Autism and Democracy

In commercials for children with Autism you may see the lone child staring into space aimlessly. This of course is misleading because the child may have much activity going on behind those eyes. The child with Autism may be pondering more than staring.

To some people it seems un-American to institutionalize people, although many people have used and do use this option. When thinking of people with Autism, civil rights must apply to everyone or they mean nothing.

Unfortunately there still seems to be a debt as to whether or not people with autism can be allowed to stay in society. Families who want to take care of their family members should have the right to do so, even if they need a little help.

Humanitarianism, political correctness even democracy should demand this option for everyone who wants to keep a child or adult with Autism in their home. Many typical people have some of the same characteristics that a child with Autism has.

I wonder at the reasoning that it is because typical people chose to have those characteristics it is considered ok. On the other hand our children do not choose in the same way and are denied services or are placed on endless waiting lists.

Unfortunately we are also faced with the sometimes sloppy thinking of some professionals. It is easy to tell a parent that they do not have to live this way. It is easy to tell them there is a place our children can go. It is much harder to deal with a parent's emotions and the slow unresponsive system we have.

Science often devotes time and resources to finding cures and answers for conditions like Autism. What is forgotten is that family members are often doing this as well. We also need to keep in mind that agencies should not be allowed to interfere in those family's lives.

Bureaucracy is a disastrous time bomb. People must have the right to deal with Autism as they see fit. Unfortunately many agencies have become conceited as a whole. People are tired but they must understand that the loss of liberty begins with the old, the mentally ill, the sick, and then it comes after you.

{ Comments are closed }

What Happens When Things Get Worse in Autism Treatments Part 2

We covered a couple of supplements in part 1 of this 2 part series that can cause some worsening of symptoms at times. B vitamins can have a tendency to cause hyperactivity. Cod liver oil can also cause some reactions depending on flavorings or until supplementation with L-Carnitine happens which aids in the fat metabolism.

In addition to the reactions with B vitamins and cod liver oil, I have also seen from time to time, issues with the use of single amino acids. So whether you are using Taurine, Gaba or other amino acids, there can be some reactions to watch for. Your child could become hyper or agitated, they may become stimulant or have higher than usual sensory needs, the issue is not that these amino acids are toxic to the child but there is an underlying bacterial imbalance in the digestive tract, known as gut dysbiosis . Often times when there is gut dysbiosis in a child, the amino acids will feed those bacteria making them more assertive if you will. The bacteria have toxic byproducts that interfere with the normal brain functioning which can cause behavioral issues because of the chemical influence on the child's brain. So if you notice changes in behavior after beginning an amino acid supplement or amino acid blend, think gut dysbiosis. There could be an issue with bacteria in the gut that is going on in your child.

One diagnostic test that can help determine whether gut dysbiosis is a problem for your child is to do a stool test. One test is called a comprehensive digestive stool analysis which can be performed by many different labs, including Doctor's Data and Great Plains Laboratories. An organic acid test (OAT) is also a great option. It is a urine test and the one I use is from Great Plains Labs and it looks for those toxic byproducts from yeast and bacteria that are quite common in children with autism. So I hope that these tips will help you when starting new supplements. Sometimes you can see some behavioral issues when you start supplements and it is important to know what can be causing these reactions in your child.

{ Comments are closed }

How Can I Come to Know If My Child Has Asperger’s Syndrome?

If you have a child who has a few of the many common symptoms of someone with Asperger syndrome or autism, you may be thinking if there is a true way to distinguish clinically if your child really has it, or just indicates minor signs. If this is a fact new subject to you, I am sure it is, you might be worried about the causes and effects of Asperger syndrome and if there is anything you could do in order to keep your child from having it get worse.

First off, let's talk a little bit about Asperger's syndrome history. This condition was initially described as Hands Asperger back in 1944 when a doctor named Hans Asperger began to find people who had clinical characteristics very similar to autism. The main dissimilarity between what Hans found and what is occurring in our kids nowdays.

In 1994 The American Psychiatric Association added Asperger's syndrome to it's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. its not, though, listed under autism. Instead, its listed under a rather wider broad spectrum in the Pervasive Developmental Disorder segment of the handbook.

You might be thinking about a few of the most common characteristics of Aspergers. One of the huge ones is social impairment. Lots of kids might show that they have lack of social skills, they do not like to be touched, not even by their parents, they do not thrive in developing friends like some other kids do, and they do not like any social constructs that are “new”.

In other words, if your kid has a schedule he or she sticks to each morning and you modify something, even something extremely small, they are not only notice it, but their moods usually change astronomically!

One more characteristic that a lot of children have is the incapability to speak or relay their messages to you correctly / directly. A lot of kids have bad motor ability, delayed speech, or they also tend to frame their own means of talking. This is one of the very worst symptoms, I think.

If your child stops speaking normal English words and makes up his or her own language with grunts or sign language or stops talking at all, this is about the time that everyone, especially you, realizes that something is wrong. Something is not relocating correctly from a neurological standpoint.

Another big symptom relates to sensory experiences or sensitivities. Lots of kids with Asperger Syndrome extremely hate noisy situations or loud things like horns honking, fire alerts going off, parents fighting, etc.

{ Comments are closed }

What Exactly is Aspergers Syndrome? Does My Child Have It?

These days a lot of people have started to link aspergers syndrome to autism. Note; its not specifically Autism; however, the two are linked because they do have many similar symptoms. One reason a lot of parents actually catch this is because of the familiarity of Autism. Recently you may have seen a tale on Oprah about Jenny McCarthy and her son and their realization that he had Autism. This made lots of parents more aware about what this diagnosis is, how it can change your kid and if your kid might or may not have it.

