Friday, October 28, 2011

A Parent's Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder

This guide is intended to help parents understand what autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is, recognize common signs and symptoms, and find the resources they need. It’s important to remember that help is available.
 Click here to download the free guide.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Autistic children have distinct facial features, study suggests

We may be a step closer in understanding what causes autism, say University of Missouri researchers after finding differences between the facial characteristics of children who have autism and those who don’t. Kristina Aldridge, lead author and assistant professor of anatomy at the University of Missouri, began looking at facial characteristics of autistic children after another researcher, Judith Miles, professor emerita in the School of Medicine and the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, mentioned, “There is just something about their faces. They arebeautiful, but there is just something about them.” “Children with other disorders such as Down syndrome and fetal alcohol syndrome have very distinct facial features. Autism is much less striking,” she says. “You can’t pick them out in a crowd of kids, but you can pick them out mathematically.”

 Click here to read more.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Talking About Sex With Young Adults With Autism

The morning of May 22, 2006, I set my alarm for 4 a.m. I wanted to be the first one to wish Matthew a happy birthday. He was in a college program at Camphill Soltane near Philadelphia. Matthew answered the house telephone on the first ring.He knew I would call.“Matthew!” I said. “You’re 20! Can you believe it?”“Yes,” he responded flatly. “But Mom? I have something very important to ask you. I’ve been thinking about Amy. Can we go see her?”

 Click here to read more.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Drug used for heart, blood-pressure patients might help in autism

A study at the University of Missouri shows a drug used to treat high blood pressure, control heart rate and to reduce test anxiety might improve language and social skills in patients with autism. Researchers say propanolol might also reduce difficulty with repetitive behaviors and eye contact … it might just come down to reducing stress, it might have to do with navigating the hard-wired functions in the brain. “We can clearly say [the drug] has the potential to benefit language and may help people with autism fucntion appropriately in social situations…” said David Beversdorf, associate professor and chair at the Thomspon Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. “Enhancing both language and social function is significant because those are two fo the three main features of autism. Clinical trials will assess the drug’s effect on all three features, including repetitive behavior.”
 Click here to read the full article.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Autism Caused By Depression of Mothers?

There’s a new theory for the autism epidemic that hearkens back to the “refrigerator mother” theory that autism is caused by cold, withholding mothers. The Albany Times Union reports that Dr. Gabor Mate believes that parental stress, especially the mother’s, causes developmental disabilities. The author of four books that explore the connection of mind, body and stress, Mate asserts that, " The electrical circuitry of a child’s brain is programmed by the mother’s emotional state."Research does, in fact suggest that childhood trauma influences a child’s developmental success, affecting both their mental and physical outcomes well into adulthood. Careful not to fault individual parenting, Mate points to the modern society’s family structure of overworked parents and overbooked kids as an indication that the “it takes a village to raise a child” model is extinct, leaving troubled kids who are then medicated when they have problems. The doctor goes on to offer tips about effective parenting, like “Don’t parent when you are feeling hostile. Wait for your heart to open up” and “Catch your children ‘being good’ and give them positive attention.” It’s a bit disingenuous to not blame poor parenting, then proceed to give parenting tips that are less than a revelation.Dr. Mate concedes that he has no proof for his theory of rising autism (ADD and obesity as well), “but nothing else makes sense”.With all due respect, many other things make sense as factors in the rise of autism — environment toxins triggering genetic propensities for instance. I guess in this case, a mother’s depression would count as an environmental toxin, but it’s hard to swallow the notion that alone causes autism. I know plenty of parents, myself included, who have sacrificed a great deal to be present for our children and the kids were still on the spectrum. Were we too stressed out, too depressed in the midst of our efforts? Geez, we’re all just doing the best we can. Dr. Mate could make his useful points without going overboard. Parents are going to end up depressed because they’re depressed, thinking they are putting their child at risk for autism. Dr. Mate could well end up inducing the stress he claims to want to alleviate.