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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Experts Disagree on Autism Diagnosis Explosion'

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the official estimate is that 1 in 88 children in the United States has an autism diagnosis. This is higher than their estimate from 2006 of 1 in 110 children with autism, and a surprising jump from the 1 in 10,000 rate from decades ago. But this estimate pales in comparison to a 2011 study in which researchers from Yale and George Washington Universities looked at autism rates in a suburb of Seoul, South Korea. After looking at thousands of children, they found that 2.65 percent of them had autism – a whopping 1 in 38 children, many of which had not been officially diagnosed. However, a 2011 study from Britain found that diagnosis has stayed fairly steady over the last several decades – 1 in 100. Nancy Minshew of the University of Pittsburgh says that, as she sorts through the evidence, she feels that the rates have actually remained rather steady. However, she believes that maybe there are more diagnoses being made, simply because we are a little more sensitive to what it means to be autistic.

 Read more here. 

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Nearly Two-Thirds Of Kids With Autism On Meds

Despite limited evidence supporting the practice, researchers say nearly two-thirds of children with autism are taking at least one psychotropic drug. In a review of medical and pharmacy claims data for 33,565 kids with autism between 2001 and 2009, researchers found that 64 percent of children on the spectrum were prescribed at least one psychotropic medication. What’s more, the study published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics, found that 35 percent of kids with the developmental disorder were given two or more types of drugs simultaneously and 15 percent were taking at least three.

 Read more here. 

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No, the thimerosal in the flu vaccine does not explain why autism ratesdid not go down

Surprisingly enough, there are still people promoting the idea that the rise in autism diagnoses observed over the last decades was caused by thimerosal in vaccines. The original argument was this–vaccines were added to the vaccine schedule in the 1990′s and with them the infant exposure to thimerosal increased. Concurrent with this rise in infant thimerosal exposure was a rise in autism diagnoses. Add to this a poorly concocted argument that autism resembles mercury intoxication and you have the basis for the mercury hypothesis. Thimerosal was phased out of infant vaccines over 10 years ago. Thus, if the thimerosal hypothesis were true, reported autism rates should be declining by now.

 Read more here. 

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Are Autism, Gut, GFCF Diet, And Anxiety Connected?

A persistent question in the world of autism is whether or not autistic people have a greater tendency than nonautistic people to have sensitivities to wheat and milk proteins. Research results are mixed, but anecdotally, many parents of autistic children report improvements when they remove wheat and/or dairy from their child’s diet. Excluding the latter might be particularly risky,according to a new study. Many autistic people have very specific food preferences, and autistics tend to be low on vitamin D and calcium, so cutting a major dietary source of these nutrients requires care and caution. But what about wheat and autism? Another recent, very large analysis found a complex relationship between autism and wheat sensitivity. Most headlines stated simply that the study authors found no link between autism and celiac disease. The reality is more complex and opens up an issue that I’ve not seen anyone address yet for autistic people.

 Read more here. 

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Autism Risk in Super Early Arrivals

One of the challenges of looking for the causes of autism is that some findings are misleading. Just because something is related to autism doesn't it mean it caused it. Such is the dilemma in the findings of a recent study looking at autism risk and babies born early. Researchers found that the earlier babies were born before they were full term, the more likely it was that they were later diagnosed with autism. However, it is not clear that being born early caused the developmental disorder.

 Read more or watch a video here. 

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

12 Autism Resources for those who Speak Spanish

We know there are a good amount of resources available in the U.S. for English speakers, but, of course, Autism is not just limited to those who speak English, so, the resources should not be limited either. About 36 million people living in the United States use Spanish as their first language. We gathered together a list of the best Special Needs Resources available in Spanish. Please pass these along to anyone who many benefit from such resources. 1. Autismo Diario Autismo Diaro is a non-profit publication whose purpose is to disseminate as much information about Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity (ADHD”) . Most of their content is provided by national and international media agencies. Subjects include: news, general information, education, therapy options, opinions, and more. You can also find Autismo Diaro on Facebook and Twitter.Website: autismodiario.org

 Read more suggestions here. 

