One of the most challenging aspects of dealing with ASD is that there is no one solution.
In order to properly care and provide for persons with this disorder, treatment must be given in a multi-faceted manner. Therapists such as the renowned Steven Rudelhoff recognize just how important this is.
This past week, Rudelhoff received a Highly Commended award in the category of Best Complementary Medicine Practitioner. This award is in conjunction with the Institute of Complementary Natural Medicine Awards, held in London England. The reason? His amazing work with integrating aromatherapy massage, sound healing, and energy healing.
Alternative medical treatments are readily available, but the science behind such healing is hotly debated. Though such treatments spark a lot of controversy regarding whether or not they truly address the symptoms of ASD, Rudelhoff is confident that he is making a difference.
“Both caregivers and parents have seen big improvements in the behavioral patterns of my clients,” he said in an interview. “They have become calmer in general and when they need to release stress, it is released more gently. They have become more balanced in every part of their lives and are happier within themselves.”
Clearly, the Institute of Complementary Natural Medicine agrees. To find out more about Rudelhoff’s work, you can check out his website at www.reikiwithrudelhoff.com where you will find his contact info.
Sara Power, Fordham University
Thursday, January 29th, 2015 was a happy day for 10-year-old Ava Bullard and her mother, Anna Bullard. After years of hard work, Senate Bill 1, also know an Ava’s Law, was approved in an unanimous decision requiring insurance companies to provide evidence driven treatment that’s been shown to help children with autism spectrum disorder.
At the age of 2 Ava couldn’t speak a word, respond to her name or seem to recognize her mother. “She was staying the same, like she was 6 months old” says Bullard.
After months of research, Bullard found that there are children with autism whose worlds were rediscovered through intense therapy. Once a formal diagnosis was made, Bullard could not believe nor afford the price tag of treatment. She soon learned that her insurance company wouldn’t cover any of the expenses.
Research has shown that intensive behavioral therapy can significantly improve cognitive and language skills in young children with autism spectrum disorder. During an interview conducted by the Autism Heath Insurance Project, Dr. Karen Fesset, DrPh, founder and executive director of the Autism Health Insurance Project said “Without these therapies, children will likely cost their states considerably more money in the long run, by requiring special education programs, and possible needing a lifetime of public assistance,”
For a list of states that provide coverage for Autism Treatment please see the attached link: http://www.autismhealthinsurance.org/health-plan/affordable-care-act
In the year 2000, one child out of 150 children born was diagnosed with autism. Today, one out of 68 children will now be affected by it. As the number of children born with autism increases each year, doctors are attempting to treat the condition by testing children as early as three or four years old.
Early signs of autism in babies, such as not responding to their names by one year of age or not showing any interest in objects by 14 months, can be an indicator that therapy may be needed to prevent further advancement of the condition. Some families have a relatively low risk of having a child born with autism, while other families are more likely to have a child who has the condition if they have a family history of autism.
Dr. Jonathan Green and his team at the University of Manchester in the UK are now studying the effects of an adapted Video Interaction for Promoting Positive Parenting Program (i-BASIS-VIPP), a new treatment for early onset autism in infants. The treatment uses video feedback that allows parents to learn how to communicate with their child’s unique communication style. Over time, this could help the child develop stronger communication and social skills.
With the help of a therapist, video recordings of parent-infant interactions are done privately in the parents’ home. When reviewing the recordings, parents can view how they can improve their interactions with their infant. The study used 54 families who had an infant between seven to 10 months old. During a five month period, some families used i-BASIS-VIPP treatment, while the other families received no treatment.
At the end of the experiment, the Autism Observation Scale for Infants (AOSI) was used to determine autism scores of the infants in the study. The infants of the families who used the new treatment showed improved attention and social behavior and had lower AOSI scores than the children who received no treatment at all.
Although the study has not yet proven to eliminate autism in babies, it is a stepping stone for more research that will reveal more about the effects of i-BASIS-VIPP and its possibilities of reducing early autism symptoms.
Mara Papleo, Cleveland State University
Picture a sweet babbling toddler. Now picture a three-year-old screaming and slamming her head every time you try to exit the house. Cue the early years of Ave Arreola.
Despite a rough birth in which her twin sister died, Ave began life similarly to any other baby. She followed typical developmental patterns, babbling and engaging with her surroundings, until the age of 2, when she abruptly fell silent and stopped interacting with her parents and peers. A diagnosis of “autism” shortly followed as her temper tantrums escalated. Her parents desperately sought a solution to calm their daughter’s seemingly unstable reality.
The Arreola family started bringing Ave to therapy at the Center for Children with Autism at Metrocare Services in Dallas, TX. Metrocare Services opened a few years ago after administration noticed the growing population of autistics in the Dallas area. The center just opened a second location recently, so they are now able to serve an additional 270 children with ASD who come from low-income backgrounds.
Despite a rocky start, therapists there have been able to begin developing routines and coping mechanisms for Ave to attach to during times of emotional duress. The center teaches social skills to the children and helps parents develop custom programs to help their children.
