Monday, October 29, 2012

Krill Oil Vs Pharmaceutical Grade Omega 3 Fatty Acids

While products derived from krill oil are currently enjoying popularity among many consumers due to a significant marketing campaign, this article will discuss the advantages of pharmaceutical grade fish-based Omega-3 products over those containing krill oil, including significantly higher levels of EPA/DHA, substantially lower cost per milligram of EPA/DHA and the large volume of validated scientific studies proving the health benefits associated with pharmaceutical grade Omega-3 derived from highly concentrated, ultra-pure fish oil. We strongly encourage you to compare omega 3 fish oil products to any krill oil that you are currently taking or are considering taking.
Available sources of Omega-3
There are three main sources of Omega-3 essential fatty acid available to consumers: fish oil, krill oil and plant sources, such as flax or other seed oils. While the health benefits of Omega-3 are virtually undisputed, the best source of Omega-3 for humans is the subject of ongoing debate.
Omega-3 in the form of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, or EPA/DHA, is found naturally only in animals, with the greatest concentrations being found in seafood, including fish and krill. EPA/DHA is required by the body to support cardiovascular and neurological health and has been shown to have positive health benefits in the areas of inflammatory and auto-immune disease, mental health, brain development in fetuses and babies, vision and more. Plant-based products, while often favored by vegetarians, vegans and those who have concerns about seafood alergies, only provide Omega-3 in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). To be available for use, the body must first convert ALA into EPA/DHA. This conversion is inefficient, requiring both energy and nutrient expenditures, thereby reducing the health benefits of plant-based Omega-3 products. While there are many Omega-3 products containing ALA available, this article focuses on the comparison between products containing krill oil and pharmaceutical grade Omega-3 derived from highly refined, ultra-pure fish oil.
What are Krill?
Krill are small, shrimp-like crustaceans that live in the ocean and feed mainly on phytoplankton. Low on the food chain, they're eaten by whales, fish, penguins, seals and squid. Krill have been harvested as a food source for humans and domesticated animals since the 19th century, and possibly even earlier in Japan. Large-scale fishing of krill developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and now occurs in Antarctic waters and in the seas around Japan. Over 95% of all harvested krill are used to make something called "fish meal," which is most oftenused as a feed for farm raised salmon. Approximately 2% of harvested krill is used to produce the krill oil found in Omega-3 products.
Products derived from krill oil are considerably more expensive than products derived from pharmaceutical grade fish oil due to several factors, including:
  • the low concentration of EPA/DHA in krill oil;
  • the high cost of krill oil processing methods;
  • relatively limited availability of krill, which are located and harvested near the South Pole;
  • the fact that krill must be processed into oil onboard the harvesting ships to avoid spoilage;
  • a limited harvest season of only a few months per year;
  • the high advertising costs required to promote a relatively new and unproven product to physicians and consumer
Krill as a source of Omega-3
Like fish oil, krill oil contains EPA/DHA. However, Omega-3 products derived from krill oil typically have EPA/DHA concentrations of only 15-24%, compared to the 85%+ in pharmaceutical grade Omega-3 products. Because of this low concentration, the number of servings of krill oil required to meet the recommended daily intake of EPA/DHA is significantly higher than for products containing pharmaceutical grade Omega-3 derived from fish. For example, one of the best selling krill oil products currently on the market contains 72 milligrams of EPA/DHA in each 300 milligram capsule.
Ever take fish oil because the doctor says so? Well, you might as well ingest a stick of butter instead because the amount of fat in fish oil is very high. Check the labels. You will see essential fatty acids like Omega-3 - a combination of DHA and EPA is available in professional grade products without a prescription at your local pharmacy or direct from They also have samples you can order straight from their website. Order and get healthy!
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10 Tips for Fun and Easy School Lunches That Fit Your Autism and ADHD Diet

