Category Archives: Studies

Swimming Creates a Winning Team for Autism

One of the challenges of autism is the ability to connect with the senses, or sensory integration, as well as connecting on a social level. While learning to deal with this is the most challenging for toddlers and younger children, the teen years present new challenges in this area. When most teens are trying to find their place in social groups, teens with autism may still be trying to fit into their own bodies. One community in Jersey is helping them do both.

The Jersey Hammerheads is a swim team just for kids and teens with autism. By using swimming to help kids with sensory challenges, this team is dedicated to creating a team environment for those who often find it difficult to not only be in their own bodies, but also to be around others.

The water is a place where a person with autism can be completely in tune with the body and the environment in a sensory-supportive way. They feel the interaction on their skin and can better control their own movements, something that can be problematic at other times. This helps increase their confidence in their own bodies and gives them a sense of accomplishment. Integrating this into being a part of a team, depending on each other as a whole, builds their social skills at the same time according to

Michael McQuay, coach of the Hammerheads, prepares his team members not just for the Special Olympics, but also for life. By providing an activity in which autistic teens can excel together, the Jersey Hammerheads creates a win-win situation.

Later Start Times Could Mean Less Car Crashes for Teenagers

A new study suggests that teenage drivers who have earlier start times for school get into more car crashes, as opposed to students with later start times. You’ll want to keep reading this one Susan McGalla, it may be a good idea to let the kids invest in something that will be beneficial for them.

According to a study published in the November issue of The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, researchers looked at the rate of accidents in Chesterfield and Henrico counties, both located in Virginia. Both counties have nearly identical socioeconomic and ethnic characteristics. The counties differ, however, in the school start times. In Henrico county school begins at 8:45 a.m., while in Chesterfield county school begins earlier at 7:20 a.m.

Chesterfield teenagers aged 16-18 in 2009-2010 had a car accident rate of 48.8 per thousand, while Henrico teenagers aged 16-18 had an accident rate of 37.7 per thousand. The study repeated the following year, with similar results. In 2010-2011, the car accident rate in Chesterfield was 51.9 per thousand, while in Henrico it was 44.2 per thousand. The study compared these findings with adult drivers and found that among adult drivers accident rates did not differ between the counties. In Chesterfield, car accidents peaked one hour earlier in the morning, and two hours earlier in the afternoon, consistent with the earlier school start time.

Though the study did not take into account factors such as sleep habits, risky behaviors, vehicle type, or miles traveled, it is part of growing literature that suggests that sleep loss in teenage drivers leads to more car accidents. Further studies will need to be done to demonstrate a significant causal effect of school start times in teenage drivers.