I think a lot of parents saw that episode on Oprah and kind of checked out their child thinking, “wow, that is what has been wrong!” Egypt “wow, those symptoms sound just like my son's”. It used to be that individuals did not actually talk about this. If your kid had it, it could have been years or possibly their own lives before you knew they had it. Nowadays though, individuals are more open about it. Actually, individuals like Jenny McCarthy even went on national TV for a purpose – to share her story and her sons story with everyone. So that if your child does have symptoms of Asperger, that you must get things checked out.

One should by no means ignore this, its best if you could catch it as quick as possible. Some of the most common issues that parents see in a kid which has Asperger's syndrome are; aggression, self-injury, and social inappropriateness. For instance lets say you have a relative right now which has very significant symptoms of this condition. He is near to 8 years old, struggles socially, he can not speak correctly, and he is oftentimes more inappropriately than one would like him to be. Most docs concerned with Aspergers have said that there is a difference in the structure of the brain of a kid without this syndrome versus with.

Undergressiveness, self injury, and social inappropriateness, other chief problems of this condition are; difficulty understanding and translating facial expressions and mannerisms of other people, language rigidity, shortage of eye contact, irregular nonverbal body postures, social and nonverbal problems, plus inordinately fast speech and a lack of coordination. Some individuals say that once your kid certainly has Aspergers that they are changed eternally that there is no going back. Personally, I'm a big believer in life-style changes which can assist with Aspergers. There are things you can do to assist you and your child.

I think that if you do change how you speak to and around your child, if you change their diet plan, if you're patient with them that over time the symptoms can lessen. It does take time, and it could be painful. But, this can be helped if you help them work on it. Do not give up on your child just because they have Aspergers or Autism or any other issues. You are their parent, that is what you are there for, to love them unconditionally!

{ Comments are closed }

How Can One Cope With a Child Who Has Asperger’s Syndrome

One of the major issues for a kid with Asperger syndrome is social interactions. Actually, a lot of parents actually catch on once once they start looking at their child's reaction to social situations. Usually a kid with Asperger's syndrome would have a hard time comprehending instructions from an individual. They are not sure, sometimes, who is talking in groups, or they can not distinguish between different nonverbal (face) cues in individuals. Oftentimes forming relationships and friendships become more and more of a pain than everything else.

A child with Aspergers would have low need to share a new discovery or experience with others most of the time. For example, if a child paints a picture which he or she really likes, often they will keep it to theselves and not share it with anyone else like most children would do. Think of the last time your nephew or son or grandson drew a picture. You probably have fifteen on your fridge right now! Children with Asperger syndrome may not be like this; instead they would hide it away or throw it away so that no one else will see it. This makes sense when you think about it.

What do you do when your non-Asperger syndrome kid gives you a picture they drew or painted? You praise them, you hug them, you squeal a little bit! Children with Asperger syndrome are smart! They do not like this. They do not like loud noises, being touched or being in the spotlight so to speak. The child could occasionally become obsessive with an object. For example they may be regularly amused by little toy trucks or small toy cars. They might become so obsessive with them that they'll sit for hours and watch the way the wheels turn against the floor.

The child may try expressing how amazing he thinks it is, but it may seem that as soon as he opens his mouth to speak he gets stage fear. Take the car away, and he will likely be very upset. While lots of children are like this, it is somehow different with him. It's, to a degree, an abnormal reaction!

{ Comments are closed }

The Auditory Issues That Will Affect Your Child

One of the usual problems with children who have Aspergers is the problem with auditory problems. Actually, this is one of the reasons that a lot of parents end up taking their kids into a doctor, just because they act different than most kids would have something like a flashlight or a fire alarm going off.

Most of the times these kids will begin screaming or tell you that its too loud, or sometimes they look to get away from all the noise and the light. Children with Aspergers account for 40% of the kids of all ages who have problems with some form of sensitivity.

You could even, as a parent, talk too loud. This will set the child off! The most general sensitivities are with the senses of sound and touch, although hypersensitivity is also recorded in value of taste, smell, light strength and color.

Children might become scared or almost enraged with anger because of a noise. It can be anything which we would not usually believe to be a nuisance. Often it might seem like the kid is having a temper tantrum or that he is having a panic attack of some sort.

Often they would stand back, back away or else even put their fingers in their ears till the noise reduces. Among sensory levels, the touch of a human can set them off as well.

Often due to the auditory problems, the child would also have a hard time with communication. Not only speaking to him or her, but they have problems following directions or being told to do something or told to not do something. In a classroom setting this can lead to further problems with the teachers or kids in the classroom.

This can be very tough not just on the kid, but on the blood relatives of the child. You want nothing more than for him to not have to go through something like that. Really, if you are willing to, a simple life style change could significantly help your child. This does not mean you bought to treat him like he has something wrong with him.

{ Comments are closed }

Errorless Teaching – Prompting Toward Independence

Consider a student who is first learning the alphabet. This is commonly done by pairing syllables to written letters and helping the student independently identify and associate these concepts with each other. As a teacher or a parent, how would you start this process? Would you lay out all the letters in the alphabet and ask them to find an F? Of course you would not! Most teachers would begin by isolating a single letter and just teaching to that concept, and then eventually move the student on. This is an example of decreasing the amount of distractors. A distractor is anything which does not have to do with the current teaching element being addressed. Distractions are part of everyday life and are often part of the teaching process – but initially, many students will benefit from the removal of these distractors to allow them to be successful, gain confidence and be reinforced. Reducing the amount of distractors is the first step, but what if a student is still not successful?

If a student makes a mistake this poses a few things; he may not comprehend the material, he might not yet be independently able to complete the task and / or there could be behavioral challenges which are inhibiting his response. The 'and / or' in the previous sentence is important because students with autism and other learning challenges often have a complicated combination of challenges which may be affecting his / her responses. Let's consider behavioral challenges. A student may respond incorrectly because; she could be prompt-dependent, ie does not respond independently, she may be seeking attention since she has received more attention in the past for incorrect responses, she may be frustrated, distracted, hungry, excited, tired, bored or simply testing the teacher. Since there is a lot of 'may's' and 'could be's' in a discussion on why a learner is not being successful – errorless teaching procedures reduce the chance that the previous myriad of possible variables will negatively effect the student's response. By minimizing the chance that the student will respond incorrectly (at first) the teacher is building a foundation of correct responses for the student to draw from. This also allows the teacher to initially reinforce the student for these prompted responses which will help him associate learning with fun and enjoyable situations.