School lunches can be overwhelming and difficult if you are new to the dietary changes that help ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). It's not just about rethinking the standard lunch with GFCF, additive-free, allergen-free food. It's also about providing a lunch your child will enjoy!
You will most likely not have anything available for your child from the school lunch menu. It's good to make connections with the cafeteria staff and find out what items can be purchased, if any at all. With the poor quality of foods in our schools, this is not necessarily a bad thing!
Packing a lunch for your child to bring to school is probably your only option. If you provide a whole foods lunch with a variety of options, it will be packed with nutrition unlike the nutrient-void processed and packaged foods.
Here are my top 10 tips to help you think outside the brown bag:
1. To begin, brainstorm about all the foods you know your child loves to eat. What fits your new diet, what can be substituted and what needs to be replaced entirely? Create a list of favorites to fall back on when feeling stuck for good ideas. Depending on your children's ages, have them help you with ideas. The more input your older child has, the more willing they are to eat what you give them. You want to make sure they actually eat the food once they get to school!
2. Create a school lunch menu plan for the week. This is as helpful as planning your dinner menu. Once you have a few meal and snack ideas that work for your child, you can easily rotate them throughout the week. This will help with shopping lists, budgeting, time and prep work. Keep the menu handy in the kitchen just in case someone else has to step in and do the lunch packing for you.
3. Plan wisely. Make the food as ready to eat as possible and easy to handle, especially for younger children. Their lunch time is limited and we all know how they would rather be playing, so keep it simple! Pre-peel and cut fruit and don't require special tools to eat. Use easy open containers. Make sure the little ones can close it again to prevent spills on the way home. Buying in bulk and using reusable containers not only saves you lots of money, but it helps the environment, too.
4. Prepare the night before. Put together all parts of the lunch that can be done ahead of time to eliminate morning stress before school. Save the cutting of fruits and vegetables that wilt or oxidize until the morning and dip into fresh lemon juice mixed with water to prevent browning.
5. Keep it cool. Freeze fruit purees or juice overnight and add to the lunchbag in the morning. They will thaw and be ready to eat midday while keeping the other food cool and fresh. Frozen fruit puree becomes a fruit pudding and frozen juice turns into a slush or juice again depending on how long it has to thaw.
6. Get creative and think fun! It is amazing what special shape cutouts, skewers and/or party toothpicks will do for appeal. Instead of just putting cut fruit into a bowl, make a fruit kabob. Depending on age, include stickers, a personal note from Mom or Dad, or (if using a brown paper bag) have them decorate the bag as a puppet before filling it. Once the food is gone, they can play! For older kids, occasionally start a treasure hunt where you send them looking for the next clues somewhere in their school supplies or at home for a reward, special treat (not food related) or privilege.
7. Talk to your child's teacher. Be sure the teacher, principal and any other staff who may care for your child are all aware of your child's dietary requirements. Let them know that your child has food allergies or sensitivities. Communication is key to dietary success at school and written instructions are always the best resource to prevent misunderstandings.
8. Focus on what your child DOES get to eat, not what he doesn't. Have your child bring home the leftovers in their lunch containers so that you can tell what is being eaten. You'll get to know how much you need to be sending each day and whether the usual favorites are still well-liked. Offer variety and choices so your child doesn't feel like the new diet is limited and boring.
9. Substitute creatively. Use rice cakes or GFCF waffles instead of bread, or better yet, use sliced, cored apple rings as a substitute for a bagel with a nut butter spread. Warm dinner leftovers in a thermos can be given on a day with a similar offering provided by the cafeteria. Have them provide a clean plate for your child to use.
10. Finally, some meal/snack ideas to get going:
  • Trail mix (nuts, seeds, dried fruits)
  • Pre-cut fruit (fruit salad, sticks, or kebabs)
  • Homemade granola bars or cups of granola cereal
  • Veggie kebabs with dip (carrots, cucumber, cherry tomato, red/yellow bell pepper, etc)
  • Dinner leftovers in a thermos (GFCF spaghetti, soup, rice dish)
  • Guacamole, mild salsa, olives, and baked corn chips
  • Dip options: hummus, black bean dip, avocado spread, nut butters, honey
  • Shredded beet, carrot, and apple salad with raisins.
  • Fruit pudding or smoothie
  • Water should be the drink of choice, but for variety try homemade lemonade or an almond or rice milk
This should be a springboard for getting your creativity flowing and thinking positively about the school year menu ahead. It's easy once you get past the transition and create a simple routine.
If you're a parent of a child with ADHD, ASD and other special needs and are looking for natural methods to help your family, visit Stephani McGirr's to receive a free twice monthly ezine full of tips, tools and recipes to help you move from struggle to success while creating a peaceful home life your family loves.
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Monday, October 22, 2012

Autism Facts: Childhood Obesity Higher in the Autistic Population

Medical research by BMC Medics shows that rates of obesity in autistic children are around 7 percent higher than that of the general population. 7 percent may not sound like a lot but in a growing tragedy such as childhood obesity, a 7 percent increase is huge. Children with autism spectrum disorder already have many challenges to overcome, health complications due to weight issues should not be one.
Childhood obesity rates are growing at a terrifying rate, with one out of every three kids in America considered overweight. This is not just in the United States, this epidemic is in Canada, Australia, the U.K., and many other countries around the world, and this large scale problem is happening in the face of abundant nutrition information, organized sports, health materials and products and vocal medical communities. With all of these advantages and resources, 1/3 of the general population of adolescents are still overweight.
Now apply this to the autistic community. We know that there's less research and nutrition information, it's much harder to get involved in group sports due to social inhibitions, less health materials available, and a much smaller group of concerned medical professionals for developmental disorders. With all of these added challenges, how can we not be concerned about the childhood obesity epidemic being even more drastic in the autistic community?
Where to start? Here a few tips to get started with helping kids with autism get healthier. Again, I am not a medical professional, but I am a professional youth athletic coach with lots of experience in helping kids overcome adversity through exercise.
Get active and play! The best treatment for overweight children, all children, is to get off the couch and play. This is more of a challenge for many autistic kids because socializing with other kids and being out of the house on their own may be more difficult or dangerous. However, getting out in the back yard, walking around the park with a parent, dancing in the living room - Get creative. There are plenty of ways for physical play in small, safe settings as long as the goal is increased activity.
Understand dietary needs. Many of those in the autistic community also suffer from gluten and casein intolerance. Not adhering to a special diet can lead to health problems such as intestinal leakage, decreased bowel functioning, and stomach irritability. These complications will not lead to a comfortable active lifestyle, and will cause further challenges in associating exercise with enjoyment.
Get help with the right products. There are a few key resources that can really help educate and help parents with autistic children understand health needs and provide ideas for overcoming health issues in their autistic children. The products on this site are just a few examples of products that I've found and spoken with the creators to assure their quality and effectiveness.
In the end, the only way to really fight this epidemic is to spread the word and educate your network of support and other parents in the autistic community to get serious about this problem and to get active about reversing the trend of obesity in autistic children.
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Friday, October 19, 2012

