Theres No Need To Tag Us In Every Facebook Article About Autism
Parents of children on the Autism Spectrum are research junkies, and do their best to stay up-to-date with each and every advancement in the autism community. Certainly, they know more than the average person. As one parent put it, Theres literally no Facebook article we havent seen. So, before you share it and tag us because were that friend with the child with autism, take that into account.
Prenatal Factors That May Contribute To Autism
Taking antidepressants during pregnancy, especially in the first 3 months.
Nutritional deficiencies early in pregnancy, particularly not getting enough folic acid.
The age of the mother and father
Complications at or shortly after birth, including very low birth weight and neonatal anemia
Maternal infections during pregnancy.
Exposure to chemical pollutants, such as metals and pesticides, while pregnant.
More research on these prenatal risk factors is needed, but if youre pregnant or trying to conceive, it cant hurt to take steps now to reduce your babys risk of autism.
Reducing the risk of autism: Tips for expectant mothers
Take a multivitamin. Taking 400 micrograms of folic acid daily helps prevent birth defects such as spina bifida. Its not clear whether this will also help reduce risk of autism, but taking the vitamins cant hurt.
Ask about SSRIs. Women who are taking an SSRI should talk with a clinician about all the risks and benefits of these drugs. Untreated depression in a mother can also affect her childs well-being later on, so this is not a simple decision to make.
Practice prenatal care. Eating nutritious food, trying to avoid infections, and seeing a clinician for regular check-ups can increase the chances of giving birth to a healthy child.
Source: Harvard Health Publications
My Autistic Child Is Not Trying To Be Difficult
As one parent stated about her autistic son on the popular website Baby Gaga, He isnt giving us a hard time. Hes having a hard time. No child on the Autism Spectrum is trying to behave badly when they experience a meltdown. The biology of autism is complicated and extensive, and much of it cannot even be tested for medically. Children on the Autism Spectrum have trouble with their methylation pathways. Their intestinal tracts do not absorb nutrients well. This impairs their immune system and guts, which then leads to issues in the brain. Because the brain and body of an autistic child do not always work as one, they have to express their pain and frustration in the form of things like meltdowns.
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Theme : Intersections Of Being Deaf And Being Autistic In Everyday Life
We were keen to explore with parents how they viewed the relative influences of autism and deafness on everyday family life. For every family, the experience of deafness with autism was very different. We choose to present the following accounts family by family to reflect some of this diversity and its contextualization.
Autism is a bigger part of the child than deafness
One of the families had more than one deaf child and the child with autism was not the parents first deaf child. This meant that this parents summary about the relationship between autism and deafness is likely to include information gained from previous experience of deaf children. It is notable for its emphasis on the individuality and personality of her particular child with autism.
We have always felt that is more autistic than hearing impaired, if that makes any sense. His autism is more of him than his hearing impairment.
She did not regard deafness as irrelevant to her child but that being deaf was incidental to his autism:
his autism seems to rule him and I honestly think that if he were hearing, Im not entirely sure there would be an awful lot of difference. I think hes so insular with his autism that the hearing impairment just allows him to be more insular.
Autism affects signed communication and sign language development
Sound stimulation is important in supporting communication and interaction
Sensory stimulation is vital deafness might interfere
Deafness is not considered
How To Find Help
Autism affects each child differently, and the medical community is still looking for ways to understand this disorder. If you suspect your childs hearing is affected by their autism spectrum diagnosis, work with your family doctor and hearing healthcare professional to find specialists who can provide options and treatments for the best outcome.
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Break Out Your Sensory Toolkit
Keep a few sensory tools or toys in your car or bag. You can offer these to your kid when their mind is overwhelmed.
Kids have different favorites, but some common sensory tools include weighted lap pads, noise-cancelling headphones, sunglasses, and fidget toys.
Dont force these on your child when theyre melting down, but if they choose to use them, these products can often help them calm down.
Does My Child Have A Hearing Loss
Many children with mild or progressive deafness seem to manage extremely well. Their speech and language development is normal in the early years and as they get older they do well at school.
Glue ear, although usually temporary, affects a childs ability to hear. Temporary hearing loss can easily be mistaken for stubbornness or being naughty.
Look out for the following signs which may indicate glue ear, mild or progressive deafness.
- Changes in behaviour for example becoming withdrawn or frustrated.
- Red ears in babies and/or pulling at their ears.
- Delayed speech and communication development.
- Mishearing and mispronouncing words.
- Problems with concentrating, tiredness and frustration that affects their behaviour.
- Difficulties with reading and learning.