Students can be prompted by changing their environment, ie in the above example of distractor reduction, or by physically helping the student to respond correctly. Physically prompting, in respect to errorless teaching, would be accomplished by completing the desired response with the student by having them respond correctly. For example, when teaching to colors, a teacher could request, “Please point to red”. The student would be assisted by physically helping him point to the red item in an appropriate amount of time. The teacher would then reinforce that prompted response. Without this level of reinforcement, a student will be less likely to respond independently in the future when he / she is not being prompted. This form of prompting works well with certain activities but other skills like language and verbalization can not be physically prompted in this manner. Here, repetition and the modeling of correct responses are more effective. Physically prompting a student is, of course, not sustainable in the long term because the goal of most skills is for a learner to independently complete an activity. At what point, though, does a teacher know when to stop or begin to stop prompting a student in this manner? After using errorless teaching procedures for an appropriate period of time, teachers can analyze the amount of progress being made by removing the prompt and making the exact same demand. Based on the student's response without being helped, the teacher can then determine whether more teaching trials are required or the prompts can be faded. The process and extent to which these prompts are faded is completely dependent on the student and his un-prompted responses. Reinforcing future attempts and / or independent responses is extremely important in the student's long-term success and ability to sustain and generalize these skills.

Learning a new language can sometimes be challenging. One way to help learn some of the names of everyday objects is to label the items in your room or house with the word in the other language. This is a form of errorless teaching since it (initially) eliminates the chance for incorrect responses. Not unexpectedly, these items will not be labeled in such a manner when speaking with an individual using this other language; so these labels or prompts will have to be promptly removed. Prompts such as these can be difficult to fade if they become embedded in the learning process. Removing then as soon as possible, or systematically fading them over a relatively short period of time, will reduce your dependency on them and allow you to more independently recall the names. One way to begin to fade a prompt such as this is to cover a letter or part of the word with tape. When you are comfortable here you would cover more and more of the word until it is completely unreadable. These and other forms of errorless teaching procedures can be very helpful to all learners – but they are especially beneficial for students on the autism spectrum. The key points with all errorless teaching methods are; the consequent fading of these prompts, providing adequate reinforcement and the goal of independence.

{ Comments are closed }

Positive Reinforcement

I will never forget the day that I was working with a non-verbal student with autism and I was given a lesson in positive reinforcement. My training as an ABA Therapist was going well and was entering its sixth month. Stating that my student was non-verbal is not completely accurate; he did have a lexicon of approximately 15-20 words. These words were what we where working on when his progress was being evaluated by a senior staff member. What we were working on in particular was his articulation of these words and an improvement in his pronunciation of them. I was instructed to model the word and he would repeat it. I would then evaluate his response and determine the degree to which he had successfully articulated it. This was very challenging for my student and his performance data showed that progress was not made enough. Like all of the Therapists in my class I was determined to help him succeed. I learned how to model the words correctly and sat-in on previous lessons to be able to accurately determine what constituted a correct response. And yet … his data indicated that there was not sufficient progress being made.

It was at this point that the senior staff member was called in. Well, this of course added another level of pressure and I really did my best to help the student verbalize these words. I was well aware of the very important concept that it is absolutely the teacher's responsibility to help the student succeed. Test results and student data reflect the teacher not the student. With the senior staff members (yes, now there were two!) To one side and the student and myself 'knee-to-knee' I modeled the word … the response was not correct. I immediately looked away for three seconds (the current response cost) and tried again. There was no change in his response. At this point, one of the senior staff members stepped in and got down to the student's level and said, “This is hard, is not it?” That was the turning point for me and the time at which I felt that I really understood the concept of positive reinforcement. After this trial, they suggested several ways to change the teaching methodologies and adjust the reinforcement, but it was that one statement that caught my attention the most. I truly realized, then, that although I was delivering reinforcement properly when a student answered correctly or behaved appropriately; I did not really appreciate just how difficult this skill must have been for the student. I was very aware of my responsibilities and how to adjust my level of compliance and the concept of negative vs.. positive reinforcement. Yet, these concepts are difficult to institute if you do not really comprehend how challenging these skills, which many of us take for granted, really are for our students.

The concept of positive reinforcement is built on the basis of compassion and understanding. At any given time, an individual is most likely doing something which you can reinforce. My student in the example above was trying really hard to answer correctly. Without the presence of this attempt, there is no chance that the student can make progress in the future. Instead of internalizing incorrect responses and sometimes becoming frustrated, teachers can reinvigorate a student's approximations and attempts at correct responses. Although it is important for the student to answer correctly, sometimes it is more important to have the student be successful in the long run. Teachers can reinvigorate a student for trying, or sitting nicely. If the student is learning a very challenging skill, teachers can 'switch gears' and quickly review a less challenging activity to allow them to be reinforced for less difficult responses. Attention is a driving force behind many students' behavior and if a teacher overlooks their positive behavior for too long, they may decide to give appropriate behavior a try.

