger food and join in the fun. :-)

Calling All Members

FEAT Board Members will be calling each FEAT Family to ask a few questions. Below is a list of those questions that will be asked so you can be prepared for their call.

FEAT Holiday Celebration: Do you plan to attend? How many people will attend and how many of those are children?
TARGET Christmas Tree Giveaway: Did you receive your packet with the details of this fund raising promotion? Do you have any questions? Remember the monies and tickets are due to FEAT by December 18, 1999.
OUTBACK Luncheon: Do you know any potential sponsors at the $100, $250, or $500 level? Would you like the board to mail these potential sponsors or would you like a proposal to give them yourselves? Proposals will be sent this month.
HOSPITALITY Committee: The board is asking FEAT families to pick one month they can bring refreshments for the meeting. (Two families each month) What month can you help?

(From the website)

[This article appeared in the holiday 1999 issue of ASAP News! (Volume 3.5), The Autism Support and Advocacy Project and Potential Unlimited Publishing, P.O. Box 218, Stratham, NH 03885-0218, 603-778-6008 or 6006, email:,  

["Dear Family and Friends:" was written for the purpose of it being sent to relatives and hosts of holiday gatherings who might need a crash course in what to expect from their guest with autism. Article reprinted by FEAT DAILY ONLINE NEWSLETTER by permission of editor/author, Viki Gayhardt.]

Dear Family and Friends:

I understand that we will be visiting each other for the holidays this year! Sometimes these visits can be very hard for me, but here is some information that might help our visit to be more successful.
As you probably know, I am challenged by a hidden disability called autism or what some people refer to as a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD). Autism/PDD is a neurodevelopmental disorder which makes it hard for me to understand the environment around me. I have barriers in
my brain that you can't see but which make it difficult for me to adapt to my surroundings.

Sometimes I may seem rude and abrupt, but it is only because I have to try so hard to understand people and at the same time, make myself understood. People with autism have different abilities: some may not speak, some write beautiful poetry, others are whizzes in math (Albert Einstein was thought to be autistic), or have difficulty making friends. We are all different and need various degrees of support.

Sometimes when I am touched unexpectedly, it might feel painful and make me want to run away. I get easily frustrated, too. Being with lots of other people is like standing next to a moving freight train and trying to decide how and when to jump aboard. I feel frightened and confused a lot of the time, like you would if you landed on an alien planet and didn't understand how the inhabitants communicated. This is why I need to have things the same as much as possible. Once I learn how things happen, I can get by ok. But if something, anything changes, then I have to relearn the situation all over again! It is very hard.

When you try to talk to me, I often can't understand what you say because there is a lot of distraction around. I have to concentrate very hard to hear and understand one thing at a time. You might think I am ignoring you--I am not. Rather, I am hearing everything and not knowing what is most important to respond to. Holidays are exceptionally hard because there are so many different people, places and things going on that are out of my ordinary realm. This may be fun and adventurous for most people, but for me, it's very hard work and can be extremely stressful.
I often have to get away from all the commotion to calm down. It would be great if you had a private place set up to where I could retreat. 

If I can not sit at the meal table, do not think I am misbehaved or that my parents have no control over me. Sitting in one place for even 5 minutes is often impossible for me. I feel so antsy and overwhelmed by all the smells, sounds, and people--I just have to get up and move about. Please don't hold up your meal for me--go on without me and my parent's will handle the situation the best way they know.

Eating in general is hard for me. If you understand that autism is a sensory processing disorder, it's no wonder eating is a problem! Think of all the senses involved with eating: sight, smell, taste, touch AND all the complicated mechanics that are involved with chewing and swallowing that a lot of people with autism have trouble with. I am not being picky--I literally cannot eat certain foods as my sensory system and/or oral motor coordination are impaired.

Don't be disappointed if mommy hasn't dressed me in starch and bows. It's because she knows how much stiff and frilly clothes can drive me buggy! I have to feel comfortable in my clothes or I will just be miserable! Temple Grandin, a very smart adult with autism, has taught people that when she had to wear stiff petticoats as a child, she felt like her skin was being rubbed with sandpaper. I often feel the same way in dressy clothes.

