Sunday, January 31, 2010

Q&A - Dental Care for that Special Child

Q: Do special children have special dental needs?

A: Most do. Some special children are very susceptible to tooth decay, gum disease or oral trauma. Others require medication or diet detrimental to dental health.

Still other children have physical difficulty with effective dental habits at home. The good news is, dental disease is preventable. If dental care is started early and followed conscientiously, every child can enjoy a healthy smile.

Q: How can I prevent dental problems for my special child?

A: A first dental visit by the first birthday will start your child on a lifetime of good dental health. The paediatric dentist will take a full medical history, gently examine your child's teeth and gums, then plan preventive care designed for your child's needs.

Q: Will preventive dentistry benefit my child?

A: Yes! Your child will benefit from the preventive approach recommended for all children- effective brushing and flossing, adequate fluoride and moderation in snacking on sweets, .

Home care takes just minutes a day and prevents needless dental problems. Regular professional cleanings and fluoride treatments are also very beneficial. Sealants can prevent tooth decay on the chewing surfaces of molars where four out of five cavities occur.

Q: Are paediatric dentists prepared to care for special children?

A: Absolutely. Paediatric dentists have two or more years of advanced training beyond dental school. Their education as specialists focuses on care for children with special needs. In addition, paediatric dental offices are designed to be physically accessible for special patients.

Paediatric dentists, because of their expertise, are often the clinicians of choice for the dental care of adults with special needs as well.

Q: Will my child need special care during dental treatment?

A: Some children need more support than a gentle, caring manner to feel comfortable during dental treatment. Restraint or mild sedation may benefit your special child. If a child needs extensive treatment, the paediatric dentist may provide care at a local hospital.

Your paediatric dentist has a comprehensive education in behaviour management, sedation and anesthesia techniques. He or she will select a technique based on the specific health needs of your child, then discuss the benefits, limits and risks of that technique with you.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Dyslexia: The Dore's Programme, activities

This posting is for information only and we do not promote or recommend this programme.

If you are looking for more information on the Dore's Programme you can find it on their website

I would very much like to hear your comments and experiences of the Dore's Programme.

The Dyslexia Myth (2005) Video

Click on the car to see the video or click here .....

The Dyslexia Myth (2005) exposes the myths and misconceptions that surround a condition said to affect 10 per cent of the population.

The Dyslexia Myth argues that the common understanding of dyslexia is not only false but makes it more difficult to provide the reading help that hundreds of thousands of children desperately need.

Drawing on years of intensive academic research on both sides of the Atlantic, The Dyslexia Myth challenges the existence of dyslexia as a separate condition; but in doing so, reveals the scale and pain of true reading disability.

The programme examines the chasm between evidence and educational practice and shows that, after hundreds of millions of pounds of investment in the teaching of reading, the number of children encountering serious problems has hardly changed.

Dyslexia: The AlphaDancing Poster - Andrea Boff

Click on the Poster to visit the Blog site of the very talented Andrea Boff

Dyslexic Brian: Links to Free Workshops

We do not promote groups and institutions that we do not know but this website contains a lot of very interesting material and information for Dyslexia sufferers, their parents, familes and friends.

It is for the reader to decide on the relevance and significance of the material. I would very much like to hear your comments.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Worst Winter Weather Makes us better Parents

My cat and my dog both love the snow. It seems to bring out their ebulient spirit but it's not just our pets that enjoy the snow. It also has a strong draw for the playful spirit inside our normally sedate selves.

I must confess that I do love the snow. It's bright and beautiful. It reflects the light and cheers the heart. In the evening it catches the moonlight and reflects it across the land as moonglow.

It's also a great material to touch and handle. To play with and sculpt into comical shapes but most of all I like the snow because it brings families together, in play.

Can you remember your joy as a child when you saw the first snow of winter? This winter, did you recall those feelings again, when you saw the snow fall? I did and I always do.

When the first snow fell here, the streets were strangely quiet, at least until the kids got home from school and then the whole neighbourhood came to life. Children started laughing and playing harmlessly together, throwing snowballs, drawing shapes and making snowmen in the snow.

They continued throwing snow at each other and generally running about, slipping, sliding, falling, laughing and fooling around, and all without concern about hurting themselves or their friends. This was a primeval event, a simple and spontaneous phenomenon; free flowing, uninhibited play that so rarely occurs in the absence of snow.

Suddenly, before we knew where we were, the startled children were promptly joined by the adults, unable to resist the allure of this fun. Within a few moments, parents and children were all playing together in a marvellous, inventive and joyful manner.

The other free flow of family playtime similar to this, is the fun that can be had in the soft sand of a sun-kissed beach in the summer, or when we are swimming at the ocean's edge. It may be similar but it's not the same. The adults are always more inhibited and withdrawn on the beach.

Perhaps, running around unclad on the beach makes it more difficult to be spontaneous and uninhibited. Is it so much more difficult to frolick about in soft sand than snow? Apparently yes!

Whatever the reason, I will continue to celebrate the coming of the snow as the bringer of fun and playfulness to families. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ambidextrous children more likely to have mental health, language and scholastic problems, say researchers

Mixed-handed children more likely to have mental health, language and scholastic problems, say Imperial College London researchers

Children who are mixed-handed, or ambidextrous, are more likely to have mental health, language and scholastic problems in childhood than right- or left-handed children, according to a new study published today in the journal Pediatrics.

The researchers behind the study, from Imperial College London and other European institutions, suggest that their findings may help teachers and health professionals to identify children who are particularly at risk of developing certain problems.

Around one in every 100 people is mixed-handed. The study looked at nearly 8,000 children, 87 of whom were mixed-handed, and found that mixed-handed 7 and 8-year old children were twice as likely as their right-handed peers to have difficulties with language and to perform poorly in school.

When they reached 15 or 16, mixed-handed adolescents were also at twice the risk of having symptoms of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They were also likely to have more severe symptoms of ADHD than their right-handed counterparts. It is estimated that ADHD affects between 3 to 9% of school-aged children and young people.

The adolescents also reported having greater difficulties with language than those who were left- or right-handed. This is in line with earlier studies that have linked mixed-handedness with dyslexia.

Little is known about what makes people mixed-handed but it is known that handedness is linked to the hemispheres in the brain. Previous research has shown that where a person's natural preference is for using their right hand, the left hemisphere of their brain is more dominant.

Some researchers have suggested that mixed-handedness indicates that the pattern of dominance is not that which is typically seen in most people, i.e. it is less clear that one hemisphere is dominant over the other. One study has suggested that ADHD is linked to having a weaker function in the right hemisphere of the brain, which could help explain why some of the mixed-handed students in today's study had symptoms of ADHD.

Read more of the article here ....

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dyslexia: Learning Kung Fu Punctuation

Punctuation can be a very boring subject for children, despite the fact that correct punctuation is vital to the development of good writing.

Dyslexic children often find it particularly difficult to use the right punctuation and because of this they will very often miss it out completely. I have come across a better way of teaching pronunctiation and of making the rules stick. It is called the Kung Fu Punctuation game.

