Tag Archives: Autism Alternative Treatment

African-American Children with Autism Diagnosed Later

A study by a Florida State University researcher has shown that African-American children receive a diagnosis of autism later than other children, which can negatively affect their treatment.

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Autism Causes: Another Suspect Eliminated

One of the many potential causes of autism, smoking during pregnancy, has been ruled out after a large population-based study in Sweden.“We found no evidence that maternal smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of autism spectrum disorders,” said study leader Dr. Brian Lee, an assistant professor at Drexel University and an epidemiologist at Drexel’s School of Public Health, in collaboration with researchers from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute and the University of Bristol (Bristol, UK).

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Causes of Autism: Environmental Versus Genetic Factors

A recent study shows the causes of autism to be more environmentally influenced than previously thought.

“This is a very significant study because it confirms that genetic factors are involved in the cause of the disorder,” said Dr. Peter Szatmari, a leading autism researcher who is the head of child psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at McMaster University in Ontario. “But it shifts the focus to the possibility that environmental factors could also be really important.”

Little is known about the causes of autism and as recently as a few decades ago, psychiatrists thought autism was caused by a lack of maternal warmth. While it is currently thought that there are genetic explanations, there has been growing acceptance that genes do not paint the whole picture, partially because incidences of autism appear to be increasing faster than our genes can evolve.

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Autism Epidemic: Fact or Fiction?

There are questions over a possible autism epidemic given that the number of children diagnosed in the United States is twenty times higher than it was a generation ago. About one percent of all children are affected, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Scientists are striving to determine an explanation for the spike in diagnoses. While there have been several red herrings, the search for an environmental explanation has so far been fruitless.

Roy Richard Grinker, an anthropologist at George Washington University who has studied autism across the world, believes that what some are calling an epidemic is really an “epidemic of discovery.”  Grinker suggests that the percentage of people with autism has always been the same, but previously went undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

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Helping Kids with Autism Sleep

Melatonin aids sleep

Melatonin aids sleep

From Schafer
Ivanhoe Newswire – A commonly used supplement can help autistic children catch some much needed Z’s. As many as 89 percent of children with autism spectrum disorder (ADS) and 77 percent of children with Fragile X Syndrome (FXS) — the most common form of inherited mental impairment and a known cause of autism — report sleep problems. Researchers believe sleep disorders are more common in these children due to abnormal levels of melatonin, a natural hormone believed to promote sleep at night.

In a study of 12 children with ADS or FXS between the ages of 12 and 15.25, children who used melatonin for two weeks increased their sleep duration by an average of 21 minutes compared to placebo. They also shortened the length of time it took them to begin to feel tired by 28 minutes, and the time to fall asleep was faster by 42 minutes. Study authors say in addition to melatonin, behavior therapies and sleep hygiene practices should be used in children with ADS and FXS.

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 2009;5:145-15

Chinese Qigong Massage Therapy Helps Children with Autism

Alternative Treatments

Alternative Treatments

In 2007, a small controlled study by Dr. Louisa Silva and colleagues was published showing that children treated with a five-month qigong massage methodology improved in sensory impairment and developmental delay. The severity of autism was reduced in measures of autistic behavior as well as measures of language and social skills. The massage was given by a physician trained in Chinese Medicine and the parents.

Last month the same group published additional findings showing that trained early intervention staff and parents could achieve the same results when giving the massage for five months. The authors found that low functioning children responded as well to the intervention as high functioning children, making the case that the primary problem in autism is with the senses rather than a fixed limitation in the brain. Of interest is the finding that the improvement in sensory impairment was accompanied by an improvement in self-regulation, as shown by improved digestion, sleep, and decreased tantrums.

Sensory impairment is a mixed form of hyper- and hypo- sensitivity that affects one or more senses. It can be measured with several standardized assessment tools. In the case of hyposensitivity, children are simply unaware of what is going on around them. In the case of hypersensitivity, children are physically uncomfortable in ordinary social settings, and thus are less open to the learning that might otherwise occur in such settings. Both types of sensory abnormality functionally reduce the information stream reaching that reaches the child, and therefore diminishing the opportunities for learning. On this basis alone, it is not surprising that individuals with autism experience developmental delays.

The group has completed a larger randomized, controlled study of the intervention which will be published in summer 2009 in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy. For more information about the project, visit http://www.qsti.org

Results of study: Sensory impairment is a common and significant feature of children on the autism spectrum. In 2005, a qigong massage intervention based on Chinese medicine and delivered by a doctor of Chinese medicine was shown to improve sensory impairment and adaptive behavior in a small controlled study of young children with autism. In 2006, the Qigong Sensory Training (QST) program was developed to train early intervention professionals to provide the QST intervention. This article describes the preliminary evaluation of the QST program as piloted with 15 professionals and 26 children and outcomes testing using standardized tests of sensory impairment and adaptive behavior. Results of outcomes comparing delivery by QST-trained therapists with delivery by a doctor of Chinese medicine showed that both groups improved and that there was no difference in outcome between the two groups. The intervention and training program are described, and implications for future research are discussed.