Saturday, December 11, 2010

Bedtime Tips For the Child With Sensory Issues

Quality sleep is crucial for quality functioning, and yet we are a sleep-deprived culture. Adults drink coffee and push themselves past their tiredness, while children will naturally push themselves to be more alert and then not be able to calm down. Kids with sensory issues usually have poor self-regulation, meaning they can't easily bring themselves from one state of alertness to another. When tired or feeling lethargic, they will rev up to a hyperactive state and remain there. They may even endanger themselves as they get toward bedtime and become more giddy and unmindful of where their body is in relation to people and objects. Accidents are more likely to happen just before bedtime when kids are getting wired as they are getting tired.

For safety's sake, and to get kids in bed on time to get the necessary amount of sleep, begin the bedtime routine at least 30 minutes before their actual bedtime, if not longer. A few minutes between the announcement that it is time to go to sleep and lights out is not enough time for a sensory child's body to adjust. Turn off the television and DVD early; both are hypnotizing, and the minutes will slip away as he watches "just this last scene" and the next, and the next.

Dim the lights. The bright lighting that is right for playing with toys in the bedroom is too stimulating before bed. Read bedtime stories by lamplight not by the overhead light.

Stick to a routine. Make sure teeth are brushed, bath is over with (note that bathtime at night is too stimulating for some sensory kids), and pajamas are on before settling in to bed. This way, you can avoid a struggle over him having to jump out of bed to brush in front of the sink. Let your child pick a favorite story or nonfiction book. You might also talk about the events of the day in a positive way. For instance, if your child pitched a fit after school because she had to go to the dentist, talk it through and validate her feelings, and have a short discussion on how to make things easier the next time she has an appointment. Help her to go to sleep believing that tomorrow she will do better, with your support.

Think about blocking out background noise. Close doors so she can't hear the television or a conversation going on in another room.Consider using a fan (not necessarily blowing on your child, just "on"), aquarium, white noise machine, soft music, or even a radio turned to static to block out background noise that will keep her awake.

Provide deep pressure input. It may help to massage her limbs, squeezing them gently and then releasing, to calm her body. You can teach her to tighten her muscles, then release them, body part by body part, in order to self-calm any time she needs to go from an alert to calm, or sleeping, state. She may need hugging, pillows pressed against her, or a weighted blanket to help her body to fall asleep. If you want to use a weighted blanket, consult a sensory smart OT about the proper weight and use. Or, use heavy cotton blankets, if they don't make your child too warm.

All of these strategies will help your child with sensory issues relax his system and have an easier time going from an alert to a calm, then asleep, state.

Copyright (c) 2010 Nancy Peske

Nancy Peske is the coauthor of the book Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Processing Issues. She blogs about parenting kids with SPD and sends out a weekly newsletter of practical tips for parents and professionals who work with children who have sensory processing issues, available via her website

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Your Child With Autism at the Dentist

The profile of a child with Autism can mean that a trip to the Dentist is a potentially frightening event - for both parent and the child. If your AS child can't tolerate being touched at all, if he covers his ears with his hands at slight or sudden noises, if he wears a hat and/or doesn't engage in eye contact, if he's often in a world of his own and doesn't answer questions/requests and if he gets angry, agitated or melts down at smells then the trip to the dentist could be a nightmare!

As parents we know it's important to establish the routine of seeing a Dentist twice a year in an effort to keep our child's teeth healthy. So what can we do to lesson the risk of a full-scale meltdown and totally unsuccessful first visit to the Dentist, thereby setting us up for a miserable time for future dental visits?

Here's some steps that will help:-

• Use a Social Story (Carol Gray) for a week or two before the visit
• Bypass the waiting room and go straight to exam room (this will mean your child with Autism only has to process 1 new environment rather than 2)
• Ask Dentist to talk to you (Mom) rather than the child (eye contact and direct questioning can make an AS child very uncomfortable)
• Tell Dentist about your child's sensitivity to touch PRIOR to visit - advise him to ask before he touches your child's mouth etc
• request Dentist to help child with Autism process the dental surgery by touching/learning how the equipment/chair/tools work
• Remember that your child may feel exposed and vulnerable reclined in the Dentist's chair
• He may also feel dizzy and if he's about to fall over backwards when the chair is reclined, due to his balance issues
• Suggest that the Dentist splits his initial visit into 2 separate visits - one to process the new environment and the other to listen about Dental hygiene and teeth care
• Become Sensory Detectives and look at a visit to the Dentist through your Autism child's eyes... and ears, mouth, nose and skin

Let your Dentist know that children with Autism are often teeth grinders due to their high anxiety levels. Remember too that you'll have to "teach" your Dentist about all the characteristics of Autism in order for him to be able to fully understand your child, especially the communication issues our children have. Otherwise, when he tells your child to "Hop up onto the chair!" he may get a surprise from your Autism child's literal actions! Having my Ben & His Helmet books in his surgery will help too.

Nelle Frances is the mother of a 16 year old on the Autism Spectrum, a Special Needs Educator and Author of the Ben and His Helmet series of books for children with Autism. Her site offers resources and strategies for dealing with Autism for parents and teachers.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Autism - Should I Label My Child?

Autism - to label or not to label, that is the question. Have you been to your doctor about your child and been made to feel as if you were banging your head off a brick wall? Or quite possibly you have been told that a speech delay is common in boys and perhaps mom or dad is just being a bit too neurotic about it? If you have been down this route then you are certainly not alone. In Ireland the consensus now among many in the medical profession is that there is not really an increase in the number of autistic children out there but instead us parents are concocting the symptoms to claim state benefits by unjustly labeling our children.

If you have already been told by a number of people that your child is Autistic and more importantly if you the child's parent who knows this part of you better than anyone else has an instinctual inner feeling that something is not right then chances are your suspicions are rarely unfounded. Recently a more enlightened member of the medical profession reiterated this fact to me, she said that a concerned mother or father who is ignored by their doctor is doing a great injustice to the child in question. So if you already have an innate belief that your child is different or has issues that need to be addressed then in most cases you are valid in your concerns.

A concerned parent does not want their child to be labeled as Autistic but if their the child does actually have autism then the sooner that this is recognized, faced and addressed the quicker it can be acted on and the better the outcome for everyone in the long run. Any one in the field of psychology, social care or child care will reiterate how important early intervention is for the child on the Autistic Spectrum. But this is practically impossible to access if you are still being told to wait and see, give the child a chance, you are just being neurotic, paranoid and that the child may still talk or perform other social skills when they are ready.

The best course of action on how to proceed in the diagnosis and treatment of Autism is not always easy to figure out. It is undoubtedly an emotionally fraught experience that will leave you drained and confused. However the knowledge on how to best deal with this unpredicted dilemma is best answered by those who are actually on the Autistic Spectrum. The general consensus among people with autism tends to be that if you are autistic then you feel already labeled before any official diagnosis is made or any official autistic title is bestowed upon you. Many children who went through childhood with undiagnosed autism will tell you that they already felt clearly different and were perceived in school and throughout life as being weird, a freak or rather eccentric unless they were told why they behaved the way they did and received the help they needed at a young age.

Experts in the fields of psychology and psychiatry say that ideally Early Intervention for the Autistic child should begin at the age of two. This gives the child the best possible chance of acquiring the skills necessary to interact with the outside world effectively and thus save them from a life time of low self esteem, a lack of confidence in themselves and a myriad of other common complications such as social anxiety issues, depression, alcoholism, drug abuse and anti social behavioral. So consequently being labeled as autistic is a release, a blessing, an awakening and being given an official diagnosis frees the autistic person rather than hindering them.

Any disability is a life altering experience and on interviewing a man in his thirties with ADHD AND dyslexia which remained undiagnosed until recently I asked him, if you had been labeled as having ADHD and dyslexia when you were four or five, would it have devastated you or would it have been a huge relief? He said he would have hugged the bearer of this news and said now I know why I am different and I am going to get the help that I need. A label only appears to really matter to those people who are not on the autistic spectrum. For those people that are autistic then they have already acquired internal labels and scars that have clearly set them apart from the general population whether they have ever been given an official diagnosis or not.

Embrace your autistic child they are no less a person they are just on a different path to you, their mind is wired differently but nevertheless they will always be your child and never let pride, ignorance or bad advice stop you from helping this person from reaching their true potential. We can all achieve our goals in life no matter which path we have to travel on to get there.

