Tag Archives: autism

How A Woman Helps Autistic Designers Find Their Way in the Fashion Industry – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth | Instant News

This story was first broadcast on LX.com

Fashion has always been Jovana Mullins’ personal passion. But when designers start volunteering their weekends as fashion mentors with an art therapy program at Center for All Abilities in 2017, he did not know that his life would change drastically.

At that time, Mullins had worked for many different luxury brands for eleven years as a print and embroidery designer. But she’s looking for new opportunities that will combine her passion for fashion with her passion for volunteering. That’s when she first started working with a New York City non-profit organization that aims to empower children and young people with autism to recognize their creative potential and thrive.

“After volunteering with CAA and seeing the extraordinary artistic talent this group has, a light bulb exploded … what if I used their artwork for prints on dresses, scarves, etc,” she said. “The art they create is much more meaningful and imaginative than anything I have ever created for the brands I work for. I knew there needed to be a brand that celebrated this talent, provided a platform for expression, and connected consumers to the creativity and talent possessed by consumers. persons with disabilities. “

Jovana Mullins with co-designer Allen Li.

Mullins soon left his full-time position in the fashion industry to build his own line of clothing BELIEVE, (Consciousness, Love, Inclusion, Voice, Individuality and Acceptance.) Fashion brands hire designers with autism and turn their artwork into vivid prints. Each of Alivia’s work begins with a work of art created by an individual with a developmental disability while participating in art therapy. The goal is to create a collection of prints that reflect the artist’s artistic vision, personality and point of view. The company was launched in April 2020.

Unfortunately, as the couple prepared to launch their first collection, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. They had to immediately rethink the nature of the brand as consumers suddenly swapped their designer dresses and high heels for comfortable sweatpants and hoodies.

Instead of delaying the brand release, the designer is using scraps of cloth bags to make a COVID mask as part of his new line. Mullins immediately began production and sewing, stich-by-stich, more than a hundred masks by hand. With every item sold, Mullins donated PPE masks to front-line staff at YAI, an organization that provides housing and support for individuals with developmental disabilities.

“Launching at the start of a global pandemic was never the plan, but I’m very proud we turned lemons into lemonade,” said Mullins. Instead of focusing on sales, the designer focused on creating community through the weekly ‘Saturday Smiles’ … a curation of positive news that celebrates inclusion and people of all abilities.

As for which print made him smile the brightest? Mullins pointed to the message “Happy Strokes Pink!” This is a design of the upbeat personality of the eighteen year old Alan Li, whom he describes as a passionate and playful figure.

But he is a huge fan of all three of his brands’ creators and continues to be impressed by their style and colorful imagination. Along with Allen Li, William Choi and Yu Chen are two other artists whose prints are on display in the current collection. Mullins hopes his brand will in turn encourage more inclusion in the fashion industry.

“Its mission is to provide specialized education for neurodiverse individuals, teaching valuable skills that will prepare them for employment in the fashion and retail industry,” he said. “From garment sewing and construction to sales and customer service, we plan to develop distinct lines that will generate meaningful work across Alivia and other brands in the future.”

A new collection will be released in October which will feature two original artists. Ten percent of every purchase is donated directly to a local nonprofit maker and every garment purchased includes a scanable tag that allows consumers to experience the personal story behind the garment.


image source

The fashion industry joins the non-profit organization Avenue to help people with disabilities find jobs | Instant News

Stephanie Trinh-Tran faces more obstacles in pursuing her dream of working in the fashion industry.

The 21-year-old woman, who lives with autism, was knocked out of fashion classes until she came to the non-profit organization Avenue, where she worked on an order fulfillment team for a clothing label.

“I love the clothes, the prints, the styles and the colors,” he said.

Stephanie’s mother, Julie, thought her daughter might never get into this industry.

The teacher is reluctant to accept because of the support she needs to understand the assignment, but Julie is confident in her daughter’s abilities.

