Archive for June, 2008
Autism treatment news: Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC have received $3 million from the National Institute of Mental Health to conduct a national study of the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children with autism spectrum disorders.
“ADHD symptoms are common in children with autism, but children with autism often do not respond well to stimulant medications, the conventional treatment for ADHD,” said Benjamin Handen, Ph.D., principal investigator of the study and associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
In this 10-week clinical trial, which will start enrolling patients in September, Pitt researchers and colleagues from the University of Rochester and Ohio State University will recruit 144 children ranging in ages from 5 to13 who have autism with ADHD symptoms. The researchers will assess the safety and effectiveness of two treatments: atomoxetine, a nonstimulant medication for treating ADHD, and parent management training in which parents learn how to use behavioral interventions as another form of conventional ADHD treatment.
Market America announced that it is in the development and testing stages of a new line of nutraceutical products that will support the health of children with autism and related neurodevelopmental challenges. Specialized laboratory testing often demonstrates sub-optimal levels of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids in people with autism, which can be addressed with nutritional supplements. Despite these findings, Market America found in its research that parents and health professionals alike are frustrated with the limited nutritional products available in the marketplace.
Market America is working in conjunction with these doctors to develop a regimen of nutraceutical products that will promote a high quality of life for those living with autism.
“It is simply mind-blowing and disheartening when you read the statistics about children afflicted with autism,” said Marty Weissman, executive vice president of Market America.
“One out of every 150 children is diagnosed with autism and 67 new children are diagnosed per day. As a company founded on science based products, it is time that we use our expertise to support the health of these children.”
The conference was held to identify areas that are lacking in autism therapy and how Market America could develop products that meet the special needs of these children.
In the latest autism news, Marathon County residents who worry about a loved one at risk of wandering away will have an added safety net when a local agency can raise enough money and volunteer support.
The Aging and Disability Resource Center of Central Wisconsin needs about $15,000 and trained rescue personnel to start Project Lifesaver in the county, said Lonnie Cole, the center’s Older Americans Act director.
Project Lifesaver provides traceable radio-transmitter wristbands for people who suffer from dementia or other conditions such as autism that make them vulnerable to becoming lost and endangering themselves.
The resource center already has implemented Project Lifesaver in Wood County. The agency serves both counties.
Wood County authorities joined the national program in February 2007, four months before a 7-year-old autistic boy went missing from his Wisconsin Rapids-area home. He was found dead in a nearby pond a year ago today. The boy’s mother since has become a Project Lifesaver donor.
“For the most part, those we have on the program in Wood County are children with autism,” said Tami Drew-Huiras, a social worker in charge of the county’s Project Lifesaver efforts.
“We could have hundreds of people signed up for it,” she said. “I know for a fact that there are many more people out there who could use it.”
Cole said she has yet to calculate how many Marathon County residents would qualify for Project Lifesaver, which asks that families pay $25 a month for the service.
NEW YORK — Parents, children and care providers gathered on the steps of City Hall Wednesday protesting budget cuts which could end programs provided for children with autism.
Council Member David Weprin says that autism has reached epidemic proportions. The Centers for Disease Control states that 1 in 150 children are now born with autism.
“While we cannot offer autistic children and their families a cure for the disorder, with this initiative, we can ensure that they can enjoy a better quality of life by providing them with year-round services that support their educational and social needs,” said Weprin.
The City Council’s “1 in 150″ Autism Services Initiative offers about $1.5 million in funds that provide services for children with autism who otherwise do not qualify for publicly funded programs, and educate thousands of parents and caregivers through conferences and workshops.
The program has given 230 children after-school programs, weekend respite, a basketball league, holiday activities, parent and teacher training, bilingual services, a crisis-intervention program, kids clubs, autism workshops, and outreach and awareness activities.
Parents fear if budget cuts are approved their children will lose these programs and will suffer a blow in autism education.
While preparing for the birth of her daughter, Christy Rue stumbled across a concern that she is now trying to share with every parent.
The 25-year-old mother is one of thousands who have picked up the cause to promote cleaner vaccines.
