Our Children’s ART

Spinning Rainbows

Art therapy is a something our children enjoy. It’s not about professional skills development but about developing social skills using this non-verbal method. Through the colors, paint, and shapes, children and adults can express themselves and can translate their feelings from … Continue reading

MSG-Free Diets for Autistic Children

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Dr. Reid studied the influence of products with MSG on her daughter’s autism symptoms and found that glutamate was responsible for transmitting signals between neurons and other cells, which aggravated autism symptoms. Continue reading

Shema Kolainu’s Small Miracles: Meet Yaakov

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With Yaakov (age 6), our activity schedule strengthened his independent play skills. Continue reading

Film Raises Questions on Autism in Adulthood

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To this day, many still do not understand the nature of autism and our culture still does not have a solid solution for autistic children after their parents die. Continue reading

Potential Autism Therapy – Probiotics

Potential Autism Therapy - Probiotics

In 2012 a Harvard Medical School publication, states, “the brain and the gastrointestinal (GI) system are intimately connected – so intimately that they should be viewed as one system.”

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) based on this connection, performed a study exploring the use of probiotics to alleviate symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and achieved some promising results.

Autism spectrum disorder, commonly known simply as autism is characterized by behaviors such as, lessened social interaction, impaired communication, and sometimes repetitive behaviors, to name a few. Many individuals diagnosed with autism are also found to have gastrointestinal or digestive difficulties.

Caltech biology professor, Sarkis K. Mazmanian, says, “traditional research has studied autism as a genetic disorder and a disorder of the brain, but our work shows that gut bacteria may contribute to ASD-like symptoms in ways that were previously unappreciated. Gut physiology appears to have effects on what are currently presumed to be brain functions.”

The researchers mimicked autism-like symptoms in mice for their experiment by triggering the immune response of pregnant mice via a “viral mimic.” Previous research has shown that there is risk of giving birth to an autistic child when pregnant women experience a severe viral infection. In fact, the offspring born to the mice in whom the immune response was triggered exhibited autism-like behaviors, and also were found to have “leaky” GI tracts.

These mice were treated with an experimental probiotic, Bacteroides fragilis. Results of the treatment showed they displayed improved communication with other mice and their leaky gut remedied, but, they showed lowered anxiety levels and were less likely to perform repetitive digging actions.

A test of the effects of this probiotic on symptoms of human autism is planned. Mazmanian says, “I think our results may someday transform the way people view possible causes and potential treatments for autism.”

Even though the probiotic treatment does not tackle the genetic component of autism, reasearches say it is still a big step into understanding this spectrum disorder. This study provides further evidence of how vital a healthy gut is to other bodily systems, and especially to the brain.

Probiotics are an essential part of a daily routine. A healthy gut boosts your immune system, and as this study shows, it could also be a means to unlocking more secrets of many uncured illnesses.

For more information on diet, please visit http://blog.hear-our-voices.org/category/diet/

Autism Project Looks to Early Detection

A pediatric feeding disorder program at the Marcus Autism Center is currently helping kids like Brandon Dreher, who used to only eat crackers and McDonald’s fries.

Marlaina Dreher, his mother, broke into applause when she finally saw him pick up a red plastic spoon and fed himself pureed lasagna.

The program is a partnership between the center and the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning—it aims to train a small group of state and contract employees to work with day care operators and pre-K providers throughout Georgia to identify the early warning signs of autism and support parents.

Those involved in the effort point to research that shows that symptoms of the autism spectrum disorder, which affects some 1 in 88 children nationwide, can be detected as early as the first two years of life and that early intervention is a key.

“Today, if I get a phone call and someone says they’ve got an 8-year-old who is unable to speak and is in need of our help, I know we can help that child. But we cannot help that child nearly as much as we could have if we got that same phone call when that child was 2,” said Don Mueller, executive director of the Marcus Autism Center. “The associated disabilities of autism are not inevitable. They don’t have to happen in many kids. We can intervene and change the course.”

Recently, a group of 15 state and contract employees who work with child care and pre-K providers gathered at the autism center to begin a yearlong training course. Another group began training in August. To start, each participant will identify at least two day care or pre-K programs to work with. They’ll work with teachers on how to detect red flags, share concerns with parents and develop lesson plans tailored to a child’s needs.

 

Read more: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2013/09/21/georgia-autism-project-looks-to-early-detection

Preparing the Sensory System for Feeding

By: Andrea De Marino

Children who have picky eating issues generally have a lot of anxiety about the feeding process.  Because of this, getting your child to acquire a calm, comfortable state prior to working on feeding issues is essential.  One way to do this is to prepare your child’s nervous system for the feeding process by providing calming input to the sensory systems prior to feeding.  You can do this by having your child participate in deep pressure or heavy work activities.  Different children will respond differently to various types of sensory input so it is helpful to have an occupational therapist to help guide you to figure out which specific techniques are best for your child.  Some simple techniques you can try at home include pushing a weighted laundry basket or box , having your child roll up like a burrito in a large blanket, or have your child complete any household task that requires pushing or pulling (taking the trash out, pushing a vacuum cleaner, or wiping down windows).   These techniques work by providing pressure into the joints or skin , which is usually calming to the nervous system.  After participating in these activities for 10-20 minutes, have your child sit at a table and see if you notice a difference in his or her anxiety level and ability to attend to feeding activities.  Try different techniques on different days to see which ones work best.  Once your child seems happy and calm, you can start thinking about the foods you want to work on.

Andrea is an occupational therapist who earned her Master’s Degree in Health Sciences from the Medical College of Georgia in 2006. She has worked in a variety of therapy settings across the country including hospitals, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation centers, skilled nursing facilities, schools, and several private pediatric clinics.  Her areas of expertise include autism and sensory processing disorder (SPD).  She is passionate about providing humane, effective treatment based on the most current research and treatment practices.  To find out more about Andrea or occupational therapy, visit her website at www.sensorysolutionsinc.com.