Autistic Kids in Schools – How They Deal With It

Kids are the largest bundle of joy for parents and every parent wants the best for their child with unconditional love and support. But what happens when parents realize that their kids are autistic? It seems that their world comes shattering down in front of them with all their hopes and aspirations about their children becoming a distant unachievable dream. But does that mean parents love their children any less? I guess the answer is no and in spite of all the odds parents still love their kids unconditionally whatever they are born autistic or not. Parents want the world for their children and if they have an autistic child then this wish of getting the best for them increases to make them feel all the more secure.

Education as the basic foundation for any child

The all round development of a child happens only by getting the right education and enrolling in the best school ensures just that. Having an autistic child increases the tension wherever as parents they will be able to get the best school for their child or not. Unfortunately it is difficult for autistic children to get the social acceptance from the peers in school and that is one of the most common fears of both parents and teachers.

Now that we have become aware about the common fears that parents and teachers undergo when they have kids suffering from autism along with a bunch of normal kids around them. Let us know a few interesting facts during such a situation:

  • A survey conducted in The University of Manchester states that kids with autism are likely to be bullied by their peers and friends. To validate this statement the survey had 119 parents and 722 teachers who felt that autistic kids are always bullied and eventually became the butt of all jokes in class as compared to in special schools where there is no scope of them getting bullied. So yes, the chances are more likely in this case as parents opt to send their children to regular schools.
  • The act of bullying autistic kids have an adverse impact on their personality and self-esteem. It breaks their self-confidence and makes them feel that they are incapacitated of facing the world and achieving something worthwhile in their life. Special care must be taken always to ensure that nobody gets a chance to hurt them since they are very sensitive. But including this all the time among all the other kids by a single teacher becomes a difficult task to maintain.
  • They are rather to becoming the soft targets in school by their peer group. Therefore, it is a must to ensure their safety all for the sake of shaping a brighter future for them.
  • With some guidance and a bit of support from friends, family and teachers these kids can work brilliantly and they can manage to shape up their life and future like a shining diamond. What must be done to achieve this would be to allow them to communicate and socialize that would help them cope with life brilliantly. All autistic kids boast of a strong potential to have a ravishing life in the future but what is most important is that they need the right anchor or support to help them nurture these talents and skills to eventually become successful in life.

Autism is not a disease but just a disorder that demands a bit of our attention. These facts help us to be a little more aware about the ways in which we need to take care of our autistic kids and ensure that they do all that is necessary to have a future worth a million bucks.

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Choose the Best School for Your Autistic Kid

We all want the very best for our children and having autistic kids increases our want of getting the best for them all the more. Like for all kids their journey begins from school but getting the best school for your autistic child can be a little difficult at times. The competition for an autistic kid to be at par with any other regular kid to make it to the best school is a tough call indeed. But is this tough call giving you sleepless nights as parents? You can say goodbye to these thoughts once and for all because schools are changing to favor the autistic as well. So when you choose your desired school make sure that you keep in mind the basic qualities that they must have to make a brilliant star out of your son.

The trains schools should have to deal with autism

It is a difficult task to look for a school that would bring out the best in your child and will be the right motivation to help your child fight the odds of autism and let them be at par if not better than any regular kid on the block . So without any further ado let me show you some of the fundamental points that you must keep in mind when zeroing in on the best school for your child:

  • Leadership and School Culture – any school should always strive to bring out the leadership qualities in every child because today's kids are the leaders of tomorrow. The school culture plays a crucial role in controlling the situations of anti-bullying of the autistic kids. It is the role of the teachers in schools to instil upon the kids to treat everyone as equals and not to make fun of anyone and that could be an autistic kid or anyone for that matter.
  • Technology – technology is everywhere and no matter how much we criticize it clearly it is here to stay so schools should not be far off to use it to their advantage. Technology helps tremendously in improving an autistic kid's condition. The reason for technology being an instant hit is because autistic kids find it easier to deal with machines than with humans.
  • Lunch – lunch is one noisy affair because that is the time kids can break free from the mundane studies and keeping quiet in class. But the problem during lunch break is that kids get to choose where they will sit and in most cases parents and teachers fear that they will not prefer to sit with an autistic kid. To stay clear from this fear teachers have fashioned the kids in a way that they do not get to differentiate between autistic kids and focus on the fact that everyone is equal. A little further to this were the small initiatives that teachers take in ensuring that kids get a turn to sit next everyone in a cycle and share their tiffin so that there is no differentiation.
  • Friendship groups – different groups are established to make the bonds among class friends a lot stronger. Some of the most popular groups were game / movie night where all the kids would come together to play a game or watch a movie together, another popular group is the friendship group where the kids come together to cherish their friendship. These groups help in bringing the kids of the class together so that they get to enjoy their childhood without being burdened only with books.
  • Engage in extra-curricular activities – kids go to school not just to study but it is important that they have an all round development and to ensure that parents and teachers must encourage the kids to join the school chorus band or the dance or theater group. All this encourages the kids to have an all round development which is important in shaping a good personality of the kid.

All these points must be given a lot of importance when choosing the school that you think will be best suited for your child. The best school is the first stepping stone towards designing a good future for your child so you deserve time and take the best call.

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Is Your Baby Autistic – Factors Which Are Responsible

“But the Beast was a good person … the Prince looked on the outside the way the Beast was on the inside. t learned to hear the music yet “this quote could be synonymous with the current condition of any autistic child. They are beautiful souls but they fail to become likeable in mainstream society because of the way they are on the outside. But there has been a steady wind of change flowing smoothly that prompts people to change their perspective towards these autistic bunch of people. And needless to say that this change has been very welcoming especially for parents who have autistic kids.

Autism a disease?

Gone are the days when autism was considered a disease, all thanks to the advancement that medical science has made in the last couple of years autism is no longer a disease today that has no clinical treatment. Today autism is considered to be a disorder that happens due to some neurological disbalance which has a cure in the field of medical science. Autism affected people find it difficult to fit into any social gathering because the nerves that allows to interact, communicate and socialize with people get affected the most. But is it really the fault of the children that they were autistic? They did not choose to be autistic they were born that way. So let them not face the brunt of it any longer because they deserve a lifestyle and a childhood as normal and fun-filled like ours.

Tracing the roots of autism

It is important that we try to trace back the factors that lead to autism. Parents need to be aware that autism is a neurological disorder and must do their bit in trying to protect their child from factors that are responsible for autism as early as when they have already conceived the baby and it's growing in their womb. So here is a quick look at some of the most critical factors that results in kids born as autistic:

  • Air pollution has grown up to be one of the rising factors that are responsible for autism. The air that a mother expecting a baby breathes in is obviously shared with the child in the womb and if that air is polluted then the chances of the baby having autism becomes 50% more.
  • Autism as a disorder is also genetic in nature. In this case you can not really blame anyone but your own genes if your children sufferers from autism. This is the most unfortunate case because the situation is not in your hand and you can not control it.
  • Parents also play a crucial factor and contribute to a large extent if the child is born autistic. Parents keeping good health is a must while planning a baby because any health disorder affects the child resulting in autism. This kind of ill-health could be diabetes or even a bad immunity system. The major health contribution comes from the mother and it is extremely important for her to maintain a strong immunity system with no severe health issue that might have an adverse impact on the child.
  • The trending lifestyle of today's parents can also be responsible for a child to be born autistic. In today's time and age young couples give a lot of priority to their careers having little or no time to plan for a baby and when they do they are already late in terms of age. Planning for a baby at quite a late age is also an important factor that increases your chances of having an autistic baby. So to secure the future of your child it is important that you keep your career as a back burner and do the need to give a better life to your child.

