Why Children With ‘Severe Autism’ Are Overlooked by Science

Published by: Spectrum
Writtten by: Alisa Opar

 

It should have been a perfect day. Lauren Primmer was hosting an annual party at her home in New Hampshire for families that, like hers, have adopted children from Ethiopia. On the warm, sunny July afternoon, about 40 people gathered for a feast of hot dogs, hamburgers and homemade Ethiopian dishes. The adults sipped drinks and caught up while the children swam in the pool and played basketball. It was entirely pleasant — at least, until the cake was served. When Primmer told her 11-year-old son Asaminew that he couldn’t have a second piece, he threw a tantrum so violent it took three adults to hold him down on the grass.
The Primmers adopted Asaminew from an orphanage in Ethiopia in 2008, when he was 26 months old. They had already adopted another child from the same orphanage in Ethiopia, and they have four older biological children. From the beginning, Primmer says, “He would only go to me, not anyone else.” That tendency, she later learned, may have been a symptom of reactive detachment disorder, a condition seen in some children who didn’t establish healthy emotional attachments with their caregivers as infants.
About a year and a half later, the family adopted three more Ethiopian children — siblings about Asaminew’s age — and he became aggressive. “When they first came, Asaminew was very abusive,” Primmer recalls. “He’d bite and scratch them.” The Primmers had to install gates on all of the children’s bedroom doors for their safety. Soon after he entered preschool, Asaminew began lashing out at his classmates, too. His teachers suggested that he be evaluated for autism. Doctors at the Dartmouth Hitchcock Clinic in Manchester, New Hampshire, diagnosed him with the condition. In addition to his violent episodes, they took note of his obsession with lining up toy cars and flushing toilets, his habit of taking his clothes off in public and his tendency to not follow rules at home or school. Asaminew is intellectually disabled and speaks in short, simple sentences. Click here to read the rest of the story

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The Power of Paws: The Therapeutic Benefits of Dogs for Autistic Students

Guest Blogger, Jeremy Divinity

The classroom is a social environment where student success is dependent on the ability to interact well with others. Whereas, 72% of students on the autism spectrum have additional mental health needs that cause challenges in the classroom.

Although the learning disabilities that are associated with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) are unique to each child many autistic students share the same development problems: social interaction, language, and behavior.Autism can hinder a student’s ability to communicate and share experiences with others. Compared to their peers, autistic students are four times more likely to need extra learning and social support. This lack of social-emotional competence leads to a decrease in their connection to the learning environment and academic performance.

ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) treatments for autistic children have proven that the behavior of autistic students can be changed. Studies have demonstrated that ABA techniques produce improvements in communication, social relationships, and school performance.With the right accommodations, including proper modifications to the educational environment, along with the addition of positive reinforcement, autistic students can overcome the many barriers to learning.To put in place effective ABA techniques, educators need a better understanding of autism and how it may affect learning. Teachers are being called upon to be innovative and creative due to the unique challenges that students with ASD provide, this includes modifying their education programs.

One ABA treatment that is growing in popularity is the use of therapy dogs. If you are unfamiliar with therapy dogs and the benefits of therapy dog treatment, here is a brief history lesson: Smoky, a Yorkshire terrier, and World War 2 veteran was the first official therapy dog whose service on and off the battlefield would pave the way for future therapy dogs. Injured soldiers relied on Smoky, their canine companion, for entertainment to boost their morale. Today, therapy dogs act as a safety net, guardian, and friend who are trained to respond to a child’s most repetitive behaviors. Due to their calming influence, therapy dogs are becoming popular in the autism community. The special relationship between the therapy dog and child stimulates positive changed behavior. For children with ASD, their furry companions are not only their best friend but also offer therapeutic benefits.

Teachers and therapists have found that therapy dogs not only act as “social catalysts” that promote social interaction but also increase the activity levels of autistic students. In a study of 22 children, kids who engaged in therapy dog sessions were more talkative and socially engaged, while also less aggressive.The calming demeanor and influence of therapy dogs aid autistic students in managing the sensory challenges of the school environment. Therapy dogs can mitigate the impact of autism in the classroom by providing stability in what may seem like an unfamiliar environment.The relationship a therapy dog has with a child extends deeper than just companionship, therapy dogs can provide both practical and emotional support. Here are some of the most common therapeutic benefits that therapy dogs provide for autistic students:

Companionship

Therapy dogs show unconditional love, and often times, a loving friendship develops. Both therapy dog and patient enjoy each other’s company in nonverbal ways which assists with everyday life. For example, therapy dogs de-escalate emotional meltdowns by gently interrupting any self-harming behaviors.

Social Interaction

The biggest challenge faced by students with autism is social interaction with peers. When introduced to the classroom, therapy dogs can increase a child’s participation and functional level. After interacting with their canine companions, students with ASD transfer over their new-found social relationships with other students.

Behavior Management

Another benefit of therapy dogs is that they can assist with behavior management by their comforting and calming demeanor. Many therapy dogs are specifically trained to decrease inappropriate behavior by acting as a source of comfort, such as leaning against a child or gently across their lap.

Academic Performance

The most important benefit that therapy dogs can provide for students is an improvement in academic performance. After introducing therapy dogs, you will find that your students are more attentive. While also being better behaved with a new-found self-confidence – which is key to academic success. Autistic students face many challenges in the classroom. To help autistic students overcome barriers to learning school administrators, teachers, and parents must be equipped with the right accommodations. Therapy dogs mitigate the impact of autism and assist in managing the sensory overload of the school environment, and provide students with autism with the stability needed to be successful in the classroom.