“The doctors give the shots, you know, so they must be safe,” Rue said.
But the disheartening facts, she said, are children are being disabled and pharmaceutical companies are paying lobbyists to help the vaccines pass through Washington.
“I’m not against vaccines,” Rue said. “I just want them to clean up the stuff they’re putting in there and give them a safer schedule.”
To make her concerns heard, Rue and her children traveled to Washington, D.C., for the “Green Our Vaccines, Too Many, Too Soon” march and rally two weeks ago. The three were among 8,000 people that walked from the Washington Memorial to the Capital Building, holding signs demanding change and pictures of children who lost their lives from reactions to vaccines.
“It was amazing to see how many people have been affected by vaccines and nobody knows about it,” Rue said. “To look around and see all these children, these innocent children who are victims, who now are having severe issues mentally and physically.
“When we walked down Independence Avenue it was a surreal feeling because so many other Americans had done this before for an important cause. But this is not just any old cause that will be forgotten about tomorrow. These are our kids and they are our future.”
The support for clean vaccines – meaning extracting toxins like formaldehyde, aluminum, antifreeze and mercury – has been slow because a majority of the medical community denies a link between vaccines and certain disorders such as autism.
Parents of autistic children believe autism is linked to mercury-based vaccines given to children as infants.
The mercury-based thimerosal was removed from most childhood vaccines in 2001 because of the autism fears. The number of autism cases continue to rise, though, leading health officials to set aside the connection. Today, 1 in 150 children have the disorder.
“Scientist say there’s no link, but who is paying for the research?” Rue said.
One of the main battles green-vaccine promoters face are the special interest and biased ties scientists have, she said.
Along with Mothers Against Mercury, a North Carolina-based organization, Rue is spreading the word about N.C. House Bill 431. The bill, which would limit the amount of thimerosal in vaccines, passed in the N.C. House last year, but failed to make it past the Senate’s Health Committee, Rue said.
Sitting in the pediatricians office last week, Rue said she looked around and wondered how many parents knew what was in the vaccines their children would receive.
“I’m not against vaccines by any means, I just don’t want my child being 1 in 150,” Rue said. “I don’t want anyone’s children.”
CHICAGO – In positive autism news, the founders of Soaring Eagle Academy announced today that the new school for Children with Autism will open its doors in 2009. Soaring Eagle Academy brings new hope to Chicago-area families who dream of a happy future for their children with Autism.In order to open the school by 2009, Soaring Eagle is hosting a fundraising Gala on Sunday, June 29th at Venuti’s Restaurant in Addison, Illinois.
The school will specialize in educational strategies proven to help children with Autism develop the social, emotional, cognitive and communication skills they need to live successful lives. The school also brings hope to parents who fear that their child will never develop these abilities.
NEW YORK – Westchester and Rockland county residents were among dozens of people who rallied in Albany today to protest childhood vaccination. The activists held signs that said things like “Parents call the shots,” and chanted, “My kids, my choice.”The families are against legislation that would increase the number of immunizations children have to get. Under the bill, seventh graders and students preparing to enter college would have to get meningitis vaccines, minors could get vaccinated for sexually transmitted infections without parental consent, and future requirements for vaccines would be tied to national standards.
Lisa Rudley of Briarcliff Manor said two of her children have suffered health problems because of vaccines. One has recovered and another is one the way to recovering, she said.
Dr. Lynn Friedman, a chiropractor, said she unsuccessfully sued the Clarkstown School District to allow her son, now 12, to attend school without vaccinations. The state grants exceptions to the mandatory vaccine requirements for medical and religious reasons. Friedman said the district questioned the validity of her religious exemption. Her son goes to private school.
Elisa DiBari said her son, now 10, stopped speaking after receiving the measles/mumps/rubella vaccine at 15 months. He has had a lot of treatments over the years but is doing well.
“He’s a very positive kid. Nothing stopped him,” she said.
The families favor separate proposals that would allow families to opt out of the mandated vaccine program for philosophical reasons, and protections for parents who decline to have their children immunized for religious reasons.
