Friday, December 30, 2011

God Bless Mickey Mouse

Last summer we went to the US to see some doctors for Jad and try some treatments and therapies that are not available in the UAE.  But I realized the best therapy that ended up benefitting the entire family was the fact that the 4 of us were spending sooo much time together; since we didn’t know very many people there, we were together 24/7.  I don’t think the boys have ever spent that much time with their dad in their entire lives.              

I realized how beneficial all this time together was when I overheard my older son "Z" telling my younger one "J" “I’m sorry I didn’t used to love you, but now I do.” ….!
 That happened in the middle of us waiting in a queue for a ride at Disneyland.  In case you don’t know what that entails, basically it means hours of standing and waiting under the sun with a lot of Japanese tourists - no offense to the Japanese ;).   But I didn’t care where we were, I just pulled everyone out of the queue right then and there and decided to have a family counseling session, IN THE MIDDLE OF DISNEYLAND.

After talking and talking I understood that "Z" thought "J" was always taking my attention and that’s why he hated him, but after spending all that time with him with no other friends around, he realized how “cool” he was…  And made me realize that the real problem was me, for not balancing my time between my two kids, and not "J".

It never hit me before that once you have a special needs in the house you have to make double the effort for the siblings in order them not to feel left out.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

As If Autism Is Not Enough

I don’t know which was harder on me; finding out that my son is autistic or having to convince everyone around me, including my husband and parents, that "J" is sick and that he hasn’t been saying a word or approaching anyone for at least the last 6 months.  Me dealing with the diagnosis was one thing, and everyone thinking I’m an insane, psychopath accusing my son of being sick is another.

I really think that if he was born that way (non-communicative) it would have been easier.  Not only because I wouldn’t have had to see him grow and develop normally and then regress (which just devastates me every time I think about it), but also because I wouldn’t have had to fight everyone to convince them that he is not ok anymore, and that he needed to start therapy or treatment soon.  “But he talks”, “He did call me the other day”, “He does play with his brother”, and “It’s all in your mind, the kid is fine” were all things I kept on hearing.  AAAAAAH!  As if a mother enjoys accusing her son of being autistic.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Types Of Autism

There are four main sub-types of autism:
      Autistic disorder:

      Also known as autism, childhood autism, early infantile autism, Kanner’s syndrome or infantile psychosis. 
      Each person with autistic disorder is a unique individual, with his or her own strengths and weaknesses.
      Some people with autistic disorder have extremely good memories or are good at paying attention to detail.
      However most people with autistic disorder also find it difficult to talk to other people or to make friends. Some may not even be able to talk at all.
      People with autistic disorder tend to have poor coordination and concentration and they  usually have a limited range of interests. And they may do things or say things over and over again.
      Sometimes people with autistic disorder behave oddly. For example they may flap their hands or repeat words over and over again. They may also develop obsessional interests.
      Some people with autistic disorder have other disabling conditions, such as a learning disability or epilepsy.
          Asperger syndrome:

          Also known as Asperger’s disorder or simply Asperger’s.  
          People with Asperger syndrome have difficulties with social interactions,
          social communications and imagination – sometimes known as the triad of impairments.
          They also demonstrate a narrow, repetitive range of activities.
          However each person with Asperger syndrome is a unique individual, with his or her  own strengths and weaknesses
              Childhood Disintegrative Disorder:

              Also known as CDD, dementia infantalis, disintegrative psychosis or Heller’s syndrome.
              Children with CDD appear to develop normally until the age of two.
              After that they go backwards, losing many of the skills they had before, such as the ability to
              walk and talk.
                  Pervasive Developmental Disorder (Not Otherwise Specified):

                  Also known as PDD (NOS) or atypical autism.
                  PDD is used to describe people who don’t fit neatly into one of the specific kinds of autism.