Resource Articles

Autism and Pets: More Evidence of Social Benefits

Dogs de-stress families with autistic children according to research

How dogs help children with autism

Pets may help improve social skills of children with autism

 

 is an education blogger for Teach.com and freelance writer from Los Angeles. Read more at http://www.JeremyDivinity.com.

 

Children with ADHD and Autism Are More Likely To Develop Anxiety

Website: News Medical Life Sciences

The study, which compares comorbidities among patients with ASD and ADHD, and ASD alone, is one of the largest of its kind.

A team of researchers from the Kennedy Krieger Institute used the data from a cross-sectional survey of children aged between six to seventeen years old with ASD. The study included 3,319 children, 1,503 of which had ADHD and were monitored by the Interactive Autism Network between 2006 and 2013. Click here to read the rest of the story

Study of Nonverbal Autism Must Go Beyond Words, Says Expert


Source: Spectrum
Author: Sarah Deweedt

Roughly 25 percent of people with autism speak few or no words. A generation ago, that figure was closer to 50 percent. Most researchers agree that the decline is due to the recognition of more people with milder forms of autism, as well as to the advent of early intervention programs  that have helped more children. Click here for the rest of the story.

Over 30 Online Resources on Rett Syndrome

 

rett-syndrome logo
So much has been written on the subject of Autism, but how much do you know about Rett Syndrome? This disorder fall under the autism spectrum disorder category due to similar traits and characteristics.

Rett Syndrome is a neuro-developmental rare disorder that affects primarily girls. Discovered by Andreas Rett who described the symptoms as wasting and slow growth. Rett Syndrome is rare and occurs in 1 out of 23,000 births. The disorder consists of four stages:
Stage 1: Generally begins between the ages of 6 and 18 months. Gross motor skills begin to slow down and stagnates
Stage 2: Between the age of 1 and 3 years, will regress and lose any skills that were previous acquired.
Stage 3: During this stage, apaxia becomes apparent. Seizures become common and gross motor skills deteriorate.
Stage 4. Loses all gross motor skills and generally uses a wheelchair.

Symptoms

  • Difficulty in coordination
  • Loss of communication skills
  • Dyspraxia
  • Severe motor disabilities
  • Abnormal hand movement
  • Breathing abnormalities
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Apraxia
Similar in Autism Characteristics include:
  • Screaming
  • Crying
  • Hyperventilation
  • Lack of eye contact
Similarities in cerebral palsy include:
  • Hypotonia
  • Gait difficulties
  • Spasticity
  • Teeth-grinding

Medical Sites

Boston Children’s Hospital
Cleveland Clinic
Mayo Clinic
MedicineNet.com
Medscape
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes
National Organization for Rare Disorder
Science Daily
WebMD
Wikipedia

Organizations and Foundations

Girl Power 2 Cure
Kate Foundation
New Jersey Rett Syndrome Association
Northwest Rett Syndrome Foundation
Rett Syndrome.org
Southeastern Rett Syndrome Alliance

Twitter

Rett Girl
Rett Syndrome GP2C
Rett Syndrome News
Rett UK

Facebook

Cure Rett
Ontario Rett Syndrome Association
Rett Syndrome of Ireland

Blogs

Grace for Rett
Jessica’s Journey with Rett Syndrome
Living with Rett Syndrome
My Silent Angel’s Fight

Teaching Strategies

ACC for Children Who Have Rett Syndrome
Multi-Model Communication Strategies
Rett Syndrome: Teacher Tools
Some Rett Syndrome Tips

You Tube Video’s

Down Syndrome Organizations

 The internet offers a number of website that provide resources on Down syndrome. Topics including family support groups, education, medical and advocacy. For additional information, click on the links below:

down syndrome ribbon

 

 

 

Band of Angels: http://www.bandofangels.com/-

Established in 1994, Band of Angels provides support for individuals with Down Syndrome and their families. The website offers links on Down Syndrome support groups and a litany of topics including, adoption, autism and education.

Down Syndrome International https://www.ds-int.org/

A U.K. based international organization comprising a membership of individuals and organizations from all over the world. Disseminates information on Down Syndrome including prenatal diagnosis, early intervention, education, medical, health, employment, aging and human rights. Down Syndrome International also promoted World Down Syndrome Day (March 21) as a day dedicated to people with Down Syndrome.

 

Global Down Syndrome http://www.globaldownsyndrome.org/

Provides fundraising, education and governmental advocacy for the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome. Resources available on the website include, information on research, medical care and facts on Down Syndrome.

 

 

International Down Syndrome Coalition: http://theidsc.org/

Dedicated to helping and advocating for individuals with Down syndrome from conception and throughout life. Offers support to parents who are new to the Down syndrome diagnosis by connecting parents to each other.

 

National Association for Down Syndrome http://www.nads.org/

NADS is the oldest organization in the United States serving individuals with Down syndrome and their families. Also provides families with information and resources that will enable them to access appropriate services and educates the public about Down syndrome.

 

National Down Syndrome Congress http://www.ndsccenter.org/

The purpose of the NDSC is to promote the interests of people with Down syndrome and their families through advocacy, public awareness, and information. When we empower individuals and families from all demographic backgrounds, we reshape the way people understand and experience Down syndrome.

National Down Syndrome Society http://www.ndss.org/

NDSS provides resources to new and expectant parents and offers a toll-free helpline and email services. NDSS also focuses on transitions , wellness and education

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dementia and Intellectual Disabilities

Articles

Dementia and Intellectual Disabilities

Dementia in Older Adults with Intellectual Disabilities

Dementia for Carers of People with Down’s Syndrome

Down Syndrome and Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease and Down Syndrome Overview

Alzheimer Disease in Down Syndrome-Medscape Reference

Down’s Syndrome and Dementia Journal Article

Down’s Syndrome and Alzheimer’s Disease Risk