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Month: April 2017

Do You Know the Early Signs of Autism?

Do You Know the Early Signs of Autism?

No one wants to receive the diagnosis of autism and recent statistics reveal that autism is on the rise with 1 in 68 children now being diagnosed with autism. While diagnosis is on the rise, most children are not diagnosed until age 2. All evidence points to early detection and intervention as the most successful treatment option, but do you know the early signs of autism? Below are common signs that may indicate your child may be autistic and require further observation.

1. Delayed motor development – Parents love the milestones that their children achieve such as rolling over, crawling and walking. Any delays may warrant further investigation.

2. Repetitive or obsessive behavior – watch for unusual body movements with the hands or arms and unusual body postures.

3. Disinterest in other family members – Does your child look to you for comfort (eye contact) and extend their arms to be picked up? Lack of interest in bonding at an early age may lead to difficulty relating to others as they mature.

4. Unresponsiveness to their name and environment– Is your baby hard of hearing or simply not responding to verbal cues? Is your baby imitating sounds, smiles and facial expressions?

5. Lack of smiling – Does your child smile back and laugh? This should be normal behavior by six months of age.

With any condition, your physician or a specialist can help you determine if further care is needed. With early detection and treatment children on the autism spectrum have the potential to lead full and rewarding lives.

Improving Classroom Focus for Students with Autism

Improving Classroom Focus for Students with Autism

Most children and adults find that paying attention can be hard work at times. For children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it can be a big challenge. Paying attention uses particular networks in the brain and it is a skill that can be improved and developed over time. To pay attention effectively, we need to be alert, so that we can filter distractions from important information within our surroundings.

Children with autism quite often also have a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) which further compounds the difficulty of keeping on task.
Keeping focus and attention is critical for school age children as it is expected that they sit for extended periods of time and listen to the teacher. With preparation your child can make the most of their classroom time.

So what can you do to best prepare your child for success in the classroom?

1) Get out excess energy
A child will have difficulty sustaining attention on a task if they are too over stimulated. Allowing additional time prior to school for your child to engage in physical activities that they enjoy such as riding their bike or jumping on a trampoline will help them to respond appropriately to a more sedentary task. Discreet finger and foot fidget tools are also helpful.

2) Consider an appropriate environment
A noisy, over-stimulating place will simply add to the distractions. Find a quiet place for homework and study and build in “break” time dependent upon your child’s attention span and age. Try and set a goal for longer “focus” times.

3) Adequate sleep
If your body needs sleep you will not be able to focus and learn. Sleep quality has a profound impact on learning and memory. Research suggests that sleep helps learning and memory in two distinct ways. A sleep-deprived person cannot focus attention optimally and therefore cannot learn efficiently. Additionally, sleep itself has a role in the consolidation of memory, which is essential for learning new information.

4) Proper Diet
Several studies show that nutritional status can directly affect mental capacity among school-aged children. For example, deficiencies in iron, thiamine, vitamin E, vitamin B, iodine, and zinc, are shown to inhibit cognitive abilities and mental concentration. Additionally, amino acid supplementation can improve perception, intuition, and reasoning. Several studies also demonstrate that improvements in nutrient intake can influence the cognitive ability and intelligence levels of school-aged children. As many children with autism have limited diets, dietary deficiencies are not uncommon.

Cognition Focus and Calm Focus support healthy sleep and concentration, both of which are needed for success in the classroom. Cognition Focus stimulates the sympathetic nervous system which is involved in learning and memory. Calm Focus stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which initiates sleep. Cognition Focus and Calm Focus also provide the nutrients that are often found to be deficient in autistic children, and are needed for your child to reach their maximum potential.

Allergies and Autism

Allergies and Autism

Springtime brings warmer temperatures, longer days and beautiful blooming flowers and trees; but along with all of nature’s beauty springtime is often the time when we see a rise in pollen and a rise in the sneezing and runny noses. Allergens send the body’s immune system into overdrive, leading to allergy symptoms such as sneezing, and itching when exposed to environmental allergens. Food allergies or sensitivities usually result in GI symptoms. Allergies are also frequently seen in children with autism; could there be a link between allergies and autism?

First, let’s make the distinction between intolerance and an allergy. An allergy causes an immune system reaction that affects numerous organs in the body. It can cause a wide range of symptoms and in severe cases it can be life-threatening. In contrast, intolerance symptoms are generally less serious and often limited to digestive problems. A classic example of intolerance is the inability to digest lactose (milk sugar) resulting in GI distress including stomach pain, bloating and diarrhea. Anaphylaxis is an extreme example of an allergy where there is a whole-body response that can be life-threatening and must be treated quickly.

Food allergies are extremely common in children with autism with approximately 1 in 13 children having a food allergy and 1 in 40 reporting a life threatening food allergy. Food allergies are one of the main causes of ADHD according to a 2001 study in the Lancet. It is also recognized that allergies to chemicals, molds and other environmental agents can also cause behavioral changes.

Food allergies can, in fact, produce inflammation throughout the body. Food allergies result from a strong immune response to a food, and the resulting inflammation can involve multiple body systems. With classic food allergies, this immune response involves a particular antibody, IgE (immunoglobulin type E). Another inflammatory food response that is appearing more frequently is eosinophilic esophagitis. Eosinophilic esophagitis is not a classic food allergy but the resulting inflammation produces changes in the cell lining of the esophagus which can lead to a difficulty is swallowing. Avoiding the offending foods allows the esophagus to heal, along with the rest of the GI tract.

The gut is integral to the immune system and the brain and will react immediately when exposed to an offending agent. Avoidance of the allergen and incorporating antioxidants into the diet may assist in decreasing inflammation associated with food intolerances in children with autism. Focus Formulations products can help with dietary deficiencies associated with autism. Our products contain antioxidants to calm inflammation and combat the effects of oxidative stress while supplying the needed nutrients for healthy learning and sleep.

April Is Autism Awareness Month

April Is Autism Awareness Month

April is Autism awareness month and is filled with activities to promote autism awareness, inclusion and self-determination for all. The goal of autism awareness month is to assure that each person with Autism Spectrum Disorder is provided the opportunity to achieve the highest possible quality of life. How can you participate in autism awareness? Below are a few suggestions that you can do in your own neighborhood to raise autism awareness.

1. Be aware that autism looks different for everyone. Autism embraces a “spectrum” of
behavior. Not all symptoms are overt and may range from physical symptoms such as
“flapping” to subtle emotional symptoms.

2. Volunteer or attend a local event. April is full of events from walks to golf
tournaments to help raise awareness and funds for autism.

3. Light it up blue! Recognition of UN-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day (April
2nd) and World Autism Month occurs throughout April. Join the thousands of people
across the world who wear blue in honor of the millions of individuals and families
affected by autism. You may purchase special light it up blue gear at
www.autismspeaks.org and don’t forget the hashtag #LightItUpBlue

4. Donate to your favorite autism charity. If you don’t have the funds you can always
donate your time at a local autism event in your city. Focus Formulations will donate
25% of all sales in the month of April to an autism charity that is suggested by one of
our followers/subscribers. Please leave a comment below and let us know about your
charity!