You must keep these things in mind because your child is your biggest asset and you would not want anything to go wrong for your baby. So do what it takes to see the twinkle in your child's eye that would lit up your life more than a thousand twinkling stars.

All it takes is to widen our perspective and think these special children are autistic-ally beautiful. It is time for people to realize that autism awareness is not important but autism acceptance is.

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Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy – Can You Afford It?

Nancy, Cora and I were friends from high school and Nancy had quite a wild childhood, you know what I mean right? Life was one big party for her with lots of friends, sleepovers, clubbing, drinking, etc. and the best thing was her father had all the money to support this lifestyle of hers. In short, she had it all in terms of lifestyle that as teened kids we aspired to have, but alas! Though now she has sobered down but it's too late already, we'll find out why it's too late.

Cora, my other friend was just another regular kid on the block. Now as we grow up to be independent and eventually married we decided to start a family. Nancy inherited her father's wealth and it was now that Nancy started having problems conceiving a baby. After several visits to doctors the problem could have been grossly summed up because of her brash lifestyle with lots on unhealthy eating habits and alcohol. She did follow a disciplined life but it was all too late as has been mentioned by me earlier. On the other hand Cora was blessed with a cute baby girl and named her Rose because the girl was as exquisite and beautiful as the flower rose. But life had different plans for Cora as well when she found out that her daughter was autistic.

Autism as we all know demanded medical treatment and Cora did not have the financial stability to afford this prolonged medical treatment. The joke that God made on two of my most beautiful friends disheartened me. Nancy had all the money but not a child and Cora had a child but not the money to help her daughter. IF ONLY God could swap their needs then life would have been great was my only wish. Being a friend what I did was research on Google about the most cost effective ways of curing autism which would still have the desired results.

Affordability of HBOT

To my surprise I found out that one of the most effective ways of curing autism would be through HBOT and my joy saw no limits when I figured out that HBOT gives you the desired results and that too at affordable prices. I immediately shared all the information with Cora and then I realized that many other parents might feel the same problem and so I decided to share it with them as well through this post. Check them out:

  • The price range for HBOT treatment is vast depending on the medical institute or hospital you choose for your child. The price of this treatment depends as per the standards of the hospital so rather than focusing on the price of the treatment focus on the hospital first.
  • HBOT treatments are all about putting the patient (in this case your child) inside the chamber and all they have to do inside the chamber is breathe in at their regular momentum. It is important that you decide whether you want a personalized chamber or whether you would prefer sharing the chamber with the other patients as well. Sharing the chamber does not mean that you will be cramped inside it, in spite of sharing, the chambers can still be considered spacious and the results when you share the chamber with others or just use it personally does nit make much difference. The only difference would be the pricing, it is obvious that if you share the chamber with others for each session the prices will be comparatively low as against using the chamber all to yourself. So in this case, it is entirely your call.
  • The best part about having a HBOT treatment is that the amount is not dependent on the time duration that a patient is inside the chamber. The time duration is as per the condition of the patient and as has been prescribed by the doctor so it does not really matter whether you stick around inside the chamber for an hour or for 30 minutes.
  • The lowest possible range for HBOT is $ 60 and the highest range can shoot up to as much as $ 6000. A little over the top gesture could also be if you decide to buy a hyperbaric oxygen chamber for your child. Buying a personalized chamber could burn a $ 14,000 hole in your pocket but I guess millionaire parents feel its worth it because nothing is as precious to them as their little bundle of joy.

All these points must help you clearly to choose what is best for your child. I shared all this information with Cora only to see that little Rose was recuperating very fast and was showing remarkable results in spite of her parents having limited means. As far as Nancy was concerned a little research from Google helped me to know about surrogacy and I advised Nancy to go for a surrogate child. And within a year's time I could just see their problems flying off the window specifically when Nancy was blessed with another baby girl Lily and Rose was showing remarkable improvements growing up to make her parents proud.

So my piece of advise to all those parents having an autistic child would be – it is not the end of the world and you can do your bit in spite of the little money that you have saved all your life. What more? There are a lot of fundraisers who continue to put in all their efforts to gather funds for autistic children and their doors are always open for you and you can always take help from such charitable trusts. As parents we want the very best for our children and the bonus comes when we get to know that HBOT has become very affordable today.

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Integrated Autism Program-Facilitated Communication, Rapid Prompting Method, and Supportive Typing

I believe good autism programs are enhanced by using FC-Facilitated Communication, RPM-Rapid Prompting Method and similar supported typing and writing strategies. Why? These partners have a unique way of establishing relationship with a nonverbal child who is hard to reach. Although it is difficult to comprehend how they work, these complex, controversial methods creates miraculous changes in the behavior and the temperament of the child.

Although I am an FC and RPM supporter, I simply suggest communication programs that the child can use independently. PECS (Picture Exchange System) does not require pointing ability, it encourages spontaneous requesting, and it teaches identification and interaction with a communicative partner. In its initial stage, the person who works behind the child serves as a partner too. Until the child becomes adept at pointing, I may also facilitate voice output communication programs and any other type of eye-hand activities. Similar to FC and RPM, my focus and attention to the task at hand sees to aid the nonverbal person select a correct response. As the child becomes more profitable, I withdrew this focussed energetic prompt, slowly, just as I would any other prompt. The iPad is providing many affordable options for communication and eye-hand coordination activities.

Although I use FC and RPM for energetic linking and shared higher level communication, I do not depend on words for functional communication until the child has repeatedly shown that he understands word meaning. The child needs to be able to demonstrate that he can match the word to the corresponding pictures and / or the actual object or activity. Reading without understanding usage, is rampant in this population. I do not assume because a child is typing and has made an amazing “subconscious” telepathic like connection with me, that his “conscious mind” or “independent ego” can express understanding of the words he types or reads. Functional communication should be used simultaneously and independently with multiple partners in a variety of settings.

The program should have staffers that demonstrate the knowledge and flexibility to meet the complex needs of the each child. ABA does not have all the answers, but some discrete trial procedures can complement any sound autism program. Questions to ask yourself? Does the program make the child feel comfortable? Does the child feel safe and trust his environment? Are there meaningful traffic and sensory activities? Do staffers share a philosophy that an organized body leads to an organized mind? Is the child forging relationships with the staff? Do they incorporate activities that foster joint attention? Do staffers provide activities that teach cause and effect? Is the child taught to imitate? Is he motored consistently with slow removal of prompts to complete movement patterns he can not do independently? Do staffers teach categories and parts of speech to help the child form his own internal filing cabinet? What do staffers do to encourage the child to initiate? Do they foster projects that develop eye-hand coordination? Do staffers address adaptive daily living skills? Do they realize that focused intention used in Facsimile Communication are beneficial teaching a variety of skills? Do the staffers understand how FC strategies enhance their own intuitive abilities? Do staffers understand that FC helps the student understand our word dependent language system.

Often ignored, denied and discouraged, I believe the telepathic resonance in the FC and RPM relationship, should be embroidered as a part of the process since it helps the child engage more with his surroundings. This energetically dependent strategy should not be discarded just because it is not currently understood. If one listens with an open heart and an open mind, the child will show what he needs. Look for staffers who understand that the child has a different perceptual reality, and are willing to meet him more than half way.

I believe all forms of communication should be open to the child and parents should steer clear of just using one strategy. I would like to see these disciplines work together to help bridge the gap between subconscious partner dependent communication and ego based needs and needs.

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Mystical, Magical Friend With Autism Telepathically Describes Her Perceptual Reality

Can you describe your type of communication abilities in regards to supported typing and telepathy? (This is an example of receiving information through a telepathic like channel from my beloved nonverbal friend.) I tuned into my friend, asked the question and then typed what I received.

