Monday, July 29, 2013

Researchers Caution against Commonly Used Autism Supplement

Plant-based diets are healthy. Plants are high in flavonoids. But the concentrated flavonoids in supplements can affect the body in unpredictable and potentially harmful ways, according to a new study in the journal Hormones & Cancer. The researchers expressed special concern about the use of flavonoid supplements in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This popular use comes on the heels of evidence that some individuals with autism may suffer from “oxidative stress.” Among their many biological actions, flavonoids can act as anti-oxidants. "What we're saying is that flavonoids are active and not always in good or predictable ways," says study senior author Steven Nordeen, PhD, of the Colorado University Cancer Center. "[When] you're giving prepubescent kids a supplement that affects the endocrine system, that's dangerous." A recent report in The New England Journal of Medicine linked breast development in young boys to the use of shampoos and balms containing lavender or tea tree oils high in flavonoids, he notes.

 Read more here. 


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Autism Link to Mercury in Fish Not Supported

Mercury in fish does not appear to contribute to autism, researchers reported. The finding comes from analysis of a large cohort of mothers and children in the Seychelles, an Indian Ocean nation where residents consume about 10 times the amount of ocean fish as people in the U.S., according to Edwin van Wijngaarden, PhD, of the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, NY, and colleagues. But despite prenatal methylmercury levels that were approximately 10 times those of mothers in the U. S., there was no association between methylmercury and their children's scores on autism screening tests, van Wijngaarden and colleagues reported online in Epidemiology.

 Read more here. 


Gait analysis of teenagers and young adults diagnosed with autism and severe verbal communication disorders.

Both movement differences and disorders are common within autism spectrum disorders (ASD). These differences have wide and heterogeneous variability among different ages and sub-groups all diagnosed with ASD. Gait was studied in a more homogeneously identified group of nine teenagers and young adults who scored as "severe" in both measures of verbal communication and overall rating of Autism on the Childhood Autism Rating Scales (CARS). The ASD individuals were compared to a group of typically developing university undergraduates of similar ages. All participants walked a distance of 6-meters across a GAITRite (GR) electronic walkway for six trials. The ASD and comparison groups differed widely on many spatiotemporal aspects of gait including: step and stride length, foot positioning, cadence, velocity, step time, gait cycle time, swing time, stance time, and single and double support time. Moreover, the two groups differed in the percentage of the total gait cycle in each of these phases. The qualitative rating of "Body Use" on the CARS also indicated severe levels of unusual body movement for all of the ASD participants. These findings demonstrate that older teens and young adults with "severe" forms of Verbal Communication Impairments and Autism differ widely in their gait from typically developing individuals. The differences found in the current investigation are far more pronounced compared to previous findings with younger and/or less severely involved individuals diagnosed with ASD as compared to typically developing controls. As such, these data may be a useful anchor-point in understanding the trajectory of development of gait specifically and motor functions generally.



Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Bringing the Early Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorders Into Focus

To improve recognition of the early signs of ASD among pediatricians, parents, and early intervention providers, autism researcher Dr. Rebecca Landa of Kennedy Krieger Institute has developed a free 9-minute video tutorial on ASD behavioral signs in one-year-olds. The tutorial consists of six video clips comparing toddlers who show no signs of ASD to toddlers who show early signs of ASD. Each video is presented with voice-over explaining how the specific behaviors exhibited by the child, as they occur on screen, are either indicative of ASD or typical child development.

 View the video here. 


Friday, July 19, 2013

Stringent DSM-5 criteria may affect prevalence rates of autism spectrumdisorders

Despite similarities in behavior, some children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders under the DSM-IV-TR could lose their diagnosis as a result of the new manual’s stricter diagnostic criteria. A recent study shows that 46.7% of toddlers diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) under the DSM-IV-TR (the previous version of the diagnosis manual) will no longer meet autism spectrum criteria under the DSM-5. The new version of the go-to psychiatric manual imposes a rigorous set of criteria for diagnosis, requiring more total symptoms to be met in the areas of social/communication deficits and repetitive/restrictive behaviors than did the DSM-IV-TR. Children with the most severe symptoms and challenging behaviors probably will be able to retain their ASD diagnosis under the DSM-5, but the investigators expressed concern about the decreased sensitivity of the new requirements, stating that "individuals who no longer qualify for an ASD diagnosis ... will nonetheless continue to have significant behavioral issues warranting behavioral intervention," especially because the DSM-IV-TR group more closely resembled the DSM-5 group in this study. 

