The first year of a child’s life is normally a non-stop daily or weekly celebration of “firsts” – first smile, first crawl, first steps, first words…first full night’s sleep (with any luck). But what if your baby doesn’t seem to be reaching these milestones? Every child is different, and meets these milestones at different times, so when should parents start…
Regular exercise is essential to good health, but did you know it can help a person with autism self-regulate and manage stress? Coach Dave Geslak has created exercise programs for people on the autism spectrum using structure and visual supports.
I have talked with many parents who, like me, have placed their autistic child on a special diet eliminating mainly dairy products and gluten. The elimination of dairy and gluten from the diet is also known as the GF/CF diet.
If you have a child who is newly diagnosed with autism, or are thinking of starting a new therapy program for a child with ASD, I highly recommend reading the article, What Kinds of Therapies Actually Help Autistic Kids? by Shannon Des Roches Rosa. The learning curve for therapies to help your child with ASD can be daunting. Not every…
A topic that is getting a lot of coverage in the news this past year is the discovery that autism research may have gender-skewed results leading to high functioning girls on the spectrum going undiagnosed. The main reason for this discrepancy is that girls and women haven’t been represented sufficiently in scientific study, and so the diagnostic benchmarks have been set by boys, and then assumed to be the same for girls. This assumption has been dramatically questioned in the past year through research that began to look at the brain development of boys and girls on the spectrum separately. Below are the three main ways that girls with autism have slipped through the cracks, and gone undiagnosed.
A new study from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden recently published in The British Journal of Psychiatry, revealed that the risk of premature death is about 2.5 times higher for people with autism spectrum disorder than for the rest of the population. The mean age of death for someone with autism is 54 compared with 70 for the general population. For…
I’ve written about the difficulties I have had getting my own children to recognize and use washrooms that are not the ones from our home. It can be a real challenge for a child with autism because there is a tendency to represent, understand, and remember things in an extremely specific way. This tendency towards specific or inflexible learning is…
Historically children with developmental disabilities were excluded from pain research, but this past month a new (as yet unpublished) study showed conclusively that people with autism exhibit abnormal brain responses when a painfully hot object is placed against their skin. The brain’s response to pain has three phases – early, intermediate and late. In an experiment with 17 people with autism and 16 people without, a small piece of metal was taped to the skin and heated to the point of causing discomfort/pain but not injury. The people without autism were still responding to the pain ten seconds after it stopped, but the people with autism had no brain response after the ten seconds.
I am an avid reader of Judy Endow’s blog because she highlights issues that many of us are not even aware of. Her recent post about the differences in self-advocacy if you are poor or middle income was eye-opening.
Judy has been both poor and middle income as an autistic adult and has observed that “self-advocacy is typically geared toward middle-income status. This could be problematic since many autistic adults live in poverty.”
Many of us have had uncomfortable moments when a person with autism “acts out” or does something inappropriate. Sometimes these behaviours can be aggressive and downright scary for a parent or caregiver. While it might be easier to imagine that prescribing a drug could minimize these events or make them stop altogether, new research out of the UK suggests that many people with intellectual disabilities are overprescribed medications in an effort to treat problem behaviours such as aggression and self-injury, despite there being little evidence of any benefit from these medications.
A good night’s sleep is important. Without it, children can be irritable, struggle with academics, engage in more repetitive behaviours, become easily fatigued, and are more likely to suffer from unintentional injury. Over the long term, poor sleep can lead to adult obesity, anxiety in adulthood, and sleep problems throughout adulthood.
researchers now recommend a place where everything is under one umbrella, where a team of experts can wrap around the child. This can happen in a hospital setting, agency or center. The concept of wraparound services also extends into independent living for adults on the spectrum. As adults leave their parental home, they will need support for medical and dental needs, recreation, employment, nutrition, and daily living skills. How do we best meet these needs simply and under one roof?
A new study, published this May in Autism Research, suggests that medical conditions like seizures, sleep disorders and gastrointestinal problems may be connected to behavioural issues in children with autism. The medical profession has a tendency to focus on symptoms rather than investigating possible underlying causes.
Many individuals with autism enjoy using tech devices such as tablets and the iPhone, but a new study shows that their use at night can cause sleep disturbances due to reduced levels of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that typically increases in the evening and helps induce sleepiness.
We’ve known for some time that interaction with dogs can have a positive effect on those with autism and other disabilities. Horses are now being recognized for their psychological benefits by a growing numbers of therapists who work with autistic children. Scientists have found levels of oxytocin, the hormone which promotes social interaction and increases bonding and empathy, increase when interacting with horses and dogs.