Shaping behavior through positive reinforcement becomes more and more natural the more that you practice it. At first, I was amazed at the level of compliance being delivered to the students in my class. It appeared like every other minute they were being given something or congratulated or tickled. I soon realized how powerful it was when this level was (temporarily) reduced when the student displayed inappropriate behavior like aggression or self injurious behaviors for example. I began to notice that this response to the student'sappropriate behavior was almost the mirror opposite of a typical reaction to challenging behavior. Teachers' attention levels were being reduced when a student acted inappropriately as opposed to increased. This was truly a reversal of long-held doctrines for myself and it opposed most of my experience in the public and private school system. Yet … it seemed to work! Special education professionals understand that student's instructional material and reinforcement schedules have to be individualized. Ultimately, an individual's behavior dictates how much or how little reinforcement is appropriate for them. Instructors should always consider what behavior they are seeking to increase as opposed to decrease. In other words, if a student is constantly standing-up and walking around inappropriately, the teacher should look to reinstate his sitting nicely. Some may say, “Yes, but he is invited to sit during class so why should I reinforce that!” It seems that in our society we have been conditioned to only reward outstanding behavior, above and beyond the expectations of authority. Sometimes, this is appropriate but remember that the student's behavior should dictate the level of reinforcement- not your expectations of the student.

Which brings us to the question of, “What should I use to reinvigorate my student's behavior?” and “What is an appropriate amount to use?” I, personally, enjoy M & Ms and – if you offered me some (hint, hint) – I would most likely accept them and strike up a conversation with you about the wonderful variety of these tasty treats! Therefore, are M & Ms reinforcing for me? Maybe. The only way you can determine if something is reinforcing is if the behavior we are seeking to increase actually increases, after the introduction of it. I failed to mention that I am also keen on all-you-can-eat buffets. If you caught me right after one of these buffet outings I can assure you that M & Ms would not be high on my list of reinforcers! Therefore, what is reinforcing is always changing, because we are all complicated and changing individuals. As to the amount of, or appropriate nature of the reinforcement – this also needs to be individualized. My early work with students with autism involved children and young adults ranged from about 9 to 16 years old. Even in this age range there is a large discrepancy in the nature of the reinforcement being delivered. Exceptional situations excluded, the nature of the reinforcement should be relative to and reflect the age of the student. There are many obvious reasons why this is so but you have to realize that every student's reinforcement schedule has had to be systematically adjusted as the student grew older. At the same time, he / she is entering into adulthood and continuing to be challenged with daily social and scholastic endeavors. Toddlers and younger children, generally, require a completely different set of reinforcement techniques which are much more direct and rapid fire in nature. Ultimately, teachers benefit from forming a history of compliance with a student which allows them to be more successful at making these decisions based on past experiences with the student.

Students are not the only ones receiving reinforcement for certain behaviors in a learning environment, either. Teachers and parents need to be keenly aware of the fact that their behavior can also be shaped by a student's responses. Take, for example, a student who is working on brushing his teeth independently. This particular skill is challenging for the student and the teacher has found that when they squeeze the toothpaste up to the top of the tube before he begins, it helps him to be successful. Of course, tooth brushing is absolutely an independent activity which should not require any assistance. If the practice of completing this rather crucial step is provided for too long, the student may become dependent on this prompt as opposed to doing it independently. At the same time, it can be very reinforcing for the teacher to do this because it helps him to be successful and is a direct way to produce results. This situation is not always as apparent and easily discernible. Therefore, parents and teachers should always be asking themselves if their current course of action is based on what is best for the student or what is most reinforcing for them at that particular point in time. Understanding and implementing concepts regarding positive reinforcement often requires a shift in 'common knowledge' concerning education and motivation. Not surprisingly, the more success you encounter with these concepts the more you will want to use them. So then, using positive reinforcement is positively reinforcing!

{ Comments are closed }

Melatonin – A Panacea For Sleep Deprived Autistic Children

Our systems are able to manufacture Melatonin. However, in automatic children, there is an insufficient quantity of this hormone. This results in a state of sleep deprivation. This chronic lack of sufficient sleep can have many far reaching repercussions in health and personality. Autistic children may start to exhibit abnormal personality traits. In addition, there may be a residual health effect on both parents, from staying awake with the child. Naturally, this can produce hostility in the entire family. Getting out of bed on uncomfortable sleep can put an individual in a very negative frame of mind. The child in particular will have a very agitated manner. Of course, an autistic kid who is extremely tired is in no mood to work with doctors or health professionals.

If this describes the situation with your autistic child, consider supplementing his diet with Melatonin pills. This hormone is available over the counter at most drug stores. Melatonin is a more conservative treatment than the more mainstream prescription sleeping pills. These potent sleep aids are known to be dangerously habit forming. Melatonin is manufactured by our systems on a daily basis. By having the child take in additional Melatonin, you are surely insuring that he is getting a sufficient amount in his system.

The best time to ingest the supplement is half an hour before going to sleep at night. To stay on the conservative side, start with the least potent dose. In general, the autistic child will fare best on a supplement of one gram or slightly more. Be safe and make the first dose for just one gram. If you administrator too much, your child may have difficulty coming out of it in the morning. In addition, high doses can produce bad dreams. The child may show signs of being very lethargic and doped up for the next 24 hours. Naturally, this is contrary to what you are trying to accomplish with this supplement. The object is to provide the child with sufficient sleep, not to drug him up.

Melatonin generally continues to work well for an indefinite period. There is no evidence to suggest that the use of Melatonin must be cycled for optimal effect. However, if you notice a decrease in effectiveness, stop the supplement for a very brief period, and then resume. The brief reply should produce a renewed benefit for the child. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Autistic children realize other favorable side effects from this hormone. For instance, there seems to be an uptick in focus after taking Melatonin the previous night. Also, Melatonin has been shown to alleviate mood swings in automatic children. An added benefit is that you can eliminate the need for those dangerous prescriptions.

As you can see, Melatonin is a panacea for a sleep deprived autistic child. Getting sufficient sleep is critical for an autistic child. Make sure you ask your medical practitioner before combining Melatonin with a prescription of any kind. Do not administrator this supplement during the day under any circumstances- it is meant for evenings only. If your child takes Melatonin at 3 AM, you could notice a disruption in his nervous system the following day. This may compound the insomnia into a more serious condition.

