Yoga Therapy Found to Be Hugely Beneficial for Children with Autism

Physical therapy has long been known to one of the array of treatment options to be hugely beneficial for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). However Yoga Therapy has proven to yield amazing results for children with Autism even outside the bounds of physical therapy.

A combination of poses, breathing and deep relaxation can not only aid the development of body awareness, motor coordination and overall health but can also help promote social interaction, sensory integration and provide self-calming techniques. Continue reading

Hear Our Voices Looking to Include iPads to Classrooms

With the onset of more accessible visual electronics such as iPods and iPads,

Visual electronics have been booming. Their popularity, of course, is due to their vibrant colorful graphics, simple touch interfaces, and endless supply of new applications that help users do everything from order a cup of coffee to produce a symphony.

As the accessibility of these products becomes more open to those younger and younger, even showing up in schools. While some parents and teachers disapprove of their personal use in classrooms, stating children may waste time on site like Facebook and not pay attention, other teachers, especially those of special needs and autistic students, are quickly taking advantage of such a powerful tool. Continue reading

Congressional Hearing to Improve Coverage Accessibility to Military Families

Today, a congressional briefing will examine a bill set to improve the coverage and availability of autism services to military families. Under current legislation, autistic children of servicemen have very limited access to treatment services which many are calling shameful. Family of military personnel have medical insurance called TRICARE, which doesn’t cover autism services. To cover autism, families must enroll in ECHO Extended Care Health Option, which you can only apply for after you have enrolled in EFMP Exceptional Family Member Program. Aside from all the paperwork, families are required to live within distance of care programs which can be career-limiting, if a service man or woman retires via choice or medical reasons (i.e. a soldier wounded in battle), their family will no longer have the coverage.

ECHO has a cap for treatment set at $36,000. While this may sound like a substantial number, it will only cover 11-12 hours of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy a week, less than the 25-40 hours a week recommended for children (especially the young or more profoundly affected). Furthermore, the $36,000 cap covers not only autism services, but respite services and medical equipment, which would push families to choose between hours of therapy or a new wheelchair.

Furthermore, the process of accessing ECHO and getting a diagnosis can take months, and even years. Rachel Kenyon, military spouse of a sergeant major based in the US, has a daughter that is autistic and required several surgeries for her chromosomal deletion.

If it’s this hard for us and my husband’s a sergeant major, how hard is it for families of privates? Ms. Kenyon asked. Some parents do have an easier time, and that’s phenomenal. We wish that every family had that experience. But for everyone else we really shouldn’t have to wait this long to get a diagnosis and get care.

However, the bipartisan bill, the Caring for Military Kids with Autism Act (H.R. 2288) was introduced by Congressmen John Larson (D-CT) and Walter Jones (R-NC) and is now being co-sponsored by 35 additional representatives from both parties. The bill would take autism services out of ECHO and include them into the TRICARE insurance to improve access, and remove the $36,000 cap to allow for those who need it to get more care. Furthermore, because the services would no longer be in the ECHO plan, families would not have to choose between wheelchairs and therapy.

The briefing for the bill is scheduled for today, and you can find more information on the CMKAA website.

Debate Over Whether it’s Possible to ‘Grow Out Of Autism’

Researchers believe they have shown that children who had been diagnosed with autism at a young age can cease to display symptoms when they are older.

In a study, they found one-third of parents with children who had ever been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder believed their child no longer had the condition, the Daily Mail reported.

A team, led by Dr Andrew Zimmerman from Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, studied data from a phone survey of 92,000 parents of children aged 17 and younger in the U.S in 2007 and 2008. Continue reading

‘Inner Talk’ Beneficial for Children with Autism

Teaching children how to ‘talk things through in their head’ has been proven to increase mental flexibility however it could be even more important for children with autism.

These skills might increase the chances of people with autism being able to live independent, flexible lives, according to the study led by a team at Durham University in England.

The researchers compared how 15 high-functioning adults with autism spectrum disorder and 16 adults without the disorder completed a test that measures planning ability as well as a short-term memory task.

