Autism Spectrum – Know The Facts

Autism is a developmental disorder that can affect the way that the individual communicates as well as socializes. In addition, there are also language skills as well as motor skills involved. A child with autism spectrum may have high IQ's or they may be mentally disabled. People with autism can be very talkative or they may be silent, very affectionate or completely distant, very organized or very disorganized. There are so many autism spectrum disorders and a wide variety of symptoms that accompany them too.

Because parents are more aware of autism spectrum who is more at risk of developing autism? Boys are more at risk for developing autism than girls are. If a child has a twin, chances are the other twin will also develop some degree of autism spectrum.

There are many different symptoms of autism and they each react differently on every individual. While two people may have the same symptoms, they will not have the same degree of symptoms. People are not able to predict how mild or severe autism symptoms will be.

Autism is usually discovered around the age of two but it can have an impact on a child as early as infancy. When a child does not develop through the age appropriate milestones like they should this may be an indication that something is not completely right and must be checked out by the doctor. Developmental milestones are simply a way that doctors and health care professionals along with parents can determine if their child is on the right track. If by the age of two a child is not talking or does not socialize properly then you may want to have him or her tested to see if they do have autism.

When a child sufferers from autism spectrum disorders there are various social skills that may make up the severity of the disease. A person with autism may become completely withdrawn in a crowd while others may feel intimidated by large crowds but function fine in a classroom setting. Most autistic children will not make any eye contact while others can make eye contact to a teacher or parent but not to strangers.

Autism is misunderstood and can be passed off as behavioral problems however when it is diagnosed it can be something that can improve with time. Be patient, learn what you can, and love the person with autism even if you think they do not want love; they need it.

Your child's doctor will know what to look for and can test your child to see if autism is a factor or not. If your child has autism then he or she can begin treatment immediately and can learn to live with this condition. It is also important that the family learn to live with autism just the same. There are many times that family feels at fault for the condition however this does not help the child. It is only beneficial to work with the child and the rest of the family to create a stable home environment where the child can feel safe.

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Why Is Special Education Needed With Autism?

If your child has been diagnosed with autism, you need to get his or her life has normal and structured as possible so they can thrive in their environment. That includes obtaining the appropriate education. You need to find a school that caters to autistic children in order to have the right balance of education necessary in a structured class.

A special education teacher is specially trained to work with children with autism. They know how to help them understand and they work to build up a trust between themselves and the teacher. There are special training classes that a special education teacher must go through before they qualify to teach special education.

When first introducing your autistic child to their special education teacher, it is important to only speak kindly about him or her, even if you have a problem with the teacher. Do not ever pass those harsh feelings onto your child. If you do, your child may not feel as comfortable with the teacher as you want them to and this could ruin your child's day at school everyday.

On the first day, it is important that you take your child to school to meet his special education teacher. Do not cause over excitement in your child waiting on this day. Simply mention the new teacher's name and how they will learn new things with them. Your child needs to create a sense of acceptance and be prepared to adjust to their new structured schedule.

It's always important to keep things as steady as possible when it comes to your child's schedule. They need to start their schedule off on the right foot by going to bed at the same time each night. In the morning, you should have a routine that is easy to accomplish and can be done realistically. Do not set the standards so high that if you are sick or someone else is doing the schedule for you in your absence, they will have a hard time doing so. You want to offer your child a breakfast, an opportunity to get dressed, time for personal hygiene, and to have time to mentally adjust to the change from home to school.

While in school, the special education teacher should be able to combine a balanced curriculum based on your child's age and skill level, not based on their autism. However, this teacher is specially trained to deliver the curriculum to their students with autism.

No two children have the same symptoms when it comes to autism so a special education teacher with autism is usually careful about how many students they can have in their classroom due to the one-on-one attention that each student will need. In some schools, the teacher will have a helper that will be in charge of assisting one child through their day.

Your child will be able to be comfortable with this individual and depend on the individual to help them every day they are in school. The added help will depend on many factors such as how severe is the autism? Can your child function better with assistance or by themselves? Does your child need assistance with daily routines? Once it is determined what may be best for your child then the school will accommodate accordingly.

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What Are Autism Spectrum Disorders?

The term Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) reflects to the range that experts put people in, based on the various autistic exercises that they have. The “low end” of the spectrum includes all of the major characteristics of Autism. Meanwhile, the “high end” of ASD includes fully-socialized people whose behavior is almost entirely “normal.”