Should your physician discuss a sleeping pill prescription, think about trying Melatonin as a safer substitute. There are no residual problems from the daily use of Melatonin. The hormone is not in any way habit forming from use in reasonable dosages. It is the exact same substance that our systems manufacture anyway. There are some individuals who have the misfortune of not being able to generate enough Melatonin on their own. This remarkable hormone provides the extra Melatonin that is required to have quality sleep and to awaken in an invigorated state.

{ Comments are closed }

Autism Traits and Symptoms

Autism certainly has turned some heads in the media over the past few years. It went from an ailment that not too many folks owned, to one that effects one in every boys. That is huge number of children that have now been given an autistic diagnosis. What is autism and how would you know if your child has it?

Autism is a social disorder primarily, is it not as easily detected as other forms of special needs can be in some children. Autistic children can generally live very full and productive lives with the correct therapies in place. Detection is key and the early the better as many parents are learning the sooner they seek treatment for their autistic child, the increased chances that they have of being mainstream into school settings and into the world in general. Autism is a broad spectrum that comes in many forms, some children do not speak one work that have it while others talk up a storm. Each case is different depending on the child and what they are willing to out effort in and what they enjoy basically. Some autistic children have very specific behaviors that are to distract from other stimulations in the room. For example, and autistic child may choose to make noises, spin around or fidget with an object for hours in an place they do not understand or feel comfortable in. A supermarket for instance can be a war zone for a strictly autistic child as a person without the ailment will walk into a store an thing nothing of it. An autistic one will see all the lights, the colors, the signs, the noises that the items in the room and it will become so overwhelming that the fear of not being familiar in the busy environment will result in those people displaying autistic symptoms. Some children can not even be taken into a public store, they have fits that mimic a temper tantrum of sorts but it is not to be diagnosed as one as this is nothing more than a child fearful of their surroundings.

Some things to look for when questioning if your child may possibly have autism, are that the child looks disconnected often, they do not make eye contact often, they do not engage in play with their peers as they would prefer to play alone instead. They often do not speak as much or at all, they may have poor sleeping schedules or even be very picky eaters. Some children have symptoms that cause violations on themselves such as banging their heads out of frustration or breaking items and even being violent to their own siblings. Some may just prefer to be alone all day and simply not want any contact with their peers or family members. These may appear to all be very frustrating symptoms and they can be if not treat properly, so always have your child reviewed by your family physician if you have any concerns that they may possibly be one of the millions of autistic children living in the world today .

{ Comments are closed }

Helping Your Child Live With Autism and Not Live By It

Having your child receive a diagnosis that they have Autism can be a very stressful day for any family. Sure you may have had your own reservations for the behaviors your child was displaying, but when you have it written on a piece of paper as a permanent label, you tend to become very emotional and confused. The actual diagnosing part of the ailment is what seems to frustrate parents the most. They take their children into a medical setting; they are there for hours and receive the official news. Most therapists and experts on Autism will at the very least guide the parents and provide them with some information and paperwork to begin various forms of treatment right away, but that seems to be it as far as the process works. They give some papers and send you on your way to begin the treatments on your own doing. It sort of is generalized as a health issue that the parents must be their child's advocate to gain them the proper therapies that they are entitled to in the home and at school as well.

Some tips to help ease the confusion are to first, stay calm. Your child did not receive a medical diagnosis such as cancer, they are not in any physical pain and they are in most cases are not even aware they have any issue at all. Once you come to that point, you can be dong your own research on your child's symptoms and how to help them to have the best possible exit. If you decide to throw in the towel and not pursue any treatments for your child, then you will be assuming the responsibly that their ailment will continue to become stronger and their chances of being able to have any real a normal lifestyle as an adult will lessen instantly. Instead, protect the child and get them all the help you can and the earlier you get started the more progress they tend to show.

Home therapists are common these days and they can come into your home and work with your child through speech, motor skills and sensory developments for short periods of time each week. This is fantastic for the parents, they do not have to take the child anywhere, the child can learn in their own home and they can build a trusting relationship with each therapist that they work with overtime. If they are enrolled in school, seek obtaining an aide for the child versus pulling them out of the traditional school system to place them in a special needs one. Many of Autistic children do extremely well in regular bedroom settings with an aide and learn the curriculum with ease as opposed to some of them drifting back in their progression from being in an environment where most of the children have some form of special needs and the curriculum may in fact be too easy for the child. Start off slowly; do not overwhelm your child with therapies and new techniques to try to help their autism. Track their progress and show them how far they have come over a few weeks of therapy and with their aides in school and in many cases these children have done exceptionally well over time and excelled to attend classes on their own and even discontinue their need for any therapies. Work on it together; listen to your child's needs and in time you may even forget they were once a child struggling with autism, to now a child living with it.

{ Comments are closed }

Autism Supplements & Vitamins – Syndion

Many parents look for a comprehensive, well rounded, good combination supplement. They want something that covers vitamins, something that covers antioxidants as well as something that will also cover minerals. I have seen really good success with my patients with a supplement that is called Syndion or Syndion SF. Syndion was created by a person named Jim Adams. Jim Adams is a PhD researcher from Arizona State University who has been involved in the biomedical community for autism for many, many years. Syndion is a liquid supplement that has vitamins, minerals and antioxidants so you are able to cover all three very critical supplement categories in one easy supplement.

The website also has information such as dosing information that is based on the child's weight to determine how much to take. Usually Syndion is taken twice a day and can easily be mixed with a variety of juices. So for some children who have issues with different tastes, you can try different juice flavors to see which works best. Syndion is a great product especially for children who have a hard time swallowing pills, has issues with swallowing in general or has issues with regards to the taste of certain things. Syndion really provides good support for the very important things that are commonly lacking in people who have autism, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

When you go to implement a new supplement such as Syndion, you may see improvements in areas such as better language, more increased eye contact, or maybe your child will begin to recognize more things in their environment more. You could also see a better mood or greater comprehension, there could be a wide range of improvements that are seen but what is usually happening is that Syndion is helping with those major areas that are affected by Autism. These areas tend to be socialization skills, the issue of language and communication, higher cognitive functioning skills, attention and focusing ability and sometimes the self-stimulatory behaviors and the stereotypical behaviors. Not any one supplement will do everything we are wanting to do, but as a comprehensive multi-vitamin, mineral and antioxidant to provide the needed nutrients, Syndion is a wonderful place to start.

