HitAutism.com » Posts for tag 'autism spectrum disoder'

Restaurant Review of a Gluten Free Night Out

If you can’t eat out due to the gluten free diet, here is a restaurant review of a nice meal. Hopefully you live near one of these restaurants. http://glutenfreeislife.wordpress.com/

SCD Granola Recipe

I liked this one myself. Here’s the site. http://heal-balance-live.blogspot.com/2009/08/scd-granola-revised.html

Asperger’s Syndrome: Tips From a Recent Case

Asperger’s Syndrome is a milder condition on the autism spectrum where the individuals are known for being highly intelligent yet have difficulty with social situations. Often as a child they are known as “Little professors” as they are smart and may show interest in scientific subjects such as dinosaurs or science fiction themes such as Star Wars. These individuals tend to be able to integrate into society fairly well as their verbal skills may be quite high and again the major deficiency relates to social interaction and social awkwardness i.e.  little Johnny can’t seem to make friends.  They may have difficulty with displaying appropriate sensitivity to others’ feelings. It is difficult at times for them to understand abstract concepts such as humor. Reading facial expressions and maintaining eye contact may be an issue. Usually, they show coordination difficulties and are not considered very athletic as children i.e. the goalie on the soccer team not the star forward.

This particular case relates to an adult with Asperger’s Syndrome. When someone with Asperger’s syndrome  grows up they tend to be attracted to computer fields. Such was the case in this situation. The reason for this being that many times these individuals are very detail oriented and intelligent while they tend to avoid social interaction. Therefore, many computer-related jobs fit those aspects comfortably. Many computer-related jobs can be done at home on a computer without having to go to an official workplace on a daily basis. This allows them to feel accomplished at work, intellectually, while avoiding social contact with others.

The problem is that screen time, television, video games and the Internet have been shown to have negative effects on individuals that are on the autism spectrum(attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder , Sensory Integration Disorders, Processing Disorders, Asperger’s  Syndrome, Tourette’s syndrome , Pervasive Developmental Disorder and Autism.) This particular patient who also has attention deficit disorder relates to “being on the computer and then coming out of an almost trance like state realizing 20 hours have gone by and more than 20 tabs are open.” He also has made statements such as “now that I’m aware of the issue with screen time, I feel as if the computer screen is like kryptonite, sucking the life out of me.” In a perfect world, the best thing for this patient would be to discontinue all screen time.” The problem is he is now in his thirties and this is how he makes a living.

In a hemispheric integration model, Asperger’s Syndrome tends to be a right hemisphere deficiency. This does not mean that all Asperger’s Syndromes are a right hemisphere deficient and certainly the only way to determine this is with an appropriate functional neurological examination. In this particular case however, he did indeed have a right-sided deficiency with the basis of his issues localized to a left vestibular lesion. He in fact had played football in college. He was a running back. At first, I thought this somewhat unusual as Asperger’s  patients tend not to be athletic. However, upon further questioning it was determined that the reason he was a running back was that he could not catch a ball. This then tended to fit in well with the common associations of balance issues  and uncoordination with Asperger’s patients. Apparently, he was tough and determined but not the most coordinated. This was confirmed throughout the physical examination process . This was addressed with appropriate modalities relating to functional neurology and hemispheric integration therapy. These treatments were performed at the office on a regular basis during his therapy sessions.

The issue was that he had to go back home and go back to work. That meant that in this imperfect world, he would have to continue working at a job that required him to be on a computer to earn living. This was the only way he could maintain the standard of living that he was accustomed to. He may be able to make long-term changes into a field that does not require so much screen time, however in the near future that was not an option. In the hemispheric model postural muscles and proprioception are extremely important as is the side of the lesion. He did in fact work from home. This gave us a little bit more flexibility. Together we discussed what his workday was like and tried to come up with some adaptations he could make to lessen the impact of the computer screen on his condition. A treatment program at our office always involves in office treatments and what we like to term “homework” for the patient. We were able to come up with five adaptations which were helpful for him.
These were as follows:

  1. He was to use the mouse with his left hand.
  2. He was to do some core exercises for several minutes every hour as they break away from the screen.
  3. He was to use a standing desk.
  4. If he was in a sitting position he was to sit on a Swiss ball.
  5. He was to place the screen slightly off center to the left.

These seemingly small and insignificant changes had a considerable effect in his ability to concentrate and be productive at work as well as his overall Asperger’s condition. As always, this is an illustration of  home modifications that were made on a particular case. This is not to imply that all Asperger’s Syndromes are right functional hemisphere deficiencies of left vestibular origin and should be treated and prescribed the same home modifications. These types of changes should only be done with appropriate physician supervision.

Nice Basics Regarding Choosing a School

Deciding which school is a good fit for your child is a significant decision that should not be taken lightly. Here is a brief blurb covering the basics. http://www.autisminfoblog.com/autism-education-one-step-at-a-time/

An Interview with Dr. Cathy Pratt: Competencies for Teachers of Children with Autism

Anything I find that I think might be interesting or helpful for someone out there I pass along. Thank you to Kim Hammons for turning me onto this. http://ednews.org/articles/an-interview-with-dr-cathy-pratt-competencies-for-teachers-of-children-with-autism.html

Preschool Special Education

Here is a nice web site with lots of information. They have a treatment section which does not include Hemispheric Integration Therapy  but this is the battle I fight on a daily basis. It does not take away from the fact that they have good information about many subjects relating to Autism Spectrum Disorders. The particular page deals with rights and tips for dealing with the school system which I thought would be a nice post for this back to school season.  http://www.brighttots.com/Preschool_Special_Education.html

Politics, Autism and Health Care Reform

This is not my area but here is a link to those that follow this closely. This condition touches all aspects of our lives; parenting, politics, diets, lobbying, marriages, treatment, social, economics. It is pervasive, no pun intended. http://www.ageofautism.com/2009/08/the-really-big-lie-about-autism-thomas-insel-testifies.html

Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Leaky Brain?

