Tag Archives: Individuals With Autism

Question?: Treatment For Autism 2012

Ken asks…

Questions about autism.?

Is it hard to get insurance benefit for a child with autism?
What benefits do insurance cover for children wit autism or other disabilities?
What do they not cover that makes insuring children with disabilities harder and more stressful?

admin answers:

Some states require insurers to provide coverage for the treatment of autism. However, opponents to this approach argue that care for individuals with autism is the responsibility of parents and/or the responsibility of school systems. 2012 Ala. Act, Act 298 requires a health benefit plan to offer coverage for the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of autism spectrum disorders for an insured child who is nine years of age or under in policies and contracts issues or delivered to employers with at least 51 employees for at least 50 percent of its working days during the preceding calendar year. Treatment is defined as treatment that is prescribed by the child’s treating physician or psychologist in accordance with a treatment plan and may include behavioral health treatment (including applied behavior analysis), pharmacy care, psychiatric care, psychological care, and therapeutic care. The coverage required may not be subject to dollar limits, deductibles, or coinsurance provisions that are less favorable to an insured than the limits or deductibles that apply to illness generally under the health insurance plan, except for coverage for behavioral therapy which is subject to a $36,000 maximum benefit per year. (2012 SB 283)

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Question?: Autism Signs In Children

Joseph asks…

what is the best strategy to develop the communication skills of children with autism?PECS or Makaton signs?

my friend has two children with autism.she just wants to know which is the best strategy to develop their communication skills.

admin answers:

PECS stands for Picture Exchange Communication System. The picture symbols most commonly used are Picture Communication Symbols (PCS) and are made by Mayer Johnson’s Boardmaker software. PECS uses picture representations of object, action, person, and attributes (descriptions). The picture representations can be in the form of PCS, photographs, Clip Art, magazine pictures, product labels, etc… Some children may do better using object representations instead of pictures but the exchange system remains the same.

The PECS training is a 2-3 day training for SLPs, teachers, and parents so it’s difficult to give you detailed information in YA. If you would like more ideas/tips how to implement PECS properly, please e-mail me. I will be happy to help.
For PECS workshop and product information, go to http://www.pecs.com/index.php

I have used Makaton in the past and am not a big fan of it. I find individuals with Autism learn best with visual supports in the form of pictures &/or written words. As a speech-langauge pathologist, I would not recommend using PECS alone. A multimodal approach is much more effective for functional communication. Communication boards, picture schedules, social stories, repetition, literacy-based instruction, sign language/gestures, etc… Are all beneficial in increasing expressive, receptive, and pragmatic language skills.

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Question?: Autism Symptoms In Adults

Sandra asks…

what is the medicine a child can take for autism?

I know it doesn’t help get rid of the autism but i know there is one out there to help with social and behavior.

admin answers:

This comes from the Autism Society of America about medications used for autism, hope it helps. They also have info about other treatment options.

There are a number of medications frequently used for individuals with autism to address certain behaviors or symptoms. Some have studies to support their use, while others do not. Serotonin re-uptake inhibitors have been effective in treating depression, obsessive-compulsive behaviors and anxiety that present in some individuals with ASD. Researchers who have consistently found elevated levels of serotonin in the bloodstream of one-third of individuals with autism feel that these drugs could potentially reverse some of the symptoms of serotonin dysregulation in autism. Three drugs that have been studied are clomipramine (Anafranil), fluvoxamine (Luvox) and fluoxetine (Prozac). Studies have shown that they may reduce the frequency and intensity of repetitive behaviors, and may decrease irritability, tantrums and aggressive behavior. Some children have also shown improvements in eye contact and responsiveness.

Other drugs, such as Elavil, Wellbutrin, Valium, Ativan and Xanax have not been studied as much but may have a role in treating behavioral symptoms. However, all these drugs have potential side effects, which should be discussed with qualified professionals before treatment is started.

Anti-psychotic medications have been the most widely studied of the psychopharmacologic agents in autism over the past 35 years. Originally developed for treating schizophrenia, these drugs have been found to decrease hyperactivity, stereotypical behaviors, withdrawal and aggression in individuals with autism. Four that have been approved by the FDA are clozapine (Clozaril), risperidone (Risperdal), olanzapine (Zyprexa) and quetiapine (Seroquel). Only risperidone has been investigated in a controlled study of adults with autism and was approved in 2006 by the FDA for the treatment of autism. Like the antidepressants, these drugs all have potential side effects, including sedation, which need to be carefully monitored by a qualified professional with experience in autism.