Stephanie Trinh-Tran just wanted a chance, after she was knocked out of fashion and work experience courses.(

ABC News: Brendan Esposito


“Whenever he had free time he would sit and draw and I would look at him and think, ‘I need to help him [get work in the industry]’,” she says.

Finally Stephanie completed a year-long TAFE course and while looking for work experience, her mother found Avenue and its partner, the fashion company Yevu.

Avenue was started by Sydney woman Laura O’Reilly and her family following the experiences of her late brother Shane, who was living with cerebral palsy and “needed support with all aspects of her daily life”.

“He thought he was leaving school and, like his brothers, going out and working.”

Laura O'Reilly looks off into the distance at the clothing samples in the background of the shelf.
Avenue CEO Laura O’Reilly founded a nonprofit organization because her sister missed an opportunity.(

ABC News: Brendan Esposito


Her family was surprised to find very few job options for Shane when she finished her education, so they designed their own.

Avenue now has four co-working spaces across Sydney where people with disabilities can choose the work they do – and get paid to do it.

“Avenue serves … groups that are inaccessible to public works – groups that traditional societies say they can’t work at all,” O’Reilly said.

Avenue receives funds through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) package from participants.

Each participant selects a team to work with according to their skills and interests, including taking care of pets, mailboxes for real estate agents, or distribution orders for Yevu.

Avenue provided the needed on-site support for the more than 300 people in its books.

“They work on their team and then whatever income that team gets they save and save,” says O’Reilly.

Social enterprises working together

A social enterprise, Yevu’s clothes are made in Ghana by local women and distributed by the Avenue team, which includes Stephanie and 34 other people with disabilities.

Yevu founder, Australian woman Anna Robertson said the brand provides “sustainable, dignified and fair” jobs for women in Ghana and the partnership with Avenue is a perfect fit.

Anna Roberston is standing next to the mannequin, with a sample of clothing on the back.
Yevu founder Anna Robertson said the partnership made sense because it fit with her business ethics.(

ABC News: Brendan Esposito


“Avenue provides job opportunities for everyone, they don’t discriminate,” said Robertson.

He said the partnership also made good business sense.

“I love seeing the team here, they all work really hard to provide great customer service and they know the product very well.”

‘I feel part of something’

Sophie Grivas, who lives with Down syndrome, has found a sense of happiness since joining the Avenue team.

Sophie Grivas and Amrita Ramjas and Stephanie Trinh-Tran laughed and reached out while holding fashion products.
Sophie, Amrita, and Stephanie retained whatever pay they got from the fashion company.(

ABC News: Brendan Esposito


The 34-year-old hopes to move on on his own and says the role makes him more confident.

“I love being around my friends, including my best friends and building computer skills,” says Grivas.

“I learned about budgeting, saving and going shopping.”

Her colleague Amrita Ramjas, 32, who lives with Down syndrome and an intellectual disability, agrees.

“I really like the team because I feel included,” said Ramjas. “I feel part of something.”

Stephanie Trinh-Tran leaned back on the table that had folded clothes with scraps of paper on top.
Stephanie Trinh-Tran hopes the opportunities she has at Yevu will generate more opportunities to advance her career.(

ABC News: Brendan Esposito


Recently appointed as a member of the team this month for her hard work, Stephanie said she hopes the skills she has learned will lead to further employment in the fashion industry.

“Online or in industry,” he said. “I love clothes … they are very beautiful and I like to draw ideas and create things.”


image source

Brazil programs adapt virtually, collaborations with Brazilian universities continue | Latest Updates | Instant News

Sending Kent State’s department of speech pathology to Brazil to work with children diagnosed with autism has been an annual tradition until recent years when the pandemic canceled last year’s trip and delayed programs.

This program will send students with Lisa Audet, head of the program, to the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. There, students will get hands-on experience working with children as they are diagnosed and move forward.

Although unable to send students abroad this year, the collaboration comes from face-to-face programs that continue to meet virtually.