While there are several symptoms of ASD, here are some of the most common ones:

1. Communicative Impairment

a. Difficulty comprehending the meaning of figures of speech

People with Autism often have difficulty understanding the implied meaning of various figures of speech. These include:

antithesescolloquialismshumorhyperboleidiomsmetaphorsparadoxessarcasmslang

This is due to the abstract nature of such language functions. The verbal communication of people with Autism tend to be quite literal. To them, the words that they say only have literal meaning. However, the good news is that people with Autism can often be taught the meaning of different figures of speech. This will improve their overall communication skills with other people.

b. Inability to comprehend non-verbal communication

Children with ASD often do not naturally develop the ability to communication by using non-verbal communication. That can significantly impact a person's overall communication skills, since non-verbal communication installations up to about three-fourths of a person's total communication. People with ASD often avoid eye contact when talking with someone. Sometimes they are unable to perform gestures such as pointing at an object or event. Vocal outbursts often result due to person with ASD becoming frustrated about his or her existence to communicate by using non-verbal communication effectively.

c. Repetition of phrases or sentences

People with Autism often make statements statement meaning and context seem incorrect. This can be due to various causes, such as simply hearing a certain word, phrase, or sentence. It can also result from various sources, such as people, commercials, or TV programs.

2. Imaginative Impairment

a. use of poetic conversation

This involves the expression of strong feelings and thoughts, and sometimes involves rhyme and rhythm.

b. intense focus

This typically involves intense focus on certain things and certain activities.

c. strict adherence to a routine

These routines are not just ordinary day-to-day schedules, but instead tend to involve rituals and compulsions that can seem absolutely necessary to people with ASD.

d. inability to think abstractly

Just as people with Autism often have difficulty with figures of speech, so they also often have difficulty with the ability to think abstractly. As a result, instruction about abstract concepts is typically done by using concrete visuals.

e. excessive attention to details

Those people with ASD often show a keen sense of attention to detail. This can provide pros and cons in their day-to-day lives. However, it's important to note that it also can be an asset in the job market, where the skill is an extremely valued one.

3. Social Impairment

a. ability to notice tricks and scams

b. indifference or failure to make friends

c. lack of empathy

d. awkwardness

e. avoidance of eye contact

f. awkward social interactions

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Recognizing Autism in Its Earlier Stages

In order to properly recognize an autistic infant or child, you have to learn all you can about Autism and its indicators. This is referred to as a neural development disorder which primary characteristics are social interaction and communication impairment. It is also characterized by behavior that is obviously repetitive or restrictive. According to a number of medical sources, the exact cause of the disorder is not clear. However, most doctors and other health professionals agree that it is genetically related.

The information processing ability of the person's brain is greatly affected because it alters or changes how the nerve cell synapses connect with one another and then organize themselves. What is not fully understood is how and why they do this. There are two other forms – Asperger syndrome and PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified) – that we find on the Autism spectrum and which are also of interest to the specialists that work with the disorder.

Signs that indicate Autism is present

Autism in children and infants manifests itself in three critical areas of development, typically behavioral, lingual, and social. Ironically, two children can have the identical diagnosis but display completely different actions and skill levels. The following will give you an idea of ​​the warning signs in these three critical developmental areas.

The slightest change in common routines or rituals disturbing them. They develop specific rituals or routines early on and parts of an object (eg a toy car's spinning wheels) fascinate them and hold their attention for long periods of time despite the presence of any type of pain. They have an unusual sensitivity to light, sound, and touch. They make constant, repetitive movements (eg hand-flapping, rocking, and spinning) while never keeping still for any length of time.

The primary sign that their language development is not on track can b judged by the fact that they do not begin talking until around 2 years of age. They can not converse well or keep any conversation going and they do not make eye contact whenever they are asking for something. They tend to lose previously acquired skills such as speaking words or talking in complete sentences. They repeat phrases verbatim without fully understand their meaning, speak in an abnormal rhythm or tone, while using robot-like speech or a sing-song style of voice.

Their social skills are diminished as they appear to be unaware of another child or person's feelings and sometimes it looks as though they do not hear you or are just ignoring you. They shirk eye contact if any is made at all. Most of them do not like being cuddled or held but like to be left alone to live in their own dream-like worlds. If you have a child that is displaying any of these types of behavior, you should make an appointment with your child's pediatrician so that they can examine and test them for Autism.

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Autism Symptoms in Infants and Children

According to health officials and medical professionals, the exact causes of the Autism disorder are still unclear despite there is a reasonable agreement that there exists some type of genetic link between the disorder and the afflicted person's genes. There are other variables that could be possible causes such as environmental factors and immune system abnormalities. Regardless, the majority of all health and medical professionals agree that early intervention and diagnosis is still the best course of action to pursue.