Ros Wilson, who is well known in the UK, advocates the use of Kung Fu punctuation, as part of the writing programme, called Big Writing or FCOP. This writing approach is used very succesfully in many UK primary schools.

In addition ,Phil Beadle a well – known inspirational teacher (the winner of the Secondary Teacher of the Year UK Award 2005) highlighted the use of Kung Fu punctuation in a UK TV programme where he demostrated that he could teach pupils who were previously dismissed as unteachable.

How does it work? All punctuation marks are given a corresponding kung-fu-style action and accompanied by sounds or noises, as in normal Kung Fu or Karate. In this way the child is using more of thier senses in experiencing punctuation. Here are some examples;
  • Full stop - Throw a short, right-handed punch at the air in front of you and make the noise, Ha!
  • Comma - With your right arm bent so that your hand is in front of your face, make a short twisting motion at the wrist to signify the comma shape and make the noise, Shi!
  • Semi-colon - Do the full-stop punch, then the comma shape directly underneath it and make the noises, Ha! Shi!
  • Colon - Make the Full Stop punch and follow it immediately with one directly beneath it. Make the noises, Ha! Ha!
  • Question mark - Separate the curly bit into three cutting movements with the hand: one horizontal left to right, one curved around, and one vertical coming from the bottom of the curved one. Then at the bottom of the shape you have just drawn in the air, add a full-stop punch. Make the noises, Shi! Shi! Shi! Ha!
  • Exclamation mark - Make a long vertical slash, from top to bottom, followed by a full stop punch and make the noises, Shiiiiii! Ha!
  • Quotation marks - Stand on one leg, extend your arms diagonally to the skies and wiggle your index and middle fingers in an approximation of speech marks. Make the noise, Haeeeee!
  • Apostrophe - With your right arm fully extended to the air, wiggle your index finger. Make the noise, Blubalubaluba! (the sound you make with your tongue, when you flap it up and down against the inside of your lips.)
  • Ellipsis - Make three punches along a horizontal line. Make the noises, Ha! Ha! Ha!
  • Brackets - To open the brackets, use your left hand first, draw a curved convex line in the air. To close the brackets, use your right hand to do the opposite motion. Make the noises, Shi! Shi!
Ideas on how to use Kung Fu Punctuation:

You can call out three punctuation marks and then your child has to put the moves and sounds for these together, in sequence, as quickly as they can.

You can later make up some sentences or a short story and leave out all the punctuation marks. Read through the sentences together and at the appointed places in the sentence get your child to do the kung-fu punctuation move he thinks is appropriate.

A link to Phil Beadle's book 'Could do Better'

For more information on this method of schooling please click on this link

Learning ABC song

7 Signs that your Pre-School Child may have Dyslexia

Mothers are Great!
Mothers are very perceptive when it comes to their children and they instinctively know when there is something wrong. Doctors, paediatricians and teachers should ignore this at their peril.

The close bond between a mother and her child is one of the understated wonders of the natural world and one that we need to pay more atention to.

Learning issues
If you, as a mother, suspect that your child is having difficulties with vocalising, or speaking, especially about letters and words, then go with those feelings and seek good qualified expert advise.

What's the worst that can happen? 1) If your fears are unfounded then that's good news and you will be more content. 2) If your child does have an issue, then you have done well to find it early and that is also good. The sooner you start helping, the better it gets.

Sharing and Empathy
Yes, you can share your concerns with your friends and their friends but unless they have the right level of expertise, then it is only helping you on a 'sharing and empathising' level.

I am not saying you should stop sharing concerns with your friends and family. Oh no, not at all. What I am saying, is it is not necessarily going to help you make progress with defining the issue or go in the right direction to help with it.

It is normally better to seek out a more qualified and objective opinion or diagnosis, before you attempt remedial action. They will be in a better position to define the issues and to help you address them.

Possible Signs of Dyslexia
Let me give you a list of the types of symptoms or behaviours that would make you believe your child had a difficulty with understanding letters and words. Your child has difficulties with the following;
  • Identifying the sounds at the beginning and end of words
  • Detecting or recognising when you are using rhyming sounds and words
  • Identifying or rembering some letters from the alphabet
  • Recognising or detecting words on signs e.g. Parking, Stop, Exit, etc.
  • Vocalising or describing a story that you know they know e.g. something they have done or a journey they have been on.
  • Recognising their name when you write it down
  • Writing their own name
Let me know if this has helped you in any way and above all trust your own instincts as a mother but don't panic. Enjoy the support of your family and friends but seek out good advice wherever and whenever you can. Ask the school to help you and your child prepare for the future.

Dyslexia: First Days at School

The first days of school are difficult for all children but they can be expecially difficult for children who are suffering from a form of dyslexia.

This is especially the case if the child knows that they have difficulties with words and reading. Their apprehension will be even greater, so you need to make the transition to school as pleasant and as comfortable as possible.

Preparation is the key word to help your child transition between the comforts of you and your home and the unkown scary world of school. So, the key things to address in the beginning is to make the experience less 'unknown' and less 'scary.'

Similar Experiences
Take time to explain to your child what the structure of their day is going to be and make it as real as possible for them. If they have already experienced being at a pre-school nuresery or class, then simply use that as a basis to explain the differences to come.

Older Children
You can ask older children to explain what school is like but this can be a bit tricky because some older children will tease and joke around, thinking they are being funny but instead they are frightening the child more.

So, this has to be a supervised event. Stay with them and correct any negative or scare tactics as and when they occur.

Making Friends
Hopefully your child will have already made friends with other children of their age and that they are going to the same school together. The school is just another place for them to go and play and have fun together. This is certainly the best scenario but it doesn't always work out that way.

Do some mother to mother networking in the neighbourhood. Use your own be-friending skills to introduce yourself to another mother in similar circumstances i.e. their child is preparing to go to school for the first time. Explain how you would like the children to make friends with each other before going to school, so that they will have a friend in situ.

The friendship may not last but by that time they will have made other friends and school will be just another place to go and have adventures.

Use Your Own Experiences
If your child is going to a new school and doesn't know anyone there, spend some time beforehand telling them about how quickly you made new friends at school. Use your own positive experiences. Let them see the pleasure in your face when you talk about it.

Separation Anxiety
Inevitably, separation anxiety impacts the mother as well as the child but it should be a transitional phase that both can overcome. The mother knows that they will be re-united at the end of each school day. The child has been told this but may take some time to realise the truth of it.

Constant reassurance does help but the best way to prepare the child for the separation process is to introduce the concept to them slowly and regularly, during normal day to day activities.

Leaving your child in the care of a responsible adult for a short time until you do something else, should not be an alien experience for the child but the difference with going to school is the length of time that the child is separated from it's parent.

It is important, in the first days of a new school that the parent is there, waiting outside the school, to pick up the child and no excuses will be accepted for avoiding this responsibility.

Ask the School
Most schools understand that starting school is a stressful time for children and parents and will arrange a pre-intake visit and if not then you can suggest it to them. A brief introduction to the 'child-friendly' teacher should alleviate some of the child's fears.

Re-assure the child in the presence of the teacher, that they can approach the teacher with any concerns and that they will be as safe and well taken care of in the school, as they are at home.