It is significant to say that I am somewhat unique in my ability to interpret data. (7-8 percent of nonverbal people with autism currently share my ability but more could with the proper training) Many others who share my vibrational real are hindered by a lack of cohesive thought. This happens because knowledge is not necessarily word dependent. I have mastered the ability to decode vibrations, and find the word that is most useful to describe it.

Nature is a complex organism of thought forms, reaching for vehicles of expression. I am capable of expression, only when all systems are balanced and synchronized. Achieving balance is like walking a tight rope with both arms extended hoping to keep my balance and to stay on the wire. As my partner, you assist me with the tenuous hold I have on my express vehicle. You serve as a balancing pole so to speak. Safety is part of the service you provide me. For I know, in most cases, you will help me rebalance myself before I fall. Even when the fall has not been averted, you provide me with a safety net. I know you will not let me flounder for long before you bring me to safer ground. Know that to master this linear world is challenging for me.

The tight rope can be viewed as linear thought. My understanding and reasoning are broad, but I am restricted by the confines of the wire so to speak. I can only stay connected to you when I am balanced on it. Precarious as it sees, I am shifting. Becoming more open to what physical reality has to offer. Beauty is present in all dimensions. It is difficult to limit oneself to a singular reality when being bombarded by invitations to other galaxies and planes of existence. Channeling higher thought forms through you is good for my brain and my nervous system.

What specifically can I do to keep you balanced and on the wire so you can communicate to those dependent on linear though?

Achieve a certain level of grounding. Just by being in your presence, I feel a sense of calm, just knowing I am not on the wire alone without a safety net. I target and translate thought forms that you might find interesting, by tapping into sources outside of myself, or I should say my body. I am encapsulated in an energy bubble that carries me safely from one domain to the other. Perhaps, you can picture it like a hot air balloon. You serve as a tethering cord so to speak. I allow you to be my guardian because you are skilled at thought transference. You are also good at listening without questioning too deeply. Frustration occurs when you are not open and flowing. I have trouble joining the current of your energy stream and feel bound to mundane practices of earthly survival. You are at your best when you enjoy being with me and are happy. Transfer of information between us is grounded and transferred by energy chords or streams. Think of our process as a flowing river. If you build a damn as you often do, my flow of information stops. Love, intention, joy and light-hearted acceptance, all assist in an uninterrupted flow of ideas. Know that you are going to have to remove the damn time and time again before you fully realize what you are unintentionally doing.

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Asperger’s Syndrome: Diagnosis and Treatment

The maddening aspect of the syndrome is that those with the syndrome are generally very, very intelligent and incredibly high functioning, although they may lack social skills and more when it comes to playing with their peers, showing empathy towards others, and more.

Asperger's has seen quite a few different people and patients who are affected by this disorder, and for many people this syndrome has been something that must have been taken seriously over time, as it turns out to affect millions around the country and around the world. Psychologists, doctors, and more have been working intensively over the last few years to understand how Asperger's takes hold of people, and what it means for people once they are diagnosed with it and how they can fight through it and deal with it adequately going into the future.

It is not simple or advisable to diagnose this syndrome quickly or easily, as a great many options exist for finding someone to be on the Asperger's or autism scale. Most typically, though, the average diagnosis occurs with the help of a psychologist in conjuction with the work of a doctor or medical professional, where they can effectively figure out a diagnosis and determining what turns out to be going on for those with this issue.

The diagnosis here is nowhere near as simple or straightforward as a cold or a broken bone. There are various places on the spectrum and various observations to be made that can make diagnosing Asperger's very, very difficult. With that, then, it usually takes some time and some very, very careful observation in which to diagnose and treat this disorder and move forward in a way that can fully and completely benefit the person involved and suffering from it in the first place.

Treatment usually involves a wide variety of things, including specific and technical medications, and extensive therapy work to improve the lives of those suffering. Many sufferers of Asperger's Syndrome do very well with treatments when they are centered around changing behaviors and putting these children in places and environments in which they can adequately and fully live can significantly and fully help them out in a positive way.

The road will be difficult, of course, but the good news is that those with Asperger's can function very well in society over time – and in fact, many Asperger's sufferers do much better than you may think when it comes to getting the most out of their lives and their roles in societies as they grow up and become adults.

The biggest thing to remember about Asperger's, too, is that more and more is known about it every single day as doctors work to become experts. And in time, children and others will get more and more out of their treatments and diagnoses.

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How Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Helps Autistic People Be A Part Of Mainstream Society

The month of April saw the National Autism Awareness Month and it is definitely very overwhelming to see people talk about autism these days on the Internet and such blogs and articles are actually going viral to generate awareness. It seems the time has come when people are brining such topics out of their closet and no longer considering autism as a disease but just a disorder which has its own share of medical treatment. It is disheartening to see how people make fun of those who suffer from autism by addressing them as abnormal and mad. Autism as a disorder affects that part of the brain which is responsible for communication and social interaction. Their accessibility to interact 'normally' in society is one of the major reasons why they are often considered the outcast of society. So the biggest challenge today is to introduce autistic people in society as 'normal' people.

How HBOT helps in doing so

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is one of the leading medical treatments that is not just available but successful for autism. This therapy is a process through which a concerned patient enters a sealed chamber to breathe in 100% pure oxygen under a customized atmospheric pressure. The best thing about HBOT is the supply of oxygen receives the autism affected nerves and tissues thereby helping those areas to recover and the healing process becomes a tad faster. Medical science has till date not been able to guarantee any medical treatment that can cure autism completely but with the help of HBOT the effects and effects of autism has certainly been reduced. So it is safe to sum up by saying that HBOT helps in reducing the repercussions of autism.

How autistic people improve their condition

Today medical science is at its best phase, of course there is room for improvement and the focus on better medical procedures and treatments is always welcome but there is some treatment available for health complications even if the cure cure is not available.

Now let us shift our attention towards autism. We all know that if the impacts of autism could be reduced then people can lead a normal life and do not we all aspire to see a better world for our automatic children? If you wish the same then let us take a quick look at some of the measures that we can take to make autistic people part of our society:

  • HBOT as a treatment helps considering a lot in reducing the impacts of autism. Breathing 100% pure oxygen works as a great stress buster to improve autistic conditions among people. What comes as a surprise is the fact that breathing oxygen is a medical treatment! Considered so because a particular autistic person is prescribed to breathe pure oxygen in a sealed chamber under higher pressure is the most important drug.
  • The prolonged process of the innumerable HBOT sessions help autistic people to improve their conditions. After a couple of sessions that comes as a good news is that autistic kids are able to respond back quickly to people's reactions and questions. They seem to have quick responses to loud music and bright colors. These responses need a careful measurement only after a couple of HBOT sessions. It is all about having patience and faith that the person's conditions will improve.
  • The gradual training to meet people and society at large is all about giving the right training. Parents can start such trainings at a very early age. In such a scenario parents play an important role in trying to instill upon their kids the confidence and the will power to overcome the challenges and put up a brave front in the middle of all the hardships.
  • We must not overlook the fact that autistic people are always blessed with certain qualities and talents that needs care to develop fully. These talents work wonders in building the low-esteem of autistic people. It is because of these talents that if tapped in carefully can turn out as the main source of earning bread and butter and if all goes well then these talents help them in becoming successful professionals as well. Several statistics show us that many popular MNCs across the globe today try to bring a certain percentage of autistic people to their work space to broaden the flow of creativity.

So now we can see the wind of change is flowing strong to give autistic people a fair scope to prove their merit and make a place for themselves in this competitive field.

