Will your child only wear shorts, no matter what the temperature is outside? Or only eat foods that are at certain temperatures? This may be a sign of Sensory Processing Disorder or SPD (formerly known as sensory integration dysfunction).
Sensory Processing Disorder is a condition where sensory signals don’t get organized into the appropriate response. Children and adults with autism frequently suffer from sensory processing whether it is lights, sounds or tastes; temperature regulation may also be an aspect.
The exact cause of Sensory Processing Disorder is not fully understood but many body functions are regulated by neural feedback mechanisms in the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus controls things like body temperature, thirst, hunger and releases many hormones. Researchers have noted a diminished grey matter in the region of the hypothalamus in subjects with autism and the sub-region of the hypothalamus that is altered in the group with autism is also responsible for synthesizing oxytocin and vasopressin. Studies have found lower levels of oxytocin in individuals with autism. Oxytocin is believed to enhance social skills, such as trust and empathy, which may be deficient in autism.
The hot summer months may be difficult for a child with Sensory Processing Disorder and he/she may not always choose the best clothing to deal with the heat. Some children will only wear long pants while others hate wearing clothing at all. There are several companies that offer sensory friendly clothing and for the child who will only wear long sleeves and pants, go for natural, breathable fabrics.
It is also important to monitor children with Sensory Processing Disorder to ensure they drink enough liquids. They may not respond to thirst as quickly as a child without the disorder. Track their fluid intake to ward off heat stroke or exhaustion. Also, keep track of the time they spend outside under the sun. Instituting regular shade breaks or taking some time inside can help keep them cool during the worst of the summer heat.
Sensory Integration therapy is another tool to help those with Sensory Processing Disorder. The theory behind Sensory Integration therapy is that specific movement activities such as resistive body work and even brushing of the skin can help a child with sensory problems experience an optimal level of arousal and regulation. This, according to some OTs, can actually “rewire” the brain so that children can appropriately integrate and respond to sensory input, allowing them to understand the stimulus and feel more comfortable.
Being sensitive to those with Sensory Processing Disorder is most helpful as sensory processing issues can put them in a constant state of discomfort. They may be unable to sweat to cool themselves down or may sweat too much for the ambient temperature. It is important to keep in mind that a person with Sensory Processing Disorder does not feel temperature the same way that you do and their discomfort may lead to a sensory overload, shutdown or meltdown.
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.
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.
Making The New Year Count
As we say goodbye to 2016 and move into another new year it is a great practice to step back and reflect how last year went. What was successful, what was not? Why did certain things not work out and what can be done to improve in the New Year.
It is easy to overlook the basic things that we should be grateful for, a roof over our head, food on the table, our general health. Gratitude is important and the acknowledgement of what we or our children have accomplished. Reflecting on your actions is perhaps the most vital part of any learning process. Remember to not measure one’s progress against anyone else. We are all at a different stages with different abilities. Focus instead on establishing the best practices for future growth and improve upon our current ones.
Being Mindful of Your New Goals
We can’t get to where we want to go without a map. “Map” out your goals for the New Year. Not just broad strokes but a plan on how you are going to get to that next step. Experts agree that writing down each significant step in the new process and checking it off as time passes will help to stay on track.
Wishing you the Best in the New Year
We at Focus Formulations wish to make 2017 the best year for your family. We are committed to helping your family with products that support focus, concentration and healthy sleep patterns.
So as you consider your goals for the New Year, take time to reflect about what you would like to accomplish and how do you plan to get there. Track your progress along the way and make adjustments as needed. There will surely be detours along the way but do not forget to enjoy the journey; the changes in the road may surprise you.