Many children on the Autism Spectrum have difficulty recognizing emotional cues such as nonverbal expressions which are thought to be conveyed through the eyes as well as connecting with others emotionally on an interpersonal basis. A large part of communication between humans is nonverbal communication. This means to say that it is not just the words that are spoken but in addition how they are spoken, inflection, as well hand gestures, body postures and facial expression. The inability to recognize faces and facial expression is called prosopagnosia. This inability to interpret facial expressions often leads to difficulty in social situations with others. It is also been thought to be involved with a lack of empathy toward others which also is at times associated with autism. The area of the brain most associated with prosopagnosia is the fusiform gyrus of the temporal lobe. Although it is thought that the fusiform gyrus has a specific face area, it is also thought to be responsible for things such as processing of color information as well as number and word recognition. As an example, people with prosopagnosia can recognize a different pens or forks but not faces. Until recently it was thought that propsopagnosia or face blindness and is is sometimes called could not be improved. Instead, patients were taught techniques to compensate for the face recognition deficiency such as looking at clothing, voice or hair color in order to attempt to identify who the patient was speaking with. A recent study in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders published out of the University of Alabama Birmingham used a computer based social skills training program for children with autism spectrum disorders. This interactive program showed a positive impact in a group with Autism and a group with Asperger’s Syndrome. Both groups showed improvement in the ability to recognize faces as well as improvements in the ability to recognize emotion. The Asperger’s group also showed improvement in social interactions in a natural environment. This should come as great news to parents who see their children have difficulty making friends and struggle while attempting to socialize at school or the park. This feeds well into the current model of neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to change, in which practitioners of functional neurology are looking for tools to activate specifically targeted under functioning areas of the brain. With regular stimulation of these areas at the correct intensity and frequency, positive changes can be made to help address various deficiencies whether sensory, motor or in this case social. If you have a child on the Autism Asperger’s Syndrome and this type of treatment sounds interesting to you, look for a physician that practices functional neurology in your area.
I have a tattered little piece of paper that decorates my fridge, and it’s nothing fancy…really quite worn…but on it is written some of the best advice that I have ever given myself. It is called “10 Helpful Hints”. The reason I keep it on my “fridge” is so that I may FOLLOW this advice that I have given to myself…And…I am reminded everyday, several times a day, every time I open the fridge…”Follow Your Own Advice”…
It seems that the closer I follow these 10 little tips…Life flows a little easier, and the world seems a little brighter. The more I read them and keep these tips foremost in my mind…I seem to be able to muster up more Hope in my heart, along with Courage and Strength.
I have found that in our Autism Spectrum Community, the struggle can be quite hard, and it can take a toll, physically, mentally, and emotionally. If we can muster up though, and be strong enough one day, while our fellow may be lacking on that very same day…then…we can pass along a “shoulder to lean on”…and maybe someone will provide a “shoulder” for us, on another day…when we may be stumbling… The point is, we are all on the same “crooked road”…and just as I have been up built by this tattered little slip of paper…I will pass it along…in the hopes that it may give someone else a boost.
- Never give up on a cure.
- Read, read, and read some more everything on the subject…then keep what’s good, and discard what’s not…and keep a “not sure” file as well.
- Listen to your “Gut”…there is no one on this earth that loves this child as you do…or that knows this child better that you do…so “Arm” yourself with your own wisdom of your child, and become his or her best Advocate.
- If a therapist, doctor, teacher, etc…does not connect with your child…Find someone that does.
- If a therapy or diet is not having successful results…stop…and find something that will bring success.
- Ask questions…lots of questions…and write them down, so that you can carry them with you when you go to your child’s doctors, therapists, etc…and if your questions are met with distain, sarcasm, or with a patronizing response…Find someone that will answer your questions with respect and dignity.
- When you feel like the world is caving in on you…take a Bubble Bath, a Long Walk…or anything to help you re-group to face the challenge again.
- Try to stay healthy yourself…this is hard as you may feel selfish about giving yourself any attention…so…just remember who you need to be healthy for…Your child… and they are depending on you…You cannot assist them very well if you get sick…
- Join a Support Group…and not just any support group. Make sure that you will be able to gather “purposeful” support from this group…and that it truly satisfies your need of support in both a practical, and in an emotional sense. Ask yourself, “What was I able to take away from this meeting?” Any tips or information, and maybe even play dates for my child, etc…not just a “Gripe Session”.