                  Rett syndrome is no longer considered to be a sub-type of autism, although individuals with Rett syndrome may display autistic-like symptoms.
                  The term ‘autism’ is sometimes used interchangeably with the term ‘autism spectrum disorders’ to mean any or all of the different forms of ASD. It is also sometimes used interchangeably with the term ‘autistic disorder’

                  Sunday, December 25, 2011

                  Methyl B12

                  Methyl-B12 is a treatment, not a cure. However, many children using Methyl-B12 combined with other biomedical and non-biomedical therapies have lost their diagnosis! It is important that all parents understand that the maximum results from Methyl-B12 therapy occur over years, not months, not weeks. Though the initial results will be obvious within the first five-week period of time, Methyl-B12’s power is in long-term use.
                  Vitamin B12, together with B1, B6 and Folic acid; calcium with magnesium; vitamins C with E, and omega 3 fatty acids, are crucial for the regeneration, growth and proper function of the brain. This is particularly relevant in the treatment of autism. Since only the methylcobalamin form the vitamin B12 is beneficial to the central nervous system, a trial of injection methylcobalamin might be justified. Vitamin B12 supplements are not well absorbed orally.

                  Saturday, December 24, 2011

                  Heavy Metals and Autism

                  Testing your child for toxic metals is important, and highly recommended. When you know which metals your child is high in, you can chart your child's progress with the chelation treatments. In other words, you can know whether the chelation treatments you are using are mobilizing the heavy metals.
                  Tests that help to diagnose metal and chemical toxicity include blood tests, urine tests, and the analysis of hair, nails or other tissues. The most accurate of these are a chelation challenge test or a tissue mineral analysis (hair analysis).
                  Regular blood tests and urine tests are not accurate in diagnosing heavy metal toxicity, as they only tend to show what is happening in the body at that brief moment in time, and do not give the long-term picture. For instance, if your child was exposed to lead 2 weeks ago, lead would appear in a regular blood test.

                  Friday, December 23, 2011

                  Child Learning Day Program - By CEIMC

                  Our innovative day classroom serves children with a range of special needs from the ages of 3-10. We work with children who have various complex needs and who require specialized treatment approaches to help them adapt and function in everyday life. Our program is built around an understanding that children with special needs can learn meaningful and functional skills while being active, contributing members of our society. Each child has an Individualized Education Plan (I.E.P.) to outline goals and objectives for their learning. This is developed by the Multidisciplinary Team as well as the Developmental Learning Therapist and Assistants who work with the children. The preparatory classroom is modeled after a typical preschool, KG, and Year I classroom where students learn in a small group setting and through structured play sessions. Group lessons will focus on math, reading and phonics, handwriting, spelling, amongst other academic skills. The students also participate in morning meeting/circle time, art, gym, library, group games and snack times. Activities are centered on monthly theme units. Each child has an IEP. Academics and behaviors are recorded daily to document progress on each IEP
                  goal. Communication logs will be sent home each day to inform parents of their child’s daily activities.
                  We work to develop new skills and behaviors which support the individual’s inclusion into the home, school and community. We use a variety of specialized techniques and approaches to address independence, self-help, functional academics, behavior, motor skills, communication and social skills. An emphasis on learning these skills to support each individual’s generalization and use in the “real world” or community setting is the key. Our staff receives rigorous, ongoing training and development to ensure they use the most up-to-date and accepted best practices. We practice “least intrusive approach” in all aspects of our programming. All staff are trained in Basic Life Support. Children are assigned to Classrooms based on age and functioning levels. Developmental Learning Therapists work with children both in groups and individually to implement their individualized goals and monitor achievement. Parents regularly attend Case Conferences with the Multi-Disciplinary Team Members in order to review or modify the child’s IEP. Active involvement and participation in the child’s treatment plan is welcomed. The Classroom Day Program runs from Sundays to Thursdays from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm year round. We also offer a “Saturday Program” for children who require additional support and programming.

                  Tuesday, December 20, 2011

                  Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA):

                  Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) is a systemic treatment for autism based on scientific research. It is used to teach functional and relevant skills to give young children with ASDs the tools they need to learn to succeed. ABA therapy should begin as soon as the child has been diagnosed or as early as possible.
                  Based on clinical observation and statistical research, ABA therapy is most effective when applied 20-40 hours per week. The treatment is individualized to reflect each child’s strengths and needs. Each child receives a comprehensive program of treatment in all skill domains (language, social, adaptive and academic).
                  - Provides age appropriate learning objectives.
                  - Provides one-on-one therapy, initially administered in the home or center and then generalized to    other settings, including the natural environment and school.
                  - Involves an intensive treatment program between 20 and 40 hours of therapy per week.
                  - Requires a commitment to a minimum of 2 to 4 years continuous service for each child.

