Archive for August, 2011
The Institute of Medicine is the most esteemed adviser on issues of health and medicine in the United States. The government, from time to time, has called on the Institute to evaluate the safety of vaccinations. Dr. Ellen Wright Clayton, chairwoman of the Institute’s latest panel said, “doesn’t cause autism, and the evidence is overwhelming that it doesn’t.”
She elaborated that the panel had looked over more than one thousand peer-reviewed articles in reaching the conclusion that vaccination does not cause autism. This is not the first time that vaccinations have been absolved of the supposed link to autism. Still, groups like SafeMinds are insistent that important research was excluded from the findings and that not enough research has been done to draw definitive conclusions.
The Lion King is arguably one of the most beloved children’s movies of all time. Since 1997 it has also had incredible success on Broadway. This October, the lively, colorful show will put on an autism-friendly performance.
The performance, a part of the Autism Theatre Imitative by the Theatre Development Fund, will scale back on jarring noises and strobe lights. Designated quiet areas in the lobby and autism experts will be provided to help individuals throughout the performance, as needed. This is such wonderful autism news! Hopefully other Broadway productions will take note and make some of their performances available to children and adults on the autism spectrum.
The Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis has published the results of a 10-year study of youths with autism in the journal Psychiatric Services. The study found that 46 percent of adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) used a mental health service in the last year. This can include services to address behavioral issues, anxiety, and depression.
Nearly half of those who received received them through school. African-American youths and children from lower-income families were more likely to depend on school provided services, as therapies can be very expensive. The study highlighted the need for better transitioning planning. Even those who keep up to date with autism information may not realize the dire need for youths with ASD to have access to mental health services post-high school.
In the next edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V), scheduled to be published in 2013, the Asperger category may be eliminated. Instead of having its own label, Asperger will be lumped in under “Autism Spectrum Disorder” that will apply to every person with autism, no matter the level of severity. Understandably, this proposed revision has parents worried.
Parents of children with severe autism worry that getting rid of the separate Asperger category will lead people to believe that all children with autism are high functioning. On the other end, parents of children with Asperger fear that wrong diagnoses will become more prevalent. It would appear that parents need to step up autism education and advocate for their children if they do not want the change.
According to CDC estimates, 1 in 110 children in the U.S. fall somewhere on the autism spectrum. Previously, researchers thought that the likelihood that a younger sibling of a child with autism to also be autistic was between 3 and 14 percent. Now researchers believe that the risk is actually closer to 19 percent.
Overall, the average risk for the sample was 18.7 percent. Some children had even high risk. For instance, families with male children had a recurrence risk of 26.2 percent (autism awareness has taught us that males are more likely to be autistic). Younger siblings with more than one older sibling with autism have a one in three chance, or 32 percent chance, of being autistic. This research is certainly alarming and is further reason that a cure needs to be
The silver colored fillings some dentists use after drilling a cavity are called amalgam fillings. They are made from mercury, copper, tin, or zinc. Though the FDA classifies amalgam fillings as a moderate risk, there are people who would like amalgam fillings to be banned all together.
The reason people want the ban is the claim that amalgam fillings lead to mercury poisoning. Sure enough, mercury does leach out of the fillings over time and are absorbed into the body. While some levels of mercury in the body are natural, putting additional mercury into the body is troubling. Next time you need a cavity filled, talk to your dentist about non-mercury alternatives.
You may have heard of chlorella during history lessons about the mid 20th century population boom fears. Chlorella, a type of algae, was at one time considered a promising primary food source because it grows efficiently and is rich in proteins and other essential nutrients. In the end, the plan to use chlorella as a food staple was abandoned in favor of more efficient planting and harvesting of existing food crops.
Though chlorella is not a major food staple, there are good reasons to incorporate chlorella into your diet. For starters, the alga is an excellent source of proteins and nutrients. It has also been found to reduce dioxin levels in breast milk and increasing IgA levels. Chlorella also can be used for heavy metal detox.
Applied behavior analysis, a form of autism therapy, will now be covered by Blue Shield of California and Anthem Blue Cross, at least in the short term. The two insurers had long argued that ABA therapy was not a medical treatment. Rather, they insisted, ABA is a form of educational or social service, thus exempting the companies from providing coverage. Under pressure from regulators, the two insurers have settled disputes with patients, as well as agreed to cover a minimum of six months of treatment for HMO patients. Kaiser Permanente HMO is also working on an agreement.
ABA is the most popular form of autism therapy. It teaches young children skills that are the benchmark of development. These skills include making eye contact and identifying colors. The therapy is expensive, costing upwards of $70,000 a year for one child. Many school systems offer ABA therapy, but with budget cuts many people see the insurance companies helping to pick up the tab a step in the right direction.
Think back to the time when you were first taught pronouns. What do you mean you don’t know? Actually, that’s a perfectly natural response. The average person simply learns pronouns by absorbing language as a child and from that point forward inherently knows which pronoun to use without giving it much thought. Autistic individuals, on the other hand, often confuse pronouns.
While browsing for articles on autism, I learned that a team of scientists have discovered that the difficulty in pronoun choice for autistics reflects a disordered neural representation of the self that are processed in the frontal and posterior of the brain. The researchers used fMRI to compare brain activation pattern and synchronization of activation across brain areas in high functioning autistic, and compared those results to a control group. The full study can be found in the journal Brain.