Raise Concerns
I recommend that you make an appointment to speak to the teacher, before your child goes to school and point out any concerns that you have about the child's ability to read and understand words. At this time you can develop a strategy and a plan to help the teacher, you and your child work on this issue.

Do not expect your child to do this because they will find it far too difficult. If you make this approach early enough, then the teacher may recommend some simple tasks to help you build up your child's confidence and understanding, before starting school.

It is rare to find a teacher that will not help you constructively with your child's difficulties but it does happen. You should persevere with this but if, after 2 or 3 visits to the school, you are unable to engage with the teacher, then simply ask the head of school to intervene.

Be positive and assertive, but remain polite and considerate throughout, because you need their support. You do not want to damage the relationship you have with them or that they have with your child, at this early stage. You will need them on your side for the duration of the term and probably longer.

Preparation, familiarity and reassurance will help your child approach their schooldays with excitement and as a great adventure. Yes, there will be difficulties and the occasional upset but they can be dealt with, if and when they happen.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What is Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

FASD - Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, is a term used to describe the range of birth defects, which can occur in a child whose mother drinks high levels of alcohol during pregnancy.

Currently in the UK, information and resources for supporting children affected by FASD, are very limited. The Sunfield Research Institute, in consultation with the National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome UK (NOFAS-UK), have worked together to create a toolkit of resources which we hope will provide early years practitioners with the necessary knowledge and skills to support children who may have FASD.

Below are 4 Links to FASD information articles, in PDF format;

Strategies for supporting children with FASD

Information Sheets

Case studies

Things to Remember - Communicating with Children

Further information can also be found on the Sunfield website.

Autism and Horse Therapy: The Horse Boy Camps

Worldwild Adventures is honoured to have been asked by Rupert and his family to run a series of Horse Boy Camps.

These events will run at various locations internationally and will be an opportunity for children on the autism spectrum, their parents and siblings to spend some time in beautiful natural surroundings exploring the possibilities that helped Rowan to improve so dramatically.

We are providing the chance to ride and benefit from close contact with horses, other animals, and nature.

Children with neurological issues seem to benefit especially from this, but obviously children with no specific issues, who just want to connect with animals and nature, also benefit enormously.

Dyslexia - Access to library of 37 articles and papers

Dyslexia - library of 37 papers and articles

Friday, January 22, 2010

U is for urban environments and autism

Teaching in urban environments requires comprehensive assessment and specifically designed instruction to meet the needs of children in difficult situations.

Too often, teachers in urban environments are transient and only stay in a given location for a short amount of time. For the child with autism, especially, the frequent change in routine, adult care, and academic approach is problematic and a source of anxiety.

As we face the newest epidemic to grow out of modern living, additional effort and work will be needed to educate all children with autism disorders, in accordance with their unique needs.

T is for Teaching Autism Disorders

An integrated systems practice is essential in the process of teaching individuals with autism disorders.

One issue arising from practices that are not integrated, is the notion that children go from one classroom to another without appropriate communication or systemic response. They can go from classroom to classroom or even specialist to specialist with receiving a standard level of response.

One of the biggest difficulties is Physical Education and Music class, for the child with autism, is the potential for over stimulation or sensory overload. This can apply to other special classes and stimulating activities that the child enjoys. The autistic child will have difficulties in managing their emotions and will require assistance.

Even the thought or expectation of such an event can bring out unwanted feelings of dread and anxiety. A child with a sensory disorder, such as the child with autism, will experience this level of difficulty on a daily basis. Teaching children with autism disorders requires systemic and repetative practice.

S is for Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

Sensory development is key to human development. Everything that humans do is dependent upon utilising their senses.

Without effective and reliable references and representative management, the brain would be unable to function. The senses mediate how the human experiences, interprets, and is able to make 'sense' of his or her world. This activity of 'appeasement' or interpretation, that the human senses manages for the brain, is called sensory processing.

Sensory Processing
Sensory Processing is literally the process that humans use to interpret the meaning of the sensations they experience. Literally, when a child discovers a new object, explores that object in a way that engages the senses. The child creates a new neural pathway in the brain that it can relate to later in reference to the object.

The more often the child stimulates his or her senses through interaction with his or her environment, the more neural pathways will be created; the more likely old neural pathways will be reinforced.

SPD - Sensory Processing Disorder is a condition of the human brain in which the sensory processing functions are dysfunctional or unreliable.

Dystonia: A brief descriotion

Dystonia is a syndrome of sustained muscle contractions that produce twisting and repetitive movements or abnormal postures. The extent and severity of muscle involvement are remarkably variable, ranging from intermittent contraction limited to a single body region to a more generalised dystonia, involving the limbs and axial muscles.
  • According to the body regions affected, dystonia is described as focal if a single area is involved, such as (1) the face, (2) oromandibular area, (3) arm, or (4) neck.
  • It is described as segmental if 2 or more contiguous areas are affected, such as (1) cranial and cervical areas or (2) the face, jaw, and tongue.
  • It is multifocal if 2 or more noncontiguous body regions are involved, such as (1) an arm and a leg with cranial muscle involvement or (2) blepharospasm and leg dystonia. Finally, it is generalised if both legs and 1 other body region are involved.

Many dystonic movements are action-specific. Some individuals develop involuntary movements only during writing (eg, writer's cramp), while others may have dystonic movements in the arm and trunk when walking but not when dancing.

Many patients with dystonia can partially control their arms using small tactile maneuvres, such as touching the chin in the case of cervical dystonia or touching the brow in the case of blepharospasm (geste antagonistique). These tactile maneuvres may mislead physicians to the erroneous diagnosis of malingering or hysteria.

In 1911, Oppenheim introduced the term dystonia to describe the variable tone present in patients with abnormal muscle spasms. Persistent dystonia was introduced by the French to describe the late complications of chlorpromazine therapy.

Keegan and Rajput
In 1973, Keegan and Rajput introduced the term dystonia tarda to describe drug-induced sustained muscle spasm causing repetitive movements or abnormal postures in patients who were treated with levodopa.

In 1982, Burke coined the term tardive dystonia; tardive derives from the Latin word meaning late onset. They proposed the following 4 criteria for diagnosis:

  1. The presence of chronic dystonia
  2. A history of antipsychotic drug treatment preceding or concurrent with the onset of dystonia
  3. The exclusion of known causes of secondary dystonia by appropriate clinical and laboratory evaluation
  4. A negative family history of dystonia

A fifth criterion was also proposed but appeared to gain little acceptance from other researchers — "If other involuntary movements (such as dyskinesia, akathisia) are additionally present, the dystonia is the most prominent."

Tardive Dystonia
Traditionally, tardive dystonia is considered an extremely disabling subtype of a broader syndrome known as tardive dyskinesia. The original descriptions of tardive dyskinesia referred to stereotyped orolingual and masticatory movement of a choreic nature, taking the form of lip smacking and pursing, tongue protrusion, and licking and chewing movements.

This term should only be used for those movement disorders developing after long-term exposure to dopamine receptor–blocking agents, However, this traditional view has come under attack in recent years, as some argue these should be characterised as 2 separate disorders.

Further information on Dystonia and related topics available here ...........

