Thursday, May 13, 2010

Continuing Autism Experiments Offer Better Quality of Life for Sufferers

As the number of cases of autism continues to grow worldwide, the world has responded with a number of different kinds of autism experiments in order to better the quality of life and ability to function of people suffering from this condition. These trials come in various shapes and sizes and produce a range of different results.

Presently, there are a number of experimental autism treatments that are being followed, including investigation the impact of light and sound, music, carnosine, and diet on both autistic adults and children.

Mind Alive uses a machine called DAVID, which stands for Digital Audio Visual Integration Device, and is carefully calibrated to use flashing lights and pulsing tones. Initially used for the treatment of ADD, anxiety, and other related disorders, its success lead to the belief that it could also reduce the symptoms of autism.

Working to desensitize autism sufferers from certain kinds of sensory problems, DAVID stimulates different parts of the brain through the sensory organs. Though the results vary from person to person, successes in the program after a few weeks of treatment include lowering hypersensitivity to sound, decreased defensiveness to touch, increased eye contact, lower levels of aggressive behavior, better social skills, and even augmented enjoyment of food with a lower likelihood for pickiness.

Other forms of autism research are looking into the impact of carnosine. Carnosine is a type of natural protein, which has been looked at in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of L-carnosine supplementation in children with autistic spectrum disorders.

31 patients were used in the eight week study that either gave them 400 mg BID powdered L-Carnosine or a placebo. The children were assessed at the start and finish of the trial using recognized autism rating scales and also parental observations. After the 8 weeks those children given the L-Carnosine showed improvements across all the rating scales, findings that were backed up by the parents. The children taking the placebos showed no significant improvement.

The children taking the supplement have seen fast and noticeable results which include more pleasure from life, better eye contact, improved communication - including receiving language and using language more effectively - easier socialization, improved fine motor planning, and an increased awareness of the environment around them.

Dr. Chez - the head of the carnosine autism trials in Chicago - has observed the results of patients after the first weeks and has witnessed better communication and behavior in 16 percent of cases. Socialization among these patients had improved by 27 percent.

Additionally there have been trials using music, which have seen dramatic positive results. These trials have been conducted by the ASU School of Music's Music Therapy Department. Its purpose is to discover how music can be used on autism sufferers to achieve desirable behaviors and functions. It applies carefully chosen sounds to specific situations in order to encourage certain results. These noises can range from simple sounds such as clapping or ringing a bell, to more complex musical pieces. Frequently the simpler sounds allow autism suffers to reestablish their concentration after losing their focus. Other results that have been achieved include improved relations with others, better communication, and simply functioning at a better level overall.

Following a GFCF diet involves eating a diet that is entirely gluten-free and casein-free. Gluten and casein are naturally occurring proteins that are found in wheat, barley, and rye (gluten) and milk (casein), as many parents, researchers, and doctors believe that the removal of these proteins cause positive results in autism suffers.

Specific favorable results include improvement (occasionally very good, but sometimes only mild) in communication, bowel movements, increased eye contact, better attention span and overall mood while reducing tantrums, self-stimulating and aggressive behaviors.

Results are due in 2008 from a long-term double blind study on the effects of a GFCF diet on autism.

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These are a few of the autism experiments that have shown some positive results. However, there are many other efforts being made and many other trials being performed to make sure that autism sufferers are able to enjoy the best possible lives.

By Rachel Evans. Sign up for a free newsletter for more information on autism. In the newsletter you'll find out more about the signs and symptoms of autism.

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