Tag Archive | "autism"

Autism in Children

Autism is a rare condition where kids affected act differently than other kids. An autistic child experiences a world of his own different from other kids. It’s hard for kids with autism to communicate effectively with others as they cannot express themselves fully through words that they sometimes get frustrated and isolated from everyone else.

Raising a child with autism requires a great deal of patience, care and understanding. It is painful for some parents to feel as though they cannot talk to their child and communicate with them. Kids who suffer of autism sometimes react to people, happenings or things around them differently. They may suddenly shout towards strangers or become agitated when talked to by children their age. Sometimes being touched by a family member can aggravate them and cause them to throw tantrums.

Common gestures may not be understood by an autistic child and are often ignored. Greeting or smiling at them may not elicit a response at all for they cannot connect these simple gestures with a person’s feelings.

What causes Autism?

Autism is a neurologic disability that usually runs in families. For some autism may be linked to another medical condition such as Phenylketonuria (PKU) or congenital complications such as rubella or toxoplasmosis. Although research has yet to determine its definite cause, until now it remains idiopathic.

What are the signs and symptoms of Autism?

  • Lack of non-verbal communication such as eye contact, facial expressions and gestures.
  • Apathy or not caring of other’s feelings
  • Cannot distinguish other’s feelings like happiness evident by someone laughing or frustration as evident by crying. When they see these emotions in others they don’t recognize it as feelings and often ignore it
  • Isolation or preference of being alone
  • Doesn’t want to be touched, hugged or cuddled
  • They sometimes appear to be unresponsive when called
  • Abnormal speech or lack of spoken language
  • Difficulty in expressing themselves through Words per minute
  • Inability or lack of interest in conversation
  • Repetitive body movements such as rocking, flapping hands or banging toys against the wall

Children with autism mostly have an IQ of below average while some can have an above normal IQ. Some children may develop seizures usually for those who have mental retardation.

Finding out that a child is autistic can be difficult as they appear normal kids that exhibit extreme shyness however parents are usually the ones who notice that there is something wrong. Doctors diagnose autism by performing lab tests and other medical tests to rule out other medical conditions. Then referral to a neurologist, pediatrician and psychologist is made when autism is suspected.

Caring for a child with autism can be very painful and emotionally stressing for the parents as there is no cure for it. Treatment aims for the child to function as close to normal as possible enabling them to do day to day activities on their own. Therapists will focus on teaching autistic kids and their parents to communicate effectively through pointing pictures and sign language. Therapy will also help the child learn social skills such as greeting people and follow simple directions. With constant therapy and a strong support group children with mild autism can grow up to be responsible individuals that can live alone by themselves.

Posted in Child Psychology, Child Safety, Communication, Medical CareComments (0)

Autistic Children and Diets

Autistic children clearly have special needs and carers, for the most part have to be particular in these kinds of conditions. Generally speaking, children experiencing autism should have a diet devoid of ingredients that comprise of casein and gluten. This is because these products contain high amounts of protein and casein.

For the time being, the idea of adhering to these diet regimens is not exactly a concrete and sure-proof guarantee of not having problems. Although not scientifically backed, feeding an autistic child with casein and gluten results in a problem in digestion. Specifically, the undigested materials enter the gastrointestinal tract and the bloodstream as well as the brain literally poisoning these organs because the immature body of the child cannot still breakdown the undigested products.

While there is no evident short term effect of sticking to such particular diet, the long term effect of staying away from protein and casein will be very much convincing. In particular, the diet improves the behavior of a child. Children who are autistic are known to have poor social skills. More importantly, they have poor eye contact that makes it difficult for them to establish a connection with others. However, this social aspect can be greatly enhanced by the diet. It would actually take a lot of time for the parents or carers to see the actual long term effect; instead, what will be more evident during the first few months would be the increase in irritability as well as other regressive display of behavior. Nonetheless, with patience and determination in adhering to the diet, the rewards will surely be reaped in the end.