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Charities And Fund-Raisers Putting Their Best Foot Forward To Fight Autism

It is unfair to consider autism a disease, it is merely just a disorder that requires some amount of brain wiring. People seem to write a lot on autism but lets face it that this is a mental condition that has room for improvement with love and a hell lot of socialization and the ability of people to accept the autistic person the way he / she is. Simply put as per medical science it is a neurological and social disorder, so you see, this is not a disease. It is time we stop behaving like autism is a disease and take up the cause seriously and fight for it. How? By spreading awareness, letting people know about the medical aid that is available, by launching charity signs and charitable trusts and organizing fund-raisers. So let's get started and kick-start something worthwhile for the cause of autism.

Let's have a look around us

People across the globe has taken the cause of autism a tad too seriously and it is great to see that autism has come on its own. From being considered a disease and made been fun at to thinking it merely as a disorder that demands medical treatment and people taking up the cause seriously and fighting against it. Times are changing, people across the globe have all contributed in their own small way to show support to this cause with the help of charitable trusts, fund-raising shows, et al. Let's have a look at some of the popular causes that have become phenomenal across the globe:

  • Sometimes in early July somewhere in and around Rochester a fund-raiser was initiated to fight the cause of autism. The name of it is Project Life Saver and their aims and ambition to fight the cause of autism along with a couple of more disorders is phenomenal. This fund-raiser has a wide base and can be easily looked up to when any other small organizations choose to also do something like this, do good for people having their own set of suffering and problem.
  • In Cape Cod, the problem of autism is a little personal because in Orleans psychotherapists Lauren and Bob Jones are proud parents to their 24-year-old autistic son Alexander. Having their son face similar problems like any other autistic person face that they figured out that something needs to be done to show support towards autism. Here started their journey to reach out to parents in and around Cape Cod who have children suffering from autism to start a long-term community primarily a residential area where all the autistic children could live together and enjoy the same educational standard. In the midst of staying with people who are like them their confidence level would also start growing and their journey towards adulthood will be an enjoyable experience for them. The main aim was to provide them the basic social and educational needs that they deserve.
  • A Massachusetts-based young start-up called SynapDx is keeping no stone unturned to diagnose the tragedies of autism at a very early stage only if parents are willing to take up this test on their children. Does not it sound exciting? The procedure to this would be a carefully balanced combination of advanced bio informatics, blood test and genome sequencing. That's not all, this cause has allowed them to collect a whopping $ 15.4 million by Google Ventures to start working on this blood test to study this disorder. Trying to think why diagnosing autism originated? Well, diagnosing autism usually takes up a couple of years because parents can not track autism in the initial years of child growth. This delay in tracking autism often delays the medical treatment that if started at an early stage can show remarkable results. Here is the work on coming out with this medical test because this would help parents considerably well to design their child's future accordingly.

These are some of the major fund-raising events and charities that have done remarkably well throughout the globe setting an example that it is never too late to fight for the cause you believe in or you think is worthwhile. Autism is certainly one such cause. So why are you still sitting idle? Step out and do your bit!

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Autism Comes As A Blessing In Disguise In Your Life

“A whole new world
Every turn a surprise
With new horizons to pursue
Every moment red-letter
I'll chase them anywhere
There's time to spare
Let me share this whole new world with you ”

This powerful song actually showed a whole new world to Isaac, a 8-year-old boy who supersedes from non verbal autism. The example that Isaac has sent for himself and the zillion other people who suffer from autism is that there is a ray of light at the end of the dark tunnel. Isaac has a disability of verbal autism which entails a problem in communication and that can not pronounce words correctly. But when he started singing this song his pitch was bang on and his voice tone was absolutely brilliant. So if you always thought autistic people could not make it big in life? Well, you guessed it wrong because the times are changing and it's indeed a new world for autistic people with plenty of opportunities.

There are millions of stories of how automatic people have made it big in their own way. Let's tap in some of the popular stories or personal achievements:

  • The story of Nick: – suffers from autism and during his four years of graduation in Glacier Peak High School has not been able to lock eyes with his peers. He never really made friends in the first years but during the graduation night he spoke on behalf of his Class of 2013 at commencement. Nick took time to come on his own but slow and steady as was his case, he did manage to emerge as a clear winner. Nick was part of several acting programs in and around high school, also termed as everyone's advocated in school and the icing on the cake came when he got an invitation for the program 'Be The Change', a seminar that gives scope to students to have a heart-wrenching conversation about the challenges that they faced in life. Nick later joined with his friends for his first ever set of football games and became an ardent fan of the girl's baseball team, encouraging them and cheering for them. Many have often heard Nick say, “I sometimes think or like to ask God why I am the way I am, but you know there are reasons for things like this.” It is for those certain “reasons” that Nick signs off saying “if I had to change, if it was all or nothing, I would keep it because it is part of who I am.” Nick stands testony to the fact that autism is a blessing giving people a fair scope to make their life beautiful.
  • Painting is therapeutic – painting has proved therapeutic for some people suffering from autism, specifically for Candace Waters just 12 years old living in Park Ridge. Little did we know that her paintings are fetching her a whopping amount of money, half of which she donates to a charity that focuses on providing autism awareness. Her paintings on an average sell within a range between $ 500 to $ 800. We all know that autism affects speaking skills so yes painting is a great way through which Candace tries to express herself. This gift of painting stands tall against all odds that she had to face because of autism .

These short stories act as a reminder to let everyone know that autism is a blessing in disguise because with autism comes a few special gifts rather talents that stand out. Another big motivation would be let you know that Bill Gates was autistic as well. So if Bill Gates could make it big in life so can you!

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Fight the Pain? HBOT Shows You How

So you thought autism is the end of your child's world? You thought the pain and suffering of this disorder will see your child's world crumbling apart in front of you? Now, is the time to throw all these worries that you have into the dustbin because medical science today is at its best phase and has a treatment for almost everything. Well, almost, not really everything so control your expectations! Today medical science has an answer for autism and the answer is hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).

Still unaware of what is HBOT?

If you are still caught unaware about what is HBOT then your wait is finally over because this is one of the most successful treatment procedure that helps any autistic patient to reduce the effect of autism. Wondering how it works? This is the treatment where oxygen is the only medicine, hence the one and only drug. The autistic patient prescribed to breathe 100% pure oxygen in a closed chamber that has a customized atmospheric pressure of 1-1 / 2 to 3 times more than the normal pressure. A normal HBOT chamber can either be a monoplace for a single person or for a small group of people. Are you guessing that breathing 100% pure oxygen in the closed chamber means inhaling and exhaling at a rapid speed? No, the patients are strictly prescribed to stay relaxed and breathe absolutely normally without rushing through the entire process. Any initial hits? Yes, due to the high pressure patients may face a certain amount of discomfort or ear popping inside the chamber but this usually fades away gradually when the pressure comes back to normal. Depending on the condition of the patient the session lasts from somewhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours. Here comes the brownie points, majority of health insurance policies incorporated the clinically approved use of HBOT. So even if this medical treatment burns a hole down your pocket you are rest assured because now it is part of your insurance package. HBOT is not just a medical treatment prescribed for people suffering from autism, on the contrary this therapy is also used for

  • thermal burns
  • injuries where enough oxygen does not reach the tissues
  • blockage in blood vessels particularly the retinal artery
  • infections around the tissues

These are some of the injuries that also claims the HBOT treatment. Not to forget that this kind of injury is quite painful.

Can HBOT help in overcoming the pain?

HBOT is a treatment procedure that focuses on curing along with a significant reduction in the pain. The health issues other than autism for which HBOT can also be used is quite painful and at times the pain tend to become unbearable for people. Trying to understand why the focus is on reducing the pain of these injuries? The side-effects of pain results in depression and sleepless nights, both these side-effects have an adverse impact on your health. Here, the focus of HBOT is to cut pain along with bringing in remarkable healing results.

