Minggu, 08 Januari 2012

Let's Get That Autism Research Psychologist Into My Classroom For a Month and We'll See Then

The other day, I was at Starbucks and I was talking to a special ed teacher who had several autistic kids and down syndrome kids in her classroom. She was working to up her certification and therefore guarantee that you won't be laid off from the school district she works at, which has laid off thousands of people already. She was reading a very interesting book that was part of her course studies, and she reiterated to me that she was perplexed by some of the research papers she had read from clinical psychologist researchers about autism and autistic behavior in a classroom setting. Okay so let's talk.

She said that she wishes that these clinical psychologists that do all these reports and research, while publishing in their journals would come into her classroom for a couple of weeks to actually look at the autistic kids, and see how well their research is doing in reality. Apparently there's a huge disconnect, and part of the problem she admitted was the fact that the autistic spectrum was so large now that they were grouping all sorts of kids into the same categories, which really made no sense at all.

Whereas, autism is primarily a brain structural issue, which can lead to all sorts of different attributes and behaviors, each child is different, and grouping them all together or trying to explain that kids that do one thing are a certain way, are sure to do another, simply isn't so, and she can prove it in a real-life classroom setting with real observations each and every day working with these kids. The research papers don't seem to be able to do that, and often they are flat wrong.

Interestingly enough, this isn't the first time that someone has told me this, and I did speak with a researcher from the University of Riverside at the Palm Desert campus who explained to me that what they were doing now was taking each individual, giving them individual tests, and trying to place them within four quadrants to get an idea of how best to teach them, deal with any learning disabilities they had, and design a curriculum which would work for their particular brain.

That to me makes a lot more sense, although I must admit it is a lot more work, and right now with the schools in severe financial hardship, I'm not sure who's paying for it, but that would be the right way to play it. Please consider all this and think on it.

Sabtu, 07 Januari 2012

Benefits of Beginning or Upgrading Your Child's Diet for Autism and ADHD in Summer

In my last article, I wrote about why it's important to stay consistent with your child's diet for Autism or ADHD during the summer months, even though the pressure to conform to school standards is not there.

This time, I'd like to talk about the benefits of starting or upgrading your child's new diet during summer. This truly is the absolute ideal time to work healthy foods into your child's diet!

These are my top reasons why NOW is the time to take action:

Time of Plenty: There is an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables this time of year. The variety of colorful fruits and veggies just draws you in when you see it. Explore your many options by trying a new produce item every week. Let your children choose what's next and have great fun with it!

It is hot out: Cool, simple meals and snacks are easy and fun this time of year. Turn off that hot oven and experiment with what you can eat without cooking your food. Salads, fresh veggies with a yummy dip, sweet fresh fruits are all enjoyable when the weather is warm. You can also hide all kinds of superfoods, greens, and supplements in blended fruit smoothies - a super healthy fast food! If your kids don't want drinkable smoothies, freeze them into homemade Popsicle molds and make other non-dairy ice creams that are so healthy you don't have to feel bad about giving your kids sweet treats!

No school means more control over what your child eats: It's more difficult to change your child's diet when they are around other kids eating "regular" foods and all the things you are trying to move away from. Use this opportunity to form new healthy habits. It's easier on your child while they are at home more and away from the influence of others.

Fewer Activities: With no school parties and extra-curricular activities is to plan for and no school lunch to work around, its not only easier on your child, but it's easier on YOU! Get grounded in your new lifestyle at home and you can worry about school lunches and activities later!

Fewer Holidays: With the exception of 4th of July in the US, (please forgive me if I'm unaware of your country's holiday!) there are no other large holidays revolving around food. Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Valentine's Day, etc. can be a cause of stress and overwhelm for those new to the Autism and ADHD diet and who aren't prepared for it.

Less Stress: Use these months to go through the diet transitioning process outside the stress of school, teachers, homework, tests, expectations and conformity. Your child is under less pressure so your home is likely to be more peaceful and it's just an easier time to make changes.
I recommend that we use this time of ease in many aspects of our lives as the opportunity to begin a new diet or revamp your family's current one.