Stimulants, such as Ritalin, Adderall and Dexedrine, used to treat hyperactivity in children with ADHD, have also been prescribed for children with ASD. Although few studies have been done, anecdotal evidence shows these medications may increase focus and decrease impulsivity and hyperactivity in autism, particularly in children who are not as severely affected as others. However, dosages need to be carefully monitored because behavioral side effects are often dose-related.

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Question?: Autism Symptoms In 7 Year Old

Jenny asks…

Why are some autistic kids fixated on pleasuring themselves?

My neighbor is upset because her 18 yo autistic son spends most of his time “touching himself”. She thought it was a phase that he’d go through, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. He’s probably too weird and spastic to get a girlfriend (she hopes he would). What can she do? Should she look for a paid “sex surrogate” or something? Maybe some meds?
@Rebecca: I don’t think calling them “retards” is very nice………

admin answers:

People with autism have a tendency to “stimulate” themselves because their sensory systems are not “wired” the same way as a neurotypical person’s are. Because autism is a spectrum disorder, no two cases of autism are the same – the autistic symptoms my 14-year-old daughter displays may be very different from someone else’s 18-year-old son or 7-year-old nephew, etc., etc. Some individuals with autism are hypersensitive to things like bright lights, loud noises, scratchy fabrics, etc., while others may be impervious to pain or gain pleasure from rubbing a piece of fabric over and over again, etc. The repetitive behavior of spinning, banging heads, rocking, flapping hands, or yes – even touching themselves – brings comfort by calming their nerves that are inflamed by living in a world that is not built to accommodate their particular sensitivities and which they don’t particularly even understand. And let’s face it – having “those parts” touched and fondled is something that is pleasurable to just about ALL 18-year-old boys – NOT just those with autism (although he probably gains more than just sexual arousal from it).

The big question here is how to teach him that there is a time and a place for that type of behavior. Stimming behavior (as those types of repetitive behaviors are called in the autism world) is actually beneficial to helping those with autism to stay calm. Without it, they’d probably be a lot more prone to extreme meltdowns than they already are. So your neighbor just needs to teach her son when and where it’s appropriate. If she wants to say that it’s only OK in his room, with the door shut, at bedtime, then once he learns that’s the rule, he will follow it. The rest of the time, she needs to teach him a “command word” like “hands” or something like that, that means hands need to be out of his pockets, or on the table, or something like that. Every time he goes back to the undesireable behavior, say the command and remove his hands. When he goes the whole day, or the whole morning, or whatever (keep a chart!) without engaging in the inappropriate behavior, he gets a reward. Gradually, you can extend the length of time he has to go without engaging in the problematic behavior in order to achieve the desired reward (maybe having an hour of “alone time” in his room each night, can be the reward for abstaining from it all day!).

This really is not all that unusual of a problem in the autism world. I urge your neighbor to contact an autism support group to get some input from other parents who have faced similar problems. Also, there are lots of books out there that address similar issues, as well: http://www.autism-resources.com/nonfictiontopics/adolescent.html

It’s not the end of the world – she’ll teach him and he’ll come around. It just might take a while, is all. Hope this helps.

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Question?: Asperger Syndrome

Jenny asks…

What percentage of individuals with Autism or Asperger syndrome get married?

I have Asperger syndrome. But I was wondering out of curiosity, it seems as if most “normal” people eventually get married at some point in their lives. This may not necessarily be true of autistic individuals, so does anybody have statistics?

admin answers:

I don’t think there’s a specific statistic, but it is known that many people with Aspergers do get married. I know a few who have. Aspergers only creates a delay in understanding social cues, it doesn’t make a person unable to have good relationships.

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Question?: Treatment For Autism 2012

Sandy asks…

Can someone help me edit my grammar? please!?

The opposite side of the spectrum disorder is the severe autism. Usually this side of the spectrum is endangering the patient. In the book called, “Caring For The Vulnerable”, Chesnay and Anderson points out that “problematic emotional reactions and behaviors such as aggression and self-injury are common in older individuals with autism spectrum disorder.” As I have mentioned before, children with autism tends to focus on themselves by doing certain things that only interest them. An example of this behavior is when a six years old boy began biting his arms until they bled. Patients who are diagnosed with autism usually have insensitivity to pain or temperature. In addition, people who are suffering from severe autism have a sensory dysfunction where they have too much or less sensitive to light, touch, taste, or smell. Some children who interact with these strong stimuli usually react by shouting, or pulling their hair but these behaviors usually varies among others.