- Do not feel guilty that your child is in this situation, and do not plague yourself with the “What if’s” or the “If only I knew then what I know now”…and Do not look back with regret…just keep moving forward to Accomplishment!
I know many of you are very experienced with regard to Autism Spectrum Disorders and the various treatments and diets however, the reality, unfortunately is that there are always new parents that need basic help and information in a friendly format. I ran across this slide presentation on the Web M.D. web site that I think would be a good starter for someone new to Autism looking to embark on the journey that is the Gluten Free Diet. This information relates to Gluten Free without regard to Autism but Gluten Free is Gluten Free. I hope you all like it and that it helps at least one person out there.
Its has been a very exciting week for me. I started the week doing a brain dissection in San Francisco which was absolutely inspiring to me. To see, hold and feel hold the human brain in your hands is a once in a life time experience. Yes, this is what I consider a great way to spend a three day weekend. Yesterday, Linda Hurtado from ABC Action News came out to the office and did a story about Hemispheric Integration Therapy. She is super and really down to earth and it was truly a pleasure to meet her. That’s a great week for me, here’s the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHPkaUoNaeI&feature=youtube_gdata
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do a video interview regarding my favorite subject Hemispheric Integration Therapy as it relates to Autism Spectrum for the very informative and influential web site Autismhangout.com. It is still very disheartening to see how many people have never even heard of Hemispheric Integration Therapy or Functional Neurology never mind understanding what it is or how it works. This being Autism Awareness Month made the interview extra special for me. Craig Evans did a super job and is a credit to the autsim community. Here is the link, help me spread the word http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rHu4gHk6Hc&feature=player_embedded
One of our patients mother”s was kind enough to forward this information to me and so I am passing it on to you. Anytime I can pass on a free benefit, it is a good thing, If anyone hears about any information like this in the future please shoot me an email so I can share it.
I just got the following info, you might want to post it. The Apple apps store has all the ABA flashcards from kindergarten. com and they are free for the month of April in honor of autism awareness month. They regularly are .99 each but are now free! These work for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
I received a phone call yesterday from a mom that was beaming with pride as her son who is six and has difficulty reading and with aggressive behavior won both the reader of the week award and the student of the week award. She said that he even read aloud in front of the class which is very unlike him. She was thrilled as you can imaging. As usual, no one is as happy as the family but I think I come in a close second after that. Seeing these changes in the children and the reactions of the families is what makes treating these children with Hemispheric Integration Therapy so rewarding and is my greatest satisfaction. It is wonderful when parents share these stories with me and I hope it inspires others to not give up.
We are holding a free autism spectrum disorders and learning disability’s conference in Tampa on Saturday the eighth of May. The conference will be held at the Hillsborough County Children’s Board. The topics covered will include Hemispheric Integration Therapy, Applied behavioral Analysis, I.E.P”s and financial planning for those with special needs. To register for the conference call the office at 813 935 4744. For more information regarding the speakers go to the events page and down load the pdf regarding more details about the conference.
It is common in the office to test patients with autism spectrum disorder for a leaky gut syndrome. Part of the protocol to address leaky gut syndrome is to eliminate irritants such as food sensitivities. Acquiring this information regarding which foods you are sensitive to can be determined by the elimination diet and/or IgG food sensitivity testing. The most famous foods for IgG/food sensitivity is our gluten and casein. This however does not mean that other food sensitivities may be present and affecting the patient who is on the spectrum. IgG testing can be relatively inexpensive especially when the benefit of eliminating foods causing an IgG reaction can be identified and eliminated from the diet. Most of the specialty labs will test for approximately 90 foods in categories such as dairy, fish, fruits, nuts, grains, meat, and vegetables. The amount of foods tested can be expanded for a greater expense. Just as important as finding out what the person with autism spectrum disorder is reacting to is adapting the diet in order to avoid those foods. Below is a link to a website in which you can look up a particular food and see what are good substitutes in your recipes for that food. This is in hopes of course that the recipes taste is not altered and therefore life is not altered too much. The website has many many foods on it, not just gluten and casein substitutes. I hope it helps especially with your holiday recipes. Happy holidays!