After years of silence, 5 year old Ave unexpectedly wished her 19 year-old brother a “Happy Birthday!” while the family was celebrating. They are the first words she has spoken since she was two. Since then, she’s begun singing along to TV shows, and her speech therapists have had greater success in reciprocally communicating with her.
“I don’t think we ever give up on the hope that a child will talk,” said Sarah Loera, program manager at the Center for Children, to Dallas News.
Work with the Metrocare clinic has not only given the Arreola’s daughter’s voice back, but has stabilized their entire family structure. Therapists have helped them design behavioral strategies for Ave to follow, and have given them advice on how to make Ave’s immediate world a little less daunting.
Sara Power, Fordham University
Parents should not rely solely on a medical professional to detect a child’s autism, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics.
Research shows that bringing a child to a 10-20 minute pediatric behavior monitoring session is not sufficient to determine if a child has autism. Parents who trust that their child’s doctor will be thorough in their examination without paying attention to their child’s developmental signs day to day could be missing some key information.
These short sessions simply do not give the clinician enough time with your child to make an accurate diagnosis. The medical professional cannot gather enough information at a simple checkup. Thus, many children with autism will show normal behavior during this window, and will not get referred to a professional who can provide the treatment needed.
If autism symptoms are missed early on in a child’s life, they may miss a crucial point in their development in which early intervention is most effective. Autistic children who receive early intervention and treatment before age three have been shown to vastly conquer or eliminate their symptoms before entering school. Just like learning a new language, changing the child’s brain in this way becomes more difficult after they leave the toddler years behind.
In the study, ten minute videos of children ages 15-33 months were viewed by experts in the field. Children with autism, speech delays, and normal development were all included. It was found that the quick observation was not sufficient to gather accurate conclusions, and the experts missed 39 percent of the children with autism since they displayed typical behavior during this time.
The CDC reports that autism diagnoses have increased 30 percent during the past two years, when the statistic jumped from 1 in 88 to 1 in 68 children. This is why a correct diagnosis early on is especially important.
What this means for young children with autism is that they would benefit from more detailed observation. Exploring in-depth autism screenings and extra attention from parents are key steps in understanding a child’s development.
A parent usually knows their children more intimately than anyone else, and if educated properly, can recognize the symptoms of autism on their own, and alert the child’s care provider to determine the next step.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a formal autism screening for children at the 18 and 24 month mark. A few simple screening tools that help parents know the signs to look for are available to use free of charge. One of these is the M-CHAT-R Checklist. Another resource to use is the CDCs Learn The Signs, Act Early campaign.
Children are the most precious gifts that any mother could have.
Before the child even takes its first breath of air in this world, a mother carries him or her for a full for nine months. In those nine months, a woman is advised to take care of herself, her body, and her soon-to-be child by exercising as much caution as possible with her daily routine. A mother creates a relationship with her child in those nine months through the simple things such as the way he or she may kick or move. As we all know, having a child comes great responsibility, no matter what kind of problems it may come with on both the physical and mental spectrum.
Normally, autistic children do not show noticeable signs of their disorder until they are around the age of three. Even though the signs may be hard to find when they are very young, there are ways to determine if your child may have autism. To begin, it is common for children that have autism to lag in their speech development. They cannot make certain sounds or many noises to “talk” or communicate with their loved ones, or whoever it may be. They also tend to be focused on one object or concept for a very long period of time, which makes it hard to direct his or her attention towards something else.
Kristin Hinson, who is a mother of four, participated in a study conducted by Sally Rogers, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral studies at UC Davis MIND Institute. Hinson began to see signs indicating that her son Noah may have autism when he was just nine months old. Rogers was curious what a difference it would make if parents intervened before their children were officially diagnosed with autism.
The study involved behavioral therapy for twelve weeks, in which Hinson was taught behavioral mechanisms and techniques, including sensory. Six other parents that saw signs of autism with their toddlers participated as well. After therapy was over, 18 month-old Noah caught up developmentally with other children his age, if not even better. He became more engaged. Along with Noah, the six other children showed much more improvement.
The sample size for this study was small, so it is difficult to draw a conclusion stating that early intervention before age three can prevent autism symptoms from becoming severe later on. But in general, scientists do agree that early intervention can change the outcome for toddlers at risk for the disorder.
Taja Nicolle Kenney, Eerie Community College
An innovative yet relatively simple video series therapy may prove effective in treating speech disorders.
Laura Kasbar’s twins were diagnosed with autism as young children. They did not respond to the speech therapies offered to them, so Kasbar realized that she had to search for an effective solution to their speaking difficulty.
Now Kasbar’s twins are grown and they excel college. Their mother claims that a large part of their success can be credited to her invention, The Gemiini System. This series of speech therapy videos may soon be reaching children all over the country, or possibly the world.
Videos from the Gemiini System lay things out in a way that children understand. For each word, a child appears onscreen accompanied by a picture demonstrating the word’s meaning. The word is spoken slowly and clearly several times. This includes a close up of the child’s mouth when speaking the word.