Recognizing the early warning signs of the disorder

Past clinical research has demonstrated that the earlier a child is properly diagnosed and a treatment is prescribed, the output in the long-run will be considered better. The following are some of the National Institute of Mental Health's early warning signs:

o In many cases, the child does not respond with a joyful facial expression (ie, smile)

o The child has not spoken a single word by the time they are 16 months old

o They appear not to understand how they should play with their toys

o They are not babbling, making meaningful and / or noticeable, or pointing by the time they have reached 12 months of age

o They do not maintain eye contact for any length of time, if they do make it at all

o They have not started to combine two words together by the time they reach 2 years of age

o They rarely interact with others, sometimes not at all

o They rarely respond to their names,

o They sometimes focus entirely on a single object or toy

o They start losing familiar language and social skills

o They will focus less on critical or important issues, yet they will focus on lining up certain objects or toys

The warning signs mentioned above are the primary indicators of an Autism Spectrum Disorder being present in the individual, although there are other ones to be aware of as well. What you should remember is that there will be numerous explanations for the majority of the warning signs that we have mentioned in the points above.

Early Autism warning signs or symptoms in infections

A number of different clinical studies have revealed the following warning signs and symptoms of Autism being present in infants at certain ages:

o 6 months – absence of smiling

o 9 months – failing to exchange smiles and / or sounds with other individuals

o 1 year – the inability to babble, point at or reach for different objects, or to wave at others near them

o 1 year, 4 months – a lack of or a total absence of vocabulary development

o 2 years – inability to create simple phrases (two words)

o Any age – the regression of communication, social, and / or speech skills

During infancy, there may be certain sensory issues to deal with during this period in the child's life including the abnormal reaction to certain sounds, tastes, and touching. Although mild autism can be handled with proper counseling and therapy, but severe autism is difficult.

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Using Methylation Chemistry for Autism Treatment

Methylation is a vital biochemical reaction in the body that supports the cardiovascular, hormone, immune, and detoxification systems, DNA / RNA structure and function, and other key metabolic system controlling energy production. It is commonly a problem in many autistic-spectrum individuals. There are some effective therapies, sometimes methylcobolamin therapy (injection, oral, sublingual), as well as other methylation supplements such as DMG and TMG.

The two most referred chemical reactions in this methylation system are re-methylation and Trans-Sulfuration.

Re-Methylation (or methylation) – this pathway involves the conversion of Homocysteine ​​to Methionine. Methionine is a rate-limiting step for the production of other necessary chemicals which affect the heart and blood vessels, muscle tissue, immune and nervous system. The conversion of homocysteine ​​to methionine can occur by direct transference of a methyl (CH3) groups from Methylcobalamin (B12) or betaine (trimethylglycine or TMG).

Homocysteine ​​sits at a junction of two different biochemical reactions. Because of its position in this biochemical matrix it has the capacity to affect all methylation and sulfur group transference metabolic processes in the body. The most recognized impact of homocysteine ​​is associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease. However, in individuals with autism its impact affects other functions as well particularly cognition including concentration, attention, and language.

Trans-Sulfuration – this pathway involves degrading homocysteine ​​to two different amino acids – taurine and cysteine. Taurine is most commonly known for cardiac support and liver support, detoxification, bile acid formation and cholesterol excretion. Cysteine ​​has direct influence on glutathione production. Glutathione is a potent anti-oxidant and has broad reaching effects on the DNA / RNA protection, heavy metal detoxification, and immune function. Many children on the autistic-spectrum have certain inadequacies of both taurine and cysteine.

There are many intermediate steps involved in these two important biochemical reactions. Envision a wheel that is constantly spinning in a clockwise fashion. Homocysteine ​​is at 6 o'clock and Methionine is at 12 o'clock. The goal is to get from 6 o'clock to 12 o'clock, and then from 12 o'clock to 6 o'clock. This keeps the wheel spinning in the right direction. Certain other chemicals will affect upon this wheel at specific points. If any one of these intermediate steps is blocked than the wheel slows down or stops. This causes a backlog of chemical information that has deleterious effects on our overall health.

Methylcobolamin, activated Folic Acid (called methyl-folate), and betaine (TMG) are responsible for taking homocysteine ​​from 6 o'clock to methionine at 12 o'clock. If one system is faulty (methylcobolamin / Folic acid) than betaine (TMG) can help out. SAMe (s-adenosylmethionine) the body's “universal methyl donor” helps take methionine from 12 oclock to homocysteine ​​at 6 o'clock. Along the way other important chemicals are being spun off in different directions to support the many dependent biochemical reactions in the body.