“One [collaboration] is that I could serve on a master’s thesis project for a speech pathology student at the University of Sao Paulo, ”said Audet. “It is very exciting to be able to serve on the international thesis committee. Another was that I was invited to attend the National Congress of speech-language pathologists and audiologists. “

Ellen Glickman is director of the School of Health and Human Services. Glickman is a collaborator of Lisa Audet.

Audet had several other collaborators from Kent State in the speech pathology department join him at this conference. Ellen Glickman, director of the School of Health Sciences, is one of Audet’s collaborators and says it is a shared experience.

“At Mackenzie University, we meet with individuals in our areas of interest and seek to collaborate, conduct research and teach,” said Glickman.

Glickman said they have the same goal in what they want from the collaboration.

“It’s a goal that we realize, you know, we want to enrich ourselves and enrich them,” said Glickman. “It’s a beautiful cross-pollination between all of us.”

Fernanda Dreux is a professor at the University of Sao Paulo and hosted visitors to Kent State a few years ago when they were able to visit Brazil.

Fernanda Dreux

Fernanda Dreux is a professor at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. Dreux collaborates with Lisa Audet on the Brazil program.

“[The Kent State students] come to the campus where I work and they participate in several classes, ”said Dreux. “American students also observe the therapy my students give me. … At that time we had about 80 autistic children receiving language therapy, so American girls [students] can watch the therapy.

In addition to classes and face-to-face therapy, visiting students can also see the child’s diagnosis process.

“They also visit our primary health care center where children are first assessed, and sometimes they accept the hypothetical diagnosis of autism,” says Dreux.

While face-to-face collaboration has been prepared, Audet and her colleagues hope to return to normal soon.

“The relationships my students make with students from Brazil have lasted more than three years,” said Audet. “They are still in touch with each other, which I think the last growth is to have partners like that all over the world which is amazing.”

Kaitlyn Finchler was in charge of administration and registration. Call him on [email protected].


image source

Neurologists on the map touch the gatekeeper of the brain in unprecedented detail | Instant News

Many people with autism experience sensory hypersensitivity, attention deficit, sleep disorders. One area of the brain that were involved in these symptoms of the thalamic reticular nucleus (ryat), which is believed to acts as a gatekeeper for sensory information entering the cortex.

A group of researchers from mit and the broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, is now visible in unprecedented detail TIN, showing that the region contains two different subnets of neurons with different functions. The obtained results have more to offer researchers specific targets for drug development that could facilitate some of the senses, sleep and attention symptoms of autism, says Guoping Feng, one of the leaders of the research team.

The idea is that you can very specifically one group of neurons without affecting the whole brain, and other cognitive functions”.

Guoping Feng, the James and Patricia Poitras Professor of neuroscience at MIT and a member of the Institute of mit McGovern Institute for brain research

Feng; SMA-Fu, Deputy Director of neurobiology in the center of the broad Institute of psychiatric research, Stanley; and Joshua Levin, senior group leader at broad Institute, senior author of the study, which appears today in Nature. Leading the report’s authors, former post-doctoral research fellowship at MIT, Yinqing Li, a former postdoc of the broad Institute Violeta Lopez-Huerta, and a wide researcher of the Institute of Xian Adiconis.

Some populations

When you receive sensory information from the eyes, ears and other sensory organs to our brain, it goes first to the thalamus, which then relays it to the cortex for higher level processing. The disadvantages of these thalamo-cortical circuit may lead to attention deficit, hypersensitivity to noise and other stimuli, and sleep problems.

One of the main ways, which controls the flow of information from the thalamus and cortex TRN, which is responsible for blocking distracting stimuli. In 2016, Feng and MIT associate Professor Michael Halassa, who is also the author of the new Nature the paper found that the loss under the Ptchd1 gene significantly affect the function of the RNN. In boys, the loss of this gene, which is carried on the X chromosome, may lead to attention deficit, hyperactivity, aggression, mental retardation and autism spectrum disorders.

In this study, the researchers found that when the Gene Ptchd1 was knocked out in mice, animals showed many of the same behavioral defects seen in humans. When he was knocked out only in TRN, the mice showed only hyperactivity, attention deficit, sleep disturbances, assuming that the BCH is responsible for these symptoms.