We all know that inside the sealed chamber with 100% pure oxygen and increased atmospheric pressure some changes are bound to take place that the patient shall observe.

  • These changes are mainly the red blood cells which carries oxygen and tend to get saturated along with it. In a closed chamber and such conditions an individual's hemoglobin becomes formed and the flow of oxygen specifically around your wounds and injuries help considerably reducing the pain.
  • The ability to squeeze in as much oxygen as possible with the help of HBOT helps the tissues and cells to receive oxygen which is one of their basic nutrient for healing and eventually the pain reduces. Due to injury the cells and tissues tend to become swollen and since the ability to receive the much-needed oxygen becomes a hindrance in recovery and also reducing the pain.
  • Depending on the intensity of the injury the HBOT session is prescribed. The only drastic change that a patient might have to deal with and ever overcome would be the ability of your ears to with the sudden change in the atmospheric pressure. There is no major impact on your ears and it is just a matter of time till your emails get adjusted to this change.

So yes, HBOT provides the much-needed relief from pain which is necessary to make you feel positive about recovering, maintaining a good health and having a peaceful sleep.

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Inhibition of Dopamine Conversion to Norepinephrine by Clostridia a Major Cause of Autism

Concentrations of the dopamine metabolite homovanillic acid, or HVA, have been reported to be much higher in the urine of children with autism compared to controls. In the same study, severity of autism symptoms was directly related to the concentration of HVA. There was a relationship between the urinary HVA concentration and increased agitation, stereotypical behaviors, and reduced spontaneous behavior. Furthermore, vitamin B6, which has been shown to decrease autistic symptoms, decreases urinary HVA concentrations. Excess dopamine has been implicated in the etiology of psychotic behavior and schizophrenia for over 40 years. Drugs that inhibit dopamine binding to dopaminergic receptors have been some of the most widely used pharmaceuticals used as antipsychotic drugs and have been widely used in the treatment of autism. Recent evidence indicates that dopamine in high concentrations may be toxic to the brain.

Dopamine is a very reactive molecule compared with other neurotransmitters, and dopamine degradation naturally produces oxidative species. More than 90 percent of dopamine in dopaminergic neurons is stored in abundant terminal vesicles and is protected from degradation. However, a small fraction of dopamine is cytosolic, and it is the major source of dopamine metabolism and presumed toxicity. Cytosolic dopamine undergoes degradation to form 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) and homovanillic acid (HVA) via the monoamine oxidase pathway. Alternately, dopamine undergoes oxidation in the presence of excess iron or copper (common in autism and schizophrenia) to form dopamine cyclized o-quinone, which is then converted to dopamine cyclized o-semiquinone, depleting NADPH in the process. Dopamine cyclized o-semiquinone then reacts with molecular oxygen to form oxygen superoxide free radical, an extremely toxic oxidizing agent. In the process, dopamine cyclized o-quinone is reformed, resulting in a vicious cycle extremely toxic to tissues producing dopamine, including the brain, peripheral nerves, and the adrenal gland.

It is estimated that each molecule of dopamine cyclized o-quinone produces thousands of molecules of oxygen superoxide free radical in addition to depleting NADPH. The o -quinone also reacts with cysteine ​​residues on glutathione or proteins to form cysteinyl-dopamine conjugates. One of these dopamine conjugates is converted to N-acetylcysteinyl dopamine thioether, which causes apoptosis (programmed cell death) of dopaminergic cells. These biochemical abnormalities cause severe neurodegeneration in pathways that utilize dopamine as a neurotransmitter. Neurodegeneration is due to depletion of brain glutathione and NADPH as well as the overproduction of oxygen superoxide free radicals and neurotoxic N-acetylcysteinyl dopamine thioether. In addition, the depletion of NADPH also results in a diminished ability to convert oxidized glutathione back to its reduced form.

What is the likely cause of elevated dopamine in autism? A significant number of studies have documented increased incidence of stool cultures positive for certain species of Clostridia bacteria in the intestine in children with autism using culture and PCR techniques. All these studies have indicated a disproportionate increase in various Clostridia species in stool samples compared to normal controls. In addition, metabolic testing has identified the metabolites (3-hydroxyphenl) -3-hydroxypropionic acid (HPHPA) and 4-cresol from Clostridia bacteria at significantly higher concentrations in the urine samples of children with autism and in schizophrenia.

Treatment with antibiotics against Clostridia species, such as metronidazole and vancomycin, eliminates these urinary metabolites with reported concomitant improvement in autistic symptoms. In addition, I had noticed a correlation between elevated HPHPA and elevated saturated homovanillic acid (HVA). The probable mechanism for this correlation is that certain Clostridia metabolites have the ability to inactivate dopamine beta-hydroxylase, which is needed for the conversion of dopamine to norepinephrine.

Such metabolites are not found at only trace levels. The concentration of the Clostridia metabolite HPHPA in children with autism may sometimes exceed the urinary concentration of the norepinephrine metabolite vanillylmandelic acid (VMA) by a thousand fold on a molar basis and may be the major organic acid in urine in those with severe gastrointestinal Clostridia overgrowth , and even exceed the concentration of all the other organic acids combined. Dopamine beta hydroxylase that converges dopamine to norepinephrine in serum of severely retarded children with autism was much lower than in those who were higher functioning. Decreased urine output of the major norepinephrine metabolite meta-hydroxyphenolglycol (MHPG) was decreased in urine samples of children with autism, consistent with inhibitory of dopamine beta hydroxylase.

Many doctors treating children with autism have noted that the severity of autistic symptoms is related to the concentration of the clostridia marker 3 (3-hydroxyphenyl) -3-hydroxypropionic acid (HPHPA) in urine. These are probably the children with autism with severe and even psychotic behavior treated with Risperdal® and other anti-psychotic drugs, which block the activation of dopamine receptors by excess dopamine. I have identified a number of species of Clostridia species that produce HPHPA including C. sporogenes , C.botulinum , C. caloritolerans , C. mangenoti , C. ghoni , C.bifermentans , C. difficile , and C. sordellii . All species of Clostridia are spore formers and so may persist for long periods of time in the gastrointestinal tracts even after antibiotic treatment with oral vancomycin and metronidazole.

How do the changes in brain neurotransmitters caused by Clostridia metabolites alter behavior? The increase in phenolic Clostridia metabolites common in autism significantly decreases brain dopamine beta hydroxylase activity. This leads to overproduction of brain dopamine and reduced concentrations of brain norepinephrine, and can cause obsessive, compulsive, stereotypical behaviors associated with brain dopamine excess and reduced exploratory behavior and learning in novel environments that are associated with brain norepinephrine deficiency. Such increases in dopamine in autism have been verified by finding marked increases in the major dopamine metabolite homovanillic acid (HVA) in urine. The increased concentrations of HVA in urine samples of children with autism are directly related to the degree of abnormal behavior. The concentrations of HVA in the urine of some children with autism are markedly abnormal.

In addition to alteration of brain neurotransmitters, the inhibitory of the production of norepinephrine and epinephrine by Clostridia metabolites may have a prominent effect on the production of neurotransmitters by the sympathetic nervous system and the adrenal gland. The major neurotransmitter of the sympathetic nervous system that regulates the eyes, sweat glands, blood vessels, heart, lungs, stomach, and intestine is norepinephrine. An inadequate supply of norepinephrine or a substitution of dopamine for norepinephrine may result in profound systemic effects on physiology. The adrenal gland which produces both norepinephrine and epinephrine may also begin to release dopamine instead, causing substantial alteration in all physiological functions. In addition to abnormal physiology caused by dopamine substitution for norepinephrine and epinephrine, dopamine excess causes free radical damage to the tissues producing it, possibly leading to permanent damage of the brain, adrenal glands, and sympathetic nervous system if the Clostridia metabolites persist for prolonged periods of time, if glutathione is strictly depleted, and if there is apoptotic damage caused by the dopamine metabolite N-acetylcysteinyl dopamine thioether.