The psychologists found that the use, or lack of, thinking in words is strongly linked to the extent of someone’s communication deficiencies which are rooted in early childhood. Continue reading

Infant Lip Reading Could Lead to Earlier Diagnosis of Autism

Research into the way babies learn to talk could have a big impact on allowing earlier diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders.

New research suggests that babies don’t just learn from hearing sounds but also learn through lip reading.

Florida scientists discovered that starting around age 6 months, babies begin shifting from the intent eye gaze of early infancy to studying mouths when people talk to them.

“The baby in order to imitate you has to figure out how to shape their lips to make that particular sound they’re hearing,” explains developmental psychologist David Lewkowicz of Florida Atlantic University, who led the study.

This fascinating study into the way babies develop language skills could provide insights into identifying when there are blocks in this process. Continue reading

Recognizing Asperger’s Syndrome In Your Child

Asperger’s Syndrome is often diagnosed when a child starts school and the problems become apparent. The key helping a child with Asperger’s Syndrome achieve all they are capable of is acknowledging the condition and seeking professional help.

Here are the signs and symptoms to look for:

Routine

These children thrive on routine and can find adapting to change very challenging. They need lots of forewarning and reassurance before a big change in routine, such as moving schools or to a new house.

Speech and Language

Children with Asperger’s Syndrome may have an unusual way of speaking. Advanced expressions are used and conversations are interpreted literally. They have a hard time understanding sarcasm or figures of speech.

Socializing

Children with Asperger’s Syndrome will socialize different than their peers.  They may seem to live in their own world and not be interested in seeking out company and may not engage with others.  They may want to talk exclusively about themselves and pay little attention in others views or interests. They like to control activities and if challenged may have an emotional outburst.

Thinking Skills and Emotions

Asperger’s Syndrome children are often quite smart. They have a good memory for facts and figures and may excel in technical areas. Introverted activities such as reading may be very important to them. These children lack empathy and cannot interpret other’s feelings.  They are unable to see what others are thinking and have difficulty to interpreting non-verbal cues. Reactions to their own troubles may seem magnified.

Motor Skills

Most Asperger’s Syndrome children have reduced motor skills meaning that they may struggle with sport. They may have trouble with writing and art due to weak fine-motor skills.

Hyper sensitivity

Children with Asperger’s Syndrome may be particularly sensitive to sound, light and noise. Certain fabrics and sensations may cause them to be overly upset, leading to needing the labels to be cut out of their clothing

Fixation

A well known sign of Asperger’s Syndrome is being fixated with a certain topic or interest. They may have advanced knowledge of their obsession and want to talk non-stop about it.

Special College Programs for Students With Autism

Many autistic teens out there have the brains to make higher education a breeze, but are lacking in some of the social, time management and organizational skills they’ll need to make the grades they deserve. Luckily, there is a wide range of colleges out there stepping up to offer support and help for students with autism spectrum conditions. Here are 10 of the growing number of colleges that can be a good choice for students with autism, as they can provide support groups, assistance with courses, special classes and all the information students need to get a degree. Continue reading

Checklist to Identify Autism Earlier

A simple 24-item checklist developed by researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), in La Jolla may prove to be an important screening tool for detecting early signs of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), and language and developmental delays in children as young as 1 year old.

The checklist titled the Communication and Symbolic Scales Development Profile Infant-Toddler Checklist is completed by parents and guardians while they are in the doctor’s waiting room. Continue reading

Early Intervention (EI) Program: Giving Toddlers a Strong Start

The Early Intervention Program serves children diagnosed with autism and developmental disabilities, 36 months of age or younger at the time of referral. This program is based on a strong parent-professional partnership. Individualized services focus on learning readiness; language; play; family participation; daily routines relevant to eating, sleeping, and bathing; and other areas jointly identified by SKHOV professionals and parents. Through EI, children with developmental delays and autism receive education, therapeutic, service coordination and evaluation in the five boroughs of New York City. Continue reading