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

An In-Depth Guide: How to Transition Young Children with Autism

Young children with Autism respond well to structured routines and familiar surroundings. But life has a way of throwing unexpected curve balls, and people need to adapt. Psychologists call this resiliency; the ability to “go with the flow” when things don’t go your way. Resiliency is honed in neurotypical children through their development of play and self regulation skills, as well as a sense of humor. Neurotypical children learn to be resilient when they find ways to self soothe, manage stress, and see the humor in unwanted and/or unanticipated situations. The experiences, paired with the vocabulary associated with that event, are stored in their “memory banks” i.e. episodic memory, for later recall and problem solving as needed. For children with autism more work is needed to make he or she more comfortable with transitions.

 Here are some important transition teaching tips for for young children with autism. 

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101 Ways to Teach Social Skills

101 WAYS TO TEACH CHILDREN SOCIAL SKILLS A READY-TO-USE, REPRODUCIBLE ACTIVITY BOOK
(attached) 

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Study Finds Autism Prevalence Has Leveled Off in United Kingdom

After spiking in the 1990s, the reported prevalence of autism leveled off in the UK after 2003, while continuing to rise in the US A new study finds that the reported prevalence of autism has leveled off in the United Kingdom since 2004, after skyrocketing five-fold in the 1990s as it did in the United States. This contrasts with a 78 percent increase in autism’s estimated prevalence in the United States between 2002 and 2008.

 Read more here. 

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Autistic Kids Focus More on Right Than Left Eye

In face recognition, children withautism focus on the face about as long as their peers, but tend to look at the right eye rather than the left. The new research also shows that children with an autism spectrum disorder tend to focus just below the eyes, instead of at the pupils. Research has shown that children with autism have trouble recognizing others’ emotions and faces. They tend to gaze at faces differently than non-autistic children — such as preferring to look at the mouth instead of the eyes. This may help explain why they miss social cues and may have difficulty interacting with others. Read more here.

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Training Program Helps Students With Autism Land Jobs

For the Virginia study, a control group of high-school seniors with autism remained in their regular schools, receiving their usual individualized education programs, while a treatment group spent the year in an intensive, custom-designed study and job-training program at a suburban hospital. The two hospitals participating in the study were Bon Secours St. Mary's Hospital in Henrico County, Va., and Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital in Midlothian, Va. Enlarge Image Jennifer T. McDonough Damien Jenerette became a pharmacy technician at Bon Secours St. Mary's Hospital. At the beginning and end of each school day, the treatment group met in on-site classrooms where they learned job skills, as well as practical skills such as getting to and from work, navigating the hospital, asking for help, and accepting input from supervisors and co-workers. In between, the students rotated through a series of three internships, honing their skills and testing out which jobs best fit their strengths and personality. Upon graduation, 87% of the treatment group landed hospital jobs such as pharmacy assistant and teacher's aide that paid above the minimum wage. Just 6% of the control group found jobs.

 Read more here. 

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Being single with autism: It's complicated

In fact, there are widespread misconceptions that people with ASDs lack empathy and engagement, and don’t want any sort of meaningful connection. In reality, people on the spectrum covet intimacy as much as anyone; they just lack the tools to find it. And with scarce funding for autism primarily geared toward children, the tools themselves are also hard to find. The latest statistics reflect that problem. According to a groundbreaking report published this year by Toronto’s Redpath Centre, people with ASDs are disproportionately single compared with the rest of the population. Only 32.1 per cent of those surveyed indicated they ever had a partner, while 9 per cent stated they were currently married. In the general population, meanwhile, about half of all adults are married.

 Read more here. 

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Friday, October 11, 2013

Autism More Common In Kids With Cerebral Palsy




Autism More Common In Kids With Cerebral Palsy


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As the prevalence of cerebral palsy remains largely steady, new findings from researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that kids with the developmental disorder are at higher risk of having autism too.

Roughly 1 in 323 American 8-year-olds have cerebral palsy, according to findings reported this week. Of them, nearly 7 percent are also diagnosed with autism. That’s significantly higher than the 1 percent of all American kids estimated to be on the spectrum.

The figures published this week in the journal Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology come from the latest national effort to track the number of children with cerebral palsy. Such surveillance is conducted every other year much like the more commonly reported tracking of autism prevalence.

For the study, the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network looked at data on 147,112 children who were age 8 in 2008. All of the kids lived near Atlanta, St. Louis, southeastern Wisconsin or in the northern and central parts of Alabama.