Depletion of glutathione can be monitored in The Great Plains Laboratory organic acid test by tracking the metabolite pyroglutamic acid, which is increased in both blood and urine when glutathione is depleted. In addition, The Great Plains Laboratory also tests the other molecules involved in this toxic pathway, the dopamine metabolite homovanillic acid (HVA), the epinephrine and norepinephrine metabolite VMA and the Clostridia metabolites HPHPA and 4-cresol.

In summary, gastrointestinal Clostridia bacteria has the ability to markedly alter behavior in autism and other neuropsychiatric diseases by production of phenolic compounds that dramatically alter the balance of both dopamine and norepinephrine. Excess dopamine not only causes abnormal behavior but also depletes the brain of glutathione and NADPH and causes a vicious cycle producing large quantities of oxygen superoxide that causes severe brain damage. Such alterations appear to be a (the) major factor in the causation of autism and schizophrenia. The organic acid test now has the ability to unravel a major mystery in the causation of autism, schizophrenia, and other neuropsychiatric diseases, rarely the reason for dopamine excess in these disorders.

In the past, some doctors would order the organic acid test once a year or less. With the new knowledge of the mechanism of Clostridia toxicity through inhibitory of dopamine beta-hydroxylase, it appears that the control of such toxic organisms needs to monitered much more frequently to prevent serious brain, adrenal gland, and sympathetic nervous system damage caused by excess dopamine and oxygen superoxide.

Reference:

Shaw W. Increased urinary excretion of a 3 (3-hydroxyphenyl) -3-hydroxypropionic acid (HPHPA), an abnormal phenylalanine metabolite of Clostridia spp. in the gastrointestinal tract, in urine samples from patients with autism and schizophrenia. Nutr Neurosci. 2010 Jun; 13 (3): 135-43.

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Part 2: DIR Floor Time Strategies

I introduced what DIR Floor Time was. Today, I hope to suggest some strategies that are used in Floor Time. I must emphasize that you get training in this technique so you can ideally carry out the techniques. This model is based on a multi-discipline model with speech and language pathologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and educators. They all work together to evaluate the needs of the child.

The basic premise is you play with the children on the floor. The floor is seen as a grounding tool. These children are comfortable playing on the floor. Your job is to give them the best play date you can by starting where the child is. You always start where the child is. Dr. Esther Hess has some simple suggestions to prepare for a good play date.

  • Identify real-life experiences your child knows and enjoys and have toys and props available to play out these experiences.
  • Respond to your child's desires through pretend play.
  • Encourage role playing with dress-up props, use puppets, etc.
  • Use specific set of figures / dolls to represent family members.
  • Give symbolic meaning to objects as you play.
  • Substitute one object for another when props are needed.
  • As you play. Help your child to elaborate on his intentions. You will do this by when he tries to do something else; you suggest what he could do instead and when he does it you, praise him for coming up with the new of solving the problem. (It does not matter if it was your idea.)
  • Make use of break downs.
  • Get involved in the drama.
  • Insert obstacles in the play.
  • Use symbolic figures your child knows and loves, such as Disney or Super Heroes, to generate symbolic play.
  • Use play to help your child understand and master ideas / themes which may have scared him.
  • Let your child be the director.
  • Focus on process as you play: identify the beginning, middle, and end.
  • As you play, match your tone of voice to the situation.
  • Reflect the ideas and feelings in the story while playing and later on as you would with other real life experiences.

These are the tenants that Dr. Esther Hess recommends. Many Autism Spectrum disordered children love trains. She recommends not having too many trains as that is all the child focuses on. You want to create a play experience where the child has to problem solve something in order to move forward, even if you are suggesting the solution, you still give it praise as make it his solution. He may flap his arms in agitation, but this should not be seen as abnormal. He may be over stimulated and know not what to do. In this scenario, you try to use symbolic play to help him solve his problem.

Dr. Esther Hess has a trampoline in her room and this is used to teach the children to ground themselves when they feel like they are out of control. It grounds them and brings them back to homeostasis. Dr. Esther Hess encourages the parents to use these techniques and have them play with their children her presence. She guides them gently. She requires the parents to make a commitment and play with their children three times a day for six days out of the week. She involves other family members, ie siblings and will go to the home and watch them carry out the techniques.

This is just an overview and does not replace training in this technique. There are two centers that do this type of therapy-one in California and one in New Jersey. This is a complicated model and not one to take it lightly. If interested find out more on Dr. Esther Hess' website: http://www.Drhessautism.com .

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Part I: What Is DIR Floor Time With Autism Spectrum Children?

I went to a workshop on DIR Floor Time. You may be asking what this is and it is called Developmental, Individual-Difference, Relationship-Based Play Therapy Model for children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders and is also used with selective-mutism. It is a non-directive therapy, much different from cognitive behavioral therapy. It is not quite child centered behavioral therapy. Here, I will be providing an overview of what DIR Floor Time is and its tenants. In Part II, I will follow-up with specific interventions. You need to get the underpinnings of this model in order to be able to apply the interventions. The material gathered for this article was provided by Esther Hess, Ph.D., Director of the Center for the Developing Mind. There are specific trainings available for this model and this post and Part II does not replace the need for training. It just gives you an overview of what it is.

DIR Floor time looks at the developmental level of each child. There are certain milestones children need to reach before they can move on to the next developmental level in terms of developing relationships. For example, by three months the infant should be able to regulate and take interest in the world, by five months they should be able to form relationships (attachments), by nine months there should be intentional two-way communication, by thirteen months there should be a complex sense of self and behavioral organization, by eighteen months there should be a complex sense of self and behavioral elaboration, by twenty-four months there should be emotion idea and representational capacity, and by 30 months there should be emotional ideas and representational eradication.

In the Autistic Spectrum child they do not reach these miles. DIR Floor time starts where the child is. The child may be five, yet developmentally like a two-year old. You work with them at the two-year old level, yet recognizing their age and knowing that intellectually they may be their stipulated age, not necessarily delay. The model encourages a multi-model approach and encourages evaluations and working along with not only the family, but with the speech and language pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, and educator. Assessment is based on the findings of these disciplines. There is emphasis to check family members, family patterns, and family needs. The family will be an part of treatment and they have to be willing to take part in sessions and practice the ways shown to them 5-6 times a day. It is a big commitment. Siblings can be helpful too. You will also be making observations in the home.

You will be working on functional development capabilities beginning at the bottom rung, which includes focus and attention and working your way up to engaging and relating, to simple two-way gesturing, to complex problem-solving, to creative use of ideas and symbols, and finally to analytic / logical thinking.

There will also be things you need to consider for you as the clinician. Do you use a calm voice? Do you give gentle looks? Is your body posture supportive? Are your actions non-intrusive? Do you use encouraging gestures? Are you aware of the child's rhythms? Are you comfortable following the child's lead? Are you aware of the child's feelings? Are you talking into account DIR? Did you observe long enough? Are you using affective cues through gestures to stay connected? Are you asking too many questions? Did you pursue?

The primary challenges to an interaction on the part of the therapist are level of comfort with the child's themes and feelings. Do you deepen or deflect? The challenges on the part of the child are avoidance, disengagement, poor communication, poor motor-planning, passivity, low tone, hyperactivity, poor symbolism, fragmentation, and anxiety. The challenges on the part of the parent are taking over the lead, changes the topics, controls the child's body, over-relationships on sensory motor activities, misses cues, lacks affect, poor timing, concrete, works below level, works above the child's level, is angry, and / or is depressed.