                  Friday, December 16, 2011

                  What To Do If You’re Worried

                  • 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 paediatrician should also get your feedback regarding your child’s behaviour.

                  • See a developmental specialist. If your paediatrician detects possible signs of autism during the screening, your child should be referred to a specialist for a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation. Screening tools can’t be used to make a diagnosis, which is why further assessment is needed. A specialist can conduct a number of tests to determine whether or not your child has autism. Although many clinicians will not diagnose a child with autism before 30 months of age, they will be able to use screening techniques to determine when a cluster of symptoms associated with autism is present.

                  • Seek early intervention services. The diagnostic process for autism is tricky, and can sometimes take awhile. But you can take advantage of treatment as soon as you suspect your child has developmental delays. Ask your doctor to refer you to early intervention services. Early intervention is a federally funded program for infants and toddlers with disabilities. Children who demonstrate several early warning signs may have developmental delays. They will benefit from early intervention whether or not they meet the full criteria for an autism spectrum disorder.

                  Causes Of Autism

                  Until recently, most scientists believed that autism is caused mostly by genetic factors. But groundbreaking new research indicates that environmental factors may be just as important in the development of autism—if not more so—than genes.

                  It appears that certain babies are born with a genetic vulnerability to autism that is then triggered by something in the external environment, either while he or she is still in the womb or sometime after birth.

                  It’s important to note that the environment, in this context, means anything outside the body. It’s not limited to things like pollution or toxins in the atmosphere. In fact, one of the most important environments appears to be the prenatal environment.

                  Thursday, December 8, 2011

                  Signs and symptoms of autism

                   Early signs of autism in babies and toddlers

                  • Doesn’t make eye contact (e.g. look at you when being fed).
                  • Doesn't smile when smiled at.
                  • Doesn't respond to his or her name or to the sound of a familiar voice.
                  • Doesn’t follow objects visually.
                  • Doesn't point or wave goodbye or use other gestures to communicate.
                  • Doesn’t follow the gesture when you point things out.
                  • Doesn’t make noises to get your attention.
                  • Doesn’t initiate or respond to cuddling.
                  • Doesn’t imitate your movements and facial expressions.
                  • Doesn’t reach out to be picked up.
                  • Doesn’t play with other people or share interest and enjoyment.
                  • Doesn’t ask for help or make other basic requests.

                  The following delays warrant an immediate evaluation by your child’s pediatrician.

                  • By 6 months: No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions.
                  • By 9 months: No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions.
                  • By 12 months: Lack of response to name.
                  • By 12 months: No babbling or “baby talk.”
                  • By 12 months: No back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving.
                  • By 16 months: No spoken words.
                  • By 24 months: No meaningful two-word phrases that don’t involve imitating or repeating.

                  Signs and symptoms of autism in older children

                  As children get older, the red flags for autism become more diverse. There are many warning signs and symptoms, but they typically revolve around impaired social skills, speech and language difficulties, non-verbal communication difficulties, and inflexible behavior.

                  Signs and symptoms of social difficulties in autism

                  Basic social interaction can be difficult for children with autism spectrum disorders. Many kids on the autism spectrum seem to prefer to live in their own world, aloof and detached from others.

                  • Appears disinterested or unaware of other people or what’s going on around them.
                  • Doesn’t know how to connect with others, play, or make friends.
                  • Prefers not to be touched, held, or cuddled.
                  • Doesn’t play "pretend" games, engage in group games, imitate others, or use toys in creative ways.
                  • Has trouble understanding or talking about feelings.
                  • Doesn’t seem to hear when others talk to him or her.
                  • Doesn't share interests or achievements with others (drawings, toys).

                  Signs and symptoms of speech and language difficulties in autism

                  Children with autism spectrum disorders have difficulty with speech and language. Often, they start talking late.