The Gemiini system uses a method called “discreet video modeling.” This method is effective for many because it presents words with their associations so the children grasp their meaning. This direct approach allows autistic children to concentrate on learning.
Dr. Amanda Adams, Clinical Director of The California Autism Center and Learning Group in Fresno, California, is interested in using the Gemiini system, stating it can work well when combined with other therapies.
“Along with good behavior intervention, a good school program and all of the other pieces still in play, this tool I see as a supplement.” says Adams.
Dr. Heather O’Shea with autism therapy provider ACES in Fresno, is looking forward to using this therapy within her own company.
“We’re very excited about it. We are starting to implement it, the research is giving me great hope,” says Dr. O’Shea.
Since Laura Kasbar’s twins have progressed so well, she is optimistic about the success of other children using The Gemiini System. She emphasizes the importance of starting such therapies young, in order to increase the chances of lessening or eliminating speech difficulties the children face.
These videos are available online for parents, teachers, and therapists. This is good news for families that struggle with insurance coverage for the therapies they need.
The website asserts that The Gemiini System may also be used for children who struggle with reading. Additionally, Kasbar says the system is effective for adults who need speech therapy. These include stroke survivors, those affected by dementia, and patients with traumatic brain injury.
As we continue to develop new ways to help children and people on the spectrum learn life skills, there has been a general consensus that technology has the potential to overcome many of the challenges they face. Ned Sahin, neuroscientist, neurotechnology entrepreneur, and founder of Brain Power is making waves with his new idea of using Google Glasses to navigate the world. The glasses are being engineered to help children on the spectrum with social skills such as engaging in conversation, reading social cues, and encouraging eye contact.
The glasses allow the child to see the person they are interacting with and places an emoticon or icon that illustrates what that person is feeling next to their face. For example, if someone is smiling at them, they will see a smiley face that they will come to associate with happiness, and thus be able to react appropriately. Another aspect of the glasses allow the child to choose what they person is feeling from two icons that appear on the glass, earning them points that encourage them to engage in this game of face and emotion associations.
Dr. Sahin says, “I wanted to do something that would impact people in their daily lives. There was a huge unmet need here. it was staggering when I realized how little progress we’ve made in autism…Parents tell me, ‘I just wish my child could look me in the eye. I wish my child could understand what I’m thinking…what I’m feeling.’ And we’re giving them that.”
While IPads are also useful for providing similar programs, the google glasses are unique because they allow the child to actually look up or towards the person they are interacting with. The glasses also track how many times the child looks at the person who is trying to get their attention by using a motion sensor. Even Dr. Martha Herbert, pediatric neurologist and brain development researcher, says, “That’s the beauty of this device…It tracks multiple things over time so you can get real data about how things are improving.”
To read more about using google glasses to help children on the spectrum, click HERE
We always talk about how to best get people on the autism spectrum the resources they need to thrive. Typically, that conversation centers around early intervention, therapies inside and outside of school, routines and advice for parents in the home, and advocating for a safe and healthy environment for these kids. But what happens when they become an adult? We put all this effort into having them reach their highest potential, but not everyone on the spectrum at 21 is developmentally at that age. So does all that effort go down the drain?
Christopher Merchant, now 19 years old, was diagnosed with autism and is developmentally on par with an elementary school student. He can read and do simple math problems and dedicates three hours daily at a car dealership where he has an aide to keep him on track. His mother, Lisa Merchant, has seen her son reach these milestones that she didn’t think were possible after his diagnosis, “it’s like learning a sport or playing an instrument: The more therapy he gets, the better he gets at it,” she explains.
When Christopher turns 21, he will no longer be eligible for therapies that address his speech and feeding challenges. His mom, expresses her concern, “Our biggest fear is he won’t end up with funding and he’ll end up sitting on the couch. My school district does a really food job–I’m just afraid all their good work will be for naught.”
In Pennsylvania, where the Merchants live, the number of people with autism has more than doubled, with adults being the majority of the growing population. In 2013 there were 8,395 adults on the spectrum in the state, and that number is projected to be over 30,000 by the year 2020. These numbers are reflected across the country with autism diagnoses being made for 1 in every 68 children. A report from their Bureau of Autism Services (BAS), created in 2007, found that even though they have started creating programs for adults on the spectrum, “as people transition to adulthood, the needs for supports and services often increase, although services become more difficult to access.”
This transitioning process and lack of funding/resources for people in the autism community is a serious issue; it is an issue for the parents who sometimes lose their job since their adult child still needs them, it’s an issue for the person on the spectrum, who after making so much progress up to this point now faces a brick wall, and it is an issue for the state, who has to find a way to incorporate people on the spectrum as productive members of society worth investing in. However, states like Pennsylvania are really taking these issues by the reigns. Other states should also being to recognize the need to address these challenges sooner rather than later.
Read the original article HERE
Read about ICare4Autism’s Workforce Initiatives HERE