- Wanting the volume of the TV higher than other members of your family.
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What To Do If Youre Worried
If your child is developmentally delayed, or if youve observed other red flags for autism, schedule an appointment with your pediatrician right away. In fact, its a good idea to have your child screened by a doctor even if he or she is hitting the developmental milestones on schedule. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children receive routine developmental screenings, as well as specific screenings for autism at 9, 18, and 30 months of age.
Schedule an autism screening. A number of specialized screening tools have been developed to identify children at risk for autism. Most of these screening tools are quick and straightforward, consisting of yes-or-no questions or a checklist of symptoms. Your pediatrician should also get your feedback regarding your childs behavior.
What Research Is Being Conducted To Improve Communication In Children With Asd
The federal governments Autism CARES Act of 2014 brought attention to the need to expand research and improve coordination among all of the components of the National Institutes of Health that fund ASD research. These include the National Institute of Mental Health , along with the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders , the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development , the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences , the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke , the National Institute of Nursing Research , and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health .
Together, five institutes within the NIH support the Autism Centers of Excellence , a program of research centers and networks at universities across the country. Here, scientists study a broad range of topics, from basic science investigations that explore the molecular and genetic components of ASD to translational research studies that test new types of behavioral therapies. Some of these studies involve children with ASD who have limited speech and language skills, and could lead to testing new treatments or therapies. You can visit the NIH Clinical Trials website and enter the search term autism for information about current trials, their locations, and who may participate.
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Cochlear Implant In Deaf Children With Autism Can Improve Language Skills And Social Engagement Study Finds
- Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
- Restoring hearing through cochlear implantation for children with autism spectrum disorder can help them understand spoken language and enhance social interactions, according to a new study.
Restoring hearing through cochlear implantation for children with autism spectrum disorder can help them understand spoken language and enhance social interactions, according to a study from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. The study reported long-term outcomes of the largest number of children with ASD who received a cochlear implant, with mean follow-up of 10.5 years. Findings were published in the journal Otology & Neurotology.
“Our results add to the growing body of evidence that cochlear implantation clearly benefits deaf children with autism spectrum disorder,” said senior author Nancy Young, MD, Medical Director of Audiology and Cochlear Implant Programs at Lurie Children’s and a Professor of Pediatric Otolaryngology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Improved hearing provides access to spoken language that may enhance their cognitive and communication potential, as well as help these children engage more with their families.”
Explore the latest scientific research on sleep and dreams in this free online course from New Scientist
What Are The Signs Of Asd In Babies
Diagnosing ASD is challenging. One reason for this is that the condition presents differently in all individuals.
Babies can reach developmental milestones at slightly different ages, even when they do not have any health conditions. However, some developmental differences indicate that a baby may be autistic. These include:
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Theres A Difference Between Forcing Behaviors And Encouraging Independence
Ive learned from experience that trying to force independence is counterintuitive, whether or not your child is autistic.
When we push a child, especially one prone to anxiety and rigidity, their natural instinct is to dig their heels in and hold on tighter.
When we force a child to face their fears, and I mean screaming-on-the-floor petrified, like Whitney Ellenby, the mother who wanted her autistic son to see Elmo, we arent actually helping them.
If I was forced into a room full of spiders, I would probably be able to detach from my brain at some point to cope after about 40 hours of screaming. That doesnt mean I had some kind of breakthrough or success in facing my fears.
I also assume Id store those traumas and theyd invariably be triggered later in my life.
Of course, pushing independence isnt always as extreme as the Elmo scenario or a room full of spiders. All of this pushing falls on a spectrum ranging from encouraging a hesitant child to physically forcing them into a scenario that has their brain screaming danger.
When we let our children get comfortable at their own pace and they finally take that step of their own volition, true confidence and security grows.
That said, I understand where the Elmo mom was coming from. We know our kids would enjoy whatever activity if they would just try it.
We want them to feel joy. We want them to be brave and full of confidence. We want them to fit in because we know what rejection feels like.
Assume Their Perspectives Are Skewed And Unreliable
This is Morgan. Brilliant lad, and I promise Im not just saying that because his brains so similar to mine. You may know him from the Facebook page Planet Morgan Aspie Superhero.
Morgans Asperger Syndrome is, in my opinion, not a significant problem for him. In fact , I think his Aspergers actually just makes him awesome.
Sadly, its his severe anxiety that presents him with his biggest challenge. He no longer attends school because the word alone makes him afraid. And, in a story all too familiar to parents of autistic children, the source of this anxiety was a devastating amount of bullying throughout life at one of his previous schools.