                  • Speaks in an abnormal tone of voice, or with an odd rhythm or pitch (e.g. ends every sentence as if asking a question).
                  • Repeats the same words or phrases over and over.
                  • Responds to a question by repeating it, rather than answering it.
                  • Refers to themselves in the third person.
                  • Uses language incorrectly (grammatical errors, wrong words).
                  • Has difficulty communicating needs or desires.
                  • Doesn’t understand simple directions, statements, or questions.
                  • Takes what is said too literally (misses undertones of humor, irony, and sarcasm).

                  Signs and symptoms of nonverbal communication difficulties in autism

                  Children with autism spectrum disorders have trouble picking up on subtle nonverbal cues and using body language. This makes the "give-and-take" of social interaction very difficult.

                  • Avoids eye contact.
                  • Uses facial expressions that don't match what he or she is saying.
                  • Doesn’t pick up on other people’s facial expressions, tone of voice, and gestures.
                  • Makes very few gestures (such as pointing). May come across as cold or “robot-like.”
                  • Reacts unusually to sights, smells, textures, and sounds. May be especially sensitive to loud noises.
                  • Abnormal posture, clumsiness, or eccentric ways of moving (e.g. walking exclusively on tiptoe).

                  Signs and symptoms of inflexibility in autism

                  Children with autism spectrum disorders are often restricted, inflexible, and even obsessive in their behaviors, activities, and interests.

                  • Follows a rigid routine (e.g. insists on taking a specific route to school)
                  • Has difficulty adapting to any changes in schedule or environment (e.g. throws a tantrum if the furniture is rearranged or bedtime is at a different time than usual).
                  • Unusual attachments to toys or strange objects such as keys, light switches, or rubber bands.
                  • Obsessively lines things up or arranges them in a certain order.
                  • Preoccupation with a narrow topic of interest, often involving numbers or symbols (e.g. memorizing and reciting facts about maps, train schedules, or sports statistics).
                  • Spends long periods of time arranging toys in specific ways, watching moving objects such as a ceiling fan, or focusing on one specific part of an object such as the wheels of a toy car.
                  • Repeats the same actions or movements over and over again, such as flapping hands, rocking, or twirling (known as self-stimulatory behavior, or “stimming”). Some researchers and clinicians believe that these behaviors may soothe children with autism more than stimulate them.

                  Common self-stimulatory behaviors:

                  • Hand flapping
                  • Rocking back and forth
                  • Spinning in a circle
                  • Finger flicking
                  • Head banging
                  • Staring at lights
                  • Moving fingers in front of the eyes
                  • Snapping fingers

                  • Tapping ears
                  • Scratching
                  • Lining up toys
                  • Spinning objects
                  • Wheel spinning
                  • Watching moving objects
                  • Flicking light switches on and off
                  • Repeating words or noises

                  What Is Autism

                  Autism is often referred to as a "spectrum disorder," meaning that the symptoms and characteristics of autism can present themselves in a variety of combinations, ranging from extremely mild to quite severe.

                  People with autism can often have accompanying learning disabilities but everyone with the condition shares a difficulty in making sense of the world.
                  On first sight of a child with autism it would be very unlikely that you would tell them apart from any other child. There are no obvious visual clues, which is why so many children are mistaken for being naughty or rude. 

                  Autism is a disabling brain disorder.
                  It affects the way in which people understand and react to the world around them. This causes them to act differently than others.
                  Many autistic people have a hard time using words to say what they want or need, where as others might end up repeating the same word or sentence over and over again.

                  The difficulty in understanding what others are saying can cause great confusion. They may see or hear a person talking, and although every word has been heard, they fail to grasp the meaning of what has been said.

                  A child with autism may be perfectly happy one moment, but all of a sudden become sad or angry, or even have a tantrum. This may be because they can't tell people what they want. Taking the wrong turning, or a certain noise could trigger this reaction, or simply parking the car on the wrong side of the road.

                  The fact is, it could be any number of things,
                  For the parent or carer of the autistic person finding the cause can be a long slow process. (If not at times impossible).