Back then there was a common belief that parenting skills or vaccination was the cause of autism. Fortunately, these arguments are proven wrong due to many research and studies being done on this medical condition. However, due to its complexity of autism, many scientists are still unsure of what is the main cause of this disorder. This is due to the fact that there are multiple factors that are involve such as the environment, biology, and genetic factors in order to determine your risk of having autism. Most scientists do agree that genes such as containing “fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, down syndrome or other chromosomal disorders (Pathways In Autism, 2012).” are one of the risk factors that can make a person more likely to develop autism. In addition, harmful drugs such as prescription thalidomide and valprocid taken during pregnancy have been linked with a higher risk of autism.

For now there are no cure for autism but to help minimize the symptoms. First we need early intervention by doing an assessment on a child whether or not he or she is suffering from autism. Once a patient is diagnosed, treatment is best when we focus on a family centered care because they will be the one who would mainly support and address the problem when they are at home. Parents definitely need to learn how to connect bonds to their child by finding a way to adjust to his or her own pace. For example, a child who is playing with his action figures can socially interact with others when he is being imitated. Since the child only sees his behavior in his own world, he will also take notice of his surrounding when he finds a common interest with other people. This kind of treatment is a continuation process till the child has reach the external environment of being able to socially interact independently.

admin answers:

Is severe autism not the severe.
A six year old boy not six years old.

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Unreliable Neural Responses May Induce Autism Symptoms

Main Category: Autism
Also Included In: Epilepsy;  Schizophrenia
Article Date: 21 Sep 2012 – 0:00 PDT Current ratings for:
Unreliable Neural Responses May Induce Autism Symptoms
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Diverse symptoms associated with autism could be explained by unreliable activity of neurons in the brain in response to basic, nonsocial sensory information, according to a study published by Cell Press in the journal Neuron. The new findings suggest that autism is a disorder of general neural processing and could potentially provide an explanation for the origins of a range of psychiatric and neurological disorders.

“Within the autism research community, most researchers are looking for either a dysfunctional brain region or inadequate connections between brain regions,” says lead study author Ilan Dinstein of Carnegie Mellon University. “We’re taking a different approach and thinking about how a general characteristic of the brain could be different in autism – and how that might lead to behavioral changes.”

Autism is a developmental disorder marked by social deficits, communication problems, and repetitive behaviors. Two previous studies suggested that the neural responses of individuals with autism are more variable than those of control subjects during visual and motor tasks. Building on this past evidence, Dinstein and his collaborators have now shown that multiple sensory systems within these individuals show noisy responses, suggesting that widespread behavioral abnormalities could arise from a basic dysfunction in neural processing that emerges during development.

In the study, adults with autism participated in functional magnetic resonance imaging experiments in which their brain activity was measured under three different conditions: while they watched moving dots on a screen, listened to tone beeps, and felt air puffs on their hands. The neural responses to all three types of sensory information were less reliable across trials in individuals with autism than in control subjects.

The findings suggest that autism could result from fundamental defects in general neural processing rather than a collection of independent problems that affect different brain regions. “Unreliable neural activity is a general property that could have a profound impact on the function of many brain systems and could underlie a range of cognitive and social abnormalities,” says study author Marlene Behrmann of Carnegie Mellon University. “So we think that this problem could play a role not only in autism, but also potentially in other disorders such as epilepsy and schizophrenia.”

Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Click ‘references’ tab above for source.
Visit our autism section for the latest news on this subject. Dinstein et al.: “Unreliable evoked responses in autism.”
Video: Marlene Behrmann, Professor of Psychology, and IIan Dinstein, Postdoctoral Researcher, from Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Psychology discuss their study “Autistic Adults have Unreliable Neural Sensory Responses” publishing in Neuron.
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Autism in California: SB 764 makes healthcare accessible with telehealth

Since Matthew’s hospitalization last year, he gets very nervous when he’s not feeling well.

“I think I need to go back to the hospital,” he’ll say. If he were living at home, I could see him, size up the situation and reassure him. So the folks at Camphill, having determined that a trip to the hospital was not necessary, suggested that we Skype each other. At first I thought this was a silly idea. Who do they think I am,  Jane Jetson? And who looks good on Skype, anyway? But Matthew’s ability to see me and mine to see him has proved not only to be reassuring, but saves time and money and unnecessary visits to the ER.

