Autistic Spectrum Disorders are a complex pervasive neurodevelopmental condition associated with lifelong difficulties. these difficulties cross social, emotional and behavioral domains. The lastest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) finally put all aspects of autism under one umbrella of autistic spectrum disorder. Since this happened questions have been raised if this has helped by moving toward a broader categorization of the disorder is clinically useful (Montgomery et al, 2016).
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As young adults with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) leave high school and try to start their journey to adulthood they face many hurdles. There is a significant number of these young adults who lower chances at employment, secondary education or living on their own.
It’s something all parents must deal with many times over the course of their child’s life. The dreaded dentist appointments! Whether your child has Autism or not this can be a daunting task. A lot of children and adults fear the dentist; when you add Autism into the mix it can make the appointment near impossible if you aren’t prepared for it. There are some steps you can take before, during and after the appointment to make the experience a pleasant one for your child and for yourself.
Increasing Numbers of Parents of Autistic Children are Concerned About P.A.N.D.A.S/P.A.N.S; but What is it?
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are part of a broad spectrum of neurodevelopmental disorders known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders, with Classic Autism being the hallmark of the conditions. These occur in childhood and carry on through adulthood. ASD’s are widely characterized by a range of impairments in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and the presence of restricted and repetitive stereotyped behaviors.
We all know that Autism is a complex disorder; just how complex of a disorder is starting to emerge all thanks to growing research studies being published and an increased interest from different Universities across the world. One discovery published recently and backed up by two separate studies digs deep down to the core differences of the brain in people with Autism and the changes that occur in these individual’s brains as they age.
As parents of Autistic individuals or as Autistic individuals, we have all been in those situations where there are alarm bells going off about your child’s doctor/your doctor. This can be one of the most stressful things to go through as a parent and as a person.
We all know that when summer approaches so do those summer storms. You know the ones with lightening, thunder and black outs. Many of us parents of Autistic and special needs children find that our children are especially scared of storms. Their fears overtake them and sometimes it becomes too much and they meltdown. Nothing is worse than a meltdown, at night, when you have candles lit, it is storming, and you have no power. Here are some great pointers for how to calm your child during the storm seasons, or really to help you work your Autistic child through any fear.
Being the mother of an Autistic child is challenging. When you are a parent that also has a mental illness along with it, it makes it even harder. You must be aware of your emotions always. Whether you have depression, Bipolar Disorder or something else- your emotions likely run your life at times. It is just as important to learn your triggers to successfully raise your child as it is to learn your child’s triggers when dealing with Autism. I, myself, am a mother who is raising two Autistic children and happen to have mental illnesses.
When we parents of Autistic children make detailed preparations for our children growing up we make sure they can perform the basic functions needed to survive, if possible; and, we often prepare for what will happen to them if something happens to us. What about the other people they will lose throughout their lives though. Do we adequately prepare them for that? Often, we don’t prepare our children for the death of loved ones in advance. Seeing as though death is an uncomfortable topic of conversation for many people we may avoid bringing the topic up until the unfortunate event where we have lost someone that we love. This is also true for “normal” kids as well. We often just don’t prepare them well enough. With Autism the preparation is more readily required for basic functioning after the fact though.
When we think about Autism we often exclude the adults that have it. Many of whom are just now being diagnosed as adults because Autism wasn’t widely diagnosed or understood when they were younger. 30 plus years ago we knew little about Autism, with the diagnostic rate sitting at 1 in 10,000 in the 1980s. In the nineties, prevalence was 1 in 2500 and later in the 1990s it sat at 1 in 1000. Now the rate sits at 1 in 59. So tonight, I decided to go back to my roots. You see, I started writing for emaxhealth by doing interviews with parents of Autistic children. So, I took some time tonight and sat down to interview an adult with Autism that I know. One that was diagnosed as an adult and has children with Autism. A person that is very near and dear to me.