NOTE: Students who are currently identified as a student with autism under the Montana Administrative Rules will remain eligible for special education services unless the Evaluation Report team chooses to conduct an re-determination of eligibility and need for special education services.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How to Teach Children to Swim With Autism

The following tips may help your Autistic Spectrum child learn to swim.The steps outlined in this article are aimed at assisting you to help your autistic spectrum child learn to swim. Autism can cause children to fear or dislike water, so additional effort is required to ease the anxiety over above that experienced by children in general.

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Study: Kids with Autism Have Fewer Kinds of Gut Bacteria

Researchers using high-tech DNA analysis found that children with autism have fewer kinds of intestinal bacteria than do children without autism. However, this reduced “biodiversity” did not relate to the severity of gastrointestinal problems. The study appears today in the journal PLOS ONE. Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown and Jin Gyoon Park, of Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, led the investigation. Among children with autism, GI problems such as constipation and gut pain are common. Some have suspected that imbalances in intestinal bacterial are to blame. Other research has suggested that problematic gut bacteria might contribute to autism symptoms by triggering inflammation that reaches the brain. Considerable research has shown that intestinal bacteria play important roles in both digestion and regulation of the immune system in all persons. “While the precise links between the gut microbiome, the brain and autism are not yet clear, we’re certain there’s a strong relationship that affects outcomes and quality of life for people living with autism,” says Autism Speaks Senior Director of Discovery Neuroscience Daniel Smith, PhD. “This study brings us one step closer to understanding this relationship. It also highlights the need to take a ‘whole body view’ to develop autism treatments.”

 Read more here. 


Mental Health and Asperger's Syndrome

Find more information here. Classification Asperger’s, Autism & the New DSM – This report discusses the debate concerning labeling Asperger’s an educational disability. The debate around educational issues, may lead to changes in the classification of Asperger’s in the new DSM.. Syndromes in Disagreement – This report addresses the concern that changes in the classification of Asperger’s in the new DSM-5 may prevent children functioning at the high end of the spectrum from having access to services the need to learn equally with others having recognized disabilities. Characteristics A Family Guide to Asperger’s – This handout provides the clinical definition for Asperger’s syndrome and explains the difficulty that may be encountered when seeking a diagnosis. Asperger's Syndrome - Symptoms - While the symptoms and characteristics of Asperger’s can vary greatly among individuals, this article on the Web MDsite lists symptoms often seen among children, teens and adults. Causes What Causes Asperger’s Syndrome? – According to the National Institute of Neurologic Syndromes and Stroke, new imaging technology has revealed both functional and structural differences in a certain region of the brain. Causes of Asperger’s Syndrome – Information on the causes of Asperger’s syndrome including genetic and epigenetic influences. Screening Free Autism Screening Tool – This free screening tool may be helpful to teens and adults who suspect they may be dealing with undiagnosed autism or Asperger’s syndrome. Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers – Autism Speaks provides this checklist and other screening resources for parents who suspect their child may be autistic. The Autism Quotient AQ Test – This online screening tool may be helpful for self-diagnosis by adults or as a way to open communication with a health care provider if you or someone you know seems to show signs of Asperger’s Syndrome. Diagnosis Asperger’s Syndrome: Tests & Diagnosis- A combination of tests and evaluation by a team of specialists is often needed for diagnosis. Many people remain undiagnosed for years. In addition to testing, signs and symptoms must also match criteria set out in the latest DSM. Yale Researchers Examine Impact of New Diagnostic Criteria – Obtaining an accurate diagnosis for Asperger’s is already a challenge. Now the new revisions in the latest edition of the DSM may make it even more difficult, according to some researchers. Asperger’s – Early diagnosis may help families and children dealing with Asperger’s to cope better. There is no medical test to identify this disorder and diagnosis depends on criteria outlined in the DSM. History Are Diagnostics Responsible for the Autism “Epidemic”? – This journal article focuses on understanding the history of Asperger’s and the progress made in diagnosing the syndrome. Asperger’s Syndrome: History and Characteristics – There is a brief history of Asperger’s syndrome along with characteristic listed here on the Autism Society’s website.
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Seven Ways to Help a Picky Eater with Autism

