Autism TodayTV Highlights “GFCF Chef Tom Dickinson”

Individuals on the autism spectrum have shown minimum to dramatic improvements in communication, behavior and social interactions after they began gluten free casein free (GFCF) diet. The GFCF diet is based on the theory that individuals on the spectrum have sensitivity or allergy to gluten or caseins which form peptides. These peptides can then alter how an individual responds to their environment and exacerbate autistic symptoms.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, grains, vegetable proteins, starches and other flavorings & artificial colors. Casein is the protein found in milk and milk products such as cheese, ice cream and butter.

Some research studies have suggested that a GFCF diet can improve behavior and GI symptoms in some children on the autism spectrum. A recent study in 2010 published in Nutritional Neuroscience shows that a GFCF does have benefits for some kids with autism. “Our results suggest that dietary intervention may positively affect developmental outcome for some children diagnosed with ASD,” according to the study.

Changing a child’s eating habits can seem like a lot of work not to mention the added expense of “specialized food.” Fortunately we have Chef Tom Dickinson who is determined to make the GFCF diet affordable and accessible to all individuals on the spectrum. Chef Tom aims to redefine the public’s perception of a gluten and casein free diet from boring and bland to a cuisine that he calls GFCF-Fusion.

See chef Tom create wonderful meals for your family that are affordable in a minimal amount of time on Autism TodayTV. Chef Tom also has two cookbooks available “Where There’s A Meal, There’s A Way” & “Cooking With Class” with a third on the way “Affordable Eats.”

GFCF Salami and Basil Pizza

Chef Tom Dickinson on Autism Today TV

Here is a recipe from one of Chef Tom’s cookbooks. It was featured on Episode 2 of Autism TodayTV. Everything you need to make this wonderful pizza is listed here, and if you’d like, you can watch Chef Tom make it first and then give it a try yourself. I have personally tasted the pizza, the sauce is just fabulous. It’s a great tasting fast dish everyone will love.

“My firm belief is that every child on the Autism spectrum should not have to be deprived of the simple pleasures in life like being able to have a slice of pizza like any normal kid, so what I did is created this wonderful recipe and the key to this pizza isn’t the toppings or the sauce, but the technique and the use of a cast iron pizza pan to make this pizza from good, to awesome. Hope you enjoy.” -chef Tom

For The Sauce

  • 3 Roma or San Marzano tomatoes
  • ¼ cup of sundried tomatoes
  • Half of a red onion
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • One tablespoon of agave nectar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For The Crust

  • 2 cups of pre mixed gluten free all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon of guar gum
  • 1 teaspoon of Xanthan Gum
  • 1 tablespoon of aluminum free baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 cup of water

For The Toppings

  • 1 package of daiya mozzarella cheese
  • 8 basil leaves
  • 1 package of Applegate farms uncured salami
  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Using some oil that is safe for your child and your own preference, drizzle some oil onto your cast iron pizza pan and place in the oven to get it nice and hot.
  2. For the sauce, place all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and puree on high speed. The sauce should be a little bit chunky, but that’s okay.
  3. For the pizza dough, place all the dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk together so everything is incorporated. Add the one cup of water and begin to mix together with a rubber spatula. IF the dough is too dry, add water to it one tablespoon at a time. Mix well until the dough is moist but not sticky.
  4. One a floured cutting board, floured with gf flour of course, roll out your pizza dough with a rolling pin to desired shape and width. Now it’s time for toppings.
  5. Place the sauce on your pizza, followed by half the daiya cheese, then the salami, and the rest of the cheese on top.
  6. Take your basil leaves, stack them on top of each other, and then roll them into a roll. Using your knife, cut the basil into fine ribbons, this is called chiffonading the basil, a classic cutting technique.
  7. Place the ribbons of basil on top of your pizza and slide the pizza of the cutting board onto your cast iron pizza pan. Bake in the oven until the cheese has melted and the crust is fully cooked. About twenty minutes.