Cerebral palsy is more common in boys than girls and occurs more frequently in black children than in white or Hispanic kids, researchers found. Of those with the condition, more than three-quarters had spastic cerebral palsy and epilepsy occurred in about 40 percent of the kids.

Meanwhile, the study found that nearly 60 percent of children with cerebral palsy were able to walk independently and roughly 11 percent could walk using a hand-held mobility device. The remainder had limited or no walking ability.

Overall, the researchers said that the prevalence of cerebral palsy has remained “relatively constant” since 1996.

While it is unclear why kids with cerebral palsy were more likely to also have autism, the researchers said it may indicate that there are common risk factors for the two conditions.

Source

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Friday, October 4, 2013

Where Are All The Older Autistic People?

Folks who adhere to the “autism epidemic” as a new phenomenon confined only to our youngest generation are fond of asserting that no older autistic people exist. Typically, their evidence for the claim comes only from their personal experience, as they ask, “Where are all the older autistic people? I can’t find them!” Their comments conjure an image of their wandering the town square, tapping people on the shoulder, and asking them, “Are you autistic?” as a form of data gathering. In spite of the inability of some to find autistic people in their 50s, 60s, and older, investigations performed in a more methodical manner have identified where the older autistic people are. These studies also underscore the fact that frequently, diagnoses of “mental retardation” in previous generations–labels that sometimes led to institutionalization–would be autism diagnoses today.

 Read more here. 

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Healthy Bodies, A Guide for Puberty for Children with Disabilities

Puberty is a time of change for children, and often a time of challenge for parents looking for the "right" way to talk about the upcoming changes. It can be even more of a challenge for parents of children with developmental or physical disabilities. The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Disabilities has created two toolkits, one for boys, and one for girls, that provide factual information about puberty. Topics include encouraging good hygiene, appropriate behavior, and how to deal with the body changes. The toolkits also suggest ways to approach these important conversations, especially with children with disabilities. Each toolkit also includes a separate appendix that includes visual aids to help teach body parts, and social story images to help your child learn what appropriate behaviors are and where they are appropriate. Parents can decide what information and guidelines they share with their children.
 Both toolkits and the accompanying appendices can be downloaded for free here: http://kc.vanderbilt.edu/healthybodies

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Easing Separation Anxiety in a 4 Year Old with Autism

“When my aunt is at work, I take care of my 4-year-old cousin who has autism. Her doctor says that developmentally she’s like an 18 month old. I’m writing because she has really bad separation anxiety. Every few minutes she asks when her mommy is coming. Do you have any suggestions on how I can help her feel more comfortable?” This week’s “Got Questions?” answer is from child psychologist Michelle Spader, of Ohio’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital, a member of the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network. Thanks for your question. It’s helpful to know that your cousin is developmentally like an 18 to 24 month old. Children at this stage often have separation anxiety. So your cousin seems to be going through something that’s both common and normal. Sometimes separation anxiety eases over time. Meanwhile, here are some suggestions to help her through the day:

 Click here to read more. 

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Surgery To Stop Autistic Boy's Screaming Tic Raises Ethical Questions

What would you do if your child couldn’t stop screaming? The parents of a 16-year-old boy with autism are breathing a little easier after a vocal cord surgery virtually eliminated his tendency to scream nearly 2,000 times a day. But the idea of separating a child’s vocal cords to quiet him can be troubling, to say the least. Some autism rights advocates are furious, calling ittantamount to torture. Seth Dailey, a surgeon at the University of Wisconsin Hospital, performed the operation on Kade Hanegraaf in 2011. The operation, called a thyroplasty, involves spreading the vocal cords apart and inserting a mesh shim to keep them from touching during a spasm. The result is a larger gap between the vocal cords, resulting in a softer voice. But many activists, including autistic adults, are troubled by a lack of information on whether or not Kade gave consent for the operation. It’s hard not to cringe at a procedure that resembles the “debarking” operationsometimes performed on dogs. And the framing of Kade’s story in the media has largely ignored his own bodily autonomy. Autistic writer Lydia Brownpointed out on her blog that neither the Wisconsin State Journal article nor the research paper address the question of whether the tic was harmful to thepatient himself, not just his parents.

Read more here. 

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