{ Comments are closed }

Objective Vs Subjective Music Education

The goal of this piece is not to tout the correctness or incorrectness of either objective or subjective music education teaching styles. Rather, its attempt is to clearly depict their differences and the situations in which each, individually or in conjunction, may be beneficial for the education of students with autism. Music is, of course extremely, an art form which is driven by a performer's ability to emote and interpret a piece of music. Assessing an artist's performance is, despite, the definition of a subjective judgment, but we are not dealing with artists … yet. We are dealing with students of an art form. A student's performance needs to be shaped and more clearly defined, eventually allowing them to relate to the instrument as a conduit for his expression and exploration. To a certain extent this is an ever continuing process since we are all growing and changing as human beings. In respect to the early education of students, though, each response can be objectively measured and analyzed. “But, why do you need to objectively measure their performance?” you may ask. First, let's define what objective and subjective measurements are and how they are used.

An objective measurement is one which is independent of the teacher's individual perception of what the answer is. For instance, two separate piano instructors may listen critically to a student's performance and extremely come to two, very different conclusions in respect to the student's interpretation and adherence to the fundamentals of piano performance. This is not so much a misunderstanding or radical divergence in the teachers' knowledge of core piano education principals; rather a personal and subjective assessment of the student and what constitutes a correct response. To be clear, all teaching is based on painting and having teachers accept approximations made by a student. Teaching is very subjective in nature, while assessing the results of these teaching efforts should be objective in nature. The question then arises, “How can teachers objectively assess a student's performance if art is fundamentally a subjective form of expression?” The answer, of course, is that the focus of early music education is much more associated with execution as opposed to interpretation. Therefore, it can be clearly and objectively measured either or not a student independently depressed a particular key of the piano or identified a musical note correctly.

The reason that objectively measuring and analyzing a student's early performance is so vital is twofold. By not initially being objective, teachers may be inclined to 1) assign unrealistic goals and objectives for a student or 2) create an unchalling and stagnating teaching environment by withholding more difficult material. In this discussion, concerning students with autism, both situations are possible but the latter is much more of a likely phenomenon. For many teachers, without prior special education experiences to draw on, it is quite understandably common to base a student's future curriculum on certain challenges that the student has currently. For instance, if a student has not yet learned how to read, exploring the skill of reading musical notation may seem out of reach for them and is then withdrawn. Alternately, another student may display fine-motor challenges which could inhibit his dexterity at the piano. In both of these scenarios the student very well might not be able to execute the skill in question at first, but this should not effect the teacher's decision to begin instruction on that skill and measure the response.

As previously mentioned, when teaching (as opposed to assessing progress), the instructors correctly use a subjective analysis of factors to help the student succeed. This practice is often based on a teacher's intimate knowledge of the student, his environment, his behavioral and comprehension challenges and previously successful teaching methodologies. For instance, after objectively determining that a student has met the criteria for the current phase of instruction, a teacher decides that the next and more difficult phase of instruction should precede. Ten minutes into the lesson, the student presents behavioral challenges and the teacher subjectively thats that this more difficult phase would increase the student's frustration level at this point and delays the introduction until tomorrow. In respect to another student, this inappropriate behavior may be related to task avoidance and the determination to continue with the more difficult phase of instruction would be made. Both decisions may be appropriate, it simply depends on the student and the situation.

Objectively measuring the early performances of a student at the piano is very plausible; it can be clearly determined whether or not the student depressed a certain key of the piano or played a particular note with his left hand for example. As the material systematically becomes more difficult, though and variables such as dynamics, tempo and artistry become more of a factor, it is more and more challenging to objectively assign a numerical value to the performance – which is based on the execution of each variable. This should not be surprising since the student's performance is now (at least in part) approaching an artistic expression. At this point, a teacher should use their experience and knowledge of the instrument to make a subjective analysis of the performance. Here, the student is guided by the teacher's individual perception of what constitutes a correct response. This determination is not only made based on the factors above, but also on the current skill level of the student, the difficulty of the piece and the environment (is this a music recital or a practice session?). An expectation of absolute perfection from a relative beginner at the piano would, of course, be counter productive. Therefore, as the pieces increase in difficulty the subjective criteria relaxes. In early piano instruction students are being taught core concepts which are mutually exclusive. For example, the skill of identifying a note on the piano is required before teachers can begin instructing the student to play a song with correct fingering. Because these skills are mandatory and used in every piece they will learn in the future, the criteria can (and should) be set as high as possible. Later, typical music instruction involves the introduction of multiple trials of similar pieces of music. The goal is not, necessarily, to perform each one perfectly; rather to present similar pieces and develop the student's ability to generalize the concepts which are presented in each song. By initially using the objective performance measuring techniques described above and transitioning to a more subjective analysis at the appropriate point, instruc- tors can effectively introduce the piano to individuals from across the spectrum of autism.

{ Comments are closed }

Colostrum For Autism

Autism, better known today as autism spectrum disorders (ASD), is a pervasive development disorder (PDD). Through the introduction of colostrum into the daily rule with its many “whole food” constituents can have a major beneficial impact on the varying degrees of impairment in communication skills, social interactions, and restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior.

The autism spectrum disorders are more common in the pediatric population than some better-known diseases, such as diabetes, spinal bifida or Down syndrome. A recent study in the United States estimated that 3.4 of every 1,000 children 3-10 years of age have autism. Males are four times more likely to have autism than females.

The hallmark feature of autism is impaired social interaction. As early as infancy, a baby with autism may be unresponsive to people or focus intentionally on one item, to the exclusion of others, for long periods of time. Some affected children appear to develop normally and then withdrawal and become indeterminate to social engagement. Children with autism also usually fail to respond to their name and often avoid eye contact with other people.