Do some evaluation: Determine what it is you want to see improve or change, evaluate your current diet, decide how you want to upgrade it, and go for it! Take it one step at a time and focus on one change only. It will be easier to make progress this way.

Do you still feel overwhelmed or just need a bit of help to work through the whole process? I also offer private coaching to help you reach your goals.

Summer: To Do or Not To Do The Autism And ADHD Diet

Even as grown adults with never ending responsibilities, being a parent means that we get to relax and slow down life a bit because it's summer. There is no school schedule or stress and daily struggle over homework or school projects. I feel like it's a chance for the kids to just be kids and time for me to just be mom - not school enforcer! (This applies to homeschooling parents as well!)

For parents of children with ADHD and autism spectrum disorders, as well as SPD, ODD, OCD, and more, the pressures of school can be especially overwhelming. It is a constant push to help our children meet the expectations laid out before them. The demands are heavy and the stakes high.

We desire for our children to be successful in the world that isn't set up for their needs and will stop at nothing to help them. The usual family vacations, more time spent playing outdoors, and carefree summer feeling are a welcome relief to many families, no matter what alphabet soup diagnosis their kids may have!

Although summer is a time of ease for many, that doesn't mean we can let our guard down completely. Diligence is still needed in keeping your child's diet for ADHD and autism. Don't get caught in the mindset that you can eat what you want when school is out! This is a common mistake many parents make - the thought that your child's behavior doesn't matter as much when they don't have to perform at school.

If we start to give in to one thing here or there, it could lead to a full backslide and make it really hard on yourself to get going with it again. I learned my share of that early on! We don't want our kids binging on junk foods or eliminated items any more than we want them binging on "screen time" just because there is no school.

Not only is "cheating" harder on yourself as dietary planner in the end, but it is harder on your child. Allowing something "just for now" or "just this once" will keep giving them the hopes of eating it again another time. If you decide that something has be eliminated from the diet, then do it completely.

We may feel like we are giving them something special as a treat, but in reality, it creates more of a struggle for them when they can't have it another time. It also sets up undefined boundaries and when they are out on their own, they will not have the clear example to make the right choice alone. Find acceptable treats just as you would if school were in session!

We must also consider their physical, mental, and emotional status. If we start to slip on the diet, we will see a regression into symptoms and issues that were already eliminated. For parents of children with more extreme symptoms or full autism, it would be catastrophic to see regression! If you worked so hard to get your child to where they are, you wouldn't want them to lose any of their newfound abilities. It is easy to stay strong when the stakes are so high.

For parents of children with milder symptoms, this might not be such a big deal. What harm is there with a lack of concentration during the summer, you might ask? Not only are you setting the stage for inconsistency as already mentioned, you will raise the stress level overall, even if so mild that you don't first realize it.

Our kids don't just have a lack of concentration (or whatever mild symptom is at hand), but a myriad of intertwined sensations and feelings as well as internal physical reactions that can gradually worsen. It is this circumstance where your guard has to be at its highest. The mildest of change will grow and come back to surprise you eventually. Then you'll be left wondering how that happened!

Stay strong. Remember how bad it can get with how it used to be. Go back to your beginning notes of the symptoms your child experienced before you made positive changes. Look at the old food log records to review what reactions you had in the beginning stages.

All it takes is one regression to make you realize how important it is to maintain the progress you have made! I hope these reasons to keep the diet for ADHD and autism going over summer will help you avoid all that and maintain the peace in your home.

All the negatives consequences of slipping away from your new lifestyle aside, I'll be back again in the next article with a discussion on the benefits of upgrading your child's diet during the summer months.

Jumat, 06 Januari 2012

Are You Caring For Yourself As Well As Your Family?

As a parent of a special needs child, it is all too easy to get lost in the mix of meltdowns, trips to school because of "incidents," therapy and doctor sessions, never-ending search for information and ways to help your child, every day home and work requirements, and pure mental or physical exhaustion that comes with the territory. It can seem like you are pulled in a million ways and there is nothing left to enjoy.