It is actually helpful to remember and note the simple mnemonics tagged as B-R-O-W: barley, rye, oat and wheat when protein needs to be eliminated in the foods served. On the other hand, casein is seen in dairy products such as cheese and milk. Unfortunately, these ingredients form the attractive and usual foods craved by most children. Spaghetti or any form of pasta as well as bread are clearly foods that are appealing to a kid; that is why, as early as possible, children should already be introduced to other alternative diet plans.

In introducing a rather new idea to your child, you may want to start off by reading the labels of those that you buy. Dairy products can really be a problem as you will have to determine the presence of milk in the foods taken by your child, you may also find it difficult to convince yourself to ever find a pastry or cake without milk in it. Try not to feel overwhelmed; consulting your child’s pediatrician will certainly help a lot. If you wish, you might also want to hear his professional opinion about the said diets.

Apart from checking the label and scrutinizing the ingredients of a particular dish, you may also want to check on books and the internet for more information. There are comprehensive lists of foods recommended and other interventions that may as serve as invaluable tips. When you research though, make sure that these are the updated ones as changes happen every now and then.

Finally, give this dramatic transformation in the diet a fair chance. Not every child reacts at the same pace so you will have to be more determined.

Posted in Allergies, Diet and NutritionComments (0)

New Information on Autism

Autism is a complex pervasive developmental disorder or PDD. This complex disorder affects neural tube development causing impaired social interaction, communication delays as well as repetitive and restrictive behavior. This developmental disorder usually starts at birth or around the age of 2 or 3 and lasts the entire life span. In most cases, autistic individuals and children look fairly normal in terms of physical appearance, the things that set them apart are their puzzling behaviors and actions that are out of the ordinary. These actions and behaviors include speech and communication delays, interaction difficulties, learning disabilities and unusual ways like hand flapping and head rolling. For children, being autistic is very difficult. It is like being in a world where everything doesn’t fit and seem right. It’s as if, he’s the only one who doesn’t understand everything that is happening around him and vice versa. Autistic children experience a great deal of difficulty doing everyday activities. Their brains interpret sight, sound, touch and other sensations differently. An autistic child might not understand what a smile is. He might not know that laughing or smiling is the proper way to react when you feel happy. These things will definitely make the child function differently compared to other children.

Children with autism need help to cope with their developmental disorder. Several forms of therapy are available for various autistic cases. Occupational and speech therapy are among the most common. These therapies will slowly teach the child how to properly function at the best of their abilities, teaching them skills and behaviors that they’ll be able to use on a day to day basis. Letting these children undergo such therapies also ensure that most of their special needs are met and attended to. Most of the time the special needs of autistic children is not met without any form of therapy.

Currently, with the advancement of science, researchers were able to formulate and come up with new and various treatment modalities for autism. The main focus of treating autism is the core symptoms. These treatment options are very intensive and comprehensive. The involvement of every family member might be required to make the treatment successful. Applied behavioral analysis or ABA is among the interventions. ABA uses a scientific approach in dealing with autistic behavior. This technique addresses socially and functionally important behaviors the child needs to possess and practice on a daily basis. The next form of treatment is called PRT or pivotal response treatment. PRT also follows the behavioral approach in managing autism. It teaches spoken language and communication, social skills and interaction as well as positive and non-disruptive behavior. PRT is child directed which means treatment plan is unique for each autistic individual. Another new approach in treating autism is called VBT or verbal behavior therapy. The aim of this therapy is to teach the child to put meaning and values to words. Psychologists, trained professionals and speech therapists are usually the ones who provide VBT. Because of the new treatment options available, autism is slowly becoming an easy disorder to treat.

Posted in Child Psychology, Medical CareComments (0)

Early Signs of Autism

You’ve counted your baby’s toes and fingers, and had him or her undergo meticulous screening at the hospital to make sure he or she was healthy and perfect in every little way. As your baby gets older, the milestones pages of your baby book are left empty, because he or she hasn’t learned to do what other babies his or her age are already doing. Is it a normal lag in your baby’s development, or is it a cause for concern?