Many children with autism engage in repetitive movements, such as rocking and twirling, or in self-abusive behavior, like biting or head-banging. They also tend to start speaking later than other children and may refer to themselves by name instead of “I” or “me”. Some affected children speak in a sing-song voice about a narrow range of favorite topics, with little regard for the interests of the person to what they are speaking. In addition, they ordinarily do not know how to play inter-actively with other children.

Children with autism spectrum disorders also have a reduced susceptibility to pain, but are abnormally sensitive to sound, touch or other sensory stimulations. Some sounds – a vacuum cleaner, a ringing telephone or a sudden storm – can cause some of the children to cover their ears and scream. Many of the affected children find the feel of clothes touching their skin to be unbearable. These unusual reactions may contribute to behavioral symptoms, such as resistance to being hugged or cuddled.

The most severe forms of autism spectrum disorders are rett syndrome and childhood disintegrative disorder. Rett syndrome almost exclusively occurs in females, with the frequency being one per 10,000 to 15,000. After a period of development, usually between 6 and 18 months, the child's mental and social development regress – she no longer responds to her parents and pulls away from any social contact. If she has been talking, she stops; she can not control her feet; and she wrings her hands.

In addition to the behavioral and social impairments, children with autism spectrum disorders often have one or more of the following associated complications.

• Mental retardation. Some areas of ability may be normal, while others may be especially weak. • Seizures. One in four affected children develops seizures, often starting in early childhood or adolescence. • Fragile X syndrome. A defective segment of the X chromosome is the most common form of inherited mental retardation and affects 2-5% of individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Tuberous Sclerosis. 1-5% of individuals with autism spectrum disorders have tuberous sclerosis, a rare genetic disorder that causes benign tumors to grow in the brain and other vital organs.

Recognition of autism as a medical syndrome more than 50 years ago led to a search for causative risk factors. Various research organizations came to the conclusion that mercury poisoning due to the use of thimerosal, a mercury-based conservative, in childhood vaccines was the responsible agent. Thimerosal was never used as a preservative in some childhood vaccines (measles, mumps, polio) and was removed from others (DPT) several years ago. Despite the fact that no childhood vaccines have contained thimerosal for several years, the incidence of autism rose from 0.3 per 1,000 births in 1993, to 1.5 per 1,000 births in 2003; to current estimates of 3.4 per 1,000 births.

It is now believed that genetics and the environment both play a role. Recent studies strongly suggest that some people have a genetic predisposition to autism. In families with one autistic child, the risk of having a second child with the disorder is approximately 5%, which is greater than the risk for the general population. A number of genes linked to the disorder have been identified. A recent study at the University of Chicago identified a micro-deletion on a particular chromosome in affected families. The micro-deletion represented the loss of about 25 known genes, with 12 of them being part of a single genetic network that includes genes involved in cell-to-cell signaling and interaction. At least three of these genes are primarily expressed in the brain and are thought to influence behavior. Studies at other institutions have identified micro-deletions on other chromosomes with similar connotations in affected families.

Other studies of people with autism spectrum disorders have found irregularities in several regions of the brain. It has also been shown that affected individuals have abnormal levels of certain chemical neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and glutathione, in the brain. The combined abnormalities suggest that autism spectrum disorders could result from early disruption of brain development in the fetus caused by defects in genes that control brain growth and that regulate how neurons communicate with each other. It is possible that sudden, rapid head growth may be an early warning signal that will lead to early diagnosis and intervention.

The life of an individual with an autism spectrum disorder can often be further complicated by allergic reactions to various foods. At one time, it was believed that such allergic reactions, particularly to gluten and certain proteins found in dairy products were the cause of the disorders. As a consequence, specialized diets were developed and falsely touted as “cures” for the disorders. A further complication can be frequent occurrences of gastrointestinal infections with organisms that are part of the natural flora, particularly yeast (Candida species). These issues appear to indicate that the immune system may also be compromised in some, if not all, individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

The Benefits of Bovine Colostrum

Colostrum is an amazing material that, like many other things in nature, reflects the evolutionary development of a unique composition that will serve the needs of the offspring for which it is intended. The most unique of the colostrums from mammalian species occurs in bovines, where transfer of biological substances across the placenta to the developing fetus does not occur and everything required for the development of a healthy, productive offspring is provided in the colostrum. As such, bovine colostrum provides a specialized resource that offers the broadest possible spectrum of biologically active substances that can promote the development of a sound body mass, assure effective and efficient metabolism and support the activation and maintenance of a fully functional immune system capable of combating potential insults from microorganisms and other deleterious sources. Bovine colostrum is also compatible with almost any species and can readily convey its full benefits to humans by routine dietary supplement without any significant adverse effects.

The active substances found in high quality first milking bovine colostrum may afford significant benefits to individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

Glutathione Deficiency

In addition to its role as a neurotransmitter, glutathione is the most significant antioxidant produced by a cell. It participates directly in the neutralization of free radicals and reactive oxygen compounds and maintains other antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, in their active forms. In addition, glutathione can interact with many organic and inorganic substances and assist the body in detoxifying them.

Glutathione ingested by mouth has negligible uptake and, therefore, it must be manufactured inside of the cell. It is a tripeptide made up of three amino acids, cysteine, glycine and glutamic acid. Both glycine and glutamic acid are readily available in the diet of most individuals, but cysteine ​​is not, making it the rate-limiting substance for glutathione formation within a cell. As the free amino acid, cysteine ​​is potentially toxic and is broken down in the gastrointestinal tract and the blood. The most stable form of this amino acid is as cystine, which is two cysteine ​​molecules linked together by a disulfide bond. Cystine is not broken down by stomach acid or proteolytic enzymes and is readily absorbed. It is rapidly reduced to two cysteine ​​molecules when it enters a cell. In addition, cystine can cross the blood / brain barrier.

