SIRRI Arizona




Information Session

Tuesday, May 3rd

6:30 PM - 8:30 PM


More Information

Please contact SIRRI

at (480) 777-7075 or e-mail

to reserve your seat(s).

If you are unable to attend,

please call for a free

one-on-one Consultation.

Gluten-Free Recipe:





1/2 cup asiago cheese, freshly shredded

1/2 cup mild cheddar cheese, freshly shredded

1 cup fresh spinach leaves, chopped

scant 1/4 cup of red onion, sliced thin

2 plum tomatoes, sliced thin

1 cup evaporated milk

4 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon salt

pinch cayenne



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a quiche dish or pie plate. Spread the asiago cheese and then the cheddar cheese on the bottom of the pie plate or quiche pan. Layer red onion, spinach and tomato slices over the shredded cheese. Sprinkle basil over the tomatoes. Beat the eggs, milk, salt, and cayenne pepper. Pour this egg mixture in the pie plate or quiche pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

8 slices; serves 4-6

Easter Facts


  • When taking a bite into a chocolate bunny, 76% of Americans prefer to bite off the ears first. 5% eat the feet first and 4% eat the tail first.
  • During the Easter season, Americans buy more than 700 million Peeps - making Peeps the most popular non-chocolate Easter candy.
  • Adults prefer milk chocolate (65%) over dark chocolate (27%).
  • 86% would prefer having chocolate bunnies instead of a live rabbit.
  • Each day throughout the year, 5 million marshmallow chicks and bunnies are produced in preparation for Easter.
  • 16 billion jelly beans are made specifically for Easter which is enough to fill a plastic egg the size of a 9-story building.
  • Kids prefer red jelly beans and 75% are willing to do extra chores for more Easter candy.
  • 57% of kids get up super early on Easter to see what the Easter bunny has brought them.
  • 80% of parents carry on the tradition of the Easter bunny by preparing a surprise Easter basket filled with goodies for their children and 90% of adults hope for their own Easter treat.
  • The first chocolate eggs were made in Germany in the 19th century and remain one of the most popular Easter candies today.
  • Solid chocolate bunnies are favored, followed closely by hollow chocolate bunnies, marshmallow filled bunnies, and other Easter bunny candy.
  • In the old days pretzels were associated with Easter because the twists of the pretzel were thought to resemble arms crossing in prayer.
  • The exchange of eggs for Easter dates back to a springtime custom older than Easter itself in which eggs were given as a symbol of rebirth in many cultures.
  • The Easter egg roll on the White House lawn has been a tradition since 1878.
  • After Halloween, Easter is the biggest candy consuming holiday.

Why Does Brain Development Diverge from Normal in Autism Spectrum Disorders?

ScienceDaily (Apr. 17, 2011)

Rett syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder on the autism spectrum, is marked by relatively normal development in infancy followed by a loss of loss of cognitive, social and language skills starting at 12 to 18 months of age. It is increasingly seen as a disorder of synapses, the connections between neurons that together form brain circuits. What hasn't been clear is why children start out developing normally, only to become progressively abnormal.


New research from Children's Hospital Boston, published in the April 14 issue of Neuron, helps unravel what's going on.


The researchers, led by Chinfei Chen, MD, PhD, of Children's F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center, studied synapse development in mice with a mutation in the MeCP2 gene, the same gene linked to human Rett syndrome. They found strong evidence that the loss of functioning MeCP2 prevents synapses and circuits from maturing and refining in response to cues from the environment -- just at the time when babies' brains should be maximally receptive to these cues.


Chen believes her findings may have implications not just for Rett syndrome, but for other autism spectrum disorders. "Many ASDs manifest between 1 and 2 years of age, a period when kids are interacting more with the outside world," says Chen. "The brain of an autistic child looks normal, but there's a subtle difference in connections that has to do with how they process experiences. If you could diagnose early enough, there might be a way to alter the course of the disease by modifying experience, such as through intense one-to-one therapy."


Chen and colleagues focused on a synaptic circuit in the brain's visual system that is relatively easy to study, known as the retinogeniculate synapse. It connects the cells receiving input from the eye to the lateral geniculate nucleus, an important relay station in the brain's thalamus. Visual input from the outside world, during a specific "critical period," is crucial for its normal development.


The team tested the functioning of the circuit by stimulating the optic tract and measuring electrical responses in the thalamus to see how the neurons were connected, and how strong the connections were. In MeCP2-mutant mice, these recordings indicated that the visual circuit formed normally at first, and that during the second week of life, weaker connections were pruned away and others strengthened, just as they should be.

But after day 21 of life -- after mice open their eyes and when the visual circuitry should be further pruned and strengthened based on visual experience -- it became abnormal. The number of inputs and connections actually increased, while the strength of the synapses decreased.