Many in the autism community, especially those interested in biomedical solutions are familiar with the concept of leaky gut or intestinal hyper permeability. Many however, are not familiar with the concept of a leaky brain. I was asked the other day by the mom of a child with ADHD if she should give her child GABA, gama amino butyric acid, to help. The thought being if we could get him to calm down then we could get more out of the hemispheric integration therapy sessions he was participating in. In order to get the most benefit from hemispheric integration therapy the patient must be able to participate in the treatment program. That is, the more he can do, the more we can do for him and the better it works. In this particular case, the child’s attention span is so short that it is difficult to get him to perform a particular therapeutic exercise long enough for it to be of benefit to him. This led me to discuss GABA, the GABA challenge and a leaky brain.

GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. Inhibitory meaning that it encourages nerve cells not to fire, as opposed to excitatory which encourages neurons to fire. Thus, GABA supplements have the reputation of acting as a calming agent. This was the rationale behind the mom’s suggestion to give him GABA before his treatments in order to calm him down and thus we could get more work done during the time of his treatment sessions.

The problem with this theory is that our brains are considered very precious and therefore have a special barrier to protect them from substances circulating in the blood and the rest of the body. This is called the blood brain barrier. The blood brain barrier is semipermeable meaning that it allows some substances to get through while prevents other substances from crossing over to the environment of the brain. Therefore, the blood brain functions to protect the brain from foreign substances circulating in the blood that could be harmful to the brain. This semipermeable function is similar to the way the intestinal barrier that acts as a screening portal of entry from the outside world to the body. For example, the blood brain barrier is very effective in protecting the brain from bacterial agents in the blood and body. These bacterial agents are screened out by the blood brain barrier and not allowed to cross into the environment of the brain making infections of the brain very rare.There is an issue when the semi-perm permeable blood brain barrier becomes too permeable and allows substances that should not pass through to the brain, into the brain and its environment. This is obviously of significant importance when dealing with patients on the autism spectrum.

In the case of testing for a leaky gut barrier we give the patient two sugars in a solution to drink. One sugar should be absorbed and one sugar should not.We then collect the patient’s urine. If the sugar that should not have been absorbed appears in the urine then the gut barrier was not doing its job and is leaky. To test for a leaky brain or hyper permeable blood brain barrier we use a similar concept. This is called the GABA challenge. GABA taken orally should not be able to cross the blood brain barrier assuming that the barrier is intact. That is, when the doorman of the brain(the barrier) is at the door deciding who gets to go in and who should be kept out, GABA should be kept out. A healthy blood brain barrier should not allow GABA to cross into the environment of the brain. It is impractical to measure cerebral spinal fluid before and after administering GABA to see if there has been a significant change. However we do know the effects of GABA and we can observe for those. That is to say, if GABA did cross the blood brain barrier we would expect to see a calming effect on the individual who took the GABA. This is the basis for the GABA challenge. A GABA supplement is given to the patient and if within a two-hour period the patient becomes more relaxed, then we make the assumption that the GABA crossed the blood brain barrier and had its inhibitory/calming effect. This suggests a leaky blood brain barrier.

So the leaky brain  may answer the question as to why some people take GABA and it has a calming effect, while the same GABA does not have any effect on others. Therefore, in this case, if mom gives her son some GABA in order to calm him down so that we may have more effective hemispheric integration therapy sessions with the child and this is effective, then we have unearthed another problem. Although this may help us have more effective sessions, we will have discovered the issue of a leaky blood brain barrier. A leaky brain is a serious problem which needs to be dealt with particularly in relation to autism spectrum disorders. We do not want a weak blood brain barrier leaving the brain susceptible potential bacteria, toxins and inflammatory reactions.

As always, these illustrations are simplified examples with many other factors that need to be taken into consideration and performing tests such as a GABA challenge should only be done with appropriate physician supervision.

Autism Spectrum Disorder Support Group

Last night we had our monthly support group meeting here in Tampa at Casa Mexicana in Tampa. As usual, I got to enjoy myself and learn more about the community. We have a group of parents that know so much about things such as I.E.P.s, home schooling and parking permits. One of our most experienced parents with an adult child who has been all over the country and has tried various treatments told me that even she picked up a few tips. A Few good pediatricians and therapist will be added to our resource list as some new names were recommended by new members of the group. I answered a few questions , mostly regarding Hemispheric Integration therapy. The best part is always the sharing and fellowship. Its nice to see the look on some faces who usually do not get a night out and if so not with others that understand their situation. If you are in Tampa  remember that next week we are having a family outing at planet bounce for support group members. This is a special time reserved for our group for just families with children on the spectrum. Another outing for the parents and some much needed social time for the kids. For more information about our support group go to www.hitautism.net

A Nice Concise Break Down of the S.C.D.,Specific Carbohydrate Diet

This is from someone dealing with Crohn’s disease and not  the Autism Spectrum but the SCD is a diet used by those on the spectrum, especially those dealing with yeast. Once again, the diet is the diet, no matter why you are using it. He also discusses another diet and makes comparisons. Here is the link  http://healthycrohnsliving.blogspot.com/