Going Forward Achieving Better Outcomes For All
The World Health Organization declares that the highest attainable standard of health is a fundamental right for all human beings. Leaving aside entirely the idea of a cure for autism, people with autism deserve much better health care and health research than they currently enjoy.
By adequately identifying and addressing medical issues associated with autism, a wide range of individuals challenges and difficulties can potentially be reduced, including anxiety, impulsivity, headaches, poor sleep, depression, aggression, self-injury, obsessive and compulsive behaviours, gastrointestinal problems to name a few.
No one should be expected to suffer a lower standard of health simply because of an autism diagnosis, yet diagnostic overshadowingattributing medical symptoms and conditions to the diagnosis of autism and therefore not offering appropriate investigation or treatmentis widespread.
If an individuals experience of autism does not involve health problems that result in suffering, and if the symptoms of autism are not perceived to be an impediment to happiness, independence, success, an enjoyable social and personal life, and to being in control of their lives, then there would no reason to seek intervention. However, for the majority of those diagnosed with autism, there is sufficient suffering and serious disability to rightfully deserve thorough investigation and appropriate intervention.
What If There Was A Cure For Autism
Last week, someone named Brian sent me the following message:
Lets say the medical community announced they have a cure for autism.
Its a 15-second shot in the arm. It has no side effects, and twenty minutes after your son receives it, poof! He would turn into a perfectly normal boy.
Would you give him the shot?
When I first read it, my mind went blank, like an empty sheet of paper. Im serious. I couldnt come up with an answer. But over the next few days I thought more and more about it.
Would I change my 12-year old son Jack and take away his autism?
Would I take away his rigidity and anxiety and impaired speech, and replace him with a boy who loves soccer and gets really good grades in a regular public school and doesnt need to take medicine to sleep at night?
Yes. I think so. Yes.
I dont know.
Its a good questionone that makes me examine my heart and my soul and my purpose and my future.
The truth is, my life would be a lot easier without autism.
I would never have to go to another IEP meeting.
I could walk right by the Melatonin in Walgreens.
I could forget about the time Jack marched into our neighbors house and shouted, My mother. Would NEVER. Let us keep it so messy. Like you.
I promise you, if this hypothetical shot was available at that very moment, I would have poked him in the arm myself. For real.
He looked at me blankly, and started right up again.
Ring around the rosy, pocket full of posies.
Ja-ack! Come on! Time to get up.
Communicate With Your Team
Communicating with the doctor, therapist, teachers, and other healthcare providers can help make your daily tasks a lot easier.
For parents, this can mean asking for suggestions to continue practicing the skills your child is learning in therapy, which makes it easier for them to be more successful.
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What Should Parents Do
There are a number of evidence based treatments for autism. Research the options that are available in your area and decide which aligns with your beliefs and goals. Applied Behaviour Analysis has the most research backing its effectiveness for autistic children. There is also Speech Therapy that can be essential for autistic kids as well as Occupational Therapy. There is a lot of overlap between the disciplines. Sometimes your childs needs can be addressed by the ABA team alone, but sometimes the expertise of a specialist is required. Any therapy team you work with should be open to collaboration with other disciplines that provide evidence based therapy.
Behavior And Communication Approaches
According to reports by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Research Council, behavior and communication approaches that help children with ASD are those that provide structure, direction, and organization for the child in addition to family participation .
Applied Behavior Analysis A notable treatment approach for people with ASD is called applied behavior analysis . ABA has become widely accepted among healthcare professionals and used in many schools and treatment clinics. ABA encourages positive behaviors and discourages negative behaviors to improve a variety of skills. The childs progress is tracked and measured.
There are different types of ABA. Here are some examples:
- Discrete Trial Training DTT is a style of teaching that uses a series of trials to teach each step of a desired behavior or response. Lessons are broken down into their simplest parts, and positive reinforcement is used to reward correct answers and behaviors. Incorrect answers are ignored.
- Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention This is a type of ABA for very young children with ASD, usually younger than 5 and often younger than 3. EIBI uses a highly structured teaching approach to build positive behaviors and reduce unwanted behaviors . EIBI takes place in a one-on-one adult-to-child environment under the supervision of a trained professional.
- Early Start Denver Model
There are other therapies that can be part of a complete treatment program for a child with ASD:
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What Are The Signs Of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Signs of ASD range from mild to severely disabling, and every person is different. The following signs are considered to be red flags that indicate your young child may be at risk for autism. If your child shows any of the following signs, please get in touch with your childs healthcare provider to discuss a referral for an autism evaluation.
The signs include the following:
- Your child doesnt respond to their name being called at all or responds inconsistently.
- Your child doesnt smile widely or make warm, joyful expressions by the age of 6 months.
- Your child doesnt engage in smiling, making sounds and making faces with you or other people by the age of 9 months.
