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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.

 

Sensory Processing Disorder and Temperature

Sensory Processing Disorder and Temperature

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.

Does Geography Influence the Rate of Autism?

Does Geography Influence the Rate of Autism?

Researchers have known that there is a strong genetic component to autism but autism is also found in clusters around the country. Certain communities and states have a much higher rate than the rest of the country http://graphics.latimes.com/usmap-autism-rates-state/. Autism rates are highest in the Northeast and on the West Coast and lowest among the Southern and Plains states. For example, a child born in California is several times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than a child in Alabama, but the question is why?

The fact that clusters are found in certain geographical areas seems to imply a local, environmental cause. Looking at environmental factors is difficult because much of that information is undocumented. One would have to consider air quality, water quality, and energy resources. Several other factors to consider are income levels and ethnicity. One group of researchers compared the rate of male genital malformations with the autism rate with the suggestion that environmental toxins in the area were responsible for the malformation due to the high rate. They found the greater the amount of malformations in boys, the greater the autism rates in the area, suggesting a correlation between environmental factors and autism diagnosis. But then how does one explain the phenomenon of identical twins which have the same genetic and environmental information but one twin has autism and the other does not.

When looking at such correlations, it is important to keep in mind that correlations do not mean causation, particularly when looking at the broader pictures. For example, one cannot assume that just because alcoholism rates are high in a city with high suicide rates that one is causing the other.

The theories on causation and rise of autism rates is complex and as research continues to make strides in the treatment, diagnosis and cure for autism it is important to keep in mind that autism is multi-factorial.

Can Chiropractic Care Help Autism Symptoms?

Can Chiropractic Care Help Autism Symptoms?

We all know about chiropractic care for a bad back but what about for a child with autism? A recently published study in the Annals of Vertebral Subluxation Research, focused on a three year old child recently diagnosed with autism. The child suffered from delayed motor, cognitive, and speech skills and also suffered from frequent headaches, vomiting, and insomnia. During the study, the child received subluxation-based specific chiropractic care to assess the benefits, if any, the treatment would supply. After one month of treatment, the child appeared to have reduced headaches, vomiting, and insomnia. Her autism-related issues also appeared to improve, including her eye contact, attitude, and language development.

Spinal adjustments are often used on other parts of the body and are often known for treating common illness such as headaches and allergies. Chiropractors call certain misalignments vertebral subluxations, which result in problems with the spine and nervous system. Autism symptoms are intimately involved in the reaction of the nervous system and some autism researchers believe that the nerve damage could lead to neuroendocrine events that exacerbate autism symptoms.

Although much more research needs to be done concerning chiropractic alignment and autism, a multi-disciplinary approach to treating your child’s symptoms is encouraged. Working together with your primary care physician, chiropractors, occupational therapists, and other health care providers will often provide the best overall support for your child.

Can People on the Spectrum Communicate Better with Animals?

Can People on the Spectrum Communicate Better with Animals?

“I’m suspicious of people who don’t like dogs, but I trust a dog when it doesn’t like a person.”

Are dogs more sensitive to human nature or do they simply perceive the world in a different manner such as those with autism? In the book Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior, by Temple Grandin, Grandin examines the surprising similarities between an animal’s mind and an autistic mind. Autism is a neurological disorder with various theories on causation. Scientists who study autism believe that the disorder is caused by under development of certain brain circuits, and over development of other brain circuits. The imbalance of the nervous system results in the common symptoms you see in autism such as speech delays, sound and texture sensitivities and developmental delays. Grandin observes that people with autism, ‘are closer to animals than normal people are.’ Grandin contributes the differences between typical human mentality and animal mentality, not as a matter of IQ but as a matter of perception and emotion.

Grandin, autistic herself, states that she has no language based thoughts; all of her thoughts are in pictures. Since animals do not have verbal language and many children with autism are non-verbal, memories and thoughts are stored as pictures, sounds, or other sensory impressions. Sensory-based information by its very nature is more detailed than word-based memories; therefore animals may understand intentions, emotions, images, or thoughts behind the words, even if the words themselves aren’t totally understood. You may also observe an animal “sensing” something way before a human and can even be trained to alert others to seizures and illness. Primarily, animals and people with autism are visual thinkers; while most people use a combination of verbal and visual skills for communication.

We would all love to communicate better with our pets and that communication strengthens our bond with them. Grandin, who is an expert in animal behavior, claims that her autism helps her understand and empathize with animals. Grandin is also a professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University, an advocate in the autism community and an activist for the humane treatment of animals.

Find out more about theories on autism and treatments at: www.focusformulations.com

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.

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.