The proteins albumin, lactoferrin and lactalbumin found in basic amounts in first milking bovine colostrum are excellent resources for cystine. The amount of aluminum is highest in first milking colostrum and diminishes with time after birth. Transitional milk, obtained at 96 hours (4 days) after birth of the calf, contains only about 20% of the aluminum found in first milking bovine colostrum taken within 6 hours after birth. Thus, first milking bovine colostrum, obtained within 6 hours after the birth of a calf, contains approximately 5x more aluminum than milk and, therefore, contributions at least 5x more cystine from aluminum than milk.

Immune System Deficiency

Very early in life, the foundation of the immune system is established within a small gland-like structure in the upper chest, the thymus. It is within this structure that cells mature that will determine the appropriate type of response that the immune system should mount after an insult, whether from an invading microorganism or via an allergen. Cells from the thymus will also regulate the quality and intensity of that response.

Colostrum is an amazing resource of substances necessary to strengthen and support the immune system, potentiate the development and repair of cells and tissues; and assure the effective and efficient metabolism of nutrients. However, it is very important to recognize that all colostrum products are not the same and, despite the claims made by their manufacturers, they do not all contain every beneficial component at an optimum concentration. In many cases, they have been manipulated and may be missing some of the essential components. When choosing a colostrum product, one needs to be certain that it is made from only first milking bovine colostrum collected within 6 hours after birth of the calf and that the colostrum is “complete” and that none of the components have been removed, including the fat.

{ Comments are closed }

Theatre As Therapy For Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders

I have had the most amazing opportunity. For the last few weeks I have spent each Tuesday and Thursday volunteering at a social skills camp for autistic kids. The camp was held at the school where I will be teaching Drama at in the fall. This is a school for kids with learning differences and there are definitely kids on the autism spectrum enrolled at the school. However, many of the children I worked with at the summer camp are much more challenged than the students who attend the school during the year.

When I arrived the first day I was asked to be the leader for the high school group as their teacher was on vacation. I was happy to have this assignment as I adore teenagers and wanted to jump right in with the group. I did not have a clue what to expect, but the camp director told me that the kids were sweet and pretty much took care of themselves. Sheave me the camp schedule for the day and asked me to talk, talk, talk, to them, reminding me that the goal was to get them interacting as much as possible.

When I entered the classroom there were 6 or 7 young teenagers sitting at desks, looking worried. I introduced myself and told them that their teacher was on vacation and asked them each their names. They responded to me in voices that ranged from very loud – a young man with two hearing aids, to cartoonish, some speaking in high squeaky voices. There was also a boy who language skills were very limited and who said almost nothing except to repeat back to me what I had asked him. Most of the kids were able to hold casual conversations and responded fairly normally, but there were a couple of kids who dared one word answers or appeared not to understand the questions I'd asked.

The kid's range of levels of functioning was very interesting to me. I surprised as I held a relaxed conversation with one of the kids who actually appeared “normal” in every way, which he must be thinking to be in a situation with other kids who were so much more debilitated. Was this an obstacle for these children emotionally? Or did they understand that while they were in fact not as stranded socially as some of their fellow campers, they needed the skills practice offered by the camp?

Later I had the chance to listen to the conversation of a couple of the girls at the camp. They were discussing other school programs and talking about the meds that were on, the therapists they went to, the programs they attended, and the kinds of issues the other participants at the programs were dealing with. They appeared to take in stride the idea that they were diagnosed with a debilitating condition and were very openly discussing the issues that are located when living with autism. Again I surprised; what is it like for a child to be this kind of “different?” How much courage it must take them everyday to move through their lives, to try and plot a course through the social world we all struggle at times. Where we “normal” people struggle, without the added burden of living with a disorder that makes everything we experience more confusing and harder to navigate.

The kids who appeared to be completely unmindful of what was going on I soon discovered, were anything but oblivious. The almost completely silent teenagers soon proved to me that they were not only aware, but that they were all the time processing what was happening around them. I found that with enough support, they could participate and communicate appropriately.

One such instance of communication took place at the gymnastics facility where we had brought the campers. There was one boy who had been at the camp for two weeks before he had even said one word to anyone. Only just recently, he had begun to talk at all, but he appeared to have a transformation at the gym. The first time I noticed a change in him was when I was supervising the kids at the bouncing castle at one corner of the big room. There were 4 or 5 teens bouncing away to their hearts content and I was so surprised to see this mostly silent, normally worried looking guy, boinging around with the others. He had a huge grin on his face! Somehow the physical activity and the whimsical nature of the place we were visiting seemed to have broken through the barrier inside of him. He responded with a huge smile to my requests that he bounce higher and higher, and that he try to touch the ceiling with his head. And then, when a fellow camper fell over and was struggling to get up, this boy, who had not seen the least bit aware in the classroom of the needs of anyone at all, reached his hand down unbidden and helped his friend up.

The sight of this teenager emerging from his shell, responding socially to this new and different environment when he was all but unreachable in the classroom, made me wonder. There was a key to unlocking the barriers to interaction inside of the other kids. I wondered if there was a solution to the mystery that kept their social abilities sequested inside of these young people. Perhaps theater activities may be the answer for many kids with autism.

In the same way that physical activity brought out the smile and the warmth in my happily bouncing young friend, maybe working and playing with other kids in a drama class or on a show would do the same. It might just be the way to release their ability to interact more socially. The very nature of theatrical activities requires interaction. Kids with autism spectrum disorders have extreme difficulty interacting socially. But in the theater, the interaction is guided by the director and the need for independent resolutions to human social situations is taught to the actors as part of the activities. Theater arts activities put very little pressure on the participants to independently come up with solutions. But the practice of interaction still takes place, in rehearsal and guided improvisation. Through the organization of these activities in the theater, it seems that the benefits to the child or teen with social skills issues would be a positive one.

{ Comments are closed }