This is the concept behind Telehealth, a powerful and important tool that helps overcome major obstacles in providing services to underserved populations, and it may soon be available to the individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other disabilities thanks to Senate Bill 764.

Authored Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), the bill was approved by the Senate last week  by a 35 to zero vote and and supported by a host of service providers and advocacy groups, individuals and organizations.(See list at the end of this post). The bill has been sent to Governor Brown.

SB 764  establishes voluntary guidelines for Regional Centers that makes access to care for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other disabilities and their families more accessible. Since these telehealth services must have potential benefits to the consumers or regional centers, SB 764 may have potentially significant cost-savings to the state.

Regional Centers  face increasing challenges and pressures in providing services that are mandated by the Lanterman Act for the more than 51,000 ASD consumers in the Regional Center system. Funding ASD services is estimated to be 3 to 4 times more costly than other developmental disabilities. Thus, ASD is among the major cost-drivers within the escalating Department of Developmental Services (DDS) budget.

California has been a national leader in the use of innovative technology and in 1996 passed one of the first telemedicine laws in the country. Telehealth is now used extensively in many medical settings and has been demonstrated to reduce costs, improve the quality of services and increase access for underserved communities.

SB 764 will:

Improve access to intervention and therapeutic Regional Center services and will facilitate the implementation of innovative and more cost-effective services, including, but not limited to, parent training for autism applied behavioral analysis interventions.Require each Regional Center individual program planning team to consider the use of telehealth, on a voluntary basis and whenever applicable, for the purpose of improving access to intervention and therapeutic services for all consumers and across the lifespan.Require DDS to establish appropriate vendorization and reimbursement codes for telehealth services and programs.Provide an important process by which to evaluate the efficacy and cost- effectiveness of telehealth services. On a voluntary basis, Regional Centers shall provide information on the frequency, applications, cost- effectiveness, consumer and family satisfaction and other pertinent information to DDS.Improve the lives of the growing number of individuals with developmental disabilities in California by bringing intervention services directly to them and their families in a more natural setting.Increase cost-effectiveness and facilitate better service delivery by optimizing the use of existing resources through the use of technology.

Another telehealth bill is also in the works, SB 1050(Alquist) which will establish an Autism Telehealth task force within the Department of Developmental Services. CLICK HERE to learn more about this promising legislation.

To learn more about SB 764, CLICK HERE.

SB 764 supporters:

What are your thoughts about this method of delivering heathcare?


The Morgan Autism Center Conference is September 22. More about it soon, but REGISTER NOW because it is going to be amazing. (Carol Gray is keynote!)

ALSO: The Marin and North Bay Autism Lecture Series starts Sept. 19. (more about that soon) but CLICK HERE to learn more and register.

Got autism questions? Need resources? Email me here lshumaker@sfgate.com and I will do my very best to help.


In case you wondered, I’m happy to talk to your group.

GO HERE to learn more.

Read the first three chapters of A REGULAR GUY: GROWING UP WITH AUTISM here.

You’ll be hooked.

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Learning to communicate successfully with autism:The Morgan Autism Center Conference

I recently asked parents of children with autism this question:

What is ONE thing you would like to help your child with autism do?

Not surprisingly, a large percentage of the answers read like this:

“Communicate” “Make and keep friends” “Communicate, in whatever way he can: speech, devices, typing…” “Communicate successfully and with ease.”

The Morgan Autism Center is holding their 11th Annual Autism Conference Saturday September 22 at Santa Clara University,(register now, it is a bargain and it sells out) and if you want to learn more about helping individuals with autism communicate  socially, especially through the transition to adulthood,  you should really try to attend. Here are 8 reasons why:

Carol Gray, a true  autism hero and the developer of Social Stories, is the Keynote Speaker.Carl Feinstein, M.D., the Director of Clinical Services of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Stanford University will be talking about transitions from adolescence to adulthood.Shannon McCord, Ph.D., Consultant, Assistive Technology/AAC Specialist. Her Topic: “Utilizing Augmentative and Alternative Communication Devices Effectively in the Class Room.”Antonio Hardan, M.D., Associate Professor, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Stanford University.  His topic: “Communication Deficits and Research Targeting Communication Deficits.”Faheem Ahmed, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, SAP.  His topic: “Project Care: How Private Social Networks Are Empowering People with Special Needs.”Steve Johnson, M.A., Director of Character Education, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. His topic: “How Religious Institutes Might Better Serve People With Autism.”Michael Gilfix, Esq., Principal, Gilfix & La Poll Associates will talk about the importance of  establishing a Special Needs Trusts.You will have the opportunity to meet other parents and professionals who are as passionate about learning how to help individuals with autism socialize, communicate, and live fulfilling lives.

