Make your own free website on


F.E.A.T. - Chattanooga

PO Box 23731, Chattanooga, TN 37422
(423) 296-0092
May 2000
Volume II, Issue 4  
*opinions expressed in this newsletter do not necessarily
reflect the opinions of FEAT-Chattanooga
To unsubscribe to FEAT-Chattanooga Newsletter, please send an email to and in the body of the email, type "unsubscribe".
Or if you prefer to receive this newsletter via US Mail, please send an email to and in the body of the email, type "subscribe via US Mail".

  Upcoming  Meetings

Outback Steakhouse Luncheon

 May9, 2000 -
  Guest Speaker:   Dr. Susan Speraw
  Topic: (see page two of newsletter)

 June 13, 2000 -
  Guest Speaker:  to be announced

 July 11, 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

At the May Meeting: 

Dr. Susan Speraw, F.E.A.T. ex-officio board member will speak to our group at the May meeting on May 9, 2000. Dr. Speraw will discuss topics related to how autism affects the entire family and what support is available from professionals in this area. Dr. Speraw will also make an announcement regarding a research study she would like to conduct with the members in F.E.A.T. - Chattanooga.

           AT MAY 9, MEETING:

-With reduced attendance during the summer general membership meetings last year, we would like to have an open discussion regarding the necessity of meeting each summer month and the possibility of having some type of cookout or fun activity during the summer.

-Several new families have joined F.E.A.T. and there will be a discussion regarding the scheduling of a IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) 'basic law' workshop provided by STEP (Support and Training for Exceptional Parents) some time before school starts in August.


During the first quarter of 2000, there has been an "explosion" of new families joining F.E.A.T. - Chattanooga. We want to make sure you know you are welcome to our group and we appreciate your participation by attending our monthly meetings. The members of F.E.A.T. understand your concerns and hopes for your child's future. We look forward to seeing you all at our future meetings and sharing in your child's future successes.

If you are a new member and have not yet received a welcome packet or brochure, please let a board member know at the next meeting or call our number listed above.
There are several different committees that could always use an extra hand. Please contact one of the board members to express your interest in serving on a committee.


Kick-Off to Success 2000!

August 3-4, 2000
Downtown Knoxville Hilton
Families and School Together (FAST) 
Make it Happen!
A forum for ALL educators and parents to highlight best and promising educational practices for ALL students in inclusive settings.

Sponsored by the LRE for LIFE Project 
and STEP Inc.

In conjunction with
The TN Department of Education: 
Division of Special Education, Division of Curriculum & Instruction, and Project TREDS.

Literacy, Transition and Vocational Preparation, Curriculum and Instruction, Positive Behavior Support, and Severe Disabilities.

Thomas Armstrong, Anne Donnellan, 
Cindy Merrilees, and invited speaker Judith Heumann

Conference registration: 
Only $25 until June 18th, $35 thereafter and at the door.
Hotel reservations: 
Downtown Knoxville Hilton. Mention this conference to receive the special rate of $60.00        (865) 523-2300.

Travel grants for parents are available from STEP, Inc. 800-280-STEP or 

Registration Forms will be available at the May FEAT meeting or call Ed White at 
(865) 974-2760.

From the FEAT DAILY NEWSLETTER Sacramento, California

Study Confirms Autism Increase

["CDC study supports a widely held belief", by Sara Solovitch in the April 25, 2000 San Jose Mercury News in California.]

A federal investigation confirmed for the first time last week what parents and medical experts have been decrying for years: There is a staggering number of autistic children in Brick Township, NJ. And the problem may not be confined to Brick.
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested that the rates may in fact reflect what's being seen throughout the country -- an inexplicable rise in one of the least understood known psychological disorders.

"When I heard about Brick, I went to our local school district in Granite Bay and found the same kinds of numbers," says Rick Rollens, father of an autistic son and parent advocate. "Brick Township isn't a cluster. It's a snapshot of what's happening elsewhere in the country. This study challenges the whole concept that autism is rare."

Autism is a spectrum of disorders that affect a child's ability to communicate and socialize with other people. Poorly understood and barely studied, autism is thought to have a strong genetic component but to be triggered by environmental factors. There are no known causes or cures.