Autism is a complex condition which cannot be confirmed by a medical test or procedure. It is just one of the several pervasive developmental disorders (PPDs), and is more commonly called autism spectrum disorder (ASD). PPDs are characterized by delays and impairments in communication and social skills of children. They also affect the behavioral and cognitive aspects of a child’s development. Therefore, autism can be diagnosed accurately through a series of behavior observations, and not medical exams.

The term “spectrum” is ASD implies that children with autism present with a wide variety of symptoms, and in varying severities.

Parents move on quickly from the question of what has caused the autism and become fixated on how this disorder will affect their child. Autism causes delays in learning and development, and difficulties in socializing, communicating and even expressing emotions and needs. This bodes a lot of challenges when the child hits pre-school and school-age, where he or she may be misunderstood or worse, bullied.

Today, there are approximately six in every 1000 children who show signs of autism. As parents interact most frequently with their child, they are also the ones to first notice when something is not right. In fact, some parents are able to pick up signs during the first few months after birth. Autism may be diagnosed in even young children, and the earlier the diagnosis, the prompter the treatment and prognosis. Here are the most common early signs of autism:

  1. Lack of age-appropriate interest in moving objects, colors and sounds. Babies are naturally curious and will turn their heads to look at colorful things or the source of a loud sound, such as an airplane flying overhead. Babies with ASD may be oblivious to stimuli, and will not point at objects to show interest.
  2. Disinterest in pretend games. Little children observe their environment and imitate their parents or guardians. A child with ASD may show very little to no interest in playing “pretend”.
  3. Avoids eye contact and reacts negatively to touch. A child with autism does not look at people in the eye, and may either be irritable, or passive, even when tickled, touched, or cuddled. He or she will not return affectionate gestures, and may not wave bye, kiss, or shake hands.
  4. Difficulty expressing or understanding emotions. Autistic children may find it hard to distinguish when their parents are mad, or happy. They themselves will not be able to describe how they are feeling. They may be moody.
  5. Unaware of conversation. Children with ASD are typically described as “having a world of their own” because they talk to themselves, but do not acknowledge when someone talks to them. They do not make great conversationalists, and will shy away from people who try to talk to them.
  6. Display interest in people but hesitation over socializing. Your baby’s eyes may light up when you bring him or her to the park filled with kids. When you gently ask him or her to play, he or she may be shy, and will refuse to interact and socialize with other children. While you may interpret it as simple shyness that will eventually go away, your child actually does not have a clue as to how to relate to others.
  7. Tendency to echo words or phrases. When people talk to them, they may repeat or echo the words said, without responding. Echolalia is a common trait in young autistic children.
  8. Difficulty expressing needs. A diaper change, a need to go to the loo, hunger, thirst and tiredness are some things a very young child can express. A child with autism may find it hard to tell his parents about these simple needs, even with simple actions and words.
  9. Routine-forming. Young children with autism find comfort in routines because they have a tendency to repeat actions over and over. When there is a slight change in routine, their world comes crashing down, and they are at a loss once more. Establishing routines is crucial for these children.
  10. Poor skill retention. Children with autism find it difficult to learn and use a skill even when it is taught to them several times. They may wander away, or simply express frustration when taught over and over.

Posted in CommunicationComments (0)

Autistic Children Process Sounds, Vision and Touch Differently From Others

Every child is special and unique in his own way. No one is the same; even identical twins have slight differences that set each of them apart. That is how things are; we live in a world full of diversity and variations. Autistic children is no different, these kids are also very special and distinct. Despite the limitations they have because of their autism, they still manage to rise up above the challenge and live productive and successful lives. What is autism by the way? And how different are autistic children from non-autistic ones?