Autism often goes hand in hand with food aversions; an expert provides strategies for gently expanding a narrow diet If you have a picky eater with autism, know that you’re not alone. A recent review of scientific studies found that children with autism are five times more likely to have mealtime challenges such as extremely narrow food selections, ritualistic eating behaviors (e.g. no foods can touch) and meal-related tantrums. Researchers are still trying to fully understand the autism-picky eating connection. And Autism Speaks is currently funding a research project focused on expanding food choices by addressing underlying anxiety, inflexibility and sensory issues. Meanwhile, the lead researcher of this new project – psychologist Emily Kuschner, PhD, of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) – recommends the following strategies to gently expand the diet of picky eaters with autism. (CHOP is a member of Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network.) #1 Rule Out Medical Problems If your child is clamping her lips shut when offered a certain food, it may be that she knows it will make her stomach hurt. Gastrointestinal distress is common among children with autism, many of whom can’t easily describe their distress. Your child’s doctor can help you figure out if this is the case and how to deal with it. #2 Stay Calm Many children need to taste a food more than a dozen times before they’re willing to eat it without a fuss. Children with autism-related sensitivities can take longer. Be patient as your child explores and samples new foods. If your child continues to reject a food even after a dozen-plus tries, perhaps he just doesn’t like it. Consider trying a different food. Above all, don’t let mealtime become a family battleground. Instead, get creative. #3 Take Steps Toward Tasting Many individuals with autism are afraid to try new things. Help your child explore a new food by looking at it, touching it and smelling it. When he’s ready for a taste, he can try giving the food “a kiss” or licking it before putting a whole bite into his mouth. Sometimes, mixing a new food with a favorite one can help. #4 Tune into Textures Autism often comes with hypersensitivity to textures. So remember that it may be how a food feels in the mouth, rather than its flavor, that produces a food aversion. The squishiness of a fresh tomato is a classic example. Try chopping or blending such foods to smooth out the offending texture. That tomato, for example, can be chopped into salsa or blended and cooked into pasta sauce. #5 Play with New Food That’s right. Playing with a new food is another way to build familiarity and decrease mealtime anxiety. Together, try painting with pasta sauce. Use veggies to make faces on pizza. Use cookie cutters to cut sandwiches into fun shapes. While you’re playing, let your child see you taste — and enjoy — the food. #6 Offer Choices and Control Your loved one with autism may need to feel some control over what she puts into her mouth. It’s also okay to simply not like some foods. So try to offer a broad variety and allow choices within the categories you care about. For example, you might decide that your child needs to have one serving of vegetables and one of protein for dinner. So put five types of these foods on the table and allow your child to choose at least one vegetable and one protein. Along the same lines, if you’re making a favorite dish such as pasta, ask your child to add one mystery ingredient for other family members to discover during the meal. She gets to choose: corn, broccoli or chicken? #7 Be Careful with Rewards In the long-run, it’s important to reward and reinforce your child’s flexibility with food and willingness to try to new foods. But blatant bribes can backfire. Your child may eat the food, but won’t learn to enjoy it or understand why it’s important to eat a well-rounded diet — and that’s the goal. Let dessert and treats be part of meals and snacks, but don’t use them as carrots to get your child to eat … carrots. For more information on autism, food aversions and nutrition, please see these recent blog posts and news stories: * Autism and Nutrition * Can Vitamins and Other Supplements Relieve Symptoms? * GI Problems and Supplements Got more questions? Send them to Subscribe to the biweekly Autism Speaks Science Digest to get all our science blogs and research news delivered to your inbox.

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Study Links Male Infertility Procedure to Increased Risk of Autism

Using a large Swedish health registry, researchers have broken down the autism risk associated with different types of in vitro fertilization (IVF). They found that most forms of IVF do not increase the risk of autism. They found a small increased risk only with procedures that involve surgical sperm retrieval, a treatment for male infertility. However, this risk disappeared entirely when the researchers excluded children born prematurely or as multiples (twins, triplets, etc.). The study also associated IVF procedures, in general, with increased risk of intellectual disability. Here, too, the association was strongest with procedures involving surgical sperm retrieval.

 Read more here.