This pattern was similar to that seen when normal mice were kept in the dark after day 21, depriving them of visual stimulation. Together, the findings suggest that MeCP2 is critically important to our ability to refine synaptic circuits based on sensory experience, says Chen. Without MeCP2, the circuit fails to incorporate this experience.


"During this last phase of development, you need sensory input to lock down and stabilize the connections," Chen explains. "But the circuit is not getting the right signal to stabilize, and continues to look around for the right connections."


In patients with Rett syndrome, the reduction in MeCP2 levels is especially striking in the thalamus, which processes and relays sensory information to the cortex, where thought, memory and language reside. "It's very telling that we see these synaptic abnormalities in the thalamus, which is like a switchboard operator for the brain," says Chen. "A small disruption in the thalamus can radiate to large areas of the cortex."


This model of Rett syndrome is consistent with mouse models of other autism-related disorders like Fragile X and Angelman syndrome, which also show abnormalities during experience-dependent maturation of circuits, the researchers say.


"There could be a problem with how information is taken in," Chen says. "What's being perceived is different, so the response is different."


Chen and colleagues are now investigating whether reactivating MeCP2 at different times could improve organization of the visual circuitry.


Joao Noutel was the study's first author. The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Fundacao para a Ciencia e Tecnologia, Portugal.


Children's Hospital Boston (2011, April 17). Why does brain development diverge from normal in autism spectrum disorders?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 21, 2011, from­/releases/2011/04/110413120945.htm



Autism Diagnoses Bring Slew of Costs for Families


When Carol Santiago's son Ralphie won admission to New York City's first charter school for children with autism in 2007, it was, she says, "like winning the lottery." The school, with a nearly 1-to-1 teacher-student ratio, could provide the kind of intensive personal instruction that Ralphie, now 9, needs to learn and thrive. Santiago's lottery analogy is apt. She and her husband, who are profiled in the NewsHour's Autism series, found that Ralphie's place in the charter school eased not only their worries about his education but also a significant financial burden.

According to a 2006 study by health economist Michael Ganz, the direct costs to raise a child with autism to age 22 are more than $500,000 -- and that's in 2003 dollars. The gold-standard treatment for autism, especially for young children, is a kind of behavioral therapy called applied-behavior analysis (ABA) that involves up to 40 hours per week of one-on-one work with a trained therapist. Then there's speech therapy, occupational therapy, doctor bills for gastrointestinal and other medical issues that can go along with the disorder, bills for respite care -- hiring babysitters qualified to watch children with autism -- and other expenses.


<strong>Age-Specific and Lifetime per Capita Incremental Societal Costs of Autism</strong> <em>| Costs presented in 2003 dollars. Costs for age 4 years and older are discounted to 2003 dollars using a discount rate of 3 percent. Life expectancy for men is age 66 years and for women is age 65 years. Source: 2006 Harvard study.</em>Age-Specific and Lifetime per Capita Incremental Societal Costs of Autism

Costs presented in 2003 dollars. Costs for age 4 years and older are discounted to 2003 dollars using a discount rate of 3 percent. Life expectancy for men is age 66 years and for women is age 65 years. Source: 2006 Harvard study.



"The cost associated with Ralphie's autism is something that we never anticipated, even at the initial diagnosis point," Santiago said. "It doesn't hit you until you're deep into it. For us, it wasn't until we began to look back a year into it that we realized that it was going to eat up a lot of our resources."


Caught between 'Medical' and 'Educational'

Ganz's study measured autism's cost to society overall. And of course, not all of the costs are paid directly by families. Health insurance coverage pays for some treatment, as it does for many families with a child who has a chronic health condition and who also have medical coverage. And much of the cost is borne by school systems, because the 1990 Individuals With Disabilities Education Act requires all school districts to provide a "free and appropriate" education for children with disabilities, including autism. But school districts' resources are often limited -- what parents believe is an appropriate education often doesn't match up with what schools provide. And many of the treatments for autism straddle a line between medical and educational, giving room for insurance companies and school systems to each claim that it's not their responsibility -- and leave parents footing the bill, or going without treatment.

The resources available to parents vary tremendously by where they live -- and sometimes even within the same area.

The costs of caring for a child with special health needs often differ from state-to-state. A 2008 study in the journal Pediatrics found that such out-of-pocket costs fluctuate widely depending on where the family lives and that states with higher median family incomes often had lower financial burdens.


Jesse Mojica, another New York parent profiled in the series and an education policy adviser to the Bronx borough president, said that he and his wife paid out-of-pocket for speech therapy for their son Adam for several years. Although the school district did offer some services from a list of participating providers, Mojica said he would often find those providers were booked or were based in Manhattan and unwilling to take patients in the Bronx, where he lived.