Makes 4-5 servings
*See Chef Tom Create Delicious, Mouthwatering and Affordable Dishes on each Episode of Autism TodayTV

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Apps for Autism Highlights “Rainbow Sentences”

Rainbow Sentences        By: Mobile Education Tools


From the Developer

Rainbow Sentences is designed to help students improve their ability to construct grammatically correct sentences by using color coded visual cues. The who, what, where, and why parts of sentences are color coded to help students recognize and understand how combinations of these parts create basic sentence structure.

From the Customer

Teaching students on the spectrum about sentence structure and syntax can be a daunting task. The Mobile Education Store has come up with a fantastic solution to support the acquisition of grammar and sentence structure via color coding.

Word(s) are color coded with lines to match their corresponding place in a sentence giving students important visual supports in building grammatically correct sentences. Color coding can be faded when students become proficient at constructing sentences. Rainbow Sentences offers many other customizable features including three levels of complexity. The first level focuses on who and what, the second level adds the where and the third level incorporates the why of the sentence.

After the students have completed their sentences, they can then record that sentence for self-monitoring and auditory feedback. This recording can be saved in the archive and/or emailed to both parents and educators. Rainbow Sentences also tracks your performance with sentences correct on first attempt. Stats can also be emailed to parents and educators.

Rainbow Sentences has been particularly effective for students that are echolalic or have ritualized speech. It provides a concrete visual and auditory model to generate grammatically correct language.

Pictures used in Rainbow Sentences are cartoon depicting fictional situations. Students who have difficulty distinguishing between fact and fiction may have challenges understanding the figurative nature of the pictures.

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iPad Apps Can Support Evidence-Based Practice

The American Speech-Language, Hearing Association (ASHA) uses a well-known definition put forth by David Sackett and colleagues to define evidence based practices.

“Evidence-based medicine is the integration of best research evidence with clinical expertise and patient values.” (Sackett D et al. Evidence-Based Medicine: How to Practice and Teach EBM, 2nd edition. Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh, 2000, p.1)

EBP & Autism Spectrum Disorders

According to The National Professional Development Center (NPDC) many interventions for autism exist, only some have been shown to be effective through scientific research. Interventions that researchers have shown to be effective are called evidence-based practices. Currently, the Center has identified 24 evidence-based practices. Follow the link to The National Professional Development center to read the details.

The National Autism Center (NAC) has identified 11 established treatments. Established Treatments are those for which several well-controlled studies have shown the intervention to produce beneficial effects. See The National Autism Center (NAC)
National Standards Report

Below is a list of iPad apps that support evidence based practice for both speech language pathology and autism spectrum disorders. There are hundreds of thousands of apps on the market today and hundreds more every week. The apps represented in the table are only a few examples of what is available. Every student will have individual needs, preferences and characteristics. It is up to the educator/therapist to choose the best “fit” for each student. The table is meant for informational purposes only to illustrate how apps support evidence based practice and to use as you determine appropriate.


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Autism TodayTV Wins an Ursula Award

The Ursula Awards, this was the first annual film festival, a showcase for independent filmmakers and community access television producers hosted by Vallejo Community Access Television, VCAT. It presents an engaging and entertaining mix of filmmaking styles and talents from around the world, while offering an opportunity for local producers to showcase the diverse mix of community access productions.

Autism TodayTV was nominated as a finalist in the community service and education category by a group of judges. To know that our show was in fact reaching many families and making a difference in the community, gave us a great sense of gratification.

Director Gary B. Producer Lois Brady & Producer America Gonzalez at the Ursula Awards Ceremony 2012

To win the Ursula in recognition for excellence in community service and education made all the hard work and hours of trial and error well worth it. We are super excited about Autism Today TV and the support from the community both local and global.

It is our sincerest hope that we have educated, supported and entertained you, and we look forward to many more wonderful, exciting episodes to come.

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Introducing “Autism TodayTV”

Autism Today TV is a public service show dedicated to the 1.5 million families struggling to cope with the overwhelming effects of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) live better, happier lives; By providing up-to-date information on available resources, technology, products and research mixed with practical solutions for families and educators we sincerely hope to help individuals on the spectrum reach their full potential.