In the new study, the researchers wanted to try to learn more about specific types of neurons found in the BCH, in the hope of finding new methods of treating hyperactivity and attention deficit. Currently, these symptoms are most commonly treated with stimulants, such as ritalin, which have a wide impact on the entire brain.

“Our goal was to find a particular part, to modulate functions of the thalamo-cortical output and link it to neurological development,” says Feng. “We decided to try using single-cell technology to analyze what types of cells are there and what genes are expressed. There are certain genes that are amenable to therapy with drugs that are included as a target?”

To explore this possibility, the researchers sequenced the messenger RNA molecules found in the neurons of the RNN, which reveals the genes that are expressed in these cells. This allowed them to identify several hundred genes that can be used to differentiate the cells into two subpopulations, based on how strongly they Express certain genes.

They found that one of these cell populations is at the core of TIN, and the other forms a very thin layer around the nucleus. These two populations also form connections of various parts of the thalamus, the researchers found. On the basis of these compounds, the researchers suggest that cells mainly involved in transmission of sensory information to the cortex when cells in the outer layer appear to help to coordinate information across different senses, such as sight and hearing.

“Targets amenable to therapy with drugs included”

Now scientists plan to study the different roles that these two populations of neurons can have different neurological symptoms, including attention deficit, hypersensitivity, and sleep disturbance. Using genetic and optogenetic methods, they hope to determine the effects of activation or inhibition of different TIN cell types, or genes that are expressed in those cells.

“This may help us in the future to develop specific tasks, amenable to therapy with preparations that have the potential to modulate different functions,” says Feng. “Thalamo-cortical circuits control many different things such as sensory perception, sleep, attention, and cognition, and it may well be that they can be targeted more specifically.”

This approach can also be useful for treating disorders of attention or sensitivity, even when not caused by defects in the function of TIN, say the researchers.

“Trn-target where if you can improve its function, you may be able to fix the problems caused by violations of thalamo-cortical circuits,” says Feng. “Of course, we are far from development of any kind of treatment, but the potential that we can use single-cell technology to not only understand how the brain organizes itself, but also how brain function can be separated, allowing to identify more specific targets that modulate specific functions.”


image source

Use functional MRI to show neural suppression in autism | Instant News

According to the National Autism Association, people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) can experience sensory hypersensitivity. A University of Minnesota Medical School researcher recently published an article at Natural Communication which illustrates why that might be true by showing differences in perception of visual motion in ASD accompanied by weaker nerve suppression in the brain’s visual cortex.

While experts in neuroscience and psychiatry realizing that differences in sensory function are common among people with ASD, it is currently not understood what happens differently in the brain at the nerve level to cause variations in sensory perception.

Using functional MRI and visual assignments, lead author Michael-Paul Schallmo, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the U of M Medical School, and a research team at the University of Washington found:

  • People with ASD show an increase in perception of greater stimulation of movement compared with neuro-typical individuals;
  • The brain’s response to visual stimulation is different among young adults with ASD compared to people who have neuro-typical features. Specifically, brain response in the visual cortex shows less nerve suppression in ASD;
  • Computational models can illustrate differences in brain response.

Our work shows that there may be differences in how people with ASD focus their attention on objects in the visual world that can explain differences in the neural responses we see and may be related to symptoms such as sensory hypersensitivity. “

Michael-Paul Schallmo, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the U of M Medical School

Schallmo is currently working with collaborators at the U of M on a follow-up study of visual and cognitive function in adolescents with ASD, Tourette’s syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Having a better understanding of how these different disorders affect brain function can lead to new screening to better identify children at risk for ASD and related conditions. It can also help scientists find new targets for studies that seek to improve treatments for sensory symptoms in this disorder.


Journal reference:

Schallmo, M., et al. (2020) Suppression of weak nerves in autism. Natural Communication . doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-16495-z.


image source