Autism is a multi-system developmental disorder. There are three types:

Pattern A-Mostly aimless and unrelated, severe motor planning difficulties, severe auditory planning difficulties, severe auditory processing, affect flat, unmodulated or inappropriate, self-stimulation and rhythmic behaviors, poor muscle tone and under-reactive, over-reactive to sound and touch, and overly active and extremely distractible.

Pattern B-Intermittently related, simple intentional gestures fleeting, affect accessible but fleeting, enjoys repetitive or perseverative activity with objects, very rigid and reactive to change, has mixed patterns of sensory reactivity and muscle tone, poor motor planning.

Pattern C-More consistent relatedness and reactivity even when avoidant and rigid, islands of warm pleasurable effect, use of simple social gestures, use of intermittent complex gestures, resists change and perseverative, but allows other to join in, mixed pattern of sensory reactivity and motor planning, tenders to over-react, auditory less severe, use some words in scripted or rote form.

This gives you an overview of the theory behind DIR Floor Time. In Part 2, we will look at interventions so we can have good dates with our autism spectrum disordered clients. You need to be aware that there are specific trainings that teach this method. I am just giving you an overview and this should not be considered replacement for the training.

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Medical Testing for Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, and PDD

It is generally accepted within the autism community – by parents and professionals alike – that autism is a behavioral-based disorder, that is, diagnosis is based on observation of behavior and treatment focuses on alleviating challenging behaviors. However, a growing number of individuals within this expanding community also recognize that there exists an equally relevant biomedical component to the disorder that should not be overlooked in planning treatment programs for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. While recognizing the need for biomedical testing, both parents and medical professionals can be at a loss in understanding the array of tests available and how to determine which test (s) are most appropriate for a child or adult with an ASD.

The recommendations for testing that follow are based on my 10 years experience as a Laboratory Director of The Great Plains Laboratory, a medical laboratory which has performed more testing for people on the autism spectrum than any other place in the world. My recommendations are now also based on experience with my own 14-year-old stepdaughter, Paulina, who has severe autism.

Food Allergy Testing
The single most useful test for people on the autism spectrum is the comprehensive IgG food allergy test. The most common foods that are abnormal in children and adults on the spectrum are cow's milk, cheese, yogurt, wheat, barley, rye, spelt, and soy. We have documented these allergies at The Great Plains Laboratory by testing thousands of blood samples from people on the spectrum through the world. Multiple articles in the medical journals report similar abnormalities.

The incidence of high IgG antibodies to wheat and milk is approximately 90% in people on the autistic spectrum. Most individuals with IgG allergy or sensitivity to cow's milk are also allergic to goat's milk. Other common allergies include peanuts, eggs, citrus fruit, corn, sugar, and baking yeast. There are various allergy tests available, so it is very important to check which type of allergy test is being offered. Despite helpful in some cases, I have not seen IgE food allergy testing to be as valuable for individuals with ASD. Unfortunately, this is the only kind of food allergy test that most laboratories offer.

Determining whether or not IgG food allergies are present is important. These allergies or sensitivites are associated with the reaction of foods with certain white blood cells that release powerful cytokines, protein substances like gamma-interferon that can cause varying behavioral changes and even psychosis. IgG allergies are found in children and adults on the entire autistic spectrum including autism, pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), and in Asperger's syndrome. These abnormalities are also very common in attention deficit disorder as well.

Wheat and milk restriction has been one of the most successful treatments for individuals on the spectrum. Prior to initiation of the gluten and casein free diet, Paulina spent most of the day screaming, crying, throwing tantrums and pulling things off the shelves. She could not go to dinner at a restaurant because she was so hyperactive that she would squirm out of her seat and wander around the restaurant. All of these difficult behaviors ceased after implementation of the gluten free and casein free diet (as well as an antifungal treatment).

Testing for Celiac Disease
Celiac disease is another common disorder of wheat intolerance with an incidence of about 1: 150 among people of European descent. The incidence of this disorder does not appear to be higher in those on the autism spectrum than in the general population, although people on the spectrum often have celiac disease also. Celiac disease can be confirmed by the presence of antibodies to the intestinal enzyme transglutaminase, which is involved in the biochemical processing of gluten.

Inhalant Allergy Testing
Allergies to things in the air is termed inhalant allergies. These allergies, in contrast to food allergies, do need to be tested with IgE tests. Some of the most common allergies are mold, mildew, pollen, cats, dogs, birds, and dust. One child with autism had a severe behavioral reaction whenever a certain special teacher entered the classroom. After testing for inhalant allergies, we found that the child had severe cat allergies. The teacher was a cat lover and had several at home. The cat hair would get on the teacher's clothes and trigger allergic reactions in the child. The child was transferred to another teacher and the severe behavioral reactions ceased.

Testing for Yeast
Another very common abnormality in autism is a gastrointestinal overgrowth of Candida. Candida is a member of the yeast family – a type of fungus. Drugs that kill yeast or fungus are called antifungal drugs. The greatest bulk of Candida is present in the intestinal tract, although it may occasionally enter the bloodstream and has been detected in the blood of children with autism by a highly sensitive test called PCR that measures the Candida DNA. There are about a dozen species of Candida but three of the most common are Candida albicans, Candida parapsilosis, and Candida krusei.

There are many reasons for controlling Candida overgrowth. Excessive Candida can inhibit normal digestion and absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream, as well as prevent the production of important vitamins needed for optimal health. Candida produces many toxic byproducts including gliotoxins, which can cause impairment to the immune system. In addition, large portions of a Candida cell wall protein (HWP1) have a structure which is specifically identical to the wheat protein gluten. Because of this similarity, Candida binds to the enzyme transglutaminase, which is present in the intestinal lining. This binding to transglutaminase anchors long strands of the yeast cells to the intestine like ivy climbing a brick wall. This anchoring inhibits the yeast from being mechanically dislodged as digested food passes by. The binding of Candida to transglutaminase also interferes with the normal function of this enzyme in the digestion of gluten. If pieces of the Candida cell wall protein (which is similar to gluten) enter the bloodstream, they may react with one of the blood clotting factors that also has transglutaminase activity, leading to interference in the blood clotting mechanism. These modified proteins may not be recognized by the immune system, which as a result, can lead to autoimmune diseases. Lastly, the Candida cells can also produce digestive enzymes like proteases and phospholipase that actually eat away the intestinal lining, allowing undigested food molecules to pass through the bloodstream, and as a result, cause more food allergies.

Candida can be detected by culturing the stool on Petri dishes or by measuring the amount of chemicals produced in the intestinal tract. These byproducts can be measured in the urine organic acid test (OAT), which also checks for inborn errors of metabolism, nutritional deficiencies, and other factors. These chemicals or fermentation products are absorbed from the intestinal tract by the blood vessels called the portal veins. These blood vessels carry these fermentation products to the liver where they are distributed throughout the bloodstream. The blood containing these fermentation products is filtered through the kidney and is excreted in the urine.

It is important to know that Stool testing can frequently miss the presence of Candida when there are high amounts of antibodies called IgA in the intestine. These IgA antibodies may coat the yeast cells and inhibit their growth enough to prevent them from growing in the Petri dish even though they may still be able to grow enough in the intestine to cause problems. Such a situation can lead to a false negative result.