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dyslexia: Multisensory Spelling Strategies

A very interesting article by Karina Richland, M.A., E.T.

Studies from the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development have shown that for children with difficulties learning to read, a multisensory teaching method is the most effective way for these students to learn.

Multisensory teaching means the teacher must tap into all learning modalities – see it (visual), feel it (tactile), hear it (auditory) and move with it (kinesthetic). Here are a few suggestions on how to make spelling lessons fun, creative and engaging.

• Trace words with a pencil or pen while spelling the word. Then trace with an eraser. Get up and do 5 jumping jacks. Now write the word and check for accuracy.

• Write the words by syllables in different colored markers.

• Pair up with another student and write words on each other’s back with a finger. Have the partner guess what the word is.

• While sitting on a carpet, write down each word directly onto the carpet with two fingers.

• Trace over each word at least three different times in different color crayons so that the words look like rainbows.

• Pair up with another student and take turns jumping rope while spelling the words out loud.

• Clap your hands to each letter as you spell the words out loud.

• Type each of the words in 5 different fonts, colors, and sizes.

• Bounce a ball to each letter in the word.

• Practice writing the words with neon gel pens on black paper.

• Write the words on individual chalkboards using colored chalk.

• Finger-paint the words using frosting on wax paper or paper plates.

• Spell the words using alphabet manipulatives such as magnetic letters or letter tiles.

For more information check out Karina's website

Lactose intolerance, MSG and Hyper-Activity Disorders

To answer a question you did not ask, I would like to confess to you that I am lactose intolerant. Something that I am convinced was triggered late in life by living in Holland for a number of years and overdosing on excessive hidden milk additives in food.

Holland's economy is partly agricultural based and they are dedicated to over-producing milk products. They are a smart and inventive people, which means they are very inventive in coming up with ways to dispose of the glut of milk produced.

Leaving aside their apparent addiction to cheese products, they largely dispose of excessive milk products by introducing them into as many food products as is possible, normally in the form of milk powder.

This is also a very good way of preserving a deteriorating organic product. By simply re-processing into a powder form it can be stored for longer and provide a better profit margin.

Product dilution
Another great benefit from adding a cheap milk powder into convenience foods, is the dilution of the more expensive 'core' products e.g. the meat, and again the producer can increase their profit margins on that product.

Avoiding additives
The simple answer has been to avoid convenience and pre-prepared fast food and to cook with fresh products and fresh herbal ingredients. It is the only way to control what goes into your food and to avoid potential irritants.

The lactose content in fast pre-prepared foods is extensive, as is the flavour enhancing salt, Mono-sodium Glutamate (MSG). This salt creates a 'craving' and addictive desire for certain fast convenience foods. It is used extensively in Chinese, Thai and Malaysian foods to give it more 'flavour.'

Unfortunately, I have also been served Italian food in the form of garlic bread and pizza that was covered in MSG and therefore rendered inedible.

Hyper-activity disorders
The inclusion of Mono-Sodium Glutamate (MSG) in everyday foods creates an addiction for fast convenience food, creating a craving and a tendency to over-eat. So, the onset of obesity is an inevitable direct result.

MSG also causes an increase in heart rate, which can be either uncomfortable and disconcerting or down right dangerous if you suffer from a heart condition or a hyper-activity condition.

Sugar and Caffeine
Sugar and Caffeine are a stimulant for everyone and should only be given to children in small doses. This is the case for all children not just for children with a hyper-activity disorders.

I will stop now before I give you an anxiety attack but don't be over concerned about additives in foods, just be aware that they are there and they are there for the products benefit, not yours. Be aware and be selective.

Preparing your family's food from fresh products is always the best way forward and it's what our parents did. Perhaps that is why they did not suffer from the conditions that we are now experiencing, and perhaps not. All I know is that I am happier, healthier and fitter if I avoid and refuse convenience foods.

If you feel that you do not have the time or the opportunity to prepare fresh products then that is a 'time management ' problem that I am happy to help you with.

I would love to hear your comments and opinions on additives and the use of food in modern society.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

4 controversial neurophysiological approaches for treating learning disabilities

Center For Dyslexia : 4 controversial neurophysiological approaches

Four neurophysiological approaches for treating learning disabilities are considered controversial.

1) Patterning, has been proposed since the mid-1960s. Although less noted in the United States, it is still proposed in Canada and in Europe.
2) Cerebellar-vestibular dysfunction.
3) Applied kinesiology (utilises cranial bone manipulation)
4) EEG Biofeedback

Click here for the full article at Centre for Dyslexia .............

Building Confidence and Self Esteem in Children

Rewarding Good Behaviour
Knowing how to build self-esteem in schildren is an important skill for all parents and teachers. Bolstering self-confidence in students who have learning disabilities (LD) is even more critical.

There are a wide array of parenting, coaching strategies and behaviour management tools to build self-esteem in children. One of the most succesful is 'positive re-enforcement', rewarding good behaviour with treats or simple fun objects i.e. providing rewards for completing quality work and for making wise social choices.

Rather than providing food or other tangible rewards, you will find that social reinforcers and recognition, such as acknowledging effort. Giving a special 'Well Done!' or granting a special privilege, are far more powerful and important to the students than treats.

Try hard to catch your children in the act of being good. If you remember nothing else, remember to try to acknowledge students for good effort, academic progress, and good choices as frequently as you can.

Providing Information
For older children, ones at middle school and high school students, you can tell them a bit more about how their brain works. As kids grow, their brains develop and allow them to understand more complex instruction. This helps them succeed with learning in areas they may have struggled with at a younger age.

Take time to explain the true meaning of "learning disabilities" to prevent kids from thinking of themselves as "dumb" or "stupid." If students with LD think they are stupid, they will invariably act stupidly, because they would rather be seen as "bad" than as "dumb."

Building Skills
Many older children are bright, and have already achieved a reasonable level of education, but they may still have a difficulty with reading. Many of them rely on sight reading and have little or no phonics skills.

Some so-called experts will say that you should give up trying to teach phonics after a certain age. However, phonics is such a useful tool to learn and one that leads to improved self-esteem, that persistance should be maintained.

In addition to teaching phonics to older students, show them how to look for what makes sense, using context and inference clues, which they might not have been able to do when they were younger. A simple, but useful, technique to show children is learning how to use the phonetic pronunciation guide in the dictionary. You will be surprised how many say "Why hasn't anyone shown me this before?"

Establishing Relationships
As you continue to develop as a parent and educator, you will come to realise the great importance of the parent-teacher-student relationship, no matter what the age of the student. When you establish a positive relationship with a child or students, they feel trust and look to you as a source of reassurance and information about themselves and the wider world.

Value Uniqueness
Motivation comes from the perception of the possibility of success. Always, or as often as is possible, let your children and students know they are special to you and that they are loved. Let them know that you recognise, appreciate and celebrate their uniqueness. Slowly but surely they will begin to believe success is possible, maybe for the first time in thier life.

Strategies to Build Self-Esteem

Further strategies to build self esteem and confidence in children ...........

Self Esteem and Stress Management

Individuals with learning disabilities often struggle with self esteem because of poor academic performance or difficulties with social relationships.