Autism Understanding Furthered by International Genetic Study

Autism understanding begins when a person realizes that autism is a disorder that affects people differently. Although autism affects the normal functioning of a person's perception, attention and thoughts, autism is not characterized by one type of perception, attention and thought. Instead, it covers a broad spectrum of disorders that may be mild or severe. Due to the fact that autism is such a complex disorder, medical research is still in the process of understanding how it develops and why it affects certain individuals.
One particular medical project with the aim to find better autism understanding by identifying the gene that causes autism, is the 5 year Autism Genome Project (AGP). So far, phase I of the AGP has identified a gene and parts of a chromosome to be linked with the occurrence of autism. The findings of this particular autism study was published online in the Nature Genetics February 18, 2007 issue.
The Autism Genome Project is a global research consortium that is funded by Autism Speaks and the National Institute of Health. Autism Speaks is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to raising the awareness of autism and raising funds to help research it.
The AGP involves more than 120 scientists from 50 institutions in 19 countries around the world. The researchers who have collaborated on the project combined their autism expertise, and shared all of the data and samples they had to help identify autism-related genes.
As was mentioned, phase I of this project began 5 years ago in 2002, and it allowed the team of medical experts to gain autism understanding by identifying a single specific gene known as neurexil 1, and part of chromosome 11 which could likely be the cause of autism in children. These findings are based on the largest autism genome scan that has ever been done.
Scientists have known for many years that autism is a genetic disorder, but only until the AGP have they been able to use special "gene chip" technology to search for genetic similarities in autistics. Genetic similarities were found in practically all of the autistic individuals within each of the twelve hundred families that that were made part of the project. The scientists also checked the DNA of each family to look for copy number variations that are believed might be connected to autism and similar disorders.
What the researches discovered in their study was that one particular gene known as neurexin 1 plays a significant role with glutamate; a neurotransmitter that has been formerly linked to autism. Researchers also uncovered an area of chromosome 11 that is suspected to contain a gene that may be involved in the occurrence of autism. However, this particular gene in chromosome 11 has yet to be identified which is required for further autism understanding.
Based on previous research, and the research that has been uncovered by the study so far, scientists speculate that there may be as many as 6 main genes and 30 additional genes linked to autism. However, these numbers are only theories, as scientists point out that the actual number of genes could exceed their theory. Nevertheless, despite the number of genes that may be involved, researchers admit that it is still far too early to dictate how these genes may be responsible for autism.
Currently, phase II of the Autism Genome Project has been announced. The promising discoveries found in phase I makes scientists hopeful that discovering the genes that cause autism will provide new steps toward autism understanding. With greater understanding, more effective methods of diagnosis, preventing and treating the disorder can be taken.
By Rachel Evans. Sign up for a free newsletter and discover more about understanding autism. On the site you'll find more information about high functioning autism and autism research.
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Autism and Asperger's Syndrome - Can a Child With Autism Recover From Being Bullied?

Yes, children with Asperger's syndrome or high functioning autism can recover from bullying by following this three step process.
I interview a young adult who has high functioning autism. Here is her heroic story of overcoming the terrible effects of teasing and bullying. And by using this story of this young woman, we show how a three-step process can help overcome the effects of years of bullying.
Kids as well as adults with Asperger's syndrome often have more than their fair share of bullying and negative social experiences in their formative years. Bullying is hard for anyone to cope with, but for extra sensitive kids with Asperger's syndrome or autism, even mild teasing or exclusion can really change the way they view themselves and their damage their self-esteem. Years later, they may still find themselves affected.
So what can you do to help yourself or a loved one on the autism spectrum recover a sense of confidence after trauma at the schoolyard?
The other day, a friend of mine asked me a question that got me thinking. She had previously told me how her college roommates excluded her and made fun of her, and how she found it hard to talk to anyone now or make friends. She was constantly thinking that other people thought the worst of her, even several years removed from the experience. She had so much anxiety she could hardly talk to people. "How," she asked me, "do I regain my confidence?"
As she talked, my mind wandered back to my own experiences with the very same issue she was having.
What helped me? What would help her? As a person with high functioning autism, what could I do?
1. Surround yourself with positive, accepting people.
Even if you don't know them well, join a church, a hobby group, or a support group, or stick close to any friends you may already have. These groups may not have any members with autism but that does not matter.
Most of my negative social experiences were in junior high and high school. When it came time to choose a college, my only criteria was one with as open and tolerant a student body as possible. Two years after I started college at a small liberal arts college with a very friendly and accepting student body, I noticed something. I was no longer afraid of people. My anxiety and issues with being teased as a child with autism were subsiding.
Overcoming Past Reflexes
I had spent most of the last two years unable to shed my previous reflexes from middle and high school. I was sure everyone was talking about me behind my back, knowing that I has high functioning autism. I was positive if I passed a group of students and heard them laugh, that they were laughing at me.
I scurried away when other kids approached. I kept waiting to hear negative things about myself from others.
And waiting. And waiting.
It never happened.
I never did get any negative comments from others. Instead, people were warm and conversational towards me. Having autism was manageable. We might not have been fast friends, but I had many people who I chatted with, and no matter how much I thought they would, none of them ever walked away laughing about me afterwards.
Two years later, I finally got it -- I was okay the way I was. These people liked me, eccentricities and all. They even admired my uniqueness, wanted to find out more about me. Finally, I felt comfortable in my own skin.
So, the moral of the story is...
Try to replace your negative social experiences with ones that at least have the potential to be good. And then be prepared to wait, because unfortunately, healing takes time. But it does happen -- even for those of us on the autism spectrum.
2. Write about it
I can't count the number of times I sat in my college's computer lab, pouring out the stories of those years to a blank computer screen. I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote some more.
I submitted a story about bullying to my college literary magazine, and wrote about in occasional assignments for writing classes. Eventually, I think all that writing got it out of my system, because I finally got to a point where I was sick of writing about it. I was starting to recover and heal from the awful bullying I endured as a child with autism.
I had expressed every emotion, examined every situation from every angle, and finally felt some measure of peace about it.
Writing can be a great way to get out emotions and stories hidden deep inside you that you might not have another way to express.
Suggest to your loved one that they keep a diary about these experiences.
Perhaps model to them how to do it. If you think it will help, buy one of those fancy, elegant paper diaries with pretty designs and a lock to help entice a female loved one to start writing.
Writing tip -- many people struggle with writer's block when they first start. If you can't think of anything to write about, then just write whatever the first thing that comes to mind is. And keep writing, no matter how silly you think it is. Eventually you will access deeper thoughts.
3. Talk about it
There are some pretty strong emotions that go along with being bullied, whatever the situation. Shame, humiliation, self-blame, and lack of confidence in yourself, to name a few. It helps to talk to people about what you're feeling. This can be a friend, family member, or therapist. They can help you process your feelings. They might seem overwhelming at first, but the more times you tell the story, the less power it has over you. Don't give your negative emotions power over you by not expressing them.
Parents, encourage your loved ones with autism to talk about their experiences. Do not judge or minimize anything they say. A counselor may be helpful.
There is hope for those with autism who have been teased and bullied.
I will never forget standing in my guidance counselor's office in high school, and catching sight of an article in a magazine there. It was an article about a girl who had been bullied quite badly in school, and it had taken her six years of counseling to regain her confidence. Six years???! I remember thinking when I read that.
You've got to be kidding me! Six years seemed an eternity. I knew I couldn't take six years more of feeling like this! In the end, it was probably more like three or four (and more life experiences than therapy that helped). But it was worth it to get to the other side. It's worth it to be able to live your life not having to always look over your shoulder. To bask in the simple knowledge that you are liked, even loved by others, is the sweetest reward of all.
So what did I say to my friend when she asked me? I said, "Surround yourself with people who are good to you, make an effort to interact, and the rest will come." Healing has a way of sneaking up on you when you least expect it, even for those of us on the autism spectrum.
For more advice specifically aimed at adults with Asperger's and high functioning autism, see the book Thriving in Adulthood with Asperger's Syndrome. And to find advice and help to live a happy and fulfilled life with autism, see There you can find articles, tips and advice from experts and moms who have raised children on the autism spectrum.
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Thursday, October 18, 2012