When you have so much on your plate, (pun intended!) it's hard to imagine adding one more thing to your already very stressful lifestyle. Do you find yourself too tired to think about healthy meals and end up choosing fast food or easy, quick, heavily processed meals to give yourself a break? There is no judgment here - that was me for a very long time, even after I knew about the negative impacts of those choices!

Taking care of yourself so that you can show up fully in your role as a parent is important, but when you add a child with ADHD or an autism spectrum disorder into the picture, it is crucial to your survival. You must be at the top of your game, functioning at a higher than normal level to keep up with the pressures of such a demanding, yet very rewarding job.

It just so happens that the dietary changes I recommend for our children are also very helpful for you as the parent. Do you want more energy, more mental clarity and focus? Do you want to feel like you are super-mom (or dad)? Do you want more patience and to be calm in the midst of the chaos? Do you want to feel more alive and vibrant than ever, ready for the challenges ahead and up to the wonderful task given to you?

These dietary changes aren't a magic cure for ADHD or autism spectrum disorders. They are a whole-body, whole-mind, natural solution to our general lethargy and degenerative conditions. I had applied these changes for myself before I ever tried them on my child and knew first hand the difference I felt internally. That was my first clue that I should try them for my son, and for my whole family, in fact!

It may sound too simple to be true, but the foods that we put into our mouths have more to do with our overall health and well-being than any miracle pill the pharmaceutical companies could ever invent. Taking care of our children's health should start with taking care of our own. Personally eating a healthy, whole-foods diet is the first step you should take.

Before you implement changes for your children, try them out for yourself. Be your own guinea pig! Our children look to us as an example and when they see us reaching for good food choices they will do the same. If you have a pattern of not eating those foods, it may take some time, but it will come.

Mahatma Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." Let's make it real simple and be the change you want to see in your family.

Start taking care of yourself with a good diet and exercise. Take baby steps if you need to, but commit to at least one new dietary upgrade today. Then commit to another when you are ready. Go at the pace you need to, just really commit to doing it. When you are functioning at your highest level you will have the energy, clarity, mental attitude, and desire to do more.

Besides the obvious good diet and exercise principles, don't forget to take the time to rejuvenate yourself, connect with your spirit and focus on self care habits. Everything you do impacts your ability to care for your children, and the more you do for yourself, the more you can do for them.

What have you done for yourself lately? If your answer is not so much, are you ready to start taking care of yourself a bit more? Pick one area to focus on and make a true commitment to yourself. Your family will thank you!

Are you already well-practiced in the fine art of self care while raising a special needs child? Do you have any tips and ideas to share about what helps you? I'd love to hear from you about what you need more help with or about works for you.

Kamis, 05 Januari 2012

6 Benefits of Exercise for Children With ADHD and Autism

A special diet is critically important for children with autism and ADHD to promote a healthy digestive system and heal the gut. But it is only one part of the puzzle.

Exercise is just as important and the following reasons explain how it can help your child:

1. Immune System - The more active children are, the stronger their immune system. They will have fewer colds, allergies, and other diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes. A stronger immune system will help our children with autism and ADHD recover more quickly from leaky gut issues and strengthen the effects of a healthy diet.

2. Stress Reduction - Regular exercise reduces the amount of stress hormones in the body. Children with autism and ADHD live with a greater amount of stress because they must constantly adapt and fit into a world not set up for their needs. Exercise will help decrease the buildup of stress hormones and their negative effects on the body.

3. Hyperactivity and Energy Release - When kids are wound up and have difficulty staying calm, a round of exercise is often the perfect solution. Before sitting to do homework or study, have your child do something physical to release any pent up energy. Request exercise or movement breaks for your child during school if your child struggles with sitting still in class. Be sure that the teacher does not take away recess time as a classroom consequence!

4. Brainpower - Exercise increases the transport of oxygen and nutrients to the brain due to increased blood flow throughout the body. This literally means you can think quicker, with increased focus and concentration. The brain functions optimally with regular exercise.

5. Sleep - The more active children are during the day, the more energy they use and the better they will sleep. It will be easier to fall asleep when they are tired out from plenty of exercise.

