Archive for March, 2012
There is so much about autism that we do not understand, that I suspect in the future autism education will be radically different from how it is today. For instance, I recently read an excerpt from a study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology. Researchers found preliminary indication that people with autism have a greater than normal capacity for processing information, even from rapid presentations of information.
Parents of autistic children have long suspected this; after all, becoming hyper-attached to a particular topic is considered a classic symptom of autism. What the research did unveil is that these skills could be particularly useful in the IT world which demands focus as a key to success. I think that specialty training courses for autistic individuals wanting to break into IT would be magnificent. It would certainly give more adults on the spectrum an opportunity to have careers and thus support themselves rather than being dependent on family and friends.
While browsing the Internet for new articles on autism, I came across a news release from the Kennedy Krieger Institute. They recently published preliminary results of a national survey examining the impact of bulling on children on the spectrum. A troubling 63 percent of children with autism have been bullied, which is three times more than their siblings who are not on the spectrum.
I cannot say that I was totally surprised by the findings. Many autistic behaviors are alien to non-spectrum children, who may use the differences as a reason to tease or bully an autistic child. What was more surprising is that some of the autistic children surveyed were bully-victims, in that the child on the spectrum may have been perceived as bullies themselves. This, researchers explained, can happen when an autistic child who is particularly sensitive to touch might lash out over being bumped into, or some similar slight that a child not on the spectrum might brush off.
Aspies For Freedom (AFF) is an autism awareness and autism rights movement founded by Amy and Gareth Nelson. Gareth has Asperger syndrome and has frequently been critical of efforts to cure autism. To Gareth, being on the spectrum is not negative; there is no need for a cure, he believes.
He is supported by people such as Arthur Caplan who said, “There are many in the autism and Asperger’s community, like the newly formed Aspies For Freedom, who worry that the minute a genetic test appears, it will spell the end for a lot of future geniuses…Maybe there will be fewer Thomas Jeffersons or Lewis Carrrolls – remarkable thinkers who also fit the profile for Asperger’s.” AFF certainly adds a new dimension to autism research and bioethics.
Vaccine damage is a controversial subject. Thousands of claims have been filed in federal court alleging vaccines to be the cause of ailments and syndromes, including autism. No legitimate study has ever found vaccines to be the cause of autism.
That being said, a court once did rule in favor of a child who developed autism like symptoms after receiving nine childhood vaccinations (five shots). The court did not conclude that the vaccine caused autism; it concluded that the vaccine was in some way responsible for exacerbating a pre-existing mitochondrial disease. This is a very rare occurrence, but parents should still ask questions before they vaccinate their children.
Even parents who faithfully vaccinate their children sometimes skip the chicken pox vaccination. Chicken pox, for those of us who have experienced the unpleasantness, is viewed as “no big deal.” While most of us can shake it off in a matter of weeks, for some groups it can be deadly.
For example, I got chicken pox when I was only four years old and passed the disease onto my father who was in his early 30s at the time. While I had a fever and was itchy, my dad’s experience was ten times worse and put him out of commission for a long time. As a result of our infections, we are both at risk for shingles, which is far more painful and can result in some nasty side effects like postherpetic neuralgia.
Insurance behemoths Cigna and Healthnet have agreed to cover behavioral therapy as a form of treatment for autism for residents of California. This follows in the footsteps of Blue Shield which added behavioral therapy to their list of acceptable treatments just last month. With behavioral therapies costing between $50,000 and $100,000 annually, the insurance coverage is welcome to families struggling with such an enormous financial burden.
The agreement comes as a result of Gov. Jerry Brown’s signing of bill SB946 last year. The bill mandates insurance companies to cover treatments for autism and other developmental disorders. The bill goes into effect this July 1, so it is no wonder that insurance companies are coming on board now.
It is a widely held misconception that thimerosal causes autism. Thimerosal was used as a vaccine preservative. The thinking was by a now discredited doctor that there was a causal relationship between the rise in vaccination and the rise in autism diagnoses.
The truth is thimerosal has not been used as a vaccine preservative for many years. While thimerosal has been removed the number of autism diagnoses has not dropped off. In fact, it can be argued that the number of cases has risen (although “risen” is not exactly the right word as it is entirely likely that the number of cases hasn’t gone up, but the ability to accurately diagnose someone on the spectrum has improved). With thimerosal denied as the culprit, parents and researchers need to continue to press for answers.
For several years, members of the scientific community have found links between autism and neurotoxins and bacteria found in the gut. For instance, in 2004, a study was published by the head of the Food Microbiology Sciences Unit at the University of Reading that stated: “We have good evidence to show that children with autism have a gut flora which produces toxins, and that neurotoxins and bacteria in the gut are producing this metabolite.”
To combat this harmful gut flora, taking probiotics has been recommended. Certain probiotics – which introduce healthy bacteria – may combat clostridium which is a harmful bacterium. Probiotics, in conjunction with cleanses, may help restore balance to a digestive tract.
There is so much that is not known about autism. It seems that nearly every week there is a new study out revealing some new fact not previously known. For example, autistic children born in the 1990s are more likely to have gastrointestinal problems than autistic children born in the 1980s.
This has led some parents to remove gluten and dairy from their autistic children’s diets. Some parents claim this has eliminated many behavioral issues, but most parents who see a difference claim that it only eliminates GI tract problems – which are still a great relief to the parents and children. To cleanse the body of other toxins, try chelation, such as PCA-Rx.