To learn more about the Morgan Autism Center, this conference and the Center’s awesome lecture series, CLICK HERE.


The Marin and North Bay Autism Lecture Series starts Sept. 19. (more about that soon) but CLICK HERE to learn more and register.

Got autism questions? Need resources? Email me here lshumaker@sfgate.com and I will do my very best to help.


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Autism Information and Alternative Care

@chiropractic I Voted

Chiropractic care as a complementary and alternative strategy for care for individuals with autism. Unfortunately there is limited high quality research into alternative methods for autistic individuals in general. That being said, there is significant anecdotal support for non-conventional care with parents reporting improvements in behavioral issues such as tantrums, outbursts, repetitive actions and sleep, for example.

The message of chiropractic is that the body has a remarkable ability to self-heal and repair. The power that made the body is the power that heals the body. The body innately knows what to do to heal a scratched finger, to mend a broken bone, to fight off infection… It’s truly amazing when you think of it! Chiropractic itself doesn’t directly heal you, but it mediates the process by allowing the nervous system to communicate more freely. Chiropractic adjustments to misaligned or hypomobile vertebrae puts the body into better balance physically and neurologically such that the body can do what it’s supposed to do at its best. Also, chiropractors recognize that what you put in your body really does matter. Whatever you eat, do and think makes a difference in your overall health.

For the record, chiropractors do not diagnose or claim to cure autism. Instead, they seek to maximize one’s inherent healing abilities by addressing physical, chemical and emotional stressors that influence overall well-being. Chiropractors play an important part of the team approach to care along with conventional therapies.

As in any individual, physical factors play a role in well-being. Chiropractors will evaluate posture, ranges or motion, tightness/tenderness in muscles and/or joints, spinal alignment and overall function. Traumas can result in pain, irritability and outbursts in those with autism, which affects quality of life. Chiropractic care is hands on, gentle and effective at addressing physical concerns. There is also some preliminary research demonstrating benefits in behavioral problems as well as attenuation of sensorimotor issues among autistic individuals following chiropractic care.

Chemical factors are anything that is eaten or breathed in. Diet plays a huge role in health and is particularly important in individuals with autism due to the gut’s role. Dietary suggestions for those with autism include probiotic support and a generally clean, healthy diet. This means reduce or eliminate refined sugars, fast foods, preservatives and artificial colors/sweeteners/flavors. Home-cooked meals are best and should include whole foods, vegetables and healthy fats. Food allergy/sensitivity testing may also be beneficial. Avoiding foods that one is sensitive to may improve overall digestion and reduce inflammation. If allergy testing isn’t feasible, one can try avoiding foods that are commonly problematic – for example: wheat, dairy, corn and soy. Whatever you do, don’t make immediate, drastic changes as this can be both upsetting and challenging. Phase things in and out so that the change is more gradual and then try to maintain the diet for at least a month to determine if there is improvement.

Emotional factors play a role both in the autistic individual as well as the household. Children with autism are more prone to anxiety disorders, feelings of anger and difficulty in adapting to change. These may manifest as behavioral issues as well as musculoskeletal signs and symptoms. For the family, challenges in raising a child with autism commonly results in emotional stress as well as strain on family finances. Stress can present as aches, pains and headaches as a result of tense muscles and joints. Families of autistic children may also benefit from chiropractic care as a means of relieving pain as well as stress.

Physical, chemical and emotional stressors are all inter-related. By looking at the big picture of one’s health, overall health and well-being can be maximized. Even if a child goes from 20 tantrums per day to five, it’s worth it. Or if a child can finally sleep through the night when under chiropractic care, it’s worth it. A trial of chiropractic care may make all the difference.

Dr. Serbinski is a chiropractor practicing in North York, Ontario. She has a holistic approach to health and witnesses the benefits of chiropractic every day. For pain relief, correction of mechanical problems of the musculoskeletal system and for general wellness, chiropractic works. For more information, please visit Dr. Serbinski’s chiropractic website at: http://drserbinski.ca or her Google Places page at: http://g.co/maps/q48fd

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Dr._Elisabeth_Serbinski

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