ABA Therapy Can Help Curb Negative Behaviors For Autistic Children

Time and again, I hear from parents who say that their children are being punished in school for negative behaviors. These kids are often chastised, suspended, or even spanked for engaging in behaviors that are considered disruptive to other students. Unfortunately, most school systems have rules in place that mandate that all children be punished in a similar manner. While this is designed to help prevent discrimination, it is certainly not the best way to treat children with autism spectrum disorder. These children require a different method of behavior teaching, and ABA therapy offers the best way to provide it.
Negative behaviors in autistic children are typically not done for the purpose of disrupting a class or for the benefit of anyone else. Instead, these behaviors are the result of the consequences that follow. While most children perceive punishment as negative and thus learn to stop the behavior, children with autism instead see that the behavior was met with attention, making it more likely to continue. ABA therapy is designed to ignore negative behaviors and actions, which in turn teaches children with autism that acting inappropriately will provide no result.
With ABA therapy, positive reinforcement is used to help create behaviors and actions that are not disruptive. For example, a child can be met with praise whenever they raise their hand or say please in order to ask a question. Positive reinforcement rewards appropriate responses with attention, encouraging the child to repeat the behavior in the future. By providing this reinforcement whenever the right behaviors are presented, the child actually learns how to behave in a social setting or environment. While there are many who argue that this is simply a form of memorization, studies show that the repetition actually helps to map the brain so that it understands how to act rather than acting based solely on memory.
ABA therapy is proven to be the most effective when started at an early age. Studies also show that because many children need intensive therapy in order to receive the most benefit, it is especially helpful when the therapy is offered both at home and within the school system. ABA training is available as a DVD course for parents and school systems alike, and when everyone is on the same page, it becomes much easier to provide students with consistent, quality training that can help stop negative behaviors for good.
Garrett Butch is the father of a 6 year old with autism and the founder of Maximum Potential Group.
Maximum Potential has developed courses that train parents and school systems how to work with children with autism.
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ABA Therapy and Data Collection

For decades, ABA Therapy has been the most effective form of treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders. With many years of research having been conducted and showing time and again the effectiveness of the method, there is little doubt why it is the only treatment for Autism that most insurance companies will cover. One of the things that make ABA Training so effective is the rigorous data collection that occurs at every step along the way.
With ABA Therapy, data is collected after each section of teaching on a daily basis. This data is charted and typically graphed over a certain period of time. This helps parents, counselors, and teachers understand what areas of learning are progressing the most for a child as well as what areas need the most work. This helps significantly in designing an effective curriculum and can be the key to ensuring that a child learns everything they need to stay on par with their peers.
For home providers of ABA Therapy, data collection forms and graphs that are pre-made can be rather effective in helping parents form a curriculum that will be most effective. These graphs allow you to fill in the different things you are currently working on and help you to chart them in an easy to read and understand format that lets you see at a glance how progress is being made. By using these forms you can truly see all of the remarkable progress that your child is making from the objective viewpoint of hard data.
Many data collection packages come with a number of different types of forms. From graphs and probe sheets to reinforcement lists, there are many forms that can really help you maintain accurate data. While important for all providers of ABA Therapy, they can be especially important for parents to help them to see progress and hang-ups as data and to separate the emotional aspect of parenthood from the teaching aspect in order to best help their child.
In all, data collection is a very important part of ABA Training. Key to developing a curriculum that constantly teaches and pushes a child to learn and stay ahead, data collection helps children to learn as much as they can as quickly as possible. This can make a significant difference when preparing a child to enter school with their peers. With proper data collection, you can develop a curriculum that truly works, and when everything runs optimally, you can often help your child to not only go to school with their peers but to excel when they are there.
Garrett Butch is the father of a 6 year old with autism and the founder of Maximum Potential Group.
Maximum Potential has developed courses that train parents and school systems how to work with children with autism.
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ABA Therapy Works Best When Everyone is on Board