Unfortunately, this bullying was allegedly not addressed effectively.
According to those closest to him, the bullying continued because each incident was seen as Morgan having a skewed perspective. After all, he had an autistic spectrum disorder and didnt see social situations like the rest of the children. Therefore, the attitude was allegedly taken that if all the other children in the class were ok and Morgan was not, it was likely to be his faulty perspective at play.
Lets leave aside the little fact that children with special needs are significantly more likely to suffer from bullying by their peers.
And you know what, lets pretend for a moment that people are correct in saying that autistic people are less reliable.
Even then, the autistic persons anxieties are still real, and they still need to be addressed.
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Make Them Feel Safe And Loved
Sometimes our children are so lost in their emotions that they cant hear us. In these situations, all we need to do is simply sit with or be near them.
Many times, we try to talk them down from their panic, but its often a waste of breath when a child is in the throes of a meltdown.
What we can do is let them know that theyre safe and loved. We do this by staying as near to them as theyre comfortable with.
Ive lost track of the times that Ive witnessed a crying child be told that they can only come out of a secluded space once they stop melting down.
This can send the message to the child that they dont deserve to be around the people that love them when theyre having a hard time. Obviously, this isnt our intended message to our kids.
So, we can show them were there for them by staying close.
Diagnosing Deafness In Autistic People
Diagnosis of deafness in autistic people can be compromised by neuro-atypical cognitive processes, atypical social responses to communication and over-sensitivity to sensory input. Within audiology, those people who report deafness that is not recognised by audiometric testing are referred to as having Non-organic Hearing Loss .
Although little researched, within this subgroup of my clients I have an over-representation of autistic people, who find noise and verbal communication uncomfortable. For some, at times of stress, they can hear noise but the words cease to make sense and for some the audiological mechanisms appear to be able to switch on and off depending on social comfort or discomfort. I also have clients for whom sound is so distressing that they are willing to damage their inner ears in an attempt to find silence.
Diagnosis of hearing loss or deafness in autistic people can be complicated by neurological difference and social difference. For both of these groups of people involving clinicians who have experience of working with deaf people with additional difficulties is crucial.
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Allow The World To Teach Them That Autism Is A Bad Thing
Right from the moment we hear about it, were instructed to believe that autism is A Bad Thing. Thats why people like me get so many messages from worried parents, asking what theyre supposed to do post-diagnosis because they dont know anything about autism.
But their worries reveal that they do know one thing about it: its supposed to be bad.
Speaking as an autistic man, my opinions differ somewhat. But I understand their panic completely. The unknown can be very scary if you feel somethings bad but you dont know why.
Now, non-autistic people seeing only the negatives is counterproductive enough. But imagine the damage that gets done when autistic people themselves are led to believe that their autism makes them deficient.
Heck, combine this point with #1 and talk about how terrible autism is right in front of them, and watch what happens to their self-esteem!
Ill give two examples that struck me greatly. First of all, theres Cadence.
For those who arent aware, and this picture below went sort-of-viral not long ago.
You may have already spotted the most tragic sentence , but Ill quote it anyway:
Grownups always say its hard being mum or dad if your kid is autism.
Looking at their page, it becomes obvious that Mum and Dad are doing a sterling job as parents. But other people- the TV, and perhaps even society itself- have led Cadence to believe that a large part of her personality is A Bad Thing. Which is absolutely not fair.
No I Dont Just Need To Discipline My Child More
Meltdowns are not tantrums. They are not the result of a lack of discipline on the part of the parent. Children on the Autism Spectrum have sensory issues. One child may be a sensory avoider, while another is a sensory seeker. And kids with sensory issues do not respond well to physical punishment. Spanking, time out, and yelling are not usually effective tools of discipline for a child with autism. Rather, parents of children on the Autism Spectrum rely on routine and repeated exposure to teach their autistic children rules and boundaries.
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Sound Sensitivity In Children With Autism
Because of the difficulties processing sound, children with autism may be sensitive to certain sounds, known as hyperacusis . At the same time, they may have hearing loss in other ranges . This can make it tough to parse out if issues are stemming from hearing loss, or not.
Setting The Stage For Therapy
Each therapy session can be thought of as a dynamic assessment. We are constantly assessing skills, and our goal is to determine the rate of growth in auditory and communication skills. First and foremost, consider the logistics of setting up your session. Can you establish a therapy routine that is supported by visuals? Remember that many children who have an additional ASD diagnosis are very driven by routines and rituals. If they know what to expect and can predict what will happen during therapy, it can help decrease some of those behaviors associated with the stress of not having control or understanding what is happening.
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