On Sunday, July 22 at 10:00 pm, Niagara Falls was lit up teal to honor National Fragile X Awareness Day! We are extremely grateful to the Niagara Falls Illumination Board for making this happen. The teal lighting created a spectacular experience for all the spectators on both sides of the falls.
FRAXA co-founders Katie Clapp and Michael Tranfaglia made the drive from Massachusetts, and our web developer, Eric Welin, trekked to the falls with his entire family. Our afternoon meet up at Goat Island included Fragile X families from Canada, Illinois, Kentucky, New York and South Africa! Several happy Fragile X self-advocates could be seen running around with their siblings, while everyone enjoyed the Fragile X family reunion. It was great to see all of the different Fragile X shirts our friends wore.
Theirs was an effort by a small group of thoughtful, committed members of the Fragile X Association of Michigan (FXAM) to be sure. The entire project took months! But it was hard work well worth the effort. After writing and revising (and revising), FXAM was awarded a $35,000 grant which the Michigan Fragile X group will now direct to Dr. Todd’s ongoing Fragile X research involving CRISPR!
In the first week of March I attended my first Fragile X Advocacy Day to meet with many of the Massachusetts delegation to Congress. While this was my first time advocating for Fragile X research, I’ve been a longtime lung cancer research advocate and have met with many of the same representatives in the past. It was a pleasure to meet with many of the families as my participation in Advocacy Day was in the spirit of “we are all in this together”.
Twenty-two is a terrifying birthday for the parent of a child with Fragile X Syndrome. It marks the end of formal schooling. We were daunted by this transition. Our son, Ryan, had been attending a residential school, New England Center for Children, for the previous 12 years. For almost all his waking hours, Ryan had one-on-one staffing and five additional staff nearby in case of behavioral outbursts. On community outings he was usually accompanied by at least three staff members. Now we were about to move him to Shared Living Collaborative (SLC) where he would have just one-to-one daytime staffing and two-to-one staffing in his residential placement, with no immediate, additional staff for help during a behavioral incident. We were tense and on edge about how this new arrangement would work. Rocky Beginnings This placement did not start out well. SLC seriously questioned whether Ryan could continue in the program. We approached a crisis point at SLC,
FRAXA Research Foundation is fortunate to attract volunteers and interns from universities far and wide. FRAXA has just four staff on the payroll (three of whom are part time), to keep expenses low and devote your donations to Fragile X research. That also means we are very grateful to our volunteers! This past summer we were joined at the FRAXA Newburyport, MA office by Emily Fluet, a student who had completed her freshman year at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Emily has transformed two FRAXA publications into online resources available to all: Fragile X – A to Z and Medication Guide for Fragile X. My summer at FRAXA Research Foundation by Emily Fluet 9/1/2015 Many of my friends went on gap years last year, and hearing about their volunteering and service really inspired me: I wanted to do something to help out others as well. So I started researching nonprofits and was drawn to
Undergraduate students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) complete what is known as the Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP). Student groups work closely with local or national sponsors during their junior year to complete a project that benefits their community. Two student groups from WPI are working with FRAXA to provide research-based improvements to the FRAXA.org website, and to develop a mobile FRAXA app. Biomedical Engineering major Krisha Nazareth and Computer Science major Christopher Gillis are working on the app development team (Team App). Team App is working to create a mobile app which will use GPS services on smart phones to inform users of nearby clinical trials, resources and events. The app will also host a discussion board for members of the Fragile X community. Biology and Biotechnology majors Rachel Prescott and Collette Bora and Mechanical Engineering major Heather Lavoie are performing research to make strategic improvements to the FRAXA.org website (TeamRead more
Many older family members in the Fragile X community are affected by FXTAS (Fragile X-associated Tremor/Ataxia Syndrome). We all hope that knowing the underlying cause of neurodegenerative symptoms in FXTAS will help in the development of specific treatments over the long term. In the short term, we would also hope that having a specific diagnosis would help us to identify particular available treatments which might be more effective than others. One of the available treatments for Alzheimer's Disease is a glutamate receptor blocker called memantine (Namenda), and dementia specialists think this drug could be effective in treating a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases. It has been found to be effective in treating Lewy Body Dementia, a disorder which causes parkinsonism and cognitive decline, with features rather similar to FXTAS. This led researchers to think that this drug could also be useful in treating FXTAS, and initial open-label experience with it wasRead more