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.
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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.
If you are new to the special needs world you may not know what an IEP is or have had to deal with having one yet. IEPs, or Individualized Education Plans, are the holy grail of special needs services in school aged children. An IEP is a “written document that’s developed for each public-school child who is eligible for special education.
By this time of year most households have or are about to start preparations for state standardized testing. I get a lot of questions about the tests that states administer and if Autistic students have to take them. The answer isn’t a clear cut yes or no. It really depends on your child’s deficits and their IEP guidelines. What I can do is tell you about the tests and what you can do to help prepare your child for them.
Every couple of years the prevalence rates for Autism are released and we parents cringe. As we last heard in 2016, the CDC had reported the prevalence rates at 1 in 68. As these reports are released on a biannual basis, today, April 26, 2018, we got news that the rate has once again rose. We now have a prevalence rate of 1 in 59 school aged children diagnosed with Autism. This data is based on monitoring that the Centers for Disease Control does in 11 communities. This new report reiterates a long-standing pattern- The rate of Autism diagnoses is continuing to increase.
When it comes to Autism and the divorce rate, many studies say the rate is up near 80%, while others rate the divorce rate somewhere near 20%. Either way, it is way higher than the rate for parents of non-special needs children. One of the reasons for this is stress and not sharing the responsibilities of raising the Autistic child. This isn’t an easy job to do and if you are doing it without help it is obviously even more daunting. Or maybe there are the moments when they do “help” and it makes things worse because your partner just hasn’t taken the time to get to know Autism like you have. No matter what the reason, a relationship coming apart at the seams is a devastating notion for any family, let alone one that has a child that is abhorrent to change.
Most of us parents of Autistic children and teens have an issue at some point in time with the school system that your child goes to. Whether it be a problem with bullying, and IEP issue, or just plain administrative/teacher issues, most of us have been there. We are our children’s voices and their advocates.
As of late I have heard a lot of questions about the difference between Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders (or ASD’s) in the DSM-IV versus the DSM-V. We all know that the terms Autism and ASD are often used interchangeably. ASD is an umbrella diagnosis, with many separate disorders encompassing it. Since the DSM-V came out there have been some changes. So, what is the difference in the two? Here's a real quick break-down of the changes.
When asked what the hardest thing to cope with when dealing with Autism is a lot of parents will name things such as lack of sleep or meltdowns as their top rating stressors. Truth be it, a lot of the time the number one stressor in our lives isn’t our Autistic child at all; it’s our extended family members. The ones that say they’ll be there, but obviously do nothing but judge. You know the ones I’m talking about; the Aunt, Uncle, or Grandparent that just simply doesn’t get it. With that ignorance a lot of the times come hurt feelings and harsh words.
Discipling an Autistic child is a tricky thing; each child is different and each parent’s opinion on how to do it is different. When it comes to disciplining a meltdown the whole concept is altered though. When you discipline a child for having a temper tantrum it is different than disciplining for a meltdown.
Potty training tips for a 9-year-old boy? He is verbal, knows how to use the potty (and does several times a day with no issues), but he has accidents every day (and every night) and he won’t ask to use the bathroom (he has to be told). I got tired of him having a rash from wet clothes, so he is currently in a pull-up. Advice?
MIND Institute is probably one of the most interesting and important Autism research networks that we have, MIND and IANRESEARCH. MIND is responsible for such research projects as CHARGE and APP. IAN PROJECT is a product of the Kennedy Krieger Institute.
Of all the therapies that parents choose to try on their Autistic children and teens I find one to be exceptionally interesting; that being Neurofeedback Therapy (NFT), or EEG Biofeedback. It is also called “Brainworks” overseas. NFT is a route that some parents take to “retrain” their children’s brain to respond more appropriately to outside stimuli. The main purpose being to improve the child’s quality of life. But the concept of the therapy raises more questions than it does answers.
As far as treatment options go when it comes to Autism, we are lacking a variety of them that work. One medication has shown some promising responses when combating the “core symptoms” of Autism. That medication is called Arbaclofen, or Bacofen. Originally it is used to treat muscle spasms. Many Scientist believe that in comparison to the study done of Oxytocin Nasal Spray and Autism that this medication shows more incalculable improvements. Back in 2012 there were several studies into this medication. Two with promising results, one with mixed reviews leading to further researching. So, let’s look at this medication and its treatment of Autism.
As your child ages, especially when they reach puberty, you will notice a whole new set of challenges in front of them. Not only are they going through the different emotions that come along with puberty, they also have a whole new set of social challenges ahead of them with their peers.