In the child's life is on the same page can be the only way to help make education easier. Many autistic children have significant difficulty learning even basic tasks and concepts, and receiving different instructions at home and at school can make things frustrating. Children in these situations need to undergo the same steps every time they complete a process, and ensuring that teachers, guidance counselors, and parents are all on the same page is important.
ABA therapy is one of the most famed and well respected treatments in the world for autism. It is the only form covered by most state insurance plans, as well as many private plans. The reason for this is simple- it works. ABA therapy has been subjected to rigorous testing time and again, and at the end of the day it is still the only treatment for autism that is shown to truly work. When parents and teachers are offering the same tasks and lessons, however, it can be much more effective than receiving ABA at home or school alone.
The way ABA therapy works is by breaking every task or concept into small, easy to understand steps. These steps are practiced and rehearsed until they can be repeated without prompting. Over time, the steps are put together until they become a complete task, action, or concept. This process relies a great deal on memorization in the beginning, but over time teaches understanding of the underlying concept and action. Breaking tasks into these simple steps can make it easier for kids to learn tasks such as hair or tooth brushing as well as concepts such as why it rains or how to get a haircut.
At the end of the day, ABA therapy is shown to be most effective when being taught by educators and parents alike. The therapy works to literally help rewire the brain, allowing for new neural pathways that can help relay information. When you have a child with autism, you will likely do anything to ensure that they get the best education possible. Understand that keeping teachers and educators on the same page is the best way to help your child learn, and make certain that you are working closely with your child's school to help them learn whatever is needed to allow them to function better in the classroom, the home, and the world.
Garrett Butch is the father of a 6 year old with autism and the founder of Maximum Potential Group.
Maximum Potential has developed courses that train parents and school systems how to work with children with autism.
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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hope Springs Eternal: Give Autistic Kids a Chance With DHA

It's a cruel irony, but if there's one thing an early diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder doesn't change, it's the uncertainty. Children symbolise hope precisely because their destinies are still fluid and malleable; so do autistic children, though in a far more brutal manner.
This article does not mean to raise false hopes, only to recognise the widely accepted consensus that we know very little about the causes of autism. In contrast, Alzheimer's disease, a common degenerative brain disorder, has at least a definitive pathology that can be confirmed (albeit only in post mortem microscopy). Those diagnosed with autism are left with empirically-established treatments, which are a fancy name for trial-and-error. To date, it consists of behavioural and rehabilitative therapy, and little else.
There just might be another possibility out there though. Preliminary reports, surfacing ever so slowly but inexorably, now seem to establish a link between omega-3 oil supplements and an improved quality of life in autistic children. This direction of research has been going on for decades, ever since low levels of omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with a wide range of neurological disorder. However, initial trials were conducted in a less-than-rigorous manner. Either they neglected to enforce a double-blind condition, which renders the results susceptible to the placebo effect, or they were done in very small scales or as case reports. Happily, new evidence have remedied these defects, and the results are still holding up.
One such trial assembled 70 six- to eleven-year-olds who were afflicted with autism, and prescribed them with a daily regime of DHA-enriched omega-3 fatty acids in the form of fish oil capsules. 30% of the exhibited significant improvements compared to the control groups: they began to make eye contact and socialized in more advanced manners. Two points were especially scintillating: the fact that improvements lasted as long as the supplements were given, and the age of the participants.
Usually, the human body copes with DHA shortages by a very inefficient conversion mechanism. However, it depletes other essential fatty acids in the process. It is conceivable that neural growth irregularities, once firmly entrenched past the age of three or so, are being continually repaired by the brain. In the process, it consumes the normally allotted quota of fatty acids, which in turn brings about a long-term omega-3 deficiency. (Of course, this is no more than a hypothesis: researchers, in a suspiciously self-rewarding consensus, agree that more research is needed before they can pinpoint the exact mechanism.)
If you are inclined to try this approach, there are a few things you should note. Dosages vary from trial to trial, but a good rule-of-thumb for toddlers is around 1000mg of omega-3 oil with a quarter of it in DHA by weight. Since they are classified as food supplements, there is strictly speaking no upper limit for fish oil consumption, and any unabsorbed remnants are simply excreted away with no side effects whatsoever.
If you're interested in reading more about the health benefits of omega 3s and fish oil supplements, feel free to visit my website where I discuss the truth about omega 3 fish oil and what I personally use to stay healthy and in shape.
You can view my website now by clicking this link:
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Speech Therapy For Autistic Children