The problem with many autistic individuals is that this system does not operate properly severely compromising their immune, nervous, and detoxification systems. The impact can be intense including increased chronic infections, susceptibility to detoxify their body of chemicals and heavy metal toxins, and neuro-cognitive problems such as language processing, attention, focusing, and concentration. There appears to be a genetic component with many autistic individuals for having a problem with this methylation and trans-sulfuration chemisty. However, for many the problem does not become manifest until their system is negatively impacted from nutritional deficiencies, digestive problems from yeast, bacteria, parasites, malabsorption from digestive imbalances, heavy metal toxins from vaccines or environmental exposures.

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Controversial Causes of Autism

While the definition of Autism is basically clear, the causes are not. Autism is a developmental disorder that starts either at birth or during the first years of childhood. Treating Autism is crucial in order for a child to develop the ability to interact normally with other people. Autism is about 20 times more common than experts initially thought that it was. However, there is no clear consensus among them about the actual cause (s) of Autism. That said, there are various (debatable) theories about what causes the disorder. Here are some of them:

1. Genes

It is unquestionable that geneticism is a major factor of Autism. However, the composition of the genes that result in Autism is quite complex, and medical researchers are not 100% certain about which genes result in the disorder. Recently, scientists uncoated the first important connection between Autism and a person's DNA. The study involved about 1,000 autistic people, and 1,200 non-autistic people. It revealed that autistic children typically have about 20% more Copy Number Variations (CNVs) in their DNA makeup, than non-autistic children do. This discovery could result in the improved diagnosis and treatment of autism. For example, by understanding how the nervous systems of autistic children develop differently than usual, the hope is that new and better treatments will be available for them. While this new development in advancing, researchers admit that they'll need several more years to fully understand the link between CNVs and Autism.

2. Joint Attention

This involves a person's using gazes or pointing gestures when observing a particular object or event. It's important to note that different Joint Attention behaviors are observed in different children with autism. One theory is that autistic children use Joint Attention as often as non-autistic children do, although via different methods.

3. Mental Retardation

Another controversial involving the causes of Autism is related to mental retardation. A commonly held belief is that the majority of autistic people are also meet the clinical definition of mental retardation. However, that perception is somewhat questionable. Studies show that the percentage of autistic people who are mentally retarded can range from about one-fourth or three-fourths. The reason for the large variance is due to the challenge of evaluating the intelligence of people with Autism. Some experts suggest that standard intelligence tests are heavily language-based, and that those tests that evaluate one's ability for abstract reasoning are better at gauging the intelligence of autistic individuals.

4. Vaccines

There is some strong clinical evidence indicating that vaccines could be one of the primary factors that have caused rates of Autism to increase 1000% in the USA since the year 1990. For example, a study in the USA indicated that children who received a particular type of vaccine (with a conservative called thimerosal that's extremely high in mercury) were about 200% more likely to develop Autism, than children who did not receive the vaccine. Thimerosal has also been linked to learning disabilities that have been rejected from Autism. Many researchers also point out the number of vaccinations for children has increased significantly during recent decades. They note that certain substances in them could be having an adverse impact on a child's immune system, which resulted in higher rates of disorders such as Autism.

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Turning Common Interactions Into Meaningful Social Skill Lessons for a Child With Autism

Do you have a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who is challenged socially? Do you realize that you do not have to rely on the professionals who provide services to your child to enhance their social skills. Social skill groups and classes led by experts in the field are extremely beneficial but you also have the power to take every social interaction your child experiences and turn it into a teaching / learning opportunity.

As parents we interact with our children numerous times during the day. Each interaction has a specific reason attached to it, helping a child dress, tucking them into bed, or reading them a story are simple encounters that are almost done by default as if we are on automatic pilot. These can be anything from a greeting, asking them a question or giving them a direction that may be brief yet powerful. When you think of it, every contact we have with our children is a social one and as simple as it might be we can make it even more significant to our automatic child if we take 30-45 more seconds to describe what we are doing.

Children with Autism are very concrete and literal and we should not assume that they are picking up everything we do by watching or observing us. We need to be more mindful and deliberate when it comes to parenting a child with autism because they do not always absorb things just by being exposed to them. Realistically, there is much that is happening that is not being noticed unless we specifically point it out.

The best strategy for turning a social encounter into a meaningfulful learning experience for your autistic child is to call attention to the manner in which you relate to them and why. This is a simple yet effective way to expand your child's social toolbox. Here are some tips on how to make each interaction you have with your child more meaningful and useful.

Use the rewind button. After a typical social interaction you have with your child, rewind what you just did and replay it for them in slow motion. Ex. “Did you notice what I just did? I wanted to ask you a question so I made sure I was close to you instead of hollering from across the room.” Replay the scene using each approach and ask which one works best. For older children you can also get into a discussion of why that tactic was the better one to use.