My name is Mary and my professional writing business is known as the Writing Owl. Autism is a subject close to my heart as my son is currently awaiting an assessment for the same. Reading and research is vital to learning how to cope with your questions, thoughts and fears. I am a professional Freelance Journalist and Writer and I have already written and published a wide number of articles on many different subjects as well as interviews, PR and marketing material, letters and opinions for newspapers and magazines. I also have a wealth of experience in the areas of satirical humor, short story writing and sales letters. I have also completed work for many websites, magazines, newspapers and e-books.

My professional qualifications include a Diploma in Freelance Journalism and Fiction, a Start Your Own Business course, a Higher Certificate in Business Studies and a Diploma in Sales and Marketing.

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Techniques To Use When Working With Individuals With Autism

Autism has been difficult for most to understand. It is my belief that all the information that one needs to know is available to understand the phenomenon of autism. It is my belief that individuals with autism cannot reach their potential because those who are working with them do not understand the cause or etiology of autism. Once autism is understood we will see these children grow beyond our wildest dreams. It is my belief that the individual with autism has not benefited from an attachment. I call this an incomplete attachment. Our job is to help the individual to complete the attachment process. Some suggestions on what one might do are recommended below. These ideas are based on Attachment Relational Therapy:

1) First you need to accept that it will be difficult and it will be up to you to encourage the attachment. The child/adolescent cannot be responsible for the awakening of the attachment although the child is ready to complete the attachment process;

2) You will need to go into the child's world (know the particular child) versus demanding that they accept your world. This is an ongoing part of the therapy;

3) Let your client take the lead. In other words, let the client determine what will happen in therapy even though it does not make sense to you;

4) Use every moment with the child to attach;

5) It may not look like the child is attaching;

6) Do not give up on the child;

7) Always talk with the child as if they understand you and hold onto the belief that they can develop.

8) Use projection as a means of communication. This process works with verbal children. Use videos, art projects, toys, play dough, doll house, puppets, etc. to allow the child/adolescent to talk about the other. This technique works because the person with autism cannot be direct and talk by representing himself, but he can talk about what he sees outside of himself. Thus what he sees on the outside of himself is really what is going on inside of him;

9) It is important to fill in the gaps for the autistic child. They live in a unsymbolized world. When you are working with him always speak of what is going on and leave space for an answer from him to respond even if you know he may not respond. This teaches him about interaction (Floortime is based on this same concept);

10) Always act as if there is a person that cannot interact with you, but wants to interact. You might want to say "Is there something you want to tell me?" I would do this even with children who use echolalia or are nonverbal;

11) Theory of mind - the child seems to lack the ability to know that the other has feelings and to also express their own feelings. It is not that the child lacks theory of mind, but instead he is dissociated and thus cannot access and communicate what is on his mind. As mentioned previously, use projective techniques to get the child to talk about feelings;

12) The job of the therapist is to recognize the child. This is done by demonstrating to the child that you can "see" him/her;

13) The job of the child is to "remember" that they exist. This will occur through the relationship between the caregiver/therapist and the child. Our job is to help the child to become conscious of himself especially in relationship to others; and finally

14) Do not give up. The child's development is dependent on you to understand his dilemma and to help him to attach.

Karen Savlov is a psychoanalyst and Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice in West Los Angeles, California. My specialty is Autism Spectrum Disorders, anger, dissociation, depression, anxiety and relationships. For new and creative ways to think about autism read and follow my blog at I can also be followed on Twitter at Autism Thoughts.

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Autism - Teaching Verbal Communication To Free Your Child

Autism - Teaching autistic children the art of verbal communication can be very challenging for parents with an autistic child.

Are you a parent or guardian who suffers from the roller coaster of emotions associated with this disorder?

It's no surprise as 1 out of every 110 children born today are stricken with autism.

Many autistic children deal with serious problems when it comes to verbal communication. Autism presents many frustrating roadblocks for autistic children and their parents. The speech challenges can be difficult to overcome.

Communication Breakdown - What You Should Look Out For...

Verbal communication between a child and the people around him or her can vary greatly from one child to the next. A child's intellectual development and social development can be quite different from one case to the next. Some children have no problems carrying on extensive conversations while others can hardly speak a word at all. And in worst case scenarios, some children who suffer from autism express themselves with inappropriate language and violent physical outbursts.

Some autistic children speak incoherently, mumbling words or phrases with no meaning. And some will repeat their words or phrases over and over; this is called echolalia. There is also a version called delayed echolalia in which an autistic child will respond to a question at a much later and time, completely out of context or connection with his or her surroundings.

Conquering Autism - There Is No Magical Cure, BUT There Is A Solution...

On the bright side, there are many options today for concerned parents to help their child improve their communication skills.

One of the first steps you can take is to consult with a speech pathologist to evaluate your child's degree of development and capacity for learning and speaking. A professional consultation can often yield a variety of alternatives to target your child's needs.

The challenges with aspergers can be overcome. However, at the present time, no single person can determine a universal therapy that can yield the same results for ALL autistic kids. Autistic children, like ALL children, vary greatly in personality and personal make-up. The best thing you can do to ensure your child's success is to get autism therapy, start early, and maintain a regular schedule of evaluation to get feedback on different therapies and their results. Every child will have different needs and demands.

Music Soothes The Savage Beast...

It might astound you to know that music therapy can have an enormous effect on your son or daughter's ability to communicate. This is because development of the senses regularly helps to improve the child's capability to interact to sensory information, and thus helps him or her comprehend what she or he is listening to by way of musical stimulation and seeing the world through both verbal and non-verbal communication.

In addition, you can ensure your little one's success by providing the proper diet and supplementation program. Regular therapy and feedback can dramatically improve your child's verbal skills. With the proper plan in place, autism can be conquered. Watching your child develop and become the best version of themselves is what every parent or guardian desires and deserves.

To learn how you can improve the life of an autistic child, make sure to check out the #1 guide for parents of autistic children... The #1 Autism Teaching Guide is available to you today... see below.

Finally, you can discover the #1 resource to improve your child's communication skills and conquer autism once and for all: Autism Teaching Guide: CLICK HERE!

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Autism Treatment - Hyperkeratosis Pilaris and Autism

Throughout my years in practice treating children with Autism, I have seen many of them with something called Hyperkeratosis Pilaris. And Hyperkeratosis Pilaris is that bumpy skin often seen on the backs of the arm, it can also bee seen on the upper thighs and the cheeks. It has been though to be attributed to heredity as caused by an accumulation of skin cells in those locations. The use of a buff puff pad to rub in the areas with the bumps seems to be effective at treating it. But, there is another theory that Hyperkeratosis Pilaris is really caused from a low thyroid function and that the body cannot properly convert beta carotene into vitamin A.

And we believe hypothyroidism to be another potential contributing factor to Hyperkeratosis Pilaris. If you want to look at these issues using testing, and are ok with a blood test, there are a couple of things you can do. The first is to run a TSH test, which stands for thyroid stimulating hormone and the second is to run a free T3 and a free T4. And what we prefer to see is that the T3 and T4 levels, particularly the T3 levels, be in the upper two thirds of what is considered to be the normal reference range for appropriate thyroid functioning. You can look at overall hypothalamus functioning as well as the pituitary connect but those thyroid tests are much more invasive than can be done in just a lab setting and more costly as well. Therefore, a good way to go is to do the TSH, the free T3 and the free T4.

It is also wise to correlate it with other symptoms of low thyroid function. So if your child has Hyperkeratosis Pilaris plus they have a lower core body temperature, plus they tend to always have cold hands and cold feet plus they suffer from constipation, thyroid function may be an issue. You may want to decide if supplementing with a thyroid medication is an option. I like to use Armorthyroid because it is a more natural thyroid medication and it is better than using a more synthetic form. But medication can be effective in bolstering thyroid function in children with thyroid issues. Adding in a thyroid medication can help brain function as well as overall metabolism. So, Hyperkeratosis Pilaris is one possible indicator of low thyroid functioning and is something to check into more with appropriate blood testing.

Autism really is treatable! Biomedical Autism treatments and therapies have resulted in many, many children improving, or even even losing their autism-spectrum disorder diagnosis. For lots more free biomedical autism intervention information and videos from Dr. Woeller, go to

Dr. Kurt Woeller is an biomedical autism Intervention specialist, with a private practice in Southern California for over 10 years. He has helped children recover from autism, ADD, ADHD, and other disorders, and has the information you need to help your child. Download his free ebook at

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Light and Sound Sensitivity and Autism

Over the years I have seen children with Autism who have various sensitivities. These sensitivities can be with sound or even light. These issues can be quite problematic for some children, I have had some who need to wear earphones to muffle sounds so that they can leave their house. And for some sensitive children, even household sounds like a loud TV set, a vacuum or other sounds can be challenging for them.