"There are so many kids and not enough therapists to serve the need," Mojica says. "We spent thousands of dollars over the years for things we felt that the school system or school should have been providing."


But for Laura Henderson, another parent profiled in the series and a California resident, the situation has been different. Henderson, who lives near Sacramento, has three boys -- ages 8, 10 and 12 -- all of whom have some form of autism spectrum disorder. In California, services for children with autism are coordinated through private nonprofits called regional centers that contract with the state. Henderson says that her area's regional center is particularly good -- one reason the family moved there from Silicon Valley.


"Once we moved here, the cost factor was pretty much nothing," she says. The center offered behavioral therapy, speech therapy, socialization classes and more. With three children with autism, she says, "when my kids were young, I had more offers of therapy than hours to do them in." Henderson's situation is considered rare for a family with an autistic child.


Autism and Insurance: a Push for Coverage

For those parents, unlike Henderson, whose children need more therapy and treatment than the school or state provides, insurance is the next step -- but it too is often little help. Many insurance plans exclude autism treatment or refuse to cover behavioral therapy because they say it is an educational, rather than a medical, treatment. Recently, however, the insurance situation has been changing. In the past three years, the advocacy group Autism Speaks has coordinated a push to get states to pass laws mandating that insurance companies cover autism treatment.


"Our community had gone for far too long at the mercy of insurance companies who used autism as the basis of denial for meaningful, necessary, evidence-based interventions," says Peter Bell, executive vice president for programs and services at Autism Speaks.


The organization's push is working: In 2006, only Indiana had such a law in place. Today, 25 states do.


"Children are receiving treatments, making tremendous progress and are often able to transition into a school environment with less support," Bell says. "This is an investment in the future."


In Massachusetts, Debe Needham Chamberlain has seen that change firsthand. She and her husband, both special education teachers, paid out-of-pocket for their son T.J.'s $150-per-session occupational therapy for three years and worked extra jobs to make the money. The bill mandating autism coverage was signed into law in last summer, and just recently, for the first time, T.J. was able to see the occupational therapist with only a co-pay.


"This is such a godsend," Needham Chamberlain says. T.J. was lucky to be able to attend school in the district where his mother teaches, which offers ABA therapy in school, but the district they live in does not. "People mortgage their houses so that their children could get services," she says. Now, with the new law, they are moving T.J. back to his home school district, and insurance will cover out-of-school ABA therapy.


Others, particularly insurers, believe that the laws are a mistake. Susan Pisano, vice president of communications for the insurers group America's Health Insurance Plans, says that AHIP generally believes that legislative mandates are a bad way to structure benefit plans -- not just for autism but for all conditions.


"The cumulative impact of thousands of mandates across the country has been to raise the cost of coverage -- in some cases beyond what small employers can afford," she says.

And, she says, many of the therapies mandated in some of the new state laws are educational rather than medical -- and so should be provided by school districts.


But Bell, of Autism Speaks, disagrees. "Autism is a diagnosis you receive from a medical professional," he says. "School and teachers do not give an autism diagnosis."


A 'Holistic' Perspective

All of the costs discussed above are only the direct costs of treating autism. Ganz estimates that families also, indirectly, lose almost $160,000 in income across their child's first 22 years, on average, as parents must scale back on work to care for their child.


Over the course of a person with autism's lifetime, the total cost to society -- of treatments, care and the lost work potential of both the person with autism and their caregivers -- is more than $3 million, Ganz found.


Figuring out where society -- insurers, school districts and families -- should spend that money is key, he says.


"[Early intervention] has a high upfront cost," he says. "But if it works, it could save a lot of these downstream costs. If you match up children with the appropriate therapies early on, these kids might wind up growing up and being able to compete in the normal job market -- downstream costs could be avoided. So we have to be holistic about it."



Summer 2011 Session Dates

for the Sensory Learning Program


Monday May 16 through Friday May 27

Monday June 6 through Friday June 17

Monday June 18 through Friday July 1

Wednesday July 6 through Sunday July 17

Monday July 18 through Friday July 29

Monday August 1 through Friday August 12

Did You Know?


SIRRI offers these services for both children & adults:

  • Neurofeedback & Biofeedback
  • qEEG / Brain Mapping
  • Cognitive Retraining: memory, processing & problem solving skills
  • Attention, Concentration & Focus Training
  • Auditory & Visual Processing
  • Reading Development: fluency & comprehension
  • Balance, Coordination & Motor Planning Development
  • Stress & Anxiety Management
  • IEP Advocacy
SIRRI Arizona • 4515 S. McClintock Drive, Suite 208 • Tempe, AZ 85282
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