When I go to someone else's house, I may appear bossy and controlling. In a sense, I am being controlling because that is how I try to fit into the world around me (which is so hard to figure out!) Things have to be done in a way I am familiar with or else I might get confused and frustrated. It doesn't mean you have to change the way you are doing things--just please be patient with me and understanding of how I have to and dad have no control over how my autism makes me feel inside.

People with autism often have little things that they do to help themselves feel more comfortable. The grown ups call it "Self regulation," or "stimming'. I might rock, hum, flick my fingers in my face, flap my arms or any number of different things. I am not trying to be disruptive or weird. Again, I am doing what I have to do for my brain to adapt to your world.

Sometimes I cannot stop myself from talking, singing, or partaking in an activity. The grown ups call this "perseverating" which is kinda like self-regulation or stimming. I do this only because I have found something to occupy myself that makes me feel comfortable, and I don't want to come out of that comfortable place and join your hard-to-figure
-out-world. Perseverative behaviors are good to a certain degree because they help me calm down. Please be respectful to my mom and dad if they let me "stim" for awhile as they know me best and what helps to calm me.

Remember that my mom and dad have to watch me much more closely than the average child. This is for my own safety, preservation of your possessions, and to facilitate my integration with you tippies (what we autistics fondly call you neurotypical folk!) It hurts my parents' feelings to be criticized for being over protective or condemned for not watching me close enough. They are human and have been given an assignment intended for saints. My parents are good people and need your support.

Holidays are filled with sights, sounds, and smells. The average household is turned into a busy, frantic, festive place. Remember that this may be fun for you tippies but it's very hard work for me to conform. If I fall apart or act out in a way that you consider socially inappropriate, please remember that I don't possess the neurological system that is required to follow tippy rules.
I am a unique person--an interesting person. I will find my place at this celebration that is comfortable for us all as long as you'll try to view the world through my eyes!

High Rate Undiagnosed G.I. Problems in Autistic Children
Thursday, November 18, 1999

Reuters Health
- Unrecognized gastrointestinal problems may contribute to behavioral problems in autistic patients.

In the November issue of The Journal of Pediatrics, Dr. Karoly Horvath and colleagues at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, report that they evaluated upper gastrointestinal structure and function in 36 "low-functioning" autistic children with chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, gaseousness and bloating, nighttime awakening or unexplained irritability, or a combination of these symptoms.

According to the authors, 25 children, or 69.4%, had grade I or II reflux esophagitis. Of these 25, 22 had "...nighttime awakening with irritability, signs of abdominal discomfort, or pushing on the abdomen, which are typically reported by nonautistic children with esophagitis." Fifteen children had chronic inflammation of the gastric mucosa, and 24 had chronic nonspecific inflammation of the duodenum. 
Two children had partial villus atrophy without "...histologic or serologic evidence of celiac disease." In addition, the authors report, duodenal biopsy specimens showed Paneth cell hyperplasia, and when the biopsies were compared with those from nonautistic controls, the autistic children had significantly elevated amounts of Paneth cells in the duodenal crypts.

Twenty-one children, or 58.3%, had decreased activity of the carbohydrate digestive enzymes disaccharidase or glucoamylase. All of these children had loose stools or gaseousness. In 27 children, the authors observed elevated pancreatico-biliary fluid output after stimulation with secretin. They note, however, that in children with chronic diarrhea and a high fluid response to secretin, stool consistency "...improved...after the procedure, and [this improvement] lasted for a few weeks or was sustained."

In an accompanying editorial, Drs. Pasquale Accardo and Howard Bostnick of New York Medical College in Valhalla, New York, write, "In its complexity, autism is beginning to look like the proverbial horse put together by a committee." More seriously, they comment, "[This] study...demonstrates consistent physiologic autism that are not known to occur in any other specific gastrointestinal disorder." They add, "The correlation of these findings with a clinical symptom...and its response to secretin...provide further support for a true physiologic abnormality." 
J Pediatrics 1999;133:559-563.