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AQUATIC THERAPY AND AUTISM

AQUATIC THERAPY AND AUTISM

Water has many healing qualities but have you considered aquatic therapy for your autistic child? Clinicians who have studied aquatic therapy reported a substantial increase in swim skills, attention, muscle strength, balance, tolerating touch, initiating/maintaining eye contact and water safety. Studies have also shown that children who exercise at least 20 minutes a day, 3-4 times a week, saw a reduction in hyperactivity, self-harm and injury, aggression, and destructiveness, and repeated self-stimulatory behaviors that are often associated with children on the spectrum. Here are three ways that swimming can act as a form of therapy for children with autism:

1. Water is comforting: Any physical activity in the water can help relax muscles and ease tension. Water reduces body weight and therefore decreases the stress and impact on the body — which is great for children who sometimes feel like their own body is too much to handle. Many children are even able to tolerate touch much better after aquatic therapy.

2. Social Skills: Group swimming can promote social skills. Swimming lessons allow children to interact with their teacher as well as other students/parents in the class building skills that can be used in alternative situations.

3. Improve focus: Simply taking a class can help improve attention span and learning. Being in a learning environment that allows for physical movement will help for future moments in the classroom. Blowing bubbles in the water and learning to regulate their breath can also improve oral articulation.

4. Better Balance: Aquatic therapy helps strengthen muscles, which increases balance and develops better range of motion.

As an added benefit, your child could become a better swimmer who is less at risk near water and it allows for a fun activity with your child. With summer fast approaching, let’s plan for some pool time!

Halloween and Autism

Halloween and Autism

With all the spooky costumes, scary decorations, eerie noises, and an explosion of sugar, Halloween can be overwhelming for any child and particularly for children with special needs.

Here are some tips for a safe and enjoyable Halloween for your child:

1. Select a costume that combines comfort and fun – Let your child practice wearing their costume at home. This gives you time to make any last minute modifications and time for your child to get used to the costume.

2. Prepare – Many children with special needs do better with a schedule or routine. Write a narrative describing what your child will do on Halloween and visually track where you will go. Read the story several times before Halloween so your child has time to get used to the plan.

3. Practice – Practice trick or treating in a familiar environment. Visit friends and family, if possible, even neighbors.

4. Review positive behavior – Review expectations, such as saying, “Trick-or-Treat!” and “Thank you” and not going inside the home.

5. Have a backup plan- In case there is melt down, consider letting siblings (that might want to go longer) go trick or treating with a friend.

6. Gradual change – If your child has difficulty with change, you may want to decorate your home gradually.

7. Remember, Halloween looks different for every child and you know your child best. Happy Halloween!

A Salute to Special Needs Fathers

A Salute to Special Needs Fathers

So much is written on the mother-child bond, but what is a father’s role in this equation? Fathers are also essential to the healthy development of a child and have a great impact on the emotional and intellectual growth of the child. Father’s bring a different style to parenting to the family from communication styles to more active play and help to prepare our children for the reality of the world.

When a family has a special needs child, having two parents is even more essential as each partner looks to the other for support. Parenting stress can not only affect the psychological well being of an individual, but it can also affect the marital relationship between spouses. It is a sad reality that couples of children with special needs face a much higher divorce rate than the rest of the married population and it has been noted that more than 30 percent of fathers of special needs children experience symptoms of depression so severe that they warrant clinical attention.

Support groups provide a safe environment to bond and share experiences with others that are sharing your same struggle and while there are many support groups for mothers of special needs children, there is only a small number of support groups focused on fathers. Attending a support group or even starting your own can be an empowering tool to help fathers feel like they have a community of support and provide a source of strategizing and gaining support for challenges.

So what can we do to help our special needs children? Parents report feeling closer to their children when they focus on positive behaviors that their child engages in and providing positive reinforcement rather than focus on negative behaviors. These parents are often more likely to act in ways that encourage those positive behaviors to occur again. It is also important to remember that special needs children are beautifully unique and it is important to focus on your child’s strengths and positive behaviors and help to promote these qualities and strengths. So on Father’s Day, we want to say thank you to all of the fathers that hung in through the tough times and are still hanging in there….you are greatly appreciated.

How Will Your Autistic Child Look as an Adult?

How Will Your Autistic Child Look as an Adult?