There are certain things that I look for when a child has these types of sensitivities. One is yeast, I have seen heightened sensitivity when yeast overgrowth is an issue so an organic acid test can check for arabinose or other biomarkers for yeast. A mineral deficiency is also another possibility, especially magnesium. A magnesium deficiency can increase irritation and agitation within the body. Supplementing with magnesium has certainly helped some children with light and sound sensitivity. The optimal form of magnesium supplementation would be through IV so that the digestive tract is bypassed. That is not always an option for all families so you can do so in other ways.

You can also supplement with magnesium orally. There are different forms of magnesium to be aware of. Magnesium glycinate is absorbed very rapidly. So for many children, doses between 250 - 400 mg can be useful and usually over time you do see benefits. Magnesium citrate is also another option although this form does have a laxative effect which limits how much you can give. So if you are trying to alleviate some of the sensitivity issues, then magnesium glycinate is probably the preferred form. Some other options are an Epsom salt bath which provides magnesium sulfate, you can add one to two cups in a bath at night. Epsom salt cream is an alternative to that and you can use one to one and a half teaspoons applied to the skin two times a day may also help.

So when we are addressing light and/or sound sensitivities in children with Autism, the two most common things I look for are yeast overgrowth and magnesium deficiency. There is also a therapy called Auditory Integration Therapy or AIT which can also be helpful for sound sensitivities and auditory processing so you can look into that as well. And light sensitivity often times is helped by magnesium supplementation since magnesium does play a role in issues like stress and irritability for children with Autism.

Autism really is treatable! Biomedical Autism treatments and therapies have resulted in many, many children improving, or even even losing their autism-spectrum disorder diagnosis. For lots more free biomedical autism intervention information and videos from Dr. Woeller, go to

Dr. Kurt Woeller is an biomedical autism Intervention specialist, with a private practice in Southern California for over 10 years. He has helped children recover from autism, ADD, ADHD, and other disorders, and has the information you need to help your child. Download his free ebook at

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

How to Create an Optimal Learning Environment for Your Child with Autism

Understanding the way your child's brain works is crucial to being able to provide an optimal learning environment. Below is a brief overview of some of the research about the brains of people with autism. Then you'll find easy, practical ways to implement this knowledge and create an optimal learning environment at home.

The Science
Autism is referred to as a "spectrum disorder" because there is such a wide variation among people with the diagnosis. Researchers using technology that allows them to be able to see how our brains are structured also see that the brains of people with the label 'Autism' are vastly different from one another. Because of this, some scientists have suggested we need to look below the level of the brain's structure to the way individual neurons (brain cells) are wired to find the "miss-wiring" that affects all people with autism. Researchers have found evidence that the way some neurons are connected in the brain of people with autism may lead to a low signal-to-noise ratio. This means that many of the signals brain cells are sending to each other may be accompanied by "noise", like static in a radio signal. This is one explanation for why children with autism become hyper-aroused (overwhelmed) by sensory information and why they may find it more challenging to choose between two different sources of information. For example, it is often more difficult for a child with autism to be able to listen to the teacher when other children in the class are making noise. Studies recording brain electricity in autistic people have shown that even when they are trying to ignore certain aspects of their environment (such as noise in the classroom) their brains respond to this information in the same way they respond to the information the child is trying to attend to (the teachers voice). The problem for many children with autism seems to be one of "filtering", that is, they are less able than typical children to filter out sensory information that is irrelevant to what they are trying to focus on.

The result of this is that all stimuli are given equal priority by the brains of those with autism, causing an overwhelming flood of sensory information that the child must handle. The brains of typical children learn to filter out irrelevant stimuli early on in life, so by the time that they go to school, children are able to focus their attention on what they are asked to focus on. It is very hard for many children with autism to learn in environments where there is a lot of competing sensory information (including noises, sights, touches, smells, etc.) such as a classroom.

Children with autism are taking in a lot of information all the time; this means that at some stage, they have to sort through this information to see what they really need. Studies have seen that people with autism tend to do the sorting through at a much later stage in processing than neurologically typical people. This is like going down the aisles in the supermarket and putting one of everything into your cart, then arriving at the checkout and discarding what you do not want to buy. This causes a "processing bottleneck". Studies using technology that allows us to see which parts of the brain are being used in particular tasks help us to see that this is what is happening inside the brains of people with autism. There is more activity in the brain regions designed for lower-order processing (going through the supermarket aisles) than in brain regions for high-order processing (moving through the checkout and going home with the items on your list). This may explain why children with autism often show significant challenges in areas of high-order processing (e.g. memory, attention, organization, language, etc.), because they spend so much time trying to deal with the basic incoming sensory information that they don't get time to practice the high-order thinking processing other children their age are practicing. Thus the brain of the child with autism starts to develop differently than the brain of his typical brother. There is some evidence that this processing style is already present when children with autism are born, even though the concurrent behaviors may not be recognized until 18-24 months later.

Psychologists call this style of processing (over-relying on lower-order processing) "weak central coherence." Central coherence describes the ability to process incoming information in context, pulling information together for higher-level meaning often at the expense of memory for detail. Weak central coherence then is the tendency of those with autism to rely on local feature processing (the details) rather than taking in the global nature of the situation. For instance after viewing identical pictures and then being asked to remember what was in the picture a typical person might describe the scene as "a forest at sunset" while a person with autism might remember "shiny leaves, orange light and a branch you could hang a swing from". This processing style is the reason people with autism outperform people without autism on specific tasks. One of these tasks is The Embedded Figures task. In this task, people might be shown a line drawing of a car which everyone can identify as such. When asked to point out the three triangles in the picture, people without autism are much slower than those with autism. This is because the typical people can not see "past" the car to label all it's constituent parts. The people with autism will identify the three triangles quickly because this is how they are practiced at seeing the world.

Research involving people with autism ranging from studies of how individual brain cells are connected to how people perform in psychological tests paints a picture of the world occupied by those with autism as fragmented, overwhelming and filled with "noise". This is corroborated by autobiographical reports from people with autism. Understanding the autistic child's fragmented and overwhelming world shows how important a child's external environment is when designing treatment and education for children with autism. It also explains why children with autism crave order and predictability in their physical environments.

Physical environments with higher amounts of sensory stimulation (e.g. bright visual displays, background noise, etc.) will add to the "noise" in an already overloaded sensory system making any new learning extremely challenging--like trying to learn Japanese in a shopping mall. The extent to which rooms can be tailored to meet the needs of these children is highly limited in a typical classroom setting, mainly due to the presence of other children and the subsequent size of the room. Even fluorescent lighting has been shown to affect the behavior of children with autism. These environmental considerations are either overlooked and their importance underestimated when placements are suggested for children with autism or it is beyond the scope of the school district to provide any other type of physical environment.

The Easy Part
The FIRST STEP along the road to building a comprehensive treatment program for your child is providing him or her with an appropriate environment in which to learn. Usually this means SIMPLIFY! Here's what to do:

1. Dedicate one room in your house to you child with autism. It could be your child's bedroom or another room (not too big, 12' x 12' is plenty, and smaller is fine depending on the age of your child). The room might even only be dedicated to your child with autism for part of the day (for instance if he or she shares a bedroom with a sibling) this is OK too. Do the best you can with the situation you have.

2. Remove all electronic toys from the dedicated room. This includes televisions, video-games, and anything battery powered (including singing / talking books and things that flash!) These toys can be over-stimulating for a child with autism and do not encourage social interaction.

3. Make sure you have incandescent light bulbs not fluorescent one. Fluorescent light bulbs flicker at a rate most of use tune out but that can be highly over-stimulating for people with autism.
4. Clear some space. Ideally you want the floor to be a free, clear open space on which you can play with your child. Have the minimal amount of furniture you can in the special room. Also simplify the amount of toys you have in the room and if possible put them all on shelves or in a closet.

These are the first step towards creating an optimal learning environment in which to work with your child. Parents running a home-based Son-Rise Programs are coached further on how to create a customized learning environment and Son-Rise Program playroom. The simple measures described here will aid in soothing your autistic child's over-active nervous system by making the world digestible and manageable and set the stage for social interaction and subsequent learning.