6. Mood - Hormones called endorphins give us a "feel good" feeling and are associated with happy, positive emotions. Exercise is known to increase the amount of endorphins in the body and contribute to better moods and emotions.

Neurotransmitters like serotonin are also increased due to exercise. These chemicals act as messengers that transmit signals between brain cells. Low serotonin levels are associated with depression and increased levels maintain calm moods and are known to aid in sleep and learning.

Interestingly, only a very small amount of serotonin is present in the brain. 90% of the serotonin in our bodies is found within the intestines! This is part of what is known as the gut-brain connection and a key to why a healthy digestive system is so important for a properly functioning neurological condition.

Rabu, 04 Januari 2012

A Detailed Insight On Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment

With an increased number of children being diagnosed with Autism across the world, the medical researchers and doctors thrive harder to figure out the factor that actually triggers autism and how the symptoms vary from individual to individual. The medical research teams and psychologists all over the world have also been striving hard to find helpful trends or remedies to autistic disorders. Although their continual effort is yet to find a definite remedy and permanent cure to autistic conditions, a section of medical researchers have stressed that hyperbaric treatment can bring distinct improvements in of the Autistic conditions.

Autism is a neurological disorder which is usually detected a child's first three years. This disorder can severely damage the normal development of a child's brain and reveal signs of abnormal patterns of behavior such as repeating names, flapping hands, continual rotation of heads etc. Social interaction and verbal communication capability is drastically low within Autistic children and they are even prone to causing injury to themselves or others. Although psychotropic medication and dietary changes were implemented to cure autism, these did not bring any overwhelming result.

Studies have revealed that drastic improvements have been seen within an Autistic child post twenty hyperbaric therapy sessions. There have been improvements in the social communication skills, attention span, language and vocabulary, healthy appetite, as well as improved immune system.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy includes a specialized procedure of pouring in pure oxygen into a patient's body at a higher atmospheric pressure inside a pressurized chamber called hyperbaric chamber. Generally, a patient needs to undergo 40 initial treatments, but research suggests that 20%-25% of Autistic children start showing improvements after the first twenty sessions. Each therapy session lasts for an hour, and the patients need to undergo the therapy once or twice per day.

As a matter of fact, the hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been in use since a long time. Initially, hyperbaric oxygen therapy was used by sea divers and mountaineers to treat altitude sickness. However, with comprehensive research and advancements in medical field, hyperbaric oxygen treatment is used in treating other disorders and ailments such as carbon-mono-oxide poisoning, Lyme disease, insomnia, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, brain stroke and other internal injuries in the head.

How HBOT Therapy Helps?

Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy can bring impressive results and improve the Autistic conditions. Following are some of the benefits of HBOT treatment-

• HBOT improves the functioning of the mitochondria cells
• The therapy sessions increase the blood flow into the main areas of the brain which have low flow of oxygen
• Repair the barrier that obstructs the blood flow into the brain
• The therapy helps stabilize the cell membranes
• It reduces the oxidative stress
• It improves neurotransmitter abnormalities
• Helps create new blood vessels
• Reduces the swelling of inflamed tissues in the brain

Medical faculties and research institutes are yet to unanimously agree on the effectiveness of hyperbaric therapy, but there are certain scientific studies which have deduced significant benefits evolving from Hyperbaric Oxygen treatment.

Selasa, 03 Januari 2012

Tips to Accepting the Cultural Differences of the (Aspergers) Person You Are Dating

Have you ever tried to climb up a slide via the slide instead of via the ladder?

That's what trying to date either an Aspie (someone on the autism spectrum) or a Nypical (a neurotypical individual not on the autism spectrum) without a knowledge of culture is like.

Here is the definition of culture from Dictionary.Com.

I've borrowed the specific shades of meaning most appropriate to dating:

a) a particular form or stage of civilization
b) the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group

There are many flavors of culture on the dating menu. More and more, the world has become a tapestry of diversity in terms of people's culture.

Thankfully, Aspie culture is becoming more and more recognized and embraced as yet another beautiful expression of humanity.