Teaching autistic children how to read can be challenging, but it’s worth the effort. There is no single thing that helps autistic children learn to read. Experts often disagree on how to approach learning, and every child is different and learns differently. Autism can range in severity from very moderate and highly functioning to very severe and barely functioning. Because the child has special needs, patience, determination and creativity are of the utmost importance. It is essential that a person planning on pursuing autism education can understand the characteristics and needs of an autistic child.
Autistic kids are visual thinkers. The easiest way to teach autistic children reading is to demonstrate words that aren’t concrete. For example, a noun is typically concrete and easy for the autistic child to picture. A word such as “boy” is easy to relate to a mental image. However, words such as “up” are harder for the autistic child to picture. When teaching such words, the teacher should show the word by acting it out. Saying the word “up” and lifting the arm goes a long way toward helping the autistic child understand.
Reinforce what the child is reading with repetition. Read books out loud, act them out, create visual aids and watch movies based on books. Don’t be afraid to try new things and be patient. It may take a while when teaching autistic children reading to find the methods that work best for each individual child.
During most of his early childhood, Zack Barsamian sat quietly under a table lining up his toys – he didn’t understand how to properly play with them. Often his hands covered his ears. Alone in his world, he didn’t like noise and he didn’t show typical child-like expressions of joy or happiness.
When Zack was 3 years old, doctors diagnosed his condition as “mid-functioning” autism. He also suffered from liver dysfunction and had difficulty digesting food.
Five years later and after his parents spent more than $400,000 out of pocket for Zack’s treatment, the boy smiles, relates and enjoys other children in his second grade class. He plays on a soccer team. He even has a best friend.
The $400,000 paid for conventional autism treatments including speech, occupational and behavioral therapists, and neurologists as well as testing and unconventional treatment to remove heavy metals from Zack’s body, expenses to travel to New York, North Carolina, Texas and Mexico to see specialists and the cost to build an in-home clinic.
Last week the Barsamians, along with 8,500 other parents of children with autism, participated in the Green Our Vaccines Rally, in Washington, D.C.
The participants hoped to raise awareness and push for elimination of toxins in vaccines, and to change children’s vaccination schedules. Some people believe the mercury-based preservative thimerosal found in vaccines is the main cause of autism. But the Institute of Medicine concluded that there is no link between vaccines and autism after examining the results of 19 major studies.
It began with IVs for nutrition and chelation to remove heavy metals from the blood.
The detoxifying treatment removes toxins in the body caused by internal factors such as diet and external factors such vaccines, the air we breathe, or the water we drink, said Jennifer.
Zack’s treatment also included oxygen therapy, which increases oxygen and blood flow to the brain. Twice a year Zack and his family travel to North Carolina where Zack receives treatment in a chamber for 100% pure oxygen.
To supplement that treatment, at home Zack receives one to two hours of daily supplemental oxygen therapy in a special chamber his parents built in their basement.
But the cost the Barsamians pay for treatment is high – between $3,000 and $7,000 each month because it is not covered by insurance.
More and more kids are recovering from autism, according Wendy Fournier, president of National Autism Association, a parent-run advocacy organization located in Missouri.
“Doctors are realizing it’s medically based. If you treat them medically – treat them with what’s going on in the body, they get better,” she said. “The problem is the medical community looks at them like they have some incurable mental illness. Autism is thought of as a mysterious mental illness.”
OKLAHOMA CITY – It’s been quite the year in Oklahoma, particularly after a dodgy legislative session that resulted with the Speaker of the House giving insurance companies the opportunity to deny children who suffer from autism. Now a group that helps people with disabilities and special needs will offer therapeutic programs to help treat the symptoms of autism in young children.
Easter Seals of Oklahoma is planning to open the Easter Seals Autism Therapeutic School in Oklahoma City after Labor Day.
The full-day program will feature therapeutic services and interaction with children without autism who attend an onsite day care.
Hopefully, this program will increase autism awareness in the state, as well as around the United States.