Every parent of an Autistic child will at some point have to do their research on what kind of treatment options they want to use for their child; whether they will use medications or choose a DAN! Doctor instead is a big one that comes up with each family. There is a difference between DAN! Doctors and the regular doctor that treats Autism. Their beliefs tend to sway in opposite directions. Regular Autism Specialists leaning more towards medicating for the treatment of Autism, DAN! Doctors always leaning towards using no prescribed medications.
If your kids are anything like my kids, they love video games. So much so that they will even watch other people playing video games on Youtube. (A practice I implore you as parents to monitor, a lot of youtubers are inappropriate. Even the Minecraft Videos are largely filled with adult banter) I often question whether playing video games is good for my children given the fact that they have Autism.
As a parent we are never prepared for the uncertainties that come along with raising our children. I remember the day that I found out that I was pregnant with my oldest son. I was 18 and I assume that the fears that flooded in were mostly normal trepidations, but still doubts nonetheless. I feared that I wouldn’t be a good mother, that I wouldn’t be able to provide the right guidance for him. I feared the absolute colossal upheaval my life was about to go through.
The “cause” debates are some of the hottest topics in the world of Autism. It seems that parents of Autistic children, scientists and Autistic adults are all at odds as to the cause of Autism and whether finding the causes is responsible or necessary. Almost everybody eventually joins a side in these debates, it is hard to stay out of them. Once a person’s mind is made up often they hold these beliefs close to their heart and it is impossible to sway them to any other way of thinking, I.e. vaccines causing or not causing Autism. Debates over causes have been known to get heated quickly.
The Difference in Autism Prevalence Rates Between Boys and Girls: Is it a Lack of Accurate Testing or Is There A Genetic Component To It?
We all know that Autism seems to be more prevalent in boys than it is in girls. Most sources put the sex ratio in Autism at 4-to-1. Meaning that for every 4 Autistic boys there is 1 Autistic girl. But what leads to this difference? Is it a genetic component or are the major tools we are using to diagnose our Autistic individuals essentially rigged and unable to accurately differentiate between male and female subjects; leading to lower diagnosis in females than is accurate.
Today was one for the books. I had an Autism specialist appointment for both of my children today. My youngest son was re-diagnosed with Autism and treatment started at this appointment. He is 11 years old, and I am feeling immense guilt over the amount of time it took to get him diagnosed correctly; it occurred to me that there may be many parents out there going through the same guilt that I am right now. It seems we are always being own harshest critics and our own worst enemies.
Elopement is a very common problem with Autistic children and can start out of nowhere, without any prior incidents or warnings that it is going to happen. The wandering behaviors that Autistic children show are like the wandering behaviors that we see in the Alzheimer’s community. Wandering and elopement behaviors in children and adults with autism have led to countless tragedies across the country. There are things you can do to lower your risks of a tragedy. Being aware that it is a real problem is the first step to fighting it.
As the mother of an Autistic teenager with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) I have tried just about every therapy and treatment known to man to help my son. Many of these options were started when my son was very small, as early intervention is key to everything with Autism. One of said treatment options that we started is Occupational Therapy (OT).
Music has some amazing curative capabilities that happen to be backed by science. Given this, it isn’t surprising that using music as a treatment therapy would be beneficial to an individual on the Autism Spectrum. Music Therapy is a “well-established and risk-free technique” for using musical interaction to help individuals with Autism improve their ability to function.
Many people with Autism have major problems with both speech and nonverbal communication. It simply eludes them. My son had obvious issues with speech and nonverbal communication right from the beginning. Being nonverbal until the age of almost 7 years I had to find ways to connect with him outside of speaking, as well as do whatever I could to harness speech within him. It was the most tiring and rewarding task I had with him growing up, I just wanted to hear him speak; wanted him to be social. Furthermore, Autistic individuals may also find it very hard to interact socially. Zain still has social deficits. For these reasons, speech therapy is a central part of treatment for Autism. It was central, and still is central, to my son’s development as he receives speech therapy twice a week.
As my Autistic son grew I yearned for him to make a connection with somebody, anybody. He was nonverbal until he was almost 7 years old and was diagnosed with Severe Autism. It affected him greatly. Not only did it impact his life socially in every way possible; Autism also impacted him cognitively and behaviorally, and still does.