 Autism by definition is a neural development disorder, where-in the child manifests and exhibits impaired social interaction, communication, and restrictive or repetitive behavior. The human brain processes information using a complex network of organized nerve cells and synapses, in autism, the organization of this network is disrupted or altered affecting the entire thought and behavior process. Impaired social interaction in autistic children is evidenced by the child’s lack of attention, minimal eye contact, and frequent loneliness; in some cases they also manifest occasional aggression and violence. Majority of autistic children develop impaired communication and have difficulties learning normal speech, they babble, reverse words and mispronounce them. It is common for these children to manifest repetitive, compulsive and ritualistic behavior such as hand flapping, head rolling, body rocking, ritualistic dressing and self-injury. Autism is a genetic disease but is also believed to be caused by several external and environmental factors including the use of heavy metals, exposure to pesticides and childhood vaccines. Children as early as the first 2 years of their lives can already show symptoms of autism and this develops gradually as he grows up. Currently this disease has no cure, only support measures and therapies are available to help the child live a life as close to normal as possible. Now that we have an overview on what an autistic child is, is it true that they process sensory information differently? Do they see, smell, hear, feel and taste things differently?

 According to a new study on how children with autism spectrum disorder processes sensory information conducted by Dr. Sophie Molholm Ph.D. associate professor in the Dominick P. Purpura department of neuroscience and pediatrics, children with autism are overwhelmed with all the sensory information around them, they have difficulty processing multisensory information as well as interpreting it in a meaningful way which explains their autistic behavior. The data gathered for this research was taken using Multisensory Integration (MSI) measurements from Electroencephalogram (EEG) brainwave recordings. The findings show that autistic children are more unisensory than multisensory; they can effectively focus on one sensory stimulus at time, but have difficulties integrating multisensory information. For example, it’s easy for them to watch a silent video but it becomes a bit of a challenge if they listen to music at the same time.

 The findings of Dr. Molholm’s study are significant to the better understanding, management and care for children with autism. This research would be very helpful for future autism related studies.

Posted in Growing PainsComments (2)

Autism and Potty Training: A Guide for Parents

Potty-training is an exciting time of both parents and the toddler. Many parents are curious about the perfect time to start potty-training. Pediatricians recommend that potty-training varies from child to child – what’s important is that the child must show all signs of readiness before parents can begin to toilet-train him or her. The toddler must be able to know when he or she has soiled diapers. He or she must also be interested and be comfortable in sitting on a toiler with assistance, and must show ability to pull his or her own pants down or up.

Contrary to popular belief, children with autism, too, can be potty-trained, using effective techniques. Some experts say that some autistic children can toilet-train as early as their second year of life even before the signs mentioned above become apparent, while others need more time and patience.

The problem with toilet training children with autism is that there is too much advice going on here and there. Some specialists recommend “waiting until the toddler is ready”, even when the toddler reaches school age.  Others suggest that autistic children must be potty-trained as early as their 18th month of life. However, one universal truth is this: Parents and guardians must be aware that children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), or Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), have characteristics that may interfere with standard toilet training techniques.

This article has helpful hints for parents who wish to potty train their autistic child. Each technique is based on common issues that children with ASD or PDD-NOS have, because its these very issues that make toilet training even more challenging for them and their parents.

Problems with communication: A child with ASD or PDD-NOS may have difficulty in speech and comprehension. He or she may have a hard time associating language with things, persons and places. They may not have sufficient language skills to express the need to go to the bathroom, or may not be able to talk about an urge.  Expressive language is important with children who has ASD, thus it is crucial for parents to allow their children to find their own way of expression.

Impaired social interaction: Children with ASD may either be too distant, or too intimate, and may fail to be just between these extremes. Parents may tell their autistic child that he or she is now a big girl, or a big boy, and must go to the bathroom by him or herself, but this makes very little sense to the child and may resist your gentle prodding.

Tendency towards repetitive actions: Children with ASD are considered be prone to repetitive actions and like routines to fill their schedules. Introduction to potty-training may only distress them, because it breaks their routine. This will require insistence on your end. You will need to meet your child’s resistance with preparation, and must continue to incorporate toilet training into their routine.

Parents must choose only one technique and stick to it, since experimenting with various techniques will only create setbacks and disruptions in the child’s routine, delaying toilet training even more. It must be a relaxed environment, and parents must never force the child. Finally, parents can assess readiness by reading the signs carefully and accurately. The child must be able to imitate actions, respond positively to praises and rewards, and has the desire to remain dry and clean.

Posted in Growing PainsComments (1)