Most parents want to help their children develop self esteem. For the child without special needs it’s a challenge—but for the youngster with extra issues, it can seem like an overwhelming task.

There are some essential facts to keep in mind. Self esteem is not static. It can fluctuate depending on one’s state of mind and circumstances. Parents can only do so much to help their child. After a certain age, a parent’s input, while still crucial, is only part of the confidence equation.

As children age, peer input as well as their ability to accomplish become an important part of how they develop self confidence. Still, it’s our job as parents to try to bolster our kids when they feel low.

Building Self-esteem and confidence

Here are 7 easy tips that will help you build self esteem.

  • Be generous with affecion; lots of hugs and kisses.
  • Take plenty baby pictures. Everyone wants to see how they looked as a baby. Too often parents of children who look different avoid talking pictures of their kids as babies and as they grow.
  • Don’t allow your child’s condition to define him e.g. he’s not an autistic child; he’s a child who suffers from autism.
  • Be a compassionate listener and do not be judgemental. Try to understand who your child is and where they are coming from, even if you initially disagree with his or her perception of a situation.
  • Use honest, open communication at all times. Kids know when you’re lying and hiding things from them.
  • Don’t compare your child unfavourably with other children. Be happy with and focus on, his accomplishments.
  • Become aware of your own attitudes of people’s appearances and their limitations. If need be, tone down any negative comments. Parents who make positive and negative comments about other people send the message that physical perfection is important and has a high priority.

Ultimately, it’s important to parents to understand their own feelings about appearance, disability and imperfection, so they can fully accept their child for the wonderful gift he really is.

Click the link below for more articles that provide tips for parents for developing healthy self esteem in their children, as well as resources for ways to talk with kids about learning disabilities.

Full article and additional information here..........

Dyslexia: Reading Rocks Video

Double Gifted Children at School

Gifted Children and Learning Difficulties

Learning disabilities affect people of all ability levels. Sometimes, learning disabilities are experienced by extremely gifted people who have above average abilities in academic areas.

These people are often referred to as “twice exceptional,” because giftedness can pose additional challenges beyond LD. We examine and discuss how teachers and parents of gifted children with LD can implement necessary interventions while still providing opportunities for enrichment.

The Full article and Further Information available here..........

Dyspraxia: Work with Your Child's Teacher to Identify and Address Math Disabilities

Mathematics disabilities are identified through a variety of procedures. Usually the classroom teacher or parent observes that the child is having persistent difficulty learning mathematics and tends to perform poorly on classroom math assessments compared to the rest of the class. For example, the child may have trouble remembering what the teacher has taught or she may have difficulty using effective strategies to solve math problems.

By observing and working directly with a child over time, the teacher can determine if her difficulty learning mathematics is persistent. Unfortunately, mathematics disabilities are usually not identified until the upper elementary school years because early problems often go undetected and assessment results may not be sensitive enough to detect a problem until the later grades.

Information about the child's performance can be gathered in several ways. Weekly tests, homework, and class work samples are examples of information the teacher can collect about the child's progress learning the mathematics curriculum. The teacher may adapt how instruction is provided to accommodate a child's learning needs and then note how the child responds to those adaptations.

The teacher may also seek assistance from a specialist or school support team who can offer additional ideas about how to adapt instruction for the child who is struggling to learn the curriculum. The teacher may also consult with the child's parents to understand how the child is doing on math homework. All of this information helps the teacher and school support team develop a profile of the child's learning difficulties and her response to instruction and adaptations.

Service Dogs and Their Place

Dog helps stabilize autistic boy's life, but Hillsboro school says not in the classroom | Washington County News - –

The U.S. Department of Justice is currently investigating a complaint filed by Disability Rights Oregon on behalf of the Givenses. The outcome could affect other families in Oregon that hope to use autism service dogs in schools.

The argument pits special education law against the Americans With Disabilities Act. Although the district argues that the dog is not necessary for Scooter's classroom education, the family says the dog improves the boy's access to his education by keeping him calm

Education: Learning styles debunked

The wide appeal of the idea that some students will learn better when material is presented visually and that others will learn better when the material is presented verbally, or even in some other way, is evident in the vast number of learning-style tests and teaching guides available for purchase and used in schools.

But does scientific research really support the existence of different learning styles, or the hypothesis that people learn better when taught in a way that matches their own unique style?

Unfortunately, the answer is no, according to a major new report published this month in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The report, authored by a team of eminent researchers in the psychology of learning -- Hal Pashler (University of San Diego), Mark McDaniel (Washington University in St. Louis), Doug Rohrer (University of South Florida), and Robert Bjork (University of California, Los Angeles) -- reviews the existing literature on learning styles and finds that although numerous studies have purported to show the existence of different kinds of learners (such as "auditory learners" and "visual learners"), those studies have not used the type of randomized research designs that would make their findings credible.

Nearly all of the studies that purport to provide evidence for learning styles fail to satisfy key criteria for scientific validity. Any experiment designed to test the learning-styles hypothesis would need to classify learners into categories and then randomly assign the learners to use one of several different learning methods, and the participants would need to take the same test at the end of the experiment.

If there is truth to the idea that learning styles and teaching styles should mesh, then learners with a given style, say visual-spatial, should learn better with instruction that meshes with that style. The authors found that of the very large number of studies claiming to support the learning-styles hypothesis, very few used this type of research design. Of those that did, some provided evidence flatly contradictory to this meshing hypothesis, and the few findings in line with the meshing idea did not assess popular learning-style schemes.

No less than 71 different models of learning styles have been proposed over the years. Most have no doubt been created with students' best interests in mind, and to create more suitable environments for learning. But psychological research has not found that people learn differently, at least not in the ways learning-styles proponents claim. Given the lack of scientific evidence, the authors argue that the currently widespread use of learning-style tests and teaching tools is a wasteful use of limited educational resources.

Education: Learning styles debunked

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dyslexia and Language-Processing by Dr Sally E. Shaywitz

The Yale Centre for Dyslexia & Creativity: Accessing Strengths

Homeopathy - Didn't realise there is nothing in it

The 10:23 'overdose' event

What is Homeopathy?

Contrary to popular belief, 'homeopathy' is not the same as herbal medicine. Homeopathy is based on three central tenets, unchanged since their invention by Samuel Hahnemann in 1796.

The Law of Similars

The law of similars states that whatever would cause your symptoms, will also cure those same symptoms. Thus, if you find yourself unable to sleep, taking caffeine will help; streaming eyes due to hayfever can be treated with onions, and so on. This so-called law was based upon nothing other than Hahnemann's own imagination. You don't need to have a medical degree to see the flawed reasoning in taking caffeine - a stimulant - to help you sleep; yet caffeine is, even today, prescribed by homeopaths (under the name 'coffea') as a treatment for insomnia.

The Law of Infinitesimals

Following on from his 'law of similars', Hahnemann proposed he could improve the effect of his 'like-cures-like treatments' by repeatedly diluting them in water. The more dilute the remedy, Hahnemann decided, the stronger it will become. Thus was born his 'Law of Infinitesimals'.