Since autism is a bio-neurological disorder, it has no predefined treatment. A series of cognitive therapies are prescribed to the individuals so that they can at least cope better within the society. One of them is the speech therapy as autistic children and adults have difficulty in communication with a third-party.
Speech pathological therapy is defined as the treatment procedure that treats the disorders of speech among children and adults. The patient may have difficulty in understanding, or delivering of certain speech sounds, language etc. There are different types of speech disorder. The therapy also varies according to the affected areas of the individual.
The Speech Therapy for Children
Initially starting with the toddlers, the speech problem can continue till adulthood. It is important to recognize the particular affected area before starting with the procedure. The child should be kept unaware of this treatment, as it proves itself a better solution this way. The treatment can be carried subtly with the help of the family members with activities and exercises that is integrated to improve the quality of the verbal communication.
Speech Therapy for the Toddlers
Since it is during this time that the child learns to speak, it is challenging to identify the problem in the communication system and delivering a treatment accordingly. Following are some of the techniques that the guardians can adopt and teach the toddler.
• Create a choice: The individuals with the language barrier often avoids to commune at all cost. A choice amongst it favorite toys forces an answer and prevents adapting to the language of signs.
• Repetition and Imitation: The superlative way that the caretakers and the family members can improve interaction is by repeating the words that she or he fails to pronounce. Breaking them up in smaller syllables or showing it by action often interests the child and thereby enables him or her to learn faster.
Speech Therapy for Juvenile Children
It's good to clear all speech related problems before the child starts school. This would encourage his confidence and self-esteem. The following activities can be used to eliminate the speech related problems.
• Art: Drawing may calm the child, but the child should accompany the same with a description.
• Toys: These objects can be introduced and thereby enable the child to get more comfortable with the pronunciation of the letters.
• Visual therapy with pictures: Images has always been found useful, as it is more appealing in appearance. The pictures can be flashed and the child may slowly master its problem.
These activities can all aid to improve the communicative ability in autistic children. The comprehension of these handicapped children is slow and they usually fail to cooperate with the therapy. This is the reason that the children should be handled with utmost care and the therapy should be interesting enough. Combining reading aloud sessions with tongue twisters and dialogs with art etc would definitely encourage the child to speak
Milan Zones has been reviewing the benefits of the speech therapy for Autism Treatment California. She understands that the treatment depends on the severity of the disease that the patient is suffering.
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Monday, October 15, 2012

Helping Kids With Autism Survive the School Social Scene

No two of us are alike. We all have likes and dislikes, challenges and strengths. But we are similar in that we are social animals and we live in a social world. Some of us may thoroughly enjoy making social connections and others may view it as a chore or an intrusion into our world.
As adults we are often able to control how much and when we want to socialize but a child does not have that luxury. Young children are often placed in environments that force them to socialize which can be a good thing. But for a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder who may be socially challenged, an environment such a school just might be their worst nightmare and largest source of anxiety.
Attending school immerses children into a social milieu that requires them to learn how to stay afloat whether they want to or not. When you have a child that struggles with developing social relationships or understanding social cues school can be a cold, lonely and anxious place. "Will I fit in and make a friend this year or will everyone ignore me or make fun of me?" is often a question that can loom in the mind of any child as they begin a new school year.
Children on the Autism spectrum are often more vulnerable to being picked on and more resistant to acquiring and honing essential social skills. Some children with Autism enjoy being in their own little world and need to be drawn out to be social. Many long to be socially accepted yet do not have the social skills necessary to develop friendships. As teachers, parents and professionals we need to teach children to acquire the social skills necessary for making friends but we also need to be sensitive to their needs and challenges.
Many of us could probably tell a story about an awkward or uncomfortable experience with group dynamics in a classroom situation. Remember what your response was when the teacher would say "get into groups"? Did you freeze or feel obligated to befriend someone to join a group so you didn't stand out? What about the fear of being the last one picked on a team or actually experiencing it?
Unfortunately, school children on the Autism spectrum often deal with this on a daily basis. So how can we make the process of social interaction in a school setting more pleasant and less stressful for those who find it awkward and uncomfortable to make friends?
We cannot sit back and expect that the acquisition of social skills will happen through osmosis. Making friends is not a default setting we are born with. Despite the fact that social learning automatically begins at birth through observation and experience, deliberate instruction and practice in making and keeping friends should begin at a very young age. Here are some basic concepts to start with.
Define a friend - Talk to your child about what makes someone your friend? What does a friend look like, act like, sound like, and make you feel like?
How to choose/make a friend - Discuss the importance of having similar interests and taking an interest in what the other person does. Ways to be kind, courteous and appropriately inquisitive about what they do.
Conversation starters - Explore what to say when you meet someone and want to develop a relationship with them. Give your child pointers and practice with them at home.
How to keep a friend - Unfortunately, children with Autism often lack Theory of Mind which makes it difficult to teach respect, empathy, turn taking and perspective but it is vital maintaining friendships.
Ask "what if " questions whenever the opportunity arises. While watching television or movies with your child, stopping the action and inquiring what he might do in a similar social situation can push him to think socially.
As these skills are being taught it is important to practice, practice, practice. Giving children ample opportunities to apply friendship-making skills is extremely important and cannot be overdone. Experts have proven that it is good for children with special needs to be integrated with normally developing children in various settings. Left to their own devices, a group of children on the Autism spectrum might easily retire into their own little worlds. Children with Autism should be exposed to various social scenes that offer opportunities to interact.
In addition to applying friendship making skills in the school setting it is often less stressful for some children to practice in situations that are less contrived and more relaxed. Exposing children to various options - new activities where social skills need to be practiced such as team sports, art lessons, theater camp, local environmental programs, community service projects, the YMCA or mentorship opportunities are all great choices.
Remember that even though your child may not survive the social scene at school, all is not lost. If you have been persistent in teaching and modeling the basic social skills necessary for creating relationships throughout his or her school experience your child will have a better chance of social success in adulthood when one can choose the social situations they are most comfortable with.
Connie Hammer, MSW, parent educator, consultant and coach, guides parents of young children recently diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder to uncover abilities and change possibilities. Visit her website to get your FREE resources - a parenting e-course, Parenting a Child with Autism - 3 Secrets to Thrive and a weekly parenting tip newsletter, The Spectrum.
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Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Dozen Ideas to Manage Your ASD Child's Repetitive Behaviors