Kat Houghton is an autism treatment consultant specializing in The Son-Rise Program, a relationship-enhancement method of approaching autism. She is the founder and director of Inspired by Autism Consulting, director of research at The Autism Treatment Center of America and completing a PhD in Psychology at Lancaster University in the UK.

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Three Ways To Describe Autism

When you are asked the question "what is Autism?" or "what is the Autistic Spectrum?" depending on who you ask you will get a completely different response from person to person. The underlying principles are the same, but people will explain things in ways that they are comfortable with or using metaphors and symbolism which they can relate to.

Not wanting to simply produce another article explaining Autism in my own words, I struck upon the idea of asking a number of experts how they would describe Autism and the Autistic Spectrum. I have compiled three of the most effective responses in one user friendly place so that you can choose your favourite and hopefully help to spread awareness.

Wild Plant Autism/Autistic Spectrum Analogy

This analogy likens Autistic people to wild plants. Wild plants very rarely grow the same way twice, much in the same way that there is no one size fits all, single set of must-have traits required to be classed as Autistic. Essentially: you don't have to have all of the recognised traits of Autism to be on the Autistic Spectrum (The symbolic term used to define how Autistic somebody is).

Some wild plants overgrow, in much the same way that some Autistic people are very open and verbal, in contrast other wild plants hardly see the light of day. We can liken this to those Autistic people who keep everything inside and are non verbal.

Although our wild plant may be overgrown and in some cases not look very pretty, it may still excel in one particular area (such as producing an abundance of flowers). This can be likened to the fact that some Autistic people excel in areas far beyond neurotypical capabilities.

Taking the wild plant analogy a little further, it wouldn't be fair to leave out the comparison between Autistic traits and the neurotypical. A popular way to do this is to liken neurotypical people to Cabbages. The only reason why this comparison is drawn is because one cabbage is pretty much the same as the next cabbage and the next. In addition, cabbages are grown in fields of uniform rows - a parallel to the way that for the most part neurotypical people feel the need to fit in with the crowd and possess a similar set of neurological traits.

The pebble Analogy

There is a very popular video of this analogy on the internet by Dave Spicer (A way of describing autism). This particular video has received lots of comments both good and bad. Some people don't like referring to people with Autism as pebbles whereas some people don't like referring to people with Autism as Autistic people. There are also people who think it's a wonderful representation. With this level of engagement surrounding this excellent video it wasn't surprising that this particular comparison popped up quite a bit in people's responses. Read it below in the words of myself on how we can compare people with Autism to different pebbles.

Clear Stone

When looking at the clear stone you can see right through it. Some Autistic people are extremely open and will open themselves and their lives up completely to anybody who wishes to see.

Black Stone

If you look at the black stone you don't really get anything from it other than the fact that it is a black stone. Some autistic people keep everything locked in. Some are non verbal and remain a mystery much in the same way.

Chrome Stone

The chrome stone offers one abundantly obvious, unique attribute: it's striking, shiny finish. This finish captures our attention in an obvious way. It has one particular special and unique aspect - just like autistic people who have one special interest or appear to excel in one particular area.

Patterned Stone

The patterned stone has very intricate patterns on it that must be examined and considered in order to appreciate it properly. Some Autistic people need to follow set routines and have things structured in the same way all of the time. Just like the patterned pebble, if you follow these routines as you would the patterns on the pebble you will begin to see the beauty inside.

Dual Coloured Stone

With the dual coloured stone you can look at it from two different viewpoints and potentially believe that you are in fact looking at two different stones. Although it's the same stone, it can appear different. At first glance when looking at next to other pebbles it doesn't seem to fit in. Do you see this as being a problem or do you accept it and enjoy it for what it is?

Tiger Eye Stone

This stone is probably my favourite. The tiger eye stone changes the more you look at it: the more you look at it the more interesting and beautiful it becomes. The comparison here is that although Autistic people act differently to neurotypical people, if you spend the time understanding them then you will eventually see how beautiful they are.

The deck of cards analogy

The deck of cards analogy is quite a simple one. Although we say deck of cards, imagine four Aces. At first glance they look the same - just like if you are looking at somebody with Autism, on the face of it you would not necessarily know they were Autistic.

When you start to look at the Aces just as Autistic People you begin to see, that although they are all Aces they are all in fact unique and have differences and strengths of their own.

These different analogies essentially tell the same story, but using a variety of different reference points with the hope of eliciting understanding. I don't think there ever will be a global explanation of what Autism or the Spectrum is, simply because the autistic spectrum is so broad that it would be physically impossible to categorise it exactly in one statement. Id also like to say a special thank you to the community over at Talk Autism who helped immensely with the ideas and visualisations so that I could produce this article.

The world doesn't know half as much as it should about Autism so all that can be done is for people to continue to spread awareness as far and wide as they can.

Written by Explain Autism to help raise awareness of this condition. Please.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Is Your Autistic Child a Finicky Vegetable and Fruit Eater?

Do you feel frustrated thinking about preparing meals for your whole family and your autistic child at the dinner table? You want to have a balanced meal, but your child with autism does not like vegetables and fruit. You know that these items contain the nutrient value your child needs to be healthy and pursue the proper development. What can be done to encourage your child not to be a finicky eater, when fruits and vegetables are added to their meals?

My brother was a finicky eater with the disorder he had. I remember, my parents did not know how to get him to eat his vegetables and fruits. However, I remember my mother dicing apples, oranges, and other fruits, then she would put some of them in the jello she made.

She would pour the contents of the colorful ingredients into several unique plastic molds, of unusual shapes. She would put the molds in the refrigerator, let them set and serve to my brother. He loved the colorful shapes, the taste of the jello which made it appealing to eat. I would recommend that if you have not tried this, experiment with it. Find out if your child might like to try it. It is a wonderful plan, to have this idea for the holidays.

I found when autistic children do not like eating vegetables, I would cut them up in different shapes, sizes, and be creative with arranging them on their plate. You can be real creative using carrots, peas, lettuce, beans and even tomatoes. You might want to add some sliced cheese, of different flavors to give more color, texture and designs to the plate.

Your child may choose raw vegetables to eat, rather than cooked vegetables. He or she might like the feel of the texture and picking the vegetables up with his or her fingers.

Another idea you might want to try is, using a blender for fruits. When you use a blender, you are able to mix fruits and make a milkshake. You can also use yogurt that has various flavors, or make blended juices out of the fruit. Pour the ingredients into some colorful, fun glasses or containers to make it appealing.

It is important to introduce fruits and vegetables at meals that contain high nutritional value. You want to make sure that there is a variety of high antioxidants in them.

Your child who is a finicky eater, will do better if you do not force him or her to eat all of their fruits and vegetables, Let your child pick and choose which vegetables and fruits they want to eat.

Do not threaten your child if he or she does not eat all of their vegetables and fruits. Do not tell your child that there will be some consequences, if they do not eat all of what is on their plate. This puts fear in your child and it will cause rebellion.

Have snacks with fruits and vegetables during the day. You may want to make a vegetable dip or a fruit dip and serve with some organic crackers. This is an excellent source for your child to obtain new tastes and textures.

When you make your introductions with fruits and vegetables, do it naturally. Remember your child will probably not eat all of the fruits or vegetables, or even like all of them. Keep on being creative and do not get discouraged with your child, who is a finicky eater.

Bonita Darula operates, an informational web sight==> Where you sign up and RECEIVE your FREE WEEKLY NEWSLETTER about depression potting training, coping, research, nutrition, and many other imperative topics for your Autistic child and you, to learn from. She also offers an e-book titled, "Discover the Secret Truth About Autism Causes, Symptoms and Treatments."

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How Autism Impacts Communication, Social Interaction And Learning In Children

Speech is slow to develop in the child with Autism or does not develop at all. Words, if used, may be used out of context or without the intent to communicate at all. Children with Autism may echo the words of others without appearing to understand their meaning. They may use words and then 'lose' them. They make infrequent eye contact and rarely understand or use gestures.

Children with Autism have difficulty interpreting and using language for social interaction; their motivation to interact is affected and their social use of language is impaired. They may appear indifferent to affection and lack social responsiveness to the interests, needs and feelings of others. They may seek social contact in unusual ways and prefer to be alone rather than in the company of others. They may be unresponsive and may only tolerate approach from people very familiar to them. They are usually unaware of social rules and have difficulty taking turns in games.