Taking a single drop of caffeine and diluting in ninety-nine drops of water creates what is known to homeopaths as one 'centesimal'. One drop of this centesimal added to another ninety-nine drops of water produces a two-centesimal, written as 2C. This 2C caffeine potion is 99.99% water and just 0.01% caffeine. At 3C the dilution is 0.0001% caffeine, at 4C it's 0.000001% caffeine, and so on. Homeopathic remedies are commonly sold at 6C (0.000 000 000 1%) and even 30C (0.000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 1%) dilutions, which homeopaths will often drip onto little balls of sugar to sell.

When these numbers are written out, it's easy to see how absurd they are. At 12C you pass what is known as the Avogadro Limit, the point at which there is likely nothing of your original substance left.

By the time you reach 30C, you have more chance of winning the lottery five weeks running than you have of finding a single caffeine molecule in your homeopathic sleeping draft. It's just ordinary water, dripped onto ordinary sugar.

The Law of Succussion

While transporting his remedies on a horse-drawn carriage, Hahnemann made another 'breakthrough'. He decided that the vigorous shaking of a homeopathic remedy would further increase its potency. This shaking process was named 'succussion'. When ritually preparing a homeopathic remedy, the homeopath will shake or tap the preparation at each stage of dilution, in order to 'potentize' it.

Modern homeopaths believe that this 'potentization' process allows the water to retain the 'memory' or 'vibrations' of the original substance, long after it has been diluted away to nothing. Of course, there is no good scientific evidence to suggest that water has such an ability, nor any indication of how it might be able to use this 'memory' to cure a sick patient.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dyslexia and Reading

Autism Video: Heart Rendering story with Happy Ending

Estrogen, Puberty and Autism | Neurodiversity

Estrogen, Puberty and Autism | Neurodiversity

To what degree have high and low-fat diets influenced human evolution? If low fat delays puberty and results in more brain growth, might this be because more synapses are useful for finding more fat?

When there is more fat in diets and puberty rates drop, for a woman there is a greater number of children produced over a single lifetime. Less fat in diet, fewer children produced. This seems like an evolutionary process.

Do thin males with less fat have less estrogen, reach puberty later, have bigger brains and exhibit more neotenous features?

Should autistic males be on extremely low-fat diets so that they reach puberty later, thus allowing more time for their brains to mature?

Is the degree of brain synapse pruning that occurs in infancy related to the estrogen levels in the mother or the child? High mother testosterone levels encourage higher rates of autism, which may be directly related to less pervasive synapse pruning. Is it possible that a high mother estrogen level results in low male baby estrogen levels that prolong or diminish the testosterone prunings?

In other words, the Simon Baron-Cohen research regarding mother testosterone levels and autism may be related to mother estrogen levels. If low estrogen at puberty translates to delayed puberty, delayed testosterone surges and increased brain growth, then the same process may be engaged during the first testosterone surges that compel a diminution of the right cerebral hemisphere during infancy. Low estrogen levels as an embryo, infant and toddler may have a direct impact on cerebral lateralization and synapse production.

Another interesting article 'Introduction to Neotenty' Here ............

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The education of dyslexic children from childhood to young adulthood

The past two decades have witnessed an explosion in our understanding of dyslexia (or specific reading disability), the most common and most carefully studied of the learning disabilities. We first review the core concepts of dyslexia: its definition, prevalence, and developmental course.

Next we examine the cognitive model of dyslexia, especially the phonological theory, and review empiric data suggesting genetic and neurobiological influences on the development of dyslexia.

With the scientific underpinnings of dyslexia serving as a foundation, we turn our attention to evidence-based approaches to diagnosis and treatment, including interventions and accommodations. Teaching reading represents a major focus.

We first review those reading interventions effective in early grades, and then review interventions for older students.

To date the preponderance of intervention studies have focused on word-level reading; newer studies are beginning to examine reading interventions that have gone beyond word reading to affect reading fluency and reading comprehension.

The article concludes with a discussion of the critical role of accommodations for dyslexic students and the recent neurobiological evidence supporting the need for such accommodations.

Download and Read the full article here ..........

Speech perception deficits by Chinese children with phonological Dyslexia

Speech perception deficits by Chinese children with phonological Dyslexia

Findings concerning the relation between dyslexia and speech perception deficits are inconsistent in the literature.

This study examined the relation in Chinese children using a more homogeneous sample-children with phonological dyslexia.

Two experimental tasks were administered to a group of Chinese children with phonological dyslexia, a group of age-matched control children, and a group of adults. In addition to a categorical perception task, a selective adaptation task was carried out.

The results indicated that Chinese children with phonological dyslexia were less consistent than both the child and adult control groups in identifying stimuli within a given phonetic category.

Furthermore, they did not show any significant adaptation effects in the selective adaptation task even when the adapting stimulus was identical to an endpoint stimulus in the test continuum. It seems that children with phonological dyslexia have a general deficiency in representing and processing speech stimuli.

Further papers on Dyslexia and Chinese or Oriental languages here ...............

Friday, January 15, 2010

Solar eclipse in Indian Ocean

The path of the annular solar eclipse began in central Africa, crossed the Indian Ocean to reach the southern tip of India and movesd on to Southeast Asia, ending here in eastern China

Picture: EPA

The empathy imbalance hypothesis of autism: a theoretical approach to cognitive and emotional empathy in autistic development

The empathy imbalance hypothesis of autism: a theoretical approach to cognitive and emotional empathy in autistic development. - Free Online Library

Autism is a pervasive developmental disability resulting from a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain. It is characterised by the abnormal development of communication skills, social skills, and reasoning.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder
Any of several disorders, such as autism and Asperger's syndrome, characterised by severe deficits in many areas of development, including social interaction and communication, or by the presence of repetitive, that continues to fascinate researchers, challenge clinicians, and distress affected families.
Empathy is a set of processes and outcomes at the heart of human social behaviour.

Social Behaviour
In biology, psychology and sociology social behaviour is behaviour directed towards, or taking place between, members of the same species. Behaviour such as predation which involves members of different species is not social. Fascination with autism is often with the study of empathy because the prevailing theory suggests that people with autism lack empathy.

For example, according to Decety and Jackson (2004), "Children with autism ... display a broad range of social communication deficits, and most scholars agree that a lack of empathy prominently figures amongst them" (p. 90).

The empathy imbalance hypothesis (EIH - External Interrupt Handler ) of autism, in keeping with the theory of mind hypothesis (Baron-Cohen, 1995), proposes that autism involves a significant cognitive empathy (CE) deficit.

However, the hypothesis also proposes, in contrast to prevailing theory, that people with autism actually have a heightened capacity for basic emotional empathy (EE). This combination of a CE deficit and an excess of EE can be termed EE-dominated empathic.

Read the full article here...........

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Autism: Digestive Problems are not more common in affected children

Autism is a spectrum of disorders affecting a person's ability to communicate and interact with others. Children with autism may make poor eye contact or exhibit repetitive movements such as rocking or hand-flapping. About 1 in 110 U.S. children have autism, according to a recent government estimate.

More than 25 experts met in Boston in 2008 to write the consensus report after reviewing medical research. The Autism Society and other autism groups funded the effort, but gave no input.