You may feel frustrated right now that your child is not hitting the milestones that you see other children reaching. Will my child ever sleep through the night? Will my child ever speak? Will my child make connections with other peers? Rest assured that your child will not be the same down the road as he/she is today. Age two is vastly different from age 12 and age 12 is very different from 24.

We all grow and change with maturity and autism does not prevent a child from developing and changing over time; they simply may not do it as quickly as a neurotypical child. Autism involves several developmental delays; delay does not mean it will not happen but simply not on the “normal” developmental time frame.

Developmental delays in verbal communication can be especially frustrating. The National Center of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities states that 25 to 30 percent of children diagnosed with autism will speak some words by 12 to 18 months. However, those children may have a diminished capacity for, or lose the ability altogether, to communicate verbally. Nearly 40 percent of children diagnosed will never be able to speak at all. The remaining percentage of children may be able to communicate verbally at a much later age. Keep in mind that verbal challenges seen at age 3 will look very different at age 15 and will also look very different as an adult.

Connecting socially is also important and we want our children to connect with peers. Children with autism often times do not have the social skills to make connections and developmental delays can compound the problem. Children with autism are often socially and emotionally at a much younger age than their peers. At a young age this divide can be huge but as they age this gap gets smaller.

Be patient, being in the “waiting room” is never easy but continue to relish your child’s victories and continue to encourage and support them.

A Natural Alternative to Adderall

A Natural Alternative to Adderall

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood neurobiological disorders. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that as of July 2015, close to 6 million, American children between the ages of 4 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD at some point in their lifetimes. Symptoms of ADHD include: aggression, excitability, fidgeting, hyperactivity, impulsivity, irritability, lack of restraint, or persistent repetition of words or actions.

Despite the risk of using amphetamines in children, Adderall is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for children diagnosed with ADHD. Side effects of Adderall include:

Nervousness                              Fear
Restlessness                              Anxiety
Excitability                                Agitation
Irritability                                 Tremor
Agitation                                   Weakness
Dizziness                                  Blurred vision
Headache                                 Sleep problems

Stimulant drugs like Adderall are addictive and using them recreationally may increase the chances of developing a psychological and physical dependence on them. Long term use of Adderall may also include physical damage to the brain and internal organs.

Adderall increases the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, but what if there was a way to do that naturally without any harmful side effects? Cognition Focus works by providing the key precursors that are involved in memory and cognitive processes. They cross the blood brain barrier and produce the neurotransmitters that are vital in this process.

The major ingredients in Cognition Focus are L-glutamic acid which is a major neurotransmitter that provides fuel for the brain and stimulates mental alertness and memory. It also contains choline bitartrate and N-acetyl L-carnitine which are able to cross the blood brain barrier and work at the level of the neural synapse. Calm Focus works by providing the key precursors that are involved in the sleep process. Calm Focus also helps to combat the effects of oxidative stress which is an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to detoxify their harmful effects.

Using Cognition Focus during the day and Calm Focus at night provides a synergistic balance between the sympathetic (fight or flight) and the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest), allowing you to stay focused and calm for a productive day.

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!

What is Alexithymia and do You Have it?

What is Alexithymia and do You Have it?

Have you ever met someone that no matter what is happening everything is “ok”? Now most of us don’t want to burden others with the trivial matters of our day but there are people that have difficulty perceiving and describing emotions of themselves and others. This condition is called alexithymia which is the inability to identify and describe emotions.

The core characteristics of alexithymia are marked dysfunction in emotional awareness, social attachment, and interpersonal relating. Those with alexithymia lack a lived understanding of what they experience emotionally. It is important to note that alexithymia is a personality characteristic or construct and not a diagnosis.
These are just a few examples of what a person with alexithymia may experience:

• Difficulty identifying different types of feelings
• Limited understanding of what causes feelings
• Difficulty expressing feelings
• Difficulty recognizing facial/social cues in others
• Limited or rigid imagination
• Constricted style of thinking
• Hypersensitive to physical sensations
• Detached or tentative connection to others

Alexithymia has two dimensions – a cognitive dimension, where a child or adult struggles to identify, interpret and verbalize feelings (the “logical” part of our emotional experience) and an affective dimension, where difficulties arise in reacting, expressing, feeling and imagining (the “emotional” part of our emotional experience).

It is a common misconception that children with autism cannot understand emotion and cannot be empathetic towards others. While children and adults with autism may not show emotion the same way most people would, they still can understand emotion- just in a different way. According to researchers at the University of East London and King’s College London, many people with autism express empathy, sometimes even an excessive amount of it. However, there was a segment that had difficulty understanding emotion. This observation led researchers to examine the overlap between alexithymia and autism.