Pretend you need help. All children like being asked to share their opinion – it makes them feel important. When you have time to think ahead, try incorporating your child in a social skill decision. “I want to ask your dad a question but he looks as if he is busy right now, what do you think I should do?” Then present two plausible options, one more socially acceptable than the other and ask your child what do you think will happen if I use option A, then examine option B.

Paint a picture of what you just did. “I wanted to make sure I had your attention so I leaned over and looked into your eyes.” Then follow up with a specific description of using that skill – “When you want to make sure someone is listening to you, it's best to get in front of them and look at the color of their eyes.” Add any specific details that you think your child will need – in front of means an arms length away, not right up in their face, etc.

Point out your mistakes. Even as adults, not all of our interactions are successful but we often know where we went wrong. This is a great opportunity to share your experience with your child and prompt them to think about what you could have done differently. When asking their advice do not let too much time go by after you pose the question or make them feel pressured by it, simply fill in the answer for them and briefly discuss it, if possible.

Remember, there is no such thing as too much repetition for a child on the autism spectrum. It is always a good idea to end each of these possible scenarios with a specific description regarding the social skill you are trying to teach and duplicate it as often as you think you need to in order for your child to grasp the skill.

There is always ample opportunity to practice most of these skills because they occur over and over again in our daily activities. The added benefit to this process is that we grow in awareness as to how we utilize our own social skills to communicate and get to practice them more consciously.

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Recognizing the Early Signs of Autism

Autism is growing more and more common throughout the US. In a recent study conducted by the CDC, it was estimated that 1 out of every 100 child in the country is autistic. Although many younger married couples and parents are more concerned about over population than they were during the Baby Boomer generation, Autism has now become a concern for many of the ones who want to have a family.

What's important is that you should always be monitoring your child's behavior to see if any of the early signs of Autism are present. Even the youngest of children can be diagnosed at an early age. Research has proven that the earlier the child is diagnosed and a treatment is prescribed, the better the long-range exit will be. So what exactly do you need to watch for? Here are some of the warning signs that you should be looking for, according to the National Institute of Mental Health:

  1. – The child does not speak a single word by the time they reach 16 months of age.
  2. – The child is not babbling, not making any meaningful or noticeable gestures, and not pointing by the time they are 12 months old.
  3. – They begin to lose both language and social skills.
  4. – They do not interact with others or smile
  5. – They do not start putting two words together by the time they are two years old.
  6. – They do not respond to their names.
  7. – They do not seem to know how to play with their toys.
  8. – They focus more on lining up objects and their toys rather than other, more important issues.
  9. – They focus obsessively on only one object or toy
  10. – They maintain poor eye contact if any at all.
  11. – They may appear to be hearing-impaired

Although there be other Autism warning signs to be aware of, the ones above are the primary indicators of an Autism Spectrum Disorder. What's important to remember is that there are numerous explanations for the majority of these warning signs listed above.

For instance, the fact that the child is attached to one particular object or toy in itself (see point # 9 above), is not a definitive sign of Autism. Conversely, a child with excellent communication, language, and reading skills can still be diagnosed as being Autistic. As an example, there are numerous children today who have been diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, another form of Autism, that have exception skills in these key areas. Even children who display exceptional language skills have been diagnosed with Autism.

The diagnosis of Autism is based on a process of interviewing the parents while at the same time observing the child. This is done in order to make the right diagnosis and prescribe the proper course of treatment. Additionally, sufficient research has also revealed that in many cases of Autism, certain correlations have been found between Autism and specific physical issues. What is important is that you acquire all the knowledge that you possibly can regarding Autism so that you will be better equipped to deal with the situation.

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Autism Signs to Watch For

According to numerous medical sources, Autism is a neural development disorder which is typically characterized by the impairment of social communication and interaction as well as repetitive or restrictive behavior. Typically, the signs that Autism is present between the ages of 18 months and three years. Although Autism's genetics are extremely complex, it displays a strong basis in genetics.

The disorder affects the information processing capabilities of the brain by altering or changing how the synapses of nerve cells connect and then organize themselves. However, it is not fully understood how and why this occurs. There are two other forms of Autism that are recognized in the spectrum of the condition, namely Asperger syndrome and PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified).

