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GIRLS AND AUTISM

GIRLS AND AUTISM

 

We do know that there are four times as many boys with autism than girls, but is that increased number due to boys being more predisposed to having autism or girls being under-diagnosed?

Current theories lean to girls wanting to be more social and will try to be part of a group even if it is awkward.   Boys on the other hand tend to be more isolative.  These natural tendencies make it more likely that a boy with autism will be diagnosed earlier than a girl and this early diagnosis may be beneficial in the long run.

Girls are also more adept at “social camouflage”.  Social camouflage is defined as using specific techniques to appear socially competent and finding ways to prevent others from seeing their social difficulties.  Girls with autism observed interacting in a group were noted to be close enough to look socially connected but there were no meaningful conversations or exchanges.  They were hovering around the perimeter of the social exchange while boys with autism were noted to be far away from the group.

Girls with autism were also noted to behave more appropriately and were quieter while boys exhibited more compulsive behavior. Preliminary findings suggest there are differences in the brains of girls and boys with autism. Brain imaging shows that girls with autism seem to have less of a disruption in the area of the brain that processes social information and may be more likely to understand social expectations, even if they can’t fully meet them.

A late diagnosis of autism is a setback for any child. The PDQ-1 questionnaire developed at Rutgers University may help to diagnose a child as young as 18 months in as little as two minutes and the earlier the diagnosis and intervention the better the outcome.

 

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!

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.

Looking for an Autism Friendly Summer Camp?

Looking for an Autism Friendly Summer Camp?

A common right of passage for many children is the experience of summer camp and for children with autism that may not be an easy task. Fortunately, there are many camps that are specifically geared for children on the spectrum.

Here are a few items to consider in finding a camp that is the right fit for your child:

1. Is your child ready for camp? Is it just for the day, weekend or a sleep away camp?
2. What is the age range of the campers?
3. Does the camp have special needs standards?
4. What is the safety policy?
5. Are there any therapeutics activities such as equestrian therapy, behavior management, social skills groups or sensory integration?
6. What percentage of the campers have autism?
7. What is the camper to staff ratio?
8. Is an aide permitted to accompany a camper?
9. Are medical professionals available on site?
10. What are the fees and are scholarships available?

Check out the link below for camps in your area and start preparing for a fun and relaxing summer with your family.

https://www.mysummercamps.com/camps/Special_Needs_Camps/Autism/

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.