Interests/ behaviours:
Children with Autism may respond to objects in unusual and repetitive ways and show intense levels of interest in one area. They are unable to understand that an object may be used for another purpose other than the one they know. Their patterns of play and movement may be ritualised and they may have vocal rituals that involve unusual sounds and/or nonsense words. They are often resistive to change and exhibit ritualistic or compulsive behaviour, abnormal attachments and unusual responses to sensory experiences.

Learning style:
Children with Autism are naturally repetitive and tend to memorize sequences of events or words. They do not naturally integrate information and lack understanding of how to initiate and maintain interactions. They have difficulty screening out irrelevant stimuli and may be disturbed by subtle environmental conditions. They learn better visually and are very literal and concrete. They are visual thinkers and learn from experience. They have difficulty processing transient information, shifting attention, selecting relevant information and generalizing.

Sensory processing:
Children with Autism often have difficulty organising and processing sensory input. 90- 100% of children with autism experience sensory processing deficits. These children work hard to retain a balance between arousal and organising- many odd or ritualistic behaviours are likely to be a way of organising sensory input. Their sensory system is very easily aroused. Autistic children may be distracted or overloaded by subtle changes in environmental conditions that would not concern other children, such as the sound of a fan working in an adjoining room.

There are many ways that parents, teachers and health professionals can support children with Autism so they can reach their full potential. Read our other articles to find out more.

Child of Mine connects parents with services for children. It is Australia's largest video-based directory for parents. It's free, fun and informative. Visit
Eileen Simoni

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The Autism Debate

Thimerosal made the headlines about ten years ago. Parents were furious. It seemed that the mercury-based ingredient that was added commonly in vaccines since 1930 was causing autism. We were in the midst of an autism epidemic, we read, and pharmaceutical companies had knowingly and willfully endangered our children by exposing them through the use of cheap preservatives like Thimerosal. My spouse and I did what every other couple in America was doing at the time - we argued unceasingly about to vaccinate or not to vaccinate our children. Was the threat real? Did Thimerosal really endanger our children? Or, were we unnecessarily endangering our children by forgoing vaccinations?

According to the National Autism Association, "An analysis of the US Department of Education data from 1992-1993 in comparison to 2000-2001 indicates that there has been an average increase of 644% among all US children" (NAA, n.d.). Frightening statistics to say the least, but are statistics really telling the whole story? As an educator, I know that education has improved our understanding of learning differences dramatically. We have become much better at diagnosing disorders, like autism, and we are able to do so at much younger ages. This is a blessing, in most respects, because the earlier we can work with these children, the more profound our impact will be. Yet, this earlier detection is a double edged sword that, for all events and purposes, obscures the story behind the statistics. Have cases of autism really shot through the roof, or have we simply become much better at diagnosing children who in previous years would have gone unnoticed?

It is an interesting dilemma. As is another question that has been raised and not sufficiently addressed. Point one, mercury poisoning is, without a doubt, a horrific and preventable condition. It is also one where the symptoms mimic autism. This does not mean that mercury poisoning is autism or that it leads to autism. Point two is this. We know that mercury poisoning is usually reversible through chelation therapy. Since disabilities by their very nature aren't something we can turn off or on, would that not suggest that cases of mercury poisoning that are reported as "autism" aren't autism at all, but rather mercury poisoning?

The point of this discussion is not to inflame the parents of children who have autism. Nothing can be more devastating than a child who isn't healthy as he should be. Parents have every right to scream and demand an answer. What is being suggested is that simply pointing to mercury and screaming has done nothing to find the real determinant behind the increase in autism nor has it resolved the cases or made children's lives better.

It has been roughly 20 years since Thimerosal has been phased out of use. Many manufacturers voluntarily suspended its use, long before the federal government finally stepped in, long before newspapers began the rant against Thimerosal. Yet, the epidemic continues and new cases of autism are reported every day. While we're busy continuing to scream, our children go on without answers and without help.

Deidra has been an online writer for nearly 2 years now. Not only does this author specialize in health, travel, and product reviews, you can also check out her latest website on Revlon RV544 Tourmaline Hair Dryer which reviews and lists the best Revlon RV544 Tourmaline Hair Dryer.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Autism That Blank Stare

The numbers continue to climb. 1-166 children develop Autism each year. Why? They said it was the mercury in the vaccines. Then they could not rule out the possibility of genetically distribution. It is a guessing game. Unlike most other disorders and diseases that cause a person to become handicapped, the autistic brain is still a mystery.

Autism has varying degrees of disability. They call it a spectrum disorder, because those afflicted can be very high functioning and amazingly technical. They are so focused on one subject. This is a category that many professors fall into. They have that one specialty that they know absolutely everything about, but can they remember your birthday? Probably not, but they can tell you what happened in their field eighty years ago. This is called Asperger's Syndrome, a variation of autism. Then you have the very low functioning people on the autism spectrum, who are barely able communicate. My nephew falls into the low functioning category on the spectrum.

Many people wrongly assume that autistic people are geniuses at something. They say things like "Oh I saw Rainman, can he do that?" Then I have to go into this long story about autism, and what they are speaking of is known officially as an Autistic Savant, and no, he can't count cards so he is not coming to Vegas with you.

In his Autistic world, he just wants to stay home and drive his mommy crazy. He likes to watch Winnie the Pooh videos, and will rewind the same sentence over and over and over and over and over and over, and get the idea. This is enough to drive a non-autistic person crazy. Then one day, we heard him singing. He was nine. He was singing along with Carly Simon to the Winnie the Pooh song. He hates it when people sing, he will cover his ears, but he loves Carly Simon. It was the first time we ever heard him sing. We almost cried. It still gives me goose-bumps.

How do you tell if your child has Autism? This is a question we hear frequently. There are free rating scales available on the web today. You will need a professional opinion, and if a diagnosis of Autism is made, you can try to find resources from your state or local government. There are local support groups available all over the United States for parents and siblings. Some states do more to help families with disabled children than others, so we strongly suggest you look into what provisions your state has.

In the case of my nephew, we knew something was wrong, when all the other kids were doing things he was not doing. He did not want to play with other kids. He acted like they were not there. To this day, he does not play with toys, or other children. He could care less! He was forming sentences one day, and then he just stopped. He lost his ability to communicate. He stopped eating. He stopped everything. Instead of moving forward in his abilities, it was as if time started to go backwards.

On Christmas day his presents will sit there if you don't hand him one to open. He is content to just have his videos that rewind. He has a blank stare. It is unmistakable. You can see it in every school picture. He is in a school that is trying to teach him life skills.

He loves to watch water go down a drain, but now he also likes to watch it go over the sink, and cascade over the bathtub, we are all very cautious since my sister-in-law came home to ankle high water in the living room. He must have seen someone watering a lawn, and decided to water the carpet. He took the hose inside the house, and just turned it on. Thank God I was not living there at the time, or I would have had to move.

People will drive down our street, and you can tell by their eye movement, and the crinkled forehead look of disbelief that we let him (on occasion), waste a little bit of water. We let him turn the water on so he can watch it run down the driveway. Yes, it's true. Sometime we just let him. He has no excitement other than that, and he loves to watch the water cut a path down the driveway. Now before you balk at wasting water, what do your kids waste? He will never ride a bike, drive a car, go out on a first date, go to the prom, get married, etc. Most important, he will never initiate saying "I Love You" to his mother. When he says it, she has to say it first to him, then he echo's it back to her. So what's a little water in exchange for a little happiness to someone who will never experience these other memorable milestones in life?

One of the most important things you can do for your Autistic child is to include him or her in everyday events. Our Autism chapter will rent out an entire movie theatre for families, so they can have a family outing. When a new movie comes out, we try to arrange a Sunday morning viewing in Schaumburg, Illinois, at Loews Movie Theatres. Without them we would not have a venue for these kids.

E. L. Strauch is the webmaster for

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Eight Reasons Why Your Toddler With Autism Should Start The Piano

The discussion on whether or not to begin piano instruction with a child typically starts around the age of 5 or 6 years of age. This is largely due to the perception that the piano is difficult to learn and that it is a more 'refined' instrument. When you consider that the piano is truly a percussion instrument, it is very durable and it offers instant feedback to the player: you may begin to change your view! While these eight reasons can be applied to all young children, the possible benefits associated with an autistic toddler exploring the piano can be even more important.

