Archive for April, 2012
More than $1 billion has been spent in the last ten years researching autism. What has $1 billion bought us in terms of results? From the new statistics that have been published in the past few months it would appear that more people than ever before have been diagnosed on the spectrum.
In digging a bit further, I’ve learned that $1 billion has actually bought us quite a lot. While a definitive answer to the causes of autism has not been found, the wave of scientific research has helped strengthen some hypotheses and led to the rejection of others. This means that researchers are narrowing in on the causes of autism (personally, I doubt there is only one cause) and the closer they are to a cause the closer they are to finding a cure or at least more accurate treatments.
Have you ever suffered from fatigue, bloating, or thrush? The culprit might be an overproduction of yeast in your gastrointestinal tract. The yeast, which is known as Candida, can build up antibodies or antigens in the blood that cause the body to feel weak and sluggish.
With a Candida cleanse, you can naturally counteract this overproduction. Start by minimizing the amount of antibiotics taken; not every ailment requires you to pop a pill. Second, cut down on sugar and dairy products that are high in agents that allow yeast to thrive. Follow up with a detoxifying cleanse that will draw out excess yeast. Within a matter of days you should start to feel some improvement.
My sister-in-law recently gave birth to a second child. As a doctor, she is keenly aware of the risks of birth defects mercury poisoning. She avoided eating fish high in mercury content, particularly tuna, throughout her pregnancy.
When I went to visit her and my brother to give them a hand with their newborn and toddler, I noticed that she was still avoiding fish. She explained that she was going to continue avoiding tuna until she was done breastfeeding, as whatever she eats can be transmitted through breast milk. Young children exposed to mercury, she went on, can experience severe neurological consequences, including not having nerve sheaths form properly.
For a long time, focus has been placed on finding the root cause of autism and developing a cure. In the past few years, a small minority opinion has sprung up that is anti-cure. Many of the anti-cure movement do not see autism as a disorder, but simply an alternate variation of brain wiring. This view is typically found among people with Asperger syndrome, as they do not have the language delays and difficulties of severely autistic individuals.
Personally, I can see both sides. Individuals with Asperger syndrome attend school, can have relationships (albeit with some struggles), hold a job, and care for themselves as any healthy adult can. If you can do all that, then why is a cure or autism treatments necessary? At the same time, severely autistic individuals can do few of those things, so existing autism treatments are all that parents and caretakers have to help alleviate the difficulties. A cure could be life changing for a severely autistic person and their caretakers.
Nearly half of all children with autism can make significant progress with the help of one-on-one behavioral therapy. Unfortunately, one-one-sessions can cost almost $30,000 in some cases. Therapy is often needed for two or three years. For many parents, that cost is just too high, especially when the therapy is not covered by insurance.
The Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) launched an online autism therapy program called Skills. The platform gives parents and teachers access to tools and curriculums specifically tailored to children with autism. It also has features that allow parents and teachers to track progress. The cost of the program is approximately $75 a month, which translates to approximately $900 a year.
New autism research suggests that spontaneous genetic mutations could play a role in the development of autism in some individuals. Research teams sequenced the genes of children whose families did not have any other relatives with autism. According to Professor Evan Eichler, “15 to 20 percent of sporadic patients could be explained by de novo mutations.”
Identifying the sporadic mutations could have a positive outcome. Eichler explained that the affected genes belong to only a handful of pathways. Andy Shih, of Autism Speaks, said “This kind of investigation is of tremendous value for understanding the genetic architecture of risk for autism.”
In recent autism news, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study of the autism rates in 8-year-olds. Previously, the public had been acquainted with the notion that 1 in 110 children would be diagnosed with autism, with the likelihood higher among boys. The new study by the CDC has revised that rate and suggested that it is actually 1 in 88.
What does the new metric mean? Put simply, researchers do not know. It could be that diagnostics have improved leading to the increased statistics. It could also mean, as parents fear, that autism is on the rise and the source is yet unknown.
Since 1989 the United Nations has recognized April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day. The resolution 62/139 was put forth by Qatar and supported unanimously by all member states. The resolution touted four parts:
1. The establishment of April 2 as WAAD.
2. Participation of UN organizations, members, NGOs, private and public institutions in WAAD.
3. Raise awareness of Autism information in society.
4. That the Secretary-General makes the UN message known worldwide.
Currently, there is a World Autism Awareness Day that provides materials and suggestions on participating in WAAD events.