As tomorrow is Mother’s Day in the United States I thought it would be a good time to stop and celebrate special needs mothers, all that we do and some special ways we can spend Mother’s Day! As the mother of 2 children with Autism some days are more bittersweet than others.
When you live with Autism it seems like you live with an endless supply of whatever food your child has chosen as their preferred “go to food.” Stereotypically, it is chicken nuggets and French fries. In my home we add burgers to that short list. No matter how severe your child’s eating issue is, many parents of children on the Autism Spectrum struggle with their child’s severe eating problems with little or no professional help. I
What if an easy and inexpensive test could predict the likelihood of your child developing Autism when performed at well-child appointments starting at the age of 3 months? What if this test performed with 100 percent accuracy? What if I tell you this may be a reality?
In the world of Autism, we often hear about the depressing and painful parts of raising our kids, rarely do we hear of the wonderful parts of it. Our children are amazing individuals that have countless advances to add to this world as they grow. However, while making a purchase at the store the other day a gentleman asked me what I did for a living - I told him I was a writer and a mother of 2 awesome boys with Autism. His response was that he was “sorry.” He honestly looked me in the eyes and told me that he felt sorrow for me because I have Autistic children. That reopened my eyes to the stigma surrounding Autism and parenting an Autistic child. We hear a lot about Autism throughout April, as it is Autism Awareness Month, now that April is over that doesn’t mean that we should stop spreading the awareness. Let’s start by spreading some awareness to the wonderful parts of our children and our adventures raising them!
When you think of Autism you often think of the obvious issues that families deal with; the meltdowns, the lack of eye contact and the lack of speech. Very rarely does the general public or the newly diagnosed parents think of the “small” issues that we deal with that often go unspoken of. One such issue is parental depression. Sometimes living the life that we must live leaves us depressed and stressed out. Whether it be from a lack of social communication with other adults or just the feeling of being overwhelmed. It certainly is not easy to be the parent of a child on the Autism spectrum. There are joyous moments, but there is no denying the challenges parents face, and the toll these take. Parents also have to worry about themselves getting sick, fighting for services, sacrificing careers, sinking into debt, and some simply rage at the injustice of it all. Parents grieve. We are allowed to do so. I find myself there right now. The monotony of each day, the meltdowns, the constant doctors’ appointments, the lack of sleep, the lack of understanding by both my family, friends and my son… it all gets to me from time to time and right now is one of those times.
Many parents ask if their children are the only Autistic children that seem to have a higher or lower pain thresholds than the “normal” person. The answer is no they are not. Many children with Autism experience reduced or heightened pain sensitivity. It is actually widely reported to be a common feature of children with Autism. Sensory abnormalities in Autism are well known; they are even part of the diagnostic criteria for the condition. But few investigators have looked into how people with Autism experience pain. The ones who have base their conclusions of reduced and heightened pain in children with Autism on anecdotal observations and questionable measures of pain reported by parents. My son is among the Autistic children that are affected by this.
Potty training is never easy, whether it be an Autistic child or a neurotypical child. A lot of parents find themselves at a complete loss. When it comes to Autistic children it is a whole new ballgame.
If you have been raising an Autistic individual for a while you may already know that schedules and routines are pretty much key to their development. Truthfully, routines play an important role in the lives of people with Autism. In fact, one of the earliest signs of Autism can be a love of ritual, consistency, predictability and routine. It boils down to simple things that “normal” people do every day being intensified to the max for a person with Autism. The everyday events that most people view as “normal” can be an overwhelming combination of frightening crowds, intimidating sounds and overbearing lights for people with Autism. Routines and schedules help to create stability and order.
When our children are diagnosed we tend to go along with what the doctors and therapists say to do, as we should. We typically start a medication if they say to start it or end a medication if they say to end it. We do the same with various types of therapies. Over the years I have tried an enormous amount of medications and therapies for Autism with my son to try to better his quality of life. Much of them with great success rate, some of them with horrible outcomes. The biggest regret I have in all these years is not researching the medications that I was using extensively before starting them.