- Your child doesnt babble by 12 months.
- No back-and-forth gestures such as showing, pointing, reaching or waving by 12 months.
- No words by 16 months.
- No meaningful, two-word phrases by 24 months.
- Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age.
Fda Cracks Down On False Claims
The Food and Drug Administration has warned and/or taken action against a number of companies that have made improper claims about their products intended use as a treatment or cure for autism or autism-related symptoms. Some of these so-called therapies carry significant health risks. For example,
FDA some quick tips to help you identify false or misleading claims.
- Be suspicious of products that claim to treat a wide range of diseases.
- Personal testimonials are no substitute for scientific evidence.
- Few diseases or conditions can be treated quickly, so be suspicious of any therapy claimed as a quick fix.
- So-called miracle cures, which claim scientific breakthroughs or contain secret ingredients, are likely a hoax.
If you have a question about treatment, talk to a health care provider who specializes in caring for people with ASD.
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There Are Likely To Be Many Types Of Autism Or Autisms
There is growing scientific evidence that autism is a highly complex and highly heterogeneous disorder, and that we should be speaking of autisms rather than one single autism. This means that the causes, the underlying biology that results in the surface symptoms of autism, will differ from individual to individual.
Just as there will never be ONE cure for all types of cancer, there will almost certainly never be ONE cure, or treatment, for all types of autism.
A good example of this is that there are now several known congenital disorders with extremely high prevalence of autism children with Congenital Heart Disease , Tuberous Sclerosis Complex , Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy , Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome all suffer much higher rates of autism than healthy children.
The underlying biological pathways that lead to the emergence of autism in those disorders are likely very different, and so one would not expect ONE single treatment to lead to a reduction in autism symptoms across all those disorders.
For example, while everolimus treatment has been observed to ameliorate core autism symptoms in children with TSC , it would not be expected to have the same effect on autism symptoms in children with the other congenital disorders.
When it comes to idiopathic autism, meaning all individual cases of autism for whom there has been no investigation of underlying causes, it is to be expected that once those causes are uncovered they will likely be very different and varied.
Speech And Communication Problems
At Therapeutic Pathways, we use the most recent and research-based findings in speech and language pathology in each childs treatment plan. Our speech, language and communication goals are integrated into our comprehensive Applied Behavior Analysis treatment plan to help children develop the skills they need to communicate their thoughts, feelings, and needs.
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Benefits Heal Autism Naturally
With the correct and natural treatment, one can get significant improvement in a patient with autism. Benefits of biological therapy include but not limited to-
- Behavior improvement
Dr. Gautier has developed the natural treatment method, and to help the parents understand the condition of the child with autism, he has created several educational videos on how to heal autism naturally. Apart from that, he has also produced four special modules through which one can get the best results and take the instructions for a systematic approach to the treatment of autism. Every module is designed to teach parents to go smoothly with the therapy and benchmark the regular improvement in the kids.
We Dont Know What A Cure For Autism Would Look Like In A Person
What is a cure for autism? A person could be diagnosed with autism for being in a high percentile for each of the two diagnostic traits would a cure mean bringing those traits below the 95th percentile? The 70th? All the way to the median? You could perhaps say it means changing the persons brain so that they are permanently no longer negatively affected by their autistic traits, no matter their environment.
I would define a cure for autism as some medical intervention given to an autistic person that permanently changes their brain so that they no longer possess the underlying inclinations that led to diagnosable behaviours. For example, a previously autistic individual would no longer feel the desire to stim, rather than simply forcing themselves to suppress it .
It is difficult to imagine how the adult brain could be changed so drastically, so the cure would have to be administered in early childhood or potentially in utero as a prevention. Other preventions may include selectively aborting or choosing not to implant embryos with genetics indicating likely autism .
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Behavior And Communication Treatments
Applied Behavior Analysis . ABA is often used in schools and clinics to help your child learn positive behaviors and reduce negative ones. This approach can be used to improve a wide range of skills, and there are different types for different situations, including:
- Discrete trial training uses simple lessons and positive reinforcement.
- Pivotal response training helps develop motivation to learn and communicate.
- Early intensive behavioral intervention is best for children under age 5.
- Verbal behavior intervention focuses on language skills.
Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship-Based Approach . This kind of treatment is better known as Floortime. Thatâs because it involves you getting on the floor with your child to play and do the activities they like.
Itâs meant to support emotional and intellectual growth by helping them learn skills around communication and emotions.
Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication-handicapped Children . This treatment uses visual cues such as picture cards to help your child learn everyday skills like getting dressed. Information is broken down into small steps so they can learn it more easily.
The Picture Exchange Communication System . This is another visual-based treatment, but it uses symbols instead of picture cards. Your child learns to ask questions and communicate through special symbols.