There are many things we do to stimulate or calm our senses
. We rock babies to soothe them and we sing or hum to ourselves in the shower, we fan ourselves to cool off when we are hot, and we hug and kiss others to give and receive comfort. When we want to increase or arouse our senses we often run or engage in some form of physical activity or exercise, or we may turn the music on loud to get in a party mood and dance. Most of these behaviors are seen as appropriate if carried out at the proper time and in the proper place.Then there is the term 'stimming', often associated with Autism, which conjures up a more negative image. The term 'stimming' or 'stim' cannot be found in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary but is defined by Wikipedia as "a repetitive body movement, such as hand flapping, that is hypothesized to stimulate one or more senses".
In the world of Autism 'stimming' is known as any type of repetitive, stereotypical behavior engaged in to alleviate or increase sensory input. It is derived from the verb; to stimulate; to provide stimulation in order to get a response, make someone interested, more alert or engaged in something.
We all engage in sensory regulation - behaviors that seek to arouse or calm our nervous system and there are many that are approved by our culture but we don't refer to all of them as 'stimming'. Is stimming just another word for patterns of self-regulatory behavior that are unacceptable? Depending what form the behavior takes and how often it occurs it could be seen as normal - a way to help a person function, or abnormal - a pattern of obsession.
Every child whether on or off the Autism spectrum, will attempt to modulate his or her sensory experience as they interact with their world. Only ten percent of children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) actually engage in what we now call 'stimming' - exaggerated self-stimulation. Many of these activities would be considered outside the norm, such as hand flapping, spinning, toe-walking, licking objects, tracking hand movements or sniffing foods, items or people, to mention a few.
Unfortunately these activities can be embarrassing and even stigmatizing because our culture does not yet understand Autism. Many individuals who are not touched by Autism, and even some of those who are, fear anything that is odd, different or left or right of the so-called norm. The hope is that tolerance and better understanding will come but what is a parent to do in the meantime?. ..
It is very important that you discuss these behaviors with your child's Occupational Therapist and follow his or her recommendations. If your child does not have a qualified OT, find one. Make this a priority regardless of insurance coverage. Whatever money you may need to expend, you will get a wonderful return on your investment. A qualified occupational therapist will be able to create a customized sensory diet for your child that will not only help reduce 'stimming' behaviors but will address emotional meltdowns and much, much more.
While you are shopping around for an occupational therapist there is much you can do yourself. You are the expert on your child! You alone hold the key to unlocking his or her world - the more you understand, the better you will be able to maximize his or her potential.
In addition, any occupational therapist you currently have or are about to acquire will appreciate any and all of the information you can provide from the suggestions below. Here are a dozen ideas to help you understand and manage what some call 'stimming' behaviors in your child.
1. Conduct a detailed review. When solving any problem, I you to begin with a thorough assessment of your child's behaviors. Is there a behavior that interferes with daily living such as his ability to pay attention? Are there any behaviors that negatively impact her social life? Are any of these behaviors obsessive?
2. Seek to understand the function of these behaviors. It is important to remember that most of these are unconscious and they occur involuntarily to some degree, especially in the beginning. However, once a child realizes the rush or relief it brings to her senses it then becomes more intentional and easily gets reinforced into a habit. As long as it is deemed appropriate it can become a functional way to self-regulate one's sensory experience but if it is seen as dysfunctional and not channeled in the right way it can easily spiral out of control.
3. Gather information. If your child is verbal don't be afraid to engage him in conversation about his repetitive behaviors. If your child stares excessively at an object, consider asking him, "Are you trying to do something with your eyes? Tell me what you see." If he is able to verbalize an answer you will have gathered extremely useful information to address the behavior with.
4. Make lists. Most of your child's behaviors are functional - serve a purpose for meeting a sensory need - but they may not necessarily be appropriate. Make a list categorizing the behavior(s) as functional and appropriate vs. functional and inappropriate then you can create a plan to address them.
5. Focus on the positives first. Concentrating on appropriate behaviors and explaining the function they serve and why they are acceptable can reinforce more of the same. "I like the way your hands are being quiet. It makes it easier for you to pay attention to what is going on around you." Then the focus can turn to redirecting the inappropriate behaviors and substituting them with more suitable outlets.
6. Create a calm environment. It is well known that children with ASD often engage in 'stimming' when they are stressed or as a means to manage emotions such as fear, anger and anxiety. Therefore maintaining an atmosphere that is as tranquil, predictable and appeasing to her senses as possible will prevent many of these behaviors from occurring.
7. Be an early bird. Catch any behavior that is less than acceptable when it first begins to repeat itself. Don't comment or draw attention to the behavior. Use your detective powers to surmise what purpose the behavior may be serving and then calmly redirect your child to another more acceptable activity that will still provide similar sensory relief.
8. Schedule 'stim' time to teach appropriate time and place. No one can stop a behavior cold turkey, especially if it has been meeting a physical, psychological or sensory need and there is nothing to replace it with. Schedule times and places throughout your child's day when she knows she will be able to engage in the behavior you are trying to modify. Think of it as a gradual weaning process - as you decrease exposure to the negative stimuli you slowly increase exposure to the more positive substitute.
9. Change your vocabulary. Just because someone else may refer to certain behaviors your child exhibits as 'stimming' it doesn't mean you have to use the term yourself. We all have habits, mannerisms, and idiosyncrasies that we engage in. I challenge you to think outside the box and create your own term, something more positive to describe your child's repetitive behaviors.
10. Use distraction. When you notice your child beginning to engage in a repetitive behavior give your child something to do or start a conversation. When we are bored, we all default into behaviors that we are not even conscious of doing. So just in case the trigger is boredom, get your child physically active - engage her in exercise or some other activity she can chose from. Sometimes just asking, "What are you thinking about?" will be enough to distract her and stop the behavior.
11. Be realistic. There are some behaviors that may be defined as 'stimming' that your child may need to keep as a way to cope with daily life. It is unrealistic to expect to completely eradicate all of her repetitive actions. There is no need to take these activities away from her as this can create even more anxiety. What IS realistic to expect is to be able to modify and or shift them into more appropriate and acceptable forms of behavior as time goes on.
12. Count your blessings and focus on the positive. Take ample time to dwell on all the things your child can do well and the baby steps towards progress he is making. Keeping a journal is a wonderful way to maintain your attention towards the positive. Once the good is documented it takes on a life of it's own and becomes much more difficult to dismiss.
Remember, 'stimming' behaviors are very unique to the individual. As the saying goes, "Once you have met one child with Autism, you have met one child with Autism." Your child may need to reduce their visual input by constantly squinting and moving her head to a certain angle in order not to get overwhelmed in certain situations. Another child may need excessive sensory stimulation by staring at lights but then there are some neuro-typicals that get a sensory rush from bungy jumping, or flying off a cliff... We all have little idiosyncrasies that help us deal with and experience the world, there is no better or worse, it's just different for everyone, especially for individuals on the Autism spectrum.
Connie Hammer, MSW, parent educator, consultant and coach, guides parents of young children recently diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder to uncover abilities and change possibilities. Visit her website to get your FREE resources - a parenting e-course, Parenting a Child with Autism - 3 Secrets to Thrive and a weekly parenting tip newsletter, The Spectrum.
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Monday, October 8, 2012