Large increase

Last year, a report in California helped focus national attention on this growing problem. It found a 273 percent increase in the number of newly diagnosed autistic children admitted for services to the 21 regional centers throughout the state within an 11-year period.

Autism now accounts for 36 percent of all new cases at the Department of Developmental Services, which serves clients with mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy and autism.

Twenty years ago, autism accounted for only 3 percent of the agency's total cases.
Throughout California, the response to this long-awaited CDC report was immediate.
"It would have been eye-opening a couple years ago, but ever since the California study, it seems rather anti-climactic," says Bernard Rimlind, director of the Autism Research Institute in San Diego.
Rimlind, an early proponent of the idea that genetics plays a major role in autism, took issue with the CDC's decision to forgo taking blood samples and he blasted the agency for failing to address a concern -- popular among some parents -- that their autistic children were damaged by routine vaccines.

Role of genetics

"There is no question that genetics play a role, but this explosion has little to do with genetics," says Rimland. "There is no such thing as a genetic epidemic. There are susceptibility genes. And if you have those genes, you're susceptible to some environmental impact, such as vaccines."

The study was prompted by Brick Township parents, who requested federal assistance after conducting a study that suggested that the local rate of autism was much higher than the established norm. Some were suspicious that the increase was linked to chemicals in their drinking water, their former landfill and the Metedeconk River.

Though the CDC confirmed that the groundwater beneath the Brick Township landfill is contaminated with a variety of hazardous substances, it rejected this source since residents are supplied with water by the municipal water system and would not have been exposed to the groundwater.

"Irrespective of autism, when you put toxic chemicals in the same place where people live, eat and play, it's not a good thing, and one doesn't need outbreaks to figure that out," says Dr. Robert Byrd, a behavioral epidemiologist at the University of California-Davis. Byrd is heading a state-funded study on autism that will look at possible causes -- including maternal age, genetics, vaccinations and other environmental factors -- by mapping out the areas, or "pockets" of California, where there are high and low rates.
"Just because they didn't find an environmental cause doesn't mean there isn't an environmental cause," Byrd says. "It just means they haven't found an association."

Sara Solovitch at 
or (408) 920-5663. Fax (408) 271-3786.

Thanks to everyone that participated in this year's 'Lunch in 
the Outback' fund raiser to benefit F.E.A.T. - Chattanooga. 
The luncheon was an overwhelming success! Thanks to all the F.E.A.T. members that sold tickets and to our gracious sponsors -- 

Boomerang Sponsors at $500:
Grantham & Grantham, Attorneys at Law
T&T Produce

WTVC - NewsChannel 9
Kangaroo Sponsor at $250:
Timothy P. Davis, M.D.

Koala Bear Sponsors at $100:
Forrest Cate Motor Company
Healthsouth Rehabilitation Hospital-Chattanooga
Sunrise Food Distributors

Public Service Announcements:
Kicks98, Love 97.3/99.3, Rock105, and US-101

In Kind Donation:
Brach & Brock Confections - goodie bags

A special thanks goes to Matt Robinson and the staff at Outback Steakhouse for their compassion and hard work to make this event a success. This year's luncheon raised over $4,400 for F.E.A.T. - Chattanooga, a $1,900 increase over last year!

Plans are already underway for next year so we welcome suggestions and ideas on how next year's event can be even more successful.
  Plans include:

           Autism Awareness Month

In addition to the 'Lunch in the Outback' fund raiser for F.E.A.T. - Chattanooga April was a busy month for F.E.A.T. members. Here's a list of things that F.E.A.T. members did to promote April as National Autism Awareness Month:

City of Chattanooga Proclamation naming April 2000 as 'Autism Awareness Month' in Chattanooga.
Live interview from the Mansfield family's home on 
WTVC - NewsChannel 9.

600 piece mass mailing to day care providers in Chattanooga and the surrounding area.

Three billboards provided by Eller Media on Broad Street, Amnicola Highway and in Hixson.

Booth at the "Week of the Young Child" 
festivities in Warner Park.