1. Give Them a Head Start

When a 5 or 6 year old student begins to learn an instrument, a lot of time is spent on the basics; such as sitting appropriately, focusing on the page and using rhythm. By starting to teach to these basics earlier on, the student will be well on his way to learning simple songs and using both hands while the former student is just starting to explore the instrument.

2. They Can Do It!

If your child can match - they can play the piano. It really is that simple!

3. You Can Do It!

Yes, even if you have no musical background! After all, these matching exercises are, relatively, not complicated and exploring more advanced material would most likely be counterproductive here.

4. Help with Focusing

Even though your toddler will most likely not be practicing for extended periods of time, there are still benefits associated with starting the process. The act of designating short time periods which are 'only piano time' will begin to instill a sense of routine in the child. These time periods can gradually be increased over time.

5. Great Way to Introduce Other Instruments

Certain concepts such as reading musical notation and rhythm are shared by all instruments. Since learning the piano will eventually introduce both Treble and Bass Clef note reading skills, almost every other possible instrument will be available to them in the future.

6. Less Competition

School and an increasing amount of peer related activities will very quickly become a major competitor with any extracurricular activity. In these early stages of the child's development, you can devote more time to the piano and still have time to just have fun!

7. Social Skills Development

While the piano may seem like a stand-alone instrument, it can eventually open the doors to many community based activities. This is especially important in toddlers with autism since many individuals on the spectrum have challenges, later on, with expressive language and socializing. Attending recitals, professional performances and interacting with other musically inclined peers are all great ways to increase social skills development.

8. Changing Perceptions

Like it or not, many people still have an unclear view of just what individuals with autism are capable of. Learning how to play the piano can have a huge impact on the perception of siblings, family and friends and society in general.

About the author:

Mr. Jeffrey Young is the President and Founder of Innovative Piano, Inc. Mr. Young has published over 17 books dealing with music and autism. To learn more about the author and the program please visit

Offering piano lessons for students with autism - Nationwide!

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500,000 Autistic Children Will Reach Adulthood in the Next 15 Years, Will Your Child Be Prepared?

Helping one's child to live their best life possible is every parent's dream. Learn what to do to make your dream become a reality.

There are hundreds of programs to choose from to help your children with autism and special needs. However, there are very few programs exclusively for parents who have children with special needs where they only focus on the parents.

While seeking the best treatments for your children make sure to take care of yourself along the way.

Many years went by before I realized how extremely important it was to take care of myself first. I often questioned how would I ever find the time?

It is true when moms are doing well so is the rest of the family.

I had been intensely focusing on helping Brandon that I had completely lost myself. I spent every waking moment taking care of Brandon and my family. When I began to take care of myself first my entire life and my family's life changed for the better. Over time my mental outlook greatly improved. I found assistance, help, and support. I attended lectures, conferences, workshops, read books, found a therapist who understood my situation of raising a child with special needs. She was a tremendous support. I discovered holistic natural treatments, such as homeopathy, and yoga. When I discovered how to live in the moment and how to move into fear and watch it dissipate from Eckhart Tolle's book, The Power of Now, I become a kinder, more evolved human being in the process.

As far as my son's diagnosis, it was not until Brandon turned thirty-two when I discovered he also had Asperger's, in addition to having untreatable epilepsy, and severe learning disorders. You might say for all those years I was trying to find my way in the dark.

Because of the love for our children we will never give up and we do whatever it takes to help them. That is something all parents have in common.

1. When you feel more balanced, centered and filled with hope you have a much better chance of helping your children to reach their full potential, and at the same time you are helping yourself.

2. Another important aspect of taking care of yourself is that when things do not go well you are more able to handle negative situations and disappointments in a much more positive manner.

3. You will become more resilient. It will take more to get you down and you will be able to bounce back much quicker.

4. You will find yourself learning, changing and growing in all areas of your life.

5. Acceptance seems to come along as part of the package, while your fears are minimized and your courage is strengthened.

Therefore the next time you hear someone say, to take care of yourself first, I hope you will take it seriously and take the first step to make that happen. Begin with baby steps and start by carving out just a few minutes for yourself and build as time goes by. I began by walking at a park for a few minutes a couple days a week, which grew into hours over time.

If you want to see change, change yourself.

As I changed, I watched my son change as well. I treated him the way I wanted to be treated. I became a nicer person and so did he. He knew he could trust me to be fair and could rely on me to be there for him. He knew I would treat him kindly and with respect. When I lost my cool I would quickly apologize. All of this helped to keep Brandon's dignity intact. Dignity is something many people with disabilities lose early on and never get back. It is an essential ingredient for one's self esteem.

Dignity, respect and acceptance is the key to helping our kids and adults develop and grow to their highest level.

If you want your children to succeed, you must set the tone and show them how by doing your best and in turn they will do their best too. I have seen it happen, and I know firsthand that it is never too early or too late to get started. Remember, you and your children are on the same team. Together you can turn a negative situation around.


Amalia Starr is a Mother, Autism Motivational Speaker, Family Consultant and Author. Starr's youngest son, Brandon, is thirty-six years old. He has a form of autism called Asperger's, plus untreatable epilepsy, and severe learning disorders. The professionals who worked with Brandon said he would never be able to live alone. They were wrong. Brandon has been living on his own for more than twelve years, enjoying his independence. There is HOPE! Learn how Amalia helped her son accomplish his dream of independence in her book, Raising Brandon. For more information on how to help your child with special needs reach his or her full potential please visit:, and accept Starr's offer of a free phone consultation and pick up a copy of Raising Brandon. To book Amalia as a speaker, call 800-939-1046.

Follow Amalia on Twitter at:

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What is Autism - The Real Truth

Autism is constantly in the news - what with Jenny McCarthy talking about it with Larry King and Oprah, President Obama giving priority to autism research and funding, news reports of an autism epidemic etc. - but what exactly is autism? Is every autistic person a savant or like Dustin Hoffman in "Rainman"?

The Many Faces of Autism

There is a saying about autism having many faces and this is indeed true. All autistic people, whether children or adults, are individuals with their own personality traits, symptoms, challenges and needs. However, if you or your child are diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, then you will have one of five types of autism spectrum disorder:-

  • Asperger Syndrome
  • Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
  • PDD-NOS or Pervasive Developmental Disorder (Not Otherwise Specified)
  • Rett Syndrome
  • Autism - Also referred to as SLD Autism or Kanner's Syndrome

Sufferers of each of these five autism spectrum disorders share a "triad of impairments", or three common characteristics, though with varying degrees. All three of these common impairments are to do with socialization and social skills.

The Triad of Impairments

1) Difficulty with Interaction

All autistic people have some difficulty interacting with those around them. This impairment covers problems making friends and "fitting in", difficulty mixing with their peers, problems understanding social rules and the rules of conversation, and not picking up on other people's feelings or showing their own in an inappropriate manner.

2) Difficulty with Social Imagination

This second impairment is to do with empathy and understanding consequences. An autistic person many have problems understanding the feelings and actions of other, coping with change, planning for the future, coping with new situations and experiences, understanding risks and dangers, and playing imaginatively.

3) Difficulty Communicating

All autistic people have some degree of difficulty either with communicating or with understanding communication. Some sufferers will have problems with speech, some will not understand the different ways people communicate - gestures, body language and facial expressions, others will take things that people say quite literally and not understand jokes or sarcasm, and some just will not understand how conversation works and will interrupt or change the subject.

Other Common Characteristics

Although there are only three characteristics which are common to all of the autism spectrum disorders, some of them do share other characteristics and difficulties:-

  • Sensory sensitivity - Many parents report that their autistic children are either hypersensitive or hyposensitive. Hypersensitivity is when a child is over-sensitive to touch, tastes, noises and smells. Hyposensitivity is the complete opposite and may mean that a child has problems with fine motor skills, like doing up buttons, and may not be able to feel pain.
  • Obsessions - It is common for many autistic children to become "fixated" on a certain hobby or interest.
  • Learning disabilities - Some autistic children have learning problems and may need special support at school. Some autistic people also have problems like dyspraxia, dyslexia or ADHD.
  • A need for fixed rules and routine - As I have said, it is common for autistic people to have problems coping with change and new experiences. An autistic child may cope better if they have a predictable daily routine.
  • Problems with daily chores and actions - Things that the rest of us take for granted, like brushing our teeth, washing and making our beds, may be difficult for an autistic child or adult to remember and do.