If You Become a Cultural Anthropologist, You'll Succeed In Appreciating Your Girlfriend/Boyfriend

If You are a Nypical, Learn About Aspergers. Here are some tips:

Go to forums, like WrongPlanet.Net. Read different threads to better understand Aspies' challenges, joys, despairs, and ways of thinking.

Check out Tony Attwood's Complete Guide to Aspergers Sydnrome. Dr. Attwood's book has been heralded as one of the most important resources for Aspies after they discover their diagnosis.

Consider joining a local autism or Asperger's chapter/group in your area. You'll learn a lot from Aspies and their friends and families.

Don't assume that all Asperger's traits apply to your partner. Your partner is on the autism spectrum. Spectrum means varied and different. While some of the characteristics are common, there may be many that don't apply.

Recognize that it takes time. You can't expect to feel comfortable in Thailand as an American until at least five years of living immersed in the culture. That's a long time. So be patient, and enjoy the journey of getting to know that person you are dating.

Read Dr. Cindy Ariel's book, Loving Someone With Asperger's Sydnrome: Understanding and Connecting With Your Partner
If you are an Aspie, Learn About Nypicals

Nypicals are also on a spectrum. What is normal? I don't think it exists. Your boyfriend/girlfriend has his own specific hardwiring: a generalized brain. S/he may have other mental health conditions.

Pay attention to his or her interests, values, cultural upbringing, family.

Remember that you have social blindness and difficulty seeing things from others' point of view. It does not mean that you are uncaring or insensitive. But your dating partner could view you that way. I strongly recommend you check out Michelle Winner Garcia's Social Thinking website (socialthinking.com) to learn more

Pretend that you are a Nypcial. In other words, learn about Aspergers Syndrome. You may not be aware of all the strengths and weaknesses you have. I recommend that you read John Elder Robinson's books: Look Me In the Eye, and Be Different.

Appreciate that Nypcials' way of seeing the world and doing things is as different as yours. Not better, not worse. Just different.
Final Words: Culture Shock

According to Wikipedia, culture shock is the personal disorientation a person may feel when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life due to immigration or a visit to a new county, or to a move between social environments.

A person visiting the new culture goes through a honeymoon phase, when everything that's different is wonderful to him/her. But then the negotiation sets in, taking up to three months. Differences between the visitor's culture and the environment around her/him emerge, creating anxiety and discomfort, particularly in the area of communication. During the adjustment phase that follows (6-12 months), the visitor develops routines, understanding, and a basic level of comfort with the different cultural environment. Finally, during the mastery phase (up to 5 years), the visitor becomes very comfortable with the new culture. This doesn't mean the visitor loses his/her cultural identity; it just means that s/he is able to navigate comfortably in both his/her own and the others' cultural environment.

The adjustment phase is crucial. And I would say the same of your dating relationship. According to Wikipedia, these are the possible outcomes during the Adjustment Phase:

Some people find it impossible to accept the foreign culture and integrate. They isolate themselves from the host country's environment, which they come to perceive as hostile, withdraw into a "ghetto" and see return to their own culture as the only way out. These "Rejectors" also have the greatest problems re-integrating back home after return.

Some people integrate fully and take on all parts of the host culture while losing their original identity. They normally remain in the host country forever. This group is sometimes known as "Adopters".

Some people manage to adapt to the aspects of the host culture they see as positive, while keeping some of their own and creating their unique blend. They have no major problems returning home or relocating elsewhere. This group can be thought to be somewhat cosmopolitan.
Which outcome will you choose for your relationship? It's up to you.

Senin, 02 Januari 2012

Problems With Sleep? How Melatonin Helped Us Overcome Sleeping Difficulties

Melatonin - what does it do?

The hormone melatonin is found naturally in the human body and it is used to manage sleep. A number of people have found melatonin nutritional supplements to be useful in getting to sleep, especially those who cannot produce sufficient quantities of melatonin naturally. The human body creates melatonin during times of darkness. So as the sun sets, or as lights in a room are dimmed, this unique hormone starts to help you feel sleepy. Some people may have problems producing enough of it and may encounter sleep issues. This is where melatonin supplements could be helpful.