Do you think you may have alexithymia? Click the link below to take a short quiz to measure your alexithymia score.

http://www.alexithymia.us/test.html

Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Right For Your Child?

Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment Right For Your Child?

What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment?

Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment (HBOT) is a safe, non-invasive way to get more oxygen into the body at the cellular level by using pressurized air chambers and has been used since 2004 for some patients diagnosed with autism.

How does this help a child with autism?

When a typical person focuses on a task or speaking, the brain is doing more work and there is an increase in blood flow to the brain. This increase in the blood flow to the brain supplies the brain with more oxygen and glucose, giving the cells their needed energy to perform their task.

In children with autism, several studies have demonstrated that there is diminished blood flow in the brain to start with and when attempting to perform a task the blood flow does not increase resulting in an increased need for oxygen and glucose.

What will HBOT do for my child?

  • It removes toxins, such as heavy metals from the body.
  • It reduces inflammation in the brain
  • It builds new capillaries in the brain.
  • It reduces the inflammation in the gut

How does hyperbaric oxygen therapy work?

There are two types of mild HBOT therapy currently being used by physicians:

  • 100% oxygen – used in clinic only
  • Ambient or concentrated oxygen – used at home

Filtered ambient air is used with an additional oxygen concentrator to safely administer oxygen to the body. Allowing more oxygen to penetrate otherwise oxygen deficient areas enables the body to carry out oxygen dependent processes by dissolving oxygen directly into the blood, plasma and cerebrospinal fluids.

Is this therapy right for my child?

Please keep in mind that some of these therapies require a face mask or hood and your child may not be comfortable with this equipment.  Some doctors have units that are wired for music or watching videos which may make it more enjoyable for your child.  Although in chambers providing 100% oxygen, electronics of any kind are not allowed due to safety issues.

It is important to note that many doctors recommend hyperbaric oxygen therapy for children on the spectrum in conjunction with antioxidant supplements. Focus Formulations products contain powerful antioxidants to combat oxidative stress and are a perfect combination therapy to pair with hyperbaric oxygen treatment.  Find out more about our products at:  www.FocusFormulations.com

GOT SLEEP?

GOT SLEEP?

We all want a good night’s sleep and if our children don’t sleep well that means parents don’t sleep well. Researchers estimate that 26 percent to 32 percent of typically-developing children experiences sleep problems. An even larger portion of children (estimates range from 53 to 78 percent) with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience the same issues .

One theory contributes the over-arousal of the sympathetic nervous system and under arousal of the parasympathetic nervous system for the sleep and concentration issues that are seen in children with autism. It is also common for children with autism to have higher levels of anxiety. Higher levels of anxiety often occur as the child matures and sleep disturbances improve but daytime anxiety increases. In one study by Kushki, children with autism demonstrated atypical responses to stressful tasks and had higher levels of anxiety compared to the control group.

Sleep is essential and is necessary for restorative processes to take place in the body. When we don’t sleep well, we don’t feel well and have trouble concentrating. Establishing a healthy sleep routine as well as the use of Focus Formulation products to balance the two parts of the autonomic nervous system may be the key to a restful night’s sleep.

Routine is also important in developing any sleep routine but this is of particular importance for a child with autism.
 Set an age appropriate bed time
 Allow time to wind down with low key pleasurable activities 20 minutes before
bedtime. This may consist of bath time and story time.
 Keep the room free of light and sound distractions
 Maintain a comfortable temperature in the room

The use of Cognition Focus during the day to help over stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system and the use of Calm Focus during the night to support healthy sleep may be the first step to a restful night. Visit us at FocusFormulations.com to learn more and share your story, we would love to hear from you.

Malow, B.A., Byars, K., Johnson, K., Weiss, Shelly, Bernal, P., Goldman, S.E., Panzer, R., Coury, D.L., Glaze, D.G. (2012). A practice pathway for the identification, evaluation, and management of insomnia in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. Pediatrics, 130(2), 106-124

Kushki A, Drumm E, Pla Mobarak M, Tanel N, Dupuis A, Chau T, Anagnostou E. Investigating the autonomic nervous system response to anxiety in children with autism spectrum disorders. PLoS One. 2013;8(4):e59730. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059730. Epub 2013 Apr 5.