Can Autism be Cured?

This question is highly controversial and has been debated many times. There are three main schools of thought:-

  • Some people believe that autism is an incurable disability which, although it can be treated and managed, cannot be cured.
  • People like Jenny McCarthy believe that an autistic person can "recover" from autism, just like a person recovers from a car accident. Jenny's autistic son was treated with biomedical interventions and is now no longer on the autism spectrum. Many people would say that he is "cured".
  • Other people are pushing for autism to be accepted, rather than treated. These people believe that they or their children are not "broken" and do not need "fixing" or "curing", they want to be accepted as they are.

What do I think?

I believe that the triggers and causes of autism can be combated with biomedical treatments and that autism is treatable and curable.

DAN! Physician Chun Wong is blogging the whole truth and nothing but the truth on Autism, HBOT and all the Biomedical approaches on his weekly blog.

If you're ready to start improving the health of your autistic child, to make sound judgements, and to have more knowledge, get all the breakthrough news now at

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What You Should Know About Tactile Defensiveness and Other Tactile System Disorders

One of the most common sensory disorders is Tactile Defensiveness. With this condition, a child is over or "hyper" sensitive to different types of touch. Light touch is one of the most upsetting types of touch to a child with SI dysfunction. Depending on the intensity of their dysfunction, they may become anywhere from mildly annoyed to completely freaked out by having someone lightly touch them. A gentle kiss on the cheek may feel like they are having coarse sandpaper rubbed on their face. They also may dislike feeling sand, grass or dirt on their skin. Getting dressed may be a struggle as different clothing textures, tags and seams may cause them great discomfort.

Often children with Tactile Defensiveness or touch hypersensitivity will avoid, become fearful of, or are irritated by:

  • The wind blowing on bare skin
  • Light touch
  • Vibrating toys
  • Barefoot touching of carpet, sand and/or grass
  • Clothing textures
  • Tags and seams on clothing
  • Touching of "messy" things
  • Changes in temperature

On the other side of the spectrum is a child with Tactile Undersensitivity or "Hyposensitivity". A tactile undersensitive child need a lot of input to get the touch information he or she needs. They will often seek out tactile input on their own in sometimes unsafe ways.

A child who is undersensitive to touch may have these difficulties:

  • Emotional and social - Craves touch to the extent that friends, family, and even strangers become annoyed and upset. This could be the baby who constantly needs to be held, or the toddler who is clingy, craving continual physical contact.
  • Sensory exploration - Makes excessive physical contact with people and objects. Touching other children too forcefully or inappropriately (such as biting or hitting).
  • Motor - To get more tactile sensory information, he may need to use more of his skin surface to feel he's made contact with an object.
  • Grooming and dressing - May choose clothing that is, in your opinion, unacceptably tight or loose. He may brush his teeth so hard that he injures his gums.

If you child shows signs of Tactile Defensiveness or Undersensitivity, it's important to get a proper screening by an Occupational Therapist, pediatrician or other licensed professional. This sensory assessment will help you in seeking out the proper course of treatment and therapy.

Visit [] for more information and support regarding Sensory Integration, PDD and other Autism Spectrum Disorders.

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Sensory Integration and Autism Does it Work?

Not all children with autism have sensory problems among their symptoms, but when present they are among the first to become noticeable. Sensory issues can range from being hypersensitive or, at the other end of the scale, having a lack of response to many types of stimulation. However by employing sensory integration and autism therapy these issues can be managed.

The range of sensory integration (SI) issues children with autism face varies dramatically from child to child. Some children are unable to tolerate any loud or unusual noise. Textures of foods and fabrics may be extremely irritating. Something as simple as a clothing label can feel to an autistic child like insects crawling over their skin. For these hypersensitive children anything remotely out of the ordinary, such as a loud family gathering with lots of hugging and kissing, can be too much for senses to manage.

On the other end of the spectrum, some autistic children show practically no response to anything at all. Loud noises are ignored, events or actions that might have an impact on anyone else will pass seemingly unnoticed.

Though it is not always the case, some classic autistic behaviors can be attributed to the sensory issues themselves.

Some children will deal with feelings of over-stimulation by flapping hands, rocking their bodies, and even walking in different ways. Those behaviors may seem odd, however when you consider that their senses are overloaded, those actions make a great deal more sense.

It is somewhat logical if an autistic child is over-stimulated, he or she might alter how they do things in order to try to deal with whatever it is that is proving to be overwhelming. These same actions might also be carried out in order to seek sensations that are desired, but not present.

The main objective of sensory integration and autism therapy is to make their environment tolerable and even pleasant for the child if at all possible. Most sensory integration therapy is incorporated within occupational therapy.

There are many types of activities that are integrated into the therapy to expose the child to sensations of all types; including brushing the skin, motions and movements, music or other auditory stimuli.

The child is exposed over and over again in a controlled environment in the hope that this exposure will help them learn to process the information without becoming startled or overwhelmed. If ST therapy is successful, the child usually becomes calmer and more in control of their actions and other problems, such as tantrums, may also be diminished.

There is debate over how effective SI therapy can be. There are several studies that demonstrate the therapy works well and just as many have illustrated that the therapy has no positive impact and in some case a negative effect.

Some of the controversy with this therapy may lie with unspecialized health care professionals attempting to provide the therapy without enough experience or training. Another point to bear in mind that as each child and each case of autism is different, so the outcome will never be the same for any two children, therefore it is very hard to compare outcomes between two or more children.

When considering sensory integration and autism therapy for your child it is important to speak to a qualified doctor about the potential benefits and setbacks that may occur. Some children with autism simply don't need this form of therapy, while others will not respond to it at all. It is the individual situation that will dictate the final result.

Grab your free copy of Rachel Evans' brand new Autism Newsletter - Overflowing with easy to implement methods to help you and your family find out about diagnosing autism and for information on autism strategies please visit The Essential Guide To Autism.

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Healing Autism Naturally - Today's Functional Medicine Treatments Often Deliver Dramatic Improvement

Autism statistics in today's world are alarming. Even more alarming is having your own child diagnosed with autism.

In the past, there were few treatments that promised improvement in the symptoms of autism, and therefore parents viewed a diagnosis of autism as a sentence of doom. Recently, however, an alternative approach called Functional Medicine has made great strides in identifying the biochemical causes of an individual child's autism and in delivering significant improvement.

Autism's Symptoms

Typically, autism is diagnosed at 30 months or earlier. It is a neurological disorder that disrupts normal brain function. Early diagnosis is key to effective treatment.

Autistic children tend to have difficulty with verbal and non-verbal communication, intellectual development, and forming social relationships. In some cases, they also show compulsions and aggressive or self-injurious behaviors.

The signs and symptoms of autism include low birth weight, profound failure to develop social relationships, language disorders with impaired understanding, involuntary repetition of a word or sentence just spoken by another person, reversal of pronouns, compulsive actions, and in most cases, slow intellectual development.

Identifying Autism's Cause in an Individual

Causes of autism that clinicians have observed include:
· Exposure to toxins, especially heavy metals in the environment, childhood vaccinations and pesticides
· Food allergies
· Gastrointestinal disturbances

All of these factors cause toxicity in the body that affects the nervous system.

By testing a child's blood and urine, we can assess his or her neurotransmitter and nutritional deficiencies as well as the presence of toxins and thereby determine the appropriate therapy for that individual.

Natural Therapies for Autism

If the laboratory test results indicate a deficiency in neurotransmitters, the Functional Medicine practitioner would prescribe their replenishment. Neurotransmitters involve a chemical makeup in the brain that is responsible for behavior and learning.

If the lab tests indicate the presence of heavy metals or other toxins, the Functional Medicine practitioner would eliminate these through detoxification protocols, including the use of nutrition and detoxifying the gastrointestinal tract with natural botanical substances.

Nutritional deficiencies would be corrected through a change in diet and a prescription for natural supplements.

Improvement and Prognosis

Sleep is generally the first area to improve, often within one week. Hypersensitivity and sociability are usually the next to improve. Finally, speech and potty training improve as well.

Although a child might still require special education, speech therapy and other therapy, the outlook for autistic children is much brighter now than in the past.

Dr. Wayne Sodano, D.C., is a chiropractic internist and a faculty member of Functional Medicine University, a training program for medical professionals. He also serves on the Board of Advisors for the consumer information health site, which helps the general public understand the root causes of medical conditions - including autism and a broad range of other health problems - and how to treat them without surgery or drugs.