Autism signs that are characteristic of the disorder

Autistic children typically have difficulties in three critical areas of their development – behavioral, lingual, and social. Interestingly enough, two children with similar diagnoses may display different actions and different skill levels. Here is a breakdown of the three developmental areas that are Autism signs to be aware of:

Behavioral warning signs include:

o constant movement and never keeping still
o constant repetitive movements such as hand-flapping, rocking, and spinning
o despite being almost oblivious to pain, there is an unusual sensitivity to light, sound, and touch
o parts of an object, such as a toy car's spinning wheels, fascinate them and hold their attention for long periods of time
o specific rituals or routines are developed early on
o the slightest change in common routines or rituals disturbs them

Lingual warning signs include:

o beginning to talk later than 2 years of age while other developmental issues are delayed by up to 2 years years
o can not start conversing or keep a conversation going
o does not make eye contact whenever the child is making requests
o loss of previously acquired abilities to say words or speak in complete sentences
o repetition of phrases of words verbatim without understanding how they are used
o speaking with an abnormal rhythm or tone and may use robot-like speech or a sing-song type of voice

Social warning signs include:

o appearing unaware of another child's or individual's feelings
o appears that sometimes they do not hear you or are ignoring you
o failure to respond to their names
o poor eye contact or the total lack thereof
o resistance to any type of cuddling and holding
o retreating or withdrawing into their “own world” while preferring to play alone

Although every autistic child may have their own unique style of behavior, the Autism signs listed above are the most common ones that you should look for if you fear that your child has the disorder. However, for the most part, severe Autism in children is characterized by a totalability to communicate and / or interact with other individuals. Some signs appear early on in infancy while in other cases, the child appears completely normal in the first few months of their lives and then change suddenly.

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The Warning Signs of Autism in Infants

Although the exact cause of Autism still remains somewhat of a mystery, most doctors and other health professionals that there is some type of genetic link between the disorder and genetics. Additionally, there are other variables that are possible causes such as abnormalities with the child's immune system and contributing environmental factors.

Although the cause of the disorder remains unknown or speculative at best, major medical advances have been made in the past decade where the management of treatment of the disorder are concerned. However, most medical professionals agree that the best course of action is early intervention and diagnosis.

Autism's early warning signs and symptoms

The following information has been transmitted from a number of different studies that were conducted in order to discover some of the early warning signs and symptoms of Autism in the infancy stage of the child's life. The following are what you should look for and by what age these should be similar:

– the absence of smiling or other positive facial expressions by 6 months of age

– failing to exchange smiles and sounds with others by 9 months of age

– the inability to babble, wave, point and / or reach for different objects,, by 12 months of age

– the lack of or total absence of any vocabulary development by 16 months of age

– the inability to create basic two-word phrases by 24 months of age

– a regression of communicative, social, and speech skills at any age

There may also be noticeably, severe sensory issues during their infancy that you should look for such as an abnormal reaction to certain sounds or tastes and touching.

Early intervention and treatment

If these signs or symptoms mentioned in the preceding section appear early on, you do not want to delay or procrastinate about this. You should talk with your pediatrician and maybe even a neurologist or psychiatrist / psychologist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of autism. While the infant is observed, the parents will most likely be interviewed to see if the diagnosis of autism is accurate. The doctor may also order for the infant to receive a hearing test and an MRI.

Additionally, if there are communication, language, and social issues that are apparent, the doctor may also recommend a speech pathology evaluation. Once all of these variables have been evaluated, clinicians and other doctors may get involved in order to develop some type of educational intervention program for the afflicted infant. The most important treatment for Autism involves teaching the infant or the child how to communicate and interact socially successfully with others around them.

Beware of the misconceptions

No two children or infants are ever alike in the manner that Autism affects them. Symptoms of the disorder can range from mild or slight to extremely severe. The common misconception to be aware of is that every child or infant with Autism does not display any emotional response such as smiling at others. For instance, this may not be an issue where other children may smile but have serious linguistic or sensory issues.

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Understanding Asperger Autism

By medical definition, Asperger Autism is a disorder of the Autism “spectrum” which is characterized by repetitive and restrictive behavior and interest patterns as well as significant difficulties with the ability to interact socially. According to Wikipedia, “it differs from other Autism spectrum disorders by [virtue of] its relative preservation of cognitive and linguistic development.” The atypical use of language and physical clumsiness are oftentimes reported as characteristics although they are not required for diagnosis.

A child may display numerous symptoms of Asperger Autism, or they may only exhibit a few. Additionally, the severity of these symptoms may range from mild to extremely severe in nature. However, the key characteristic of this form of Autism is that the child will have a significant amount of difficulty when it comes to interacting with others in social situations. As a result of this unpredictable variance, no two children who are suffering with Asperger Autism are ever alike.