Is it safe?

In a number of countries, Melatonin has either not been evaluated by national food and drug bodies or it's considered as a food supplement rather than a drug. Wherever it has been assessed, it's been found to be relatively safe whenever used properly. It might seem like practical sense, but you should not take melatonin when driving a car or working with mechanical equipment. If a lady is currently pregnant, it might also be unwise to take a melatonin supplement. Quite a few suppliers might not offer any advice in relation to giving to a child, so you should always talk to a medical doctor or pharmacist first. Supplementation by melatonin is for the purpose of aiding the body's normal way of causing you to sleep, rather than a medicine that's making the body to do something it was not made to do. It is always essential to eat healthily and exercise and carry out all of the generally suggested things you require to undertake to get to sleep. Supplementation with melatonin can in some circumstances benefit some individuals with problems with sleep, however for people that do not have a problem creating melatonin, it is unlikely to make any difference. Additionally it is probably not going to be useful to individuals who continue by having an harmful lifestyle.

Personal Experience

When our oldest son was a baby, we had a lot of trouble getting him to sleep. Every night since he was born, he would wake up crying every 20 minutes or so, and took ages to get to sleep. As you can imagine, both my wife and I were exhausted and got no answers from doctors. Everything was investigated, from reflux to croup, but it wasn't until our son was diagnosed with autism, that things began to fall into place. We discovered that many children with autism and other learning difficulties have trouble getting to sleep. Over time, his sleeping got better, but he would still have great difficulty getting off to sleep in the first place, often lying awake in his bed for hours. We read about the use of melatonin supplements and how some children don't produce enough melatonin. I also had always had problems getting off to sleep, so I tried it out on myself first over a couple of weeks, and found it made a great difference and no side effects. We then tried out a low does with out son and made such a difference. He takes his melatonin about half an hour before going to bed, and on going to bed can be asleep within 20 minutes. When we run out of supplements, we really notice a difference. We couldn't be without it now.

Minggu, 01 Januari 2012

Treatment And Therapies For Autism Spectrum Disorder

Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder can vary from person to person and the typical behaviors often change over time. These result in Autism treatment strategies being tailored to meet the individual needs. However, for treating children with autism, highly structured and specialized treatments and therapy sessions are conducted so as to improve their social, behavioral, communication, adaptive, and learning skills. Diagnosing autistic behaviors and patterns within the children in the early stages can help them to overcome all the deficiencies and reach their full potential.

The primary goal of different kinds of autism treatment is to improve the overall ability of the child. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) the following strategies can help an Autistic child to reach his/her potential to the fullest.

Behavioral training programs and therapies- Through behavioral therapies that use self-help, positive reinforcement, and social skills training the behavior and communication of the children can be improved. Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), Sensory Integration and Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH) are some of the branches of the behavioral training program.

Specialized therapies- Specialized therapies include speech, physical and occupational therapy. These specialized therapies are considered as some of the most important components of treating autism and medical faculties seek to integrate these in a child's treatment program. Speech therapy tends to improve the social and the language skills of the child, enabling him/her to communicate more effectively. Physical therapy and Occupational therapy help improve the deficiencies of coordination and motor skills and also help the child learn to process information in a manageable way, through various senses such as sound, sight, touch, hearing, and smell.

Medicines- Medicines are used to treat problem behaviors and related conditions such as anxiety, depression, OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorders) and hyperactivity. Autistic children might often suffer from insomnia (lack of sleep) and a routine schedule is set for their bedtime and the time to get up. Doctors might try medicines to treat insomnia; however, it is the last resort.

Some of the medical faculties and experts have referred alternative therapies such as auditory integration training and secretin. Another specialized Autism treatment method conditions that is still a topic of debate within the medical faculties is the role of hyperbaric oxygen therapy and its role in improving autistic conditions. Although some studies proved the effectiveness of the HBOT sessions in improving the autistic conditions, the medical faculties have not yet unanimously agreed on its role.