A free membership in provides access to hundreds of articles and resources for consumers on medical problems that can be resolved without surgery or drugs. To learn more or sign up, go to

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Alternative Treatments For Autism, Asperger Syndrome and Autism Herbs

Asperger's Disorder (commonly misspelled as asberger's) is a milder variant of Autistic Disorder. Both Asperger's Disorder and Autistic Disorder are in fact subgroups of a larger diagnostic category. This larger category is called either Autistic Spectrum Disorders or Pervasive Developmental Disorders ("PDD").

Prognosis of an autistic child is rather poor: typically only one in twenty will display any improvement by adulthood. There is not a specific medical treatment for autism, however, there are quite a few alternative treatments for autism that have shown promise in behavior outcomes.

Vitamin B6 has shown promise in correcting abnormal metabolite excretion from a tryptophan load test. Autism Asperger syndrome given B6 have shown significant improvement overall, with true B6 deficiency present. This alternative treatment for autism may have some minor side effects of irritability, sound sensitivity and bed wetting, however, these can be resolved by giving magnesium in conjunction with B6. If B complex in addition to magnesium is given, better eye contact, less self-stimulating behavior, increased interest in surrounding environment, fewer tantrums and increased speech has been displayed.

As far as autism herbs, the best response I have ever seen is with a flower remedy tincture called Rescue Remedy. During those scary moments of an autism Asperger syndrome tantrum or outburst, applying a few drops of Rescue Remedy under the tongue (if not possible due to combative behavior, applying a few drops of the tincture directly to the center of their forehead) has shown great results in immediate calming behavior. Ginkgo biloba is a powerful free radical destroyer that protects the brain. It also improves function by increasing circulation to the brain and has shown great success as an alternative treatment for autism Asperger syndrome.

DMG (dimethylglycine) has shown great results in enriched vocabulary, construction of simple sentences, overall improved mental state, and improved concentration. The effect is usually seen within the first two weeks of administration, but you are encouraged to wait one month before discontinuing.

The other key factors that need to be addressed as alternative treatments for autism are general bowel detoxification, candida, food allergies and intestinal permeability. Sensitivity to gluten and milk are thought to be the major food allergens in autism Asperger syndrome. Eliminating aspartame and food dyes from the diet has shown great promise in correcting sound hypersensitivity and lessening tantrums. An impaired immune system in autism increases susceptibility to food allergies and sensitivities. Candida overgrowth contributes as well. The autistic individual may show signs of headache, stomachache, nausea, bed-wetting, stuttering, whining, crying, insomnia, hyperactivity, aggression, temper tantrums, gas, diarrhea or constipation, leg aches, ear infections, pink or black circles around the eyes and excessive perspiration. These can all be eliminated by following an antifungal treatment as well as following a food allergy elimination diet. If behavior problems occur prior to meals you may need to address possible hypoglycemia.

Autistic individuals are very special people and offer society great rewards, however, this condition requires specialized behavioral and psychological attention. Often times that autistic individual in your life can be your greatest disappointment but quite often your greatest joy.

Dr. Foster is a naturopathic medical doctor who graduated from an accredited medical university. Dr. Foster has been in private practice for over ten years addressing all forms of disease and ailments as well as addressing preventative medicine and lifestyle changes.

If you would like to learn more about natural treatment for autism Asperger syndrome, please click on the following link.

If you would like to learn more about naturopathic medicine, philosophy, educational background and training please click on the following link.

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Asperger's - The Itchy Tag Effect

Ever been bugged by an especially itchy wool sweater? Or been horrified at the shrill sound of fingernails being dragged down a chalkboard?

Just imagine if your day was filled with such experiences, and you and your loved ones were at a loss as to how to understand or help.

Most of us familiar with the basic symptoms associated with Asperger Disorder understand that people with Asperger's often seem hypersensitive. Children with Asperger's today often readily voice their discomfort with textures, noises and scents they find uncomfortable, and this discomfort has become, if not an accepted diagnostic criteria, a very familiar phenomenon for parents.

In their April, 2009 article Talent in Autism, Simon Baron-Cohen et al describe sensory hypersensitivity, a form of enhanced perceptual functioning typical of many individuals with autism spectrum conditions (ASC). Indeed, the article states that "studies using questionnaires such as the sensory profile have revealed sensory abnormalities in over 90per cent of children with ASC." How individuals process information (both cognitive and sensory) may be highly impacted, even organized according to, these differences: and the differences may cause distress, but also predispose to unusual talent.

Sensory: oversensitivities often reported by adults with Asperger's include:

Tactile: oversensitivity can cause the individual to feel physical sensations such as light touch, itchy fabrics, hugs and bare feet as unbearable.

Visual: oversensitivity can cause the individual to find fluorescent lights, bright sunlight, flashing lights and overly stimulating visual environments (e.g. casinos) to cause great discomfort.

Auditory: oversensitivity can cause the individual to find auditory input to be impossible to ignore. Foreground and background noises can compete with one another, leaving the listener unable to selectively attend. Shrill or high pitched noises, such as those of dental drills, children's squeals or shrieks, and blenders can cause extreme discomfort. Discordant music can cause discomfort.

Gustation: oversensitivity can cause the individual to feel uncomfortable with new tastes, or to find them intolerable. Children with gustational oversensitivity can prefer the same foods over and over again, refusing new foods and finding new flavors distressing.

Olfaction: Current research does not support evidence of oversensitivity for the sense of smell.
Clinicians who work with adults with Asperger's often find that this sensory hyperacuity has been coped with and channeled in creative ways.

Following are some of the coping mechanisms reported to me by clients who have struggled with sensory oversensitivity without knowing exactly what the problem was.

Clients who struggle with tactile hypersensitivity often:

o Wear soft, heavily washed, loose-fitting clothing, such as t-shirts and baggy shorts
o Avoid body piercings and tattoos
o Find showering unpleasant due to oversensitivity to sensations of water and changes in temperature
o Remove tags from clothing, which can be itchy
o Choose specific brands of clothing, underwear and shoes which provide minimal restriction
o Find ways to gain tactile input which is soothing, such as hair-pulling, hair twirling, hand tapping, etc.
o Enjoy stroking soft materials, such as the fur of cats

Clients who struggle with visual hypersensitivity often:

o Avoid visually overwhelming environments
o Wear sunglasses or hats to minimize bright lights
o Remove lamps or bulbs in work areas to reduce glare
o Cover fluorescent lights
o Close blinds during work time to prevent interruption by visual stimuli such as passers-by
o Keep work areas neatly organized to prevent becoming visually overstimulated
o Find visually predictable environments, such as video games, rewarding and comfortable

Clients with auditory oversensitivity often:

o "Tune out" when conversation becomes too overwhelming to attend to
o Avoid interacting in crowded settings, such as parties, or use substances to mediate oversensitivity
o Rely on electronics, such as iPods, to provide predictable auditory stimulation
o Wear noise-cancelling headphones when concentrating or meditating
o Spend quiet, solitary time to "recover" from overstimulating experiences
o Avoid telephone and cell phone use to minimize unanticipated auditory input
o Hum, sing or make noises to cancel out noises beyond individual's control
o Listen to music excessively

If you have noticed your own or a loved one's sensory hypersensitivity, be sure and treat it as condition to take seriously. Some researchers (see Belmonte et al., 2004) hypothesize that this sensory "magnification" may result from neural overconnectivity in sensory parts of the cerebral cortex. While research on brain structure and development differences is still being conducted, sensory oversensitivity in adults with ASC is well documented, and is most likely physiologically based.

Implementing some simple interventions can help the individual with Asperger's feel much more comfortable in the world. An increase in sensory comfort can have drastic effects on cognition, avoidance behaviors and the ability to attend to other stimuli. Many of my clients report irregular sleep/wake cycles, with much "down time" spent recovering from situations which cause sensory overload. Taking care of yourself ahead of time when facing a sensory challenging setting can prevent "sensory hangover", and is part of taking care of yourself.

Stay tuned for more on how sensory oversensitivity may be a contributing factor to talent and giftedness so often seen in adults with Asperger's.

Cary Terra is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in Seattle, WA. she specializes in working with adults with Asperger's and their partners and family members.

For more information about Asperger's and therapeutic interventions, please contact Cary Terra, M.A., LMFT at or visit her blog at

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