Information will be presented in a variety of formats including interviews, hands on demonstrations (in studio and on location), computer generated demonstrations and coverage of local events such as autism walks or autism friendly movies/productions/concerts.

Autism TodayTV hosts
Lois Brady, America Gonzalez and Thomas Todd

Co-hosts Lois Brady, America Gonzalez and Thomas Todd are a group of highly trained professionals, authors, developers and hands on educators that have been working with individuals on the spectrum for over four decades combined. Our goal in to inform, support and entertain our viewers as well as answer questions and interpret all the latest research regarding Autism Spectrum Disorder.

We are very proud of our first episode which includes performing arts, iPad apps, safety tips and a delicious gluten free-casein free recipe from Chef Tom Dickinson. You can see all the episodes here

Please send in questions, comments, ideas and your stories for inclusion on Autism TodayTV by either leaving a comment at the bottom or filling out our contact form

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English-Language Arts Content Standards Cross-referenced with Technology- iPad Apps

According to the Content Standards for California Public Schools-“The ability to communicate well–to read, listen and speak- runs to the core of human experience. Language skills are essential tools not only because they serve as the necessary basis for further learning and career development but also because they enable the human spirit to be enriched, foster responsible citizenship and preserve the collective memory of a nation.”

The English-Language Arts Content Standards will serve as a guide for teachers, administrators, parents and other support personnel on when to introduce knowledge and how to sustain the practice of skills leading all students to mastery. This framework will also address the delivery of content-rich curriculum to special-needs students (ELA Content Standards for California Public Schools).

The table below will highlight technology that supports the English-Language Arts (ELA) of Listening and Speaking. The table below is based on California Content Standards For Students with Significant Disabilities.

* The apps & computer-based interventions listed are only a small representation from the thousands of apps and computer based interventions available to support Standards in Education.

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How to Get An iPad For Your Child

Grants, Fundraisers And More!

Over the past two years iPads have proven to be an essential tool in augmenting communication, language, literacy and life skills for students with autism. Unfortunately, not everyone who could benefit from an iPad has access to this wonderful device. Thank goodness there are many incredible people, groups and foundations that are making resources available for everyone to enjoy the benefits of having their own iPad.

Following is a list of websites that offer opportunities to acquire iPads, along with by tips on how to win grants and submit applications. Last, is a list of alternative means of procuring an iPad for your child or student on the spectrum.


Tips For Filling Out An Application

  1. Read and understand the guidelines before starting your application. Follow the guidelines carefully including deadlines and attachments to ensure your application does not end-up in the “round” file.
  2. Be very specific in describing your needs and goals. Remember to answer the 5 (wh) questions; who, what, when, where and why you need an iPad.
  3. Make sure all questions are answered, boxes are filled out, and spelling and grammar are checked. If possible have another set-of-eyes read your application for completeness and double check for errors.
  4. Don’t get discouraged if you do not receive the grant. Keep trying! Remember there are thousands of people trying to get grants and even the most well written applications do not always get funding. Send a thank you note and try again.
  5. If you do get the grant, send a thank you note, photos of the iPad in action and share how the iPad has helped your child or student.

What Else Can I do To Get An iPad?

  1. Website Fundraisers

  2. The following websites will let you set-up accounts so that family and friends can send love and donate funds to your specific campaign.

  3. School District
  4. Try contacting your local school district’s technology department. Most districts have iPad programs in place. If not then inquire about an evaluation for your student.

  5. Happy Holiday
  6. Ask friends and families to forgo the usual presents and give Apple/iTune gift cards for birthday, Christmas, holiday favors, etc. This adds up quickly and most students will have enough funds for an iPad and apps within 4-6 months.

  7. Local Community Groups
  8. Inquire about donations from local businesses, community or charity groups. Many local groups will help with community fundraising by having a pancake breakfast or rummage sale.

  9. Credit Card Points
  10. Many credit cards give points for dollar(s) spent. Points can be redeemed for an iPad or cash to purchase an iPad. Check with your credit card company to see if they double points on certain purchases (gas & groceries).

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