Scientific Report
A panel of scientific expert says; 'There is no rigorous evidence to support the concern that digestive problems are more common in children with Autism compared to other children, or that special diets are effective in treating the condition.' This is contrary to claims made by product sponsors, celebrities and anti-vaccine protestors.

Digestive Problems
Painful digestive problems can trigger problem behaviour in children with Autism and should be treated medically, according to the panel's report published in the January issue of Paediatrics.

"There are a lot of barriers to medical care to children with autism," said the report's lead author, Dr. Timothy Buie of Harvard Medical School. "They can be destructive and unruly in the office, or they can't sit still. The nature of their condition often prevents them from getting standard medical care."

Pain and behaviour
Some pediatricians' offices "can't handle those kids," Buie said, especially if children are in pain or discomfort because of bloating or stomach cramps. Pain can set off problem behavior, further complicating diagnosis, especially if the child has trouble communicating — as is the case for children with autism.

Leaky Gut hypothesis
The report refutes the controversial idea that there's a digestive problem specific to autism called "leaky gut" or "autistic enterocolitis." The hypothesis was first floated in 1998 in a now-discredited study by British physician Dr. Andrew Wakefield. His paper tied a particular type of autism and bowel disease to the measles vaccine.

The new report says the existence of autistic enterocolitis "has not been established." Buie said researchers and doctors have avoided digestive issues in autism because of their connection with Wakefield's disputed research, which set off a backlash against vaccines that continues to this day.

Report claims
The new report calls for more rigorous research into the prevalence of digestive problems and whether special diets might help some children. For now, the report states, available information doesn't support special diets for autism.

Celebrity Diets
Diets have been promoted by actress Jenny McCarthy, whose best-seller "Louder Than Words" detailed her search for treatments for her autistic son.

Nearly 1 in 5 of children with autism are on a special diet, according to a project that tracks what treatments parents are trying. Most of them were on diets that eliminate gluten, found in many grains, or casein, a protein in milk, or both, according to the Interactive Autism Network at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Md.

Nutritional Balance
The new report advises doctors to watch for nutritional deficiencies in patients with autism. It recommends a nutritionist get involved if a patient is on a special diet or only eats certain foods.

The report drew praise from Rebecca Estepp of Poway, Calif., who believes a special diet is helping her autistic son. She said the paper gives pediatricians credible recommendations they've needed.

"I'm filled with hope after reading this report," said Estepp of the support group Talk About Curing Autism. "I wish this report would have come out 10 years ago when my son was diagnosed."

Autism Society
Lee Grossman, president of the Autism Society, a funder, said many doctors have written off autistic children's digestive problems as untreatable. "I think we still have a lot to learn about the gut and how it contributes to behavioural symptoms," Grossman said. "We have a lot to learn about how to treat this."

Clinical visits
Buie said his clinic has various techniques for treating children with problem behaviour. They schedule early morning appointments so children aren't delayed unecessarily in the waiting room. As a last resort, they do use a mild anesthesia.

"If a child is going to be asleep because of a dental evaluation or an MRI study, we will do our endoscopy, our blood work, spinal tap, haircuts or teeth cleaning at the same time," Buie said. "Our nurses do beautiful haircuts."

Further Reading on ASD and Digestive Disorders

The full report from the Pediatrics Journal in PDF format

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Is there a Real Connection Between Autism and Gastrointestinal Problems

Popular knowledge states that there may be a connection between autism and problems with diarrhea and constipation. Many paediatricians do not agree or know of a direct connection. Is it true?

The quick answer is that a certain number of children who suffer from autism seem to have troubles in the toilet.

Dr. Cynthia Molloy, a researcher at the Children's Hospital Medical Centre in Cincinnatti states, "Children with autism are at increased risk for chronic GI [gastrointestinal] symptoms. Pediatricians may say that all kids get diarrhea and constipation, but in reality, it is better to say that children on the autism spectrum are far more likely to have chronic symptoms."

According to Molloy, two research studies have come up with slightly different numbers, but they both show a significantly increased risk of gastrointestinal (GI) problems.

About three to four percent of typical children have chronic GI issues, but somewhere between 12 to 19 percent of autistic children seem to have such problems. Children with regressive autism (autism that suddenly occured after a year or more of typical development) are at particularly high risk.

To date, the reasons for this increased risk are still unclear. Molloy suggests several possibilities, ranging from a) a greater vulnerability to infections due to their compromised immune systems to b) possible sensory processing issues that could make it scary or difficult to use a toilet.

The only thing that is certain is, that researchers have not been able to determine whether there is any causal link between autism and GI issues.

One exception to this thinking comes from a small study in the UK. It found that GI issues and autistic symptoms showed up at the same time. If this is really the case, it might support a theory that the same gene or environmental factor causes both problems. It certainly implies that the two are linked in some way.

Another recent study at Vanderbilt University reported discovering a gene that mutates more often among autistic children. This discovery, says Molloy, "is important because in addition to being involved in brain development, it's also involved in protecting the gastrointestinal system."

The UK National Autistic Society - What is Asperger syndrome?

The National Autistic Society - What is Asperger syndrome?

What is Asperger syndrome?

Asperger syndrome is a form of autism, which is a lifelong disability that affects how a person makes sense of the world, processes information and relates to other people. Autism is often described as a 'spectrum disorder' because the condition affects people in many different ways and to varying degrees. (For more information about autism, please read our leaflet What is autism?)

Asperger syndrome is mostly a 'hidden disability'. This means that you can't tell that someone has the condition from their outward appearance. People with the condition have difficulties in three main areas. They are:

* social communication
* social interaction
* social imagination.

They are often referred to as 'the triad of impairments' and are explained in more detail below.

While there are similarities with autism, people with Asperger syndrome have fewer problems with speaking and are often of average, or above average, intelligence. They do not usually have the accompanying learning disabilities associated with autism, but they may have specific learning difficulties. These may include dyslexia and dyspraxia or other conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and epilepsy.

With the right support and encouragement, people with Asperger syndrome can lead full and independent lives.

The Search for Autism’s Missing Piece : Autism Research Slowly Turns Its Focus to Environmental Toxicity (By Brita Belli)

The Search for Autism’s Missing Piece : Autism Research Slowly Turns Its Focus to Environmental Toxicity (By Brita Belli)

“It irritates me to no end that we still argue over whether there is an increase in incidence,” says Michael Merzenich, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at the University of California San Francisco who has pioneered research in brain plasticity (essentially, retraining brains) and leads the brain-training software company Posit Science. “I think there is lots of evidence for increased incidence,” Merzenich says. “Overwhelmingly it supports that there are things in the environment that are contributing to the rate of incidence. But people still argue.”

Friday, January 8, 2010

Autism: Is there really an increase diagnosis

According to a recent study by The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) the rate of autism in the US has jumped 40% from 1 in 154 to 1 in 110 between 2002 and 2006.

The study also found that ASD was 4 to 5 times higher in boys than in girls. The CDC estimates 1 in 70 boys and 1 in 315 girls have an ASD.

What accounts for this staggering increase?
The CDC admits that they can isolate no one factor at this time, without further research and conclusive evidence.

