Santa Cruz County leadership at its worst says Aptos resident Mark Willaman

from Santa Cruz Sentinel, Opinion page, April 8, 2009 [bold added by Cameron Jackson]

“I am the CEO of a software and service firm headquartered in Santa Cruz County. Although profitable, we froze salaries for all employees in 2008 pending a better economy. I took a pay cut. These prudent cuts helped us avoid making a single layoff. So it was with absolute disgust I heard about the pay raises of Santa Cruz executives. Their actions represent everything wrong with our nation and showcase leadership at its worst. In the midst of an historic recession when the county is losing money and cutting budgets, jobs and teachers, these bureaucrats have the audacity to raise their pay. Their excuse? To retain top talent. Hogwash. If they had any talent, the country would not be in its current shape. Where is the accountability? Shame on all of you who took part in this grotesque display of leadership.”
Mark Williams, Aptos

How dumb can you get? Never in Aptos, but YES in San Francisco!

No Aptos, CA smart lawyer would do this!
Get this. A San Francisco attorney changed his vote while serving on a jury because:

1) his wife told him to do so;
2) he went out and looked at the scene of events and thus knew more;
3) to return to work.

Answer: Number three. The lawyer simply wanted to go back to work.

In a possibly unprecedented case, a San Francisco lawyer faces disbarment because he changed his vote to break the deadlock in order to return to work.

This is frm California Bar Journal, April 2009. And what do you think of that?? There is “stupid is” and “stupid does”. This is an example of “stupid does”. And maybe also is “stupid is”.

Educating Children with Autism

Below is an excellent review of a book on autism I just bought through Amazon. A good read for a rainy day in Aptos, California.

Title: Educating Children with Autism
Author: National Research Council
Publisher: National Academy Press

A profound and arresting analysis of interventions, January 30, 2003
By John Harpur

My contact with autistic children and teenagers is primarily through research into social skills teaching. I have a assembled a small library of key texts and until I read this one, I found my library incomplete in one area – a review of intervention programmes. This book is simply superb is its coverage of the various principles that inform current interventions, its analysis of the outcomes of several commonly cited progrmmes, and the scope for future work.

However, this book is not ‘selling’ any particular intervention and that may dismay some parents particularly. It is geared more towards informing professionals in the field about options, choices and consequences associated with interventions. And boy is it thorough!

There is a huge amount to be gained from this book. I found reading it to be very stimulating but pleasurably slow, since every page has thought provoking observations.

I would certainly recommend that anyone pursuing interventions not pass over this book, be they parent, teacher or health professional. I genuinely cannot see this book disappointing an interested party. Parents of children with Asperger Syndrome may feel a little let down however, given the lack of attention their special requirements. Other books, such as Succeeding with Interventions for Asperger Syndrome Adolescents, may be of help to them.

To see other reviews go to Amazon.

St. John’s Espiscopal church moves to Aptos

Know where the best gas station is in Aptos? Yes, it is the Unocal gas station near the entrance to Sea Cliff State Beach. They are the best gas station in Aptos because they have real mechanics that FIX cars.

Across the street from the Unocal gas station, thre used to be a large field. Low income housing built on one parcel. More low income housing comes soon. There is a sign saying that a park is coming. Dont hold your breath.

And in that field, across from the best gas station in Aptos, is where St.John’s Episcopal Church moves soon. Very soon.

Soon, St. John’s will knock on neighborhood doors. They will ask you a few questions. Such as: What do you like about the community? How can St. John’s as a church be a Good Neighbor? What hopes and dreams do you have for your community?

You can check out St. John’s web site at:

substantial communication AND social delays in small children?

Does your child have substantial communication AND social delays? Live in Monterey, Santa Cruz, Sen Benito or Santa Clara County?

If under age 3, call San Andreas Regional Center and ask for Early Start services (for ages 0 to 3). San Andreas Regional Center has offices in Watsonville (831) 728-1781, Salinas (831) 759-7500) Gilroy (408) 846-8805 and Campbell (408) 374-9960. Visit the regional center web site at

If over age 3,
also call San Andreas Regional Center and ask for an evaluation for autism. Call your local elementary school and in writing request assessment for “autistic-like” education services. Keep a copy of your school request and send a second copy if you do not hear back in two weeks. And go to your pediatrician for a hearing and vision assessment and physical check up. Ask ahead of time whether your doctor uses CHAT or some other rating scale for autistic spectrum symptoms.

If your pediatrician does not use an autistic spectrum rating scale, ask for one from Dr. Cameron Jackson. She will send one to you to fill out and take to your MD and appointments with health professionals.

You can email Dr. Jackson at or call (831) 688-6002. Dr. Jackson specializes in psychological assessment including the diagnosis and treatment of autistic spectrum disorders. Her office is in Santa Cruz, CA.

Autistic children hot with fever do better

New theory of autism is that the brains of autistic children are normal – simply disregulated. This means that autistic symptoms might be reversible.

The locus coeruleus nordenergic (LC-NA) produces fever and also controls behavior. When autistic children get fevers their autistic symptoms reduce. Thus drugs that target the LC-NA offer a new therapeutic approach. Autism may be reversible. For more information go go

broader drug training for allied health professionals?

Where can parents find a child psychiatrist treating bipolar disorder in children and adolescents? That question is the most common question posed to the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation

There are only 74,181 child psychiatrists for the U.S. population of 73,675,6002. So parents drive for hours or have long waits. There is legislation pending to make it easier for child psychiatrists (M.D. with training in drugs) to forgive their medical education costs.