Measuring The Activity Of Dopaminergic Neurons
The work was done through a multi-institution collaboration co-led at Boston Childrens Hospital by Mustafa Sahin, MD, PhD, director of the Rosamund Stone Zander Translational Neuroscience Center and the Translational Research Program, and Christopher Walsh, MD, PhD, chief of the Division of Genetics and Genomics. Walsh was among the researchers who first discovered the association between 16p11.2 and ASD in 2008.
The team devised a way of differentiating induced pluripotent stem cells created from patients own cells and bearing 16p11.2 copy number variations into dopaminergic neurons. The investigators then studied how neurons missing the 16p11.2 region behaved in a dish.
One advantage of making human stem-cell-derived neuronal cultures is that you can do drug testing very easily by measuring the activity of those cells, explains first author Maria Sundberg, PhD, of the Sahin laboratory.
Their experiments involved probing the network activity of the derived dopaminergic neurons with more than 1,000 sensors at once. This allowed the team to observe how individual cells fired and then formed a cluster of signals that spread throughout the neuronal network in the dish.
We discovered that dopaminergic neurons that are missing this 16p11.2 region were hyperactive compared to the control cells, says Sahin.
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What Are Some Common Signs Of Asd
Even as infants, children with ASD may seem different, especially when compared to other children their own age. They may become overly focused on certain objects, rarely make eye contact, and fail to engage in typical babbling with their parents. In other cases, children may develop normally until the second or even third year of life, but then start to withdraw and become indifferent to social engagement.
The severity of ASD can vary greatly and is based on the degree to which social communication, insistence of sameness of activities and surroundings, and repetitive patterns of behavior affect the daily functioning of the individual.
Social impairment and communication difficultiesMany people with ASD find social interactions difficult. The mutual give-and-take nature of typical communication and interaction is often particularly challenging. Children with ASD may fail to respond to their names, avoid eye contact with other people, and only interact with others to achieve specific goals. Often children with ASD do not understand how to play or engage with other children and may prefer to be alone. People with ASD may find it difficult to understand other peoples feelings or talk about their own feelings.
What Is The Difference Between Autism And Autism Spectrum Disorder
The term autism was changed to autism spectrum disorder in 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association. ASD is now an umbrella term that covers the following conditions:
- Autistic disorder.
- Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified .
- Asperger syndrome.
People with ASD have trouble with social interactions and with interpreting and using non-verbal and verbal communication in social contexts. Individuals with ASD may also have the following difficulties:
- Inflexible interests.
- Insistence on sameness in environment or routine.
- Repetitive motor and sensory behaviors, like flapping arms or rocking.
- Increased or decreased reactions to sensory stimuli.
How well someone with ASD can function in day-to-day life depends on the severity of their symptoms. Given that autism varies widely in severity and everyday impairment, the symptoms of some people arent always easily recognized.
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If Autism Doesnt Need A Cure Why Do Therapy At All
There are some behaviours that are harmful to the person or their environment. If we believe that all children deserve a safe and fulfilling life, then we should do our best to help them achieve this. One of the core features of autism is difficulty with communication. Each child should have a reliable way of communicating their needs. We must do what we can to empower them to communicate in any way they can. This might look like vocal speech for some children or sign language for others. When we accept the childs neurodiversity we open up our beliefs about how they should be. By broadening our beliefs, were making the world more accessible to them.
One time that it is important to intervene is if the child in engaging in dangerous behaviours. Behaviours such as aggression, self-injury and property destruction can all have very serious outcomes. The best intervention for these behaviours is to do a functional analysis and determine the function of the challenging behaviour. Once the function has been determined, a replacement behaviour can be chosen and taught.
Autism doesnt need a cure but our goal should be to improve the childs quality of life. What that looks like will be different for each person.
How To Make Autism Therapy At Home A Success
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Have you considered trying autism therapy at home? These days with the pandemic and other restrictions, autism therapy at home is becoming more and more popular. However, it can be challenging to make it work. Here are my tips based on my experiences as a child who had a mother who did a lot of autism therapy at home.
First, focus on getting trained as a parent. While many therapists offer virtual therapy, it can be challenging for the child to really benefit from this. However, many therapists can successfully train parents to do the therapy with their child at home. Personally there was no internet when I was a child and undergoing therapy, however, I remember doing a lot of at home therapy with my mom. She spent a lot of time reading books, attending workshops and learning how to help me at home. This is still a great idea even with the internet.
Second, get really clear on what kinds of therapy your child needs and whether or not you can realistically do this therapy at home. For example floor time and brain gym can be done easily at home, however, ABA may be more difficult.
Fourth, make sure to supplement with help from a professional therapist. Doing all your childs therapy at home is not a good idea. You want to at least take your child for in person therapy at least some of the time, while using at home therapy to supplement the in person experience.
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