Childhood symptoms

Typically, a parent will first notice the following signs of Asperger Autism when the child first enters preschool and starts interacting with other children:

– changes in their routines appear to upset them

– lights, loud noises, or strong tastes and textures tend to over-stimulate them due to a heightened sensitivities

– preoccupation with only a single or a limited number of interests but they have a reasonable knowledge of the subject (s)

– the ability to pick up on certain social clues inborn social skills are lacking

– the inability to distinguish minor or subtle differences in others' accent, pitch, and tone of speech which can alter its meaning

– their motor development is oftentimes delayed

– their style of speech is well advanced for their age

– they display unusual body posture or facial expressions

– they lack the ability to be empathetic

– they sometimes avoid eye contact while at other times stare endlessly at others

– they will hold one-sided conversations, talk a lot about a favorite subject, or verbalize their most internal thoughts

Despite the above and the numerous similarities to Autism, Asperger syndrome is typically characterized intellectual development and normal language.

Adolescent and teen year's symptoms

The symptoms of Asperger Autism typically linger well into the child's teen years they may begin learning those social skills that they are lacking in. However, the ability to communicate effectively remains difficult. Additionally, the difficulty encountered with reading the behavior patterns of others remains a significant issue as well. Teens suffering with the disorder want to make friends but they may feel intimidated or shy when approaching other teens because they feel “different” from other individuals.

Symptoms evident during adulthood

The adult with the disorder typically has a much better realization and understanding of their personal flaws including their strengths and weaknesses. They are more capable of learning social skills and reading the social cues of those around them. In fact, many individuals with Asperger Autism get married and often have children. Despite the fact that improvements are sometimes seen and the disorder tends to stabilize over time, Asperger Autism is a condition that lasts a lifetime.

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Autism Treatment – Managing the Disorder

There is no secret to the fact that the earlier Autism is diagnosed and a course of treatment is prescribed that this not only benefits your child, it benefits you as well. Typically, Autism treatment is not done medically in its entity. Other variables come into play where this is concerned such as behavioral training and management, community support as well as parental training, and some specialized therapies. In so many words, Autism Treatment can be correlated with managing the disorder.

Treatment strategies

The following strategies for managing and striving Autism have been recommended by the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) and should help your child improve how they function overall as well as reach their potential:

Behavioral management and training – positive reinforcement along with self-help and social skills training are the foundation for behavioral management and training. The primary benefit for you and your child is that it greatly enhances the ability to communicate better and improve their behavior.

Community Parental Support and Training – it is always advisable that you undergo training and join a support group in the community in order to better manage and treat your child's disorder. Your child's doctor or one of the many Autism treatment advocacy and support groups will have all the information you need.

Medication – the same treatments that treat other related conditions and behavioral disorders or problems are most commonly used in medicine in Autism treatment. These include medications that treat anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).

Specialized therapies – occupational, physical, and speech therapies are the most common ones applied for managing and treating Autism. However, they are more important where the management of the disorder is concerned rather than the treatment. All of these need to be included in the treatment program that is prescribed.

What causes Autism?

Autism is categorized as a PDD or Pervasive Developmental Disorder which is one of many conditions or illnesses that hamper skills development in children. Unfortunately, the causes of Autism remain unclear, even though research has revealed a few important elements or factors. These factors include genetics, problems during childbirth, and several types of infections.

The most recent studies now suggest that some individuals are genetically pre-disposed to autism, meaning that parents can pass the condition onto their children. Currently, a number of researchers are looking for clues regarding specific genes that contribute to being more vulnerable to the disorder. Another speculation is that the environment can be one of the factors that effects the onset and development of the disorder.

Other theories also suggest that abnormalities in the structure of the brain can be at fault or that the child's immune system may be producing certain anti-bodies that attack their brains and cause some damage to it. Another theory suggests that the timing involved with the development and growth of the child's brain is abnormal. So as you can read see, there is still much that needs to be discovered about Autism in order to treat it properly.

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About Autistic Children

When tests for Autism are first being considered, this typically involves the use of a pre-developed checklist or screening, rather than a blood test, in order to determine if Autism is present. Despite the fact that the majority of the pediatricians that are available today will help care for autistic children, it was only recently that they reported performing routine screenings for the disorder.

Since the “Identification and Evaluation of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders” clinical report was published in 2007 by the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), the hope is that more pediatricians will include screening for the disorder when infant care commences. Additionally, it is recommended that once this is established that they will continue routine screenings in all ensuing examinations.

There were three recommendations that the publication mentioned concerning Autistic children including:

o Conduct routine surveillance for autism spectrum disorders at every follow-up, well-child visit, including searching for any minority signs of the disorder.

o Screen the child for autism using a specific or targeted screening checklist when they reach 18 years of age and again at 24 months.

o Schedule special appointments anytime you have any concerns about autism that you may have as a responsible parent would do.

Most importantly the fact that the AAP highly recommends that all pediatricians send children for a comprehensive assessment if the screening test results are positive. You may consider a hearing test as well as one of the warning signs is that the child either can not hear you or appear to be ignoring what you say and not reacting normally.