What Does ABA Therapy Do?

Whenever you look into ABA therapy, you will find that it is incredibly complex. There are certainly training courses that can help parents learn to offer the training at home, which can be amazingly effective, but if you are just looking into the therapy for the first time, it can certainly seem overwhelming. So what exactly is ABA therapy, and how does it work? To put it simply, it is a training and therapy program that helps children with autism spectrum disorders learn new ideas, behaviors, and actions. Of course, it is really much more than this.
ABA therapy is the most effective form of treatment and symptom management available for children with autism. It offers discrete trial teaching, which in a nutshell means breaking down concepts and behaviors (such as brushing teeth) into the most basic possible steps. These steps are then taught through repetition, with prompts given at first to help a child learn to mimic the behavior and with the prompts gradually taken away until it can be completed without them. While many parents write this off as memorization rather than actual learning of a concept, this is a misconception.
While children with autism spectrum disorders are taught certain behaviors and verbalizations through ABA therapy, it is much more than just memorization. Initial behaviors are the result of memorizing, but over time, the therapy helps kids learn how to take in new concepts and behaviors on their own. This is because the therapy helps to create new pathways within the brain that make it possible for children with autism spectrum disorders to start learning in the same manner as their peers. The treatment is actually incredibly effective and is the closest thing that we have to a cure for autism.
There is no doubt that ABA therapy is not a cure for autism spectrum disorder, but it offers incredible symptom reduction. It can help children learn behavior skills, learn to adapt to a classroom setting, and learn to verbalize. It also helps teach the basic activities associated with daily living. Understanding ABA therapy without watching a lesson can be difficult, but when you understand the result, it can help you understand why it is such an important part of caring for children with autism. ABA classes can be incredibly effective for teaching parents how to apply the therapy, and with DVD programs available, they are now accessible to many more parents than ever before.
Garrett Butch is the father of a 6 year old with autism and the founder of Maximum Potential Group.
Maximum Potential has developed courses that train parents and school systems how to work with children with autism.
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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Brief Overlook at the Role Occupational Therapy Plays in the Treatment of Children With Autism

The subcategory of Rehabilitative Medicine known as Occupational Therapy is extremely relevant in helping to evaluate, and treat, children with autism for several reasons - the first one being its overall approach to treatment, in general:
Occupational therapy takes a somewhat different approach in treating patients in that it uses both the educational, and philosophical, when working with an individual. In fact, the mission of this therapy is to help each patient overcome their obstacles by discovering what experiences, interests, and needs motivate each to want to take action to get better.
What is discovered is then incorporated into the individual's treatment plan, and used to help him meet his goals - in the hopes of the patient's eventual return, or significant improvement to, his best level of function - thereby improving his quality of life. This protocol has proven effective in helping those afflicted with certain types of neurological disorders, including autism.
In regards to the child with autism, the goal of this rehabilitative team is to help the child in mastering as many skills as possible, in ways as stress-free as possible - so he can experience the highest quality of life in an independent manner.
In every individualized case, the occupational therapist bases his particular findings on what he observes during the evaluation period. This is where the child is observed in relation to how well he performs tasks - and how he acts, and copes with stressors - when participating in age-appropriate activities in common situations.
Daily living skills such as dressing himself, brushing his teeth, or playing a game - are things studied and considered by the therapist in his evaluation. Also included are findings on interactions with other children, his attention span, and his stamina while involved in them. When the information has been gathered, a structured, specialized program is then designed for the child to encourage him in using better strategies and coping mechanisms for the situations in his daily life - including those that are especially challenging for him.
His treatment plan for improvement may include involvement in activities such as bead stringing, or working with puzzles for coordination development - and special types of game-playing for an increase in communication and social interaction. Every day activities - like cleansing himself, using the toilet and tying his shoes - are stressed to improve his overall general development, and he is taught ways to cope with transitions and changes to his routine.
Benefits to the autistic child from a successful therapy intervention can mean a marked improvement in his relationships with other peers and adults. And he may learn to focus better on the completion of tasks, along with learning to express himself more appropriately in social situations.
It is the goal of the occupational therapy profession to help a child with autism improve his overall functions and coping skills to reach his greatest potential - in every area of his life. It is the hope that he will eventually be able to live a life functioning at his highest level, as stress-free as possible. And in every case, the earlier a detailed, structured program is started and followed, the better his chances will be.
The best occupational therapy jobs can provide rewarding experience and exciting career opportunities in the medical field. Alternatively, your transferable skills are also applicable to diverse positions, such as a nurse practitioner or a travel nurse.
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