Print edition page number(s) 323-323
Who among us has not had the experience of obtaining something new (a car or an item of clothing, for example) and then suddenly noticing that same car or outfit seems to appear on every corner? Over the past few months, in response to readers' requests for more information on this subject, the editors of the Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB) have been engaged with the topic of autism spectrum disorders. Although I certainly had an awareness of autism and knew of the association of autism with visual impairment before we began working on this month's Autism Focus, I will admit that I did not appreciate how pervasive the topic of autism has become within our society. Newspaper articles, a National Public Radio special on the show On Point, and a recent Public Broadcasting Service PBS NewsHour special entitled "Autism Now" are just a few of the journalistic features that I have encountered on autism in the past few months. Just as it is hard to believe that so many other people have the same car you just purchased, I am having trouble believing that so much has been written and said about autism and that I just missed it.
Each decade or two there is a new awareness for we practitioners about those to whom we provide services. In the 1960s, through the work of Natalie Barraga, we recognized the need to provide a different type of service to children with low vision. She taught us that learning to use vision through a program of structured teaching was possible for these students. In the 1990s, we became aware of cortical or cerebral visual impairment (CVI) and the importance of addressing the visual abilities and challenges of children with CVI in some fundamentally different ways. Now there is a growing awareness of the association between autism and visual impairment. There is also growing evidence of the association of autism and a specific type of visual impairment (optic nerve hypoplasia, commonly referred to as ONH). The value of identifying and then discussing an issue of importance to readers such as autism is that it provides us a platform from which we can discuss the service needs and programming options that will hopefully increase the learning opportunities for these students.
This month's special feature, Autism Focus, presents three commentaries on autism spectrum disorders. The first piece, by Shirley Cohen, describes the different types of approaches used to treat children with autism spectrum disorders. The second piece, by Marilyn and Jay Gense, provides a conceptual framework for an expanded core curriculum for students who have an autism spectrum disorder in addition to visual impairment (ASDVI). The third piece, by Cassandra Fink and Mark Borchert, discusses the association of autism and ONH, the similarities in the two conditions, and the possibility of a shared neurodevelopmental origin. We hope you will agree this feature brings readers the latest and best information on this rapidly evolving topic.
The June issue continues with an article by Wolffe and Kelly and their secondary analysis of data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study; a study by Levin and Rotheram-Fuller on the effect of a self-determination intervention designed to empower students with visual impairments; an interesting piece on the impact of visual disability and quality of life of older persons in rural Thailand by La Grow, Sudnongbua, and Boddy; and an approach for measuring the movement properties of the braille-reading finger by Hughes.
I hope this month's Autism Focus stimulates your thinking as you work with children with ASDVI. We created this special section in response to readers' requests for information. If there is another topic you would like to see covered in JVIB, please send it to me at <email@example.com>.
Editor in Chief
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