The signs and symptoms exhibited by autistic children

When it comes to the early warning signs and symptoms of Autism in children, there are three distinctive behavior patterns evident when the disorder is present. They include:

o difficulties with communication and social interaction
o problems with either non-verbal or verbal communication
o repetitive behavior patterns
o Narrow or extremely obsessive interests

Additionally, the impact of these warning signs and symptoms can range from very mild or slight to extremely severe and near disabling.

Regardless of the above, it is the inability to communicate effectively and engage in any social interaction that is considered the most prolific feature. Additionally, it is normally the parents that start seeing these warning signs and symbols. They will start seeing the child display abnormal behavior, even as early as the infancy stage. This includes being unresponsive to those around them or obsessively focusing on a single object or toy.

Additionally, a child may appear to be developing normally and then suddenly withdrawn from any social interaction or be ambivalent of or indifferent to what is going on around them. Autistic children may also fail to respond to calling their names or will avoid making eye contact or maintaining it for any normal length of time. Finally, they usually can not understand specific social clues which makes it difficult for them to interpret what others feel or think. This includes certain facial expressions and tone of voice.

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Von Economo Cells, Autism, and Intuition – A Few Special Brain Cells May Produce Social Awareness

Von Economo Neurons, Autism, and Intuition.

Recently discovered brain cells called Von Economo cells (VENs), named after the neurobiologist who described them, are unique in that there are only about 200,000 of them in a normal adult human. That's amazing because just about any other type of brain cell we have number in the billions. Up until just recently, we saw these cells only in the great apes and not in any other animals. They are present but rare numbering only five or six thousand in the solitary gorilla, but relatively more numerous in the hyper-social bonobo monkey.

VENS can be seen in just two parts of the most recently evolved part of our brains, the neocortex. They are present in the anterior cingulate gyrus (ACC), and the frontal insula (FI).

Other brain cells in the neocortex, the pyramidal cells, have a long process on the apical end but many shorter processes on the basal side (apical and basal dendrites). The VEN is unique in that it has very long dendrites on both poles and the cell body is 4.5 times larger than an ordinary pyramidal cell. Large size is conducive to high speed transmission of signals. VENs are just now being mapped despite but in essence they seem to pick up signals from several deer, more primitive brain centers regulating fight or flight, pleasure / reward, punishment, fear, and uncertainty and quickly process and simplify what might be a cacophony of signals and transmit the result to the frontal and temporal cortex. VENs are that implicated in “gut feelings”, intuition, and the rapid first impressions we all get when we meet someone new. In the frontal and temporal cortex, these instant impressions are blended with more clearer and slower more rational sentences formed there. In fact, one fascinating feature of VENs is that they, unlike any other brain cell, express serotonin 2b receptors on their surface. These receptors are also present on cells in the stomach and small intestine and are responsible for peristalsis. Unconscious or “gut” feelings may be picked up more quickly by the brain this way rather than have rather on detection what the gut is doing, allowing for more rapid and sometimes socially appropriate or dangerous avoiding response.

The right side of the brain contains 30% more VENs than the left side and this right dominance seems to be important for normal functioning of the brain. In fact, MRI studies of the FI can demonstrate that the right FI is larger in normal individuals and not in autistic kids. Furthermore, normal brainers react to uncertainty, facial expressions and pictures of loved ones consistently in these areas on functional MRI scans but not in autistic brains.

I have spoken with high functioning autistic people who say that to navigate a new social situations that they must have a kind of script in their minds. They use past experience and logic to generate appropriate responses to ever changing social situations. This compensatory method for coping with unintentionally seems to be a hallmark of autism. I've encountered many autistic children who may do very well if everything in their world is expected and routine, but totally decompensate in the face of change. Furthermore, humans are not born with a full complement of VENs, but only sprout them in early childhood until age four. This is about the time autism looks to manifest in childhood. And it is this time of life that both genetic and environmental factors can be influential. Indeed some studies have shown autistic kids to have fewer VENs and other studies show and excess of VENs but with disorganized or truncated dendrites, consistent with theories that autism involved failed “pruning” of neurons in early childhood. Sometimes genetic effects inhibit “pruning” and environmental or inflammatory conditions shut down the development of VENs. Either way, the result is an inability to cope with social situations and uncertainty, arguably some of the most highly developed and evolutionarily recent manifestations of consciousness.

Now very recently VENs have been found in whale brains, dolphins, and elephants. This is quite interesting because VENs there before must have evolved convergently in these species which are unrelated to us. Similar selective pressures must encourage the production of VENs. Perhaps large brain size itself Triggers the secondary enhancement of consciousness as a byproduct of needed upgrades in connectivity!

To your health,

Dr Z

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