Recent developments in earlier detection might account for the rise in autism diagnoses and the CDC confirms that improved community awareness, the widening of diagnostic criteria to include more mild cases and out right earlier identification have added to this increase.

So the CDC are keen to acknowledge that is not yet conclusive that the condition is on such a steep rise, but the recognition of symptoms and labeling has drastically increased.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends systematically screening children for autism at 18 months and 24 months even when a concern or risk is not conclusively recognised. Their philosophy is to screen children early and often.

However, parents are either the first to identify symptoms or the most likely and they need to be vigilant in helping track a child’s development. Close scrutiny will help determine how well they are progressing and ensuring they are not regressing in their skill development.

A child with ASD will develop symptoms before the age of 3. These symptoms can be detected as early as a few months of age, or not show up until 24 months or later. Some children develop normally until around 18 months and then stop gaining new skills, or they lose the skills they once had. Common symptoms are:

  • Avoid eye contact and want to be alone
  • Not respond to their name by 12 months of age
  • Experience delayed speech and language skills
  • Repeat words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
  • Be extremely agitated by minor changes
  • Have obsessive interests
  • Flap their hands, rock their body or spin in circles
  • Have unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look or feel

There are three different types of ASD:

  • Autistic Disorder: Significant language delays, social and communication challenges and unusual behaviors and interests. Some may have intellectual disability.
  • Asperger Syndrome: Milder symptoms of autistic disorder. Typically do not have problems with language or intellectual disability.
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder (atypical autism): Usually have fewer and milder symptoms than those with typical autistic disorder. Symptoms might pose only social and communication challenges.

If you have concerns about possible delays in your child's developmental, contact your doctor in the first instance. If you are not satisfied with your doctor's response or if he confirms your suspicions, ask for a referral to a qualidied specialist. Someone that will be able to perform a more in-depth evaluation of your child.

10 Terrific Traits of People with Autism

Missing: My Pre-Existing Self: 10 Terrific Traits of People with Autism

Top 10 Terrific Traits of People with Autism from someone who knows

1) Autistic People Rarely Lie
We all claim to value the truth, but almost all of us tell little white lies. All, that is, except people on the autism spectrum. To them, truth is truth -- and a good word from a person on the spectrum is the real deal.

2) People on the Autism Spectrum Live in the Moment
How often do typical people fail to notice what's in front of their eyes because they're distracted by social cues or random chitchat? People on the autism spectrum truly attend to the sensory input that surrounds them. Many have achieved the ideal of mindfulness.

Detecting Autism early but keep it real

A study to monitor the efficiency of early Autism detection, carried out on behalf of the US Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Below we provide a summary of the results.

Objective: Assess the sensitivity and specificity of responding to one's own name at the age of 12 months as a screening tool for autism spectrum disorders and other developmental delays.

Participants: Study included 245 children; 156 infants who were thought to be at increased risk for autism and 89 who were not.

Methods: In a laboratory setting, researchers counted the number of attempts it took to get infants to respond to their own names while distracted by a toy.

Results: At 12 months, all of the control group and 86% of those at increased risk responded to their names on the first or second try.

Of the children who did not respond,
  • Five were diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder by age 2,
  • Four had other delays, and three were developing normally,
  • Two had not reached that age before the study was published.
1) Not responding to one's name at a young age is very suggestive of developmental abnormalities, but it does not conclusively identify all children who will have problems.

2) Lack of response is also not universal in all children who have autism spectrum disorders and other developmental issues.

I believe it is a cautionary tale and one that parents should take heart and encouragement from.

Source: Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine

How Autistic Artists See the World | Mental Health

How Autistic Artists See the World Mental Health

This is a fabulous collection of pictures and images that have a greater impact when you recall that the artist is expressing something that is so difficult to capture in words or in any other medium, except perhaps music.

Autism: Fight Inappropriate Restraint - Zakh Price

Fight Inappropriate Restraint - The story of Zakh Price

Zakhqurey Price, is currently being charged with felony assault after fighting back when two staff members restrained him in response to behavioural challenges.

The school has ignored repeated efforts from Zakh's grandmother over the course of the last five months to obtain needed IEP supports to improve his educational options and manage his behavioural difficulties.

Do you have similar stories to tell? If so share them with us here and we will raise the awareness and the profile of such matters, so that the offending authorities take remedial action.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Capturatalk: Mobile App that Reads Text

Gifted Children: Fighting for resources has built a page of resources and information about “twice exceptional” children - kids who are gifted but also have a disability.

Look at this page - you may find help:

In most cases, gifted children sit in classes, bored and frustrated, with no educational services to meet their needs. You need to locate and provide enrichment activities for these children.

Parents can be reticent in accepting intervention

It has never been easy being the parent or guardian of a son or daughter that has a learning difficulty or who may have a handicapping condition, despite the apparent medical and psychological progress made and the perceptive insights achieved in recent years.

Unfortunately, all this increased knowledge has really not changed the difficulties for parents. The emotional investment needed, is still enormous.

Child's View
The child, not only experiences difficulties at school and later on, when seeking out further education, but they also expend a great deal of energy and emotion just trying to fit in. They are always working hard at fully functioning at an acceptable level and meeting the expectations of friends and family members.

Parental Guidance
The stress levels within the family can be tremendous and sometimes explosive. The parents need help in dealing with, both the child's educational difficulties and the results of their children's frustration and emotional outburst.

Whilst at the same time they are trying to be great parents by maintaining a stable supportive and loving family environment for everyone. Unfortunately, in these circumstances, the parents' own relationship can often suffer badly, taking a poor third place in all the chaos.

Once a child has been diagnosed and the diagnosis confirmed, the parent are normally very willing to accept the help of a qualified person in guiding them through the next steps. It is more difficult to accept the possibility that the whole family may need some level of relationship councilling.

The initial reticense and resistance to outside intervention can be caused by an underlying sense of guilt and independence but in the face of such a big change in the family dynamics, it is perfectly reasonable to ask for assistance and some additional objective input.

Clearly, the children need greater understanding, support and educational intervention, is it so strange to accept that the parents may also need something or someone extra.

Dyslexia is not a problem of Vision or Opthalmology

Below is an Abstract from a scientific paper in the US Journal of Pediatrics.
This article discusses at length the possible causes and effects of Dyslexia in children and in particular, it explores the argument that vision and the use of eye exercises can improve the condition.

Learning disabilities, including reading disabilities, are commonly diagnosed in children. Their etiologies are multifactorial, reflecting genetic influences and dysfunction of brain systems.

Learning disabilities are complex problems that require complex solutions. Early recognition and referral to qualified educational professionals for evidence-based evaluations and treatments seem necessary to achieve the best possible outcome.

Most experts believe that dyslexia is a language-based disorder. Vision problems can interfere with the process of learning; however, vision problems are not the cause of primary dyslexia or learning disabilities.

Scientific evidence does not support the efficacy of eye exercises, behavioral vision therapy, or special tinted filters or lenses for improving the long-term educational performance in these complex pediatric neurocognitive conditions.

Diagnostic and treatment approaches that lack scientific evidence of efficacy, including eye exercises, behavioual vision therapy, or special tinted filters or lenses, are not endorsed and should not be recommended.