There are a whole bunch of reasons why there are fewer psychiatrists today and likewise fewer child and adolescent psychiatrists. For sure there needs to be more allied health professionals with a solid understanding of drugs and their effects on children and adolescents. And there are ways to encourage other professionals to get appropriate education and training.

It makes sense to broaden drug knowledge for a wider number of health professionals working with children: clinical psychologists, school psychologists, clinical social workers, nurses etc. Why not give incentives to a wide variety of health professionals to get the necessary training?

In California, psychologists must complete 36 CEU’s every two years for re-license. Why not let psychologist write off as a tax credit all costs related to drug education. That likely would spur psychologists to get training in drugs.

Primary care MD’s report that about 20 percent (one in five) children under age 18 have a mental disorder with at least mild functional impairment.

Autistic children need to focus on eyes of caregiver

What the article below says at length is that autistic children do NOT focus on the eyes of caregivers. Thus, in treating autistic children, its crucial to get them to focus on eyes and learn social cues.

“Two-year-olds with autism lack an important building block of social interaction that prompts newborn babies to pay attention to other people. Instead, these children pay attention to physical relationships between movement and sound and miss critical social information. Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine report their results in the March 29 online issue of Nature.

“Human infants are born in a fragile state. They are entirely dependent on their caregivers for survival, and so it makes sense that infants would possess very early-emerging predispositions to seek their caregivers, to pay special attention to movements in the environment that are associated with human actions and gestures,” said Ami Klin, director of the Autism Program at Yale and the Harris Associate Professor of Child Psychology at the Yale Child Study Center.

Klin, who conducted the study with research scientist Warren Jones and colleagues at Yale, said that two-year-olds with autism showed no signs of this selective attention to these types of human movements. Instead, the children with autism focused on a different environmental cue: they paid attention only to movements that were physically synchronous with sounds.

“Rather than attending to human biological motion, and the social cues in that motion,” said Klin, “children with autism were very sensitive to non-social information: to synchronies between sounds and motion in what they were watching.”

Klin, Jones and colleagues tracked the eye movements of two-year-olds with and without autism while they watched cartoon animations. The animations were created with a technique borrowed from the video game industry in which movements of real people are recorded and then used to animate characters. In this case, the body movements were recreated as points of light on a black background, with one point of light at each joint in the body.

“The eye-tracking data revealed that typically-developing two-year-olds perceived human motion in these moving points of light. They saw people,” said Jones. “But children with autism were insensitive to the socially relevant cues in that motion, and they focused instead on physical cues that typically-developing children disregarded.”

Previous studies by the Yale team have shown that when looking at other people, toddlers with autism looked less at eyes and more at mouths. “The current results suggest something very important about that earlier research,” said Klin. “Rather than looking at the social cues expressed in people’s eyes, two-year-olds with autism may be paying attention, as in the current study, to synchronies between sound and motion. So rather than the eyes, they are focusing on the synchrony between lip motion and speech sounds.”

“This suggests that from very early in life, children with autism are seeking experiences in the physical rather than the social world, and this in turn has far-reaching implications for the development of social mind and brain,” said Jones.

The Yale group is now using this finding in their work with infant siblings of children with autism who are at greater genetic risk of also developing autism. “Because this mechanism emerges in the first days of life for typical children, we hope to use similar techniques to identify early signs of vulnerability in autism. This could be an aid for early diagnosis, which in turn allows for early intervention to maximize positive outcomes for these children,” said Klin.

The next step is to study this phenomenon at earlier stages of development, and to combine the behavioral work with simultaneous neuroimaging through collaboration with another Yale colleague, Kevin Pelphrey.

Other authors on the study included David J. Lin, Phillip Gorrindo and Gordon Ramsay, who is also affiliated with the Haskins Laboratories at Yale.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Mental Health.

Ami Klin

Yale University

The Word Shop in Aptos

The Word Shop, Aptos
The Word Shop, Aptos

Good conversation, wide variety of Christian and other kinds of books including plenty of crap books. Staffed by volunteers. Been around more than 10 years. Located in Aptos near entrance to Sea Cliff State Beach. Need a book? They will find it for you. For more information go to: http://www.companyof

Was a cricket in cuisine at Miss Saigon in San Francisco?

Miss Saigon
6th & Mission

Pros: Clean place, friendly people
Cons: Everything else

Price: $7.94 (main and a glass of water with a slice of cucumber in it)
Style: Traditional Vietnamese in a modern setting

Overall grade: F

Should you happen to have just recently finished your session with a prostitute in one of the local hourly motels this might just be the lunch spot for you. Upon entering, the smell of bleach instantly burns your eyes, which might or might not be the reason why it’s about the only place in the neighborhood that has clean windows. But hey, you needed the disinfecting anyway. A friendly hostess seated me at one of the many empty tables came over. (All the tables were all empty, but I assumed that was because it was early).

The menu had all the staples of traditional Vietnamese restaurants and I opted for a pork and rice dish, Thit heo ram man (“Sliced pork stir fried in hot chilli, garlic sauce” according to the translation). I will admit that whatever arrived about 90 seconds later was sliced, but beyond that I have my doubts. It was somewhat of a sticky sweet taste maybe close to what melted fly paper tastes like. The pork (assuming it was pork, or even meat) had clearly been cooked the day (or week) before a had just then been reheated, somewhat, and probably in a microwave

The final straw came when on the third bite I found something that looked strikingly like the tail end of a cricket. I was later assured that it was part of an “onion”, but I somehow felt the need to head to the nearest (or maybe not exactly the nearest) pharmacy to self medicate. All in all, should you happen to end up in or around this restaurant, save your $8, walk half a block and buy a crack rock; you’ll thank me later.