Mailed Autism Awareness Ribbons to F.E.A.T. members.

              April FEAT Chapter Meeting
                     A Huge Success

Many thanks to the Duff family for sharing their personal stories how autism affected their family. Everyone that attended appreciated the Duff's openness and willingness to discuss the struggles Julie and her family faced and to share the joy in Julie's success in life.

In addition, many thanks to the Occupational Therapy students from UTC. Not only are these students helping us tremendously by providing childcare during our meetings but last month the OT students made and donated weighted lap pillows for our children. WTVC - NewsChannel 9's Katrina Owens covered this event by attending the presentation of the lap pillows during the meeting and reporting the event on the evening news.

Thanks again to the Duff family and the OT students at UTC for making our Autism Awareness Month meeting for 2000 such a special occasion.

The project includes an independent evaluation component to measure the implementation, effectiveness, and impact of the project.

Have you seen our WebPages lately?



During the August 8, 2000 FEAT meeting there will be several positions elected to the FEAT Board of Directors. 

Nominations for Board Members can be made by any member to any of the current officers of F.E.A.T. - Phillip Deal, Tami Burt, Tammy Torres, Jayne Trapnell or Henry Hardin during the next few months. 

Elections for board members will take place at the August general membership meeting on August 8, 2000. Board members at the August board meeting then conduct the FEAT officer elections.

              Autism Conferences, 
       Workshops, Events & Meetings
             Compiled by Michelle Guppy from the
        FEAT-Online Newsletter

10th Biennial Parent-to-Parent Conference, 
Reno, NV May 4-7, 2000, International Parent to Parent Conference 2000:
Pioneer Spirit - Blazing New Trails, 
For more information, call 702.784.4921 (extension 2352)

Understanding Asperger's Syndrome, 
May 10th Presenter Edgar Schneider - author of 
"Discovering My Autism" Malvern, PA, cost is $75.00

Workshop for Amicus Caring for the Caretaker - 
for parents and professionals who have special needs children, May 11th, Malvern, PA

Future Horizons, 
Houston, TX, May 18 - 19, 2000
Featuring Dr. Temple Grandin & Dr. Lisa Lewis

"Piecing Together the Puzzle", 
A Conference on Autism
Featuring Bernard Rimland, Andrew Wakefield, and Karyn Seroussi, Friday, May 19th at Dr. Gertrude A. Barber Center, 136 East Avenue, Erie, PA. For registration contact 
Carolyn Morelli 814-796-4000 or E-mail

The Many Faces of Asperger Syndrome, 
Sunday, May 21, 2000, ASPEN Spring 2000 Conference, Somerset Marriott 

Association for Behavior Analysis' 
Annual Conference ABA 2000 - 
26th Annual Convention, May 26 - May 30, 2000, 
Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, Washington, D.C.

Minnesota Autism Study Group, 
A group of parents with children diagnosed with Autism is forming a study group to discuss current and new biological treatments for our children. 
May 27, 2000, St. Paul, MN, 651.647-1083 or

Conference on Biological and Behavioral 
& Educational Treatments, 
Sponsored by Great Plains Laboratory and the Developmental Delay Registry, June 2,3,4 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Information and Registration online at, For brochure: 913-341-8949

Pyramid Consulting PECS 
2 week seminar camps
Wilmington, DE, June 18, July 16, For more information 302-368-2515

Lovaas Conference, 
Intensive Behavioral Intervention Conference, 
Featuring Dr. Ivar Lovaas, Gary Mayerson, David McKenna, June 9 - 10, Atlanta Airport Hilton and Towers, Atlanta, GA,
Or contact the Lovaas Institute at 310-840-5983 x889
E-mail -

Autism Society of America, 
2000 National Conference on Autism, July 2-5, 2000, Atlanta, GA, Tiffany Hayes, Conference Coordinator, 301-657-0881 x102,

National Conference on Autism, 
August 7-9, Penn State, University Park, 1-800-PSU-TODAY,

Autism 2000...Social Stories, 
Owensboro, Kentucky, 
September 29, 2000, Featuring Carol Gray, For more information, email or call 270.826.0510