By testing the yeast fermentation products in urine, this problem can usually be overcome. However, about 10% of yeast do not produce the common fermentation products. We have resolved this problem by offering a COMBO test for both the yeast fermentation products – the urine organic acid test (OAT) – as well as the yeast culture from stool. If the yeast can be cultured, there is the added advantage that the sensitivity of the yeast to various drugs or natural agents can be determined. Many yeast have developed resistance to various antifungal drugs because of the widespread use of these drugs in people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Like people with HIV, many people on the autism spectrum have a serious lack of immunity to Candida. One possible reason that people with autism have this problem is that the measles vaccine virus can severely impair the ability of the cellular immune system (Vaccine Jan 8, 2001) to control Candida. We have found this same lack of cellular immunity in people with autism. The Great Plains Laboratory expects to have a test for this defect available shortly and a possible treatment as well.

Alongside the GF / CF diet, reducing or eliminating yeast overgrowth has been one of the more effective methods of reducing autistic symptoms. Paulina had been on antifungal treatment (Nystatin) for several years but her behavior began to deteriorate markedly. Testing showed that her yeast had developed resistance to Nystatin. With this change, she had become extremely hyperactive and uncooperative. She spent much of the time crying and whining, had difficulty sleeping, and rolled things off the table. Within six hours of starting the antifungal drug Diflucan, her normal smiling behavior returned. Unfortunately, with prolonged use, Diflucan can sometimes cause liver damage so we implemented a limited carbohydrate diet to help control the yeast after we discontinued the Diflucan. With successful antifungal treatment, parents have reported reduced aggressive and self-hurtful behaviors, improved learning at school, improved focus and concentration, better sleep and reduced hyperactivity. Many parents do not realize that antifungal treatment is a long-term issue in autism; others treat with antifungal drugs that are ineffective. It's important that antifungal treatment be done under the supervision of a qualified medical professional. A less expensive microbial organic acid test can be done regularly to make sure that the yeast or harmful bacteria have not returned.

Testing for Clostridia
Several years ago, I began a collaborative study with Dr. Walter Gattaz, a research psychiatrist at the Central Mental Health Institute of Germany in Mannheim to evaluate urine samples of patients with schizophrenia. These samples were very valuable since they were obtained from patients who were drug-free. Thus, any biochemical abnormalities would have due to their disease and not a drug effect. Five of the twelve samples contained a very high concentration of a compound identified as a derivative of the amino acid tyrosine, which is very similar to but not identical to 3,4-dihydroxyphenylpropionic acid. I have since identified this compound as 3- (3-hydroxyphenyl) -3-hydroxypropionic acid or HPHPA. This particular compound has been linked to colonization of the intestinal tract with Clostridia bacteria.

How is this important to autism? HPHPA is found to be much higher in the urine of autistic children than in normal children. People with autism who have high values ​​of this compound may have extremely abnormal or even psychotic behavior. One child with high amounts of HPHPA in urine kicked out the windows of the family car while being transported to school. Clostridia can be treated with the antibiotics Vancomycin or Flagyl. The first patient in a medical study improved after Flagyl treatment but then regressed when the drug was discontinued. The same child was retreated with a six-week course of Vancomycin. A development specialist estimated that the child had gained six months of development after the six weeks of therapy. Again, the child regressed after discontinuation of therapy. The use of beneficial bacteria, Lactobacillus acidophilus GG, whose brand name is Culturelle, is very useful in controlling Clostridia species in most cases and can be safely used for years if necessary. This product has about a millionth of a gram of the milk protein casein in each capsule but such a small amount is definitely to have a significant effect in most milk-sensitive people.

Testing for HPHPA is also included on the full organic acid test or microbial organic acid test of the Great Plains Laboratory. It is important to be aware that some laboratories illegally measure DHPPA as a marker for Clostridia.DHPPA is a byproduct of chlorogenic acid, a common substance found in beverages and in many fruits and vegetables including apples, pears, tea, coffee, sunflower seeds, carrots, blueberries, cherries, potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, sweet potatoes, and peaches. In addition, it is also a chemical byproduct of the good bacteria, E-coli and Lactobacillus.

The Toxicity of Mercury
Mercury is a naturally occurring metal found through the environment. Mercury can enter the environment from deposits of ore containing mercury due to wind or rain or from the actions of humans. In addition to mercury from the vaccine preservative Thimerisol, other major sources of mercury that contaminate humans are dental fillings, which are about 50% mercury and large fish such as tuna and swordfish.

Mercury exists in two major forms, inorganic and organic. Inorganic mercury consists of metallic mercury and inorganic mercury compounds called salts. Metallic mercury is a liquid at room temperature. It is the shiny silver material in thermometers and is commonly combined with silver as an alloy for dental fillings. Liquid mercury from thermometers can give off vapor if a thermometer breaks which could then be absorbed through the lungs. Mercury is also used in alkaline batteries. Organic mercury compounds include methylmercury, ethylmercury, and phenylmercury. Methylmercury is produced from inorganic mercury by microorganisms in the environment and possibly by the microorganisms in the intestinal tract. Methylmercury is extremely toxic. Exposure to three drops of methylmercury to the gloved hands of a researcher was fatal. Mercury exposure should be avoided at all costs.

It is important to note that the symptoms of mercury toxicity closely mirror the clinical symptoms of autism .. Parents of a child who had developmental delays and a muscle disorder contacted me because the child's tests had revealed high levels of mercury in the hair and blood. They reported that their child ate salmon or tuna five or six times a week. Although fish are an excellent source of essential fatty acids, most large fish have significant amounts of methylmercury. The FDA has recommended that pregnant women abstain from certain fish high in mercury. Since methylmercury is fat soluble, it may also contaminate supplements derived from fish oils. In addition, mercury was used as an antifungal agent in paint prior to 1992. Before, anyone in an older house needs to be aware that peeling paint or sanding off existing paint could lead to mercury exposure. Mercury in the fillings of pregnant women may be a significant source of exposure to developing infants in utero. Ethyl mercury, the most common preservative found in vaccines, has been present as a preservative in other products as well: contact lens solutions, nasal sprays, and in ear and eye drops.

Testing for Heavy Metals
Heavy metals may often have combined effects so that exposure to multiple heavy metals at low levels may be just as toxic as exposure to one metal at a high level. Heavy metals found to be elevated in children and adults with autism and PDD include uranium, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, lead, aluminum, and antimony. Hair is the easiest sample to collect in most cases and is generally considered one of the best samples for screening for heavy metals since the heavy metals, such as mercury, may be 250 times higher in the hair than in the blood. However, the use of hair metal testing is controversial. The State of New York bans hair testing for heavy metals while the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the US Government promotes hair screening for mercury as a very useful method. In New York State tests for heavy metals in blood or urine may have to be used instead of hair. Chelation treatment with the chelating agent DMSA is probably the most effective treatment at this time for those people with abnormal values.

Multiple tests can be very useful to pinpoint the most significant biochemical abnormalities so that treatment can be focused on the most important issues. Although each autistic child will experience varying levels of success with biomedical testing and treatments, I would like to share one success story that outlines what can happen in some cases. Three years ago, a family came to visit from Turkey with their four-year-old son with severe autism. They insured that they wanted every single test offered by the laboratory. I tried to convince them to reduce the financial burden by suggesting which tests might be delayed to a later time. They would not listen and insist firmly that they get every test available. Two years later I received a letter from the parents who had implemented all the therapies indicated by the testing. Their son had completely recovered and was successfully attending a regular school classroom without an aide.

The tests emphasized in this article have been useful to people with autism of every degree of severity. Parents and treating professionals who want to embark on biomedical testing should first start with this group. Many other tests may be useful to people with autism of every age; they are indicated in Table 1. Most tests are covered by insurance but HMO's generally do not pay unless the physician obtains approval from a review committee.

As concerned parents and professionals, it is vitally important that we be holistic in our approach to treatment and investigate whether or not biomedical / biochemical agents are contributing to autistic symptoms. Only then will we be best able to successfully reduce or eliminate the behavioral challenges associated with autism spectrum disorders.

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